Friday Candle Lighting: 4:33 PM
Shabbat Ends: 5:29 PM
Practice Makes Perfect
“Sarah’s lifetime was one hundred years, twenty years, and seven years…” (23:1)
Apparently, it takes at least 10,000 hours of practice to master an artisanal skill. That’s a serous amount of time, and sometimes before you clock up those 10,000 hours, you may be tempted to think that you’ve got it down. I well remember putting a lot less than 10 hours into learning Chuck Berry’s classic intro to Johnny B. Goode, in a pastiche version I wrote called “Yankie Levine” for the Ohr Somayach Simchat Beit HaShoeva the year before last (when masks where something that only surgeons wore).
Despite what I considered to be adequate practice, on the performance night I found that my fingers had not yet learned the notes that my brain thought they had, and under the pressure of performance, well, let’s say, Chuck was rockin’ and a’rolling in his grave.
On the other hand (l’havdil), this Rosh Hashana I got up to daven Pesukei d’Zimra in Ohr Somayach, (my privilege for more years that I can remember). I was feeling a little ‘under-the-weather,’ nothing terrible, but suffering from yet-undiagnosed COVID-19. Nevertheless, I got ‘up to bat,’ and thanks to Rabbi Mordechai Perlman’s relentless drumming the nusach into my head (and years of practice), I adequately completed my task.
Rav Shlomo Wolbe once remarked that being a Jew means being “a professional human being”. To be professional at anything — especially being a human being — takes a lifetime of dedicated practice.
“Sarah’s lifetime was one hundred years, twenty years, and seven years…”
Why didn’t the Torah just write, “Sarah’s lifetime was one hundred and twenty-seven years”? Sarah never stopped growing. She never stopped practicing to be a professional human being — not at seven years, not at twenty, not at a hundred and not even on the day she left the world. That is what made her the mother of the Jewish People.