Roads are a metaphor for progress through life or going through life. Looking to Robert Frost and his poem the “road less traveled” and on the heels of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur the daf gives some beautiful life lessons using “roads” as metaphors. Rabbi Joshua tells us three short stories, two of which includes lessons from roads. The most insightful is when Rabbi Joshua is crossing a field, a young girl tells him that he is crossing a private field. Rabbi Joshua corrects her and says, look there is path through it implying it is public. The girl responds: the path was made by other “robbers.” He took the musar and says the girl bested him.
The insight: we often look at other people and say: “well they do ….so it must be okay. It must be acceptable. It is wrong, but everyone does it. ” The lesson is that wrong is not acceptable. No matter who does it and however many people do it. The lesson after Rosh Hashana is that we should be strong in our beliefs, our convictions and our behavior that we don’t follow others; we follow the right path. Whatever other people do is their business. We should be strong enough in ourselves to do the right thing, despite thinking we have sanction from others.
Postscript to this thought. Robert Frost wrote another poem, that ends so beautifully and I think carries a deeper message for this time of year:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have miles to go before I sleep Miles to go before I sleep.
The message is that life is full of beautiful things and distractions, but we should never lose sight of where we are heading, our destination, our mission.