Don't Clog the Aisle

Thursday, 23 June, 2022 - 2:21 pm

This week I had the pleasure of attending my nephew, Mendel’s wedding in New York. It was a beautiful simcha; and it was great to catch up with so many relatives and friends. Unfortunately, that pleasure was accompanied by the agony of a commercial flight. Right now, the friendly skies have become quite nasty. It is rare to have a trip go smoothly with no mishaps. Seems like every flight is either delayed, cancelled, or makes unscheduled stops. So, flying home last night, our flight was delayed due to staffing shortages in the airport and then again due to overcrowded runways. We ended up leaving an hour and a half late (which is relatively minimal) and arrived at MSY close to 1:00 am.

Now there is a protocol as to how to deplane, from front to back. There is a logic to this system as it allows for the most efficient use of the aisle. We had some people jump up as soon as the plane came to a halt and run up the aisle from the back towards the front. Of course, they did not make it all the way up, they got held up at row 17. So now instead of the people sitting in the aisle seats having the ability to stand and retrieve their bags from the overhead bins, they were jostling with these interlopers who were clogging the aisle. This resulted in the deplaning process taking longer than it should have.

These people most likely did not have insidious designs on messing up everyone’s night more that it already was. Chances are they were simply not considering the impact of their actions on others. To them, all that mattered was getting off the plane as soon as possible. But that lack of intentionality in their choice, messed things up for everyone.

This reminded me a of a story about the Baal Shem Tov. During a journey he once approached a Synagogue to enter for prayer. He stood at the door of the empty Shul and declared that the room was too full for him to enter. He then approached a bustling Synagogue and told his disciples that there was plenty of space to enter. When asked for an explanation, he explained: “When people pray without intention (kavana) the prayers have no “wings” to propel them heavenward. They remain stuck in the Synagogue, taking up space. Now, when people pray with “kavana,” those prayers soar to G-d, leaving plenty of room for more prayers and the people who offer them.”

This teaches us the significance of intentionality. Proper orientation of our actions through intent, prevents chaos and increases productivity on every level. This is certainly true when it comes to our relationship with Hashem.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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