What would you do with an extra month?

Posted on February 1, 2019

An extra month?  How about a few more hours or a couple of days to get things done, see people, and live?  That sounds so good.  Some people are fortunate to receive bonuses for good work.  What if there was a time bonus?  That you were given some additional days or even a few weeks!  What would you do with your time if you even had an extra month?  Really, it’s rather fun to imagine. Would you take a month of vacation and go cruising the Mediterranean?  Would you start writing that book you’ve always dreamed of?  How about doing the KonMari method, brought by Japanese sage, Maria Kondo of tidying up your home? (I’ve watched a couple of her videos and they are quite inspiring. Even had my daughter watch one. Wishful thinking that a teenager would want to clean up her room. Ah, I digress)  Hmmm, would you go off and spend quality time with your grandchildren?  What about that work project that you know will pay off in the future?  Time, the lack of it or using it well, is always a struggle for us.

Well, I’ve got good news for you.  This February/March, we will have an extra Jewish month of Adar.  Hallelulya!  An extra month, what are we going to do with that?  Well, the holidays will be pushed later.  Yes, Yom Kippur will be in October.  It will give me a little more time in writing sermons.  In the meantime, we will have some extra weeks to plan for Purim and make arrangements for our Pesach seders.  And, well, that about it.  Before I deflate your balloon of excitement, though, I want you to know that it happens every two to three years.  It’s because our Jewish calendar is primarily lunar and that without these additional months, our holidays would float around the calendar.  It would be very odd to celebrate Passover in August, Rosh Hashanah in January, and Hanukkah in April.  So this is why we have this ‘solar’ correction to keep our holidays in their seasons. 

While we, living in the secular world, won’t have any additional time to spare perhaps it’s an opportunity to evaluate how we will spend the time that we do have.  Abraham Joshua Heschel writes that we become imprisoned in the domain of space, i.e., of things, in his book, The Sabbath.  He admonishes us to sanctify time by observing Shabbat. Yes, as Reform Jews, it can be powerful to set aside some time on Shabbat for reflection, rejuvenation, and joy.  We can also take some time to look at our goals whether they are academic, work performance, personal growth, strengthening relationships, securing finances, or just planning ahead.

Maybe, it’s not a bad exercise to imagine what we would do if we literally had an extra month.  Once we identify what is most important to us, we can incrementally work towards it.  Hillel famously stated in Pirke Avot, “If not now, when?”  Perhaps, we shouldn’t wait for a time bonus but instead start working towards our goals or doing things that in Marie Kondo’s words, “spark joy.”  She’s referring to items to keep but I like the concept for how we spend our time.  May we use our time productively and add as much joy to our lives as possible.  In the meantime, enjoy the bonus month of Adar!