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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 16, 2005 / 7 Adar I, 5765

It's about time

By Joseph Aaron


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | You wouldn't know it from attending a Jewish event, but Jews take time very seriously.


Indeed, we are guided our entire lives by Jewish measures of time. And much of Jewish observance is dependent upon the precise marking of time.


All of which is kind of ironic, since the notion of "Jewish time" refers to the fact that if you call a Jewish meeting for 8, everyone knows you don't even think about leaving for it before 8:15 or expecting it to begin before 9.


That looseness about time, that almost compulsive need to make sure things don't start on time, is, I think, a reaction to how much of Jewish life is regulated by being exactly on time.


Every week, the Sabbath starts precisely at sundown. Do a proscribed act even a second later and tradition says you've desecrated the day.


So it is with the holidays. There is no specific time one begins marking the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving. But for Succos (Tabernacles) and Passover and Rosh Hashanah, the times they are to be observed are calculated to the minute.


As is so much of Jewish observance. Jewish law dictates that morning prayers must be said before a specific time each day. Matzah is only able to be used during Passover if it's baked within 18 minutes. Not a second longer.


The need to pay very careful attention to the clock is one that comes into play the moment we are born. For starters, Jewish tradition teaches that no one will live more than 120 years, the age at which Moses died. Thus, the minute we enter the world, we know exactly the outer limits of our stay.


And we know when we are to be part of different customs and rituals. For a boy, precisely eight days after being born, he is to enter the covenant by undergoing a brit. At exactly 12 years old, a girl has her bat mitzvah, becomes an adult in Jewish eyes.


Each phase of Jewish life is hinged to a specific time. Pirkei Avos, the Ethics of the Fathers, teaches that "A 5-year-old begins scriptures; a 10- year-old begins Mishnah; a 13-year-old becomes obligated to observe the commandments; a 15-year-old begins the study of Gemara; an 18-year-old goes to the marriage canopy; a 20-year-old begins pursuit of a livelihood; a 30- year-old attains full strength; a 40- year-old attains understanding; a 50- year-old offers counsel; a 60-year-old attains seniority; a 70-year-old attains a ripe old age; an 80-year-old shows strength; a 90-year-old becomes stooped over; a 100-year-old is as if he were dead, passed away, and released from the world."


And speaking of death, we mark time even after we're gone. The time of mourning is called shiva (seven) for the precise number of days it is to encompass.


That personal sense of Jewish time is echoed by Jewish history, which is full of references to time, an emphasis on the importance of how long things took.


The Torah, in fact, starts with a time reference, "In the beginning," and tells us first thing that the world was created in exactly six days, with the seventh being one of rest. And from there on it goes to tell us all sorts of things about time, from the 40 years the Jews spent wandering in the desert to the 40 days Moses spent up on Mount Sinai. Indeed, it was a miscalculation of time that led to the sin of the golden calf.


And time has continued to play a pivotal role down through the life and times of the Jewish people. Chanukah is a holiday that commemorates the fact that one day's worth of oil lasted for eight. When the Land of Israel may be cultivated is governed by seven-year cycles. When a husband and wife may be intimate is governed by a woman's menstrual cycle. There are 10 days of awe, not nine or 11.


And on and on. There is nothing approximate about any of this, with the idea clearly conveyed that Judaism sees time as a very sacred thing, something that must be scrupulously minded and from which lessons can be learned.


Indeed, it is fair to say that we are a people obsessed with time, with dates and their meaning. We even have a day designated as the saddest day of the year, Tisha B'Av, a day that, in fact, has, as the years have gone by, seen an incredible number of tragedies, from the destruction of both temples to the beginning of World War I.


Coincidence? You be the judge. But coincidence or not, dates are an important element in providing a sense of both continuity and a mission to Jews and Judaism. The calendar, it has been said, is the most powerful tool of conveying Jewish heritage.


But the essential Jewish message about time, I think, has much more to say to us about our everyday lives.


Judaism takes time so seriously, is so precise about time, marks everything important in terms of segments of time, because we are to see not only that nothing is more precious than time, but understand that every moment, every second of our individual time on this earth is precious.


More precious than anything. The Talmud poses the hypothetical example of a 100-year-old man, chronically ill, who the doctors determine could have his life extended for one minute if the Temple in Jerusalem were to be destroyed. And so, the rabbis ask, are we allowed to destroy the Temple to add one minute to an old sick man's life?


The answer is that not only are we allowed to, but that Jewish law requires us to.


While such a case could not, of course, occur, it is the Talmud's way of illustrating what Jewish priorities are. And clearly, the top priority is every minute of life, which is more important even than the existence of the Temple.


That's something for us to very much take to heart. For it will help us not to waste time. And will help us to make us feel how important each moment of our lives is, how valued it is.


And in feeling that, we hopefully will come to understand how important it is to make the most of each moment of life, and how grateful we must be at every moment.


And that will add much meaning and purpose to our lives, to all the times of our life. Which, come to think of it, is exactly, precisely what Judaism is all about.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and the media consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.




JWR contributor Joseph Aaron is Editor of The Chicago Jewish News. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


© 2005, Joseph Aaron