Rabbi’s Message


Rabbi Shimon, in perek 7 mishna 3 of Mesechet Avot makes a shocking statement.

…רבי שמעון אומר, המהלך בדרך ושונה ומפסיק ממשנתו ואומר, מה נאה אילן זה ומה נאה ניר זה, מעלה עליו הכתוב כאלו מתחיב בנפשו.

R’ Shimon states, that one who is traveling along the road and stops his study and says, how beautiful is this tree and how beautiful is this fallow field, the verse relates to such as person as though he is deserving death.

Why does such a comparison deserve the death penalty?!

R. Yitzchak Twersky, an eleventh grade rebbi of mine, explained that the mishna isn’t telling us about a punishment for a flawed comparison, but rather about a logical outgrowth of a flawed approach towards life.

This traveler on life’s journey, metaphorically speaking, compares an אילן, a fruit tree, to a ניר, a fallow field. A fruit tree, even when it has not reached its goal of producing fruit, is always working towards that goal. A fallow field, however, when lying fallow of produce is torpid and listless.

This traveler sees two objects not at their respective goals and comes to a terrible conclusion: The אילן, a fruit tree without fruit, and the ניר, a fallow field, are exactly the same. This person’s fatal mistake, pun intended, is that he or she believes that unless one is basking in a goal there is no difference between working towards that goal or complete stagnancy.

Since much of life is defined by the toil towards lofty goals, this traveler ignores the value of much of his or her life, and hence has, in a sense, condemned his or herself to death. Not because of the magnitude of the sin but because this traveler is unable to appreciate the significance of life.

The student stage of life, and particularly as a medical school student, can feel endless. However, Kehilat Birkat Shmuel is a testament that there are hundreds of people in the dawn of their adult lives who believe that the journey can and must be made deep, rich and meaningful. Numerous shiurim, robust minyanim, large meals, and exciting programs all prove that this is a community committed to making their journey consequential.

Towering over the broad programming, however, I have come to realize just how far this community is from the “ניר mentality towards life” through my individual conversations with people about their dreams and aspirations.

Talia and I (and Leba and Eliana) are in awe of the warmth of this community and in-turn want to welcome everyone, both old and new members, to reach out, say hello and begin or further a relationship.

Rabbi Yair Hindin
Email: yhindin@gmail.com
Cell: 973-820-3745