Sucking It Up

Here we are sucking up leaves in January. 


It almost looks like we’re sucking up the whole ground with it!


After the warmest decade on record, we seem to be having the warmest year on record. 


It’s 52 degrees out, and we’ve been reaching up into the high 60’s so far this month.


Global warming or the big fires in Australia or action with Iran are heating things up here in Washington, D.C. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

I Drive The Tractor

Thank you so much to Rabbi Schneur Kaplan for his wonderful speech today in Downtown Jewish Center Chabad synagogue, Fort Lauderdale.


He told the story about the boy who grew up in Israel as a chasid, but later left chasidism to work the land–he drove a tractor!


Years later, the young man rediscovers his religion and goes back to yeshiva to study, and he is excellent and surpasses many of his peers.


Eventually, he ends up in a one-on-one with the Rebbe–and he waits with baited breath for what the great Rebbe will tell him that will guide his life–will he become a great scholar, Rabbi, shaliach, or head of a Yeshiva.


Then the Rebbe speaks, and says:

“You will be a tractor driver”


The young man is shocked and goes back to studying Torah with even more determination and harder than ever.


Once again, he comes before the Rebbe, and he is anticipating what he will say.


Again, the Rebbe looks deep into his soul and says:

“You will drive a tractor!”


Sure enough, the man now understanding that he has to meet his particular fate head on, goes back to working the Holy Land and driving the tractor.


But in so doing he is able to do outreach to tens of thousands of people who otherwise would have never had the opportunity to be brought close to Hashem through Chasidism.


The message was that we are not all destined to be clones, robots, or do the same thing in life.


The Torah is our guide to serve Hashem and do what is right.


But each of us has our own mission in serving Him and we can achieve greatness and Holiness even when we drive a tractor or do whatever we do.


I am not a Rabbi, but in my own way, I try to raise my family–be a good husband, father, and prior a good son–and also to serve with integrity and a good example in my professional and educational endeavors.


It’s okay that I’m not a Chabad Rabbi doing outreach–that’s not me–although I did meet someone today from my elementary school, Manhattan Day School, that did become just that and we had a nice kiddish lunch with him and caught up together after services.


I am me–and I am okay with me.


I don’t have to be someone else–anyone else.


I can do good being me–and that is what I will try to do with each and every breath of every day.


Whether I drive a tractor (or this cool VW van with a big smiley face), we all serve our Maker.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

Tractors_on_the_train

This is a photo I took at Harpers Ferry.

There was a train coming by pretty fast, and on the flatbeds were what seemed like a endless line of Tractors.

— Red, red, red, red, blue, and then red again.

I hurried to get my iPhone out and capture this photo while the train was rushing by at full speed.

I love this shot, because it teaches an important lesson about diversity.

Firstly, it reminds me of the children’s song, “One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn’t belong.”

From early in life, we are taught to conform a certain way–based on norms, culture, values, policies, rules, regulations, laws, religion, and so on.

There always seems to be a reason that we have to talk, dress, think, and conduct ourselves–properly, politically-correct, and just like everyone else.

And we are warned that “the nail that sticks out, gets hammered down”–so don’t do it–it’s too risky–you’ll be labeled bad or worse yet, crazy.

So while creativity and innovation is valued if it can bring someone a nice profit, we are still cautioned not to go out too far on a limb or else you risk getting ridiculed and rejected–hey “you may never work again in this town.”

But in this picture, the tractors tell a different story–that it’s okay to be a blue tractor in a long parade of red ones.

No, the blue tractor wasn’t a mistake, it isn’t abnormal or alien or evil, it’s just different and it’s cool.

The blue tractor stands out, but it isn’t a bad thing to stand out–and the blue tractor won’t get hammered down.

It’s okay to be a blue tractor in a long procession of red tractors–and it’s great to just be who you are–blue, red, yellow, green, or whatever.

Conformity is not normalcy–it’s just look-alike, copycat, and probably even boring.

Being different can be novel, inventive, out-of-the-box and exciting–and more important it can usher in needed change.

I think we need more blue tractors in a red tractor world.

Will you take a chance and be a blue tractor too?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)