This post is dedicated in memory of Etya Sarah bat Yitzchak ha-Levi. May it be an aliyah for her neshama.By Elisheva Maline
Rabbi Dosa ben Hurkinas used to say, "Morning sleep, afternoon wine, conversation of childish portent and sitting in the meeting places of the ignorant remove a person from this world."
Rabbi Dosa's motto sounds perfect for people who'd like to start living like a Huckleberry Finn. Who wouldn't prefer living for the moment (i.e. sleeping in), walking around wearing intoxication goggles (being incurably optimistic) and cracking up at every joke on the laffy taffy wrapper? Who'd rather be the guy who wakes up at six am, takes the train to work and eyeballs the computer screen for seven hours, anyway? He's bound to be the snarkier of the two options? On the flip side, the lovable do-nothing bum gets almost nothing done, and at some point, he even starts feeling a little cut off from functioning members of society.
To figure out in which camp one sees themselves it is good to ask, "Do you have goals? Do you dream, ever?" Read further.
According to the Torah, our sages of blessed memory told us that sleeping late, drinking and chatting about nonentities would lead to emotional isolation. Why? Let's go through it step by step. First of all, sleeping in means missing zeman kriyat shema (the appointed time by which one must have already said the blessings that precede and follow the shema, which is a declaration of G-d's oneness).
It's inevitable that morning slothfulness will include losing out on hours of Torah study... and a closer relationship with G-d. Afternoon benders are self explanatory. Next, starting or joining conversations of childish portent (think fifth grade boys, fraternity parties and Donald Trump) is a sure way to get swamped by impetuous behavior, impulsive speech, and most like, inappropriate use of grammar. Rabbi Dosa also lets us know that since birds of a feather flock together joining the fool's country club means zilch chance for rubbing shoulders with Judaism's up and coming Torah giants.
What is man's purpose in this world? Rabbeinu Yona answers, "Learning Torah!" Anti climatic? I'll explain why it is not. Given enough time, most people will agree that this world, and everything in it, is transient. One's childhood, monthly wages, a steak sandwich, they're here today, gone tomorrow, now you see them now you don't (there's a reason a lot of these cliches exist). However, the Torah is permanent. Learning Torah gives us permanence. The great sage finishes off his comment with the following parable, "A king gave his servant one hundred pieces of silver. The servant threw the money into the sea, came back and said, 'Please sir, can I have some more?' to which the king replied that he didn't find the appeal compelling." The king is G-d and we are the servants. G-d sends us down to this world with a set amount of time to live. If we don't use these years to gain anything of abiding value what right have we to request more?