Penal codes around the globe vary as to which punishment is meted out for
which transgression. The severity is matched to the crime based on the
mores and sensibilities of each society. Once within the penal system jail
keepers and wardens have authority to invoke penalties on those prisoners
who do not comply with prison rules. The one punishment that heads the list
in severity worldwide is solitary confinement. Isolation away from human
interaction is the severest of all disciplines except for capital
punishment. (The Talmud says: "Or a learning partner or death" i.e.
companionship is life.)
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 wireless devices from beepers to cell phones to wireless
internet devices that can fill you in on the latest breaking stories in the
world of news, weather and sports. One is never out of touch and never alone.
In a day filled with unwelcome intrusions one barely has time to think. One
cannot plan a simple schedule without an interruption. Where ever and when
ever there is someone calling your number and bidding for your attention.
Private time -- a minute with yourself -- is a rare commodity. The Mesilat
Yesharim suggests that one spend a few minutes each day evaluating
self-improvement. "How am I doing?" is a question one MUST ask oneself each
and every day AND one must find some solitary 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
sitting in traffic get your goat? Do you cancel free thought time in a
doctor's waiting room reading a newsmagazine that is 6 months old? If you
answer yes to any of the above you are "killing" the most valuable time of
the day -- your time in solitary confinement. Next time use the time for
productive self-evaluation and concrete planning. There is nothing so
valuable as a minute with yourself. Don't waste it!
DID YOU KNOW THAT
One who drank wine and recited the blessing "Boreh peri ha-gefen" -- "Who
creates fruit of the vine"--and then decides to eat grapes -- must still
recite the blessing "Boreh peri ha-etz" -- "Who creates fruit of the trees"
-- before eating the grapes.
If the quantity drunk of the wine and eaten of the grapes requires a final
blessing -- the combined blessing of "Al hagefen " and "Al ha-etz" is said.
[Source: Yalkut Yosef, O'H, siman 208:31]