“David,” Mrs. Becker was calling her son for the third time, “have you started on your math homework yet?”
“Five more minutes, Mom. I am just passing the level.”
Mrs. Becker sighed. She knew her son was playing computer games, but was really supposed to be doing his homework. This was her third time reminding him, but he always seemed to just need to “pass another level.”
Five minutes passed….another five….now it was already 7 p.m., and David’s bedtime was at 7:30. How would he have enough time?
Mrs. Becker knew exactly what would happen. He would finally finish his game (either he would be out, or he would complete all the levels), then he would look at his watch and realize that it was too late to do any work. Typically, David would crawl into bed with a worried look on his face, wake up with a worried look on his face, and then go to school.
Sure enough, he would come home sad, and upset, because he had to miss recess, as he caught up on his schoolwork. Over dinner, David would then resolutely decide to do his homework first thing after supper. But then…he would get caught up in his toys…the computer games…his model airplanes….and the list would never end.
Mrs. Becker, herself, was starting to feel sad and upset as well. Why was David having such a difficult time? What could she do? As she walked past the bookshelves in the living room, filled with books of the Torah, her eyes lit up as she saw the book of Exodus. She eagerly flipped through the pages…she knew exactly where to go. Past the plagues with which G‑d punished the Egyptian people, and just before the command to slaughter the Passover sacrifice, which would lead into the triumphant redemption of the Jewish people.
Found it! The mitzvah of establishing Jewish months throughout the year! It was based upon sighting the New Moon. Then the Beth Din, the Jewish Law Court, would declare the Jewish month to have begun.
Mrs. Becker took the Bible in one hand, and marched upstairs to the homework room.
“David,” she began, “look at this important mitzvah in this week’s Torah portion—it was the first one given to the Jewish people. It is about establishing the Jewish calendar. The beginning of every month was declared based on when the New Moon was sighted. Why do you think it is so important?”
David thought for a while. “Probably because all the Jewish festivals are based on the Jewish calendar?”
Mrs. Becker smiled. “True. Also, the Torah is teaching us the value of time. Time is a gift from G‑d, that we can use for good or bad. Using it for good means filling up our time with Torah and mitzvot. Now, how else can we use our time for good?”
David smiled sheepishly. “Doing our homework as soon as we can… which is exactly what I was just about to do!”