February 3, 2005
The Nation and The World
Does your mother ever tell you to clean up your room or put your socks in the laundry? And when you ask her why you have to do it, does she say: "Because I said so"? In Parshat Mishpatim we are taught a very important lesson – a lesson we might not always like to hear.
After hearing Moses speak of the many mitzvot they would have to keep (613 to be exact), the Israelites declare: "Na'aseh venishmah!" – "We will do it and we will hear it!" That's strange. Don't they mean: "We will hear it, and then we will do it"? How can you do something before you hear what it is you are supposed to do?
The rabbis answer: When the people said "hear," the meaning was "understand." That is – sometimes we are told to do something and we don't completely understand why we have to do it. But, we should trust that the person (Mom, Dad, God) knows what they're talking about.
•The earth's journey around the sun actually takes 365 1/4, which means that every four years a leap day is thrown in there to make up for those four accumulated quarter days.
•The Hebrew calendar, which is lunar, adds a leap month four times in every 17-year cycle. In Jewish leap year we have two months of Adar: I and II. On Feb. 9, we will start the month of Adar I.
•The Muslim calendar is also lunar, but they don't add a leap year – so they celebrate their holidays at different times of the year.
What would happen to the Jewish holidays if there was no Hebrew leap year?
Solution in next week's pages - send your correct answers to firstname.lastname@example.org and get your prize.