Off the Pulpit

Eternity in Every Instant

Heschel used to tell the story of the boy in cheder who was reading the story of the Akedah, the binding of Isaac. Year after year they read the story, yet each time this boy was frightened – what if Isaac is hurt? The other students made fun of him – after all, they said, you know how it ends, we read it before! But the teacher said no, this student is reading it properly, because the Torah should be happening anew every time.

To be part of the Jewish tradition is to view time differently. Events that happened in the past did not only happen in the past; they are always occurring. The revelation at Sinai both occurred and occurs. Creation, as the prayers tell us, is daily renewed. There is creation every single day, every moment.

A faithful Jew lives in an omnipresent now. Abraham can visit the Sukkah in 2022, every Seder night we are freed from Egypt and each Shabbat God ceases from fashioning the world. Eternity collapses into each moment and you live both now and forever every day of your life.