How To Measure Rosh Hashanah Services

My wife and I were speculating on how long last Friday’s Rosh Hashanah service would last. We both figured on two hours, but my wife said, “Services always last longer than you expect.”

My first reaction was to agree, but then I realized that couldn’t be so; it would imply that I didn’t have rational expectations. Having attended services for so many years, my overestimates and underestimates of their duration should balance out: on average, I should correctly estimate their duration.

It’s possible that I might make mistakes if the world changed; and perhaps our new rabbi goes longer than his predecessor. But even with that change, after a few years I should estimate correctly on average. In fact, taking Friday and Saturday together, I was correct: Friday night lasted only one and a half hours, but Saturday’s service lasted half an hour longer than I expected.

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  1. RR says:

    Given my experience with changing the oil of my previous cars, I expected that changing the oil in my new car would take 30 minutes. But where did I put that oil filter wrench? Where is the oil filter on this car? How much oil am I supposed to put in this car? I should check the manual, but what page is this information on? Took me an hour.

    Point is that unforeseeable events usually increase complexity but rarely decrease it, which is why we tend to underestimate the amount of time something takes.

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  2. cluelessinky says:

    When I went to religious services many years ago I knew that the ritual had several distinct phases and these phases had specific time increments. When the phases ran longer than anticipated i felt that had been deceived and resented the rest of the service

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