Is It Time For Collective Time Out?

Photo courtesy Carole Leskin
Photo courtesy Carole Leskin


            Here’s a question: how did it get to be August already? Seriously, is it my imagination or is time moving at hyper-speed. I know time “speeds up” as we get older, but it seems to be some cosmic trick now that is being played on us. I was reminded of an old TV show from when we were young, “Beat The Clock”. I thinbk it was on Sunday nights. You had to figure something ouit or answer something within a certain time and there was this big clock on the TV screen that counted down the seconds. Weird. But it seems that now the clock is beating us regularly! It is close to 100 degrees and already there are High Holiday rumblings, TV ads for football, back to school ads. Stop it already, slow down!

            A fantasy wish, no doubt. Time, as we are reminded, is the one thing that we cannot control. Jewish time, measured as it is in the holiday cycle, keeps reminding us of this basic fact. We are all on that “carousel of time”. Perhaps in mid-summer, it may be a good time celebrate time and the realization that we are here for what Chaim Potok reminded us, is only “the blink of an eye”. But time does change us and, especially in these last few years, has reinforced the basic belief and reality that what is important to us goes way beyond the material, and this becomes even of greater importance as we age.

            As time passes, and we adjust to new realities, we become very aware of the need for community and relationships. One can develop an entire curriculum from our texts on this issue. The need for community has been highlighted in stark fashion recently in numerous articles and books on the issue of loneliness. But we need not look too far from our own tradition to see similar insights that are eternal. Let me mention one source, familiar I am sure to many of you, that bears notice as time passes by.

            Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik’s classic book “The Lonely Man of Faith” looks at some of the issues related to our place in the world, our search for meaning and connection. His “two Adams” may be known by many. He writes on loneliness in a beautiful passage that, in many ways, holds open a mirror to where many of us are at this stage of life. He writes of a search for connection in community. “There, not only hands are joined, but experiences as well; there, one hears not only the rhythmic sound of the production line, but also the rhythmic beat of hearts starved for existential companionship and all-embracing sympathy and experiencing the grandeur of the faith commitment; there, one lonely soul finds another soul tormented by loneliness and solitude yet unqualifiedly committed.”

Stay safe and well and be kind


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