Thursday, November 17, 2011

PARSHAS CHAYEI SARAH

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Chayei Sarah

21 MarCheshvan 5772/November 18, 2011

I’m sure it’s happened to almost everyone at one time or another. You’re sitting at some sort of reception or simcha schmoozing with a friend, when you start to feel thirsty. A quick perusal of the table and you notice that the Coke is too far away, so you settle for the only beverage within reach, a closed bottle of Seltzer. While your friend continues explaining his theories about life you maintain eye contact while trying to slowly ease the bottle open. And then it happens!

The room seems to grow quiet, conversations stop, and all eyes turn to you. You are sitting with a goofy look on your face, seltzer dripping down your sleeves and all over your shirt. People look at you with pitiful eyes that seem to say, ‘What a nebuch! He can’t even open a bottle of Seltzer without it exploding. Why didn’t he just take water?’ And there’s always that one clown who calls out jovially, “Quick pour some seltzer on it before it stains!”

And yes, I am writing about this because it happened to me recently…

You can’t just open a bottle of Seltzer. You must bear in mind that the contents of the bottle are under pressure. Therefore, you must open it slowly, allowing just a bit of air to escape before pulling the whole cap off.

There are many times in life when a certain measure of pressure is necessary. A parent needs to pressure his/her child, a husband needs to pressure his wife or vice-versa, an employer needs to pressure his employee, etc.

The golden rule is that one must always ‘open slowly’. Pressure must be added gently, incrementally, soothingly, and understandingly. If someone is always pressuring another, without thinking about the effects of his words, the results can cause an explosion and, G-d forbid, prove disastrous.

At the same time a certain amount of pressure is certainly necessary. Parents who don’t pressure their children deny their children the opportunity to realize their true self-worth and the feeling of accomplishment. There is no point of having the bottle on the table if it remains closed and unused.

The key is to find the happy medium - not too much and not too little – but finding that medium is not always easy.

By the way, for those who are questioning my right to lecture about Seltzer, I should mention that my Zayde (whose yahrtzeit is this Thursday, 27 Cheshvan)’s father, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Willamofsky zt’l hy’d was the Rav and spiritual leader of the town of Seltz in Russia. Had that position remained in our family I may have actually become the Seltzer Rav. And that would unquestionably have been a groyseh shpritz!

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum

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