At the beginning of class, our Hebrew professor encouraged us to do a little bit of Hebrew every day. “If you really own this from the beginning,” he said, “you can look forward to hayamim hatovim — ‘the good days’ — when you can sit down (just you and that magic bible* they published in 2008) and read the scriptures in Hebrew.”
As I was struggling through a frustrating language exercise tonight — tired and achy from sitting at a desk and looking at a screen all day — I remembered that these days are hayamim hatovim. The good days are still to come, of course (where would we be without that eschatological day?) — but we must remember that everything, as Rilke says, is gestation and bringing forth. The inglorious toil of a dozen small, daily tasks — this is significant work that will bear fruit in time. In this present day of gestation, we must remember to consecrate our work to God, for he will make it good and bring everything to its fullness.
At the end of the work day, I am tempted to neglect the exercise of remembrance: to forget that the day is a good gift from God to be returned with thanksgiving. The days are hard. I am tired. I am tired of working full-time and trying to study and write with a headache. Progress is slow. But I am glad — glad for these days to learn the value of things and to love the days as they come.
We’re only a month and a half into Hebrew — but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen hayamim hatovim.
*A Reader’s Hebrew Bible