Friday, July 29, 2016

It's a Long Road Ahead-- Don't Lose Your Waze: Part 1

Dear Henry,
      This past week I had the distinct pleasure of attending a conference for rabbis such as myself-- 300 strong were in attendance from all over the planet. One rabbi in particular, a man named Rabbi Mindell mentioned something so brilliant it literally blew my mind.
       But before I spill the beans and explain to you what he said, and how it was so profoundly ingenious, let me preface by telling you one of my biggest pet-peaves. More then when someone sneezes on his hand prior to shaking mine; heck, more than when someone coughs out loud seconds before my golf swing, it annoys me tremendously when ones' Waze GPS system suggests the person proceed one way, when the person decides he/she knows better than the GPS and proceeds to deliberately ignore it altogether, and opt for a different way. I never knew why this phenomenon so greatly troubled me, but it truly did. And the truth is I am not the easily-annoyed type. I like to think of my self as rather laid back and chilled out--more chilled, in fact, to quote the late, great, Stuart Scott, than the other side of the pillow. This however gets to me--and I never knew why...that is, until this past Tuesday when Rabbi Mindell explained it in a manner clearer than the pristine Hudson River.
       When people choose to ignore their GPS, they do so for one of two reasons. The first reason is that people of the older generation tend to ignore the GPS, because, as we say in Yiddish, they don't really "chap" (ie understand) how to use it, and why it's so helpful, when they have been going the same way for over sixty years. These folks I don't blame, and I have no problem with their neglecting the GPS. However, for the younger generations among us, who know darn well about the GPS; who used Waze for Morgan Freeman's comforting voice to guide us to far remote destinations; for those of us Waze users who harmonized along with T-Pain as he soulfully sang us how to get around a roundabout, we have no excuse to ignore our GPS. And when we do, articulately explains Rabbi Mindell, we are basically, perhaps unknowingly, proclaiming one undeniable fact: Forget the help of the scientifically brilliant technology which uses global positioning satellite-- I know better. I don't need no help in getting to where I need to go-- I know precisely where I need to go, and I know precisely how to get there. Please don't help me, because I know how to do it all by myself. But says Rabbi Mindell, and I now quote, "it takes anavah (humility) to follow Waze." Following Waze means that I understand that as skillful as I am, and as knowledgeable as I am about these roads I have been maneuvering for the last 15 years, perhaps there is another way to go that would be more effective. According to Alan Morinis, who has written books on mussar, or the act of acquiring positive character traits, based on the Talmud, a Jewish definition of humility is, "limiting oneself to an appropriate amount of space while leaving room for others." Yes, As a fourth generation Denverite I know darn well how to get from point A to point B. But perhaps there are other approaches as well, and perhaps I can even learn from them to get around more efficiently.
        And this, dear Henry, explains my epiphany from this past Tuesday. Namely, the reason why I get so annoyed when people don't listen to their GPS-- because more than any character flaw, the one that bothers me the absolute most, is when I perceive arrogance in other people. That annoys me to no end. It makes sense, therefore, why folks not listening to their GPS-- a seemingly innocuous crime troubles me as much as it does. We need to learn from others. We need to understand that we do not have all the answers. As the Talmud says, "Who is wise? The one who learns from all people." Who is wise? The one who has the humility to listen to his or her Waze.

Forever Yours,
Danny Wolfe

PS. We are only scratching the surface on the brilliance of WAZE. Stay Tuned for Part Two, in where we take Waze's profound life lessons to a whole new level...

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