Sunday, May 15, 2005


Are (H)our Achievements More Than Minute Details?

Time moves a lot quicker than the hands on a clock indicate; pages in the calendar turn faster then the dates allow: according to the calendar this would be my eighth month here in Budapest, but according to that thing that “waits for no one”, Time, it seems like I’ve only been here a few days. Where have those eight months gone?

The countdown is on. We’ve started three weeks ago, counting down the days and weeks until we reach our destined destination – Mount Sinai.

What is a countdown? In boxing it’s a knockout, in Times Square it’s New Years, in a casino it’s an artist, and in NASA it’s takeoff. But, spiritually speaking, is a countdown just some way to pass the time; is it like the optimistically insecure procrastinator, always putting things off until post-present? Are these forty-nine days dismissed as nothing more than obstacles in our path to Sinai?

If one were to believe that all things worldly could be elevated to a state beyond their natural existence, then – without getting into the arguments on whether or not Time is a physical creation – the same must be true for Time as well. However, here is where all of creation differs from Time: where every other creation is static – you can bottle it – Time is dynamic – it is in constant movement. You cannot just walk up to a clock and say ‘hey, I’m a little busy here, would you mind waiting for an hour or so’; if you could do that, either you would be crazy or you would be very rich. Time just doesn’t wait around on street corners looking for something to do. Time doesn’t get bored. Time doesn’t even get tired. Time just moves in that endless cycle.

Ironically, the thing most limited in it’s existence is also the most unlimited: on (the clock’s) one hand, Time is stuck in its second, minute, and hour ritual; on the other (I guess, the second) hand, Time is the sole creation that is a constant: there are never more than sixty seconds in a minute and never less than sixty minutes in an hour.

Time, in it’s most primitive form, is the G-d given ability to live. Along with the “ability” comes a “responsibility”: by G-d telling you ‘here is your Time’, He’s also telling you, ‘from now on you make the choices, you can choose to “waste your time” or you can choose to “take a minute” and make that minute more than just a simple minute – you can make it Divine’.

The obvious – to those willing to admit it, of course – question arises: How can we, people trapped in the hourglass, make our hours more than just a grain of sand; how can we, people handcuffed to the wrist by the watch, make a minute more than just some hand moving across a plastic face; how can we, people imprisoned within the clock-tower, make a second more than just a “minute” detail?

So, along with the ability and responsibility of Time, G-d gave us the “how-to” as well. Just like every Chronograph must have “timed precision” – just ask the Swiss – so too every second that the Chronograph emits must be used with timed precision. If but a tiny spring is misplaced in a Rolex, the whole of “time” would be affected. How much more so when talking on a cosmic level: if but one detail is “misplaced” the whole of creation suffers.

No twenty thousand dollar timepiece comes without a manual (even if it is digital), and no one would buy a diamond encrusted Cartier without a guarantee.

Imagine you knew you were getting the manual – and thus, guarantee – to the universe. What would you do? Would you say no, thank you? Some did – it’s a lot easier returning the watch than fixing it. Would you be skeptical? Some were – it is hard to believe that there is actually a solution to this puzzle. Or, would you do whatever it takes to make yourself worthy of this “Divine Blueprint”?

Some three n’ a half thousand years ago, a people recently emancipated from Egypt, were told, ‘you have forty nine days to prepare yourselves for the giving of the Torah’. Some, when faced with an unrelenting sea, said it’s not worth it – let’s go back to Egypt; some said let us blame it on G-d, He who took us out, for us to die out here; some said this and some said that. Only one man took the plunge, and the rest is history.

Every year the question re-arises: How badly do you want answers to life’s riddles? Would you change yourself for the chance to change the world? Would you be a coward or would you take the plunge?

The forty-nine-step program of refinement, you would think, is but a means to reach an end – Mount Sinai. True it is a means; however, it is not – by any means – but a means. It is not ‘you’ve done good, you get a reward’. It is merely a result: by refining oneself, the Torah is the natural outcome. You can stand at the foot of Sinai from today until tomorrow, but if you have not committed yourself to the Torah’s message – turning this barren desert into a flourishing orchard, a dwelling place for G-d – if you have not refined your own “barren desert”, how do you expect to receive, and accept, a Torah built on this premise and principle.

Thus, the countdown is not some way to pass the time; it is not standing idly by until we reach the destination. If it were, we would never reach it. Only, the countdown is a process: it is the process of changing ourselves, and the process of changing Time.

Time alone, as stated before, is unchanging. That is, Time alone. Enter the human being – the human being created in the Divine Image. Now, with the human involved, Time is no longer neutral, it can no longer tick dispassionately away into history – either it is Time wasted or it is Time elevated. Throughout the year we have different ways to elevate (that is, to make it more than its some of the parts) Time – by blessing the month, observing (not only visually) the holidays, and so on. In this period between Pesach – freedom – and Shavous – what to do with it – we have the ability, and, thus, responsibility, to take Time, all forty nine days of it, and make it Timeless: by our refinement of self, we refine Time; by exposing the Divinity within our own image, we expose the Divinity within the clocks face.

In consequence: true Time may move faster than the hands on the clock indicate; the question is, however: are those “bygone times” wasted or are they elevated? Have they gone forever to oblivion or have they gone forever to a higher place, a higher purpose – transforming the universe?

I can only hope that those past eight months of mine have gone to the latter.


Blogger sj said...


5/22/2005 2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very true,well written

5/23/2005 12:21 PM  
Blogger the sabra said...

Without readin the post, wanna comment that the title is awesome. Most of your writing was, I remember. It's just that it gets "too much", yknow the twists and the irony and the word play..

10/12/2009 7:47 PM  

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