Friday, December 24, 2010


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Shemos

17 Teves 5771/December 24, 2010

It is with great parental pride that we announce and wish congratulations to our oldest son Shalom upon losing his second tooth.

It brings back memories to when I was about his age and my friend’s and classmate’s teeth were falling out. But my teeth loved me so much that they simply wouldn’t budge. Eventually my dentist decided that he had no recourse but to begin extracting my teeth. During a two year period I had two teeth pulled every month or so. The only exception was on one occasion I had my four front teeth extracted at once. To this day I don’t like looking at pictures from that period in my life when I had no front teeth. [I liked to tell people that my parents did it to me…]

By the time I entered fifth grade only one of my four front adult teeth had descended. At that time when we finished davening in yeshiva we would wait outside our classrooms until a rebbe came around to open the classroom doors.

One winter morning I was sitting outside my classroom sucking on the zipper of my coat which was resting on my lap. I was nonchalantly fastening the hole on the zipper piece around my one front tooth and then sliding it off with my tongue. Then at one point the zipper wouldn’t slide off. After a minute of trying to dislodge the zipper, I mortifyingly realized that the zipper was stuck on my tooth.

A few minutes later when ‘a staff member from the yeshiva’ (I will leave it at that) walked by, my amused classmates told him that ‘a kid got his zipper stuck on his tooth’. The staff member - G-d bless him - proceeded to lift the coat over my head so that he could bring me to the yeshiva’s office. I still remember the feeling of ‘trying to play it cool’ as everyone we passed glared at me with a befuddled look. I trailed the rapidly-walking staff member, with my mouth open hooked to my moving coat, like a fish being reeled in.

I sat in the office for some time while the secretary tried explaining the situation to my mother. “Yes, Mrs. Staum you heard me correctly… his zipper… on his tooth… I don’t know how; he’s your son!”

My mother proceeded to call my dentist who then called me in the yeshiva office. “Hi Dani, how are you?” “Fine I gueth. But what thoud I do?” There was a pause before he replied while laughing, “I guess you should zip it up.” Suffice it to say at that moment I didn’t think it was very funny.

The strangest part of the story was that after I sat in the office for an hour the zipper suddenly became dislodged and fell out on its own. I stood up, thanked the secretary, and marched into class, as my classmates eyed me disbelievingly.

Over the last few weeks there has been much discussion about Wikileaks and the severe damage that has been caused by the publicizing of confidential facts to the public.

There is an old adage which states, “Not everything that is thought must be said; not everything said must be written; not everything written must be read; not every thing read must be thought about.”

The Mishnah (Avos 3:17) states “Seyag lachachma shesika- a fence for wisdom is silence.” The Kotzker Rebbe quipped that the “seyag- fence” around wisdom is when one has nothing to say and therefore remains silent; while “Chachma-wisdom” itself is when one has something to say and remains quiet anyway!

Of course there are many instances when one cannot remain silent, but more often than not it is an invaluable piece of advice to remember that in life it’s usually best to ‘zip it up’.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum