Rabbi Yaacov Haber's
for the Week
The buzzword of the nineties is pro-active. We are taught, and it is
so true, that in order to succeed in our business or profession we must never allow
ourselves to live by reacting.
If we are reacting we are not in control.
If we are reacting we are living for other peoples agendas.
If we are reacting we are stressed out and we go to sleep every night frustrated over what
we didn't accomplish.
The pro-active person will accomplish more, feel better, be more successful
and have more time for personal pleasure and family. This is the golden rule of time
management. The rest is commentary.
As Modern Orthodox Jews we pride ourselves on integrating our secular life with our
religious and spiritual one. Just as we imbue our secular lifestyle with Torah, we must
also use our acquired business acumen for our Yiddishkeit.
When it comes to Yiddishkeit are we reactive or pro-active?
Chazal compare Abraham to Job. When Job encountered his unbearable pain in life he cried
out to G-d in bewilderment. "Didn't I feed the hungry and clothe the poor? Wasn't my
house open on all four sides?" G-d responded, "You Iyuv have not reached half
the Chesed of Abraham. Where you would sit in your tent and receive guests Abraham would
go out and look for them. (Avos D'reb Nosson 7; 1)
Many people have special rooms in their homes where they receive
guests. They practice kabolos orchim. They respond or react to the poor person at
the door. This is noble. Avrohom practiced hachnosos orchim. He went out looking for
people that needed his help. The difference may seem subtle but it is in fact the
difference between seriously succeeding in Yiddishkeit and reacting to something that
comes your way. Very few of us sit at home and wait for our parnossa to knock on the door,
we go out and get it. Avrohom was a go-getter.
Chazal teach us that when we meet another human being we should be makdim shalom. Not only
should we answer people who greet us but we should be the first to extend a greeting.
Yaffa Elyach tells the story about how the Bluzhaver Rebbe was standing in line in the
selection row of a concentration camp. His physical condition did not meet the Nazi
standard for deserving life. As he approached the Nazi, the Bluzhaver stared at the Malach
HaMovis and blurted out "Gut Morgan Heir Mueller!" The guard looked at the Rabbi
and recognized him as the rabbi he used to pass daily that always said "Gut Morgan
Heir Mueller." With his eyes to the ground the officer sent the Rebbe to the line of
life. Chazal in their wisdom said Greet everyone first. Don't wait!
In our hurrying we miss such important opportunities in Shalom
Bayis. A thank you to our spouse before an argument is worth hundreds of gifts that come
too late. A word of chizuk to our children before a crisis is worth hours of counseling
I'd like to suggest that as part of our spiritual portfolio we all have a project that is
our pro-active project. Volunteer for Tomchei Shabbos, mentor a troubled teen, join
Partners in Torah or if you're capable, write a sefer. There are hundreds of wonderful
books that have never been written because people are too busy reacting to crises that
come up minute by minute. If it is not a project, a decision, a passion it will never get
I respond all day. That is my job. This past Yom Kippur I promised myself that I would try
to initiate just one conversation a week. I would allocate five minutes to call someone
who needs a bit of chizuk. Everyone can plan five minutes a week.
Avrohom Avinu is our glorious past. If we follow in his footsteps we can realize a
Rabbi Yaacov Haber
Rabbi Haber is the OU's National Director of Jewish Education and
the spiritual leader of the OU's Pardes Program
questions are very welcome
"A tree of life for those who embrace it"