The Jewish view of time has been a source of total confusion for me but lately I find it more and more beautiful and fascinating.
Here is why it all confused me.
1. The holidays are based on the Torah but they don't coincide with the portion they come from. In other words, we have a holiday that marks when Moses received the Torah, but it doesn't happen the week when we read that part of the Torah.
2. There are four New Years in the Jewish year. Yes, the new year happens at different levels four different times in one lunar year.
3. The idea of a lunar year doesn't actually make any sense so is one solar year four Jewish years? That might explain people living so much longer in the Bible.
4. Leap months. Some years there are two Adars. Why? Because a lunar year does not make any sense?
If you look at a Jewish calendar it looks like a circle. Which makes sense only in religious terms because how can time go around in a circle? It goes in a straight line, right? I mean no moment can ever happen again, right?
I'm still reading Tatz's Living Inspired and just finished the chapter on time which is why I'm writing about it. If you are interested in this book, please read it with a study partner. That's how I am reading it and we regularly have to read any given chapter up to five times and discuss it to start to understand it.
What I have come to understand about Jewish time is that it is mystical. On a practical level it may seem complicated although it is regular and can be learned. But the Jewish view of time seems to be based on the realm of the spiritual.
I'll step away from the Jewish view to go to something I read in a school book when I was teaching in Japan which I will never forget. It was a passage about the tea ceremony. It said that you set up a room for your specific guest and decorate for the occasion in recognition that the moment can never be recreated. That moment exists only once for all time.
So here we have a very elaborate ceremony, repeated in exact ways for centuries but at the crux of it is this idea: each ceremony marks a moment in time that must be appreciated because it will never be experienced again.
The Jewish view of time is that we experience moments over and over and over and over again. In fact, the Jewish view of time as a spiral lets us see that some of our blessings today which we don't deserve, we earned in the future. I can't begin to tell you how inspirational that concept is to me.
I read in Tatz's book that Abraham ate matzah during Passover before there ever was such a thing as Passover because in some sense that time of year has always been the time of Pesach.
This is not easy to understand, but I think the confusion serves a very practical purpose. We should not mistake time for something one-dimensional. We should be ever-aware of it. Tatz talks about the flow of time in terms of pulsations of energy. Our sensitivity to what each moment offers us allows to grow spiritually.
I read this chapter five times and I still don't fully grasp it. But the idea is to open yourself to opportunities. When you are given a chance to act, you must act because you were given that opportunity at that time for a reason. Do not hesitate out of fear. Push aside your fear and answer the call to motion that's in front of you. And yet, if you turn away from an opportunity, then that too was part of the energy of the moment.
I suppose it's best to quote the Beatles...
There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.....