January 16, 2022

Moed Katan 4

We were previously taught in the Mishna (Moed Katan 1:2) that ומתקנין את המקולקלת במועד – ‘we may repair a damaged irrigation canal during Chol HaMoed’, and this leads the Gemara (Moed Katan 4b) to ask מאי מקולקלת – ‘what is [considered] damaged?’.

To this, Rabbi Abba answers that if the irrigation canal was previously six tefachim (approx. 50cm) deep – which thereby enabled the right amount of water to flow to the crops, and it subsequently became filled with dirt whereby the irrigation canal was now just one tefach (approx. 8cm) deep – which only allowed a trickle of water to flow to the crops, the farmer may remove the dirt from the canal on Chol HaMoed in order to restore it to its original depth of six tefachim and therefore increase its depth and flow.

Admittedly, most of us may not be farmers and we do not have to contend with clogged irrigation canals on Chol HaMoed. However, what is true is that many of us – either deliberately or accidentally – clog our time and our minds with ‘stuff’ which impedes the flow of the things that truly matter into our life and which oftentimes diminishes our focus from deep-thinking to shallow-thinking.

Understood this way, what we learn from today’s daf is that to restore flow and depth is not only a good thing but is, in fact, an act of repairing the damaged channels that we rely upon for our nourishment and growth. As such, just as permission is granted to repair a damaged irrigation canal during Chol HaMoed (i.e. at a time when you may have thought such an activity is forbidden) given the importance of such an activity, so too, we should make sure to make the time to clean our schedule and clear our minds so that we are able to function at our optimum flow and depth.

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