01/08/2014 10:44 am ET Updated Feb 26, 2014

Saving Time

Time may not be on our side, but its always on our mind.  What lament is more widespread then "I wish I had more time..."  What fantasy more compelling then the ability to travel through time, whether to the distant future, buried past, or to get another crack at something that happened in our lifetime.  And what question is comes up faster than "How much time will this take?"

Time-saving mechanisms and technology are everywhere in our bytes per second world.  Yet recognizing what time is worth to us is not easy at all. We often talk about saving time as if it were akin to saving money. However, time  saved can not be stored away and spent.  Time can only become valuable when we find a way to value being present. In fact for time to gain value beyond the currency of the moment, it must not be time that we save, but time that we allow to save us. The story of liberation that begins the book of Exodus is all about the power of time to be redemptive.  

Enslaved by the Pharoah, Israelites are crushed by hard labor, draining them not only of their physical strength but of any spirit as well.  They not only do not have the time for anything but work and exhaustion, but they are in danger of losing any hope that things could ever change in the future.  And then they finally cry out and G*d renews the promise of redemption.  According to an insightful commentary, their cry is necessary not for G*d to hear but for them to realize the worth of saying prayer.  Even, and especially, with no time to spare they must dedicate a moment to make a connection to their source, to seek to renew themselves, to inspire them to transform the world.  In our very different world of time-demands, with all of its privilege and efficiency, we still find ourselves faced with the dilemma of the Israelite slaves:  How do we take the time to make time more worthwhile? In the story of the Exodus this paradox was symbolized in the matza... bread that must be baked in only 18 minutes and yet serves as the centerpiece of our leisurely feast celebrating liberation from slavery. The secret to the matza though is not the haste in which it is made, but the dedication of its 18 minutes to nothing other than freedom. Not more time. Time that means more.  

The Exodus is not an event in history, but rather a blueprint for escaping the limitations of history. As we turn the calendar on a new year, may we be inspired by the story of liberation to make the most of every moment.