Thursday, December 2, 2010

MIKETZ/CHANUKAH 5771

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Miketz

2nd day of Chanukah

26 Kislev 5771/December 3, 2010

Not far from our home is a lush and beautiful golf course. Every Shabbos morning as I make my way to shul it is still relatively early for most of the world on a weekend morning. Aside for an occasional early jogger the roads are virtually empty. That is until I arrive at the golf course. Even now as the weather is rapidly getting colder, as long as it’s not too cold and raining there will be figures on the golf course, standing in their windbreakers, swinging their golf clubs.

Truthfully those golfers make me feel somewhat uneasy. It’s Saturday morning, their day off, and it’s chilly. Why are they out there? Obviously it’s because they love the game and are excited by the opportunity to play. I make my way up to shul on Shabbos Kodesh morning wondering if I feel the same way about davening.

In this country the day after Thanksgiving has become sanctioned as a holy day, now known as Black Friday. People literally stand on line all night in order to save a few bucks and fight for a few good deals. I asked one such friend why and how he maintained his sanity all night long. He shrugged and smiled. “We brought stuff to keep busy; it was an experience.”

Chazal say that in the World of Truth we are judged based on our own actions and the actions of those around us. If when asked why we did not accomplish more during our lives we will say that we were too overburdened and emotionally maxed out, the celestial courts will ask us how we had energy and strength to do other things that we wanted to do.

I sometimes wonder if the “Black Fridayers” and the “early Saturday morning golfers” are going to get us into trouble in the heavenly courts. ‘You see they did it because they wanted it badly enough.’ Hmmmm!

Rabbi Rafi Perl, a beloved MTA (and Camp Dora Golding) rebbe, related to me that he had a friend named Mark Rosenberg a’h. [Mark worked with Canton Fitzgerald on the 104th floor of the Twin Towers, and tragically died in the 9/11 attacks]. Rabbi Perl and Mark were high-school teammates on a Young Israel basketball team.

Once during a semi-final playoff game Mark fell asleep on the bench during halftime. When Rabbi Perl woke him up Mark told him that he was very happy that he fell asleep. He explained, “When I get up to heaven and they ask me why I sometimes lacked passion and energy for learning Torah and davening, I will be able to respond that it’s not because I lacked value for those things. You see I also fell asleep during a playoff game!”

The holiday of Chanukah reminds us that we can accomplish far more than we give ourselves credit for, albeit if we put our minds to it. Chanukah is about defeating the odds and knowing that G-d helps those who help themselves. It is a holiday that celebrates the victory of quality over quantity, and mind over matter.

The ethereal light of our Chanukah candles contains a glimmer of the inner spark within us, waiting to be fueled.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos

A Lichtige Chanukah & Orot Sameach,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum

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