| Second Thoughts |

What Time Is It?

Bittul zeman, wasting time, killing time, is, in essence, a rejection of G-d’s greatest gift to us: time


IFyou have any appointments during the year 2498 — only 300 years from now — have no fear that you might forget them. I know of a watch that will remind you. It is a must-have accessory for busy people, and it will set you back — special price this week only — about $25,000. (That is twenty-five thousand, lest you omit any zeros.)

Once upon a time, a wristwatch was a clock small enough to fit around the wrist. But today, a wristwatch is not a wristwatch. Today, it is a timepiece, a chronograph, a chronometer. Your chrono-something not only tells you the time in Melbourne, or Moscow or Helsinki; it will also remind you of any appointments you might have during the next 300 years. Plus this invaluable new feature: You will learn when the full moon appears in New Delhi in November 2416.

But, you cry, I only want to know what time it is right now, right here, so I won’t be late for my appointment this afternoon. For that esoteric information, there is a special dial informing you of the time right now, right here. But surely you, who just shelled out 25K for this extraordinary chronometer, will not be content simply to know the time. For that, you could have bought an ordinary wristwatch without all those appended zeros.

Those added zeros give you the following indispensable information: a) Reminders of important dates and holidays until the year 2499. This helps you avoid the embarrassment of making any conflicting appointments in 2355; b) Every four years it automatically adds an extra day in February, so that you not be confused by those pesky February 29s for the next 350 years. At no extra charge, you also get a century’s listing of all the moon phases in New Zealand; c) Its pinpoint accuracy requires only a small adjustment every 100 years. Continues their flyer: “This is the way real freedom feels… with this feature you don’t have to bother with tiresome updates.” Agreed. This is a major contribution to one’s peace of mind, because pressing those buttons every hundred years could be very tiring.

Obviously, this chronometer is more than a watch. It is a statement: You have sophisticated tastes, your values transcend mere money. This is a piece of jewelry that transcends mere time telling. Just the look of it makes you feel special and unique, the envy of all who notice it as you oh-so-casually flash your wrist as you pretend to glance at the time.

Time, goes the maxim, is money. Definitely so, when wearing this timepiece. But for a Jew, time is holy: G-d Himself sanctifies time. He is mekadesh Yisrael v’hazemanim. Bittul zeman, wasting time, killing time, is, in essence, a rejection of G-d’s greatest gift to us: time.

Therefore, because of time’s sanctity, we are planning to offer a specially designed chronograph for the observant Jew, usable for the next 120 years — biz hundert und tzvantzig. We would call it the religio-graph. It buzzes whenever you get close to speaking lashon hara or an untruth. It sounds warning bells when you are about to handle muktzeh on Shabbos, beeps when your tefillin are not on straight, rings an alarm when tefillin or tzitzis are nonkosher, and whistles when the expiration date for the monthly Kiddush Levanah approaches.

Beyond containing the Hebrew calendar for the next 120 years, and reminders when the various Yamim Tovim and Rosh Chodesh fall, it prompts you to say the Shema daily, daven Minchah on time, recite Bircas Hamazon, al hamichyah, and Sefiras Ha’omer, plus — employing the cutting edge of technology — it pulsates vigorously if you miss any of these. When you’re traveling, it identifies the nearest shul, mikveh, and kosher deli, plus it displays daf yomi and mishnah yomit. And, at no extra cost, it also tells time.

This religio-graph would be a bargain at a minyan of chai: $1,800. The IRS might even allow it as a religious appurtenance.

However, for our loyal readers, here is an amazing revelation. All those alarms and beeps are already built in to every Jewish soul — and they are free. With just a slight effort, you can become a living religio-graph that automatically renews itself every year. All it takes is an awareness of who you are, where you come from, plus a bit of study, some serious prayer, and a little willpower. And it is available to everyone. If you’re interested in integrating this free living and breathing religio-graph into your life, see your nearest rabbi or Torah teacher for details. Because even though time flies, you are the pilot.

And incidentally , sorry I can’t see you during 2401. I have a previous appointment.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 908)

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