Friday, January 13, 2012

PARSHAS SHEMOS 5772

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Shemos

18 Teves 5772/January 13, 2012

I remember it like two days ago. It was Shabbos morning and davening had just ended. I had just left shul with my father, older brother, and two neighbors, and we were heading home. I am not sure what the catalyst was but my older brother (who shall remain nameless for the sake of anonymity) slugged me (though I have no doubt that it was his fault). I remember that it didn’t hurt physically as much as it hurt my pride, but I dropped to the ground and refused to get up. The crowd stopped walking and turned to see what happened. As they were standing nearby trying to cajole me into getting up so we could proceed, I heard someone say, “You better get up, there’s a cop coming.” Good tactic I thought, but I still remained on the ground. Then my father said, “Dani, seriously, a cop is coming.”

I was still a bit skeptical but was contemplating concluding my theatrical drama when I heard a car stop and a commanding voice call out, “Everything okay here?” Someone replied, “Just a bit of sibling rivalry. He’s totally fine.” I picked my head up in time to see the cop turn to my older brother (who is still maintaining his anonymity) and say, “Son, you better be careful. He’s going to keep eating his Wheaties, and one day he’s going to come after you.” Then with a laugh from everyone (except me) he drove off. [I never liked Wheaties which is why I never had a chance to get back at him… until now J.]

If you happen to live in close walking distance to shul this essay is not for you. But for those of us who have a bit of a walk to shul there are benefits to be had. Aside for the obvious advantage that you could afford to eat an extra piece of cake and kugel at the Kiddush with a little less guilt (as long as your spouse doesn’t find out about it), the walk home is a great time to think about important things in your life (like why you don’t live closer to the shul).

When I am walking to shul alone I verbally say the derasha that I will be saying in shul. When I pass people along the way I pretend that I was humming a tune out loud.

Most importantly, if one is blessed to have children who accompany him to shul, the walk is a great opportunity for bonding time. Although every child is different and every child enjoys different things, if parent and child can decide on an enjoyable cognitive activity to share along the way home the walk can be a special experience. I know I have been successful in this regard when my children tell me that the walk home from shul felt ‘so short’.

Aside for preparing derashos for Shabbos, I try to make sure I have a good story on hand to share with our oldest son Shalom while we are walking way home. I try to make sure the story has a good lesson, especially apropos for Shabbos. Recently, Shalom and I have begun to review the Mishnayos he learns in school by heart while walking (he gets a quarter for every Mishna he knows; I get nothing).

At times there may be others walking with us. During those times I have to try to make sure that at least part of the walk is dedicated to my ‘walking session’ with Shalom. Showing that I value our conversation is meaningful to him as well.

So for all of you unfortunate souls who live right next door to the shul (and therefore stopped reading this article three paragraphs ago), you don’t know what you’re missing. (Um, also please have me in mind when you start your seudah).

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum

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