Judaism offers a different approach: There really exists only one type of time. Yes, there are unexpected moments that we are thrust into. But those moments are Divinely designed for us. Every minute, every place, every situation, no matter how temporary, has a purpose, and it is up to us to discover it, and live it fully.Rabbi Allouche
It seems the days of our lives are divided into two types of times: real-time and wasted-time.
The real-times are times in which we feel that we, and only we, are in control. They include moments such as quality-times with our family and friends, career-driven endeavors, and the times which we dedicate for the benefit of our physical and spiritual health.
The wasted-times include times in which we feel that we have lost control. They include moments such as the times we spend waiting, and waiting for an appointment. Or the times we are ‘stuck’ in traffic. Or the times we are quarantined in our homes and are unsure how to fill our days with “real time.” It seems like we have a lot of that these days…Most of us love the real-times of our lives. But we become frustrated with the wasted times, which seem, after all, “wasted.”
Yet, Judaism offers a different approach: There really exists only one type of time. Yes, there are unexpected moments that we are thrust into. But those moments are Divinely designed for us. Every minute, every place, every situation, no matter how temporary, has a purpose, and it is up to us to discover it, and live it fully.
This week’s Torah portion speaks of the cloud of G-d that “covered the Tabernacle” and guided the Jews in the desert during their many journeys (Numbers 9:17). But why did G-d create a cloud to serve as our nation’s GPS? Wouldn’t a bird, for example, be enough? What is the message of the cloud?
Clouds impede the sight of man. They don’t allow us to see beyond the present tense.
And the lesson is clear. It is as if G-d is telling each of us: “If you wish to live life fully and build saintly tabernacles in its every instance, you must learn to live within the clouds of life that block the experiences of the past and the illusions of the future, and allow you to focus on, and cherish, every minute of life.”
This does not mean that preparing for the phases of life is unnecessary. But we ought to focus entirely on the creation of our personal tabernacles in every step, within every moment, even in those times that seem so “wasted.”
One of the most revered leaders of world-Jewry in the 18th Century, Rabbi Moshe Sofer, was once asked how long it took him to achieve greatness.
“It only took me five minutes,” he replied, astonishingly.
But he further explained: “Every time there is a five-minute delay in my daily affairs – such as waiting in line at the grocery store, or waiting for a marriage ceremony to begin – I do not allow those minutes to go by idly. Instead, I take out a book to study, or I search for a Mitzvah to perform. It is those five-minute moments, used purposefully, is what enables a person to achieve greatness.”
So as many of us continue to respect the social-distance guidelines and seclude ourselves physically at home, let us remember that G-d is waiting for us to infuse our every moment of the day with meaning and holiness. It’s never too late or too early, to pick up that phone and mend a relationship or cheer up a friend, to work on developing a skill that can benefit your life and our world, to study more and join our many zoom classes, and to take upon yourself just one more Mitzvah.
We will then undoubtedly love living every second of our lives again, including those five-minute delays, and these trying times, and we too will then achieve greatness, each in our own unique way.