Thursday, May 10, 2012


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Emor– Pirkei Avos – perek 4
19 Iyar 5772/May 11, 2012 (34th day of the Omer)

One morning a number of weeks ago I had one of the experiences every homeowner dreads - water on the carpet in the basement. I was on my way out to learn before Shachris and at that point it was only a small puddle of water, so I hoped it wouldn’t get too much worse until I came home. When I arrived home two hours later however, I realized that we had a serious situation. The carpet was soaking up water quickly, and the boiler room floor was flooded.
Our plumber was kind enough to rush over. He surveyed the situation and immediately told us his grim prognosis – our boiler was kaput! He shut the water and drained the now defunct tank. He then discussed with us our options for purchasing a new tank based on size and price. Now I know not to take hot water for granted.
After the new hot water heater was installed, we still had to contend with the water damage. We borrowed a wet-vac to vacuum the running water, a commercial humidifier to draw the water out of the carpet, and a plug-in air freshener to combat the musty smell. Considering how much worse it could have been we were lucky. We caught the problem almost immediately before the whole basement became flooded.  
A few nights ago, our area was hit with the first thunderstorm of the season. Replete with thunder and lightning, soaking rains drenched the area overnight. The following afternoon when I walked outside into the sunlight, I had a newfound appreciation for the miraculous process of absorption. Not only did it not smell moldy and damp, the ground was completely dry, and the warm afternoon air was fresh and pleasant.
It’s an interesting thought. Any minimal amount of water inside my house was damaging and unwanted, while pouring rains outside was a beneficial blessing with hardly a trace remaining a few sun-filled hours later. The difference is simple. The carpet and floor in the basement cannot absorb the water, while the ground outside can. The rain naturally seeps into the earth nourishing trees, flowers, plants, animals, and ultimately, us.
Chazal (Shabbos 88b) say that one who bites his tongue, restraining himself from responding to insults is analogous to the life-giving rays of the sun at its zenith. When one trains himself to ‘absorb’ insulting and acerbic comments without responding, he not only builds himself, but he helps nourish his relationships. But one who refuses to allow any negative comment to ‘slide’, causes his relationships to become flooded with negativity, making the cleanup process all the more difficult.  
One of our tasks during these days of sefirah is to train ourselves to absorb. It makes it easier if we remember that it is the water the ground absorbs which enables the beautiful trees and flowers to grow above it.

      Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
      R’ Dani and Chani Staum