Taking The Time/ The challenge of Making Time our Ally

Taking the Time: Parashat Yitro 5779/2019

This week while trying to get an idea for a Tu’bshvat inspired Shabbat dinner I bumped into an article that compared between the traditional Jewish dish Cholent made over 16 hours and Cholent made in the instant pot. The conclusion was clear, the instant one doesn’t work.


Once we used to think about ourselves as the “fast food” generation but I think that the generation of the “instant”  is a more accurate concept for our current society…

We are the “instant pot”, the “instant post” and the “instagram” generation.  If there is anything you want to know you can instantaneously get it by saying one of the magic words of our instant society…. Siri, Alexa and OK Google…. They are always available for you. Everything takes no time and when something does take time then we feel that we are wasting our time.

In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Yitro, after sojourning throughout the desert for three months the Israelites will finally receive Torah (Exodus 19:1)… They are there, in Sinai… I can imagine that moment as the mixed feelings of excitement, curiosity, and tension that we experience at the milestone events in our lives….  


9 And Yah said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in the thickness of the cloud, in order that the people hear when I speak to you, and they will also believe in you forever.” And Moses relayed the words of the people to Yah. טוַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶל־משֶׁ֗ה הִנֵּ֨ה אָֽנֹכִ֜י בָּ֣א אֵלֶ֘יךָ֘ בְּעַ֣ב הֶֽעָנָן֒ בַּֽעֲב֞וּר יִשְׁמַ֤ע הָעָם֙ בְּדַבְּרִ֣י עִמָּ֔ךְ וְגַם־בְּךָ֖ יַֽאֲמִ֣ינוּ לְעוֹלָ֑ם וַיַּגֵּ֥ד משֶׁ֛ה אֶת־דִּבְרֵ֥י הָעָ֖ם אֶל־יְהוָֹֽה:
10And Yah said to Moses, “Go to the people and prepare them today and tomorrow, and they shall wash their garments. יוַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהוָֹ֤ה אֶל־משֶׁה֙ לֵ֣ךְ אֶל־הָעָ֔ם וְקִדַּשְׁתָּ֥ם הַיּ֖וֹם וּמָחָ֑ר וְכִבְּס֖וּ שִׂמְלֹתָֽם:


So, when everybody thought that that was the moment in which they were going to receive the Torah then God says, we are ready so let’s prepare and sends all of them to get ready for another 48 hours.

The Rabbis explain (Sukka 4)that in order to acquire new wisdom we need to create space for it. We need preparation, there are things that require time!

A bold example of that comes immediately afterward in the 10 commandments in which we are instructed to celebrate Shabbat. Shabbat is the soul of our routines, the seventh day is the reflection that completes the work, the action of creation.

This way to work and live with time challenges the core belief of our society that argues that “instant” is inherently good and “process” is inherently a waste. But what Torah is trying to tell us is that there is a substantial difference between the ability to hold something and the ability to internalize it.   

I love having an instant pot and saying OK google every time I am stroked by a random question. These are great things and we are blessed to live in a time with such commodities. However, the instant pot can’t recreate the taste of a Cholent that sat for 16 hours and google’s assistant can’t replace the joy of listening to an enlightening speaker.

There are things that in order to reach their maximum potential require time and special attention.  Time is such an expensive element and limited resource in our lives that in the eagerness to save it we sometimes forget to invest it, thus affecting the quality of important life experiences.

This week, as we read Parashat Yitro and we think again about the value of time, processes and preparation, may we have the ability to recognize those places in our lives in which we are automatically embracing the instant and saving time, and find the ability to switch into making the choice  of investing so time becomes our ally in experiencing life more fully

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