24 Av 5781 / Monday, August 02, 2021 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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Lessons At The Bus Stop    

Lessons At The Bus Stop

How often do we assume we are wiser, know better, but in actuality we are coming into the other person's life or situation in chapter 56 (!!) without having...


Being a commuter can be a bit taxing, but if you take it in stride it can be an educational and growing experience.
Recently, I was waiting at my usual bus stop.  The street was full of young girls on their way home from school.  I noticed an older girl teasing a younger one. They were obviously sisters.
The older girl threw something into the street. The younger girl started to cry.  The older girl nonchalantly returned to her circle of friends and continued chatting, totally oblivious to her sister's tears.
Eventually the older sister retrieved the item that she had thrown earlier, and, after teasing her younger sister, she gave her back the object.
The older girl crossed the street, assuming that her sister would follow, but she didn't. When she reached the other side of the street, she called out for her sister to cross.  The younger girl, hesitantly asked, "Now??" looking both ways to check the traffic. 
The older girl, a bit exasperated, responded, "Yes! Now!!" 
But the younger girl had waited so long that by the time she was ready to cross, a car came flying by.  "You see!!" she called out to her older sister.  Clearly there was a trust issue here.
A man walking by heard the younger girl repeatedly asking "Now??" as she waited to cross the street.  He threw me a glance that was laced with clear criticism.  It was obvious that he wondered how I, an adult, could watch a child in distress and you do nothing to help!  I felt his unspoken disapproval, but I also knew that he didn't see the whole picture.
As I boarded the bus and headed home, I contemplated how often it is that we do not have all the facts and yet are so quick to come to conclusions. How often do we assume we are wiser, know better, but in actuality we are coming into the other person's life or situation in chapter 56 (!!) without having been privy to the preceding 55!
It reminds me of a story I once read of a man who was visiting a particular neighborhood for Shabbat. In shul, he noticed that all the aliyot (the honor of reciting the blessing over the Torah) were given to people sitting in one section of the shul.  He could not understand the fairness of this method. In his shul everyone had a chance regardless of the area in which they sat.  His frustration began to accumulate with each person who was called up to the Torah.  By the time davening was finished, he could barely contain his anger. He approached the gabbai and expressed his outrage. The gabbai, a true tzaddik, calmly explained to him that in this shul, they rotate the honors and that this system was the best way to appease everyone. Everyone did get the honor of an aliyah, but here it was done systematically so that no one was overlooked.  Had he come last week he would have seen people chosen from a different section. How embarrassing the newcomer must have felt for jumping to such a conclusion, casting judgment, (in anger, no less), and not giving this holy congregation the benefit of the doubt.
May we merit Hashem's assistance in judging our fellow man fairly and in using our gift of speech wisely. 

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