On the Jewish concept of time

  • ParshaRabbiSaar
Judaism strives to releases us from tyranny of time. We are mortal, for sure, but our passing days have been elevated from mere flow. These are a conscious doing, defined by our deeds. The current of time becomes our mission, even our commission, to be shaped in accordance with our will, so that our days will acquire meaning, dignity and congruence.
by Rabbi Sa’ar Shaked, Beit Emanuel Progressive Synagogue | Sep 28, 2017

Our faith triumphs over time by unifying it into a meaning, which is stronger than a blind destiny, predicted and unstoppable. Our faith triumphs over time as we align ourselves with eternal moments and are sanctified by them, as the blessing states:ק, “G-d who sanctifies the times”.

 Although a week separates Rosh Hashanah from Yom Kippur, they are one entity, standing for the idea that our time on earth can be and should be, our story. It is the narrative of our precious freedom to create who we are.

Rosh Hashanah is the day when we humans were created. Nothing changes in visible reality. From the perspective of the heavens and the earth, it is just another day dawning. But Rosh Hashanah does not stand for what already exists, but for a potential yet to be.

We mortals are invited to be recreated, rejuvenated, regenerated. It is we who are considered, not the heavens and the earth. It is we who are called to take a decision, to write in the Book of Creation, the chapter that only we can write.

The second half of this wholeness is Yom Kippur. Time always rushes forward, from yesterday through today into tomorrow. We can’t reverse our deeds or our destiny, but we can - and this is the great victorious paradox the faith suggests to us - turn back, return, within our lives.

We are commanded and required to step aside from the flow of time to reflect on our lives. We are elevated towards G-d - elevated above the predictability of time. Just as Rosh Hashanah invites us to decide instead of simply being subjugated by time, so on Yom Kippur we are called to return to the source instead of surrendering to the inevitable.

What had passed cannot be changed, but Teshuva - returning, contemplating, engaging in thoughtful introspection – brings Kapara – repentance, atonement, consolidation, inner-reconciliation.

We have been put into the world, but we are not just passive elements in it. Our gratitude for the privilege of being alive, is much stronger than time. It overcomes forgetting, it makes what has been lasting and precious. There is goodness and love, worthwhile to be endorsed. 

Our true joy comes from gratitude and the desire to share our joy with others. This is the case with the festivity of Sukkot, which is so soon to come. Our harvest has been collected, the solemn moment is over and we are rejoicing as G-d has commanded us.

Our whole community is delighting, manifesting its concord, its harmony and its diversity. 


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