There is a verse in Parshas Acharei Mos that says (18:5) “And you shall keep my laws and my decrees which a person shall do and live by them.”
Rashi comments on this verse and says that the verse is hinting to us that while adhering to the laws of the Torah, we should focus on the fact that we are investing in our eternal life.
This message is reiterated in the Mishnah in Avos (4:16) which says, “This world is like a foyer before the Next World. Prepare yourself in the foyer before you enter the palace.” The Mishnah is advising us to view our life in this world as a temporary phase before we reach the main place. By framing life in the world we live in as only a temporary, insignificant place, relative to the “real place” where we will remain eternally, we will be much more inclined to focus on preparing ourselves for the Next World.
There was an annual bazaar that took place in the town of Zlavoha for four consecutive weeks. This annual market generated a lot of business and the people involved would work tirelessly during this time, deprived of proper sleep and nourishment. The Chofetz Chaim happened to have been once passing through the bazaar and he heard an exchange between an employee and his boss. The employee was complaining to his boss and said, “When will the bazaar be over already? I’m so tired and want to rest already!” The boss snapped back at him and said, “Are you a fool?! What are you talking about?! If only the bazaar would stretch longer! It is true that we are very tired now, but I will be able live off and enjoy the profits of this bazaar for an entire year!”
This made a deep impression on the Chofetz Chaim and he would repeat this story and say, “It is worthwhile for a person to get inadequate sleep and food, and stay at compromised accommodations the entire time the bazaar takes place in order to live comfortably for an entire year. Moreover, he is satisfied with his accommodations and is so excited about his profits that the exhaustion doesn’t even get to him. How happy would a person be if only he would imagine to himself that this world is nothing more than a temporary bazaar in which he can earn lucrative profits for his permanent life in the Next World!”
This may be a simple concept, but one we tend to forget about in the way we lead our lives. While we may keep the laws of the Torah, we easily get caught up in pursuing comforts and conveniences. We must take time on a regular basis to think about our eternal life and reframe our perspective of our daily lives as a temporary phase intended for investing in our eternal future. We are now at the most lucrative bazaar from which we can profit an eternal life of luxury. How can we afford to waste any part of it by being distracted by trivial matters?
Parshas Acharei Mos by Rabbi Yitzchok Aryeh Strimber (firstname.lastname@example.org)