April 23, 2024
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April 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Certain things we just know aren’t good for us, but we’re tempted to do them anyhow. Is there any way to keep ourselves in control? This week’s Torah portion teaches a valuable tool to help us succeed.

It tells us about a nazir—a person who decided that it wasn’t good for him to drink any wine and who therefore made a vow not to do it. But once he did so, not only did he avoid wine, but even grape juice, vinegar or any other grape product. Human nature is such that we can easily slip when we are around something close to what we want to avoid. And this is why the nazir stayed away from any grape drink even though he really only wanted to avoid wine. We can learn from this to make “protective fences” in our own lives to help us live the way we want to and stay away from the things that aren’t good for us.

In our story, two boys learn why it makes sense to keep distance from some things…

Belly Flop

Gary and Jon considered themselves a self-appointed spy team. Their mission was to explore every nook and cranny of the “Easy Acres” bungalow colony where they were spending the summer with their family.

They discovered old tucked-away stacks of lounge-chairs, a huge lost-and-found pile that seemed to have been started 20 years earlier, and countless other hidden treasures on their various “spy operations.”

Their dad seemed amused by their “missions,” but he warned them not to get into anything dangerous.

One morning the boys stumbled upon their greatest discovery of the summer. While playing ping-pong in the recreation hall, Gary spotted what looked like a doorway tucked behind a group of stacked-up tables. With a conspiratorial look he signaled to his brother and pointed. Jon got the message right away and when no one was looking the boys snuck into the corner. They tested the door, found that it was unlocked, and discovered pay dirt.

It was an unknown secret entrance to the colony’s indoor swimming pool! It was right in the middle of the “No Swimming” hours, and not a soul was around. The boys made their way into the dimly lit complex when Jon tapped his brother on the shoulder. “OK, let’s get out of here,” he said.

“Why?” asked Gary, eyeing the huge pool. “We’ve only begun to spy!” he smiled.

“I’m serious,” said Jon. “There are signs all over the place that say no one’s allowed in this area during ‘No Swimming’ hours. What about what dad said? We could get in trouble, or worse.”

But Gary wouldn’t relent. “All they care about is that nobody goes into the pool, and we’re not, are we?” Jon shrugged. “So why should we have to stay out of the whole area? Maybe the pool is dangerous but the area around it isn’t. What’s wrong if we just spy around a bit? Hey, come see this diving board, it looks brand new!”

The boys climbed out onto the board. Sure enough it was new, so new that it hadn’t been properly fastened onto the pool yet.


The weight of the boys caused it to tip them right into the pool. Fortunately they were both good swimmers and they scrambled out of the pool, scared but OK.

Without bothering to check if the coast was clear, they ran back out the “secret” door they had come in through. But to the boys’ dismay they practically ran smack into a group of adults, including their father and the lifeguard who had just walked into the recreation hall.

Sure enough, the “spies” were caught and sentenced to a week of no swimming.

That week ended up being the hottest of the summer. As they sat outside the pool area and heard the sounds of their friends having some nice cool fun, they learned a big lesson in how to read the signs.

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. https://soulfoodiecom.wordpress.com/

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