Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

by Rabbi David Zaslow

In 1990, a group of us brought Reb Zalman to Ashland to lead a Shabbaton (weekend retreat). Rabbi Aryeh had founded the Havurah just five years earlier in 1985. Looking back as our community is getting ready to host Reb Zalman once again it’s hard to believe that it was that long ago – Reb Zalman was 65 at the time, I was 42. The Havurah was 5. Last summer Reb Zalman celebrated his 80th. birthday, the Havurah is about to celebrate it’s 20th. birthday. And this summer it will have been 10 years since I was ordained!

I started thinking about time a few weeks ago when I took my first 10% senior citizen discount at Señor Sam’s restaurant. I’m 57 and I was actually eligible for the “senior” discount two years ago, but I smugly denied my age each time I approached the counter to pay my bill. The cashier would ask, “Senior discount?” And I’d say, “Me? Are you talking to me? Of course not! I’m not eligible. Thank you very much!” A few weeks ago, however, Fate caught me by surprise. You see I had ordered lunch and as I was getting ready to pay I realized that I was short on change in my pocket…about fifty cents short. My bill was $5.13 including tax, and as I glanced down in embarrassment I received what I took to be a heavenly sign.

Actually, it was a very small sign by the cash register that announced “10% Senior Discount: 55 and over.” I thought, “Hmm, 10% off from $5.13 is exactly what I have in my pocket. Okay Hashem I surrender. I’m taking the ‘senior’ discount!” I must admit that I have avoided the senior discounts there for the last two years out of fear that I was signing onto something I wasn’t ready to agree to yet. Oddly enough, saving the fifty-cents was so much fun I went back there twice in the next few days just to tempt Fate a bit more. I told Hashem, “Okay, have it your way. I’m getting older, but I might as well enjoy every discount I can along the way” To date, I’ve saved $3.75.

In the Tenakh (Bible) time takes on a transcendental character too, just like at Señor Sam’s. The sense of time in the Bible is mystical and profound. Mary Ellen Chase, a great Protestant scholar wrote in “Life and Language in the Old Testament” that “The Hebrew language had no word for hour, and those who spoke and wrote it no idea whatever of such a period of time….To the ancient Hebrews a thousand years might, indeed, be as yesterday; or each of the six so-called days in which God created the heavens and the earth might mean to them an incalculable expanse of time. Nor must the events of their history be understood as in any sense dated by them, placed in any secure niches of time. These events are forever in their consciousness, constantly in their hearts and before their eyes, in their present as well as in their remote past. In other words, the happenings of their history were timeless to them….”

And King Soloman reminds us in Ecclesiastes 3:1 that “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” So now is the time of senior discounts. In five years I’ll be 62 and I get a discount at the Varsity. In eight years I’ll get them everywhere. May Time bring us more and more joy, and may we enjoy G-d’s discounts along the way!

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