Rabbis Without Borders
Rabbis Without Borders is a dynamic forum for exploring contemporary issues in the Jewish world and beyond. Written by rabbis of different denominations, viewpoints, and parts of the country, Rabbis Without Borders is a project of Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.
The day after the day after the Israeli elections the words of the quintessential Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai come to mind: “A man has no time in his life… to have a season for every purpose… A man needs to hate and love at the same moment, with the same eyes to cry and to laugh, with the same hands to throw stones and to gather them, to make love in war and war in love.”
Amichai, who fought in every Israeli war, deeply understood how precious each moment was, especially when experienced against a backdrop of human fragility. He was aware how jagged were the edges of his country that had to fight for its original existence and constantly faced the threat of violence and despair. And he knew that the enormity of the work required to smooth those edges was belied by the short time given on earth to each person.
While a moment in history like an election makes us focus on the reality of the moment, whether with joy or with sorrow, I find a different perspective of time as I look on the Jewish calendar. This Shabbat we will greet the New Moon of Nissan, the spring month in which the holiday of Passover falls. This month is celebrated with the words from the Book of Exodus which inaugurate a new way to mark time for the Children of Israel : “This month is for you the first of months of the year” In other words, this month will be a signal to start again, begin anew. History may demand that we bear the weight of the past and face the facts of the present. However, the Jewish calendar is itself an invitation to look to the future and be liberated from all that would hold us back.
Each human being may have a short time and the demands placed upon each person may put the squeeze on whatever noble endeavors we might have put our sights on. However, celebrating the new month and the new spring with the promise and anticipation of breaking free from what enslaves us, we are reminded not only that we can find the time to do the work of repairing the world, but we must do so. Regardless of whatever limitations seem to be imposed by history or the challenges of the present moment.
Pronounced: shuh-BAHT or shah-BAHT, Origin: Hebrew, the Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.