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    There is famous brief Hebrew poem composed by one of the Jewish philosophers of the middle ages that runs as follows, “he’avar ayin, he’asid adayin, he’hoveh k’heref ayin, da’aga minyain? – The past is gone already; the future is not yet here; the present is merely the span of the blink of an eye; so there is no room to worry about anything.” Rav Soloveitchik in several of his published essays[1] wrote that the idea expressed in the poem is not in accordance with Jewish thought. Our lives are so short; how long does one live? If we don’t live in the past as well as in the future, in addition to living in the brief moment of the present, then we have not lived. A religious Jew lives along with many of the tzaddikim of the past; Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov; Moshe Rabbeinu; Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochoi; Abayai and Rova; the Shach and the Vilna Gaon, etc. and we live with Eliyahu Hanavi.

    One of the anti-religious Israeli “thinkers” was widely quoted as having expressed the sentiment, “Enough living in the past, and always speaking of the Avos, Yitzias Mitzrayim, Maimid Har Sinai etc; and enough speaking about the future – the coming of Moshiach etc. I want to live in the present and enjoy myself!”

    This is the attitude of a rosho who is only interested in the moment of the present. This is why even during his lifetime the rosho is considered as if he were dead. A religious Jew who connects with the tzaddikim of the former generations, and thereby joins Klal Yisroel, lives, in addition to the split second of the present, in the past and future as well, since Klal Yisroel includes the Jews of all the generations, past, present and future.

    In the parsha we read (Breishis 30:1) the way Rachel was so upset that she had not yet had any children. She cried out to her husband that if she won’t have any children she will consider herself as if she were dead and as if she had accomplished nothing in her lifetime. Even though such an individual identifies with the past, that is not sufficient; one must have children to be able to link up with the future as well. A rosho has a very brief life indeed, considering that he lives only in the very brief moment of the present.