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Section:  Avodah   Category: Innocent Observations
The Last One Hundred Days

Imagine the doctor telling a person that he has one hour to live.  The person runs like a maniac out of the doctors offices to the elevator without a second to spare.  Being on the 30th floor of the building doesn't make matters easier and he waits extremely impatiently for the elevator to come.  Finally it's here... but it is very crowded and there are a number of floors to stop at on the way.  Worse yet people keep getting on and off as the dying man is going absolutely nuts.  Finally by the 12th floor every one is out and next stop is the lobby.  But then some wiseguy kid sticks his hand in and pushes every single button as a silly prank.

And let's say he would make it down to the street quickly find a cab and have open roads to get wherever he wanted to go, where would he go?  Chazal tell us to picture the day of our death.  Chazal warn us to do tshuva one day before we die.  This seems a bit hard on our modern day minds since that leaves us in a hopeless situation.  How quickly can we change our history?  Rebbi said Yesh Koneh Olamo B'Shaa Achas but can we do it. 

What would you do if the doctor told you had 100 days left to live?  That gives us more to work with and we can formulate a plan.  If you were a tzaddik, you'd use the time to wrap up your life's avodah and instruct your children on how they should act.  If you were a person with ups and downs like most of us, you'd use the time to repair as much of the damage as possible so that you would only take the good with you.  But what if you didn't live your life with proper hashkafos, can you live your whole life in 100 days?

What is living anyway?   On this world our only life source is our Neshamos that we receive from Shamayim.  It is surrounded by dead matter called our bodies. Living is the time spent with our feet on the ground and head in the heavens.  Death would be time spent totally surrounded by earthly matter without even a glimpse of the world above and beyond. 

Very few of us spend our lives living all the time.  Someone like Avrohom Avinu was Ba BaYamim, each day was fully lived.  Sara's 127 years were Kulam Shavim LiTova.  The rest of us have plenty of "dead" space in our lives.  The question is how much "live" time do we really have?

The gemara in Brachos interprets the pasuk in Mishlei as a message to us to daven to die a good death.  Is a peaceful death in your sleep a good death?   Many drashos have been given the last 30 years trying to find the reason why we have been hit with this terrible plague called cancer?  Does it have to do with our constant Lashon Hara or some other aveira? 

It may sound crazy but cancer doesn't seem like the greatest tragedy.  Cancer is not always a menacing killer, it can be the gift of life.  It can be a sprinkling of Techias HaMeisim. It forces a person to look beyond this world towards the next.  It awakens everybody around the sick person to tehilim, tshuva, mitzvos and maasim tovim.  Have you ever spent time with people dying of cancer?  We are all dead, they are truly living.  Nothing material matters to them.  Their head is way up there in the sky.  They have this pure emuna and a beautiful glow of the Shechina around them. 

Recently a documentary was made about a Frum woman dying of cancer.  The cameras followed her around through this difficult period, its ups and downs. It captures her pain, struggle, acceptance, and ultimately tells the story how she emerged victorious, lifting not only herself to great heights but inspired everyone who she O"H came in contact with.  The name of the film was so appropriately called, "Time of My Life".

Do you know why cancer patients often die?  The pasuk in Ki Sisa (33:20) tells us clearly, "Ki Lo Yirani HaDam VaChai", because a person cannot see Hashem and live.  Why not?  A sick person sees Hashem clearly before him.  "Hashem Yisadenu Al Eres Dvai".  He becomes so close to Hashem and yearns for the sweetness and is no longer interested in this world.  At some point he reaches the point of no return.  He drifts so far from this world that he can never come back.  Rav Shimshon Pincus says that Yitzchok did not "go" blind after seeing the malachim while bound on the akeida.  He merely refused to look at Olam HaZeh ever again. He saw right through it and it didn't register anymore.

Years ago I had a friend who left Eretz Yisroel for treatment and came back after having gotten a clean bill of health from his doctor.  Two days later as I was walking home from Shul I here fast footsteps and feel a slap on my back.  "What are you shlepping along for?  Get some life into you!" my friend said, his face aglow and full of life.  I felt pretty stupid.  A week later I heard he was rushed back to America and shortly thereafter passed away before reaching the age of 30.  But he lived, and what a life he lived.  He still lives on.  His only wish was to revive me and help me join the living.

Do you know what is a tragedy?  Dying of a sudden heart attack or a tragic accident.  There is nothing worse than being here one minute and gone the next.  Mar Ukva cried on his deathbed (Kesubos 67b) that his journey is far and his suitcases are very light.  Imagine being sent on a six month journey without even a suitcase.  We, who don't spend too much of our short lives packing for the big trip, would be in huge trouble if suddenly our ride out showed up unexpectedly without giving us a moment to pack the basic necessities.  No chance to say goodbye.  No one to pass the torch to in an orderly manner.  And what about the sting, the shock, the disbelief of those left behind? 

"Odcha Ki Anisani VaTihi Li Lishua", I thank You for afflicting me as it was for me a salvation.  "Even Ma'asu HaBonim Hoysa LRosh Pina", the rock that disgusted the builders turned out to be the cornerstone of their great edifice.  "MeiEis Hashem Hoysa Zos Hi Niflas B'Eineinu", this was a gift from Hashem and it is wonderful in our eyes.  Everyone is looking for a wonder drug to cure the terrible disease of cancer (and may they be successful Be"H), but as it turns out, the scrooge that that we call cancer, with fear and trepidation, itself is a miracle drug that we could not have even hoped for.  It doesn't only cure the sick, it even cures the dead.  It doesn't come from the Mida of Din but rather "MeiEis Hashem" from a Hashem giving with pure compassion.

We daven that no one should live their "life" only in the shadow of death.  We should all "live" and be healthy Ad Mei'a V'Esrim.  But to really live we need to shake off our apathy and the indifference we display watching the days slip by one after another as we are distracted by so many trivial matters.  We need to set real goals and eternal goals.  Goals that make a difference.  Then we need to struggle to reach those goals.  We need to fight to overcome all the obstacles called life, that stand in the way of our ultimate victory.  If we understood the stakes involved, our life and our avodah would be no easier than those fighting off disease and the specter of death.  We all suffer from so many spiritual ailments that ravage our bodies and rack our souls.

If we live our lives like we had only 100 days left, we'd have a plan.  We'd have a purpose.  And when the end came we'd calmly take the elevator up, straight to the top floor, without any rascals getting in our way.

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YH, 2009-11-27 11:04:06
The woman who created "Time of my Life," Simcha Esther (Shari) Gershan, passed away on Yom Kippur.

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