Thursday, September 22, 2011


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshios Netzavim- Vayelech

24 Elul 5771/September 23, 2011 -- Pirkei Avos – Chapter 5 & 6

During the last day or two of camp when I wake up my divisions, I jokingly tell them that they better get out of bed because if they miss the bus home it’s a long cold and lonely winter in camp.

This year it almost happened. It was the last day of camp and busses were stationed in different areas of camp getting ready to depart for various locations throughout the New York area. The administration was gathered at the entrance (exit) to camp to wave off the first three buses which were pulling out. Just then I received a phone call from one of my counselors that a boy in my division was missing. I was sure he would be there in another minute. But five minutes later my radio buzzed that the bus was being held up because one boy still had not shown up.

I raced up to the now practically empty hill and rushed into his bunkhouse. I ran through the bunk and was about to leave when I noticed a blanket on his bed. Sure enough, there was the missing camper, fast asleep. And I mean fast asleep. I grabbed his blanket and started to nudge him, “Come on, the bus, is about to pull out.” He barely moved. Suffice it to say that I almost literally had to drag him out of bed.

The poor child had stayed up the entire last night of camp, davened at sunrise, and then fell into a deep sleep. When I finally managed to rouse him he was sitting on his bed half dazed. I grabbed his belongings and stuffed them into a garbage bag. I then walked him out the door to my waiting Gator (in-camp vehicle), put his tefilin and the bag in the back and raced him down to the bus. It was only as he began boarding the bus that he realized where he was and what had happened.

The Rambam states that the reason why we blow shofar during the month of Elul is to serve as an alarm, “Awaken all you sleepers from your slumber.” Rosh Hashanah is imminent and now is our chance to take advantage of the opportunity afforded to us to implore G-d that He grant us a year of blessing, and that He help us in our efforts to repent.

The question is if we are listening to the message as we hear it. The busses are in the parking lot, the luggage is all loaded, everyone is involved in an excited frenzy as they prepare for departure, and the road is open before us. But are we so deeply entrenched in our slumber that we don’t realize what is happening around us? Are we about to miss the bus because we stayed up too late the night before?

There is one final alarm that rings before Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the recitation of selichos (for Ashknazim; Sefardim already began at the beginning of Elul). Selichos marks the final countdown for the imminent holy days that are rapidly approaching.

If we begin to gather our belongings now, when the busses pull out we’ll be ready for the most sublime journey of our lives.

Have a great trip!

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum