I need a few days to adjust to a different time zone. I flew into LA a day before Shavuot in order to adjust before the Holyday, but one day was not enough. Things only got worse when I had to teach all night and my inner schedule was ripped to shreds. I could no longer tell what was day and what was night.
While in this state, I traveled to yet another time zone: I stood with the Children of Israel as they sang Hallel before stepping into the sea. Just when I settled into that time zone, I had to travel again, this time to Deborah and Barak as they sang their Hallel before battling Sisera and his 900 chariots. It was frightening, thrilling, and fascinating. I wanted to speak with Deborah and get some tips on leadership but I had to take off yet again to stand with King Hezekiah as he sang Hallel as he watched the Assyrian army surround Jerusalem. It was darker than the battle with Sisera, but it was the chance of a lifetime to speak with a man destined to be the Messiah. Even if, for some inexplicable reason, Hezekiah wouldn’t meet with me, I could always interview Isaiah who was hanging around.
My travels had not ended. I took off again, this time for Babylon, just as Shadrach, Meshach and Abed Nego were singing Hallel as they were being thrown into a furnace of fire. I’ll admit that there was no way that I would get close enough to that furnace to interview them and Nebuchadnezzar was scary. I was intimidated and was grateful when I felt myself lifted again into another time zone, back to Los Angeles, just in time for morning prayers.
Something magic must have happened: I was wide-awake. The constant switch from one time zone to another did not confuse my body’s clock: it was restored. All was well.
I’ll admit that I took another few trips over Shavuot: Sinai was intense, Ezekiel in Babylon was inspiring, Ruth was impressive, David and Batsheva were a handsome but controversial couple, Samson was intimidating, and observing the Sotah ceremony in the Second Temple was super cool.
For some reason, these dramatic journeys do not disturb my inner clock as much as did the flight from Newark to LA. They did disturb me in a different way: When I returned from all these trips I could not find any of my footprints in any of the scenes of the Bible. It was as if I had never been there. I guess that it is hard to find those marks in stories more than 2,000 years old, and that even just 100 years from now there will be no mark of me in this time zone either.
I may have left no marks on those stories, but they certainly left their marks on me, and that is what it’s all about. Every Hallel I will sing will have the imprint of those stories. I live, love, learn, pray, and observe, not in order to leave my mark, but to allow those experiences to leave their impressions on me. It works, and it is absolutely wonderful.
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