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Let's Start Off Right

Rosh Hashanah (Day 1: Genesis 21; Day 2: Genesis 22 )


It's important to get off to a good start. Rosh Hashana is the start of a new Jewish year and people try to act especially good and kind on this day, as a way of starting the year off right. In whatever we do, we can be more successful by making sure to start off right.

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In our story, some kids learn the value of getting off to a good start.


"Hey, where are you going so fast?" Lori asked her younger brother, Mike, who was running out to their back yard holding a rake.

"I'm gonna go rake leaves."

"That's nice. With all those huge trees, there's certainly a lot of leaves back there to rake," she said. "But what's the rush?"

"Mommy said me and Pete have to do it every week until the winter."


"So Pete said we'll have a race today. I'll do the back yard and he'll do the front yard - and whoever finishes first won't have to do it the rest of the year! The loser will do both. I want to get off to a fast start to win the race - so, I've gotta go!" With that, the little kid dashed out to the yard.

Lori walked into the den, where her older brother laid stretched out on the sofa with a comic book. "Hey, you finished raking the leaves already?"

Pete looked up. "Huh? Oh, you saw Mike out there. Nah," he chuckled, "I didn't even start."

"Well, if you ask me," Lori said "I say the whole race thing isn't fair. You're twice Mike's age. Of course you can do it faster."

"It's a good thing I didn't ask you then, isn't it?" he laughed.

"Very funny!" Lori said, glaring. "But anyway, if you are going to do it, don't you think you should get started?"

"Nah!" he waved her off. "Plenty of time. Like you said, I can beat the kid with one hand tied behind my back. Besides, I'm in the middle of a good story," he said, putting his face back in the magazine.

...Meanwhile, in the back yard, little Mike raked and raked...

Pete finally finished his comic and yawned. There's still plenty of time before I have to start and beat Mike in the rake-race. Why not catch a few 'z' s first? he thought to himself. He put the magazine over his face to block out the light.

...Meanwhile, in the back yard, little Mike just raked and raked...

Pete woke up in a cold sweat. He looked at his watch and jumped up. He hadn't meant to sleep anywhere near that long! He ran to the window and looked out into the back yard. Phew! Mike was still raking - he still had time to win.

He raced to the garage, grabbed the other rake and started raking the front yard faster than a racecar on rocket fuel. But he'd hardly got started when ... CRACK ... the handle of his rake split in two! Now what? He sprinted back to the garage and started rummaging through the garden tools for something else to use.

"Here, you can use this one."

He turned to see Mike holding out his rake.

"Wh ... what? You mean you're all done?" Pete asked nervously.

"Yeah, just finished," Mike smiled. "It's a really good rake. You're gonna really like using it to rake the front yard today ... and then both yards, the rest of the year."

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did Pete feel at first about racing his little brother?
A. He felt it would be so easy to win that he didn't have to start right away.

Q. How did he feel when Mike won the race?
A. He wished he had started sooner.


Ages 6-9

Q. What life-lesson do you thing someone could learn from what happened?
A. We can't underestimate the value of getting off to a good start and working steadily. As in the story, it can help us accomplish more than would seem possible.

Q. Do you think Pete's not starting right away had anything to do with his losing? Why or why not?
A. While it was true, he could have waited and still won, once we get in the habit of procrastinating, it's easy to keep doing so until it's too late to accomplish our goals.


Ages 10 and Up

Q. Why do you think the Jewish New Year's is called Rosh Hashanah - the 'head' of the year?
A. The Jewish New Year's is more than just a day to party. It sets the tone for the entire year to come. Just like a body follows after the head, so too if we fill our Rosh Hashanah with good deeds and values, we're getting off on the right foot for a successful and spiritual year.

Q. If a person gets off to a bad start on accomplishing a goal, does that mean he or she should just give up?
A. Certainly not! While a good start is important and something to try for, if it doesn't work out we should keep going and try to make the best of what's left.


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