Thursday, November 12, 2015

Don't be Caught with your Wheels over the Line: A Gripping Tale of how Justice was Served on Speer Boulevard

Dear Peyton,            
       One gorgeous autumn afternoon in the most glorious city this side of Jerusalem, two and a half weeks ago, my Better Half, adorably delicious baby, and myself embarked on the return trip home after a lovely weekend in Vail, Colorado. We had the privilege of attending The Jewish Experience Shabbos Project retreat in Vail, and we were all incredibly inspired. My parents were kind enough to watch my other three children for 48 hours, and on this particular Sunday afternoon we were excited to be reunited with our children. As I got off the highway, about twenty minutes away from home, I called my Pops to tell him that we would be arriving shortly. During this short phone conversation, which is legal to have while driving in Colorado, I noticed a yellow light. Being the cautious, vigilant, excellent driver I am, I decided that I was going to go ahead and stop at the Yellow light, so as not to run the light. To my shock, and profound displeasure, I noticed the traffic light snapped my picture. I was not upset because I was concerned I was having a bad hair day; balding people in their thirties like myself don't have bad hair days. I was not even concerned that I wasn't looking good, exceedingly handsome individuals like myself always look good. I was upset because I was suspicious that this camera would send the picture to the Police, who would mistakenly think I ran the red light, which I most certainly DID NOT do. I turned to my wife to tell her to remind me that I did not in fact run the light, but she was sleeping more soundly then a African Zebra after a long day galloping in the meadowy Zimbabwean Safari. I thought to myself, shucks, if the Better Half is sleeping, I am going to have to remember this myself. "Note to self; you will probably get a letter in a week from the Denver PD accusing you falsely of running the light. Remember Dann-o, when you get that letter fight it, because right now you are are waiting for the light to turn green, just like all the other cars are waiting. After the light turned green, I promptly forgot about the whole episode as I got lost in my thoughts trying to figure out what I would be doing for the remainder of this afternoon given the fact that the Broncos had a Bye week.

Ten Days Later
As I casually strolled into my house for a lunch break on yet another fantastically beautiful Denver fall day, I couldn't help but smile as I was greeted by my adoring Better Half and my three youngest children. The salad The Better Half so lovingly prepared was waiting for me on the table. And that's precisely when I noticed it. I noticed a particular shiny white envelop sticking out in the mail box. I dramatically tiptoed over to see what it was. It looked serious, so I opened it. And to my dismay, the letter was a casual reminder about that fateful day ten days earlier. I looked inside and was shocked to see they wanted me to pay a forty dollar ticket! "That's absurd, thought I, I DIDN'T run the light!" And then I read that the ticket was not for running the light, it was for having my front wheels over the white line at a stop light/cross walk. And then I looked, and sure enough they got my photograph, showing, beyond reasonable doubt that I was guilty as charged, my two front tires were over the white line. I thought I would call anyways to plead my case; after all, I did NOT run the light! I called. And there was a recorded message which said, "Before we transfer you to anyone, please be aware that if your wheels crossed the white line, that is a violation of Colorado driving code of conduct and you will be ticketed for that heinous offense. Good day." I realized I didn't stand a chance. Pleading ignorance wouldn't help, for it was my responsibility to know the law. I dejectedly, ashamedly, hung up the phone, resigned to my bitter fate.

         The Talmud in Tractate Avos, or Ethics of Our Fathers relates the following, profoundly powerful teaching: "Know what is above you: an Eye that sees, an Ear that hears, and all of our actions are recorded in a book." The simple understanding of this passage is that as Jews we are ultimately held accountable for our actions. We are not free to act in any way we please; at the end of the day we have to take responsibility for our behaviors, and we need to remember that G-d is vividly aware of our every action. After a person takes leave of this world, we are taught, a person reviews a recording of his life, and he signs off that everything he saw is in fact true, exactly as it happened. The evidence is presented in a very clear manner.
      Seeing my car's two front wheels over the line demonstrated this concept in a powerful manner. We must never forget, that everything we do in this world has enormous significance; every action brings with it eternal ramifications. We cannot be caught with our wheels over the line. There's simply too much at stake.

