Thursday, May 6, 2010


NOTE: Only works in firefox

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshios Behar-Bechukosai – Avos perek 5

23 Iyar (38th day of omer) 5770/ May 6, 2010

One night a few weeks ago I noticed that one of the front headlights on my car was out. Not wanting to be stopped by an aggressive cop, the next day I went to the mechanic and had the light changed.

That night as I was driving to shul for ma’ariv I noticed a police car at the intersection at the bottom of the hill near our home. I felt very cocky as I passed him, sporting my headlights and dutifully adhering to the speed limit. You can only imagine my shock then when, as I was about to turn into the shul’s driveway, I saw flashing lights in my rearview mirror.

It’s always fun for a rabbi to get pulled over just outside his shul. I rolled down my window as the cop jauntily asked for my license and registration. I honestly could not figure out why he had pulled me over. After handing him my information I asked him what I had done wrong. He replied that the light on top of my license plate was out. I was stunned. “Officer, I just had my headlight changed today. I didn’t even know there was a light by the license plate.” “Oh sure” he replied, “That light is what allows us to see your plates at night.”

After checking my record he handed me back my license and let me go. I quickly turned into the driveway and hurried into shul late and red faced.

In order to drive around our cars must have license plate which identify us to the outside world. In a similar vein, we all have personalities and character traits which define us. For a child to be successful he must have confidence in himself. He must have the courage to forge ahead down the ominous and unsure paths of life. That courageous attitude is like a headlight which illuminates the looming darkness. Just as without that light one would never be able to drive in the darkness, without that confidence a child cannot be successful.

For a child to develop that confidence he needs to have a cheerleading squad who believes in him, even when he doesn’t believe in himself. A great educator once quipped that children do not become what we think they can become, nor do they become what they think they can become. Rather, they become what they think we think they can become. As parents and teachers we need to demonstrate to our children that we believe in them. [As we know, it is the children who need it the most that get it the least!]

A child acutely senses how his parents and teachers perceive him and how much potential they feel he has. That optimism and belief in the child is the light which shines from behind. It illuminates the child’s sense of identity and gives him the fortitude to plunge ahead. A child who lacks that light cannot properly drive ahead. Even though his headlights may shine brightly in front of him, without the lights shining on his sense of identity, impediments can sneak up from behind and impede his progress.

So this week I finally went back to the mechanic and had the lights on top of my plates replaced. And that very night – I kid you not – when my wife was pulling out of the driveway I noticed that her front headlight was out!

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum