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Some people asked me – well, not too many people, in fact only a very few – how do I come up with topics to write about every week. And looking back at the situation, I must admit that I have been doing so for decades. So, it is reasonable to think that there really is nothing new that I could write about. But human society and individuals are so fascinating that there always is something to be observed and commented upon. So, the Lord has allowed me to have an interest in the human condition and that always provides me with material for these immortal essays.
As an example of this I will relate to you the following experience that I had at the beginning of this week. I was relaxing on my sofa contemplating what in the world I would be able to write about this week when I heard loud and extensive horn honking emanating from the street below my apartment window. This continued for quite some time, so I eventually became curious enough to find out what was the cause of such noisy frustration. It seems that there was an automobile attempting to back into a tight parking space, with many automobiles lined up behind the one attempting to fit into the spot. The owners of those automobiles were quite annoyed at having to wait while the hapless driver attempted to park in this space, one that certainly required expertise to be able to do so properly and efficiently.
As unfortunately often happens in our hyper-tense Israeli society, the situation soon degenerated into a loud and heated shouting match between the person attempting to park the car and the cars behind that were attempting to journey down this narrow street. People left their automobiles to plead their cases directly in the face of the offending driver that still was trying to park in this very tight space. Instead of continuing to maneuver the car into that space, the van driver opened the door to his car and stepped outside to shout at those who were shouting at him. This naturally led to further shouting and a longer line of cars backed up on this narrow street, many of them now rigorously honking their horns.
I retreated into my apartment knowing full well that interference in such a situation would be punished by both sides of the argument. Eventually the driver of the car that was trying to park got back into the car and finally succeeded in squeezing his automobile into that very tight parking space. Naturally as the cars that were in line past the now parked car, the drivers of those cars opened their windows and had a few words of advice to the driver who apparently was the cause of their delay and frustration. Eventually all the antagonists left the scene, the parking space was occupied, and everyone continued on their merry way.
I have often wondered why people become so disturbed and agitated over seemingly unimportant and inconsequential events. The parking space delay in the long run of history does not play a major role in human society generally or even in the lives of the people who participated in the shouting match that occurred. I imagine that these things are only triggers to deeply held emotions that we hold within us and attempt to sublimate in our every day lives. And then there are things that just seem to exacerbate a situation so that we lose all sense of proportion, humanity and become at best irrational and, at worst, even violent.
I maintain that there are great difficulties in finding an appropriate parking space on my street and to then being held up for a number of minutes while some nincompoop who shouldn’t be allowed to drive even tries to maneuver an automobile into a tight parking space is a most taxing emotional experience. But it is unhealthy to react in the manner that I was unfortunate enough to witness. It is bad for one’s health and certainly for one’s emotional state of being. Yet, what I witnessed was a typical reaction of human nature, of our struggle for turf and convenience no matter what the expense to others that may entail. The Torah teaches us to be able to deal with such minor crises in life with good humor and infinite patience. Would that this would be one of the major goals in our lives and behavior.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

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