Understanding and appreciating timing


During this time of transition from summer to fall, when we are completing those things on our to-do lists after summer breaks and vacations, I want to address timing on a deeper level. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a states, “Everything has an appointed season, and there is a time for every matter under the heavens.” At Chabad.Org, in Kohelet-Eccesliastes – Chapter 3, Rashi’s commentary about this passage talks about specifics, including a time to break and a time to build, a time to seek and a time to lose, a time to plant and a time to uproot that which is planted.

Timing is everything. You can do the right thing at the wrong time or the wrong thing at the right time – neither works well. But how do you know when it is the right time to say something, do something, call someone, go somewhere, accept an invitation? We use whatever information we have at the time to make our best decision, and then act accordingly. So why do we sometimes miss and wish we had done something else?

I think it’s a matter of listening to the non-verbal cues and what your own intuition tells you. When you are deciding what course of action to take, pay attention to how you feel at that time. Are you uneasy? Unsure? Is your stomach queasy? Or are you feeling strong and settled in your gut?

Pay attention to the cues and at the first sign of uncertainty, stop and analyze your options. What is bothering you about this decision? Maybe you need a little while, or even to sleep on it and see what you think the next day.

When you take action and learn that your timing was off, this is a great opportunity to review what you did and determine what you could do differently next time. Our best decisions come from learning in the school of life. Learning from previous decisions can only help you in the future.

But what do you do if you have an opportunity right now, but you are unsure and there is little time to reflect? This is the time to take a deep breath, spend a moment by yourself and visualize the possible outcomes of your decision. This sounds easy, and like common sense, but at the moment when you have to act now or never, it’s not so simple. Taking those deep breaths and asking yourself some questions, or getting another opinion if there is time, can make all the difference in making timing work for you.

So, as you help your children or grandchildren get ready to return to school, and as you adjust to the transition from summer to fall and begin to prepare for the  High Holy Days, remember Ecclesiastes 3:1–2a: “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.


PATRICIA RASKIN hosts “The Patricia Raskin Show” on Saturdays at 4 p.m. on WPRO, 630 AM/99.7 FM. Raskin is a board member of Providence’s Temple Emanu-El.