It was one of those mornings. The alarm clock didn't go off and of all days, this was the one that the kids had a big trip planned. At 8:30 AM, I popped up in bed, realizing that their chartered bus had left about twenty minutes earlier. Frantic, I called the trip organizer, hoping to find someone who would be driving and fortunately was given the number of a woman who she thought could take them.

I failed to notice the police car behind meWithin exactly seven minutes the kids were out of the house with breakfast in hand. In addition, my two younger ones decided to join for the ride. I had twelve minutes to make the drive that should have taken fifteen, but figured I would just make it.

With my eyes focused on the clock, I failed to notice the police car behind me. It was only when I heard sirens and moved to the side to let him pass that I realized he was not passing, he was pulling me over.

Now, I have never been pulled over for speeding, and this could not have come at a worse time. Without really thinking, I greeted him at my window with, "What did I do wrong? I am so sorry but I am really late to get my kids somewhere…" to which he replied, "So that is probably why you were speeding…"

Needless to say, so much for getting there in twelve minutes. Now I had to sit on the side of the road while he ran my license and papers. When he finally returned, he asked me if I knew how fast I was driving. Assuming this was a trick question, I told him I didn't and asked him what he clocked me at. He told me he hadn't clocked me, but that it was probably to my benefit, since I was definitely going well above the posted 25 mph speed limit.

As he handed me my ticket, he told me that he was actually doing me a favor since he was just giving me a fine and not a ticket with points. I thought of mentioning that it would be a bigger favor if he just gave me a warning, but decided against it. I ended up thanking him and apologizing for speeding in a fairly residential area. After all, I had four kids in the car and it was simply irresponsible. Not that I had been going dangerously fast, but nonetheless, clearly enough to warrant getting pulled over. He bid me farewell, and I was on my way, with four minutes left to get to my destination and a ten minute drive ahead. And a lovely $107.00 ticket.

Fortunately, my kids did make their ride, and I managed to adhere to the speed limit the rest of the drive. On the drive home, I started to contemplate the meaning of my ticket. After all, this month of Tishrei is all about working on oneself, judgment and atonement. Not believing in coincidence, I realized that my ticket definitely had greater meaning than not going a few miles over the speed limit.

My first reaction was that I had been given a ticket, a warning, but with no lasting repercussions other than a costly reminder that I should be more careful in the future. Knowing that I have a tendency to perhaps overlook the speed limit when I am in a hurry, I realized that there are numerous things in my life I ignore or neglect when something immediate is more pressing. In my mind, the speed limit seemed ridiculously slow for the major street where it was posted, but I began to think that maybe there was an important reason for it that I was not aware of. Maybe there had been accidents there in the past or it is a place where children often walk. And even if it truly was too slow for that area (after all, the speed limit on my residential street is 35 mph), it was a law, and one I am obligated to follow, whether or not I agree with it.

There are numerous things in my life I ignore or neglectThe fact that I was given a ticket but not given any points was a way of being told that this really was a warning, a wake-up call, a way of being made aware that I had to pay more attention and follow the rules, even the ones that seemed to make less sense to me. I had to be more careful, I had to recognize that I am not in control of everything. There are guidelines to be followed, and no matter how late I may be, I have the obligation to adhere to them.

Thinking I had understood the deeper meaning behind my ticket, I called my husband to tell him what had happened and the lesson I learned. His first reaction was to remind me that he had warned me not to speed when I left the house as he knew I was running late. Yet, immediately after finding out that the policeman had not actually clocked my time, he took a very different approach.

Being the protective and supportive man he is, he decided that there was no way I could have been guilty and that perhaps I should fight it in court. He started arguing that chances were I was not speeding, that the police here have nothing better to do than give tickets, that the officer probably needed to meet his quota, and I was actually the victim in this case, because no one drives 25 mph where I was, and as long as I wasn't at least 10 miles over the speed limit, I should not have been ticketed.

As soon as he gave me his reasoning, I immediately became defensive as well. "Yeah, there is no way I was going that fast," I reasoned to myself, "How dare he give me a ticket after I told him that I had never been pulled over before and that I have a perfect record." I started wondering if I hadn't really been singled out as an easy target. And then I realized that I could fight this. I could go to court. I could plead not-guilty and I would probably win, especially since he hadn't clocked me. I could get out of this.

But even as I thought it, I felt it just wasn't right. Yes, he probably did ticket me when I wasn't really going so fast, but I knew that I was most likely going faster than the speed limit. Yes, I knew I could probably get out of it, but was it right to do so if I had in fact been speeding? And ultimately, was the fact that everyone else was speeding, that everyone else was doing something wrong, somehow a justification for my having done something wrong as well?

I realized that as much as my husband wanted to exonerate me, I needed to take responsibility. I had done something wrong, albeit nothing horrible, but simultaneously, I hadn't been given a horrible punishment. I felt that if I paid my ticket and admitted guilt, it would be a lesson, and one I would learn from and not soon forget. If anything, I started to realize that had the policeman just let me off, I may not have thought so long and hard about this and probably would not have taken it as seriously.

I could plead not-guilty and I would probably winWhen I got home, I emailed my good friend, Amy, who more recently began to increase her observance of Judaism. She is a very emotionally honest and sincere woman and has a way of seeing and stating things in a very direct manner. In my email, I mentioned my ticket and how I couldn't believe that of all days, I got caught this morning when I had to get the girls to camp.

I received a one line email message back. It was so incredibly simply, yet profound in a deep and penetrating way. And it was a perspective that I had never thought of before. She wrote: "G‑d is telling you to slow down in your life…"

Just slow down. How true she was. I am always running. I am always moving. There is simply so much to do and so little time to do it. And it is easy to rationalize, to explain, to excuse because I am busy doing good things, positive things, which is why I can never slow down. But as much as you have to do, you have to keep the speed limit. You can't just move at a pace that is dangerous, even if your end goal is truly honorable. If your speeding causes you to crash, hurting yourself or another along the way, you will never reach your destination, and certainly not in time.

I thought about her words and even more, how I had my kids in the car when I was speeding. I began to think about all I do in a day and yet how much I also miss in their lives when I refuse to just do less. It is hard trying to be a mother and a wife and a friend and worker along with everything else all of us women do. But as another friend put it, when you have small children and life is so overwhelming, the days are truly long, but the years are short.

Sometimes, it feels like you are tending to so many important details at the very same moment. After all, if you can make that much needed phone call while driving your kids to school, you are utilizing your time well. A woman I know keeps a yellow sticky paper on her dashboard. It reads: "If you are talking on the phone, you are not talking to your kids…" How true. How very true. Yes, you might be getting your phone call out of the way, but if you are talking on the phone, and driving, and your kids are in the car, nothing that you are doing is getting 100% of your attention. You are cheating the person on the phone, you are cheating your kids, and you are cheating yourself from an opportunity of time and sharing that was so available.

The days are truly long but the years are shortI started to think about all the times I answered an email while my children told me about their day at school or was too busy working to read them a bedtime story. And while at the time what I was doing seemed so necessary, so important, I was ignoring the posted speed limit for that particular time and place.

As I wrote out my check for my ticket and signed the line admitting guilt, I knew that I was admitting much more than merely driving past the speed limit. My ticket was a reminder that I need to reevaluate how I view my priorities and responsibilities in my life. But most importantly, it was a reminder that sometimes I just need to slow down…