I Broke a Swiss Record

Friday, 1 April, 2011 - 1:18 am

Dear Friends,

Last week Friday, at the time when some of you might have been reading my weekly email, my twins and I took part in a Swiss record breaking event.

I had the honor to sit in the traffic jam, which I later read in the newspaper, is being called the longest traffic jam in Swiss history.

As every morning, I left my house with my children to drive them to the Jewish Kindergarten in Zurich. However, what on a usual day would be a 33 minute drive, took me no less than 3 hours and fifteen minutes!

Most of the time you just literally sit in traffic and don’t move… around you are cars upon cars with all kinds of people who are looking at you with annoyed glances.

You keep looking at the watch, and after one and half hour of standing in the same spot, you check your watch again and see that actually only 20 minutes have passed. You start to understand that you are really stuck.

I started sending messages, canceling some meetings. There are so many reasons to get nervous and upset.

The children start telling me that they will miss their Shabbat party, which takes place at their school every Friday… There isn’t much I can help them with. So I try to keep them busy, telling them stories about traffic and cars. My son Levi actually enjoyed the stories, while my daughter Chaya not as much :).

As time passes, you realize that you have no choice and you will be stuck here for the next millennium, and so will the drivers around you.

Then something began to move. It wasn’t the traffic, but the mood of the drivers. It didn’t happen in a moment, but slowly slowly you and the people around you see that it’s not the end of the world, and that nothing so terrible happened.

People who until now barely looked at you, suddenly start going out of their cars, waving to you.

My children ask me to put the music on high volume, and I let them get out of their seats and dance around in the car, while waving to their surroundings, and the drivers around them, who wave back with a smile. It is as if we all came to the realization that we all have a common enemy, which is the annoying traffic jam with no end in sight. But we will not let this enemy overcome us.

However, just like every Bar Mitzvah or wedding, this happy traffic jam too, has an end. Just as we finally got together a nice “community” with lots of nice people, unfortunately the traffic jam (as well as the newly founded community) came to an end.

The children fell asleep, just seconds after once again reminding me to make sure to be on time to school, so they shouldn’t miss their Shabbat Party.

We finally arrived, and they go upstairs happily, excited to be joining their Shabbat Party soon. I didn’t say a word, because I knew that they had definitely missed it, but I preferred for them to hear the bad news from their teachers.

When they got back home in the afternoon I asked them: So, how was school today? They answered with great happiness: Tatty (Daddy), we are so lucky, we didn’t miss anything , because there was no Shabbat Party today!

I do some research and quickly understand that they did indeed miss the party, but they are as happy as can be because nobody told them that it did take place.

We can (and maybe have to) learn even from children:

Sometimes it is better not to know what was supposed to be.

So why do people complain that life is hard? Maybe we know too much?


Rivky and the children join me in wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Chaim

Ps. it is interesting to see how Chassidic Jews in America respond to long hours of traffic. I think there is something to learn from them :-)

Don’t miss this short video clip, it will give you some ideas for the next time you get stuck in traffic.

Comments on: I Broke a Swiss Record

Dani Jochelson wrote...

wow chaim that is an amazing story. Well done to you as a dad for staying so calm. Well done to Levi and Chaya for behaving to well and hats off to the teacher for not telling them they missed their shabbat party What a great ending to a frustrating traffic jam story. Dani

Itzik wrote...

Hi Chaim

Such a nice story! And you are so good in telling. You didn`t see my friends son and family? they were in Hasliberg and had to catch the flight to Israel which they of course didnt`t succeed.