While traveling from city to city selling his wares, a peddler approached the city of Tzipori and called out in a loud voice, “Who wants to buy the potion of life? Who wants life?” A crowd gathered around him. Rabbi Yanai heard the commotion and stood by watching. When he heard the man’s offer, he said to him, “I would like to purchase some.” The peddler responded, “It’s not for you and your type.” Rabbi Yanai persisted. Finally the peddler took out a T’hilim and opened it to the pasuk, “Who is the man who wants life? Guard your tongue from evil.”

You can tell a lot about people based on how they use their time. When we get home from school or work, how do we view our free time? Do we ask ourselves how to waste the night away, how to most easily and enjoyably make it to tomorrow morning? Or do we take full advantage of our every moment, attempting to squeeze out as much potential as possible from each and every day? When the alarm goes off in the morning, do we jump out of bed like a lion, ready to conquer the day, or do we hit snooze again, again, and again? As human beings, we find ourselves stuck within time; so the question we face on a daily basis is: “How will we use our time”?

“You shall count for yourselves – from the morrow of the rest day (Pesach), from the day when you bring the omer (a measure of volume) of the waving – seven weeks, they shall be complete. Until the morrow of the seventh week you shall count, fifty days…” (Leviticus 23:15-16)

The soul of a Jew is pure. No matter how sullied the building, the foundation is never spoiled. We are assured that no amount of sin can sever the connection of a Jew from his Maker. Thus, Hashem gives us an opportunity each and every year to remove the stench of sin that we have brought upon ourselves through the t’shuvah process on Yom Kippur. No matter one’s station in life, Hashem is willing and eager to accept every last one of His children back into the fold. As we say: “Al da’as HaMakom v’al da’as hakahal…anu mispalelim im ha’avaryanim – With Hashem’s consent and the consent of the congregation ... we pray even with the sinners.”

Do you ever wonder what people really think about you? Whether they think you’re brilliant, caring, and fun; or lazy, self-centered, and boring? The truth is, you’ll never know; people only talk about you openly when you’re not in the room. In these situations, don’t you think it’s possible that people might put you down, say negative things about you, or even make fun of you behind your back? After all, we’ve all been in the room when someone else was gossiped about. Gossiping is such a common occurrence that it almost seems to be human nature. We all know people who can find something bad to say about anyone, criticize anything and everybody; words of negativity easily flow from their mouths. But why do we have the desire to put other people down, to speak negatively about them behind their backs?

The first national Jewish organization to pioneer Jewish day schools in the US, at a time when European Jewry was facing the genocide of the Holocaust, was Torah Umesorah. It was founded by R’ Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, zt”l, who maintained that without Torah education there would be, within one generation, nothing left of Torah observance in America. Just as Bnei Yisrael were left to die in the desert after the sin of the meraglim and only their children were permitted to enter the Holy Land and continue the legacy of the Jewish people, American Jewry was now the largest Jewish community in the world, and for every Torah school in Europe that had been destroyed, he was determined to build a new one in America.