Thursday, September 20, 2007


So I was picking up Meir today from Nursery School. On the walk back, on one of the blocks, I came across two people having a heated discussion. One gentleman, perhaps from the local public school, was telling another to stay off his block. The other one told him that he was going to leave, and that he was not "disrespecting" him, but that he lived in the neighborhood and would, and should be able to, occasionally visit this block. The first fellow felt insulted by this, and threatened the other gentleman. They then parted ways.

I, of course, crossed the street in all haste so as to keep Meir, and myself, safe from any violence that might erupt.

The rest of the way home, I though about the incident. This is generally a good neighborhood and it would be pretty bad if turf wars started erupting. Secondly, I am not sure in what respect it was the first gentleman's "turf." Perhaps for a side business he had? Regardless, he did not own the block, but felt like he was a big man by claiming the ability to dictate who could and could not enter his estate. Yet all he was was a loser and a thug.

Many of us do the same thing. For example, makom kavua in shul has its merits (and demerits) as an idea, but getting upset when someone usurps you, or confronting someone over it, is silly when we consider the grand scheme of things and how insignificant we really are.

And it goes further than physical claims to space. We draw psychological boundaries, and if someone crosses them, deliberately or accidentally, we might get insulted and "disrespected" -- and try to rectify the situation while making clear to the person that they should not transgress our honor in this way. Are we really that significant?

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