I’m sure everyone had heard about the Rabbi and I hitting a deer. More accurately the deer hit us. Really. I know people say this all of the time, but the deer hit the passenger side of the car first, leaving a big dent. Afterward, the Rabbi and I discussed a probable message. What were we (or I, as the deer hit my side of the car) supposed to learn? First, deer should play in the NFL, because impressively enough the deer got up, and after smashing the side mirror and putting a hoof though a headlight, she ran off into the sunset, literally. (Okay, well almost, it being standard time, it was on the darker side.) My knee jerk reactions are often of the silly variety: the Rabbi needs to have his car painted day glow orange; Deductible? Where is that deer? I’m going to run it down again! But what was I seriously supposed to think?
It came up a second time at the Rabbi’s lecture in Westminster. “Sometimes an accident is just an accident,” the Rabbi said. “You could drive yourself crazy trying to figure it out.” This was good advice, I thought, especially if one is perseverating on an unknown, especially one that looks like it might remain unknown. But another part of me felt it best to figure things out before G-d threw another deer at me.
During our ride, I was turned at an angle. Although I think I am perceived as being soft spoken, I don’t have any opinions the Rabbi hasn’t heard, in some cases, a couple of times. I was ‘sharing’ just such insights about something when the deer hit us and I bumped my arm; I can’t remember what that something was so I guess it’s not that important. Maybe that’s the message.
Maybe the message is that of resilience: I cried because I thought we killed the deer. And the Rabbi felt terrible. After all, the thing did bounce off the windshield a foot in front of me; it’s eyes wide and frightened. It turned out, thankfully, all that was unnecessary. The deer did just get up and run away. Maybe it means that all the stress and fuss over what can’t be changed is unnecessary; either the deer will get up and continue its life, or it wont.
I used to have a professor that used to have us give oral reports. Those students who had difficulty with that sort of thing balked. But he used to tell them, “What the worst thing that can happen? You can die and then it will be all over.” That sounds terrible, I’m sure, as it did to the student whom were trying to negotiate. However, the point would be that it wont kill them; people, like deer, are resilient.
Like many things, maybe the message is a matter of perspective. Jeremy Kagan wrote in “The Jewish Self, “A renowned genius once asked a student, “What are you watching when you sit on a hillside in the late afternoon as the colors turn from yellow to orange and red and finally darkness?” He answered, “You are watching the sunset.” The genius responded, “That is what is wrong with our age. You know full well you are not watching the sunset. You are watching the world turn.”
Whatever the message, one thing is clear: G-d is a teacher and we are the students. Rebbetzin Lori from the pod cast “Lori almost Live” suggests we ask ourselves, “What is G-d teaching me?” and advises, “Your first reaction-That is the answer.” We may not care for that particular answer, but that’s it. That seems like the good advice to me. If we ask ourselves everyday: What did we learn? We become students of life. Even if we do this only when an event stands out to us, we become students of life.
Now, go do your homework!