Monday, June 6, 2011

SHAVOUS 5771


Erev Z’man Matan Torasaynu

5 Sivan 5771/June 7, 2011- 49th Day of the Omer

Perhaps you heard about a major event that took place a few weeks ago in London. A million people were on hand while an estimated two billion people in more than 180 countries around the world watched or listened to reports about the ‘royal wedding’ between Prince William and Catherine Middleton on April 29, 2011. Over 8,500 journalists were on hand to cover the event.

Facebook calculated that 2.8 billion people in America and Britain alone had written status updates about the royal wedding during the 24 hours prior, while Twitter users were posting 237 tweets per second.

There was tremendous discussion generated during the weeks prior about many of the details of the wedding, including such trivialities as the clothing the bride and groom would wear, and how the procession would proceed.

There are, and have been, many events that seemed to capture the world’s attention but this one seems to have taken the cake. Two billion people in 180 countries!

Is there more to it than just everyone wanting to know the business of the rich and famous? Why was the world so hooked on this wedding?

The final of the Ten Commandments – “You shall not covet!” - seems rather peculiar. How can the Torah forbid us from feeling a natural emotion? If a person likes his neighbor’s home and feels a tinge of jealousy, is it his fault?

The great commentator Ibn Ezra notes that the emotion of jealousy is indeed within the purview of our control. He explains that a sensible villager who sees a beautiful princess passing before him with her royal entourage is not jealous and he doesn’t desire to be close with her because he realizes that he is ‘out of her league’. She would never give him a second look and he has absolutely no connection with her.

So too, if one understands and believes that G-d has given him whatever he is supposed to have and that whatever he does not have he is absolutely not supposed to have, he will not feel any envy or jealousy for someone else or someone else’s things. He understands that his neighbor’s car, home, and wife, is as foreign to him as a royal princess.

But what happens when the princess is not a princess at all? Kate Middleton was born to working class parents in Berkshire, England. Her parents built a successful mail order company that sold party supplies and decorations. The profits they made from their business allowed them to send their eldest daughter to the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where she met Prince Williams. There was quite a stir when the couple announced their engagement. How could the prince agree to marry a commoner?

Is the massive interest to the wedding due to covert envy? Did the wedding awaken within the hearts of every commoner the hope and possibility that she may yet be a princess one day?

Kate and William’s wedding may very well have tainted our generation’s ability to understand the poignant parable of the Ibn Ezra. For now it seems that anyone has a fair shot at joining the royal family. So let the envy flow.

For those who have enough sense to realize that they will never be the prince or princess of Wales, England, or even Boro Park, all is not lost. In fact, au contraire! The Mishna (Avos 6:5) states “Do not lust for the table of kings, for your table is greater than their table, and your crown is greater than their crown.” You already are part of the Royal Family, the genuine Royal Family. And this week you are invited to participate in the renewal of the vows we uttered at the Royal Wedding 3,323 years ago at Sinai.

And so we wish you a joyous holiday, Your Majesty!

Chag Kasher V’samayach & Good Yom Tov,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum

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