My mother-in-law loved to refer to herself as the chief cook and bottlewasher. She was a multi-tasking caterer, grandmother, and volunteer. At the time we marveled at her energy. She is a slacker by today’s standards! Everyone is busier than ever. And Torah may have set the race in motion!

In the Torah portion Tazria, we learn of the skin affliction often misunderstood to be leprosy. Who are the diagnosticians of this disease? It is the priests. The priests have duties of tending to the Mishkan, judging between disputants, and teaching.  They also were responsible for the sacrificial offerings including the burnt offering, meal offering, dough offering, sin offering, the guilt offering, the release of the scapegoat, peace offering, heave offering, drink offering, incense offering, and thanks offering.

Torah doesn’t teach the priests how to balance their time. In our times, the priestly cult is gone replaced by our modern cult of the busy. The priests were the elite class of their time. Now the busier we are the more we appear to be successful.

Our current culture encourages constant action.  Downtime is wasted time.

The antidote is found in the heart of our religious traditions. The best medicine for any illness, physical or mental is rest. When the priests diagnosed Tazria, the ill person was sent out of the camp where they were idle.

Are you tired because you are too busy? Often missing in our daily routines is the time to rest. Even during the pandemic, many were anxious to fill their daily schedules. Binge-watching television became a competitive sport.

I fear being bored. I have avoided downtime. And perhaps my approach is not the healthiest. Even as we anticipate retirement from work, friends ask “what will you do with your free time?” Instead, we might ask “how will you enjoy having more control of your day?”

The key to life has always been to find the balance. Torah teaches us how to be both productive and how to recognize when it is time to take a break. As Ecclesiastes might have written, there is a time to be busy and a time to rest.

Rabbi Evan Krame