Shulamit S. Magnus
Jewish historian

Bound By Time

The clocks moved back in Israel a few hours ago. I woke at my usual time, as decided by my body. Yesterday, this would have been 7AM. Today, it was 6 AM.

All morning, I am reminded that it is earlier than it is. I have more time!

Of course, I don’t, but the feeling is of just an incredible gift, a freebie, of the most precious kind. Time, as I told myself as I pondered aliya, which meant giving up a plumb, secure job and coming to Israel with nothing, is the one non-renewable resource. None of us knows how much we will get and there is no “buying” more of it. The wealthiest person on the planet has no means in this calculus. It is the most precious thing there is.

So we get the illusion of just having been granted more, just like that.

In a few months, we will get another reminder, when time is taken away, just like that.

The gift of free-time comes now, as the hours of daylight lessen, lessen, daily, a reminder of mortality.

Time taken will come as spring unfolds, as each day expands with more light. A balancing, also a reminder.

We are mortal. Bound by Time. The most precious- what shall we call it– thing?– there is.

About the Author
Shulamit S. Magnus Professor Emerita of Jewish Studies and History at Oberlin College. She is the author of four published books and numerous articles on Jewish modernity and the history of Jewish women, and winner of a National Jewish Book award and other prizes. Her new book is the first history of agunot and iggun from medieval times to the present, across the Jewish map. It also presents analysis and critique of current policy on Jewish marital capitivity and proposals to end this abuse. Entitled, "Thinking Outside the Chains About Jewish Marital Captivity," it is forthcoming from NYU Press. She is a founder of women's group prayer at the Kotel and first-named plaintiff on a case before the Supreme Court of Israel asking enforcement of Jewish women's already-recognized right to read Torah at the Kotel. Her opinions have been published in the Forward, Tablet, EJewish Philanthropy, Moment, the Times of Israel, and the Jerusalem Post.