Thursday, April 7, 2011


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Metzora

4 Nissan 5771/April 8, 2011

On Friday, April 1, 2011, Southwest Flight 812 took off from Phoenix heading to Sacramento with 118 people aboard. As the plane coasted at an altitude of 34,000 feet, the passengers aboard the Boeing 737-300 heard a bang followed by the gush of a brisk wind. To their horror they realized that there was a gaping hole above them.

Oxygen masks immediately dropped down as the pilot hurried to precipitously drop the plane’s altitude. They had about 10-20 seconds to get their oxygen masks on before they would begin to lose consciousness. It took almost four minutes to drop below 10,000 feet. It was a frightening experience but thankfully no one was hurt.

Immediately afterwards Southwest grounded 79 of its planes so they could be rigorously inspected. The problem likely began with a small hole in the fuselage. In a plane flying at such speeds and at such high altitudes subject to such tremendous air pressure one small hole can prove to be calamitous. Eventually the powerful air pressure expanded the hole causing an extremely perilous situation.

Along the road of life we have certain things that we prioritize and are extremely dedicated to. It is those morals, principles, and priorities which largely define us. But there are other areas in which we may claim to prioritize but which in reality we are not quite as resolute as we would care to admit. In regards to such ‘values’ when the pressure is on it becomes tough to stick to those principles, and those lofty ideals are often quickly discarded.

There is no area where this idea resonates more than in parenting. Children have virtual antennas that penetrate all facades. They know what is truly valuable to their parents and they know what areas are not so important.

There is a classic anecdote related about a man who was shopping in one of the major food stores when he heard the commotion of a mother shopping with a few of her young children. The man saw that in every aisle the children would badger the mother to purchase certain items. She tried to keep them calm and quiet but to no avail. Her efforts at reasoning with them were futile. “That’s not healthy”; “But we have a different flavor of it at home”; “It’s too expensive”. Even when she told her child that he was allergic to something he continued to persist and insist that his mother buy it. Then they turned down another aisle and again the children kvetched that they wanted a specific item. But this time the mother said one thing and the children were immediately silent. The magic words, “It’s not kosher”.

In regards to all of the other items the children knew that their mother could be reckoned with and bargained. Even if she said ‘no’ they knew that if they drove her crazy enough she would exasperatedly relent. But they knew that non-kosher was non-negotiable, and so they immediately backed off.

Sometimes leaving the smallest amount of an opening can be deadly. There are surely many areas in which we should be flexible and willing to compromise. But there are other areas in which we must be resolute and obdurate. That is the only way to ensure that we will remain steadfast in our adherence to those values even when subject to the greatest pressure.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum