Dovid shook his head. “It’s not ready. We have to perfect the hermetic seal that attaches the bag to the mouth of the bread eater”
“You’re inventing a crumb collector for the contest?” Binyomin looked incredulously at Dovid. “You can’t be serious.”
“If you aren’t aware, crumbs are a big issue in the space station,” Dovid countered. He was using that big-brother, know-it-all tone that Binyomin hated.
“I don’t get it,” said Meir. “What’s wrong with crumbs? Why do the astronauts care about Pesach, and if they do, why can’t they eat matzah?”
“There’s no gravity in outer space, so if you eat something that makes crumbs, they float all over and get into equipment and damage stuff,” Dovid explained. “And matzah makes even more crumbs than regular bread.”
“But why on earth — pardon the pun — would you think that no one in NASA has come up with a solution?” Binyomin demanded.
“Simple — because Mommy doesn’t work for NASA. All they need is a bunch of Jewish mothers getting ready for Pesach, and they wouldn’t have to worry about another crumb! We just need to make a few calculations to take into account the lack of gravity in space, and Mommy’s chometz containment bags are going to take us to Houston to win the Space Innovation of the Year Award,” said Dovid, folding his arms.
A week later, Binyomin was getting anxious. “The contest deadline is next week! We have to submit our invention,” he told Dovid. “Here are the forms, let’s put it in the mail!”
Dovid shook his head. “It’s not ready. We have to perfect the hermetic seal that attaches the bag to the mouth of the bread eater.”
“But we’re going to miss the deadline!” Binyomin practically shouted.
“First of all,” said Meir, “If it isn’t ready, then deadline or not, there’s no point in submitting it. It won’t work properly and for sure won’t win. Second of all, we have a full week to work out the kinks. I don’t want to make mistakes because we’re rushing!”
Day after day, the three brothers sat together in their laboratory (it was the basement, but Binyomin claimed it sounded sooo much better to call it a laboratory) finalizing the design for what they’d dubbed the CCC — their Crumbless Crust Creation.
“But it’s not just about the crust,” protested Meir.
“Listen, an invention has to have a catchy name,” Dovid returned. “And besides, the crust makes the most crumbs anyway.”
That didn’t make so much sense to Meir, but as the youngest of the three, he usually agreed with whatever his big brothers said, especially Dovid, who was the oldest and almost bar mitzvah.
Finally, the three boys sat down to fill out the contest form to submit with their Crumbless Crust Creation prototype.
Dovid called out the items on the checklist, Binyomin put them in the box, and Meir checked them off the list.
“Great!” called Binyomin as he prepared to seal the box. “Everything is there! Let’s run to the post office. The deadline is tomorrow!”
“Everything except the instructions,” Dovid said, waving the paper in front of Binyomin’s face. “Can you please calm down? I also don’t want to miss the deadline, but if we rush, we might forget something important.”
“Can you imagine if NASA gets our amazing invention without the instructions? It would just look like some fancy ziplock bag with too many zips and slime all over it!” Dovid said.
After making sure they really did have everything in the box, the three boys went down to the post office to mail their package.
‘‘Do you think we could really win?” asked Meir as they walked home.
“Of course! What would be the point of entering if we couldn’t win?” said Dovid.
“Right, we could win,” Binyomin said, “but there are tons and tons of submissions, so it’s not the most likely thing in the world.”
“That’s what you think — I say there’s nothing like a Jewish mother cleaning for Pesach!”
But despite their giving Mommy full credit for the invention, she still wanted them to help clean for Pesach.
“But Mommy, just think, we could be famous inventors one day. You can’t seriously want us to do such menial labor,” Dovid said.
Mommy laughed. A lot. Well, at least if she wasn’t letting them off the hook for cleaning, she wasn’t angry at them for trying.
“Last I checked,” Mommy said, “famous inventors still have the mitzvah to get rid of their chometz and the mitzvah of kibbud av v’eim.”
“We won’t find out about the contest until after Pesach. How on earth are we going to wait that long?” asked Meir
“Yeah, all I’m going to be thinking about the whole Yom Tov is whether or not we’re going to win,” said Binyomin.
