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Parashat Emor: Time

What time is it? Seriously, what time is it right now, specifically at this moment? Look at your watch, phone, iPad, or computer. Think about how many times a day you look to see what time it is. For better or for worse we are tied to time. Time keeps chaos at bay, and order cocooned around us. As human beings we depend on time to move us forward. Our lives are centered around time. Almost every minute of every day is accounted for in some way, which then expands to weeks, months, years. Time propels us to live.

In this week’s Torah portion, Emor, G-d gives us the gift of sacred time. Time that moves beyond the time we live by every day, “human time.” G-d says to Moses, “Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: moadei Adonai asher-tikreu otam mikra’ei kodesh eileh hem moadai (Leviticus 23:2).” There are a variety of ways in which you can translate this verse from Hebrew to English. The Chassidic Masters translate this verse as, “These are the appointed times of G‑d, callings of holiness, which you shall call in their appointed time (Leviticus 23:2).” I share this translation with you because there is something visceral about it, that pulls at my heart. Perhaps it is their use of the term “calling” that wants to awaken or inspire something within me. The foundation of a calling is the pull of something towards something greater than yourself. The Chassidic Masters in their comment on this verse describe these G-d appointed times, which are mentioned in this week’s Torah portion, the Holidays we know as Passover, Shavuot, Rosh HaShanah, and Yom Kippur as, “‘Callings of holiness” (mikra’ei kodesh), in the sense that each is a landmark in time at which we are empowered to call forth the particular holiness or spiritual quality embedded within it.” We are called to find our own meaning, our own connection to ourselves, G-d, each other, and the world in each Holiday we have been gifted, at each appointed time. The Chassidic Masters continue, “Each year, when we arrive at the juncture of time where a particular spiritual quality has been embedded, we are granted the ability to access it once again.” Within the craziness of our lives, G-d gives us tools, gives us moments in time to transcend ourselves. To search for a deeper meaning. To be spiritually uplifted. We are empowered to grow as human beings beyond what we know about ourselves at that time.

Tonight at your dinner table (or any other time you feel moved) think about the time you spend. Ask yourself, do you use it to your utmost ability in the ways you need? More than that, how do our Holidays, our “callings of holiness” touch your lives? How do you spend them? Do you, and/or can you put aside “human time’ to embrace “sacred time”? Think about how that could impact your life. Shavuot, the Holiday that marks when we received the Torah, and is one of the Holidays mentioned in Emor, begins Saturday night, May 19th. Will you explore it what it could mean to you? Now that spring and summer are officially here (I think it will stay warm now) and things may be slowing down, be adventurous and explore what sacred time, “callings of holiness,” like Shabbat and other Holidays, could be in your life. Jump into this calling, this gift of time that we have been given as Jews.

Shabbat Shalom!

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