Oct 13, 2017

To Those Who Have no Time

Seeking for The Best Way To Use Our Energies

Carlos Cardoso Aveline

While facing the tensions of daily life, we may feel we “have no time” to study sacred or philosophical topics and meditate upon them.

Whenever such an idea occurs, it is a safe indication that we must revise our list of priorities and stop losing undue amounts of time with issues whose real importance is scarce.

We know we are not immortals - at least from the point of view of physical life -, and wasting time with trivial or passing topics is tantamount to deluding ourselves with the idea that we will live for ever.

An old book of Jewish prayers makes a sober warning and reproduces a few sentences from Hillel, which deserve frequent examination:

“He who aggrandizes his name, loses his name; he who does not increase his knowledge, decreases it; he who does not seek to acquire wisdom, forfeits his life; and he who makes unworthy use of the crown of learning is wasting his powers. (…) If I am not for myself, who will be for me? Yet, if I am for myself only, what am I? And if not now, when?” [1]

Elsewhere the book quotes these words from the same thinker:

“... And do not say, ‘When I have leisure I will study’; you may never have the leisure.”[2]

Every minute lost is a minute gone for good.

One must take practical measures to create a habit of seeking for wisdom in daily life, while time is still available. Rabbi Tarphon said:

“The day is short, the work is much, the laborers are slothful, and the Master is urgent.” [3]

In order to make a wise use of time, one must remember it constitutes a natural resource of decisive importance. It is correct therefore to eliminate from our personal agenda any priorities which are in conflict with our main goal.

Roman philosopher Lucius Seneca wrote that life is not short, but it may seem to be not long enough if we lose too much time with  topics of small importance. Indeed, one of the secrets to a good long walk is not to take too much luggage, and keep to the fundamentals.


[1] “Union Prayer Book for Jewish Worship”, Part I, Newly Revised Edition, The Central Conference of American Rabbis, Cincinnati, USA, 1953, 396 pp., see p. 166.

[2] “Union Prayer Book for Jewish Worship”, Part I, The Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1953, see p. 168.

[3] “Union Prayer Book for Jewish Worship”, 1953,  p. 169.


The above article was published in October 2017 at our blog in The Times of Israel.