This is based on a true story. The name of my brother Avi will remain unmentioned from here on in order to protect the innocent – me.

Years ago there was a supermarket chain in Chicago called Jewel. There was time when my brother and I would look for any excuse to go buy something there, because they had a special deal: you see, every Saturday night there would be a series of horse races televised on the local Chicago TV channel. If you bought something at Jewel's you'd receive a card with the numbers of horses for the six races that would take place the coming Saturday night. If your horse came in first – you won some money.

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So there we were in the TV room, Saturday night, waiting for the races to begin. It was the first time for us and as most newcomers to gambling – we were excited because we were sure of striking it rich.



The races are about to begin. The announcer calls off the names of the horses of the first race. We have just a number on the card, no names. I mean they're not gonna print new cards every week with new names, right? So horse number one is called "My Smidgeon", which is easy to remember since it rhymes with "fly pigeon". My dear brother gives me a very important task: remember the name, My Smidgeon! It's horse number one, our horse. So I remember that name, which is a big responsibility, since we're so excited.After all – we're about to become rich.

The race begins. There is tension in the air. My Smidgeon is initially in third place. We start to call out encouragement: Go My Smidgeon! Go! Go! GO!
My Smidgeon moves into second place. The air is thick with excitement.  GO MY SMIDGEON!! The horse pulls into first place on the home stretch! Go! Go! GO!
And… at the wire… it's My Smidgeon by a nose!! We won! We won! Oh my Gosh! We're the Markowitz brothers – we've never won anything before, and now – there we were!! We start dancing, hugging each other, dancing a bit more (think of Snoopy getting supper). Jumping around we exclaim: We won! We won!"


Then I see my brother looking at the card with our horses' numbers, looking too intensely. "What?" my look at him asks.

"I made a mistake" my brother says, still studying the card, or just studiously avoiding my hurt gaze.

"Huh?" I asked in soprano tone.

"I made a mistake" he repeats without yet explaining.

"But My Smidgeon is number one? You told me to remember. We won, didn't we?" I say hesitantly.

"Nah, I made a mistake. I looked at the number of the race. It was race number one, but our horse was number four. It came in last place," he said with quiet resignation.

With stunned silence I sat back on the couch. Needless to say that in all the other races our horses either came in last or next to last. We didn't win a thing.

Except…

I learned a really important lesson. When you're rooting for someone or something – a party, person, whatever – to win: make sure it's really your horse. Make sure it's the one that if it comes in first place – you'll have won something really important, something intrinsic that can never be taken from you.

In the upcoming elections some runners in the race promise us cheaper chocolate pudding, or variants of. That's nice, or not, but at any rate certainly not life-fulfilling. Some promise us peace and quiet with our dear neighbors – but we know that isn't up to us alone, but involves our neighbor's leadership (which is a ship that seems to be seeking the "great white whale"…), so they can't deliver on that promise. Some promise to assist us in living up to the expectations of our soul, the soul of the Jewish Nation. Now THAT is something we know IS up to us, and given the attainment of that moral and spiritual reality – it will be a life-long goal and guide that will belong to us, intrinsically, for all our lives.

  

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