One summer day in Jerusalem, I sat down at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on Yafo St. 34, laptop in hand, ready to put in some serious work on my book. But there was one little problem: I had forgotten to bring my charger, and there was only 26% battery left! Instead of returning home, however, I decided I was going to focus and maximize every little bit of that computer’s energy. By the time it reached 1%, I had gotten more done than 100% computer battery had ever afforded me.
Like every blessing we have, whether health, family or eyesight, time is only truly appreciated when we realize it’s not a guarantee that we’ll always have it. Every moment in time we have on this earth is immeasurably precious. The more we realize its value and its limited bounty, the more focused and productive our lives become.
Look at the great efficiency of NFL Quarterbacks during the last 2 minutes of a half or game, known as the “two-minute drill.” Where was that success in the past 28 minutes? Or watch a college student during finals week, full of focus and determination, maximizing every moment to study.
The challenge is to live this way at all times, not stressfully cramming, but giving value to every moment we have with our loved ones, working on a project, or simply walking, breathing and observing G-d’s world. How much money would those on their deathbed be willing to give up for more time?
In the Book of Bereishit-Genesis, we read about our forefather Abraham, someone who truly lived his life to maximum potential. Just before his death, the Torah says: “And Abraham was old, coming with days.” The Mystics explains that “Abraham came with his days,” means that every day he lived was maximized. Every moment Abraham had on this earth was spent elevating his surroundings. His days were spent in meaningful pursuits, none wasted or taken for granted.
Judaism is obsessed with two things: feeling gratitude for al that we have, and infusing spiritual meaning into our daily physical activities. Everything we have of real value has been gifted to us. Our days begin with the prayer of “Modeh ani” – an acknowledgment of gratitude to G-d for returning our souls for another chance at life. But what’s so great about another day on this earth? It’s special because we’ve been entrusted with the greatest opportunity imaginable: to carry out a mission for G-d to transform this earth into a home for Him. This means that the moments of our day – even those that seem the most meaningless – have purpose and potential. Even the annoying trials and tests to our character are opportunities to overcome our first urges, thereby elevating that moment, greeting angry faces with a smile.
May we continue Abraham’s legacy of maximizing our days for the good, taking advantage of the breaths and seconds we have been blessed with each day to grow and make an impact, collecting countless moments of positivity. And even on the days where we binge on Netflix or watch football the whole day, let’s remember to take a moment to feel a sense of gratitude for all that we have.