Thursday, May 24, 2012


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Bamidbar (Erev Shavuos) Pirkei Avos – perek 6
4 Sivan 5772/May 25, 2012 (48th day of the Omer)

“Sometimes when I’m bored I turn my humidifier and dehumidifier on in the same room, and let them fight it out.” (Steven Wright)
As the weather turned warmer a few Fridays ago, I switched our home’s thermostat setting from heat to air conditioning just prior to Shabbos. Imagine my surprise then, when on Friday night as the air conditioning was blowing I heard the clinking of the floor radiator, signaling that the heat had turned on.
Apparently, in our state of the art home system, even when the thermostat is clicked to air conditioning, the heat sensor has to be turned down, otherwise the heat will still go on. It was some experience as the two systems battled it out all Shabbos long. When we received that month’s bill we realized that O&R (our electric company) had won!  
(For all you loyal readers and skeptics, yes, strange things do seem to happen to us - so that I have what to write about. You can’t make this stuff up…)
The Chovas Hatalmidim (chapter 4) writes that slothfulness is of the greatest impediments to spiritual growth. He also notes that there is a difference between laziness and lethargy. The lazy person will accomplish nothing at all, because he lacks the impetus to even bother. The lethargic person on the other hand, will indeed eventually get around to doing what he is supposed to, albeit only after a prolonged delay, and even then without passion or feeling.
While the lazy person seems far worse since he does nothing at all, in a sense he is better off than the lethargic person. The lazy person at least recognizes that he has a serious problem. Therefore, we can hope that one day he may actually receive the chizuk he needs to ‘get moving’. The lethargic person however, often feels that there is nothing wrong with his behavior. After all he gets the job done, so what’s the problem?
The Yom Tov of Shavuos awakens us to reaccept our daily mission and quest to be the Torah nation. But it’s not enough to ‘do’; we must also ‘hear’ the words of the Torah, in the sense that it permeates our essence and becomes part of us. We must live the Torah with passion and enthusiasm, and not as an ancient dry set of austere laws and regulations.  
As Torah Jews we keep the Torah every day of our lives. Thus the holiday of Shavuos must be more than just accepting the Torah. Rather it is a reminder that we must ‘turn up the heat’, live the words we read and hear, and engrave them on our hearts. One who is lethargic and ‘cold’ in his observance is losing out on the essence – not only of Shavuos – but also in the richness of true Torah living.
You just can’t turn up the heat if the air conditioning is still on!

              Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos
              Chag Samaych & Freilichen Yom Tov,
                R’ Dani and Chani Staum