gratitude and time, by Tzvi Schnee
“The appointed seasons of the L-RD.”
- Leviticus 23:2, JPS 1917 Tanach
Time flies by without recognition of its passage, unless we preserve the past and look forward to the future. Beyond the daily grind of our lives, it is necessary, if not essential to mark the occasions that are important to us. For the Jewish people, the passage of time is most notably marked by the remembrance (zachor) as well as the observance (shomer) of the Sabbath. So much so, that the adage, “More than the Jewish people have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jewish people,” may ring true in a profound way (Ahad Ha’am).
The Sabbath is first mentioned at the end of the first account of Creation given in the Torah (see Genesis 2:1-3). After G-d finished the work of Creation, he rested on the seventh day; additionally, He blessed and sanctified the seventh day, indicating that the Sabbath is the source of all blessings for the week, and considered to be holy (kadosh). Reverence towards H’Shem may often begin with the acknowledgment of this sacred time of the week, created for our benefit. Because I have the opportunity to set aside weekday concerns, in favor of a rest that nourishes my soul, once a week, I feel rejuvenated every Shabbos, having connected to the Source of all Creation.
Furthermore, the moadim (appointed seasons), i.e., the Jewish holidays also help me to connect to something greater than myself – my people (K’lal Yisrael), the heritage of my ancestors, and my hope for the future. The seasons of our lives often change, according to various circumstances placed upon us by society, family life, and our own personal selves. Yet, the seasons of H’Shem, including Shabbos are a constant source of refuge that I can return to again and again to foster my sense of wholeness. At this point in my life, I often think that the only vacations that I am truly interested in taking would center around Chanukah, Passover, and the High Holidays, inclusive of Sukkot. (Shavuot would be a briefer vacation). There is no place that I would rather go, than within the inner sanctuary of time, provided by the moadim. For this provision in my life, I am inspired to partake of the solace of Shabbos, created by what Heschel refers to as “an island in time.” My thankfulness to H’Shem for Shabbos is beyond compare to the productivity of the weekdays.