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Keep on truckin’

When I was in high school, one of our teachers had recently arrived in South Africa from the USA. He peppered his colourful teaching style with Americanisms, many of which tickled our funny bones. One of his favourites was “Keep on truckin’!”.

Three decades later, this special Jew is “truckin’” at full speed. He has seen a fair amount of financial, family and health challenges. No bank manager can dampen his mojo. His multiple medical maladies have not dimmed the sparkle in his eyes or slowed his passion for helping the underdog.

His message to keep truckin’ stayed with us longer than the Talmud he taught us. I guess that’s because it is the lesson he taught through example.

Judaism is all about “truckin’”. A master screenwriter ensures that when his movie ends, it gives the viewer resolution. A master author weaves the strands of his storyline in the final chapter. When you close the novel or switch off the TV, you feel satisfied that all is well in the world of fiction. But, unlike the Disney hero who rides off into the sunset, in life, many chapters do not end with a full stop.

The Torah expects us to keep growing as long as we have blood coursing through our veins. This week’s Parsha captures this message beautifully. Tomorrow, we will conclude the second book of the Torah, Shemos (Exodus). Shemos records tremendous moments in early Jewish history. Moses stuns Pharaoh with the Ten Plagues, and the Israelites are the first slaves to escape Egyptian slavery. G-d splits the sea, and Joshua overcomes Amalek. Besides the great miracles described in this book, we read about history’s greatest Divine revelation- the giving of the Torah. No book of the Torah rivals the miracles and Divine experiences of this one. The second half of this book details how the Jewish nation built a home for Infinite G-d on Planet Earth. It should have been an impossible achievement. Centuries later, King Solomon would open his Temple in Jerusalem with the rhetorical question, “The heavens and the spheres above them cannot contain you, yet this house will?” In only 15x5m, the Israelites created a space where G-d would rest his Shechinah.

You may feel exhausted but satisfied when you conclude the book of Shemos. You would have traversed the Nile, deserts, the sea, food from the heavens and the thundering voice of G-d at Sinai. You would be proud to belong to the nation that designed G-d’s home on Earth. By the end of this book, you expect to hear, “and the L-rd said ‘It is good’.”

Instead, the final verses of Shemos describe how G-d signalled the nation when to pause for camp and when to travel. The final message of this book is how to read the movement of the Cloud of Glory to know when to journey on. Just when you feel ready to sink into the sofa with an iced coffee, the Torah reminds you that our books do not end with a period. They end with a nudge to journey, to grow, to improve.

Keep on truckin’. It’s the Jewish way.

Inspired by a talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

About the Author
Rabbi Shishler is the director of Chabad of Strathavon in Sandton, South Africa. Rabbi Shishler is a popular teacher who regularly lectures around the globe. he hosts a weekly radio show in South Africa and is the rabbi of Facebook's largest Ask the Rabbi group. Rabbi Shishler is also a special needs father. His daughter, Shaina has an ultra-rare neuroegenratove condition called BPAN. Rabbi Shishler shares Shaina's story and lessons about kindness and disability inclusion on his other blog, "Shaina's Brocha" and through lectures and Kindness Cookies teambuilding workshops.
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