Game of Inches

"We almost got into an accident this morning" my kids breathlessly told Mushka after camp yesterday. So after a long day, bedtime, a night time class, YJP Challah baking, and Challah baking cleanup, Mushka casually asks me "hey, what's with the accident the kids were talking about"? It was so late I almost forgot about it. Sure enough, the kids were right. On the way to camp yesterday, I moved to the right lane to get off the freeway, where unexpectedly a car occupied the "exit only" lane. Inexplicably, the car driver decided to have a conversation with a truck driver who was parked on the shoulder. So the car is sitting there, stopped, in the "exit only" lane. But I couldn't see the car blocking the lane. The truck in front me completely blocked me from seeing what was going on up ahead in the right lane. So at the last second, I swerve left, back into the lane I just came from. My mirror and the stopped car's mirror missed an eventful hard meeting by 2 inches. (Ok, maybe more than just the mirrors...) The heart thumping after avoiding an accident is hard to describe. You try catching your breath, but you can't. Your heart thumps. The adrenaline is pumping. But you know you need to stop and slow yourself before something reckless happens. Finally you get there. You're off the freeway. And then your mind starts working overtime. What just happened? Why was the car there? (No idea). How did I manage to avoid hitting it? (No idea) Are my kids okay? (I sure hope so!) There's so much I don't know. But one thing kept creeping back into my thoughts: if I hadn't swung that hard to the left, this story would have ended so much differently. An inch or two meant the difference between some added excitement and looking for a new car today. When we perform certain mitzvahs, we wonder: does that inch really make a difference? Does that extra minute make a difference? I'll give you an example: when laying teffilin, the head teffilin should be centered in the middle of our heads. What if it's an inch off to the side? When lighting shabbat candles and sunset is 7:28, what if I'm a minute late and I light at 7:29? When preparing food, meat and milk don't come in contact. What if they touched just a little bit? For just a couple seconds? When affixing a mezuza to our doorposts, the mezuza should be two thirds up the height of the post. What's if I have it a couple inches lower? Life, my friends, is a game of inches. And the Torah, as the blueprint for this world, reflects that reality. All the time.

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