The first Passover seder took place hours before the Jewish people’s actual liberation from Egypt. And just prior to that ritual event, God pronounced his first commandment to the nascent nation.
It was about time.
“This month shall be to you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you,” says Exodus, chapter 12, verse 2.
So the first thing on the agenda of a nascent nation was to establish a calendar. And doesn’t that make perfect sense?
As many commentators have observed over the centuries, if there’s one thing that doesn’t matter to a slave, it’s time. A slave doesn’t look forward to the weekend, or to retirement, or a family vacation. A slave doesn’t have any reason to know what time it is right now.
Time can be inspiring or oppressive, depending on how we use it. But in order to use it at all, you need the agency to recognize your human dignity – in other words, freedom.
Today in Bedford, we are not literally enslaved, but we crave liberation. The pandemic has upended our routines in ways none of us could have imagined. Some of us have suffered devastating personal loss. Others are reeling from crushing financial setbacks. Most of us have escaped these dire consequences. But as the director of counseling for the Bedford schools observed, everyone has experienced some degree of trauma.
And one thing that we all have learned is the value of time.
The concept has taken on entire new meanings. Pre-pandemic, we used to “waste” time playing games on our phones. We used to “kill” time hanging out before a meeting. We used to “mark” time sitting on The Great Road in the car at 5 o’clock.
For the past year, most of us have luxuriated in time – without the resources and opportunities to maximize it through human interaction. So we spent a lot of time lamenting much that was taken for granted.
Now our community, our world, is on the cusp of another liberation. What will we do with time when we reach the end of the tunnel? I am fairly certain that at least for a while, we will cherish the time we spend with others, literally, face to face, without fear.
This is a holiday season for many of us and a threshold of hope for all of us. Let us resolve to make good choices, find fulfillment in every moment, and have good times.
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at email@example.com, or 781-983-1763