People are often given advice in marriage, and sometimes this advice does not pertain exclusively to marriage. One of these pieces of advice is “don’t sleep on a fight.” One is advised to resolve the issue before going to sleep and having the discord embedded more deeply in one’s mind. I have wondered many times where this idea comes from and if the Torah, perhaps, has something to say about this issue (As a possible support to this idea, see Gemara Sanhedrin 7A and Rashi אמר רב הונא). I would like to bring to your attention a Medrash Rabba in this week’s parsha.
As Korach rouses klal Yisrael to resist Moshe Rabbeinu’s leadership, Moshe tells them “come back in the morning”. The medrash comments (Rabba 18:7) that Moshe said “Possibly this outburst was born out of eating and drinking (which put them into a quarrelsome mood). Perhaps in the morning after waking up with a new lease on life, one will be able to revisit the issue and klal Yisrael will have remorse for lashing out the previous day in the non-proper manner.”
We see clearly that sometimes a person gets in a rut, and if he will have a new view on the same situation he may possibly see things differently. Similarly, when a person is studying for a test he feels that his mind is already cluttered and has to take a break and start again. This idea can also be true in interpersonal relationships. A fresh start or a vacation can energize a person and give him a new perspective, affording him the ability to be more productive and understanding. Another example of this is when a parent sees their children quarreling, and decides to take them for a small trip as a diversion. Usually when the children return home the friction and tension that previously existed will cease.
Going back to our marriage advice, though it may be true that sometimes it is worthwhile spending the extra time to dispel the bad feelings of the dispute before it solidifies, however, one must judge if instead the ‘stalling’ tactic will be more efficient in bringing about the desired results.
I once asked a person who works in a field of “pikuach nefesh” what right he has to take a vacation (his job was irreplaceable by another person). He was uncomfortable and not sure of the proper answer to give me. I told him that if one does not take a vacation, eventually he will become unproductive in the hours he spends at work. Therefore, vacation is not merely time off, but it is how we regenerate our abilities to be successful at what we are supposed to be doing. It might be pikuach nefesh for the people he deals with if he doesn’t take a vacation!
As the summer approaches and people think about what to do for vacation, or if to take one at all, we should keep in mind that there is a purpose in time off. Vacations that we take, should not only refresh us and give us enjoyment in the moment, but should also be congruous and compatible with our main purposes in life.