"Now people, they live from day to day, but they do not count the time, no.
They don’t see their days slipping by and neither do I."
- James Taylor
Anywhere Like Heaven
In the midst of this pandemic, one of the things I have heard, either on the news or in "person" is the idea that time seems to have lost meaning. Everyday melts into the next. "Do you know what day it is, what the date is, what time it is?" is a common refrain. Every moment that we are at home, not going out, not going to work, not spending time at some special event, feels undifferentiated.
James Taylor, in his soulful 1970 lament of a song, Anywhere Like Heaven, gave voice to this idea when he sang “ Now people, they live from day to day, but they do not count the time…They don’t see their days slipping by, and neither do I."
Along comes our Jewish tradition to remind us that time and the way we spend it is not a series of days slipping by, but rather is our precious gift.
The centerpiece of the Torah portion this week, Emor, provides us with a guide on how not to let time slip by, but rather to give meaning to time. In it, we are reminded to celebrate Shabbat each week, to make Shabbat and therefore our lives holy.
We recall Passover, the moment that we left Egypt, and Shavuot, the moment we arrived at Mt Sinai. One of the marks of slavery is that a slave does not have the luxury of controlling their time, and one of the marks of freedom is accepting the 10 commandments as our core.
These days, for me, time has gained new meaning. For those of you who do not know me, I am a long-hauler. I had Covid in March of 2020, spent 10 days in the hospital and another 10 days in rehab. When I returned from the hospital last year it was Erev Pesach, a few hours before the first seder. A night later we started counting the Omer, a reminder that time has a direction and that making every day count is a blessing. Even though I have spent all of the last year at home, I make slow but steady progress in my recovery. It has not been easy, but the one thing that keeps me positive is counting the gift of time I have every day as precious.
As we enter this Shabbat, and we count the next day of the Omer, let’s remember that it is up to us to make time count. We do that by continuing to connect as a community, by reaching out to those around us, and remembering that it is in our hands to make each day a blessing.
I know I will, and I hope you will join me.