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sleeping on the job

This week’s Torah reading, “Beha’alotcha,” contains an important message: Our time is limited, and we must make the best use of it!

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

This week’s Torah portion is “Beha’alotcha” (Numbers 8:1 – 12:17), and in it we read about the “job requirements” and “employment” of the Levites.

We are told that a Levite begins his service in the Temple at 25 years of age. However, there is a verse in last week’s Torah portion that says the Levites begin their service at 30. Is there a contradiction here?

The sages reconcile the two verses by explaining that the Levites are to appear at the Temple at the age of 25 to begin a five-year training program. It is only after the five years of training, when the Levite turns 30, that he actually begins working.

In that case, however, why do we not see any mention of a training program for the Kohanim (the Priests)? The tasks of the Kohanim are much more extensive and complicated.

A Kohen would begin serving in the Temple from his Bar Mitzvah date and onward – at 13 years old – and there was no age of retirement. A Kohen could serve for life. A Levite, however, was forced to retire at 50.

As such, a Levite had to be fully trained and ready to perform his service immediately upon turning 30, since his time in the service was limited. A Kohen, however, could end up serving for 50, 60 or 70 years and therefore was not under pressure to perfect his service at the age of 13. He could take his time and learn on the job.

The Levite is in a “rush” to work and do his job well. The Kohen, on the other hand, has all the time in the world. Literally.

Savor the Moment!

There is an important life message here for all of us. When our time is limited, we must use it well. Take, for example, school. Most teenagers we know hate school and wish he or she did not have to spend four years in high school. They can’t wait to get out of school even before they start! Most of us grown-ups, however, WISH we could go back to school and learn more.

Whether it is school or any pursuit in life, we cannot afford to waste the limited time that we have. We must savor the moment. Life passes us by so quickly, and it would be a pity not to take advantages of the opportunities and fully enjoy the moments. Be sure to maximize your time!

For more insights by Rabbi Enkin on this week’s Torah portion, click on the link below.


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