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November 29, 2015 / 17 Kislev, 5776
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It’s My Opinion: Jumping In


Jessica Vaughn had second thoughts about swimming in the Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale. She couldn’t see what she was getting into. The water was clouded and dark. However, the lure of spending the recent Sunday tubing in the irresistible Florida sun and surf was enticing. Despite her reservations, Vaughn jumped in. Very shortly after the leap, she was bitten by a shark.

The shark left deep teeth-marks on her leg. The bite caused damage to skin, blood vessels and leg muscles. Recovery, barring infection, will take several months. It certainly could have been worse, though.

We all have a little voice inside our heads that sends a warning. It is activated when we pass our comfort zone. Sometimes we listen. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we need to push ourselves out of complacency and sometimes we need to heed the call for restraint.

There are times to challenge oneself, to be brave, to have an adventure. There is a first time for riding a roller coaster or for skiing down a slope. There are times a buzz should be encouraged. A life lived without any challenges is a boring existence indeed.

Imprudent actions can result in injury and worse. The gift of health and life are precious. Pikuach nefesh, the preservation of human life, overrides all other considerations.

At the edge of the yam suf, the Hebrews hesitated. They cried. They prayed. Hashem said, jump in!

There are times to plunge in. This was not one of them.

About the Author: Shelley Benveniste is South Florida editor of The Jewish Press.

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