Forever yours,
Danny Wolfe

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Why I am Gearing up for a Royal Celebration: an Open Letter to Mets Fans

Dear Met fans everywhere,
      A lot of my thousands upon thousands of readers across the vast expanse of the planet have been asking me, somewhat upset, why it is I am so avidly rooting on the Kansas City Royals this World Series. I have spent many years in New York, and many people I greatly admire are die hard Mets fans. Additionally, inasmuch as the same folks rooting on the Royals also root for the hated Kansas City Cheifs, it is a fair question. 
      Let me begin by acknowledging that I admire you Mets fans to no end. As a life long fan of the most disgraceful franchise in sports, the Colorado Rockies, I can relate to what you have gone through the last 20 years: year after year watching a pathetic team finish close to last place. But my admiration for you goes deeper than that. You could have just as easily jumped on the Yankee band wagon all those years. But you didn't. You remained loyal to your lousy Mets. Loyalty is a huge thing. And I appreciate it; I really do. In fact, if the Mets were playing the Yankees, I would root hard for the Mets. If they played the Rangers, the Angels, or the White Sox, I would take the Mets. There is one team from the American League, and one team only, that I would root for to beat the Mets; and that is the Kansas City Royals.
      Last night, as I left synagogue, I heard one person say, "I don't care who wins; I can guarantee you they don't care about me; why should I care about them?" I have heard this refrain from people who don't care for sports on more than one occasion. And I hear it. Why do so many millions of us allow our moods and happiness level be determined by a group of talented dudes who don't give a darn about is? How does that make any sense?
     The thing is, dear Peyton, and you Mets fans everywhere, when it comes to the Royals, this logic simply doesn't apply. Because they do care about me. When my family moved from New York to Denver, my then six month old daughter got very sick on the road. We had to stop for a scary, long, ten day stay at the hospital in downtown Kansas City. (For more on this read
And on the fifth day we were there, as I was leaving to drive to Denver to take care of my other three children, I saw the Kansas City Royals posing for pictures at the front of the hospital. About 15 minutes later my wife called, and said, The Royals are here visiting, should I have them come see our baby? "OF COURSE YOU SHOULD YOU SILLY GOOSE" was my immediate reply.  I was so touched by them taking the time to visit my daughter, fulfilling a very special mitzvah we call bikur cholim, visiting the sick, that I stopped at the first gas station I found and spent ten dollars on a Royals hat. My wife called me a few hours later and told me two fellows named Mike Moustakis and Jason Vargas came by, and they left a signed hat for my daughter, who despite being only 9 months old, and despite living in Denver now, is also an avid Royals fan.
      In yesterday's Torah reading we read how G-d paid Abraham a little visit while Abraham was recovering from the exceedingly painful circumcision. We see from here that visiting the sick is not just a good thing to do: It is emulating G-d Himself. Those who visit the sick are G-d like. 
Additionally, in Hebrew, the word for "Jews" is Yehudim. It means "grateful ones." We believe that we are required to show hakaras hatov, or recognition of good (ie gratitude) for every good deed performed for us. It is not just a nice thing to do, it is our duty. Conversely, when someone does something good for us, and we don't acknowledge the favor, that is a bad thing. When G-d created Eve for Adam as a life partner with whom to share his life, and to perpetuate humanity, G-d performed for him an enormous kindness. And yet when G-d asked Adam why he ate from the fruit that he was not allowed to eat in the Garden of Eden, Adam blamed his wife, Eve, saying, "it was the woman you gave to me who made me eat it." This was the first example in history of a person being an ingrate, and Adam is ultimately punished for it.
       To put it very simply, when someone showers us with a kind act, we are obligated to be grateful. Therefore, it is not my choice whether or not to root for the Royals; it is my duty. Tonight, when they win the Series in 5 games I, along with my 9 month old daughter will be engaging in a Royal Celebration.

Forever yours,
Danny Wolfe