It’s ingrained in our psyche: Fall back and spring forward (or is it fall forward and spring back?). Whatever it is, we have become accustomed to changing the time on our clocks twice a year – though each time we change we can’t seem to figure out if we’re gaining or losing sleep, but somehow, we figure it out in the end. But all that may soon be a thing of the past.
Daylight Saving Time has been in place in most of the United States since the 1960s. Year-round Daylight Saving Time was actually adopted during World War II and again in 1973 to reduce energy use because of an oil embargo. Currently, there is a major push to change to Daylight Saving Time permanently.
Supporters say the change could prevent a slight uptick in car crashes that typically occurs around the time changes, as well as the small increase in the rate of heart attacks and strokes soon after the time changes.
The US Senate has already unanimously voted to pass legislation, called the Sunshine Protection Act, to make Daylight Saving Time permanent starting in 2023.
It remains to be seen if the bill will pass a vote in the House.
Dissenters of the bill note that, if passed, during the dead of winter, children will go to school each morning in utter darkness. For frum Jews, there is a much more significant concern, because the earliest time for Shacharis may be well after 8 a.m. Having to daven so late will complicate things for the masses who need to be at work by 9 a.m. or earlier, as well as for our yeshivos.
Despite that, in recent weeks I was personally hoping that the bill to make Daylight Saving Time a permanent fixture would pass. My hope was based on the fact that the dial on my watch to change the time has fallen out, and I cannot adjust the time. Instead of having it fixed, it would be much easier if time always remained as it is now.
But then I was informed that even if the bill is passed, it won’t go into effect for another two years anyhow, to give time for airlines and other such businesses to adjust their schedules. Since I will anyway have to get my watch fixed within the next six months, I’m back on board with prioritizing the needs of the Jewish people trying to adhere to halachah and hoping the bill does not pass.
The reality is that times change, and we must be ready to adapt to them. In Maariv each night, we note that “with understanding, He changes the times and alternates the seasons.” Life isn’t smooth and predictable, and we have to live with some measure of unknown. But despite any changes or adaptations that are necessary, we seek ways to ensure that they fit within halachah, and never vice versa.
The Torah states that S’firas HaOmer, our annual 49-day count from Pesach until Shavuos, begins “from the day after Shabbos.” Chazal explain that, in this pasuk, Shabbos does not refer to the seventh day of the week but the first day of Pesach. Why is the first day of Pesach called Shabbos?
The Meshech Chochmah explains that the Torah obligation to actively destroy chametz in one’s possession before Pesach is called “tashbisu,” the same root as the word “Shabbos” (literally meaning to stop/desist).
The first day of Pesach is Shabbos in the sense that we stop our yearlong habit of enjoying chametz and completely alter our diet for a week. Challenging and arduous as it is, we fulfill the Torah mandate of not eating chametz during Pesach.
After we demonstrate our ability to make a significant change in our lives in adherence to the Torah’s directive, we begin our spiritual trek towards kabalas HaTorah.
The seasons don’t change. Based on the position of the sun, they have faithfully followed natural law since creation. There will always be the same number of limited hours of daylight in the winter and added hours of daylight in the summer. The only thing that changes is how we count the hours and what time the hours of daylight begin and end.
Our adherence to Torah is also immutable and eternal. We have no idea what tomorrow will bring, and the only surety we have is of the unpredictability of what lies ahead. But we can be sure that no matter what is going on, the daily daf, halachah, Mishnah, and other Torah study will be learned. Candles will be lit by women the world over on Friday afternoon, mitzvos will be observed and chesed will be performed. Those commodities, though based on time, are timeless. As history has shown us, of that we can be sure.