Printed from

Lessons Learned on the Road

Friday, 21 April, 2017 - 6:13 pm

Some of you may remember our family’s adventures on road trips in years past.

Thank G-d we had no car trouble or other trip related mishaps this year. We had a wonderful smooth trip. Yet there is plenty to learn from a trip that goes well.

Just to share a few… For any major undertaking to be successful, the details are very important. We usually get caught up in what appears to be the big picture, that which gets all the attention. However the little things are integral to the big picture coming out right. On a road trip every little details contributes to the success and comfort of the endeavor. To give an example. On our way up we forgot to include tablecloths on our list. Big deal right? But when you pull up to a rest stop with a bunch of Kosher food and every table is caked in residue of non-Kosher food (not to mention the cleanliness aspect of it), all of a sudden that missed tablecloth seems like a big deal. There are dozens of others “minimal” things that are similar.

Another lesson (that kind of extends from the first) is not kicking tasks down the road (no pun intended). Sometimes, in the interest of expediency, we cut corners on getting things done and we assume that we can just as well perform those tasks later. For example, when packing a car for a long drive, as one gets closer to departure time it is tempting to throw that last few things in without regard for where they belong and how it will impact the accessibility of things needed during the trip. Then you need something when it is late and dark and you are exhausted, but because of your expedient packing method you suddenly find that the item you need is buried under “stuff.”

These lessons are very applicable in Jewish life. In this week’s Torah portion we have the tragic story of the death of the two sons of Aaron. Nadav and Avihu we highly spiritual and righteous but they only cared about the big picture. They ignored the details, the minutiae of the Temple law, the procedures of the Temple service and the protocols for proper spiritual conduct. The result was, that in the act of attempting to come as close to G-d as a human is capable of, they violated the laws, procedures, and protocols, which ultimately caused their demise.

There is no such thing as “big picture” Judaism that ignores the details of the laws. It is the details and the procedures that complete the big picture and allow us to soar higher and closer to G-d. Every mitzvah comes with its protocols and structure. When one ignores them, one may feel temporarily uninhibited by minutiae and procedure, but in the end one loses everything in the process. On the other hand following the details and the procedures is ironically liberating and rewarding.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

Comments on: Lessons Learned on the Road

anonymous wrote...

very powerful lesson - thank you. the details do seem overwhelming but your lessons from the road are well taken. Thanks for sharing that.