Years ago, at an intergenerational event, a storyteller began her tale with this riddle: it is the swiftest of things. Guesses included rabbits, rockets, jaguars – both animal and automotive. One elderly participant simply said, “Time.”
What would you do with more time? Would you complete more of your to-do list, go to the gym, take a course, socialize with friends, work harder, work better? How often do we complain that there is not enough time?
God gifted us with time on Shabbat, but seven times in every 19 years, Jews receive an additional gift of time, when an extra month is added to the calendar. That’s because the months of the Jewish calendar are determined by the moon, while our festivals depend on the seasons, which are solar. The leap year aligns the lunar and solar years so that our festivals will occur at the right season of the year.
We are currently in such a leap year, this being the end of the month of Adar Alef, and Friday ushering in the first day of Adar Bet, an especially joyous month as we anticipate our Purim celebrations.
What will you do with this gift of time? Will you fill it, or leave it sparse? Will you even notice it? Daily life is filled with events, things, constant updates, background noise. Our children are unfamiliar with boredom. Few of us daydream anymore. We wade into experiences rather than immerse ourselves in them.
In this week’s parashah, the Mishkan (Tabernacle), constructed according to God’s instructions, is completed and God’s presence dwells therein. Moses can’t approach the Tent of Meeting until the cloud, indicating God’s presence, is lifted. This divine adjustment accommodates the human presence.
God gave us Shabbat, festivals and Rosh Hodesh, but not a leap year. This was our contribution to the covenantal relationship. God adjusted divine space, but we adjusted holy time. Happy Adar.