Friday, August 25, 2006

Airports and Their Discontents

This Table Talk is dedicated in memory of Yehudis bas Alexander Ziskin.
To dedicate a future Table Talk, write

Do you have an airport nightmare story?

Who doesn’t?

Delayed flights, lost baggage, missed connections... Anyone who has traveled has been there. How many times have I heard, “I’ll never fly on X Airline again”, when all of these problems occur on every airline.

When we had to cut short our Israel trip after two days for my grandmother’s funeral, my mom’s suitcase didn’t make it to San Francisco and the airline knew where it was but, maddingly, couldn’t figure out how to get it to us. But every time I found myself feeling the slightest twinge of frustration, I thought of the next woman in line at the lost baggage claim, who was weeping.

“What’s wrong,” my mom asked her. “Did you lose something particularly valuable?”

“Yes,” sobbed the woman, “My daughter!”

It seems her unaccompanied-minor daughter didn’t show up, and an airline rep had sent her to lost baggage for help!

No matter how bad it seems, there’s always someone who has it worse.

Not only that, but the fact that we have a functioning air transport system is a wonderful thing. If I plan ahead of time for contingencies, I don’t mind the delays. I’m puzzled by the fact that while 100 of us waited at baggage claim for 45 minutes, I appeared to be alone in opening a book. Everyone else seemed to prefer watching the pot boil.

Anything as complex and human as an airport is bound to have snafus. So many people responded favorably to what I wrote on June 9, it maybe bears repeating here.....

Every experience and every person in our life has a purpose in our life. It seems to me that the purpose usually falls into one of three categories:

A. To make you wise
B. To get you to ask for help or to say thanks
C. For you to give or to receive an act of kindness.

Sometimes a single experience can have more than one purpose.

Here’s an interesting question to ask: did you ever feel sorry for yourself and then get over it?

* * * *

This morning, synagogues around the world blew the shofar, a daily 30-second practice to start getting into the mood for Rosh Hashana, only four short weeks away.

If you ever thought about learning to blow the shofar, it’s easier than you might think (what’s hard is blowing it 100 times on Rosh Hashana). The key is to get a shofar that is easier to blow. Since they are hand-made, there is a great deal of variation in quality. At your local Judaica store, try out a few different shofars and choose the one that is easiest. The general rule is bigger = easier. If you would like a free copy of my Shofar how-to flyer, please ask.

Here is an online guide to buying a shofar:

Although nothing compares to hearing it in person, here are links to online shofar blasts: Live and Studio.

Afterwards, try taking a look at Psalm 27, a meditative poem-song that is said after the four shofar blasts wakes you up.

Only four short weeks...

Shabbat Shalom.

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