We are now counting the days of, or from, the Omer. We count them one day at a time. “One day at a time” is a popular expression. It connotes stability, continuity. It’s comforting.
AA groups have adopted it as one of their main slogans. They strive to be sober “one day at a time”. It’s a lot less scary than thinking that you have to be sober for the rest of your life. You only have to work on today. When tomorrow comes, then that will be the day that you have to work on. It’s enough today to work on today.
“One day at a time” also says to us something about the nature of time. “Time takes time” is another favorite slogan of AA and self help groups. We have to take time as it comes to us. We can’t hurry it, neither can we delay it.
This is in contrast to most other indulgences in our lives. People join AA, or Overeaters Anonymous, or other self help groups, because they feel that they need the help of others in controlling their desires and urges. Eating and drinking are good things in and of themselves. They just have to be taken in the right amount, the right proportions, and in the right time. People get into trouble when they get carried away. “That drink was so good, I’ll have another one”. And another, and … The end up overdoing it. Too much of a good thing.
What if time was like that? Imagine a world in which you had control over how much time you could live at any one time. That you could spend your time like money – a little bit at a time, or all at once. This could get us into serious trouble. Let’s say you were having a good time. A very good day. You would be tempted to spend more of your days on today. Instead of this good day being only one day, you might want to make it two or three days, all at the same time. It would intensify the experience. It would seem to make your days better, by spending them more on the good ones than on the bad ones. But then you might find that you have no days left in your account to make it to the end of the month. Or that your life would be significantly shortened by spending all of your days on the good times.
So G-d, in His great wisdom, created the world in such a way that we have no control over time. We have to take time as it comes, and have no power to manipulate it. This is the lesson of “one day at a time”. Just like all of our days come each of them in their right time, so must we strive to control our urges, and instead of indulging in them all at once, to enjoy them, each in their right time.