There is a man. Let’s call him… George. George’s oven has been acting out. You know, when the oven is never the right temperature? Or threatens to blow up? He decides to call the oven company to fix it. The company puts him on hold. Immediately, a jazzy tune is played.
George starts to dance. He invites all his neighbors to dance too. One neighbor decides to bring chips. Another brings coke. The man down the street brings balloons. Soon, they’re having a party.
After about fifteen minutes, they’re interrupted by a kind-sounding woman. “Hello,” she says, “how can I help you?”
The attendees are outraged. “Hey, lady! You just interrupted our party!”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she answers, “I’ll go now.”
She hangs up, a neighbor plays another song, and the festivities go on for hours.
The next day:
George is feeling great. His party is the talk of the town, and everyone is praising him for the idea. “It was just what I needed!” someone says. “I haven’t had such a great time in months!” says another.
But George just can’t shake the feeling that he’s forgetting something…
George rushes to his kitchen, where his oven is smoking.
‘Didn’t I fix that?’ he thinks.
Then it all comes back to him. The phone call. The party. The nice lady.
‘Why didn’t I fix it the first time? I wasted an entire day on a party!’
George immediately calls the oven company and his oven is fixed within a week.
Okay. Now, the lesson from the story is pretty obvious. Time is money, don’t get distracted, etc. But now we have a problem: Who says George shouldn’t have done what he did? After all, he saw an opportunity, took it, and everyone was happy. (At least for some time.)
Think about it. In the end, George’s oven was fixed, so no harm done there. He also made a bunch of people happy. That counts for something. So what did he really do wrong?
Some people might call these claims “excuses”. Others may find them perfectly legitimate. I call them opportunities for learning.
We often set out to do something, only to get side-tracked in the middle and then either get the task done at the last possible moment, or never finish what we set out to do. Neither ending is very rewarding.
I must admit, I do this all the time with schoolwork. I receive an assignment, then only do it at the last minute. Sometimes after that. It’s not a very good habit.
But there’s a difference between what George did and good ol’ procrastination. George ended up doing a Mitzvah, with the whole party and stuff. He made people happy. Procrastination, on the other hand, has zero benefits other than a whole lot of complaints and misery later on.
Keep in mind, I’m not saying George should have done what he did. If he hadn’t gotten distracted in the first place, his oven would have been fixed earlier, and he could have easily thrown another party. One without interruptions. However, as stated above, he wasn’t totally wrong in what he did.
The Torah teaches us not to push off for tomorrow what can be done today. So, if you think about it like that, maybe George was wrong.
On the other hand, maybe not. We already said he made people happy, and “all’s well that ends well”, which is the case here.
This is just some food for thought. What do you think?