Thursday, August 19, 2010


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Ki Seitzai– Avos perek 2

10 Elul 5770/ /August 20, 2010

Many summers ago, when I was a camper there was a camper in the bunk next door who was a bit of a bully. One day a few of my friends were playing basketball on the court when he came and made a ruckus about how it was his turn and they should move aside for him. I decided at that moment that enough was enough. I was going to show him once and for all that he could not always get his way. I stormed onto the court in a huff and let loose a harangue of why he had no right to always push around his weight. I told him that he wasn’t as amazing as he thought he was and that he shouldn’t think that he has the right to impose his wishes on anyone else.

When I was finished he stood there quietly and stared at me. I felt quite smug with myself that I had finally gotten through to him. I was sure that the fact that I, a usually more timid boy, had laced it to him had really hit home. But then after a long ten seconds a smile slowly spread across a face. He looked at me and said, “You know Staum, you look really cute when you get mad!”

At times when my children cry about some triviality, I will hold them up in front of the mirror. When they see their reflection they usually break into a humorous burst of laughter. Then they immediately turn away and launch back into their tears.

The truth is that if in a moment of anger we would stop to peer in the mirror, chances are we would laugh at how ridiculous we looked and our intense anger would mitigate.

Chazal explain that the reason we become angry is invariably because we feel a slight to our ego. Therefore, if one wants to work on controlling his anger, his first step is to work on being secure with himself and who he is as a person. Of course there is a time when one must show anger, but more often than not our anger is exaggerated and overly-emotional.

We often take ourselves too seriously. At times we are unnecessarily particular and fussy. In the words of one of my rabbeim, “The only thing you should be particular about is that you not be too particular about anything.”

If we could learn to laugh at ourselves more and not always stand on principle, we would help ourselves remain calmer and happier people. And if we can’t laugh at ourselves maybe we can look in the mirror and see what we look like.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum