Are you sick of a world that spins so quickly? I am. Sometimes I just want to move to some far-off island, where there are no cars, computers and only seldom would I be able to catch a signal for my cell phone.

My dear friend, the award-winning photographer Marc Asnin, was in Haiti documenting the aftermath of the horrible earthquake. He slept outdoors and ate cold food. There was no internet, air conditioners, or phones. It was an island returned to the Dark Ages.

Marc in Haiti
Marc in Haiti

As terrible as it may be, a part of me questioned whether the alternative – living life in the fast lane – is an entirely better situation.

My answer came in the form of a recent discovery: a series of letters between the Rebbe and philanthropist Irving I. Stone.

The Rebbe writes in a letter dated November 1973 (paragraph marks are mine):

In normal times, steady, albeit slow, progress might be satisfactory, and sometimes steady progress and speed may not even be compatible. However, we live in "abnormal" times, when things move with whirlwind speed, and we must not lag behind the times in our method of tackling problems in the vital area of Torah and [education].

Indeed, in light of the Baal Shem Tov's teaching that a person must learn from everything around him how better to fulfill his purpose in life, especially in fundamental matters, the present jet age and supersonic speed should inspire the idea of time-saving in the spiritual realm.

A distance that not so very long ago took days and weeks to cover, can now be spanned in a matter of hours, and a message that took as long to communicate can now be transmitted instantly.

If this could be accomplished in the physical and material world, surely the same should be true in the spiritual realm, whether in the area of personal achievement, or in the area of affecting a change in the environment.

To be satisfied with less in the realm of the spirit would be like arguing to return to the era of the horse and buggy on the ground that this was satisfactory in olden days, all the more so since spiritual matters have never been subject to the limitations of time and space...

So as life flies by, let us not forget to move our spiritual matters and good deeds at a comparable rate.

Read Wise Charitable Giving: The Rebbe responds to a Charitable Foundation