The Time Bandit
He shaved a nanosecond off one note and added it to the next. This underhanded form of theft, known as rubato, is one way that soloists personalize a piece of music. It is a liberty taken with the composer’s text. He stopped time in its tracks, restored our dreams of youth, and defied the march of death.
Moshe added one day to the preparation of the Children of Israel for Sinai. “Let them be prepared for the third day,” (Exodus 19:11) said God. Moshe said, “Be prepared after a three day period.” (Verse 15) Moshe, who stood between God and Israel to prepare them for Revelation, delayed the music for one extra day. He wanted them to experience the period of preparation and sanctification as a time of its own, not only as preparing for what would follow, but precious in and of itself.
He stole a day from a world transformed by Revelation in order to teach us that preparation is valuable for itself. This world is a world of preparation. Moshe did not want us to only “prepare for,” he wanted us to steal the moments of preparation, stop the march of time just enough for us to revel in the preparation as special.
Moshe wanted us to love the opportunities of preparation. He wanted us to love this stage for itself, not only for what will follow.
What compelled Moshe to steal that moment? He was attempting to rectify the damage caused by the “Adder,” Yitro, who added moments, but robbed us of time.
“Because the people come to me to seek the Lord. When they have a matter, one comes to me, and I judge between a man and his fellow, and I make known the decrees of God and His teaching.” (18:15-16) But the “Adder” only heard the latter half of Moshe’s statement. He responded to people who came for judgment. He ignored “Because the people come to me to seek the Lord.”
Moshe knew that people were waiting. He also understood that when someone spends hours in order to seek God, every second is precious. Yitro focused on the “for,” for what were they waiting. Moshe treasured each second they spent with the expectation of finding God.
The “Adder” won the people over. Moshe withheld his frustration for forty years until his farewell speech. He did not criticize the people, but he offered them a new way to learn the value of the “wait.”
He shaved time off the World of Revelation, and added it to the World of Preparation, our world, our lives, our work, and our gift.
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