Rushing has become normative behavior.
We rush to work, rush to put dinner on the table, rush to finish the chores, and rush to meet a deadline. Funny thing is, rushing doesn’t necessarily mean productivity. Often the faster we work, the less detailed, nuanced and thoughtful is the final outcome.
Bedtime with my children is a favorite example. My almost five year knows all of our tricks. If it feels as if the story she has chosen to read is ridiculously long and unending, admittedly, I try to skip a page here and there. My heart is racing, wondering when I will have time to clear the dishes, make the lunches, get to the gym and prepare for the next day. But she looks at me with stern eyes and a frustrated grimace and says, “Mommy, you skipped a page.” And she’s right. In rushing to be “done” I’ve skipped a page. I skipped a page of parenting. I skipped a page of modeling good behavior. I skipped a page of enjoying the moment. I skipped a page because “rushing to finish” often seems more important than “rushing to experience.”
So what should we be rushing to do?
In the Torah portion it reads, “Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah and said, ‘Quick, three seahs of choice flour! Knead and make cakes!” Then Abraham ran to the herd, took a calf, tender and choice, and gave it to a servant-boy, who hastened to prepare it. He took curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared and set these before him; and he waited on them under the tree as they ate.”
The scene: three strangers come to visit Abraham and Sarah. Abraham and Sarah rush to greet and feed them. And after his hurrying, Abraham slows down and joins his guests.
The Midrash explains that, “We may learn from here that the deeds of the righteous are always performed with alacrity; no time is lost in undertaking a mitzvah or completing its performance.” Meaning, we should rush to do a mitzvah. But rush to engage and immerse in the mitzvah; not rush in order to be done with it.
How many times do internally and unintentionally mutter, “I just wish this was over?” As beautiful as the mitzvah is (visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, teaching our children, cleaning the beach or park, learning Torah, etc.) we always have a looming to do list flashing in our minds. But perhaps we can change our practice. Instead of rushing to finish, let’s rush to experience. Let’s rush to be present. Let’s rush so that others know we are available, eager to be with them.
The reward may be greater than we could ever imagine.
In other words, let’s try not to skip a page.