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Is Being On Time A Jewish Value?

 

Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet
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Being early is a Jewish value. Inasmuch as Chazal say “z’rizim makdimim l’mitzvois” then when it comes to general time keeping, this too is significant.

The first Mitzvah in the Torah – “Hachodesh hazeh lochem” – is directly correlated with time keeping. It is the case that many mitzvos are governed by time.

It’s an unfortunate indictment on Judaism when the term “Jewish time” is actually a negative thing. Delayed chupas and other social events are unacceptable without good reason.

Time is part of Hashem’s creation in this world and we’re supposed to treat it appropriately, not waste it, and turn up on time.

– Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet is a popular Lubavitch lecturer and rabbi of London’s Mill Hill Synagogue.

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Of course it’s a Jewish value!

For the following reasons:

  1. Jewish people, especially clergy who come late to meetings, are transgressing geneivat data, which essentially means they are stealing precious time from their neighbor. What gives one the right to think that one’s time is more valuable that another’s and that one has the right to infringe on his/her time.
  2. It’s the menchlich thing to do. We are commanded to do what is right in the eyes of Hashem: “Ve’asita ha’tov v’hayashar b’einei Hashem.” To come on time is the right thing to do.
  3. Finally, a Jew must be an example for all people. We have been chosen as the Am Hanivchar – a chosen people – because we are supposed to set the example for all people to see and aspire to regarding the proper behavior in one’s daily life.

– Rabbi Mordechai Weiss lives in Efrat Israel and previously served as an elementary and high school principal in New Jersey and Connecticut. He was also the founder and rav of Young Israel of Margate, New Jersey. His email is ravmordechai@aol.com.

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Rabbi Yehoshua Heber

No question that punctuality is an important middah as a Torah Jew. Arriving late for davening is not giving the tefillos its proper kavod, nor is it the proper kavod Shamayim. When meeting with people or coming to appointments, being late shows a lack of regard for other people and their time. Those who are consistently guilty of this either have a problem with time management, or they may be self-centered or haven’t been given the proper chinuch.

Culture is another point to consider. In some circles the official start time isn’t understood as the real start time, and everyone recognizes this. At the same time, such a derech doesn’t give the message that punctuality is a value, but there probably are other very positive features associated with that way of life.

Just as with all middos, being too strict with punctuality isn’t a great middah either. Such a person, although very prompt themselves, are probably subjecting themselves to unnecessary stress. They may also have very high expectations of others which may lead to friction in their relationships. The key is to be balanced, to make the effort to arrive on time but to be able to forgive oneself for the occasional lateness, and to be forgiving of others who are deficient in this area.

Rabbi Yehoshua Heber is Rav of Khal Tomchai Torah at Yeshiva Torah Vodaath and Dayan at Bdatz Mishptai Yisrael

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