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A Story... -- Shabbat Message 12/5/14

Posted on 12/05/2014 @ 12:00 PM

I'd like to tell you a story. Side note of introduction: I learned this story from a friend, Miriam, who learned it at camp (Morasha - right down the road from Perlman), when she was around 10 years old. She heard it from her counselor, Rookie Billet. Both the story, and the person who told it to her, stuck with her for well over a dozen years before the story was written down.

There was once a court case that was brought based on the following incident: an accident had occurred at a place where train tracks and a road intersect. One night, a car was stopped on the tracks, and the train comes along and - BOOM – smashes directly into the car, and everyone in the car is killed.

The family members of the people that were in the car sue the train company for being totally liable in not being careful enough in traveling over the tracks.

And so, at the case, each side brings their case and their witnesses. The star witness for the defense (the train company) is the night watchman whose job it was to patrol that area and make sure that cars and people were aware if a train would be passing through.

So the night watchman takes the stand, and the lawyers begin to ask him questions.

“Were you there the night of the accident?”

“Yes sir.”

“And did you see what happened?”

“Yes sir.”

“And can you tell the court what happened that night?” “Well, I was sitting at my post, and I saw the car was stopped. I knew the time was close for the train to be coming through, so I went outside and I start waving my lantern in front of the car. I wave my lantern, and I wave my lantern and I’M WAVING MY LANTERN AND THEY DIDN’T MOVE” (Imagine at this point my friend trying to show the visual of him waving his arms and getting frantic) “And I saw what happened… and it was terrible.”

With that, the case is dropped. It was clear that the train company did what they were supposed to, and it seems that it was the fault of the people in the car for what happened.

So the train executives are ecstatic, and they are celebrating. One of them looks over and sees the night watchman sitting alone. And he is crying. And he is shaking. And he is sobbing and sobbing. The train company exec walks up to him and says: “What’s the matter with you? You just won our case!”

And the night watchman answers: “I know I did. And I know I told the truth up there and I answered every question the lawyer asked me. But I don’t know what I would have said if he had asked me if the light in my lantern was lit.”

My friend usually paused here. and then she asked the big question: Did the watchman do anything wrong? Did he break any rules? No, not really - but yes, certainly. What happened was the difference between going through the motions and really doing it right.

So - - Is your light lit? Are you just going through the motions - or really making a difference?

Shabbat shalom, Rachel

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