In our last column, at the start of the Three Weeks, we asked: How can our generation bring the redemption when previous, much greater ones couldn’t? What does this generation have to offer that others didn’t?
Last week we suggested one answer. Allow me now to suggest another: Our Sages designated us as the “dor ikvesa d’Meshicha” – the generation approaching the final era. Essentially, then, we are operating under time constraints, and lack of time can be a tremendous advantage. It forces one to becoming selective in a smart way. One has to decide what to focus on and what to let go of and these choices enable one to suddenly achieve much more.
The increased adrenaline that pressure produces infuses a person with renewed energy. It’s like writing a postcard. At first, a person’s handwriting is spaced, but towards the end, he starts squeezing and cramming. So much wasn’t said yet; so much more must still be expressed!
Thirty years ago, a secular Israeli pilot crashed in Holland and returned his soul to His Creator. Not long after the tragedy, the plane’s black box broadcast to the world the words this pilot instinctively chose to say during the last moments of his life: “Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem echad – Listen O Israel, Hashem is our Lord, Hashem is one.”
One may deny the truth of Shema Yisrael for a lifetime, but when time is of essence, perspectives change. Lack of time awakens people to the real thing.
Think of it the following way. What would you say if asked what your most precious assets were? Wouldn’t time be among them? Most people run after themselves trying to find time to accomplish everything they would like to achieve. We seem to suffer from an excessive shortage of time. Familiar with the wish that the day had 48 hours?
What I find fascinating is that, when challenged, we have our priorities straight. We admit that spending quality time with the family is crucial. We know that establishing and refining our value system is of crucial importance. We realize investing in educating our children clearly should take precedence. We understand that devoting time for Torah studies is more important than anything else.
But what do we do in practice? How much time do we devote to insignificant things – things that in the long run make no difference – compared to those things we readily admit should be our priorities? If we judged ourselves honestly, how would we rate? How is it that our jobs, entertainment, sports etc. take up most of our time, leaving only scarce moments for those items we firmly believe should be given precedence?
We don’t have that much time left. Let’s not waste it. Let the shortage of time inspire us to use our time wisely and usher in the final ge’ulah.