Newsletter

MASTERS OF TIME

Roy Neuberger - Mar. 23, 2018


Before we became observant, life was like a carousel. We rode round and round. When the music stopped, we got off … at the same place we had started.

 

But when you live a Torah life, you go somewhere. If you desire to fulfill Hashem’s will, He will draw you closer to the Heavenly Throne.

 

One of life’s most difficult challenges is …. time!

 

I find that – except on Shabbos – I am continually fighting time.

 

Time pressure competes with one’s ability to concentrate on the present. If you are worried about completing everything else you have to do, how can you concentrate on what you are doing now? For example, if you are worried about time, how can you pray with single-minded attention, understanding every word you are saying to the Master of the Universe?

 

The Angel of Death hovers over us from the moment of birth. As King David says, “What gain is there in my death, when I descend to the pit? Will the dust acknowledge You? Will it declare Your truth?” (Psalm 30). In the Garden of Eden there was no death. Death was introduced into the world only when our first parents rebelled against Hashem.

 

Passover is all about freeing ourselves from the Angel of Death. In fact, the Seder ends with these words: “The Holy One, Blessed is He, then came and slaughtered the Angel of Death!” (Chad Gadya) During Passover, we are freed from slavery to time.

 

“Hashem said to Moshe and Aharon in Eretz Mitzraim, saying, ‘This month shall be for you the beginning of the months. It shall be for you the first of the months of the year.” (Exodus 12:1) The Sforno says, “The word ‘lachem … for you,’ appears twice in the verse, to stress a new relationship between Jews and time. As slaves, time belongs to their master, not to them, for they did not have the freedom to act as they pleased when they pleased. But from then on, Jews would be masters of their time and their Master would be Hashem.” (Stone Chumash)

 

A year is clearly delineated in nature; it is one revolution of the sun. On January first, it returns to where it began. But who said that January first is the beginning of the year? In fact, January first is arbitrary, based on the “birthday” of their idol. Why do we accept January first as the beginning of a year? Additionally, why do we call the days of the week “Sunday … Monday” and so on? Monday is “the day of the moon.” Sunday is “the day of the sun.” This is idolatry! Why do we use these names?

 

Only because we are in Exile!

 

The calendar used in the surrounding society is based only on natural events. If we tie our life to natural phenomena, we will get nowhere. As it says, “ain kol chadash tachas ha shemesh … There is nothing new beneath the sun.” (Koheles 1:9)

 

During Passover, we are freed from the empty time system based on natural phenomena, whether it is the idol worship of Ancient Egypt or the idol worship of our current Exile. This is the beginning of our path back to the freedom we enjoyed in the Garden of Eden, the freedom to serve Hashem without impediment.

 

But how is this accomplished? The Torah commands us to tie the lunar cycle to the solar cycle by attaching the month of Nissan to the Vernal Equinox, the beginning of spring, the day on which darkness and light are of equal length (each is twelve hours). This one act liberates us from idolatry. “Children of Man, who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, shackled in affliction and iron. He removed them from darkness … and broke open their shackles!” (Kaparos Erev Yom Kippur based on Psalm 107)

 

The Torah says, “guard the month of first-ripened produce … for in the month of first-ripened produce Hashem, your G-d, took you out of Mitzraim ….” (Deuteronomy 16:1) Based on this passage, we understand that the Month of Nissan must always be the “month of green wheat” (Book of Our Heritage), meaning that it must always fall at a certain stage in the ripening of the wheat. Our entire calendar system is founded on this requirement. (See Rambam Kiddush Hachodesh 4:1) Thus, our calendar is based entirely on Hashem’s commandment that we tie the Month of Nissan to the spring season.

 

“At the time of the redemption, the Holy One, blessed is He, changed all the fixed rules of nature. He did this to demonstrate that He is the Creator [and] that everything … is in accordance with His will …. The astrological sign for the month of Nissan is the lamb …. Israel was commanded to take this ‘god’ of the Egyptians and slaughter it.” (Book of Our Heritage)

 

Is it an accident that Passover occurs at the season when the “death” of winter ends, when nature itself is “redeemed,” when sap flows once again through the trees and magnificent blossoms appear, about which we say, “Blessed are You, Hashem … Who created … good trees to cause mankind pleasure?” Is it an accident that we were liberated from Egypt in this month? Is it an accident that we began our journey to Mount Sinai in this month? Is it an accident that the Mishkan (Tabernacle) – the Place through which we achieve closeness with Hashem – was erected during this month?

