Sunday, August 23, 2009

Importance of Time

Another recent shiur from Rav Michael Rosensweig entitled, "The Importance of Time," looks at Mishna 4 and 5 in chapter two of the Pirke Avos:
4.He used to say: Make His will like your will, so that He will make your will like His will. Negate your will before His will, so that He should negate the will of others before your will.

5.Hillel said: Do not separate yourself from the community. Do not believe in yourself until the day of your death. Do not judge your another until you are in his place. Do not say something that is cannot be understood, assuming that in the end it will be understood. Do not say "When I have free time I will learn," for perhaps you will never have free time. (translation from
Rav Lau on Pirkei Avos)

These lines, of course, begin with the one of the most fundamental and demanding religious challenges, "Make His will like your will," and then ends with a statement about the importance of using our time well, using our time to learn, to study, which of course, represents within the tradition the highest level of honoring and loving Hashem.

In the shiur Rav Rosensweig talks about the risk and wastefulness of procrastination, which I had to smile about, because my wife, Eve, is someone who truly cannot procrastinate and just doesn't understand putting something off. This drive to get things done sometimes drives me a bit crazy, but Rav Rosensweig's words have helped me appreciate how Eve is trulz honoring time by her actions.

What I also get from Rav Rosensweig within this shiur and in his general approach to talmid Torah that sees learning, "as constituting the vehicle for dialogue and encounter with devar haShem—an intrinsically significant spiritual process and religious experience," [1] is that he helps me appreciate the time I have to study and to see it as something profoundly valuable and meaningful.

We live a world, a time, that seems to only value activity and movement. In which, if one isn't busy with work or a hobby or a sport, then one is not using one's time well. This view of accomplishment would not judge my listening and studying of the Talmud very highly. In fact, at times I struggle with its "usefulness" as well. But when I listen to a shiur like this, I am reminded of the intrinsic value of Torah lishmah (studying Torah for its own sake) and challenge myself to truly embrace this reality.


1 comment:

GSK+ said...

What the world often sees as 'useless' time it describes as 'wasted' time. It's in that context that Merton described his Thoreau-esque calling as a monk as the calling of others to their own form of uselessness: "If we don't learn again how to waste our time, this society will implode!"