I enjoy complaining about Daylight Saving Time as much as the next guy, but this new law that the government is trying to pass is not the way to deal with it. Complaining about is the way to deal with it. Like our fathers and their fathers before them, all the way back to sometime after they had real things to complain about.
I refer here to the new act -- passed by the Senate and now moving on to the House -- that we just stop changing the clock twice a year and leave it at Daylight-Saving Time.
This might sound like a good idea to you if you’re still recovering from the recent time switch, or possibly Sukkos, or Elul, or the two Adars. Who knows? It kind of all ran together.
Some people are excited about the new law. The most obvious pro is Friday afternoons in the winter, particularly for people with 9-5 jobs. In fact, it’s great for everyone on Fridays, because instead of going into Shabbos at 4 p.m. in a rush, we can go in nice and calm, like we do when Shabbos is at 8, when we totally do not go in in a rush.
Another thing that will change is that this will basically be the end of Avos Ubanim and also School Melava Malkas. But it’s not all positive.
For one thing, winter fast days will end later. Asara B’Teves specifically. And also Taanis Esther will always end late, instead of just on leap years. It also means that the kids won’t come home as early on Chanukah, which can be either good news or bad news, depending on which side of the school calendar you’re on.
But the biggest deal, by far, is Shacharis. This law is not actually making more days of summer, you know. If the sun goes down later, it’s coming up later. You know how the earliest davening in middle of the winter can sometimes be in the sevens? What happens if we move sunrise an hour later? Shacharis starts in the eights. And, in some parts of the country, in the nines. What time are you getting to work, Mr. One-Day-a-Week-I-Don’t-Have-to-Leave-as-Early-Anymore?
And I have no idea what yeshivas will do. Will they start at 8:30? Will they have a learning seder in the dark before Shacharis? Will they just start the day with night seder?
Not that any of these arguments will really help us. We’re a minority of a minority of the population, and half of us are focusing on the Friday-afternoon part. I don’t think the non-Jews are going to be like, “The Jews raise a good point! Chanukah is going to be at 5, no more Avos Ubanim, and the easiest Jewish fast will be slightly harder!”
And will it really? Because if you think about it, if Asara B’Teves is ending an hour later, it’s also starting an hour later. Which means that if you want to get up and eat breakfast before the sun comes up, you can do so – in the sevens. (And in the eights in some parts of the country.) And that’s basically just called, “eating breakfast”. And then you eat supper at 6! Wow, what a fast. You skipped lunch.
“Why are you skipping lunch today?”
“Because they surrounded Yerushalayim.”
“Why did you skip lunch yesterday?”
“Because I had a big breakfast.”
“Didn’t you have a big breakfast today?”
And anyway, there are other pros. For example, everyone gets to wake up and watch the sun rise, and also everyone gets to daven k’vasikin. In middle of work. The Gemara talks about davening k’vasikin as a huge deal, but if this passes, everyone will be able to daven k’vasikin. K’vasikin: It’s not just for the vasikin anymore!
This is also great for Seudah Shlishis in the winter. People will finally be hungry.
But the general public seems very excited about this.
“We hate the whole Daylight-Saving-Time thing. So let’s make it permanent!”
But that’s because they’re only thinking about the part where it gets dark later, because that’s when they’re awake. They’re not thinking about the morning, because they’re not awake before the sun comes up. Which is exactly the problem.
They’re also thinking it will save us energy. Part of what Daylight-Saving Time is supposed to do is make it so our lights aren’t on for as many waking hours, because people turn on lights when it’s getting dark, so the solution is to push off what time it gets dark. But here’s the hole in that logic: If we’re waking up before the sun, people are turning on lights in the morning and then leaving them on when they leave the house, and those lights are on all day. I know this because I have kids. And I have myself. Do you think I remember to run around the whole house turning off every light when I’m running late to work because I woke up in the dark?
But there are definitely arguments that can get the non-Jews to see things our way, which we kind of have to hope will occur to them:
#1 is that everyone is going to have to wake up in the dark. I think they’re going to pass the bill, and everyone’s going to wake up in the dark that first day and go, “Oops! Let’s change it back!”
Or not. The problem is that most of the people in Congress are older, and older people love getting up before sunrise. They want us to join them, if anything. You think Biden is going to block this?
What’s going to happen is that all the schools are going to have to start and end an hour later, and parents who have to take their kids to school will come late to work, so a lot of companies will start their workdays later. So basically, every company will -- on their own -- have a 10-6 work day, and especially every Jewish company in the winter. And we’ll have accomplished nothing. Except that it won’t be uniform.
The other thing that applies to everybody is that our devices all still have a feature that changes the time by itself -- on the wrong day, because of the last time they played with Daylight-Saving Time. But if this goes through, then all of the technology in our houses will change itself twice a year on two different dates unnecessarily. And we’ll have to, one at a time, turn them back. With no helpful announcements in shul or I’m assuming church or whatever.
So the obvious question is, how did this act get through the Senate? How did no one realize there were all these issues?
The answer is that it made it through because no one voted against it. Whoever put this through used something called “Unanimous Consent”, which is a gamble they can do where instead of debating and voting on a law, they just propose it, and if even one person votes against it it’s gone, but if no one does, it moves on to the House. And also they don’t have to take attendance.
“Wait, they passed a law? I thought we were off that day.”
A senator has to be aware that it’s passing that day and show up and get through traffic in time for the part where they ask, “Does anyone have a reason this shouldn’t be a law?” and then dramatically burst through the door and yell, “I object!”
There was actually one senator – Roger Wicker – who was supposed to object, but his flight was delayed, and he missed the hearing.
So in other words, he got to work late. It’s already happening.
Also, according to reports, “A lot of senators didn’t actually know what they were approving and were shocked when they discovered what they had done.” It’s a good thing these aren’t people that were voted into their positions as the best people for the job. If I wanted someone in the senate who didn’t know what was going on, I’d send some of my students.
The other reason the law got through was branding. They called it the “Sunshine Protection Act.” Who’s going to vote against something called the Sunshine Protection Act? What senator was going to say, without knowing what is it, “No, I don’t want to protect the sun”? I guarantee you, the sun doesn’t even know this is happening. If they wanted to be honest, they would have called it the Waking Up in the Dark Act, or the Let’s Get Everyone to Daven Vasikin Half the Year and Maybe Learn Before Shacharis act.
I personally am all for some kind of bill to stop all the clock changing, but I think we should stay at Standard Time all year.
And everyone will say, “But it’s going to get dark earlier in the summer!” Yeah, at 7:30 instead of 8:30. So? We already make early Shabbos because we can’t handle how late it is.
But imagine a Pesach Seder that’s over at 12 instead of 1. Imagine a Shavuos night where you’re in bed by 6 a.m. instead of 7, because you started Shacharis in the threes. You can get an extra hour in before your wife sends the kids to jump on you for the day seudah. Chatzos on the Ninth of Av would be at 12 – and on the 10th too. Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av would both be over early. Sure, Yom Kippur Shacharis would have to start an hour earlier too, or the break would be shorter. But I’m going to hide that in the PR.
Anyway, I’m at the end of this article, and I haven’t heard anyone disagree… I’m literally the only person in this room as I write this. So as far as I can tell, I have Unanimous Consent. Now it just has to pass through the Senate, the House, and the President.
Maybe we can call it the Sleep-Cycle Protection Act.