13 Tamuz 5779 / Tuesday, July 16, 2019 | Torah Reading: Pinchas
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The Missed Exit    

The Missed Exit

How many times do we kick ourselves because we made a bad decision, especially when the better decision was so obvious? How many times do we say, “I should have done that…"


It’s funny how much I’ve gotten used to everything being so close to my house when I lived in Israel. Nothing was more than 10 minutes away. Except if I wanted to reach civilization, i.e., an actual city. With actual city life.


I now live in Fort Lauderdale, which is about 30 minutes north of Miami Beach. I love the area because everything is within 10 minutes of my house. Except for my kids’ school, my parents’ home, my sister, and the beach.


But Costco is only 9 minutes away, so it cancels out the rest.


G-d I LOVE Costco!!


The other day I had the pleasure of driving my two well-behaved, never-fighting, never-talking back, listening to everything I tell them, older kids to an appointment way down in Miami Beach. That’s like a 40-minute drive in traffic. YAY.


So we get on the highway and the fight-fest begins on schedule. We were heading south in rush hour, so traffic was pretty bad. I thought to get into the express lane, but aside from being cheap, I was sure that after a certain predictable point, the traffic would open up again.


It took almost 10 minutes to drive half a mile, and my patience with these kids was in the negative, so I got onto the express lane when I was able to.


And of course, as soon as I got on, I saw traffic start to open up. 30 seconds later, there was a chance for me to exit the express lane, so I did.


Big. Mistake.


As soon as I got back on to the regular lanes, traffic backed up. I couldn’t believe my stupid judgment.


I watched the cars in the left lane, flying past me, smirking even. A few drivers even pointed and laughed.


Can you imagine my frustration? Well of course you can!


I was seething inside, so angry with myself. Why did I get off the express lane?! Why didn’t I just pay the $87 they charge in rush hour? Isn’t my sanity worth something??


Plus, we were risking being late to our appointment.


I kept muttering under my breath not so softly about what a stupid decision it was. Every time another car flew past me, it was like another slap in the face.


This scenario continued for another 20 minutes or so, UNTIL....


Are you in suspense? I mean, seriously. Is this not one of the most suspenseful articles you’ve ever read?


My car was crawling toward the exit, when suddenly, I realized what an amazing miracle had just happened to me.


The express lane cones, you know those things that you’d just love to drive over in a fit of road rage, ended exactly AFTER the exit I needed.


If I had taken the express lane instead of the regular lane, I would have missed the exit!


Which means it would have caused me even more aggravation and we might have missed our appointment.




This ridiculously common example is actually very profound.


How many times do we kick ourselves because we made a bad decision? Especially when the better decision was so obvious? How many times do we say, “I knew I should have done that! Why did I do the opposite?”


Well, there could be two reasons. One, you’re just dumb. But I suspect it’s not usually the case. At least, I hope.


And two, it’s because there was another, better outcome that you might not have experienced if you had chosen the “correct” option.


Sometimes, the outcome is obvious, as in my example.


And sometimes, it’s not. We may not always see the big picture, but it’s important to know that there is one, and Hashem is guiding things the way He wants them to go.


For our ultimate benefit! Never forget.


Therefore, friends, there’s no reason to persecute yourself about any bad decision you’ve made.


Even if the situation turned out to be painful, there is always something positive to be gained from it. Whether it was a learning experience, a growing experience, or whatever, the things we go through are always for our benefit.


And you know what else? I know, not just believe, that the bad decisions won’t take us away from our intended destinies.


Hashem has patience, just like the Waze lady. He’ll just reroute us in His patient voice that you hear after those funny little beeps that no one likes to hear when Waze is recalculating.


If you make a wrong turn, it’s because there’s something you’re supposed to go through in that bad neighborhood that you shouldn’t have gone into.


Okay, that was a terrible example. But you get my point, right?


Even if you make a mistake, and you don’t see the point of what you’re going through, know that nothing is in vain.


And that, my friends, is emuna.


It’s not easy. It takes work every single day.


But there’s no better way to live. The peace of mind, the stress relief - there’s nothing we need more in this crazy world.


If you’re feeling like your emuna could use a boost, which, let’s be honest - everyone’s can, read and re-read The Garden of Emuna. And then write me and thank me for this amazing article.


You know what? Next time I use Waze I’ll switch to the Michael Jackson voice. It’s so much more entertaining!



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Feel free to send Racheli your questions, particularly in the areas of marriage, dating, child-rearing and women's role; write her at racheli@breslev.co.il 

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