Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

23 Tammuz 5760 - July 26, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Momentous Occasions
by Leah Subar

I'm not usually nitpicky about grammar. When you tell me you was at the store yesterday, I know what you mean.

But there are some phrases I avoid in speech and in writing because they're redundant or they don't make sense. Phrases such as wholly satisfied, somewhat false, very unique, almost dangerous. They're unnecessarily qualified. Still, I can deal with it.

However, there is one often-used redundant phrase that I think is intolerable.

"Momentous Occasions."

This refers to birthday parties, anniversaries, family reunions and award ceremonies. They don't happen every day; they happen occasionally.

Then why not call them simply -- occasions? Of course they're momentous; they are made up of moments.

The problem is that, unfortunately, we differentiate between moments and precious moments.

Last week I took a walk with my children. They were bounding along the stone path and I was thinking about an irritating conversation I had had with a clerk at the Kupat Cholim desk.

Suddenly, a whiff of sweet honeysuckle floated by. I wasn't paying attention to it -- didn't notice I was smelling anything until it was gone. Then I noticed it was missing. "Did you smell that, kids?" They were busy in their own moments of bouncing and hadn't noticed the honeysuckle. I backed up, hoping to catch another bouquet. It was gone.

There may be another moment of honeysuckle awaiting me. Maybe even today. But that one is gone. True, I didn't miss it completely. Still, had I been fully in the moment, I could have gotten a full lung's worth, not just a whiff.

Moments don't come back. This moment (what other moment is there?) runs quickly to the past; the future close behind. Even our best intentions to redo them or fix them rarely work.


I was having a hard time with one of my children. I wasn't very nice to her. I felt bad. Fortunately, my moment of guilt passed and my moment of making amends arrived: I seized it.

She had gone out to play with her tricycle and when I heard her clanking up the four flights of stairs to our home, I was eager to "make up." I headed out the door to meet her midway.

She would be surprised, wonder what I was doing coming down just like that, and ask me in her sweet, gentle way. And then, the moment I was waiting for: I would tell her that I had come down all those steps just to bring up her tricycle. That's all. Not to bring in the mail, not to borrow some eggs from a neighbor or to turn off the water in the machsan. I had come just to help my precious sweetheart because "You're important to me."

My son met me first. He was coming home at the same time and, taking advantage of his moment, had decided to help her. He hauled the tricycle over his shoulders and headed up.

I told my daugher why I had come down and that since her brother beat me to it, maybe I could hold her hand instead. That would also be fun.

Nothing doing. She told me she had come home to drop off her bike, but now that her brother was taking it up, she could go back outside to play. And that's what she did, leaving me alone on the stairs. A sad moment.

No use dwelling on the past. Regret and guilt are destroyers of the Moment.

So is worry. Worry is regret over moments that have not yet occurred.

I can't enjoy my challa baking on Erev Shabbos because I'm worried about the mess. As I clean up the mess, I worry about getting the kids into the bath on time. When the kids are in the bath, I worry about whether their Shabbos clothes are dry. When the kids are dressed, I worry about their getting dirty. When they come home after candlelighting, having thoroughly enjoyed themselves in the dirt, I worry about changing them before Kiddush. When my husband makes Kiddush, I worry if the soup will be hot enough. After the soup, I worry about putting the kids to sleep before or after dessert. After dessert, I worry about finishing the dishes before the baby wakes. When the baby wakes, I worry that I'll never have time to enjoy Shabbos -- or anything else in my life!

I'm exaggerating. But how much so?

It's no good waiting for some fuzzy, vague time in the future to enjoy what we have today. And not just today -- but now, this moment. And this moment. And this.

Even if what you're focusing on are beautiful memories or wonderful expectations - they're just cherries on the cake. Don't forget the cake.

This is called living a momentous life.

"Take good care of the moments and the years take care of themselves" - R' Shamshon Refael Hirsch.


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