12 Cheshvan 5782 / Monday, October 18, 2021 | Torah Reading: Vayeira
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A Neighbor's Rant    

A Neighbor's Rant

It is so easy to get wrapped up in this world’s events; easy to assign blame to the person, thing, event that is right in front of us. But, that's not emuna …


She was yelling. I couldn’t quite hear what she was saying from where I stood but her actions and tone told me she wasn’t pleased. Her audience, another neighbor, was responding quietly and apparently trying to laugh off the situation he’d inadvertently stepped into. He’d just stopped to say hello to her and find out why she was on his other neighbor’s (our) property, but what he was getting was an earful about how she wasn’t pleased with the manner in which we upkeep our property.


We three neighbors live at the edge of the wilderness – the last line of homes before hundreds of acres of open land and mountains. Our properties are a mix of rolling hills, open fields and stands of pine and juniper trees.


She has a beautiful property that is impeccably manicured with lush lawns, blooming gardens, and lovely seating areas all protected from the wildlife by motion sensor sprinklers and a big ol’ German Shepard.


Our property, as well as that of the neighbor that was speaking with her, is also beautiful and well up kept. But instead of manicured lawns we have pastures and open fields that are home to both livestock and deer. Our fields are mowed and random natural debris (branches, rocks, etc..) are regularly picked up. The natural look of our property is peaceful and welcoming to us so we do not spend a lot of time planting flowers or other plants not native to the area.


You could say this neighbor lady keep a resort / golf course feel to their property while we keep a managed natural wilderness feel to ours.


On this day I was out with the quad and trailer preparing to load branches from a tree that had fallen and we’d removed this winter. The weather had been too wet to attempt this branch clean-up project earlier in the year and this day was a lovely day to get started on it. That’s when I saw her fly down the road on her quad pulling a trailer – she whipped around outside our fence to the base of one of our oldest pine trees on and started rather violently throwing small branches and pine needles that had fallen off this old tree over the winter into her trailer. I was watching her, quite confused, when the other neighbor happened by and she started yelling. She was very bothered by the fact that we had not yet tackled that project, that the branches I was working on had not yet been cleaned up, that our lawns were not yet mowed.


This behavior is out of the ordinary for her but not completely unheard of – so this day I just racked up her behavior to an oddity, laughed it off and went on about my day.


The next day I was out mowing the field and thinking about the events of the previous day. At first I was annoyed – how dare she come onto my property, do something I didn’t ask her to do, and then complain to another neighbor about us?! Next I was laughing about it – how silly it was for her to do that? She’d picked up less than a wheelbarrow load of debris but spent an exorbitant amount of energy and negative emotion in doing so. Didn’t she have something better to do?! Finally I remembered my emuna (sometimes it takes me awhile) and that everything comes from Hashem. Ooops.


This put a whole new perspective on the situation. What was Hashem trying to show me? Everything my neighbor was upset about were projects that are definitely on our regular to do list, we do them every year, multiple times – we just hadn’t gotten to them yet in the nice weather days we’ve had so far this year. It’s not that we haven’t been busy, we have, but we’ve been busy on projects that are more important to us and had just not gotten to those “smaller” things yet. Apparently those things are not so small to our neighbor.


I wondered if perhaps I’ve been busy working on spiritual projects that I think are important and ignoring some of the “small” spiritual things in life that Hashem says are important. Things that are on my to do list of areas to work on but that always seem to get bumped for something more fun or that I think will be more rewarding or that seem more urgent. When I thought of this possibility several examples came immediately to mind.  Seems as though I need to focus some energy into areas I’ve been ignoring.


It is so easy to get wrapped up in this world’s events; easy to assign blame to the person, thing, event that is right in front of us. Easy to keep ourselves from growing and learning simply by refusing to acknowledge that everything, yes everything, is from Hashem. It takes effort and a willingness to engage our emuna beyond the words and implement the full meaning of emuna into our lives. The beautiful gift is that Hashem is very patient and once we sincerely ask what it is He is trying to tell us (even if it takes us a while to get there, like it often does me) He is more than willing to pull us in and share the message.


My thanks to my neighbor lady who got so upset at our unfinished small projects and became the messenger that I have much work to do around our property and in my spiritual journey.



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Jennifer invites you to participate in a regularly held Noahide on-line study group that reviews the garden series books of Rabbi Arush. You can contact her at jenniferjwoodward@gmail.com for dates and times.

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