I had the most dashing cousin from Australia when I was a kid who arrived in America. Malka (not her real name, but renamed for the purpose of the story) was fun, mischievous, charming, and oh, that ahccent. How delightful to my ears was the way she spoke, and we all tried imitating it, rolling certain letters, drawing out some of our vowels, but none of us were able to come close to her genteel Ahstralian tones.
Malka was a leader, and she led us into adventure and games. She told us stories. One day, when we were all bored (and I suppose Malka was even more bored), she told us she would show us something amazing, but we had to sign on to do a few things to make that happen.
In her charming accent, she told us, “Now, everyone, you need to sit cross legged on the floor.” Down we all plopped, a couple dozen of us cousins. “Now you must raise your hands over your heads just so” and she demonstrated. Automatically, we all stretched our hands in excellent imitation. “Now bend over and slap the floor, saying this magical word, ‘ohwahtahdoltaham”. It took a few repeats of the magic word until we got those vowels just so, with her accent. And, then, (yes, I give a sheepish shrug), all of us cousins sat there swaying, slapping the floor, saying Malka’s magic word. Malka in the meantime was doubled over in laughter. “We don’t get it, Malka,” we finally admitted, “what did you want to show us.” Replied Malka, “I wanted to show you what dolts you ahrrr. Slow down the word and listen to it slowly.” Malka repeated her magic word, the one she had us slapping the floor with, and this is what it said in slow-speed, “Oh what a Dolt I Am.” We felt quite doltish.
I thank Malka for that moment of sheepish tom-foolery, for it taught me to really examine what I’m being told to do and not rush into following blind instructions.
A Jew must be a thinker, weighing actions and words before he does them. In Pirkei Avos, (2:1) Rabi tells us to stop and think about the loss of doing the wrong thing and the reward of doing the right thing. Actions and words must be carefully examined before putting into use. Or else, we end up, swaying stupidly, showing “ohwhatadoltIam.”