Posted on March 23, 2011
by Shai Romirowsky
This upcoming week marks the beginning of a new year. Not so much in the sense that it is really the beginning of the school year, but more in the sense that after all of the Chaggim, the school year really begins to take its toll. Getting back into a routine is certainly a good thing, but where there is a routine, there’s always a problem. This problem is what Agatha Christie likes to call, “the unforgivable error.”
In one of her mystery stories Detective Hercule Poirot says to Captain Hastings, “It is your destiny to prevent me from committing the unforgivable error.”
The captain replies, “What do you call this unforgivable error?”
Poirot answers: “Overlooking the obvious.”
In a day and age complicated with long commutes, heavy workloads, schedule conflicts, cell phones, traffic and other daily activities that shape the mold of our routine, we frequently overlook what remains so close at hand. However, this “unforgivable error” which Christie speaks of isn’t just a byproduct of the hustle and bustle of the 21st century. In fact, this weeks Torah portion contains the parable of Hagar and Ishmael dying of thirst in the desert. Hagar places her son under a nearby shrub and sits some distance away. “For she thought: ‘I cannot look on as my child dies.’ And sitting thus at a distance she wept loudly…Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the bottle with water, and gave the child drink.”
Let us note carefully what the Lord did for Hagar in her child’s time of need. He “opened her eyes” to the obvious well that she had overlooked. In truth the key to her son’s survival and salvation lay close at hand. Yet in the midst of her hysteria she had neglected to notice the treasures that lay within her grasp.
Wouldn’t it be nice if God could do for us what He did for Hagar in the wilderness. If He could open our eyes to the multitudes of blessings that lay before us, to the vast sea of opportunity and the everyday miracles that we so often neglect and overlook. If we could only see the obvious, what a solution that would be to the trivial grievances that accompany our everyday routine.
By overlooking the obvious we not only deprive ourselves of the potential gifts that lay so close at hand, but we also dilute ourselves of the innate talents and gifts that we already possess. Maybe then we would rid ourselves of the awful conviction of “what if” and “had not.” Then, when we get into the mindset of “if only” we would be able to remind ourselves that we should not make the unforgivable error.
So, as we each embark upon the beginning of a new year and as we re-establish the routine within our lives, let us not forget to stop and smell the roses. May we have the ability to see what we may not ordinarily see; and may we appreciate the little things in life, that so oftentimes make the difference between routine, and the beauty of a new day.
Ken Yehi Ratzon.