We all know that what we do here in this world will greatly affect our position for all eternity in the World to Come. But what is eternity?
“One has to imagine an enormous mountain of sand situated next to the sea. Every thousand years a great bird wings its way to the top of the mountain, takes one grain of sand in its beak and drops it into the sea. Another thousand years must go by until the next grain is removed.
The exercise it to attempt to visualize, or experience in imagination, the lapse of a thousand years. The method is again to ‘break down’ the concept into its component parts.
One begins by imagining the events of one day, then two days, a week, a month, two months, a year, etc., recapitulating each time, as far as possible, the temporal ‘feel’ of a day or a week, and resisting the temptation to relapse into conceptualization by saying ‘and so on’ or ‘as we said before.’ When one has ‘felt’ a year in this manner, one multiplies this progressively until one reaches a lifetime, a century, two centuries, three centuries…until one arrives at a thousand years. Then – the bird comes and takes another grain from the mound. But the whole mound is still there! One has to start the whole process over again for the third grain, and for the fourth, and so on and so on. (We have to ‘conceptualize’ here as we are describing the exercise, not doing it.) And even when that unimaginably distant moment is reached and the last grain of sand disappears into the ocean – eternity has still hardly begun!
If one allocates, say, ten minutes a day to this mental exercise, the empty words ‘eternal life’ will soon have acquired a ‘felt’ meaning which they certainly did not have before.” R’ Eliyahu Dessler zt”l
The reason this quote is so important to me is because it puts life into perspective. We are here for a reason; to serve Hashem by following the Torah and doing as many mitzvos as possible. We only have one shot, one opportunity, to make the most of it and will then have to live with our decisions for all eternity.
When you realize how short a time we are here for and how long eternity is, how can you not make the most of it?
The Vilna Gaon says that as soon as a person dies, his or her neshama screams out a great cry of regret as it realizes that it can no longer perform any mitzvos.
Let us not forget our purpose in life. Let us use our time wisely so that we will not live with regret for all eternity.
I just love this one