You only get one chance to make a first impression. Our initial encounters profoundly shape and define our experiences and relationships. And so, as we prepared for our exodus from Egypt, those first moments were exceptionally critical. It is not surprising, therefore, that at that fateful moment in time, Hashem presented our fledgling nation with a lengthy and detailed series of instructions, as our formal entry into the world of mitzvos was set to begin. Remarkably, the very first mitzvah given to the Jewish people is Kiddush HaChodesh, the sanctification of the new month. This mitzvah, which serves as the basis of our calendar system, is essential for the functioning and maintenance of numerous aspects of our ritual observance. It is somewhat peculiar, however, that this particular mitzvah, of all mitzvos, should be the very first given to the Jewish people. The Jews who were preparing to leave Egypt at this time were not yet a committed and God-fearing people. They were emotionally fragile, spiritually immature and on the verge of complete assimilation, many of them still profoundly confused regarding their true loyalties. One has to wonder, therefore, why the Master of the Universe chooses the platform of kiddush hachodesh upon which to make His initial introduction.
The Seforno (Shemos 12:2) observes how this monumental point in history was a critical juncture in time. At the moment of liberation, the Jewish people would undergo a transformation, transitioning from slavery to freedom. With this transition, control over one’s time is transferred, from master to newly emancipated slave. Enslavement denies the individual the ability to manage and use his time autonomously. A slave is coercively subjected to the wills and whims of his master, thereby denying him any personal control over his time or schedule. With liberation, this all changes. Suddenly, personal autonomy over one’s time, as well as the ability to manage that time, is reinstated. It is at this point in history, says the Seforno, that our existence as a people who possess the ability to make meaningful choices, officially commences.
The degree to which we properly manage our time reflects, to a certain extent, how much we truly cherish our freedom. While many of us are often immersed in a multitude of tasks, running from one appointment to another and gasping for time, as if struggling for another breath of air, we do possess the ability to control our time, perhaps more than we realize. Difficult choices need to be made, yet by recognizing how valuable our time is, we can choose to elevate our days by sanctifying our hours. Occasionally, painful sacrifices must be undertaken, but by making responsible and deliberate choices as we manage our schedules, we can enrich our minutes by being more mindful of the passing seconds. It is not an easy task; far from it. Yet there is no more appropriate way to celebrate the beginning of the month of Nissan, than through a renewed appreciation of the incredible and irreplaceable gift of time.
Please consider the wisdom of the following parable, author unknown: Imagine there is a bank that credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every cent, of course!
Each of us has such a bank. Its name is TIME. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against the “tomorrow”. You must live in the present on today’s deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and success.
The clock is running so make the most of today.