Recently, our collective optimism about emerging from COVID has been tempered by super-contagious mutations of the virus and a worldwide spike in infections.
Many of us are once again in lockdown mode, apprehensive and cautious about what the coming months will hold.
Our schedules are uncertain and our time depends upon factors that are beyond our control. We juggle our work obligations and personal responsibilities around our kids’ zoom classes or the needs of our elderly parents.
Are we managing our time, or is our time managing us?
We have watched in horror as some people have used this time of instability and insecurity to foment disturbance and violence.
Yet so many others have used this period to grow and blossom as human beings.
Among my own family and circle of friends, I have witnessed so many who have used this period of time to reach out to others less fortunate, intensify loving relationships and develop and explore new skills and talents.
These people are embodying the spirit of the very first mitzvah given to the Jewish People in this week’s parsha, Bo.
“HaChodesh haZeh lachem” – “This month – each month – is yours.” It belongs to you. (Exodus 12:2)
Through this mitzvah sanctifying each Rosh Chodesh, each new month, God is giving us our first gift as a nation: control over our calendar. What a revolutionary message for a People who were enslaved, whose time was NEVER their own!
God grants us mastery of our own time and emphasizes its sanctity for a reason. He wants us to use it well, in order to achieve important goals and ideals.
Time is a gift for the free person!
We can “kill” time. We can allow the needs foisted upon us to subsume our time, becoming slaves to the pressures of the moment.
Or, we can spend time wisely to make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others. We can sanctify and manage our calendar to strive toward what we value, what we deem to be important and transformational.
As we read Parshat Bo this week, let’s reflect on that. Let’s remember that even when so many things have been taken from us, the precious commodity of time is still in our hands and we have the ability to sanctify it.
It is up to us to determine whether it empowers us, or, God forbid, enslaves us. May we choose wisely.