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by Benyamin Cohen    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

It was after midnight. Sam had been driving all day and was trying to make it cross-country before the weekend. It was late and Sam needed to find an open restroom.



It was after midnight. Sam had been driving all day and was trying to make it cross-country before the weekend. It was late and Sam needed to find an open restroom. He pulled off at the next exit and after passing by several gas stations that had closed for the night, Sam became desperate to find a nearby bathroom. Just over the hill, Sam noticed a building with the light on: "Starlawn Funeral Home". With no other choice, Sam pulled into the parking lot, jumped out of his car and ran inside. "Excuse me, where is your restroom?" Sam asked the man behind the desk.

"It's just down this hallway," pointed the man. "But could you please first sign your name in the guest book?"

Sam reiterated that he just needed to use the restroom, but the man from the funeral home continued to insist that Sam sign his name in the guest book first. Uninterested in arguing, Sam signed his name in the guest book and went down the hallway to the bathroom. On his way out, Sam briefly stopped by the deceased to pay his respects. He thanked the man at the front desk, got back in his car, and drove off.

Three weeks later, Sam got a call from an attorney asking him to stop by his office. When he got there, the attorney told Sam that he represented the deceased man from the funeral home and that he was the executor of his will. The attorney went on to explain that the deceased had been a very wealthy individual with no friends or family. He had bequeathed everything he owned to whomever came to his funeral. At this point, the attorney pulled the funeral home guest book out of his briefcase. "It appears that you were the only one who came."

We make choices every day that can drastically change our lives. One decision made in the board room, the class room, or the living room can have a domino effect on everything we do. We see a telling example of this from Parshat Shelach when the spies come back with a bad report about the land of Israel. In that one moment, their lives were tragically changed and they were sentenced to death. On the opposite side of the spectrum, in a few weeks we read the story of Pinchas where he zealously acts - killing a Midianite woman and a Jewish prince involved in lewd behavior - and receives Divine reward for his actions. In that one moment, Pinchas gained eternity.

Obviously, these are two extreme examples, but the lesson remains true in everything we do. We have to realize that one moment in our life has the potential to change everything. Sam spent eight seconds of his life signing his name in a guest book and it forever changed the course of his existence. Oftentimes, we catch ourselves rushing through the motions, not realizing that the decisions we are making can and will effect the rest of our lives.

If we would only pause once in a while and consider the possible consequences of our actions, how much more meaningful those potential-filled moments would become.


Has one moment changed your life forever? Send in your story to and we'll post them on our website.

Benyamin Cohen, a native Atlantan, is a senior at Georgia State University and the Director of Development at Yeshiva Atlanta.

You are invited to read more Parshat Shelach articles.

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