June 21, 2024
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June 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Parshat Pinchas

Being responsible and caring means not only caring about what will be best for ourselves, but also what will be best for others. In this week’s portion, we see how when God told Moses he would soon die, Moses’ main concern wasn’t about himself, but rather that the people should have a good and worthy leader to take over for him (27:17). Moses and the Torah teach us how to be people who care.

In our story, a kid has to decide if she cares.

Sitting Pretty

“Hi Max! Hi Janna! You guys ready for a fun-filled afternoon with Aunt Amy?”

“Yeah! Aunt Amy came!”

“Thanks for coming on such short notice, Amy,” Max and Janna’s mom said gratefully. Amy was their favorite aunt, probably because she was still pretty young herself.

“You know I love these little munchkins, Alisa. You go out and have a great time, and don’t you worry about a thing. They’re in good hands!”

Amy rolled up her sleeves and got to work. After two hours, they’d fingerpainted, modeled clay, played horsie, baked cookies and even managed a massive clean-up. Everyone was exhausted, but happy. Max and Janna took a nap without complaining, and Amy sat down to catch her breath.

She’d barely inhaled when her cellphone, which had been quiet all afternoon, began to hum its merry tune. “Hello?”

“Amy, hi! This is Paula! Look out the window!”

Sure enough, Amy could see a yellow car parked down below, packed with kids, with a volunteer father sitting behind the wheel.

“How’d you know where I was?”

“We ran into your sister a while back. She told us you were here. C’mon, we’re going swimming at the pond.”

“If you knew I was here, then you also know I’m babysitting. I can’t leave the children… although they are sleeping at the moment.”

“Great! Your sister said you’re only going to be here another hour—so the kids will sleep and they’ll never know you left. You can leave a note for your sister that all was quiet, so you left. She’d understand!”

Amy thought about it… she’d love to go, but…

“No! I can’t do that! I’m responsible for them.”

“So wake ‘em up and bring them along!”

The parent at the wheel honked a few times, halfheartedly, hoping it would inspire Amy to make a decision so they could get going.

Amy was so hot and uncomfortable—the air had been brutally warm the past few days, and the thought of a dip in the cool, crystal clear pond was almost impossible to resist. She could wake up the kids, but they needed the rest, and they were just getting over colds. Would it be the most responsible thing to do?

“NO! I mean, no thanks, Paula. Thanks so much for thinking of me, but I’ll have to stick it out here. My sister is counting on me.”

“Oh-kay! Whatever you say! But you’re missing out! Bye!”

Amy watched the car drive away and felt her heart sink to the floor. Don’t you think I know what I’m missing? she grumbled to herself. She fixed herself a tall glass of iced water and sat down in front of the tiny fan, determined to make the best of a now-turned-bad situation.

Not long after, about the time it would have taken for the kids to get to the pond, jump in and start swimming, all the lights started to flicker and blink, and it got really quiet outside. The fan started to slow down, and suddenly, BOOOM! The loudest clap of thunder Amy had ever heard split the air like a thousand strikes from a thousand bowling balls. The lightning bolt that followed was so strong that Amy felt her hair stand up on end for a moment.
Almost as loud as the thunderclap was the sound of Max and Janna’s hysterical screaming as they ran out to take shelter on Amy’s lap.

She didn’t even want to think about how scared they would be if they would have woken up when she wasn’t there—and how bad it would have been for them to be caught outside in this storm. Amy held them close till the storm passed over, but her own heart didn’t stop pounding until very long afterwards.

Not from the storm. Not from the lightning. But from pure and total relief. Never had she been so thankful for giving up a great time. She realized now that nothing could compare to the amazing feeling of caring enough to be just where she was supposed to be, at exactly the right time.

Nesanel Yoel Safran is a writer, chef, and a teacher/student of Jewish spirituality. He blends these assorted vocations on his blog, Soul Foodie, where you can join him on mystical cooking adventures and glean practical wisdom for the kitchen—and for living.

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