Four things come not back. The spoken word, the sped arrow, the past life, and the neglected opportunity. -Arabic Proverb
Jewish faith is defined, constrained and guided by a set of rules. Commandments direct how we should act, speak and even think. Jewish law (Halacha) in all of its complexity and subtlety is meant to be a guidebook for life.
To a person that is just becoming familiar with the plethora of laws, the extensiveness and detail of the commandments can be overwhelming. However, there are a number of overarching principles that can assist and that are worth keeping in mind:
- Continuous Torah study is fundamental – if you don’t know, you can’t do.
- Don’t do unto others what you wouldn’t like to be done to you.
- The Sabbath is a key mainstay of the Jewish people.
- Idol worship is a fundamental negation of Jewish faith.
There are a few others, but one that Baal Haturim relates to is chosen by one of the most authoritative redactors of Jewish Law, Rabbi Yosef Karo, to start off his magnum opus, the Shulchan Aruch.
The Baal Haturim on Leviticus 22:29 warns us not to let the opportunity to perform a Mitzvah (a commandment) pass us by. The chance to fulfill a precept of Jewish law is often fleeting and once lost is gone forever. We are enjoined to be swift in the pursuit of God’s directives. We must awaken with alacrity to use our time, our resources, our intelligence, and our strengths to lead a life that seizes upon the opportunities that are in front of us.
May we always grasp the opportunities to do good.
To the team of Merkaz HaHalacha (Center of Jewish Law) who continue to grow and succeed.