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Home of the First Snowmobile

November 23, 2017 | by Emuna Braverman

We all have a need to feel that we matter.

Driving the winding roads through the state of New Hampshire, one may come upon the town of Ossipee, population approximately 4,345. As you whiz by, the careful passenger may notice the sign at the city entrance: Welcome to Ossipee, Home of the First Snowmobile.

Now I can enjoy a snowmobile as much as the next person and I can laugh at the time I fell off mine and it continued driverless through the mountains of Park City, Utah. But I wouldn’t have thought that the “birthplace” of the first one was of note. Or that the city where that happened would feel called upon to advertise that fact.

And it made me wonder. About the desire to stand out. About the need to feel unique.

Of course the city itself has no independent will – but clearly some of the residents felt strongly that they wanted their town acknowledged, they wanted it to stand for something. It wasn’t enough to just say Welcome to Ossipee. Ossipee had to be distinguished from all the other small towns and cities dotting the state.

The inhabitants of Ossipee want to count, and that’s not wrong. When the Almighty counts the Jewish people in the Torah all the commentaries always wonder what the point is. And the answer is usually the same as the reason Ossipee wants to be known as the home of the first snowmobile. The Almighty wants to let us know that we all matter, not just as a people (which is clearly very important) but as individuals as well.

Each one of us is unique and has something special to contribute to our families, our people, our society, our world. And if we each matter, so does everyone else around us as well. Once we recognize our own need to matter, once we see how the Almighty affirms that, we are free to acknowledge the importance and merits of everyone around us. They matter too. They also have something unique to contribute.

This desire to matter is very powerful. It shapes our career choices, our voting patterns, our choice of a spouse, even our parenting style.

Sometimes this need to matter manifests itself in unhealthy ways. We try to dominate others and wield power and show just how important we really are. This is usually because we don’t feel that we actually do matter. This is because we don’t recognize that the Creator of the World has already told us that we count, that He loves each and every one of us individually, that He has created each and every one of us according to His unique and perfect specifications. Reflecting on this will remind all of us that we matter in the way that counts the most. We matter as children of the Almighty. We matter because we have a soul that’s eternal. We matter because we can infuse our world with morality – and with holiness.

Snowmobiling can be a lot of fun and I recognize the desire to matter. We all have it. I just want to count for something a little more lasting, a little more spiritual. I’d like to matter because of the character traits reflected through my soul and by my actions. That’s a tall order. I would think in the end it’s what we all want.

So I’m thinking up some new welcome signs. Home of the First Act of Kindness. Home of Hospitality. Home of Patience. Home of the First Holy Woman. It would certainly catch your eye. Even if you, like me, were whizzing by…

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