Have you heard of “The Microwave Fireplace”? Spend a relaxing evening in just 8 minutes!
It’s an old joke I read many years ago in “The Reader’s Digest” (is that still being published?) but also illustrative of an insight I gleaned from my Rashi studies this week on Parsha Chayei Sarah.
The Rashi header (where he quotes the pertinent words from the verse) is “I (Eliezer) arrived today to the well.” It’s where Eliezer, servant and agent of Avraham, describes to Rivka/Rebecca’s family the incredible divine providence in his finding Rivka at the well and her doing exactly what he hoped for in a wife for Yitzchak/Isaac, to offer to give him and his camels water…
So Rashi, the great biblical commentator says two interpretations under this same header:
1) I arrived today – the word today seems extra. This teaches us that Eliezer left Avraham and arrived at the well in Haran the very same day, which is a most speedy trip, employing miraculously accelerated travel.
2) Rashi takes note of the fact that this is the 3rd retelling of this well story. First Eliezer envisioning it in his prayer to G-d, then as it unfolds with Rivka, and now in his retelling of the story to her family. The Torah is usually much more cryptic and terse! Why this lengthy retelling? This teaches how “beloved it is to G-d the words or chatter of the servants of our forefathers (i.e. Eliezer) even more so than the Torah (laws and statues which are usually much more abbreviated and cryptic in Torah text) of the children.” And that’s why Torah tells and retells this story in such great length.
(The Rebbe asks, what’s the connection between these two teachings and why are they both placed under this same Rashi header? Rebbe’s answer is more complex and goes into why each of these teachings are needed for simple understanding of the verses, which is a primary Rashi commentary goal, and indeed, how these two teachings complement each other and answer questions about the other).
I realized a simple thing about this Rashi (without going into the Rebbe’s depth in interpreting this).
It goes back to The Microwave Fireplace. Perhaps Rashi is teaching us that some things are good to accelerate, rush, get done quickly. Other things are better to savor, take your time, make the most of it, don’t rush it, it is even good to stretch it out.
The problem is that we often confuse these things. We rush things and people we should take time for, and we often spend too much time on things that we shouldn’t. It’s important to know and remember, what is it that we should be putting more time into, and what should we put less time and energy into. That’s a secret to time management, to priorities in life, to best utilization of our time and resources.
Rashi is telling us what to rush and hurry and get done as quickly as possible, and what is worth spending time and energy on. Know the difference!