Last week, I proposed keeping a corona diary. One of the reasons I suggested this is because it can make us more acutely aware of the importance of utilizing the extra time we have on our hands (for those of us who aren’t working or busy with children under five).
Although it’s hard to believe, this will end. The Spanish flu of 1918 infected one-third of the world’s population and killed 30-50 million people worldwide, but it came to an end. This coronavirus pandemic will end as well, and when it does, we will once again find ourselves uttering the common excuse, “I have no time.”
But if we are honest, we will have to ask ourselves, “Why didn’t I do ______ when I was quarantined for months?” So, I would like to give my dear readers some suggestions to carry out now so that they don’t later have regrets and say, “Why we didn’t we think of doing those things when we had the time?”
Let’s start with learning the meaning of our tefillos. So often we think with chagrin that we don’t know what so many of the words we say mean or we don’t understand how they flow. We ruefully excuse ourselves by saying, “Who has the time?” Well, now we have the time. Take out an ArtScroll and learn the meaning of the daily yom, or familiarize yourself with the words of U’va l’Tzion or even the different stanzas of the Hallelukahs.
Here’s another idea: We always fret about the fact that we never learned Navi in yeshiva. So carve out just 15 minutes a day and start learning Navi. Don’t start from Yehoshua because the cartography will slow you down. Start from Shoftim. You’ll be fascinated to learn how the shofet Ehud ben Geirah assassinated Eglon the king of Moav or how Devorah orchestrated the successful battle of Sisra.
Or perhaps you always wanted to learn Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. Now’s the time. Take up Mesilas Yesharim and finally become a baal mussar.
Here’s another idea: You always wanted to get your sefarim in order so that you can find what you need. Make it a project. What about that basement or attic that you wanted to clear up? Now’s the time.
Here’s a romantic idea: Why don’t you take some newly-found discretionary time to write a love letter to your spouse, thinking of the things that you have really learned to appreciate about him or her. Perhaps you might even find time to formulate a poem. What a great use of time.
Another idea: With the frantic pace that we normally live, we usually don’t have time to connect with parents or married children. So set aside an hour to call an elderly parent or a married child.
Then, there’s the opportunity of hisbodedus, meditation. Remember, Moshe Rabbeinu, David HaMelech, Avraham Avinu, as well as Yaakov Avinu all opted to be shepherds so they could have time to be alone and contemplate. It’s a lost art. But since we’re quarantined, we can try recapturing it – to think about what Hashem wants from us and how we can better prepare in this world for Olam HaBah, to ask ourselves if we’re using our money and time wisely.
We can pose vital questions to ourselves like, “What’s it like to live with me?” “How self-centered am I?” and “How much of a difference am I really making with my life?”
Let’s also not forget to pray for those who are sick and for the safety of our brave doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Let’s beseech Hashem not to get sick – not from Covid-19, nor from any other disease – and to be spared from even having any scares.
Let’s make sure to call, FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom with the elderly, the scared, and those who are alone and lonely. May Hashem help us use our time wisely and fruitfully, and in that merit may Hashem bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.