Monday, 14 September 2009

Tshuva During Elul as Likened to a Road Trip


A recent conversation with a friend, touched in part on the dangers of talking on the cell phone or car phone while driving. She was telling me how easy it is to suddenly find one's self reaching for a mobile phone when it rings, even though one usually does not do so.

My mind went back to the early days of cell phones. I was in my first or second year of working and my place of work was a major teaching hospital. One of my duties was to attend the ward round of the Orthopoedic wards that I covered as an occupational therapist.

The ward round was relatively uneventful. Mostly patients had been in the ward for several days or weeks and were already known to the team. Then suddenly the team stood at the foot of the bed of a patient, a case that left most of the team members teary eyed. A realization of a new technology with its extreme dangers, together with the so-called benefits.

Early one morning, a young man set off on his journey to work. He was the main bread winner of the family, his wife taking care of small children at home. Suddenly his life changed irreparably forever. What happened?

This young man's journey to work included sitting on the back of a van, together with a number of other workers. Usually the journey was uneventful. On this particular morning, the driver in the car behind him decided that a conversation on his new cell phone was more important than paying attention to his following distance or to what the car in front of him was doing. As cars do at times, the vehicle with our friend stopped at an intersection. The driver behind, still busy with his cell phone conversation, continued driving.

Needless to say there was an accident and the man who ended up in our Orthopoedic ward in traction, become instantly quadriplegic. For whatever reason, the driver had almost no injuries, slight whip lash, but otherwise, physically fine.

Our patient, on the other hand, ended up permanently disabled. His life instantaneously changed, forever. His wife's life, instantaneously changed, forever. His little children's lives, instantaneously changed, forever. And all he had been doing was sitting on the back of a vehicle taking him to work, to do an honest days work so as to put food on the table and a roof over the heads of his young family.

The journey in life is very much like the journey we take on the road to some destination. At every moment we are confronted with situations that cry out for us to make a choice. Will the choice that we make take into consideration the lives of those around us?

The Torah is filled with how to consider others. Whether it be thinking of Hashem and how our thoughts, speech and action will affect Him, bringing us closer to Him or sending us further away. Will our decision result in a positive or negative ripple effect for others.

Elul is the time to reflect on how we think, speak, act, behave. What are our motives? When we reach for the phone to take a call, do we consider whether now is the most appropriate time to take that call? Will talking on the phone take your mind and concentration off your journey? Will others be able to hear your conversation?

In today's time, people love to talk on the cell phone constantly. Walking down the street, sitting on the bus, standing in a queue. Wherever they are, the cell phone is attached to their ear and they engage in conversation. Do they stop to consider whether the conversation is beneficial and whether the place and time are appropriate?

Do YOU stop to think of the consequences of your actions?

With just a few days left of Elul, take the time to reflect on the year that was. Think of how you have acted. The goals you set and whether you achieved them. The consequences of your actions. Where can you improve, where do you need to change. What did you do that brought love and joy to the lives of others and Nachas to Hashem?

For those who would like some guidance in reflecting on the year that was, setting appropriate goals for the coming year together with action plans, please contact Shoshanah to set up a consultation. Part of the training for Occupational Therapists, certainly from South Africa 19 years ago, includes or included Life Skills Training. Amongst the Life Skills are wonderful tools that can be used both to reflect on the journey taken thus far and to prepare effectively for the coming year. Sessions take place either in person, via the telephone, skype or email.

May we all make the most of the rest of Elul and merit a year filled with goodness, kindness, peace, love, fulfillment and joy.

1 comment:

bestshortstory said...

Thanks for the message. Everyone who owns a cell phone and a driver's license should read this story.

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