GOOD MORNING! I received a beautiful and meaningful piece (below) via the internet. The author was listed as anonymous. I did some research and I think it was adapted from a piece ("I Was Only Speeding") by Manfred Koehler -- at least a similar piece is attributed to Mr. Koehler. In any event, I hope that it will give you something to ponder over and to share with friends and family.
Jack took a long look at his speedometer before slowing down: 73 in a 55 zone. Fourth time in as many months. How could a guy get caught so often? When his car had slowed to 10 miles an hour, Jack pulled over, but only partially. Let the cop worry about the potential traffic hazard. Maybe some other car will tweak his backside with a mirror. The cop was stepping out of his car, the big pad in hand.
Bob? Bob from shul (synagogue)? Jack sunk farther into his trench coat. This was worse than the coming ticket. A Jewish cop catching a guy from his own place of worship. A guy who happened to be a little eager to get home after a long day at the office. A guy he was about to play golf with tomorrow. Jumping out of the car, he approached a man he saw every Saturday in shul, a man he'd never seen in uniform.
"Hi, Bob. Fancy meeting you like this."
"Hello, Jack." No smile.
"Guess you caught me red-handed in a rush to see my wife and kids."
"Yeah, I guess." Bob seemed uncertain. Good.
"I've seen some long days at the office lately. I'm afraid I bent the rules a bit - just this once." Jack toed at a pebble on the pavement. Diane said something about roast beef and potatoes tonight. Know what I mean?"
"I know what you mean. I also know that you have a reputation in our precinct."
Ouch. This was not going in the right direction. Time to change tactics. "What'd you clock me at, Bob?"
"Seventy, Jack. Would you sit back in your car please?"
"Now wait a minute here, Bob. I checked as soon as I saw you. I was barely nudging 65." The lie seemed to come easier with every ticket.
"Please, Jack, in the car." Flustered, Jack hunched himself through the still-open door. Slamming it shut, he stared at the dash board. He was in no rush to open the window. The minutes ticked by. Bob scribbled away on the pad. Jack wondered: Why hadn't he asked for a driver's license? Whatever the reason, it would be a month of Saturdays before he could hold his head up in shul, when the tap on the door jerked his head to the left. There was Bob, a folded paper in hand. Jack rolled down the window a mere two inches, just enough room for Bob to pass him the slip. "Thanks."
Jack could not quite keep the sneer out of his voice. Bob returned to his police car without a word. Jack watched his retreat in the mirror. Jack unfolded the sheet of paper. How much was this one going to cost? Wait a minute. What was this? Some kind of joke? Certainly not a ticket.
Jack began to read:
Once upon a time I had a daughter. She was six when killed by a car. You guessed it - a speeding driver. A fine and three months in jail, and the man was free. Free to hug his daughters. All three of them. I only had one, and I'm going to have to wait until Heaven before I can ever hug her again. A thousand times I've tried to forgive that man. A thousand times I thought I had. Maybe I did, but I need to do it again. Even now. Pray for me. And be careful, Jack, my son is all I have left.
Jack turned around in time to see Bob's car pull away and head down the road. Jack watched until it disappeared. A full 15 minutes later, he too, pulled away and drove slowly home fulfilling his promise of teshuva, changing his ways. His wife and kids were surprised by the length and emotion of his hug when he arrived.
Portion of the Week
Matot includes the laws of making and annulling vows, the surprise attack on Midian (the '67 War wasn't the Jewish people's first surprise attack!) in retribution for the devastation the Midianites wreaked upon the Jewish people, the purification after the war of people and vessels, dedicating a portion of the spoils to the communal good (perhaps the first Federation campaign), the request of the tribes of Reuben and Gad for their portion of land to be east of the Jordan river (yes, part of Trans-Jordan/Jordan is also part of the Biblical land of Israel). Moshe objects to the request because he thinks the tribes will not take part in the conquering of the land of Israel, the tribes clarify that they will be the advance troops in the attack and therefore receive permission.
Masei includes the complete list of journeys in the desert (the name of each stop hints at a deeper meaning, a lesson learned there). God commands to drive out the land's inhabitants, to destroy their idols and to divide the land by a lottery system. God establishes the borders of the Land of Israel. New leadership is appointed, cities of the Levites and Cities of Refuge (where an accidental murderer may seek asylum) are designated. Lastly, the laws are set forth regarding accidental and willful murder as well as inheritance laws for property when there has been a marriage between individuals from different tribes.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states, "Cities of Refuge they shall be for you, and the murderer who killed someone unintentionally shall flee there" (Numbers 35:11). Fleeing to the City of Refuge gave the accidental murderer physical protection, but what did it do for his psyche?
The Chidushai HaRim, a famous commentary, expounds that if a member of Klal Yisroel, the Jewish people, kills someone, even though it was unintentional he will feel extremely broken and guilty. He will be so shattered that he will feel that he has no place in the world to go and hide. Then the Almighty tells him, "I will give you a place." Go to the exile of the Refuge City and you will be saved. There you can find peace of mind. But this only applies to someone who has a depth of understanding of what damage he has caused. If a person does not feel this deep regret and still feels he has a place in this world, the City of Refuge does not benefit him in this manner.
When you harm another person and feel regret about it, there can be a benefit from the pain -- if it motivates you to improve. And that is what you should do.
Someone once came to the Steipler Rav, a great Rabbi who lived in Israel. He asked the rabbi for a blessing that he should be found innocent in court for a violation of a traffic law. Instead of a blessing, the rabbi censured him, "If you violate a traffic law, you are endangering the lives of other people. You are therefore deserving of the biggest punishment."
CANDLE LIGHTING - July 20:
(or go to candlelighting.org)
Guatemala 6:17 Hong Kong 6:51 Honolulu 6:57
J'Burg 5:17 London 8:47 Los Angeles 7:45
Melbourne 5:05 Miami 7:55 Moscow 8:38
New York 8:05 Singapore 6:58
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Those who find fault with others
are often themselves at fault.
With Tremendous Appreciation & Gratitude