Thursday, November 18, 2010


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vayishlach

12 Kislev 5771/November 19, 2010

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This week we celebrated the upsherin (first haircut at three years old) of our dear son Avi. After three years of bewildered comments, “She’s a boy?” Avi undeniably looks like a boy.

The transformation is simply incredible. For the past few days I still have to do a double take when I see him. After seeing him with long hair for so long, it takes some time before it registers that Avi looks different.

It brought to mind the old question of who we truly are. In our superficial society we very much associate people, not only with their external appearance, but also with their physical looks. But is that what truly defines us?

In May 2005 Isabelle Diniore was mauled by her dog when she passed out after consuming to many sleeping pills. Diniore sustained severe facial injuries and had to wear a facial mask on her lower face to conceal her gruesome injuries.

On November 27, 2005 French doctors performed the first partial face transplant surgery on Diniore. Since then there has been a change in her appearance. She admitted that she sometimes struggles to accept her appearance. In her words, “It takes an awful lot of time to get used to someone else’s face.”

So who are we really? Although in our hearts we know the answer, we have a hard time accepting it. Our Sages compare our bodies to the clothing of the soul. When one leaves the world the soul merely shed its external cloak as it returns home.

In our world, things – and people – are often vastly different from how they appear. The true person is not how his/her body appears but how his/her soul looks. It is our values, passions, loves, and feelings that compose our true essence. And that component is eternal.

Despite the change of his external appearance Avi’s wonderful personality has remained the same. So don’t judge a book by its cover and don’t judge all children by how long their hair is. But do judge people by their character and conduct.

I conclude by stating in passing that Avi is, thank G-d, at a stage when ‘loss of hair’ is cause for joy…

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum