Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Characteristic of a Fool…

The Chofetz Chaim, zt”l, would often take people to task for not devoting enough time to learning. Whenever he would notice an expensive and unnecessary ornament gracing a former student’s home, he would bemoan, “I don’t see a carpet, or drapes, or what have you. I see pages and pages of Gemara!”
He once offered a novel explanation of the importance of making full use of every moment for study. “The Gemara says in Chagigah 4a that one of the characteristics of a fool is that he habitually loses that which he is given. The halacha follows the Tosefta that Rav Papa cites, that one who always loses that which he is given is a fool.
The Chofetz Chaim then cried out, “There is nothing more precious than time! You can’t buy more for all the money in the world! In the course of a single minute, one can say two hundred words. Each word is a mitzvah in itself. How can one waste the time for the purchase of luxuries? Even worse, how can one be such a fool as to let it slip away through simple carelessness?”
Of course, there are other lessons that can be learned from this Gemara. A certain “chossid shoteh” once came to the Maggid of Kozhnitz, zt”l, and asked for a segulah to help him find an object that he had lost. The man had foolishly left his belonging unattended in a public place, and it was almost certainly stolen because of his irresponsibility. Even so, the man exhibited no awareness that he had caused his own trouble and still sought the item.
The Maggid said with some asperity, “Go home and say ‘Eizehu’ three times. That is your segulah.”
Without a second thought, the man went home and recited Eizehu Mekoman three times with painstaking kavanah, but nothing happened. His lost object failed to materialize.
He returned to the Maggid with a complaint. “I recited Eizehu three times just as you said, but nothing came of it. I still haven’t found my aveidah!”
The Maggid answered curtly, “I didn’t mean Eizehu in Zevachim. I meant in Chagigah! Eizehu shoteh hameabed mah shenosnim lo!”

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