The value of time

Every Day Counts
A fellow was getting ready to spend a beautiful Sunday morning lazing about in the yard, when he turned on the radio and heard an old man talking about a time when he did the math and realized that on average people live for 75 years, which amounts to 3900 weeks. At his age, 55 at the time, he realized that he had only a thousand weeks left to live. He filled a jar with a thousand marbles and each Sunday, removed one marble. Watching the jar slowly deplete, helps him appreciate the value of time.
“Let me tell you something before I hang up and take my lovely wife out to breakfast,” said the elderly man. “This morning I removed the last marble from the jar. If I make it to next week, I have been given a little more time. And we can all use a little more time.”
A Time for Everything
We run through life as if we are out of time. We barely finish breakfast, when we are off work and we rush home from work to hit the gym before coming home. We burn the candle on both ends, rushing through the day to get to the evening and through the night to get to the morning. We multitask whenever possible and get it wrong as often as not. Then we start all over again.
In truth, there is a time for everything. When G-d planned your day, he gave you enough time to complete your entire to do list. If we start the second task only after completing the first and complete the second before fretting over the third, there is enough time for everything. King Solomon, the wisest of men, said that there is a time to laugh and a time to cry, a time to wake and a time to sleep. If we stick to our time slots, we will discover that time lasts longer than we think.
Judaism has pre-assigned time slots for everything. There is a time for prayer and a time for study. A time to light candles and a time when kindling is forbidden. If we sound the Shofar on Passover, we are wasting our time, but if we sound it on Rosh Hashanah, it is a Mitzvah. If we eat Matzah on Yom Kippur, it is a terrible sin, but if we eat it at the Seder, it is an expression of our heritage.
In the Temple there were also set times. There was a time for each offering and a time for each blessing. Every melody was pre-assigned and each session was scheduled in advance. There were also limitations on the duration of an offering. If a person should bring a gratitude offering, the meat was to be consumed by morning. No meat shall be left for the morning and what was left was burned. Once the time span passed, the offering was invalid. It only works, when it’s on time.

Tomorrow Will Be Too Late
Here we come to the crux of the matter; tomorrow will be too late. A gratitude offering must be consumed today. Leaving it for tomorrow is wrong.
A person brought a gratitude offering upon return from a dangerous voyage, a journey through the dessert, hospitalization or imprisonment. With the offering he acknowledged that when he was in danger, his life was meant to end. His miracle, was a gracious, but undeserved, gift from G-d Almighty.
By rights he should have died. It was his destiny, his fate. Yet, G-d mercifully extended his life and for this, the fellow was grateful. He was given a gift of time, a little extra time and we can all use a little extra time.
How much time was he given? To this, we have no answer. To this, we need no answer. When life is returned as a gift, we don’t ask how much we were given. Instead, we ask, what it was given for. We reflect on the value of time and resolve to utilize our gift for noble and holy purpose. How much doesn’t matter. How it will be used, does.
For this reason, we leave nothing for tomorrow. We pour everything into today. Today is before us, tomorrow is a world away. So long as we think we are immortal, we are preoccupied with tomorrow. Saving for tomorrow, worrying for tomorrow. The day our mortality draws near, the day we acknowledge that death can strike at any time, we learn to live in the moment. We live for today.
A friend of mine recently told me that when his grandfather was an elderly man, he asked a child to share a delicacy with him.
The boy declined by saying that it was the last one in his bag. Are you kidding, replied the grandfather, it might be my last delicacy, but it certainly won’t be your last delicacy…
At his age, he was living in the moment. Here and now is most important because if not now, when? Many righteous Jews made it a habit to leave no money in the house before going to bed at night. They would give everything away to the poor today and worried not a whit about tomorrow. For that, they relied completely on G-d Almighty. What is the purpose of delay, when you already have today?
Precedent for this was set in the desert when Manna was provided daily from heaven. Everyone took only enough for one day, if they tried to save it for the next day, it went putrid. Take for today, leave tomorrow to G-d Almighty.
When a Jew brought a gratitude offering and watched the animal come to its end, he contemplated his own mortality. The danger he had escaped portended his own mortality, but instead G-d restored his life. Just like the offering he had slaughtered, his old life had ended. The life he now lived was a whole new life. A gift. He was on borrowed time. He made no demand on the future and no plans for tomorrow. He took each day as it came, was grateful for the present and enjoyed it to the fullest. He left nothing for tomorrow. If tomorrow would come, he would worry about it then. The one who will provide the time, will also provide the means.
The old has ended, the new has begun. The old life was centered on self. Rarely had he given away what he could use for himself. His new life would be different. G-d gave him a new lease on life and he would dedicate it to G-d. No longer was he in it for himself. His life would now be about serving and if he was serving he had no need to save. He would not save for tomorrow what he could give away today.
Finally, after a lifetime of time, this man came to understand the value of time.
The Value of Time
Not every person can cherish life and live in each moment because life can’t be truly cherished until it is truly threatened. But this is not an everything or nothing proposition. We might be unable to give everything away today and save noting for tomorrow, but we can learn to stop and smell the flowers. To take advantage of each opportunity as it comes and not waste the present thinking only of the future.  Each day, can be its own. Each time slot can be cherished. Each Mitzvah can be embraced.