This summer, I spent quite a bit of time at the beach. I rarely go into the water, have gotten over the crunch provided by sand in my lunch and have nursed one too many sunburns, but I return year after year and can’t wait to go back as soon as we return home. This summer, I asked myself: Why?
As life is ever-changing, the cresting of the ocean waves is ever-constant. Since G-d separated the waters from the land on the second day of Creation, the tide has been rushing out and back in again non-stop. Wherever we go in the world, wherever we might stick our toes into the sea, we can count on the tide to greet us and to help us mark the seasons. The waters are timeless, as is our faith, and can do much to ground us and affirm that there is Something bigger out there than we are. While the ocean is always there, its story moves and modulates throughout the days, months and years, as do each of ours.
Judaism is as the waters. Our faith is always there--to guide us and to assure us that life goes on and the rituals of our days, months and years help us to connect to our tradition and to each other. Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote that “Judaism is a religion of time aiming at the sanctification of time. Unlike the space-minded man to whom time is unvaried, iterative, homogeneous, to whom all hours are alike, quality-less empty shells, the Bible senses the diversified character of time. There are no two hours alike,” as no two waves are exactly the same. “Every hour is unique and the only one given at the moment, exclusive and endlessly precious.”
Judaism teaches us to be attached to holiness in time and the main themes of our faith lie in the realm of time. As a matter of fact, G-d blessed the seventh day and made it holy, while there is no other reference in the record of Creation to any object in space that is endowed with the quality of holiness.
A new year has recently begun and many of the holidays we note on our calendars are behind us. Another eleven months remain to be filled by each of us in our own unique ways. 5782 will be punctuated by holidays like Chanukah, Purim and Pesach and Shabbat will continue to arrive every week. In between, there will be many moments up for grabs. How will you use your time?
Chag Sukkot sameach,