Dear Readers,

One of the advantages of living in Southern New Jersey is the close proximity to several states along the Northeast Corridor. I’m just a few hours’ drive from so many vibrant cities.

And recently, I discovered a hassle-free and relaxing way of getting there—through the popular Amtrak train.

No need to rush through long lines of airport security or to navigate crowded highways. The train offers a relaxing trip, with free Wi-Fi, all the way from Boston in the north to Washington, D.C.

This past fall, I took a train to Rhode Island, and I was transfixed by the gorgeous scenery and changing colors of the foliage just outside my window. Recently, I traveled to Virginia, equally mesmerized as the train bolted past barren forests and deserted lakes in the dead of winter.

As I boarded, I noticed a sign that cautioned, “Watch the gap.” This sign is similar to the ones in London’s uber-efficient mass-transit system, the Underground. In England, mementos are readily available in tourist areas imprinted with the famous “Mind the Gap” slogan.

The Amtrak signs, like the London Underground, caution travelers to watch their step when boarding and leaving the train, and to carefully walk over the slight space between the train and platform.

Noticing these signs, I thought that as we travel through our own life’s journeys, we need caution specifically when we are going on a new path. When we comfortably travel in one direction, the gaps aren’t so obvious. It’s when we take a different track or when we leave one to examine another that we need to heed the gaps that can cause us to fall. As we embark and disembark, we are presented with new choices, each with potential slip-ups and possible falls.

On the Jewish calendar, we are now on a spiritual journey from Passover to Shavuot, a 49-day methodical process of self-refinement within the human psyche. Each week, we examine a new character trait that needs spiritual and emotional refinement. Each day within that week, we focus on all the different aspects of that trait. In our first week, for example, we tackle chesed (lovingkindness); in the second week, gevurah (discipline); and so on.

As we travel through each of the days of the week, we concentrate on refining this trait in our lives by exploring its parameters and boundaries. And as we begin our travels each week—as we venture to new directions in our quest for self-improvement—we need to mind the gaps and watch out for the possible stumbles in finding the proper expression of each trait.

It’s only in shifting directions and tackling new possibilities that we reach our ultimate destinations.

Wishing you a wonderful week!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW