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Gate C10

Friday, 17 November, 2017 - 2:18 pm

Why is it that when you have a 32-minute layover you have to run the length and breadth of the airport to make your next flight but when you have a three hour layover your connection is just two gates away? This seems to be the story of my travels recently. There appears to be an odd correlation between the layover time and the distance between the gates – the shorter the one, the greater the other.

Do the airlines do it on purpose? Do they enjoy the scene of a Chassidic rabbi arriving breathlessly to his connecting flight? Do they simply want to give you as many opportunities to buy a soda at 3.79 a piece?

Why is life so easy at some times and so challenging at others? This question bothered me as I was comfortably strolling from gate C6 to C10 in Charlotte Airport during my three hour layover on Wednesday morning.

Three of my sons and I were traveling to NY to attend the International Conference of Chabad Shluchim – Emissaries of the Rebbe, rabbis of Jewish communities throughout the world. A four-day get together, where we brainstorm, network, meet, Farbreng, pray, learn and recharge ourselves for another year of dedicated service to our communities.

‘The Kinus’, as it is called, also includes the “Young-Shluchim’s Kinus” – a three-day mini-camp for over 1,000 young boys, the sons of the rabbis and the future of Jewish leaders. It was heartwarming to see my 12 year-old Berel embracing his online-school classmate Asher, from Samara, Russia, who he’s seen every day for four year on his computer screen but met for the first time in real life on Wednesday.

Last night, when – as I do every evening before I go to sleep – I was reading the daily Torah portion (only that this time it was at 1:45 am, as I just got done catching up with Chaim Shmaya from Portland, OR), I came across the verse (Gen 27:4) where our forefather Yitzchok tells his son Esau to “make me delicacies, such as I love”.

I recalled an interpretation for the word delicacies that is written in the plural, indicating two kinds of pleasure. With these words, explains the Alter Rebbe in Tanya, G‑d asks of the Jewish people to please Him with their divine service . Just as with material food, there are two kinds of delicacies— one of sweet and luscious foods, and the other of sharp or sour articles which are unpleasant to eat in their natural state, but have been well spiced and prepared so that they become delicacies which revive the soul — so too are there two kinds of spiritual delicacies. One is provided by  the righteous, who are occupied solely with matters that are “good” and “sweet” — holy matters and they no longer grapple with the evil inclination.  The second kind of delicacy is provided by the rest of us, who are occupied with “bitter” matters, with battling against the evil inclination in our soul, and with the evil thoughts that it spawns. When we succeed, we provide a whole new type of delicacy that is equally pleasing to G-d.

I believe this to be true within each life as well. Sometimes G-d wants to see how we act when things are sweet and easy and at others He wants to see how we react to challenges. Both forms of behavior are equally pleasing to him.  This is why life sometimes seems easy and sometimes much harder.

Every Jew has aspects of Judaism that come easy to them and others that are more challenging. Some can’t wait for Shabbos to start and others can’t wait for it to end; some find it difficult to eat only kosher and others never crave anything but kosher; but if you find a specific Mitzvah to be especially challenging for you – it’s not because it’s too much for you. It only means you have an opportunity to paint a supersized smile on G-d’s holy face.

Something to think about next time you have three hours to walk the distance between two gates …

Shabbat Shalom

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