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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777
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A Driving Lesson

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I drove home from work on that uneventful sunny Tuesday afternoon as I do every other day. The clock on my dashboard showed 10 minutes before one. My youngest son usually arrived home from school with his carpool shortly after one o’clock, so I would have ample time to spare before he rushed through the front door, and even some extra minutes to take care of a small chore.

Instead, I found myself driving on the quiet side streets near my home trapped behind a student driver, driving in a gray training car. She drove slowly, v-e-r-y slowly, unbearably and painfully slowly. This was clearly her first experience on the road. Despite the deserted streets, she waited at every stop sign for what felt like an eternity, deliberately looking one way and then the other before proceeding. She drove much below the already low speed limit, and
at every bend in the road slowed down further still.

Usually, I would be impatiently fuming about how this threw off my schedule by delaying me (by at least three extra minutes!). On any other day, I would have thoughtlessly swerved in front of this car and raced ahead to my destination.

But this afternoon, I didn’t. Patiently, I drove the remaining distance to my home behind her. I didn’t check the speedometer five times a minute to verify that she was still driving at least ten kilometers under the limit. Tolerantly, I waited by each stop sign as she checked to her right and to her left, though no cars were anywhere in sight. Considerately, I drove far behind her gray car, making sure not to tailgate even slightly, so as not to unnerve her.

What was the change in my mood this afternoon? Had I evolved into a more patient person? Or was I perhaps enjoying the suburban scenery along the route? 

No, it was none of the above. The change in my perspective on this Tuesday afternoon was for an entirely different reason.

You see, just yesterday, my own 16-year-old daughter came home in just such a driver’s training car. Excitedly, she entered our home and described to me her first adventure as a driver.

Always the ambitious one, she had taken her written test the day after her 16th birthday and now was able to drive a car with an instructor. She eagerly embraced this opportunity to demonstrate her responsibility and maturity. 

Proudly, I had watched her turn into our driveway, just yesterday, and observed her patiently and carefully looking to her right and to her left before proceeding.

So, right now, when I saw the student driving ahead of me in just such a car, I didn’t see a nameless stranger. I could almost visualize my own daughter sitting beside her own instructor. And suddenly, the few moments stolen from my day’s schedule didn’t matter at all.

When I was able to see my own child in that car, my own view was completely transformed. I found all the patience in the world to allow her to enjoy her driving experience.

* * *

When we can foster a feeling of empathy for another like we have for ourselves, our perspective changes entirely. Our world becomes a far more patient, more accepting – and better – place.

Chana Weisberg is the author of The Crown of Creation and The Feminine Soul. She
is the dean of the Institute of Jewish Studies in Toronto and is a scholar in residence for
www.askmoses.com. She is also a columnist for www.chabad.org‘s Weekly Magazine.
Chana Weisberg lectures regularly on issues relating to women, relationships and
mysticism and welcomes your comments or inquiries at: weisberg@sympatico.ca.

Chana Weisberg

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