This week’s parasha enumerates the dates and observances of the main Jewish festivals and Shabbat. Reading these instructions, the rabbis notice something peculiar: while the Torah refers to Shabbat as mo’adai, “my chosen times”, it refers to the rest of the festivals as mo’adam, “their chosen time” (Lev 23:2, 4). The rabbis conclude this is because our ancestors needed to choose when to observe the holidays based on their own calculations. By contrast, God sanctified Shabbat at the beginning of time for all time.
We experience these two types of time in our work. For much of the academic year, we react to a barrage of deadlines we must meet, and which are simply beyond our control. At these moments, we might collaborate with students to simply reuse or reconfigure a program that worked simply to meet these deadlines. Other times of the year, during breaks, we have more agency to shape time ourselves. This gives us an opportunity to step back from our daily grind, renew our vision for our work, and actively set priorities for ourselves.
As the end of the academic year approaches, the summer months are largely what you choose to make of them: How can you care for yourself during the quieter time ahead, and encourage your students to do the same?
Rabbi Adam Lavitt is the network coordinator for Hillels in Philadelphia.