Shabbos Parashas Tetzaveh

Sefer HaMiddos, Shaar HaDaas (Gate of the Intellect), Chapter 12
We now explain the nature of the time a person spends in this world. As we discussed earlier, a person’s body has a defined extent and composition. It has a beginning and an end. It is composed of organs and limbs, joints, muscles and tendons, and bones. And all of these components are essential for a person to exist in a complete state. Each has its unique function. Similarly, the time a person spends in this world has a defined extent and composition. Regarding the extent of a person’s lifetime in this world, it is written (Tehillim 90:10): “The days of our years among them are seventy years, and if with strength, eighty years.” Likewise, the masters of deeper Torah wisdom teach that a complete lifetime in this world consists of seventy years. In addition, a person’s lifetime is divided into different stages, each with its own character.
Thus, the Mishnah in Avos 5:21 teaches: a five-year-old is involved in Scripture, a ten-year-old is involved in Mishnah, a thirteen-year-old begins observing mitzvos, a fifteen-year-old is involved in Gemara, an eighteen-year-old goes to the marriage canopy, a twenty-year-old is involved in pursuit of a livelihood, a thirty-year-old attains full strength, a forty-year-old attains understanding, a fifty-year-old is fit to give counsel, a sixty-year-old attains seniority, a seventy-year-old attains ripeness of age, an eighty-year-old exhibits strength ….” Here, in their wisdom, the Sages incisively analyzed the course of a person’s lifetime in this world, listed its stages, and identified the unique function of each stage.
Further, we see that time is made up of different units. A day is made up of 24 hours, seven days make up a week, four weeks make up a month, twelve months make up a year, seven years make up a shmittah cycles, and seven shmittah cycles make up a yovel. The division of time into units, each with a special name, reflects the differing functions of the different units, as is known to the masters of deeper Torah wisdom.
But one must not think that the function of each segment of time will come about automatically, without any effort on our part to bring our lives to completion. It is not so, my brother! Just as we must exert effort to maintain our physical existence, so, too, we must exert effort in order for the stages of life to lead us to a fitting spiritual level. We have to infuse our lives with fear of Hashem and serve Hashem appropriately every day and every year. We have to make sure not to leave anything out. If we exert the proper effort, then will we reach our proper station. We will be infused with knowledge, understanding, and discernment, and each stage of life will lift us higher and higher, until we are even able to attain Divine inspiration (and prophesy, during the time of the prophets).
Moreover, if we exert the proper effort Hashem will assist us and adorn us with a crown of splendor. In all our activities we will see success, without any anguish, all in a proper and straight manner. We will enjoy constant success until the time comes for Hashem to take us from this world, to bring us into the world to come, the world that is pure good, to revel in its delights. There as well our time will rise with us as a pleasing fragrance to Hashem and we will be clothed in a robe of glory. The Zohar describes this process. Regarding Avraham, the Torah says (Bereishis 24:1): “And Avraham was old, he had come to days.” Expounding on this statement, the Zohar teaches:
Come and behold: Avraham came close to Hashem. All his days, this was his desire. But Avraham did not come close in one day or at one time. His good deeds brought him closer every day and he rose level by level, until he reached a lofty level. When he got old, he entered the supernal levels as befit him.
But if you betray Hashem and do not observe what He commanded you in every segment of time, then the foreigner within you – the evil inclination – will rise up over you. Your time will be infused with abounding insanity and blindness, until you end up striving vainly to find the door to regret. For just as the successive segments of time bring a righteous man to increasingly higher levels, so, too, they push a wicked man lower and lower. Thus the Gemara in Shabbos 152a teaches: “With elder Torah scholars, the more they grow older the more wisdom they acquire … but with elder ignoramuses, the more they grow order the more foolish they become.” Similarly, the Gemara in Sukkah 52a teaches: “Regarding the evil inclination, initially it seems like a strand of a spider’s web, but in the end it becomes like a wagon’s ropes.”
A person has the choice, if he wishes, to uproot and destroy. Initially, Hashem holds back from subjecting a sinner to the judgments his evil deeds generate, but when he becomes a full-fledged scoundrel, He will subject him to full judgment. Testimony will be brought of all his evil deeds and thoughts. As the Gemara teaches (Chaggigah 5b): “Even about the excessive conversation between a man and his wife will testimony be brought on the day of judgment.” He will be surrounded by enemies. Attacks will be hurled against him like arrows shot at a target. In the words of the prophet (Yeshayah 33:1): “When you finish pillaging you will be pillaged; when you end your treachery, they will be treacherous with you.”
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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