Rabbi Yehoshua Alt

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R’ Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. R’ Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.


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Haste Or Waste

It seems the art of thinking has been lost for many. The Divrei Bina[1] explains סוף מעשה במחשבה תחלה[2] that we should think before our actions. How many times have we seen people including ourselves get into trouble because of acting too quickly or not thinking before talking[3] and as it saysאל תצא לרב מהר…, do not be quick to enter into strife unless you have thought through how it may end.[4] In this sense the Baal Shem Tov interpreted [5]ואבדתם מהרה—to abolish the rushing about, as we need to have a settled mind.


We shouldn’t rush into decisions. “Haste makes waste.” It is because of this that Moshe knew the idea of the Meraglim was bad as Rashi says it was בערבוביא, disorderly.[6] We see the repercussions of acting hastily from Reuven who was פחז כמים, water-like impetuosity[7] in the incident with Bilha when he mounted his father’s bed.[8] Acting without proper thought is rooted in the נחש which is sourced in חיש[9], quickly, swiftly, since rushing causes confusion. In light of this we can grasp the Pasuk משפט צדק ילין בה:[10] If we want to give a righteous judgement, or any decision, then sleep on it (ילין בה), as we shouldn’t act impulsively.


The Alter of Kelm once remarked that if we want to know if an idea of ours is correct, we should ask ourselves if it came from thinking about it deeply or out of impulse. When R’ Chaim Volozhin approached his Rebbe, the Gra, about opening a yeshiva, the Gra declined him. However, a little while later he asked his Rebbe again to which he gave his okay. The Gra explained the first time he was afraid it was coming from acting too quickly. We need to let ideas sit in our minds first.[11]


[1] Moadim, 150. Before we perform a Mitzva we should say what is the reason for the Mitzva and the like.

[2] In Lecha Dodi in Kabbalas Shabbos.

[3] See Mesilas Yesharim, chapter 3. The saying goes, “Before I speak, I rule over my words. After I speak, my words rule over me.” The Ramban (Igeres HaRamban) writes, “Think about what you are about to say before you say it with your mouth.”

[4] Mishlei 25:8. Someone recently mentioned that 1% of people think, 4% think they think and 95% would rather die than think.

[5] Devarim 11:17. Baal Shem Tov, Eikev, 62.

[6] Devarim 1:22, Rashi. It is known that Hashem is found where there is calm (See Melachim 1, 19:11-12).

[7] Breishis 49:4. Also see Nedarim 9b. R’ Zalman Sorotzkin (אזנים לתורה, Vayechi, 49:4) tells us there were three things fitting for Reuven—Bechor, Malchus and Kehuna. Due to פחז, he lost these three. Instead of being a Bechor he was a פשוט, instead of a king he was a חשוך (as it says לפני מלכים…חשכים, he will stand before kings not men of darkness—Mishlei 22:29) and instead of a Kohen he was a זר. פחז is an acronym for these three—פשוט, חשוך, זר.

[8] Breishis 35:22, Rashi.

[9] As in גז חיש ונעפה כי, for it is cut off swiftly and we fly away (Tehillim 90:10). In a similar vein, פתאום, an expression of haste, is related to פתי, fool.

[10] Yeshaya 1:21.

[11] That which is technical should be spoken out contrary to that which is deep. Also see Tzidkas Hatzadik, 1.

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