It would probably have been more correct to entitle this article “An Hour Gained”, inasmuch as this Motzaei Shabbat, at 2 a.m. in the morning between Saturday and Sunday, we will be putting the clocks back one hour and the summer will officially be over. Summer Time (Daylight Saving Time) lasted almost two months longer this year than usual. This year marked the first for many years, in which we did not put the clocks back the weekend immediately following Rosh Hashana. There has been a running battle with the ultra-orthodox religious parties for years over the timing of the return to the winter clock, since they claim that remaining on Summer Time during the transitional season (September – October) makes it difficult for religious people to recite the morning prayers when it is sufficiently light to be called “day”, and still get to work on time. I must confess, I have never been able to understand the logic (or lack thereof) in this claim. How do orthodox Jews manage in northern Europe – Scandinavia, for example?
But I digress.
A few weeks ago, just before Rosh Hashana, owners of smartphones were warned not to rely on these devices as alarm clocks at the beginning of the following week, as the smartphones, being too “smart” for their own good, would in all likelihood “remember” the date when they reverted to the winter clock the previous year, would do the same again this year and would, in consequence, allow their owners to sleep for an extra hour before awakening them, thus causing them to be late for work. I’m not quite sure how that was supposed to happen, since the date they would “remember” would, presumably, be the date according to the civil calendar, whereas the date of Rosh Hashana, being calculated according to the (lunar) Jewish calendar, changes its “civil” date every year. However, we were assured by “the Powers That Be” that this was, indeed, a possibility and that smartphone owners should therefore reset their devices manually. Since I do not possess a smartphone, merely an ordinary mobile phone which I have had for nearly seven years (!), I was not unduly concerned. And, indeed, my mobile phone gave me no trouble whatever and remained on Summer Time. I understand, from family and friends who are more technologically advanced than myself and who are equipped with all the latest wonders of the Digital Age, that their smartphones did, indeed, revert automatically to Winter Time over that particular weekend.
So far, so good. Sometimes, it pays to be Old Fashioned ;-).
Twice a year, at the change from Winter (Standard) Time to Summer (Daylight Saving) Time and back again, I follow a bedtime ritual whereby I reset all my clocks – as well as all devices with timers, (of which there are many, including – but not limited to – computers, video recorders, radios etc.) One of these devices is the telephone in my living room, a General Electric product which I have had for years and which has a clock display both on the telephone itself and on the additional (walkabout) receiver (handset). From the very start, (this not being a smartphone by any means), I had to manually set the timer on this phone, since, unlike even my “unsmart” mobile phone, it has no “automatic update” option. Imagine my astonishment to discover that, alone of all the devices in my possession sporting clocks or timer devices, this one – and only this one – decided to reset itself on the Saturday night following Rosh Hashana, and reverted to Winter Time.
But it didn’t end there! I reset the timer manually to Summer Time, putting it forward an hour. Lo and behold, the following day, I saw it had again reverted to Winter Time! Again and again I put the wretched thing forward an hour, only to see it return stubbornly to the time it would have been, had Israel indeed come off Summer Time immediately after Rosh Hashana, as it had in past years.
Friends and family members to whom I described the curious phenomenon suggested that the phone was simply old and “screwed up”. I decided to try an experiment. Perhaps, like a clock in need of repair, the phone’s timer was simply losing an hour each day. I decided, therefore, not to reset it to Summer Time, but to wait and see if, by the following day, it had lost another hour.
It had not.
I tried putting it forward two hours ie. one hour ahead of Summer Time. If it somehow “thought” it had to go back one hour, it should now revert to the correct time (at least, correct for those of us who knew we were still on Summer Time).
It reverted two hours – back to Winter Time!
I had one final trick up my sleeve. Just for the hell of it, and to test the wild theory that was beginning to take hold of me, I decided to set the clock back, not one hour but two – to one hour earlier than Winter Time.
The clock moved forward by just one hour – back to Winter Time!
I see I cannot win with this particular clock. I am stumped. Could my cats have been reprogramming the timer? (They have already learned how to turn on my overhead bedside lamp.) Could it possibly have been part of a fiendishly ingenious ultra-orthodox plot to foil the government decision to remain on Daylight Saving Time till the end of October? I fear we may never discover the Truth. Fortunately, since the whole country will be reverting to Winter Time tomorrow night, I can now abandon the unequal battle – gracefully, I hope.