In today’s daf (Beitzah 12b), reference is made to terumah – which may not be separated on Yom Tov, and challah – which may be separated on Yom Tov.
In terms of the difference, since the former (terumah) can be done prior to Yom Tov, it should be done then – especially since such separation is considered to be a form of ‘fixing’. However, in terms of the latter (challah), since there is pleasure in having freshly baked bread on Yom Tov, challah can be separated on Yom Tov itself. What this tells us is that while there may be things that we need to remove from our life, some things are better removed at some moments, and other things at other times.
Reflecting on this lesson especially as we approach Yom Kippur, though part of our teshuva efforts involve improving what we already do, other parts include separating ourselves from what we shouldn’t be doing. Yet just as terumah and challah have different ‘hafrasha’ (separation) rules, different aspects of our life need different approaches in terms of how to improve them, what to separate from them, and when to do so.
It may be obvious to many of us that there are things in our life that we need to change. But what is often much harder is knowing how to go about such change and whether the right thing to do is to go ‘cold turkey’, or instead, to make changes in incremental steps. But what we certainly learn from today’s daf is that no single answer applies to every case, and it takes wisdom to know how and when to be ‘mafrish’.