Maybe it’s the tires, I thought, I haven’t checked the air in a long time. Could be the struts; I don’t know what a strut is but I had overheard someone else once say that they needed to get their struts replaced and it was fairly pricey. Different scenarios played out in my mind and my morning was pretty much consumed by the mysterious sounds that emanated from my car every time I got in and out of it. Then I noticed something which wasn’t great for my ego. The sound also happened whenever I made a right turn. Could it be that my extra weight was putting stress on the car to the point where it was at its breaking point? Okay, that is just completely irrational, I told myself. One thing I did know, I was bringing my car into the mechanic first thing the next day.
I arrived at the local Big O Tire, where I always bring my car and was grateful that they were able to squeeze me in on such short notice. After a quick diagnostic, they were able to assess the situation and figure out what was wrong. The mechanic explained that the sway bar linkages were worn out. Oh, okay, the sway bar linkages, right, why didn’t I think of that? I’ll tell you why I didn’t think of it; it’s because I didn’t even know that my car had a sway bar, let alone a sway bar linkage. One of the linkages was completely worn out, while the other was in fair condition. The mechanic suggested I change both and gave me a reasonable price quote on the job.
Though it was not a great deal of money, money is money, and I asked about the possibility of only changing the side that was worn out instead of both. He explained that while that was a possibility, it was not recommended. The reason being is that the sway bar helps balance the car as one drives and makes turns. If one of the linkages is completely new and the other somewhat worn, one’s car will not be optimally balanced. One could get by, he explained, but the car’s performance won’t be maximized.
Well, I’m not one to skimp on maximizing potential, so I agreed and happily paid for the work. As I waited for my car I pondered the importance of being balanced. In our own lives as we ‘drive’ along making decisions, engaging in activities, learning Torah, doing mitzvahs, spending time with family and friends, it is important for us to be balanced. Sure you can trot along in life working 90 hour weeks or only calling your good friend once a year on his/her birthday, but you won’t be maximizing your potential; you won’t be balanced.
The same can be said of learning Torah and doing mitzvahs. In this week’s parsha, Vayakhel-Pekudei, Moshe Rabbainu once again tells the Jewish people about the importance of keeping the Shabbos. Why is the Shabbos so important? One reason is that it keeps us anchored and focused on what is truly important in life; G-d, our family, and our friends. Shabbos is a day where everything else falls away and the only thought on our minds is prayer and enjoying the company of our loved ones. Though Shabbos is only one day a week, it keeps us grounded and balanced.
I’m back on the road and my car hasn’t made any weird screeching sounds. I did have an extra piece of cake tonight, but I don’t feel bad about it because I’m going to buy an exercise bike this week. I recognize that much of life is a balancing act and that changing my sway bar linkages, i.e. rejuvenating my soul on a weekly basis, is what keeps me driving and living smoother than ever.
Rabbi Nuta Yisrael Shurack