Torah Thoughts

There is a misconception that it is clever to be late, however this is not a Jewish notion. On the contrary, in Judaism time and time keeping are important aspects of the observation of many of the Mitzvot and therefore good time management is an integral part of Judaism. This emanates already from when the Children of Israel came out of Egypt.


Even before the shackles of bondage were broken, the Children of Israel were told to sanctify time. They were told: “This month shall be for you the beginning of the months, it shall be for you the first of the months of the year” (Shemot 11.2) . Seforno, (Ovadia Sforno who was born in Cesena Italy in 1470) explains: “Hence forth the months of the year shall be yours, to do with them as you will. During the bondage, however your days did not belong to you but to work for others and fulfil their will.” All the long years that the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, time was not theirs. They were entirely subject to the timekeeping of their taskmasters. Once, they were to be freed, they had to learn how to manage their time and cherish it. Therefore, their first task, even before their miraculous escape from Egypt, was to claim ownership of time. From this came the command to sanctify time and more specifically to sanctify the new month.


One of the most significant examples of how time plays an important part of Judaism’s observances is the Shabbat. It begins and ends at times depending on location and the times of the year and is inaugurated by sanctifying it. It is also a time to recharge our physical and spiritual batteries, and it is also a wonderful opportunity to be together with family and friends round the Shabbat table. It is also a time for spiritual reflections and learning and remembering that time is of the essence.


Rabbi Lord Sacks not only promoted time management. He was a stickler for being on time, and in this way, he did not only sanctify time. He showed regard for others, by not inconveniencing them by being late.