The Right Time is Now
By: Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim
Parshat Re’eh begins “See, I am place before you today, blessing and curse. The blessings (will be bestowed upon you) when you listen…’ The word today seems to be redundant. The Toshe Rebbe of blessed memory suggests that when it comes to repentance and performing good deeds, procrastination is one of the greatest obstacles. The tendency to rationalize the delay of repentance and good deeds is what often results in repentance and good deeds never getting done. Therefore the Torah instructs us that our blessings and curses (God forbid) are dependent on us acting today and seizing the moment.
After Adam and Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, God explains why he banishes Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden: “The Lord God said, “Behold, man has become like one of us, having the ability of knowing good and evil, and now, lest he stretch forth his hand and take also from the Tree of Life and eat and live forever.”” (Genesis Chapter 3 vs 22)
Our sages (Midrash Raba) learn from the term ‘and now’ that God opened up an opening of repentance for Adam. Our sages learn this by associating this verse with another verse in Deuteronomy in which the term ‘and now’ appears – “And now Israel, what does the Lord your God seek from you, only to fear the Lord, to love Him…” (Deuteronomy Chapter 10 vs 12) Our sages therefore conclude that the expression ‘and now’ refers to repentance – returning to God.
It seems then that repentance is represented by the notion of today and the idea of now. Rabbi Chaim Friedlander (Menuchas Hanefesh) writes that one should consider this very moment as their only moment. Every moment of our lives has a unique purpose. This is included in what Hillel teaches us in “Ethics Of The Fathers” (Source) “If not now, when?”
Similarly, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (Likutei Moharan 272) teaches, “This is a great principle in the service of God, that a person should only cast his eyes on today….because a person only has in their world that day and that moment in which they are standing (now) because tomorrow is a completely different world altogether.” In this way he explains the verse in psalms “…today, if you listen to my voice (Psalm 95).”
Let us do it now because tomorrow may never come! The best and only time is now!