Friday, July 1, 2011


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Chukas/Erev Rosh Chodesh Tammuz

29 Sivan 5771/June 30, 2011----Pirkei Avos – Chapter 4

I’m sure everyone has had the frustrating experience of looking for something inexpensive and fairly common that nobody seems to have just when you need it. [Ever need change of a dollar for a soda machine?]

Last Friday our family arrived at Camp Dora Golding, where I am a Division Head and we are fortunate to spend our summer. After hastily unpacking and trying to create some order before Shabbos, I noticed a few light bulbs were out and I wanted to change them so it would be brighter on Shabbos. I just needed a Phillips screwdriver so I could get the covers off the light-bulbs. 88 cents at Walmart, didn’t we leave one here at the end of last summer? Hmm, I guess not. No big deal. I’m sure one of the other families in camp has one. One neighbor had a flat screwdriver but that didn’t work. The others apologetically couldn’t help me. The maintenance department must have one on the truck. Nope, none there either.

By now it’s getting close to Shabbos and I realize that I’m going to have to give up. But then I remember that while I was unpacking the car, I noticed a miniscule screwdriver rolling around in the trunk. I went back to the trunk and indeed found the forsaken screwdriver which my son had won as part of a prize from his rebbe. Presto! It worked like a charm. I changed all the bulbs (that’s about the extent of my maintenance abilities), we had light for Shabbos, and I had a Musings for this week.

What lesson did I glean from the encounter? It may sound trite but it really is an idea that we need to remind ourselves constantly. I was searching mightily for a specific tool that I needed to help myself. I asked neighbors, friends, and even the ‘specialists’ (the maintenance people are very special). But in the end, the tool I needed was in my own trunk all along.

G-d, in His infinite world, has placed each of us in this world with specific abilities and weaknesses, and in a specific family and life situation. At times we feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with the challenges we encounter. And so we begin to search elsewhere for ideas and new coping ‘tools’.

Surely this is not to say that we cannot gain encouragement, ideas, and support from others. In the most trying times, we unquestionably need the love and encouragement of others. Still, at the end of the day, all that our friends, family, and even specialists can do is help us realize that we have the tools within ourselves to persevere. We all have latent talents and abilities which we hardly realize we possess. Life often forces us to draw out those abilities and capabilities, from somewhere in our trunk.

Dovid Haelech stated (Tehillim 121:1-2), “I lift my eyes to the mountains, from where will my help come from? My help is from G-d, the One who made the heaven and earth.” King David does not ask “Where will help come from?” Rather, he asks “Where will my help come from?”

Perhaps King David is referring to the many arduous moments during his life when he felt overwhelmed and defeated, yet somehow found uncanny internal strength to forge on and continue fulfilling his daunting responsibilities. He marvels at the fact that he himself was able to find the inner conviction and courage. And he lauds the fact that it was G-d - the same G-d who created heaven and earth - Who also created him with abilities he hardly knew he possessed.

King David was amazed that throughout his life, in moments when he was on the brink of despair, he always found the tools he needed in his own trunk.

By the way, as I was preparing to send this out someone asked over the camp radio if anyone has a Phillips-screwdriver. I happily lent him mine. A minute later he called me over the radio to tell me that, right after I lent him mine, he found his own Phillips screwdriver in his bungalow. I kid you not.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum