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January 27, 2015 / 7 Shevat, 5775
 
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Not Too Fast

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This month, we’re going to dive right into the questions, because it seems like everyone who sent one in is in a rush.

 

Dear Mordechai,

Why, when I’m walking with my kids, do they run to the corner and wait for me to catch up instead of just walking with me in the first place?

T.P.

Dear T.,

It’s the high-speed Internet generation.  They’re in a rush to get places so they can do nothing when they get there.  Why, when I was a kid, we had dial-up, and when you wanted to go to a website, you had to be patient, and you had to be absolutely sure that was the website you wanted to go to, because it would take a half hour to load.  And no one was allowed to use the phone while you were online.

Sometimes it was more efficient just to go to the library.

Yes, they run to the corner and wait for you.  But if you tell them to slow down and walk with you, they will spend the entire time dragging behind and complaining that their feet hurt.

This happens in the house too.  It’s less noticeable, but whenever kids go from one room to another, they either run or they have to be dragged.

“Go to bed.”

“No.”

“Okay.  One… two… ”

And they run.

The other thing is that kids need an immediate destination, and your eventual destination isn’t good enough.  That’s why, on long car trips, they always ask, “Are we there yet?”

How could we be there?  Do you see the place? 

They don’t actually care what destination you’re at, as long as you’re at some kind of destination.  So here’s an idea.  Just tell them, “We’re driving to the next corner.”

“Are we there yet?”

“Yes.  Now we’re driving to the next corner.”

If you do that, you’d have a much more pleasant, if repetitive, driving experience.

But the kids’ main reason is that in their experience, if they’re walking with you and you run into someone you know, there’s going to be a lot of standing still and putting all their weight into trying to pull you along as you talk about really boring grown-up things, such as how everyone’s doing.  But your kids also noticed that if you’re chasing them, you don’t stop for anything.  So this is the most effective way of pulling you along.  If they run, you will follow.

But why do they have to run all the way to the corner, right?

It’s your fault really.  What do you say if they start running ahead?  You say, “Stop at the corner!”  That’s what you say.  The kids don’t know you mean, “Stop at the corner or sometime before then.”

 

Dear Mordechai,

Why is it called a “fast” if it goes so slow?

M.D.  

Dear M.,

I don’t know.  Why is it called “Yom HaKippurim” if you don’t know whether you’ll have a kapara?  Because it’s like Purim, but with less dancing?

No, we name it that because we’re hoping it will seem fast.

Think about it: Why do we call it “rush hour” if everyone drives so slowly?  Or “Rush Hashanah”?

Yes, Yom Kippur might feel slow, if you spend the whole day rushing through davening so you can wait for the chazzan to catch up to you after every single paragraph.  It’s like walking with your kids.  Now you know how they feel.  The chazzan’s like, “Wait at the end of the paragraph!  I’m coming!  I just need to talk to somebody I know!”

But it only goes slow if we think about it.  You know how you wake up on the morning of a fast, and even though you don’t normally eat breakfast on a regular day – and definitely not before you get out of bed – you’re already starving?  On Yom Kippur, I feel that way on the way to Kol Nidrei.

“Did I eat enough?  I think I still have room.”

That’s not going to make the day fast.

And you know how you sit there counting pages, and then figuring out that half the pages are English, and that half of the ones that aren’t are commentaries, and then realizing that you read the commentaries and the English anyway?  And then, in middle of all that thinking, you realize that everyone’s turned a page, so you do that whole cheshbon again, instead of just subtracting one?  That doesn’t make it fast.

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