(photo credit: REUTERS)
Benjamin Franklin once said: “He that can have patience can have what he wills.” Legendary Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek, on the other hand, once said: “There should be an 11th Commandment: ‘Thou shalt not be patient.’” The Hebrew letters for 5775, the new Hebrew year, are “taf, shin, ayin, heih.” Turn them around and they spell the Hebrew word “ta’aseh” – you shall do, to which I would add: Now, not later.
We wait too long to speak the words of forgiveness.
During the Ten Days of Atonement we ask God over and over to forgive us, but let us not wait to put aside the hatreds we have carried for too long. It is not easy to realize you have made a mistake, and to ask for forgiveness, but do not wait clean the slate.
We wait too long to discipline ourselves. The word “hatati” means “I have sinned.” We use that term and many more like it during the High Holiday services or when uttering our own private devotions. Yet, can we finish the Neilah prayer on Yom Kippur, listen to the shofar and truly say, “I am taking charge of my life”? During the Days of Awe between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, we should make the tough decisions and not wait.
We wait too long to take on the key role of being a parent to our children. We know life moves swiftly, that children grow up fast, and yet we procrastinate.
Children look to their parents truly hoping to be shown the right way – to be taught the significant lessons that parents, and parents only, can teach. Let us not wait, but give our offspring what we have.
Many poignant prayers have been penned throughout the centuries for the Ten Days. The Machzor is an amazing work, woven together over the centuries, whose authors would not wait – afraid some truly important thoughts which others might want to share would be lost.
I recall asking my father once during those long hours in the synagogue, “Do I have to say every word”? “Yes,” he replied, “and a time will come when their impact will be felt.”
The word “machzor” means “cycle,” and is based on the verb “lachzor” – to return. The High Holiday prayerbook is not for year-round reading, it a volume to which, mentally, we can return every 52 weeks. We should not wait when the words of inspiration are waiting for us.
Abraham Joshua Heschel titled one of his books God in Search of Man. God is waiting for us and hoping we will transform that “slow down” mentality into action. Please do not wait – alas, we do not have enough time.