The Clock On The Wall

There are two clocks in my bedroom, one on the table next to my bed and one on the wall. The clock on the wall ticks loudly and I had never paid attention to it before last night. Unable to sleep, I heard the ticking of the minute hand as it made its rounds across the hours.

I wondered how many seconds there are in a period of a twenty-four hour day. My calculator revealed the number at 86,400 seconds per 24 hour day.

Then I proceeded to investigate how many seconds there are in a regular year. The answer astounded me. There are thirty one million, five hundred fifty-seven thousand, six hundred seconds in one year. If the numbers shock you, I’ll reveal them more closely: in one year there are 31,557,600 seconds !

I wanted to know how many seconds I have lived in almost 85 years but I was afraid to calculate for fear that the trillions of seconds might break my calculator.

The reason for this curious interest is quite simply this: how have we used the many seconds in our lives? How many seconds have been wasted on unimportant things?

The clicking of the minute hand reminded me that life is fleeting. It does not matter how long we have lived. More important it is how well we have lived. How have we used the seconds, minutes, hours of our lives to improve ourselves and to enable us to be participants in tikkun olam… the betterment of the world?

In recognizing the number of seconds and hours which have passed, I am ashamed of myself that I have not used them more wisely.

As long as the clock on my wall keeps ticking it will make me aware of my deficiencies and my obligations. One day, the clock will stop ticking…and so will my heart.

There is so much left to do. Without my beloved wife by my side, ambition has fled from me. But as I view the sad and sorry condition of our world today I realize how important it is for me to be a partner in the process of tikkun olam.

Floods, hurricanes, tornados, the senseless murder of two women waiting in the train station in Marseilles, the insane massacre of 59 people and 526 wounded people, all who had come to listen to a music concert in Las Vegas in the American state of Nevada, America’s national gambling site, is sickening.

The Marseilles murder was committed by a Muslim terrorist. At least we can understand his sick motive. But the Las Vegas massacre has no revealed motive. The killer, Stephen Paddock, was a sixty-four year old man, a multi-millionaire with no criminal record, no political or religious affiliations who took his own life before police came to arrest him. We do not know his motive for this horrendous crime.

ISIS took pleasure in announcing that they were responsible. But the American FBI discounted it because they found no connection between Paddock and any terrorist group, foreign or domestic.

People ask how these tragedies can be prevented. My answer, regrettably, is that they cannot. No one can know what will happen in a movie theatre, concert hall, café or restaurant, sports stadium, train, bus, airline terminals, nor any public area where hundreds of people may gather at one time.

There is simply no way in advance to know who the criminals may be and when and where they will act.

We Israelis, more than other nationalities, are more keenly aware of results of these tragic events. We have been living, sadly, with terrorist acts for decades.

The whole world has gone mad. It has become one gigantic insane asylum. But in spite of everything, we must continue to live our lives with hope. We must all be partners in tikkun olam…of correcting the faults in our society and striving to make our living space a better and more secure place.

The minute hand of the clock is ticking. How many more seconds or minutes will pass before we become aware of the passing of time and the urgency to act now?

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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