Thursday, January 6, 2011

BO 5771

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Bo

2 Shevat 5771/January 7, 2011

It had been a long Shabbos as I was running a high fever and was almost completely out of commission. It was an arduous ordeal for me to drag myself to the doctor’s office on Motzei Shabbos, but I knew I needed to get onto anti-biotics as quickly as possible.

After I finished giving my basic information to the receptionist at the doctor’s office, a chassidishe fellow sitting in the waiting room looked up from his sefer, “Excuse me, where did you say you live?” I was a little surprised by the question but I politely replied, “Landau Lane”. A smile spread across his face, “Landau? Dos iz mayn numan (That’s my name).” He was very excited to know that there was a street in the area named after him and he wanted to know exactly where it was located. I told him that the nearest cross street was Suzie Lane. I asked him if that was his wife’s name. He assured me that it wasn’t.

For those who live in Manhattan or Brooklyn where the street names are all synchronized and basically follow a logical pattern you may not appreciate these thoughts. [I had a friend who we used to tease that he only knew the middle letters of the alphabet because he knew the streets in Brooklyn. So if you asked him to tell you the middle letters of the alphabet he would say ‘L-M-N-O-P-Quentin-R-S-T…”]

But for those of us who live in towns where a street can end at any other street - such as in Monsey where Concord Road ends at Concord Road which ends at East Concord Road - and you’re totally at the mercy of the person in charge of naming the streets (who is that anyway?) you’ll be able to identify well with these thoughts.

A road is a great metaphor for our travels along the pathways of life. You need the road to get from point A to point B. You have to know which roads to take otherwise you may never reach your destination.

At the same time it is important to know that, ‘Sometimes the road of life isn’t a road.’ At times reaching a destination requires innovation and ingenuity, and using the road is not the best option.

Very often when we are walking to shul my son will ask me if we can take a short-cut. I reply that staying along the road is the shortest route. But to him it only feels like a short-cut when we get off the road and meander through trees and backyards. Truthfully, sometimes a shortcut is a much more direct manner to get to your destination. But at other times taking a shortcut can prove to be disastrous. What’s more, what is the right road for one person may be the wrong road for another person. It depends who is driving, what kind of car he has, how much gas he has, what the weather conditions are, and where he hopes to end up.

Truthfully, street names do seem to be more than just a haphazard title. There are restaurants that are named after the street they are on (such as ‘Essex on Coney’ and ‘Avenue R Café’; so what if both restaurants aren’t on the streets they are named for…)

I was thinking about this particularly in regards to our shul, Kehillat New Hempstead. Although the shul’s address is on Union Road, the shul actually faces Brick Church Road. That gave me an ingenious idea for the title of a new blog, which I’m sure you’ll agree is most unique - “The Rabbi from Brick Church”.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum