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Life Without a GPS

Friday, 20 September, 2019 - 12:05 pm

I use a GPS. It’s been a looong time since I consulted a map.

Years ago, if I was travelling to Baltimore (for example) I might order a AAA Triptik, or I'd take maps of NJ, Delaware and Maryland and chart my journey. Once I was on my way, I would still need to actively consult my maps to ensure that I was on course, especially if I hit a surprise detour.

Today, I can simply turn off my brain. The GPS is my navigator; I’m just the driver executing its instructions. I don't have to envision a destination, chart a path to get there or check in with my map along the way. I just drive and obey that annoying voice.

It’s so easy.

It also presents a risk to a basic life skill. Consider this: It takes a good leader to navigate toward a suitable destination. It only takes a follower to implement someone else’s instructions.

When I use the GPS, I’m the follower, not the leader.

Not a big deal if we’re talking about a simple car trip, but I think it’s a metaphor for something larger.

Several years ago, I was sitting with my wife Malkie, meeting a prospective Hebrew School family. Malkie asked the parents: “What is your Jewish dream, your Jewish vision, for your child?”

The question blew them away.

They said they’d never considered the question. Enrolling their child in Hebrew School was stating: “We need a Bat-Mitzvah that will make Grandma and Grandpa happy. Just tell us where to show up and when.”

They were grateful for this unexpected opportunity to consider what they wanted – Judaically – for their child.

This goes way beyond Hebrew School.

Judaism is about life; it’s not just about the commitment to follow directions. Torah isn’t my GPS, it’s my map.

I consciously choose my destination on the path of leading a meaningful life, using the map gifted to us by the Almighty Cartographer. I pro-actively and consistently consult that map, working toward my life-destination, despite the many detours and distractions.

We need to be leaders in our Jewish lives.

Rosh Hashana is around the corner, so think: What’s YOUR destination for the new year? Learning how to read Hebrew? Connecting with the Jewish community on a more regular basis?

Let’s make this a transformative Rosh Hashana.

Let the call of the Shofar be a call to leadership in our lives.

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