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When the Clocks Stop

When the Clocks Stop

By: 
Rabbi Marc Katz

Judaism has a deep and rich tradition of storytelling, of passing down stories from one generation to the next. To carry on that tradition, Stories We Tell, from ReformJudaism.org, will share a new story with you every Thursday. Whether you listen while driving to work, preparing Shabbat dinner, or taking your kids to school, each episode will give you a new story to reflect on and discuss with the people in your life. Stories We Tell is a project of the Union for Reform Judaism, a leading voice in the discussion of modern Jewish life. 

In a town in Eastern Europe many years ago, all of the clocks mysteriously stopped working at the same time. The townspeople tried many different methods, but after years they still couldn’t get the clocks to work again. So, what happens when a clock expert visits the town? Listen to this story, retold by Rabbi Marc Katz, to find out.

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Transcript

[URJ Intro:] Welcome back to Stories We Tell, a podcast from reformjudaism.org. Judaism's always had a deep and rich tradition of storytelling, passing our stories down from one generation to the next. And here, every Thursday, we'll share a new story with you to carry on that tradition. Whether you listen while driving to work or preparing Shabbat dinner or taking your kids to school, we hope that every week will provide you with a new story to reflect on and discuss with the people in your life. In this episode, Rabbi Marc Katz from Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn shares the story of when the clocks stop.

[Rabbi Mark:] There was once a town in Eastern Europe where the strangest thing happened. One day, all of the clocks just stopped working.

Now, these were old clocks and new clocks. These were wooden clocks and metal clocks. These were beautiful clocks and very plain clocks. But all at the exact same time, 12:57, the clocks just stopped. And everybody in the town started to panic. Time is extremely important. They didn't know what to do.

So they began working their hardest to fix it. And everybody opened the clocks up to look and to see what was wrong with the gearing. Maybe something was explainable. But not a single person in the whole town could figure out how to fix these clocks.

Now, this was a long time ago, when every clock was wound. And so they tried winding it once and looking to see what would happen. But not a single clock actually changed its time.

They tried shaking the clocks, but that didn't work. They took their tools and took the clocks apart and put them back together. But everything they did was met with futility.

Now, days passed and weeks passed. And they waited, but not a single clock actually started working. And so time moved forward, even without the help of clocks. And weeks turned to months, and months turned to years.

And the seasons changed. And spring turned to summer, to fall, to winter. And over the course of the time, these clocks began to rust.

Now, one day, a few years later, someone showed up on the doorstep. She was a clock maker. And this woman knew everything that you would ever want to know about clocks.

And so all the people, realizing that they finally had an opportunity to fix these clocks, came running to her and said to the clock maker, please fix our clocks. And they lined up one by one, and she looked at each of the clocks.

And as she walked up to the first, opening it up, she sighed. She looked at its owner, and she said, I am so sorry. But I can't fix your clock. You see, it's rusted over these years, and there's nothing I can do.

And she moved to the next person. Looking at the clock, she sighed again. I'm so sorry that I can't fix your clock. It, too, has rusted over the years.

And as this clock maker made her way down the line, she looked at each subsequent clock, growing more and more forlorn as she had to tell its owner that there was nothing she could do. And finally, she got to the end of the line.

And looking at the very last clock, she smiled. And looking at their owner, she said, I can fix your clock. Unlike all the other clocks, your clock is ready. And everybody turned to the owner of this clock, and they asked, exasperated, how is it that our clocks all rusted and yours somehow stayed OK?

And the owner smiled. And they said, every single day, we wound our clock, with hope that someone were to come. And over the course of time, yours rusted, because it stayed exactly where it was. But because we wound with hope that someone were to come, we are so happy that we held out the hope of winding this clock each day, because even in that moment when it felt like it was completely futile and no one would ever come, doing so allowed us to benefit from her today.

[URJ Outro:] After hearing the story of when the clocks stopped, we're wondering how you keep your own clocks wound and if there are others who can help you to keep from growing rusty. Where do you find hope? If you want to share some of that with us, that would be great. On social media, we can be found at facebook.com/ReformJudaism. On Twitter, our handle is @reformjudaism. And thanks for listening to Stories We Tell. If you enjoyed this week's story-- and we hope you did-- rate and review us on iTunes. You can always find new episodes every Thursday at reformjudaism.org. And don't forget that you can go there to learn more about Jewish rituals, culture, holidays, and more. Stories We Tell is a project of the Union for Reform Judaism, a leading voice in the discussion of modern Jewish life.

And until next week, l’hitraot!

Rabbi Marc Katz is the rabbi at Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, NJ. He is the author of The Heart of Loneliness: How Jewish Wisdom Can Help You Cope and Find Comfort, which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award.

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