Lessons Learned on the Road

Thursday, 19 April, 2012 - 3:55 pm

Earlier this week our family returned by car from our visit to New York for Passover. The two day drive with just me and the kids (Malkie went by plane), was quite an adventure. It is fascinating to see what kids are excited by (cows on Tatty’s side; horses on Sara’s side). We have done this trip numerous times and the same landmarks still perk them up (model Amish couple in Shartlesville, PA, model Statue of Liberty in Birmingham, AL). We are well versed in which rest stops are clean and pleasant and which are better to avoid. One of the biggest challenges in taking young children (like 3 and 5 year olds) on long trips is their difficulty with long-term goals. Usually by the time we get on to the twin spans they are already asking “when are we going to be in NY?” Once we explain that we are going to drive, stop in a hotel for the night, and then go to NY tomorrow, they want to know “are we almost at the hotel?”

The good thing is that aside from the “are we there yet” questions they have the ability to live in the moment and not just be focused on the destination. For them, the trip itself is enjoyable – not just a means to get to NY or back to NOLA. In light of the Baal Shemtov’s instruction to derive a lesson from every encounter in life, here are my thoughts.

We are now in the 49 day period of counting the Omer. Ultimately the intention is for us to count down towards the time of Revelation at Sinai (Shavuot – the giving of the Torah). However the Chassidic masters point out, that if that were the only point then it would make more sense to count down from 49 to 1 – counting how many days are left until Shavuot. Why do we count up from 1 to 49 – counting the days that pass? Therefore, they conclude, there is value in ensuring that the days themselves “count.” In other words, we should never view the steps in a process as only a means to an end. Each one has significance.

To put it in Chassidic parlance, “a serious person, wherever he is – he is there in his entirety.” The fifth Chabad Rebbe made this quip when he observed his Chassidim rushing through a song in order to get to the teaching that would follow. He pointed out that if the nigun was necessary, then it needs to be sung with full dedication and not just as a means of getting to the teaching. The same is true of the Omer. Each day must count and be valuable. Of course our eyes are on the destination and from time to time we ask “are we there yet,” but we must make sure that the present is significant as well. Therefore we say “Today is twelve days, which is one week and 5 days of the Omer,” to show that it is not just about getting to 49, but that 12 is also important.

Mazel Tov to Sion and Bracha Daneshrad upon the birth of a granddaughter to Netanel and Tova.

Mazel Tov to Mike and Lynne Wasserman upon the birth of twin grandchildren to Mr. and Mrs. Danny Wasserman.

Our condolences to Alexander Shporer and his family upon the untimely passing of his brother Zachary.

Our condolences to Ronald and Stephen Shapiro and families upon the passing of their mother Dorothy.

Our condolences to Elaine Perl and family upon the passing of her mother.

May we only share good news!

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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