I would like to share with you a story about a friend of mine named Sam. I met Sam a while back when he needed my help in developing a new non-profit organization. Sam relayed to me about his difficult background and why he felt so passionate about his new start-up venture.
Sam’s family had migrated from Puerto Rico when he was very young and he grew up in New York City. Sam`s family left Puerto Rico in hopes of a better life for their children. However, since their finances were extremely limited, they were forced to live in neighborhoods where human life was expendable and that narcotics were easily available. The crime rate was high and sadly matched the residents who were just as high on drugs.
By the time he was seventeen, he found himself deeply involved in all different types of criminal activity. He was feared by everyone including the local authorities. That all changed one day when an unmarked police vehicle drove alongside the vehicle he was traveling in and opened fire on him and his friends. Not knowing that they were police officers Sam fired back and critically shot one of the officers.
Sam was arrested and sentenced to thirty-four years in an Upstate New York State prison. Sam described to me that at first, he would count down the days but at some point, the slow process was way too depressing. In the early years of his incarceration, he found out the hard way that the laws of survival were different behind bars. Like the day he was suddenly surrounded by a group of men holding metal objects looking to take revenge on him for a look that they mistook for being disrespectful. He was in a battle for his life and one of the hardest physical fights he ever had to endure. Tragically he lost his eyesight in his right eye but he said he inflicted a lot more damage on his opponents.
Sam recounted, “As time went on and I matured, I decided that I wanted to change my life around. I read countless books on personal development and started applying my new knowledge to my everyday routine. I understood that the life that I was leading had no future. I grasped the importance of instilling morals and proper values, despite the fact that I wasn’t affiliated with any specific religion.
Over time in prison, I achieved a different type of reputation. I was respected by many of the prisoners and my main objective now was to look after the new entering prisoners who were weak and vulnerable.
Later on, while I was still in prison, I began to study the law and came to the realization that my state-appointed attorney had been worthless and that my legal rights had been violated countless times.
I decided to take my future into my own hands and studied my legal case inside and out. I wrote countless petition letters with legal proofs and in the end, I won and had my sentence reduced and was finally freed from prison.”
Today Sam’s non-profit organization in New York City has donated tens of thousands of dollars that help homeless people to get off drugs and rehabilitate themselves and get a second chance in life.
In this week’s Parsha Hashem gives the first commandment to the Jewish nation of sanctifying the new moon. This first new month is called ניסן
The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that there are three levels in time management. The first level is a negative level. The concept of killing time. Becoming a lazy person and allowing yourself to drift away day after day. In this level, time controls you and you are a slave to the vanishing seconds that bring you closer to the end.
The second level is when a person uses their time productively. Sets goals and uses his time for growth. This could be financial, intellectual, psychological, or any other type of physical growth. At this level, you manage your time, and you dictate to time what productive activity you will fill your days with. This is a much healthier direction than the first, however, it still deals with time within its physical boundaries.
The highest level of time management explains the Rebbe is transcending one’s time. The Rebbe points out so beautifully that by Hashem choosing Yaakov and his children to be his chosen nation he was giving them the ability to elevate time. When a Jew fulfills a Mitzvah or learns Torah, he elevates that time from something physical and limited to something boundless and infinite. The word ניסן has the word נס inside of it which means both miracles and to transcend.
When a Jew learns Torah and realigns himself with his inner core, he can raise himself above the constraints of the physical natural world. He does not have to believe that whatever situation he is coping with is bound to the standard physical boundaries that nature works with. He can allow himself to dream bigger and have better dreams and live life with a redemption consciousness.
Have a wonderful Shabbos.