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Minute 990 /solitary Confinement

TODAY'S MESSAGE IS DEDICATED
                          IN MEMORY OF
                 ABRAHAM Ben ROSA A'H
        BY EDDIE & HELEN SHAMAH & FAMILY

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BY RABBI RAYMOND BEYDA
"A MINUTE WITH YOURSELF"
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           Penal codes around the globe vary when it comes to sentencing convicts. Which punishment is appropriate for which transgression?  It depends. The severity of a verdict is generally matched to the crime, based on the mores and sensibilities of a particular society.


Once criminals are placed within the penal system, jail keepers and wardens are authorized to impose penalties on inmates who do not comply with prison rules. The one punishment that heads the list in severity worldwide is solitary confinement. Second only to capital punishment, isolation—being cut off from human interaction—is the severest of all disciplinary actions. The Talmud says: “Either a study partner or death” (Taaneet 23a). The Gemara emphasizes the human need for companionship and interaction by stating that a person who does not have a study partner might as well not be alive.


In today’s fast-paced, wireless society, interaction is a constant. The need to be in touch with people and information has been satisfied by a variety of ingenious gadgets, from beepers to cell phones to wireless Internet devices that can fill you in on late-breaking stories in the world of news, weather, and sports. You are never out of touch, and never alone.


During a typical day filled with unwelcome intrusions, you barely have time to think. You cannot plan a simple schedule and follow it without interruption. Whatever the hour, wherever you may be, there is someone calling your number and clamoring for your attention. Private time—a minute with yourself—is a rare commodity.


The Mesillat Yesharim suggests that you spend a few minutes each day evaluating self-improvement. “How am I doing?” is a question you must ask yourself each and every day. But you must find some private time to answer the query.


You may not realize it, but very often you prevent yourself from cashing in on valuable time alone. How often do you get in a car and instantly invite a radio personality into your life to occupy your mind and pass the time? How impatient do you become while waiting for a bus or train? Does time spent sitting in traffic get your goat? Do you give up free-thought time in a doctor’s waiting room by reading a newsmagazine that is six months old? If you answered yes to any of the above, you are wasting the most valuable time of the day—your time in “solitary confinement.”


Next time you are free of outside intrusions, use the time for productive self-evaluation and concrete planning. There is nothing as valuable as a minute with yourself. Don’t waste it!


CONSIDER THIS FOR A MINUTE


Make for yourself a teacher, and acquire a friend. (Pirke Avot 1:6)




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