Shabbat Shalom: Time’s Invitation

May 4, 2023 | Article

Shabbat Shalom: Time’s Invitation

May 4, 2023

By: Renée Rockford
Interim President & CEO

My father loved clocks. I once counted 42 different clocks – the chiming, pinging, singing kind – in our house growing up. The last thing my father did on the night that he died was to wind the large grandfather clock in his home. It was as though he knew his time had run out, but he was winding the clock for us – a fleeting but holy gift to leave behind.

This week’s parshat Emor talks about time – appointed times – and the holidays of the Jewish calendar. Emor teaches that time and space are to be sanctified and made holy through our marking and use of time.  It dictates how we spend some of the most important times of our lives, in celebration and commemoration.

The word “time” in Hebrew is zeman. Zmanim refers to ritual times, such as Shabbat candle-lighting or prayer times. Hazmanah, deriving from the same root, gives us the word “invitation.” And so, we are invited at appointed times to make holy our existence. Thomas Cahill in his popular book, The Gifts of the Jews, takes note of how ancient Jews began to see time differently – a beginning and an end, and in between a narrative whose triumphant conclusion would come in the future.

From this Jewish approach to time also emerges a new concept of people as individuals with unique destinies – and our hopeful belief in progress and understanding, with the hope that tomorrow can be a better day. From  Psalms 90:12: we read, “limnot yamenu ken hoda ve-navi levav hokhmah. “Teach us to count our days rightly, that we may obtain a wise heart.” 

Time is the great equalizer – no matter our station in life, each person only gets to experience 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days in however many years we live.  All the more reason that this week’s parsha teaches us how to focus on things that give life meaning. May you experience this Shabbat as a sanctuary of time, separate, holy, with a taste of a perfected world in a time yet to come.

Please email Renée Rockford at with questions or comments.