With daylight savings time ending I’ve started to think about the way I relate to time. My world is informed by two conceptions of time, often at odds with one another.
On the one hand, there is time as my mechanical devices tell it. I check my phone to find out when to leave for work- or my computer to see how long I’ve been working. This time changes twice a year because it’s legally required to. I lose an hour in the spring and get it back in the fall.
And then there is Jewish time. Time as the sun, the stars, the moon and the sky tell it. When the sun begins to set on Friday, I light candles to welcome the Shabbat. When it rises every day, I know I can begin my morning prayers. I can look at the sky and know, approximately, what time it is. I can look at the moon and know where we are in the Jewish month. The days become longer and shorter, almost imperceptibly, as the seasons change.
Mechanical time, the 24-hour western day, draws my attention to the phone, the computer, the clock. The seconds manifest themselves as a constantly moving clock-hand, a series of neatly arranged red dashes, or a black outline on a lit screen. I view the world through the lens of technology, neatly controlled by human innovation.
Jewish time draws my eyes to the sky and the stars, the seasons and the cycle of the year. I notice the sun setting, sending streaks of clouds scurrying across the horizon. I count the stars as they begin to populate the sky. A sliver of moon announces the new month.
I’ll be readjusting my clock tonight. I just made Havdalla at nightfall, bringing me into the Jewish month of Kislev. I know that right now the moon is just a small sliver in the sky.