You Are Alive, But Are You Living?
The Midrash notes the manner in which Yaakov responds to Pharaoh formulates an amazing calculation. Yaakov lived to the age of 147 while his father lived until the age of 180. This is a difference of 33 years. The Midrash explains that Yaakov lost 33 years of his life due to the 33 words that were used as he cursed his life's struggles.
Wow, that’s harsh. Imagine what would be if we were held accountable for every word we complained about our lives. HaShem Yerahem….
In order to understand the Midrash one must understand HaRamban (Nachmanides) on diplomacy: World leaders do not normally greet each other with ordinary questions such as, "How old are you?" I am sure President Obama does not question Queen Elizabeth of her age when they get the chance to speak, (she may be too old to remember anyway). Yet that is the only conversation the Torah records about Yaakov’s encounter with Pharaoh. The Ramban explains that Yaakov looked so aged and distraught that Pharaoh could not comprehend this. He therefore was hinting as to why there is a discrepancy between Yaakov’s appearance and his actual age. And Yaakov explained why.
Do we have more life to our years or years to our life?
How do we look at our lives? Do we live days of emptiness or do we live fulfilled and productive days? Does it take us a year to achieve something that could be done in a week, or do we complete a year’s work within a single day? How do we make use of our time and how do we value it? Are we optimistic and embracing of what life has to offer us or does it bring us down and hinder our development? Do we live diluted lives or do we lead lives of vivacity and exuberance? We must realize that it is not necessarily the years in our life that count; it is the life in our years that matter.
It is quality, not quantity that counts. Once we internalize this, we can consider what is the means by which to live a fulfilled life.
When Pharaoh asks Yaakov how old he is, Yaakov contends that his years have not reached the years of his father’s years. Why is this reason to be upset about? How does he know he will not reach that age? Nobody ever put a limit on his life; Yaakov could well live over 180 years old! Who was to stop him?? Often times, we do the same thing. We put ourselves down even before we encounter some failure. Even if we have the potential to excel, we automatically set ourselves up to fail before we have even begun.
To live a fulfilled life we must believe we are capable of anything. Nobody puts a limit on what you can do. Nobody can stop you. If you want something that you know is good for you, go seize it. If HaKadosh Barukh Hu sees it fit for you, consider it yours. Nobody can stop you but yourself. It is all in our mindset; keep a positive one.
We must stop counting numbers and weights and start feeling and appreciating instead. Set your own reality and chase it, don’t waste your time sitting idly until it finds you.
Be’ezrat HaShem may we all have the clarity and the rasson (will) to make the best of each passing day feeling only the depth of its quality instead of keeping count of the time that goes by. May each day be more fulfilling and beautiful than its preceding day!
Wishing you all a beautiful, spiritual, uplifting and of course, fulfilling Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh!