Elul 5761 – How To Properly Fill Free Time

1 Elul 5761

Dear Chana,

I am a frum girl who went to a co-ed Jewish high school. After being in Israel for a number of months I realized that modern orthodoxy is not exactly where I need to be. Being raised in it – but now, having seen a different twist on things through seminary I understand that it’s going by the “letter of the law” instead of keeping with the spirit of the Torah. I have been trying to stop doing things that distance me from Hashem and Torah. Sometimes though, people get bored when they can’t watch music videos or talk to boys. Giving up these things is not the hard part. I know that once you stop doing “bad” things you have to replace them with good things. The problem is figuring out positive things that can fill my time instead. What would you suggest?

Thank you,

Name & seminary withheld upon request

It sounds like you have done some wonderful changing in seminary and you are smart to take steps to not fall back into your old patterns! Consider yourself quite blessed if listening to music videos and talking to boys is easy for you to stop doing!! I know many, many girls out there that are certainly grappling with these things! But, everyone must start on their own level and go up from there. Hashem is very interested in the direction that we are moving. That is indeed the important thing. This question is quite appropriate for printing in Elul – because it certainly is a time when we want to re-evaluate our lives and make some changes.

So what can you do to reschedule your days and live your life doing different things than you did before? Well, there are lots of things that you can do! Let’s brainstorm a bit.

The first things that come to mind have to do with areas of chesed:

You can look up the chesed organizations in your neighborhood – and see what interests you and how you can be of help to them. They are usually looking for more volunteers. You can think of chesed that isn’t being done – and start something yourself. You can start a G’mach of some sort. Visit an old age home [cheering up the elderly is such a wonderful thing!] Start a big sister -little sister program [or if you’re not quite that industrious – you can still become someone’s big sister and help her out.] You can start some sort of a Shabbos afternoon program for girls in your neighborhood. You could tutor kids. Start an afternoon program for kids [baking, arts and crafts, music, dance.]

Have a Tehillim group in your house [where you meet once a week – and everyone says some kapitlach, and all of Tehillim is completed during that time.] This is especially a significant thing to do in these trying times. Learn with another girl. Go to a shiur that really interests you. Learn some on your own. Have an English Judaica book of the week that you read [this can get expensive to buy – see if there is a Jewish library in your neighborhood or borrow books from someone.] Perhaps you be the one to start a class or shiur. Either give it yourself [which would be awesome for you to take the time to prepare] or else arrange the speakers. Pick a topic that really grabs you.

Learn to play an instrument. Not only is it really fun, but it can be very good for your Menuchas Hanefesh. Go to aerobics classes/exercise classes [Great for the mind/body – spiritual/physical.] Take up a new hobby.

Think how you can help someone that is in some sort of need. Get together with friends. Have each one of you prepare a dish and bring it all together for an easy meal and good time with friends. Even have each of you prepare a d’var Torah or something interesting and growth related to share with each other. Sharing time with friends that are where you are hashkafically is really a great thing! It gives you chizuk, and helps you continue on the path that you want to be on.

These are just some of the ideas that I came up with – there are many more. Be creative! The sky is the limit! The important thing is to make the most out of everyday. To really ‘Seize The Day’ and do the things that will bring you closer in your relationship with Hashem. Remember that each day lived properly and in conjunction with what Hashem wants, is truly a day that we will bring with us to eternity.

With warm wishes,