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Super Mario!

Friday, 6 July, 2018 - 9:58 am

As our family hit the road, making our way from Bozeman to San Antonio, for our annual summer pilgrimage, we needed to see a mechanic in Clayton, New Mexico, population 2,763. We ran over a dead deer, as there was nowhere to swerve, and a non-essential metal plate beneath the car needed to be reattached.  It was just a few hours before the 4th and Mario, the nicest fellow, saw us on 15-minutes notice. He spent 45 minutes getting the minor issue resolved. While working, I said to him “Mario, you’re teaching me the art of perseverance” to which he responded “Hey man, patience is the key to perseverance. You gotta be patient”. When he was done he said it would cost me “10 bucks”, I insisted on a generous tip for his remarkable help and for being a solid Mentsch.

In this week’s Torah portion, Pinchas, we read about the five daughters of Tzlafchad who understood that giving up shouldn’t be an option. It’s a novel concept. You see, many people believe it’s black or white; either you never try to change the rules, or you just go ahead and break them. The wise daughters of Tzlafchad felt that they deserved a portion in the land of Israel. They didn’t attack Moses, they didn’t ignore G-d and they didn’t fight “the system” the way Korach and the spies did. They approached Moses, they respectfully pleaded their case, Moses turned to G-d and they got their plot of land. We can work within the G-dly ordained system of Judaism to address issues that we feel need addressing, but it’s cowardly and even callous to just give up on change, or worse, making up our own rules when we don’t have that authority.

I admit (and have admitted before) there are aspects of Judaism that are challenging for me. So what? Does that mean it’s not important? Does that mean I get to make up my own religion based on my personal whims? Mario stood in the sweltering heat to get the metal plate reattached. He didn’t Kvetch, he didn’t curse, he didn’t even try to make a killing off me (which he could’ve under the circumstances); he wiped the sweat off his brow and kept going until he got it done. He didn’t say “I give up” and he didn’t decide that I need a new car; we kept the same car and he worked with it until it was in ship shape. Thank you, Mario, for teaching me that we can all persevere, but we need to be patient and work with what G-d have given us to make it work best for ourselves, our families, our communities and our world.

Tzlafchad’s girls changed the rules within the system of Judaism; the only Jewish Ism!

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May He protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

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