“Alright, let’s go.”
“I don’t want to go. Can’t we stay? Why do we have to go?” The voice has not yet risen, but it is on the verge.
Every parent has been there. It’s the end of a play date, time to leave the park, or????. At that point, we have two choices. You can hold firm and deal with the inevitable meltdown – tears, yelling, etc. that comes from a tired yet happy child. Of course bribery – ice cream and baseball cards are the choice of my children these days – is an option. I, however, try to stay away from that unless it’s urgent or I have no patience. So, instead I choose option three.
“Okay. We can stay. You have ten minutes, and then, we have to go. Got it? Good.”
It’s the countdown. This option mollifies my boys and happiness returns. Now, maybe a child psychologist might say I am giving in and turning over power. Ultimately, I don’t care what the doctor would say. I am just happy that my children respect the clock.
So, the countdown begins. When, the agreed upon time comes, I’d like to tell you the conversation goes something like this:
“Time to go, son.”
“Sure Dad. Thanks for the extra time.”
“I appreciate you respecting my needs.” We proceed to hug.
Well, it’s not quite like that. Instead, the child starts to argue for more time. I simply answer, “Don’t argue with me. It’s the clock. Look what time it says.”
I am often met with sigh and a shrug and compliance. My boys respect the clock.
And as much as we Jews are people of the book, we are people of the clock. We are beholden to time.
“I’ll take Judaism for 1000, Alex.”
“Answer: 18 minutes, 6 hours, 8 days.”
“What are the time to make matzah, the length of time that many Ashkenazim wait before having dairy, and the length of Sukkot?”
In Judiasm, everything is about the clock and the calendar. Think about it: the first mitzvah we are given in the Torah is Rosh Chodesh, which is ultimately a command to keep time.
Of course, we are in the midst of the ultimate counting right now – the Omer. We start on the second day of Pesach and don’t stop till we reach 49 when we celebrate our receiving of the Torah and eat cheesecake. However, it can also be looked upon as a countdown. After all, the Jews who had left Egypt had sunk to the 49th level of impurity, and they needed to be purified before they were worthy of receiving the Torah. So, with each passing day, they removed one level of impurity and got closer and closer to being worthy of receiving the Torah. And eating cheesecake.
Hence, it’s the countdown. The clock rules. We Jews abide by the clock.
So, the good Doctor noted above may think I am being passive, and my children are ruling the roost. However, I beg to differ. In fact, I am preparing them to respect the power and meaning of time, which will serve them well as they lead a life of Yiddishkeit.
By Larry Bernstein