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    Two opinions – Ekev

    speed sign slowThe Baal Shem Tov had a habit of turning negative statements in the Torah around and making them positive.

    As an example, take the verse in the sidra, v’avad’tem m’herah, “You will quickly perish (from the Holy Land if you disobey God)” (Deut. 11:17). According to the Baal Shem Tov, the Hebrew of the verse can suggest a blessing – “You shall lose speed”, i.e. you will slow down and take life more calmly.

    This may not be the original meaning of the verse, but it still tells us something important – that constantly being in a hurry and doing things in a hurry does us no service.

    If the Baal Shem, living in a much quieter age, thought that speed was not a good thing, his advice is all the more pertinent at our juncture in history. Too much haste means that we have too little time to think, too little time to see and breathe in the beauties of the universe, too little time to enjoy being alive and to enjoy our family and friends.

    Probably the only thing we should be doing in a hurry is finding mitzvot to do and carrying them out without dawdling. As the sages say, “When a mitzvah comes to your hand, don’t let it become stale.”

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