THE ‘LEAP SECOND’ - It’s About Time!      BH

Compiled Thoughts by Rabbi Anchelle Perl

Why shouldn’t you tell secrets when a clock is around? Because time will tell.

Why did the man put a clock under his desk? He wanted to work overtime.

 Have you ever wished you had more than just 24 hours in a day? Well this month you’ll get your wish. Sort of. A rare phenomenon called a ‘leap second’ means that June 30th will actually be 24 hours and 1 second long. We get a 61-second minute at the end of June.

 Leap seconds are added occasionally to help keep the atomic clock synced up with the earth's rotation. So if you are you short on time? Don't worry. This month you'll get an extra second.

This year will be the 26th time since 1972 that a leap second will have been added.


To welcome this 'leap second’ I was considering buying a new timepiece, the Ptek Phillipe Sky Moon Tourbillon 5002 P. This platinum watch is composed of 686 parts. It is double faced with celestial movements. 55 jewel movement, 48 hour power reserve, manual winding. Comes with a sapphire crystal and a black crocodile leather band.

 For two reasons I have now changed my mind: (a) the cost is over $1.5 million, way above my pay grade and (b) I was incorrect in expecting that for such a bundle of money, I would get a decent return on my investment, the watch would at least offer me more time, say, 65 minutes per hour instead of the commonplace 60!

 The timepiece itself is scoffing at me. For despite what one pays, it moves inexorably forward, its bejeweled little wheels refuses to slow down for a mini-instant as it tolls the identical seconds and minutes as my $4.95 Mickey Mouse watch I picked up at the corner drugstore.


But here is the real question we must answer, are we spiritually ready for this June 30 ‘leap second’? What meaningful action or resolution can we make during this extra ‘leap second’?

Don't we all wish we had more time? So many projects we'd love to embark upon, so many places to see and things to do, but so little time available. Of course we'd love to study Torah, spend quality time with our loved ones, and pursue hobbies and dreams which we have always postponed — but between the duties of work and chores at home, there seems to be nary an extra moment to devote to these important endeavors.

In reality each of us is allocated from above just the amount of time we need to get our mission done. Some of that time will be for learning, teaching, helping others. Some of that time will be needed for making a living—also a divine task with purpose and meaning.

But none of us can justify our obsession with just making a living by claiming that it leaves no time to learn or to teach. This is nothing less than misappropriation of funds—spending all the allotted time on one task at the expense of our principal purpose in this world. For each of us is foremost a student and a teacher.


Judaism's view on time is simple: it works in nobody's favor, unless imbued with meaning: left alone, it has no opinion, no shape and the popular adage "time is on our side" is a myth. Time does what time does best - it passes. And so the obligation falls on each of us to elevate mundane time into something special, more distinguished.

The precise nature of time eludes us, but we know that time is a powerful entity. Jewish mystics note the difference between leavened bread and matzah is not the ingredients (they both contain flour and water), nor the method of baking (both are baked in an oven) but time: a difference of only one second turns one into the other.


The clock has been coined “a silent preacher"! It never utters a single word - yet when one looks at it and realizes that the hands of the clock (i.e. the hours, minutes, and seconds) are moving continuously, this serves as a lesson in making better use of one's time. The preciousness and value of time is a profound lesson that we call all learn. If you allow a second to pass without utilizing it, we have not merely lost the action or would be accomplishment, we are also lacking the gift of that very second.

 There is an expression "Man worries about losing his money (domov), yet he is not as concerned about losing his days (yomov)!"


One of the main characteristics of the Messianic Era is the promise of abundant time. Maimonides writes (Laws of Kings 12:4): "The sages and prophets longed for the Messianic Era... only in order to be free to study Torah and its wisdom; with no oppressor or deterrence."

As the date of our rendezvous with Redemption approaches ever nearer, we are experiencing a taste of this awesome possibility. And as time becomes more plentiful, knowledge has also become more accessible by quantum leaps.

 In times past the average person needed to trudge to a library or synagogue for study texts; now it is within the means of the average consumer to own a modest personal library and, for everyone, the internet offers so many opportunities to broaden horizons, with hundreds of thousands of pages of Torah knowledge and so many audio classed to boot.

Let’s us resolve to make more of our time. The time is there — the question is only how we will choose to use it.

 "How was your date?" Sara asks her roommate. "Terrible! He showed up in his 1932 Rolls Royce!" "Wow! That’s a very expensive car. It's timeless! What's so bad about that?" "He was the original owner!"


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