Whenever we are at Six Flags, Disney World or any other theme park we stand “hours” in the lines but yet the daypasses by in a blink of an eye and we find ourselves leaving the park at nightfall feeling like we have entered its gates just moments ago.
The first one to be described as feeling “time fly” is no other than our forefather Jacob. Well, he didn’t go to Six Flags but in this week’s parsha, right after falling in love with Rachel he fulfils his commitment to be Lavan’s shepherd for seven years: “…and they seemed to him a few days because of his love for her” (29:20). Furthermore, as opposed to “our day” in Six Flags which passed so quickly because we had a blast, Jacob had that feeling through seven years of hard work as he described later: “…By day scorching heat consumed me, and frost by night…”(31:40) let alone the beasts he had to deal with and the sheep he took care of so devotedly, how did he manage to have that feeling of time elapsing so quickly in conditions like that?
I think that most of us can easily answer that question; he was in love with Rachel. Whenever his day was bad, even the slightly, he just thought about her and could go on with a smile on his face.
The preferred way described by our sages to worship God is with “love”, but what does the obligation to love God mean? As opposed to other mitzvoth in which we have a certain order like, for example Shabbat, where we have a specific system of “do”s and “don’t do”s that we can follow, loving Hashem has no such system, so how does one loves God?
The Rambam in the laws of Teshuva deals with that precise question; he says that to love God means that: “… a person should love God with a very, exceedingly great and strong love, such that his soul is bound up with love of God and he thinks about Him constantly, like someone who is love-sick and whose thoughts never stray from his love for a woman…” (10:3).
That metaphor is indeed a very powerful one yet while a scholar sitting on the bench of Beit Midrash learning Torah all day long may find that demand simple and achievable it still requires a lot of mental work in order to get there. Where can one on daily basis do that mental work?
To answer this I want to go back to the very first time when God intervened in His creations’ course of life, right after Adam and Eve were seduced by the serpent and ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Part of the serpent’s punishment was to eat dust which from a certain point of view can be a merit – maybe there is not a variety of food but after all as long as there is dust he will never have to go looking for food again. The commentators on the spot answer, that the punishment was not the cutting off in the menu but rather the cutting off from God.
We, as opposed to the serpent, have the merit to be in touch with God and even more we have it settled in our schedule – we have the prayers. But those sometimes seem long, aside of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur even the prayers of everyday do not always fit our busy schedule. But is it so? Are the davenings so long?
We have just read (or will read soon) about how time elapses quickly for a lover when even thinking of his beloved one – like the blink of an eye, and the question is – can we feel that too in our davenings?
Perhaps we should take those rare times to have some break from everything else and maybe as our forefather Jacob did referring to Rachel in those seven years use these moments to get closer to God and continue on our day reenergized, knowing that we are not alone in the battle. Shabbat Shalom.