A number of years ago when I was living in Miami I hosted in my home a well known rabbi from Israel. He spent a few days at my house which was a real treat for me and my family. I asked him if he would honor us by giving a talk at our synagogue and he happily agreed. I told him it would begin at 7:00 PM and that we would have to leave the house about five minutes before in order to be on time. To my surprise when 7:00 PM rolled around he was not even close to being ready. I was starting to sweat knowing that we would be very late. It was not until about 7:30 that we even left my house and by the time we arrived at the synagogue there was a nice crowd already waiting. When he began his talk he apologized for being late but he said that he had done so intentionally. I am not sure if he was joking but here is what he said.
The Bible tells us that the Jewish people sinned by making a golden calf while Moses was up on Mount Sinai. If you look carefully at the text it says that “the people saw that Moses was late in coming down the mountain” (Exodus 32:1) and they lost patience and thought Moses was gone. They sinned terribly all because Moses was late and they lost patience. He explained that he came late on purpose so that everyone should learn the lesson of patience!
We live in a generation that everything has become disposable and fast. There are paper plates, paper napkins, plastic ware, paper cups basically anything you want can be disposable. While it used to take a long time to prepare a meal, with the help of a microwave or some instant mix you hardly have to wait at all. We no longer have to wait to send and receive letters anymore---we have instant communication with emails and texting. Technology is awesome but we pay a price for this in other areas of our lives. We have become a very impatient society.
We have an expression in Judaism “B’shaah Tovah” which means “in a good time.” It is used to express a healthy, holy type of patience that gives space for God to work. While we can fall for the illusion that we are the masters of our time, it is truly God who controls the world and we must be patient and realize that we are all living on God’s time. Things will happen when God wants them to and how He wants them to. Impatience demonstrates a lack of faith. Patience means that I submit myself to God’s clock.
In Judaism, patience is seen as a supreme virtue. While we might want things now, what is truly worthwhile requires patience. From gourmet meals to great marriages we must be willing to invest time, energy and hard work. Nowhere do we know this more than here in the land of Israel. We waited since the year 70 CE, nearly 2000 years, to return to our rightful homeland. While the journey was difficult and often painful, even deadly, we waited patiently for our Father to bring us home and He has. We live here on God’s clock. We are now waiting to see the rest of the story unfold as we are surrounded by enemies who would like to push us into the sea. We know that we will outlast them. We are a patient people. We have learned over the millennium that God’s Will always has its way. It is just a matter of time. And patience.