May 21, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
May 21, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

For obvious reasons, not everyone can be first. The entire concept of someone coming in first necessarily means that someone else must come in last. For example, parents cannot have more than one firstborn child. Even in the event of twins, one twin will exit the womb before the other. The distinction can be purely temporal; being first is not always a sign of superiority or importance. In fact, sometimes being first is less desirable, like being the first person in your family to file for bankruptcy.

In today’s Jewish world, being first is often associated with “Yekkes,” Jews of German-speaking origins who are err on the side of anal retentiveness and thus are normally hyper-punctual. Such Yekkes are consistently the first to show up for an event no matter the start time. In this way, Yekkes are more reliable than Yellowstone Park’s Old Faithful or MIT’s Quantum-Entangled Atomic Clock.

One could argue that the first uber-punctual Jew was none other than Nachshon Ben Aminadav, who during the splitting of the Red Sea was famously the first to step forward into the unknown.

This legend is not mentioned expressly in the Torah but it can be found in the Talmud: “Rabbi Yehuda said to Rabbi Meir: That is not how the incident took place. Rather, this tribe said: I am not going into the sea first, and that tribe said: I am not going into the sea first. Then, in jumped the prince of Judah, Nachshon ben Aminadav, and descended into the sea first, accompanied by his entire tribe, as it is stated: ‘Ephraim surrounds Me with lies and the house of Israel with deceit, and Judah is yet wayward toward [Hashem]’ (Hosea 12:1), which is interpreted as: And Judah descended with [Hashem].” (see, Sotah 37a) This beautiful showing of faith by Nachson ben Aminadav might be where we get the expression “stepping up.” In addition, the splitting of the Red Sea might be why we refer to a transformative event as a sea change.

The Torah tells us that Nachshon ben Aminadav was the first in other respects. In Bamidbar it states that “he that presented his offering the first day was Nachshon the son of Aminadav, of the tribe of Judah.” (see, Bamidbar, 7:12) In another case, he appears to be last on the list, e.g., “And these are the names of the men that shall stand with you: of Reuben, Elizur the son of Shedeur. Of Simeon, Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai. Of Judah, Nachshon the son of Aminadav.” (see, Bamidbar, 1:5-7) These biblical references to Nachshon possibly provide an important life lesson that regardless of whether your first or last, you can have a valuable impact. That said, sometimes in life, it is not so good to be first. For example, you do not want to be the first person to try a new hairstylist, especially if the name of the hair salon is “Hairdo & Hairdon’t,” “A Cut Below,” “Bangs &. Bowl-Cuts,” “Mohawks, Mutton Chops & More,” “Flock of Seagulls” or “Menschy Mullet.”

You do not want to be the first person in the water, especially if it’s infested with sharks, piranha or children who have not been potty-trained.

You do not want to be the first person to dine at a brand new restaurant, particularly if the name of the establishment is “Freezer Burn,” “Microwave Madness” or “Almost Fresh.”

You do not want to be the first person to watch a movie at a new movie theatre if the name of the theatre is “Sticky Floors,” “Obstructed Views,” “Excessive Previews” or “Spotty Projectors.”

You do not want to be the first person to shop on-line at websites such as “Overpriced.com,” “NotWorthIt.com,” or “PartiallyDamaged.com.”

You do not want to be the first person to stay at a hotel named “Hotel Everything is Extra,” “Dirty Sheets Inn,” “Courtyard by Shvach,” “The Doubletrouble by Hilton” or “The Schvitz Carlton.”

Final Thought: One day, a traveler was entering a hotel, trying to decide whether to stay there for the night. He asked a man standing on line at the check-in desk: “Are you staying at this hotel?” The man replied: “I have my reservations.” The traveler was encouraged that this man also planned to stay there but the traveler wound up having a horrible night at the hotel. In the morning, the traveler bumped into the same man in the lobby and angrily confronted him: “Why didn’t you warn me about this lousy hotel?” The man smirked and responded: “I did warn you. I told you that I had my reservations!”

By Jonathan Kranz

 

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles