Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Thinking of Others - In Everything You Do

During the 3 weeks and especially the 9 days approaching Tisha B’Av is an opportune time to learn about the building of the Temple. In fact, the more we learn about the building of the Temple the more we realize how much care and consideration is given to every detail. The dimensions or everything, the position of one space, item or room next to another, where the stairs and ramps were positioned, doors to access, etc. As we have explained in other articles, everything we read and every situation has something of relevance to teach us how to improve how we behave in this world, TODAY.

Just a few days ago, I had a meeting with a friend of ours who happens to be in a wheelchair and hence I went downstairs to look at where would be most appropriate for him to park his van. I also wanted to know what path would be easiest for him to access the park where we could sit to talk for a little while. To my dismay I discovered that although this is a new area, the area is far from accessible to anyone with any disability or challenge to their mobility.

The ramp adjacent to the disabled parking bay is fine for someone with a stroller or for someone in a portable wheelchair, i.e. a wheel chair that someone else will push for you, however for those in an electric wheelchair; the lip to the ramp poses a challenge.

The path to the park can be accessed from two directions depending on where the van is parked. On the one side of our building, the ramp although new, once again poses challenges as stones are not placed flush and the gradient in places is not an easy angle. The other ramp which would have been the better one is not accessible at all. Yes the position of the ramp is perfect, directly next to a pedestrian crossing and not jutting into on-coming traffic. The slope as it transitions from the road to the pavement is also good. But, here is another challenge that can not be easily overcome, artistically arranged as the ramp levels out to the pavement are three large boulders making access impossible.

The Torah teaches not to put a stumbling block in the path of our fellow. These difficulties are not just stumbling blocks they are actual barriers. These are just a few examples of how much care we should put into drawing up and executing plans to build a new building or area. Whether you are a town planner, architect, building contractor, builder or decorating your own home or office, care needs to be taken to ensure that anyone can access the area that would need to.

In addition to the above, often times the aisles in shops are too narrow to allow someone in a wheelchair to manoeuvre with ease. People are often found having a chat in a position that makes it impossible for another to get past, whether it is in a shop, supermarket or on a street. It only takes a moment to step to the side and stand in such a way that you can both talk with ease and there is space for others to get by. That extra moment and extra bit of care and concern for another could change their whole day in a positive way.

There is much more we can say about making sure buildings and public places are accessible to all. Let this be an introduction and a reminder as we learn about the intricacies of the building of the Temple, of how to care for our fellow. While you learn more about the Temple, notice how much care is given to everything and then apply that same care to your daily life. In doing so may we all merit the Final Temple immediately.

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