#16 Dumb Deer

When I would drive with my children, I would often point out interesting things along the side of the road to them. And often I’d be observing things to point out to them. We were driving at dusk, sort of twilight one night, and up ahead I saw a deer. And I was just about to say to my children look at that beautiful deer, when I saw the most astonishing thing. The deer kind of sat back and waited, and just at the right time it sprung out right in front of my van. Smash — I crashed into the deer. Baruch Hashem nobody was hurt. The deer fell off to the side of the road, and I said to myself dumb deer! What was it thinking?

And it took me a long while to realize what that deer was thinking. You see, a deer is a swift animal. In the wild kingdom, animals that run quickly run at 20 miles an hour. A deer could run even quicker, maybe 30-35 miles an hour. But that’s the quickest speed of anything in its world. I was going 72. It looked, it saw me. Through a lifetime it learned to calibrate speed, and based on the fastest thing going 35 miles an hour, it had plenty of time to crouch, plenty of time to get across the road before I got there. What it didn’t realize is that I was not going 35, I was going 72. And that deer ended its life with a fatal error.

That, to me, is a very important mashal (allegory). There are times when you’ll make mistakes; it’s inevitable. But one of the things you have to make sure that you don’t do is to be dumb like a deer. If you fell into a trap one time, get it, understand it. This is a dangerous situation. Make sure that you don’t allow yourself to fall into it again. Plan ahead, find a strategy, find a way to avoid it. If you want to win this fight you have to be a fighter, you have to be energized, but you have to be wise.

Chazal (our sages) use the expression arum b’yirah (wise in fear). Wisdom is something that G-d granted us, something that Hashem gave us as a gift, but you have to use your cunning, you have to use your wisdom. You have to recognize what are your triggers, and avoid them. And if you’ve fallen before, plan it out. Make sure that you don’t get into that situation. Make sure that you have a strategy. You have to be ever wise, ever thinking how could I not fall again, how could I use my intellect to avoid the problem to begin with.

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