These are the animals you may eat… the deer (Devarim 14:4-5)
I lived in New Jersey for over 18 years of my life, but I never remember seeing any deer. Well, for the past two weeks, my family and I visited my parents house in New Jersey, and I have seen seven deer. Three of them were just up the road from my parents house near Route 18 (a divided highway near their house). I was driving to the highway when I saw two deer at the side of the road ahead of me. At first I thought they were just statues but as I drove closer, I saw a mother deer jump over one of the children and stand between my car and her children.
Later in the day, I was reading Rabbi Avraham Twersky’s sefer called “Dearer Than Live”. I’m still at the beginning of the sefer, but one of the things it discusses is that we put the price on the importance of the different things we do. If something is important to us, we would do anything to fulfill it. We would pay all sorts of money not to transgress it.
The mother deer showed me what was most important to her: her children. She thought that I was driving my car to harm her children (of course, she thought incorrectly), so she jumped in front of her children to protect them. She was willing to risk her life for her children because the most precious thing in her life is her children.
This made me think: what is the most precious thing in my life? What do I consider “dearer than life”
I mentioned last week that I went to a Yankees game while I was on my vacation in New Jersey. Did you ever look at how expensive Yankees tickets are? A person can easily spend a few hundred dollars for a 3-hour game to watch the Yankees play at Yankee Stadium (and these are not for front row seats!). If the Yankees are what you live for, then you’ll spend it. For me, the tickets I got were for free… I don’t live for the Yankees. I don’t even live for the Marlins (who I like more than the Yankees).
Compare the people who spend lots of money on a baseball game to our ancestors who lived in America 100 years ago and were told, “Come to work on Saturday morning or don’t bother coming in on Monday.” Think of how many people suffered financially to observe the mitzvah of keeping Shabbos! The reason is because Shabbos was more precious to them than all of the money in the world.
We put a value on the mitzvos we do. When a person rushes out of davening so he can get in a few extra minutes of work to make a few dollars, he shows that the few dollars mean more than his davening. On the other hand, if a person has an important business deal but makes sure to go to minyan first, he shows that his davening comes before this large amount of money he is trying to get.
I am grateful to Hashem for letting me see this mother deer. She really made me think about what is important in life.
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