“Judaism,” says Rav Heschel is “a religion of time…aimed at the sanctification of time.” These days, time seems a bit surreal. Days, nights, even weeks seem to flow into one another. I heard someone joke recently, “I think today is the 15th of “Maprilay”.” The Jewish calendar helps us make sure that time doesn’t slip away on us. This week, in Parshat Emor, we learn about the cycle of Jewish festivals: Shabbat, Pesach, Sukkot, Shavuot. The details concerning the timing of each of these chaggim teaches us the middah: “Pay attention to special times.”
Noticing special moments and times is a key practice of Jewish consciousness. Our calendar with its cycle of chaggim, Rosh Chodesh and Shabbat — that start and finish at times that shift according to the seasons — reminds us always to be attentive to the uniqueness of each moment.
Right now, we are in the midst of Sefirat Ha’omer — the counting of days between Pesach — our celebration freedom and Shavuot — our celebration of receiving the Torah. Next Tuesday is Lag Ba’omer. Lag Ba’omer one of the several Jewish holidays literally named after a date: Lag = ל”ג, the Hebrew gematria for the number 33. Lag Ba’omer is the 33rd day of Sefirat Ha’Omer. Usually, we celebrate Lag Ba’Omer on Heschel field by learning through field games. We light a traditional bonfire and sing songs and roast potatoes. While we can’t to that this year, we’re planning a Zoom Bonfire Sing-Along for Tuesday afternoon.
As we enter into Shabbat, my wish for all of us is to let the Jewish calendar be our guide in helping us become increasingly mindful, attentive, and appreciative of special moments and times. At this time, more than many, such awareness is important for our hearts, souls, and minds.