 

On the Shabbos before Passover we read these words: “Behold, I send you Eliyahu Hanovi before the great and awesome day of Hashem. And he shall restore the hearts of fathers with [their] sons and the hearts of sons with their fathers ….” (Malachi 3:23-4) Through Passover, we achieved freedom from slavery to time, so that we may use our days, hours, minutes and seconds to serve Hashem. May He bring the Final Redemption soon in our days!


 

Recent Posts


Tags

sun Sodom ethics Rome Earth lights Maccabeans New Moon war High Priest seder trees bird incense idol Torah redemption Tefillin Sarah violence Geula Mount Hermon Golan Jews creation hubris Raiders of the Lost Ark Elul peace Chanukah Joseph Boaz Moshe rain Chofetz Chaim night Divine presence plague Second Temple Dead Sea Abrahem repent Rosh Hashana Western World Yom Kippur Ishamael Golus tabernacle siddur Psalm Temple terror Holy Ark alone High Holy Days Heavenly Mercy tears cholent compassion biblical Tallis Ishmael miracle heavenly gates angel Yaakov Greeks Day of Judgement Mount Zion Tu b'Av Lot Jewish festival priests Hagar Hebrew pain kesuba Pharaoh Maimonides rosh chodesh prophet Magog mikveh, Sabbath Avraham Chol haMoed Miriam Samuel the Prophet Leah spirituality bris milah esrog shofar Terror Attack in Jerusalem Shechina Children of Israel stones Galil Ten Commandments India Purim Holy land patriarchs prophets flood sacrifices dreams minyan three weeks Golden Calf Prophecy fault repentance heaven mikveh Red Heifer darkness liberation matzos Jewish Tisha b'Av Sephardi Hashem Land of Israel soul Chanukkah yarmulke Zechariah Canaan Ashkenazi Moab redeemer Gog Beit Hamikdash Tu b'Shvat 2020 Vision Aharon G-d Sages song mitzva tablets patriarchs'matriarchs Shavuos forefathers self-worship God Macabees materialism fragrance Jerusalem automobiles media Day of Atonement Jew Isaiah culture Benjamin brotherhood Rosh Hashanah spiritual Jeremiah Angel of Death America Ammon prayer book Sabbath Rebbe Sukkah Moshaich Laban Matisyahu Moses Israel moon purity Judgement Day Blame miracles Matriarchs Edom Banias Jewish People Zion persecution Sea of Galilee Final redemption Esau Western Wall synagogue Song of Songs Zohar fires Abraham King David mitzvos sin Creator kiddush Temple Mount angels yeshiva Bilaam prayers salvation Genesis Jewish holidays evolution Holy Temple Shabbos gossip kinneret King of the Universe locusts King Solomon Judah Torah portion heavenly throne survival Lunar eclipse Sukkos Adam slavery keys terrorist Garden of Eden kosher paradise light sanctity Babylon Ishmeal Egypt Rachel End of Days Bais Hamikdosh exile Rabbi Akiva Balak earthquake evil inclination Talmud evil Psalms Passover Midrash king United Nations Tzuk etan Sefiras haOmer Moshiach Judaism Eglon Samuel Repentence idolatry blessing messiah chaos Yerushalayim Protective edge Exodus Ruth holy Master of the Universe Rabbis Amalek secret Amram world to come Holiness rabbi holiday Malbim terrorists Solar eclipse prayer enemies Passover Seder prophet Samuel Rashi Zion, Angel deluge Holocaust Europe missiles spies Eve ancestors Parsha Miraglim stars Ezekiel barley slaves eternity Chafetz Chaim commandment tremors fear Mordechai Rebecca logic Teshuva leprosy resurrection shield of Abraham Shushan bible Jacob Baku Esther murder Solomon cries Nation of Israel Torah scholars Babylonia menorah water Achashveirosh Faith Father in Heaven Haman shmittah Isaac Pinchas pray Mount Sinai meraglim David judgement terrorism Red Sea danger death Hasmoneans chessed eternal Noah

Archive