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One of the many hazards of international travel is the change of time zones. This usually leads to what we commonly call jet lag. This can be very disconcerting and oftentimes require days and even weeks before its effect is completely dissipated. Having recently traveled back and forth from Israel to the United States I was acutely aware of the seven-hour time difference between the two countries. However, for some reason I apparently am never greatly affected by jet lag and the different time zones. I am well aware that there are many who are not so blessed and find not only travel difficult in actuality, but also the aftereffects of jet lag.

I was explaining this to my great granddaughter in the United States – she is a precocious five-year-old – when she arrived at the simple solution to the problem. She said: “Why don't they just fix their watches so that everybody's time is the same?" I explained to her that even though that is a practical solution to the issue of what time it actually is, it cannot work because of the built-in time clocks that we have in our physical bodies. But as our world continues to shrink more and more, people are working at strange hours that are not consistent with their innermost body clocks. And so, for a certain section of our population our clocks are always out of kilter and we experience a certain dissonance in our existence and daily activities.
It is interesting to ponder the nature of the different time zones that exist in our world, although all artificially created, they somehow give better structure to our lives and activities. However, in today's world of 24/7 commerce, communication barriers that time zones once seemed to pose to human communication, have pretty much fallen and gone by the wayside.
The financial markets of the world never close and an increasing number of commercial ventures, factories, the Internet, multi-national corporations and companies are open and available at all hours of every day of the year. Whether this is truly a boon for human society is a matter that can be debated, that there is no question that time zones no longer play a great role in today's commercial world.
There are great cities in the world, like New York, who pride themselves on the fact that they are cities that never sleep. This constant frenetic pace of life undoubtedly contributes to much of the strain and stress that we modern humans suffer almost without notice and certainly without much thought being devoted to the matter. I had a thought this past Yom Kippur, that even though the fast had finished here in Jerusalem, I still was able to feel its aura and holiness because of the fact that it was still the afternoon in the United States where my children and grandchildren were praying. I felt somehow comforted by that thought even though I could not really explain this logic even to myself.
Travelers from Israel to the United States always say to themselves that they have gained seven hours of time. And when they travel back to Israel, they are always under the impression that somehow, they lost seven hours of time. However, none of this is truly absolute. It is only in the relative adjustments of night and day, light and darkness, clocks and watches that perhaps we may have lost or gained hours of time. But in the reality of our existence we have gained nothing and lost nothing as well.
I know people – many people – who never change their watches no matter what time zone they are in and prefer simply to calculate what time it is where they are based, upon what time it is where they live and originated from. The watch companies are aware of such a human tendency and therefore attractively market watches that have two faces of time marked on them so that one knows at an instant when one is going to and coming from. The only time that we really lose is the time that is unaccountably and furiously spent on completely nonproductive and foolish projects and activities. That time is truly lost to us for time can never be regained nor can it be stored for future occasions as well. So, we should make the most of the present for the past is gone and the future is not yet arrived.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

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