Back in the late 70's in Jerusalem, there was an eccentric old man who appointed himself the director of traffic at the entrance to Jerusalem. This was in the “old days”, when there was only one entrance to the city from the west. All the traffic from Tel Aviv and the coast funneled into this one traffic light at the old Givat Shaul intersection.
The old man, whom everyone jokingly and affectionately called the “Minister of Traffic” or “Honorable Minister” set up a beach chair on the concrete island that separated the inbound and the outbound lanes. In the winter, he'd have a thermos of coffee and in the summer, a bottle of water. Facing west, every time the light turned green, he'd motion with his umbrella to all the cars to move forward. Sometimes, he'd call out, “Yalla, yalla,” Hebrew slang for “get a move on, pal!” When the light would turn red, he'd snap to attention and hold his cane forward as if he were a U.S. Marine fulfilling the “present arms” command, signaling the incoming traffic to halt.
The Minister was well into his eighties in the early 1980's, but he was still directing traffic until the First Lebanon War broke out in 1982. After that, I never saw him again. Now, he's probably directing traffic at the entrance to Heaven; the prophet Isaiah said that we're all a nation of tzaddikim...
Sure, the “Minister” was eccentric. Someone once told me that he was a Holocaust survivor, but I never knew for sure. Someone else told me that he lived in the Givat Shaul neighborhood, and that he died of a broken heart after being hospitalized for an illness. He was beside himself with worry that while he was bedridden, there'd be mayhem at the entrance to Jerusalem. Who'd be directing the traffic? How could the traffic lights at the Givat Shaul intersection operate normally without the help of his cane, motioning people to stop or to move forward? People were tolerantly amused how the old man's eccentric ideas caused him the anxiety that helped terminate his life.
That's probably the way Hashem is looking at us right now. We should be preparing for Rosh Hashana right now, but who's thinking about teshuva? The international media has reported that Israel's Prime Minister and Defense Minister have already decided to strike Iran. Hummeini and the Ayatolla's have responded with a call for the Republican Guards to further expand terror operations worldwide. Nasrulla and Hizbolla threaten with their missiles, and Israel's military Chief of Staff counter-threatens.
The chaos is grandiose. The President of Israel, who should be above politics as a formal functionary like the Queen of England, has expressed his opinion against striking Iran. Former intelligence officials and leading officers of the IDF have also been-jumping on the anti-Iran-strike bandwagon, in an unprecedented display of thoughtfulness for our country's true security. The secular media has even published so-called attack plans and strategies in the most irresponsible manner so characteristic of yellow journalism.
And we waste our time listening to what they all have to say.
I was fond of the "Minister of Traffic", eccentric as he was. Who knows what the Nazis did to him at Treblinka or at Auschwitz? At least he was dedicated, doing a job he believed in day and night, rain or shine. He thought he was running the world.
Are all the generals, politicians and journalists who gab from morning until night any better or any wiser than the Minister of Traffic from Givat Shaul? I doubt it. They're making lots of noise and waving their canes up and down, but the traffic lights that regulate world eevents are running automatically without their silly help.
Only Hashem will flash a green light or a red light not only to the IDF, but to our enemies as well. No one in Israel has prevented the Muslem-brotherhood's new dictator of Egypt from scoffing at the Camp David accords and pouring tanks and troops into Sinai. No one in Israel has any control over what's going on in Syria, whether Assad and his Alawites will hold his ground against the Sunni rebels. No one in Israel understands why a few weeks ago, Ismail Haniya and his Hamas henchmen were firing missiles into the South of Israel, yet today things are quiet, except for the new tension down in Eilat.
We don't need to involve ourselves in helping the traffic lights; Hashem doesn't need us to help Him make the sun shine.
My old Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Noah Weinberg of saintly and blessed memory used to tell us, "Move aside and let Hashem run the world." He said that the best thing a person could do is to get out of Hashem's way, and to do his own job.
Our job right now is to prepare for Rosh Hashana and to get closer to Hashem. When we do our job, Hashem will surely do His, redeeming us speedily and in our days, amen. May you and yours be inscribed in the Book of Long Life for a wonderful New Year 5773!
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