My Chosen Life

March 23, 2023

My Chosen Life

Your day is not yours.

Those waking hours? Sorry, but they don’t belong to you.

You know what I mean. You feel it. You feel the stress, the pull of those hours that are not your own.

Put in those hours. Get the job done. Check it off the list.

Daytime is accomplishing time.

Daytime is parnassah time.

Daytime is when you do what you have to.

Because that’s life, and life demands effort and money and the time it takes to make that money. Life’s expensive, and life brings expectations, and life is calling. And you’re rushing, rushing, rushing all day, because you’ve got to meet those responsibilities of life.

Which makes us appreciate our lomdei Torah more than ever. How do they do it? we marvel. How do they tuck away regular life pressures and set aside the whole day for learning, for shuckling over a Gemara, for horeving over the age-old words of our Amora’im?

We see them rushing, Gemara under their arms, to accomplish and conquer the precious, ancient words that keep us strong. Daytime is a time to accomplish, yes, and our talmidei chachamim are bent on accomplishing.

Life has its demands, but our talmidei chachamim are choosing a different life. Maybe, in a different time or a different place, their life would demand serious working hours and a real parnassah. But the life they choose is not the pathway of a secure profession or extra income.

The life they choose is Torah, and when Torah is your life, you live life differently. Your day is different. The push and the drive we all feel every day are channeled toward another sugya, another Tosfos. The need to accomplish is not about the physical, it’s about the spiritual.

How can they afford life? we worry about our precious lomdei Torah. After all, life is so expensive.

But our ernste talmidei chachamim look up from their sefarim with a satisfied sparkle in their eyes. They walk with a spring in their steps.

Torah is our life.

Torah is our day.

Torah is where we push ourselves, we raise the bar, and we set to conquer and accomplish.

A calling

The sun is slowly setting, and the traffic signals that the workday is done. You’ve put in a full day, and you’ve tried to meet your goals. Now it’s time to unwind and to make sure you’re spending time on what’s important to you personally.

Supper time. Family time. Time to shop or schmooze or make an early night or go to a simchah or research whatever decisions you need to make or get to that side hustle you wanted to start. It’s time that’s yours—finally—after a whole day that didn’t belong to you.

Nighttime is your time.

Nighttime is when people focus on their personal enjoyment.

Nighttime when you try to enhance your life.

Nighttime is when you spend time doing what you enjoy most.

Come peek with us. We’re going to visit the homes of some of our talmidei chachamim, and we’re going at night. Let’s see how our talmidei chachamim spend their precious nighttime—their private, personal time. Let’s see what they consider life.

In one small home, the children are getting ready for bed. They scamper and cavort and prance around the hallway, and their father reminds them to move along.

“Let’s go, kinderlach, it’s time to get into bed,” he says. “I want to go to night seder already, but I don’t want it to be hard for Mommy. Go into bed; when I come home, I want to hear that you went to sleep like little tzaddikim.”

His wife is finishing settling the baby in her crib. “You can go,” she says with a smile, ignoring her fatigue. “I’ll get them into bed.”

Nighttime is time for personal enjoyment.

For this precious ben Torah and his wife, an enjoyable life is a life of Torah.

Rav Malkiel Kotler described this eloquently when he spoke recently about the inyan of learning at night. When someone learns by day, he is announcing that a life of Torah is more dear to him, more valuable, than earning a parnassah. But when someone learns at night, he is demonstrating that limud Torah is so dear to him that it’s more than a daily schedule or a built-in structure. It’s a calling. It’s a passion. It’s an enjoyable pursuit, a delightful choice.

It’s the way our talmidei chachamim approach their learning.

How can we not take pride in our finest?

How can we not feel overwhelmed with admiration?

In another home, an invitation hangs on the fridge.

“Your cousins are making a bar mitzvah tonight?” he asks.

“Yes, and my parents are coming to Lakewood.” His eishes chayil smiles as she clears the supper table.

“Do you want me to come home early tonight?” he asks, holding his breath. His nighttime chavrusa and the words of Torah they share invigorate him. He is torn between making sure her needs are met and his cheshek for his night seder.

“Don’t worry, I’ll wait until the kids fall asleep, and then I’ll get the neighbor’s daughter to babysit,” she says. “You go.”

He goes, and she goes later. She walks across the parking lot alone, but she’s not alone. Her heart is full of joy and pride. She shares her husband’s excitement and drive and happily makes do without his presence at the simchah.

How does your family spend their downtime? The evening routine is telling. Those nighttime hours are too few to squeeze in everything you want to get in. You’ve got to prioritize what you really call living.

What’s real, true life for your family?

“Our daughter gets the credit for my husband’s night seder,” she says, winking at her teenager. Hard to believe that little pigtailed toddler is now old enough to be her mother’s right hand during the busy winter evenings.

There’s extra soundproofing in the study, and the door stays firmly shut. Totty is learning, and she makes sure to be around as Mommy settles the newborn and gets the big kids started on homework. She knows where she’s needed, and chashivus haTorah is in her blood, seeped in her bones, part of her genetic makeup.

When her friends want to come over to study, she asks them if they can start a little later. “I want to help my mother first,” she says.

And once the friends come, she keeps them in her room and shuts the door. It wouldn’t do to have noise waft downstairs during Totty’s precious night seder.

Round the clock

There’s so much we have to accomplish by day. It’s not our own time. The ancient curse of Adam Harishon chained us to a schedule that isn’t of our own choosing.

Leisure time is precious and limited, shunted to a short night at the end of a long, tiring day.

But our downtime shows what it is that lifts us up.

Our nighttime is precious, private, and personal. The way we choose to spend it is the way we show ourselves and our Maker what is dear to us.

There are many of us on night shift, many of us who make use of the evening hours to attend a shiur, to set up a chavrusashaft, to do another daf.

And there are those who are both on the night shift and the day shift. Two separate callings. The day shift is because Torah gives them life. And the night shift is precious because their life is Torah.

Round the clock, their hearts and minds are connected to Hashem’s Torah.

Round the clock, the Torah is their drive, their passion, their life.

Kupas Yom Tov makes it seamless for you to support Torah around the clock.

Kupas Yom Tov was founded with the goal of ensuring a beautiful Yom Tov as is befitting our cherished bnei Torah. And it continues to run with one purpose: to ensure that these special families, who give up so much throughout the year to dedicate their lives to Hashem and His Torah, will be able to make Yom Tov with dignity.

With minimal overhead, the funds you provide go straight to these chashuve yungerleit, b’derech kavod.

Can you share the connection, the drive? Can you share the passion and yearning for a life of Torah? Can you add your name to the roster of those who are on call for Torah all day, every day?