Friday, July 30, 2010


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Eikev – Avos perek 5

19 Av 5770/ /July 30, 2010

It was Visiting Day in Camp Dora Golding one year ago and the campus was packed with excited parents and children, who were catching up with each other. An elderly man sat down on my Gator (in-camp vehicle) and asked me for a ride to his grandson’s bunk on the other side of camp.

As I was driving he commented to me that he had been a camper in Camp Deal many decades earlier (Camp Dora Golding was originally called Camp Deal). He then quipped, “I’m eighty years old. When I was a seven year old camper, the Junior Counselor from the bunk next door took my chocolate lollipops that my parents had given me and ate them.” I replied that it was amazing that he still remembered that incident seventy-three years later. He shrugged, “You don’t forget when someone takes your chocolate lollipops!”

One of the greatest things that we can do for others is to create memories. Every counselor wants his/her campers to leave camp with good memories, every rebbe/teacher wants his/her students to have good memories of their school-year, and every parent wants his/her children to have wonderful memories throughout their lives.

The irony is that many of our most wonderful memories are not necessarily of expensive or exotic trips, as much as they are from personally wonderful and meaningful experiences. I can still vividly recall my grandfather reading me “Scuffy” as I lay next to him in bed, and my other grandfather standing in the street feigning that he was running towards us, as we ran towards him.

There is a book whose title expresses this idea beautifully and profoundly, “To a child love is spelled T-I-M-E”. But in today’s world we simply don’t always have adequate time. We all have days or weeks when we simply have too many responsibilities or events that we cannot escape from. What can we do?

I once asked this question to a distinguished educator who I am close with. His phone rings non-stop with questions from myriads of people who seek his wise advice. That is all aside from his daily responsibilities and the various positions he holds. He told me that when it comes to our children quality time is far more important than quantity of time.

If we don’t have a lot of time to give our children on a given day, we should strive to give our children a few minutes of “Shabbos time”, i.e. without any interference of anything forbidden on Shabbos (phone, cell phone, blackberry, computer, etc.) Those few moments of undivided attention are priceless. One never knows if moments like that create better memories than trips to Disney Land. Any child would rather five minutes of parental attention than an hour with Mickey Mouse!

It is also worth remembering that sometimes just doing something together is wonderful enough. One early morning I was driving with our oldest son Shalom to get a haircut. There was a CD playing that we were both enjoying. Then I thought to myself “Hey Mr. Social Worker, your son is in the car with you and no one else. Talk to him!” So I shut the CD and asked him, “Shalom, how is school?” (We discuss this virtually every night at dinner). “Fine!” “No, I mean, how is your rebbe and teacher and classmates?” “They are fine!” “Well, what do you enjoy about them?” There was a silent pause before Shalom responded, “Why are you asking me all these strange things? Can’t you put the CD back on?”

I guess quality time does not have to entail twenty-one questions. Just spending time together is worth everything. Just don’t ever take a child’s chocolate lollipops, unless you want them to remember it biz huntret oon tzvantzig (until 120).

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum