Thursday, July 28, 2011

MASEI 5771

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Masei

27 Tamuz 5771/July 29, 2011 -- Pirkei Avos – Chapter 2

Everyone knows that ‘Almost doesn’t count!” Almost winning the championship, almost finishing a job, almost closing the deal, almost getting into a school, almost accomplishing your goals, is all said to not count, because if you don’t make it all the way then what’s it worth?

The past week was a very difficult week weather-wise for us in camp. Last week ended and this week began with three days of scorching 100 degree weather combined with heavy humidity. Then Monday, the final day of the first session of camp, brought soaking rains that drenched the camp from morning until late afternoon, making it very difficult to load luggage onto trucks going to various locations.

Thankfully Tuesday was a beautiful and sunny day as the new campers filed into camp and began unpacking. But then suddenly, with hardly any warning, during the late afternoon, sinister clouds rolled across the sky. Within three minutes a full force tempest unleashed a fury of powerful winds and an utter downpour of rain. Fifteen minutes later the sun was out, but so was all of the electricity in the camp.

Most importantly, everyone was safe. However, during the rainfall a strong three-root tree snapped almost at its base, causing the bulk of the tree to collapse on a small cabin only a few feet from a family bungalow with a newborn baby. Originally a camp maintenance worker was to have slept in that cabin but it was decided (thankfully) to convert it into a storage shed for prizes and soda (all the sodas survived).

So the tree almost hit the house. Interesting, but we know that ‘almost doesn’t count’. Or does it?

Our Sages teach us that everything that happens to a person – every last thing – is preordained by heaven. It is not uncommon for a person to be in a situation where something almost happened – for good or bad. We are taught that everything contains a message. There is a reason why things happen and a reason why things almost happen.

How often do we hear people recount tales of a near miss, what was almost an accident on the road? Often the story is repeated a few times and then forgotten.

In the spiritual world and the world of believers ‘almost’ counts tremendously. Sometimes heaven sends us powerful messages by having things almost occur to us so that we will be able to get the message in a painless manner. But we have to pay attention to the ‘almost’ or we will miss the message.

Also, in regards to our Service to G-d ‘almost’ counts tremendously. Someone who was almost able to complete a tractate, almost able to fulfill a mitzvah, almost able to help someone in need, may not get any credit in this world, but they are surely credited for their efforts in the World of Truth.

So when people say ‘almost doesn’t count’ it depends who is counting!

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum