by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths
I was running a little late, important meeting with a business executive this morning a distance from my home. I rushed to get ready but a few things intervened. I looked at the clock, grabbed my things and ran for the door. Coffee was left behind on the table untouched.
As I sped out of the driveway, I turned on the GPS and prayed. It’s right before the (Jewish) holidays and this is Israel, hopefully some people are on vacation and the traffic will be light. The GPS confirmed my prayer (it gets traffic feedback) but still put me there 2 minutes late (there being the parking lot, not the office I needed to be in).
I sped through traffic watching for police, going a bit faster than permitted. There was one, I slowed down nervously - I couldn’t afford the time for a ticket (or the cost)… The GPS said I was making up time, now I’d only be 1 minute late (to the parking lot).
I arrived at the lot, it was full forcing me to go down 5 levels for parking (another minute!) I rushed to the elevator, ran to the building, rushed to the floor… huff huff huff. I arrived at the secretary’s desk 6 minutes late, but this executive often runs 5 minutes late on meetings so I figured it would be ok (self justification is great for such moments).
The secretary gave me a bit of a surprised look, “Akiva”. “Yes” I responded, expecting a word on my delayed arrived for wasting minutes of the executives time.
“Akiva, didn’t you get the meeting cancellation? We’ll have to reschedule for after the holidays.” No, I didn’t, I hadn’t checked my email in the morning rush and given the travel time to get there. Ok, gam zu l’tova I thought (this too is for the best, and besides now I wasn’t late – self justification still working for me).
I went to use the facilities and stopped at their break area for a cup of caffeinated hot beverage. I was thinking ‘ok, Baruch Hashem (thank G-d) it didn’t turn out negatively (my delayed arrival), but why did I travel half way across the country for no reason.’
As I prepared my beverage the cleaning lady walked in to the break area. She was a Russian Jewish immigrant to Israel, and this office is located in a generally less religious oriented area of Israel. She looked at me and asked, in broken Hebrew with a Russian accent “can you tell me, for what is this holiday Rosh Hashana? it is something doing with new year, yes?”
I answered in my broken Hebrew with an American accent “yes, the Torah tells us this is when the world was created. So this is the start of a new year of the universe.”
She said “thank you, I thought that was it but didn’t know someone to ask”.
I then added “It is also yom haDin”. She said “what is din?”
I tried another word, “mishpat. It is when Hashem looks at us and gives a blessing for the new year, for good or G-d forbid otherwise, depending on how we have been”.
“Ahhhh”, she said, “I understand. It is time of considering what we have done and to be better for the new year.”
“Exactly” I responded. She finished our conversation with “I’ll have to think on that”.
…As I walked back to my car I thought “Thank you Hashem, this is why I travelled half way across the country in a rush today. So I could make it to an important meeting with a Russian Jewish cleaning lady in a business office break room in a less religious city in Israel to get the right message for Rosh Hashana.