“Me too,” said Dovid.
But to their great surprise, once they arrived, together with all their cousins, at Bubby and Zeidy’s house, they forgot about the contest.
They were disappointed when Yom Tov came to an end. But after Tatty put the last box of Pesach dishes into the attic, Mommy came in waving an envelope.
“Hey, boys! You got a very big envelope from NASA. I wonder what’s inside!”
She didn’t have to say it twice. The boys came running. Six hands grabbed at the envelope.
“Careful!” Mommy warned. “You don’t want to rip it. Here, let me help you.”
Mommy opened the envelope careful and slipped out the paper. She read aloud:
“Congratulations! Your submission to our Space Innovation of the Year contest, the Crumbless Crust Creation, has won third place. You are invited to our awards ceremony in Houston, Texas on…”
There was more to the letter but the boys were so busy jumping and screaming and high-fiving each other that Mommy stopped reading.
“Can we go, Mommy?” Meir begged breathlessly.
Dovid and Binyomin stopped to stare at him. Of course they were going! Weren’t they? They turned to look at Mommy.
Mommy had a huge smile on her face. “We have to work out the details and see whether it’s going to be me or Tatty going with you, but when the Bruckstein boys win a contest for NASA, you can bet we’re going to do our best to make sure they can go collect their prize!”
It was the longest two weeks of their lives, but the day of their flight to Houston finally arrived.
Dovid woke up to someone shaking him in his bed. He opened one eye.
“Binyomin, what are you doing?” he said looking at his watch and opened his other eye. “It’s five o’clock in the morning!”
“We have to get ready. We have to pack!” said Binyomin urgently.
“Our flight’s in 12 hours! We’re already packed. Lemme sleep! I set an alarm, don’t worry!”
At the breakfast table a few hours later, Dovid watched as Binyomin ate so fast, he nearly choked on his toast. He’d probably be telling us to rush if his mouth wasn’t full, he thought to himself.
“Hey, Binyomin — how would you like if Meir and I did all your chores for a month?” Dovid said.
Meir’s eyes flew open. He barely got his own chores done, why was Dovid volunteering him to do Binyomin’s also? But he recognized the look on his older brother’s face and knew Dovid had something up his sleeve.
Binyomin narrowed his eyes. “Why would you do that?” he asked suspiciously.
“Well, the truth is, I don’t intend to. I wanna make a deal with you. I want you to stop rushing us. We all want to make the flight. We’re all being reasonable and responsible. Our bags are already packed, and we have everything we need. Mommy said we’re leaving for the airport at two. If she decides to rush us, she can. But you can’t say a single word telling us to hurry. If we’re even one minute late, if we’re the last people to board and the whole flight ends up waiting for us, or even worse, we chas v’shalom miss our flight — then we’ll do your chores for a month,” Dovid said.
“So, let’s say I don’t rush you and we make the flight in plenty of time. What do I get out of it?” Binyomin asked.
“A great trip to NASA headquarters to collect a really awesome prize for your amazing invention,” Dovid said, “with brothers who aren’t annoyed at you. And I think you’ll also enjoy things more if you’re not rushing.”
As everyone puttered around the rest of the morning, Binyomin kept his eyes on this clock but his mouth closed.
He watched the clock during lunch too, but didn’t say a word.
Even when the clock read 2:03 and no one had gone to the car yet, he didn’t open his mouth. When they finally pulled out of their driveway at 2:07 and then got stuck at every red light, he sealed his lips.
When they got to the gate to check their luggage, just as boarding had begun, he let out a big sigh of relief.
“Phew, just in the nick of time,” he said as he set down his suitcase and stood on line at the gate with Tatty and his brothers.
Dovid spun around and looked at Binyomin with his mouth hanging open. “What do you mean ‘just in the nick of time?’ They just started boarding!”
“Exactly,” said Binyomin, smiling. “When a person doesn’t like to be late, coming just on time feels like the last possible minute to arrive. But it sure would’ve been nice to have you and Meir do all my chores for a month.”
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 907)
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