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Jewish World Review
July 18, 2003
/ 18 Tamuz, 5763
Sermon On The Light Rail
Sometimes to get a lesson on spirituality, all
you have to do is listen, and you'll find that
"message" we're all looking for. Or, sometimes
it will find you.
Monday, for example. I had finished a late
lunch with my daughter. She
dropped me off at about 2 at the light rail stop. There aren't many
people on the train at this time, because it's not
rush hour. It's a hot, sunny day, and the train's
air conditioning feels good. There are four other people in the train car.
I sat down, kippah and all, and started reading my Jewish Observer
magazine. It's a back issue, so I'm reading about counting the Omer and the religious festival of Shavuos. By the time I settle into the article, I hear a very loud voice.
A lady, several rows behind me, was talking about G-d. The lady she was
talking to was talking about G-d back to her. It was loud, it was full of
purpose and full of passion. There was no pretending you didn't hear what
they were talking about.
Now, I've been on the light rail many times. I've heard people holding
personal conversations on their cell phones with just a little too much
information than the rest of us need to hear. I've watched parents verbally
discipline their kids. And I even watched as a grandfather did nothing while
his two young grandsons stood in the middle of the aisle enjoying the
tumble they took when the train braked. I ended up warning the kids that
they could get hurt.
Be that as it may, the two women in the corner of the train were talking
G-d. It was a ferocious conversation. Here are some of their words:
"A person's mood during the day is determined by the mood he has when
he leaves his house. If he's in a good mood, he'll have a great day. If he's in
a bad mood, forget about his day."
And that was just for starters. "We can't be judging everyone. That's G-d's
job. He puts us on this Earth with love, and all that He wants in return is to
behave and help one another. We're in His image."
Before more discussions came from the women, a man seated about four
rows in front of me turned around, stretched out his arm and pointed his
finger at them while shaking his head in affirmation at the ladies. There was
only one other person on the train, who bolted out of the door when we
reached Woodberry, looking at me with an expression that said, "You're
on your own, kid."
There are now four of us in this car. And the man now yells to the women,
"People think of all kinds of ways not to go hear the word in church.
They'll blame their grandchild for something so they won't go." The women
shouted back: "Amen." The man shouts back, "Amen."
This is happening on a light rail train. I bury my head deeper in my
magazine, but I'm not reading a word. The woman with the loudest voice is
wearing what looks like a Wal-Mart smock. She's now giving a sermon
about Adam and Eve and the serpent. She talked about evil, she talked
The man in front of me said, "How can a man say he is a giver when he
keeps his fist clenched so tightly. You've got to give back to the people
from your riches. That's what G-d taught."
I was caught in a crossfire of amens and G-d-talk. When we reached
Mount Royal, the man in front of me got off. He said to the ladies, "Thank
you. You started this. Now let's live it." One of the women thanked him
back, calling him "my brother."
At my stop I had to pass the ladies to exit. I wanted to say something. But
I didn't know what it was. I heard the words coming from my mouth,
"Thank you, I agreed with just about everything you said. You made my
One of the ladies answered, "G-d bless you. Thank you. Live a wonderful
day." The other woman said, "See you again."
I wonder if they'll be on the train when I go home.
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© 2003, Baltimore Jewish Times