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03/27/2020 11:55:07 AM


Rabbi Yehuda Septimus

A couple of decades back there was a popular song played at many Jewish weddings. The lyrics went: He-avar ayin, ve-he-atid adayin, ve-hahoveh ke-heref ayin, da'agah minayin

"The past is gone, the future is yet to come, the present passes like the blink of an eye, so worry why?"

The words of the song were written by a medieval French poet, R. Yedaya ha-Penimi, and the poem drew opposition from Rav Soloveichik Ztz"l, as did the song from the Rav's talmidim.  After all, we take the past and the future quite seriously.  The connection between the two – in the present – is the foundation of our Mesorah, our passing down of the Torah tradition. 

At no time was this important connection more evident than yesterday, Rosh Chodesh Nisan, which marked the beginning of the Jewish people's counting of time, and, along with it, the beginning of our fulfillment of Torah and mitzvot.   

What is involved in counting?  Knowing where we are now in relation to the past and the future; knowing that today is the second day of Nissan, which means that yesterday was the first day, and tomorrow is the third day.  It is to be aware of the cherished gifts and still-held difficult memories of the past and potential gifts and real concerns of the future. All while having our feet firmly planted in the present.

When we received this mitzvah, we were told we were to remain confined to our homes while Hashem was to sweep through all of Egypt, killing the Egyptian firstborn.  Meanwhile, we needed the protection of Torah and mitzvot.  But while we were confined spatially, it is no coincidence that at precisely that moment we were given… the gift of time - the ability to make every moment count by savoring it and connecting it to past and to present. The capacity of a dual awareness that puts us firmly in the present while noticing the way memory connects us to past just as anticipation connects us to future.

As much as we all miss davening together as a community, I have been struck by the comments of several people, who have told me, with a sense of deep appreciation, how much this break from davening with a minyan has allowed them to re-energize their kavanah, their sense of focus and presence within tefillah.  No doubt this is largely due to the combination of not being confined by the time-constraints of a communal tefillah, which goes too fast for many people, and the fact that we sense the NEED for tefillah now more than ever.   That said, I do think there is another factor.  As we are confined by space, I believe many of us are noticing that we have no choice but to become better masters of our time. There is no better time to do that than during our regular conversations with the Ribbono shel Olam.  But to master time truly is to master it consistently.  

By: Rabbi Yehuda Septimus

Wed, May 25 2022 24 Iyyar 5782