Thursday, August 5, 2010


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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Re’eh – Avos perek 6

Shabbos Mevarchim Chodesh ELUL

26 Av 5770/ /August 6, 2010

Dedicated in honor of Yehuda Hertzberg

On August 29, 1911, the Mona Lisa, Leonardo di Vinci’s most famous painting, was stolen from the Louvre in Paris. For a week the museum was closed due to investigation. Yet it remained a mystery until it was returned in December 1913. It had been stolen by Vencenzo Peruggia, a former employee of the museum who wanted to return the glory of Italians to Italy.

It is fascinating to note that when the museum reopened after being closed for a week following the larceny, throngs of people came to stare at the spot where the Mona Lisa had been. In fact, during the first few days more people came to see the vacant spot, than came to see the Mona Lisa before it was stolen.

My mother used to have a magnet hanging on her refrigerator that read, “Housework is something you do that no one else notices, unless you don’t do it!”

It seems to be a fact that we just don’t appreciate things until we no longer have them, or at least until there is a problem.

My Rebbe, Rabbi Berel Wein shlita, would relate a story about a young boy who did not speak. He grew from infant to toddler and beyond, but still he never uttered a word. His parents were beside themselves with worry. They took him to specialists and experts but nothing helped. Then one morning at breakfast when the boy was five years old he looked up at his mother and said, “The oatmeal is cold!” The mother shrieked. “You can speak?” She immediately called her husband, all the grandparents, and neighbors to share with them the wonderful news. When she finally calmed down a bit she asked him, “If you were always able to speak, why didn’t you ever say anything until now?” The boy shrugged, “Until now the oatmeal wasn’t cold!”

We all want things to go smoothly and to be blessed with peace of mind and serenity. But at times when situations are challenging, mistakes are made, or we lose things that we previously took for granted, it helps us appreciate what we have even more.

One of my elementary school Rabbeim would tell the class before he began to read a passage of Gemara that he will be purposely making mistakes, because he wanted to see how many of us would catch it. I always thought it was a brilliant ploy, because in case he ever really made a mistake he could always claim that he was trying to test us.

Thank G-d I have been privileged to type Stam Torah for over ten years, and disseminate it via the web. I often receive emails from friends and readers with compliments or feedback, which of course is always appreciated. But I never receive as many responses as when I make a mistake (my infallibility not withstanding). I have concluded that it is a good idea to make a faux pas every now and then so that I know people are still reading.

Sometimes it takes cold oatmeal before anyone says anything, and sometimes the Mona Lisa has to be stolen before we recognize its value.

And sometimes a story about Rabbi Elyashiv in last week’s Stam Torah must say that it transpired in (5768)1998, even though 5768 was really the secular year 2008. [Rabbi Elyashiv is ka’h 100, not yet 110.] Just wanted to see how many of you were paying attention. J

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum