Each Moment In Life Counts
The Children of Israel experienced 10 trials, one of them involving the manna, the bread that fell from Heaven. At that time the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses: “I shall rain down for you bread from Heaven…to test them, whether they will follow My Torah or not” (Exodus 16:4).
This is difficult to understand at first. While in the desert, the Children of Israel were free from all work normally connected to earning a living. The manna descended every day near the entrance of their tents, and furthermore they tasted every flavor they desired – be it bread, meat, or fish – in the manna. Naturally, their minds were free to occupy themselves with Hashem’s Torah at all times, for they had no worries connected to finding food. That being the case, what exactly was the trial surrounding the manna? Where was the test in all this?
It is precisely for this reason that things are far from clear. With respect to the manna, the Sages have said that the Children of Israel ate the bread of the mighty, bread that was absorbed by the 248 members of their bodies (Yoma 75b). That being the case, it is obvious that this manna – this bread from Heaven – tasted sublime. Yet how did the people eat the manna? Did they eat it so that their limbs would absorb it, so that their minds could be free to serve G-d? Or did they eat it simply to enjoy its exquisite taste?
The manna represented a great test. The Children of Israel were free from concerns of sustenance while in the desert, therefore their minds and thoughts were obviously available to serve G-d. However it was precisely on that point that the Holy One, blessed be He, tested them. Did they truly devote their time to serving G-d or not? They had no need to work, nor to make an effort, so why not serve G-d in their free time? A Jew overcame this test if he devoted his time to serving G-d. Otherwise he did not.
If a person is rich and earns an easy living, then he will be tested through this to see if he uses his wealth to serve G-d. When someone is wealthy, this obligates him to give a part of his money to sacred causes, to give to tzeddakah, to support those who study Torah, and to build Torah institutions. If a wealthy person fails to do so, what purpose does his money serve?
Furthermore, there are some people who are extremely wealthy, yet remain unfulfilled. They continue to run after money, amassing ever more wealth, but for what? Will this money accompany them in the world of truth? It is only mitzvot and good deeds, Torah and prayer, that will accompany a person there. All wealth stays here, in this world. Such people should realize that it is only the mitzvot that they have accomplished with their great wealth that will earn them merit in the world above. These are the only things that make money valuable to the Celestial Court.
This is why each person should realize that if he is wealthy, he is in the same situation as those who ate the manna. Hashem is sending this person a great test to see if he will sanctify his time by performing mitzvot and good deeds with his money, for these will be his only advocates. In addition, it is said that the manna was sent “to test them, whether they will follow My Torah or not.” This means that the test of the manna constitutes a lesson for all the generations. It comes to teach us how precious time is, what the value of each moment is. Because the Children of Israel ate the bread of Heaven in the desert, their minds were free to study and to serve G-d. This should be the attitude of anyone who merits being wealthy enough to have no material concerns. This attitude is also applicable for avrechim who study, for they are given their sustenance and their minds must be free from worry in order to study Torah.
It is said that one of the Tzaddikim of the generation devoted almost all his time to Torah study, and just a little time to the affairs of his business. As he was studying one day, someone came to him with a business offer that would have earned him several million dollars. The Tzaddik, however, refused to listen to the man, and he even sent him away. After he left, the Rebbetzin expressed her utter dismay: “Why did you send that man away? You could have earned millions of dollars and closed your shop for a long time, leaving you completely free to study Torah!” Her husband replied, “Do you know who that man was? He was the evil inclination.” Things are clear: If this had been someone sent by G-d, why did he arrive precisely at the time of the Tzaddik’s Torah study? Why did he not come when the Tzaddik was busy working? Did Hashem want the Tzaddik to forsake his studies? This was obviously the evil inclination, which wanted to disrupt his Torah study.
We may draw a lesson from this. Time is precious, and it is forbidden to waste even a single moment in life. Even someone who is not wealthy has the mitzvah to study all the time, even if he is sick, as the Rambam states. How much more does this apply to a wealthy man, who receives his sustenance in abundance and has no material concerns. Why does he not study at every available moment? In the outside world, there is an expression that states, “Too bad for time,” but perhaps with a different meaning. However this assertion stems from reality. Yes, too bad for time. Each instant counts. When we have no financial worries, each moment that passes is precious. Each instant should be used to perform mitzvot and good deeds. It is too bad for each moment of Torah lost. We must sanctify our time through Torah study, as the Creator commanded.