Thursday, May 17, 2012


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshios Behar-Bechukosai Pirkei Avos – perek 5
26 Iyar 5772/May 18, 2012 (41st day of the Omer)

If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? Pilgrims! (badda baddam)
Actually, at least as far as the Monsey community is concerned, May flowers brings Pirchei Sunday afternoon baseball. “Take me out to the ballgame (on the other side of town), take me out to the soggy rain-soaked field, bring along a folding chair, and extra Super Snacks, I hope it ends soon cuz I need to get back. It’s root, root, root, for my kid, if he strikes out it’s a shame, cuz it’s one, two, three, four, five, six, seven foul tips at the Pirchei games”
It’s a sight to see on Sunday afternoon as both teams converge on the field, readying the beginning of the game. These young men – our future – arrive wearing colored jerseys, caps, pants, and cleats, holding their gloves, with batting gloves sticking out of their pants. They also carry water bottles or Gatorade to keep the fluids pumping during the course of the intense showdown. Many players bring their own bats, which has just the right length and weight to compliment his batting style. The coaches arrive with duffel bags bringing all possible necessities for the game, including bases, helmets, catcher equipment, umpire’s face-mask, and some spare utility players (they stay in the bag unless needed). 
It reminds me of the time I was watching such a game set to begin with all of the aforementioned equipment (and then some). Finally the umpire gave the clarion call ‘Play Ball’, and the home team took the field. The fielders leaned in, poised and ready, as the pitcher arrived on the mound. The batter stepped in the box, gathered some dust, spit in his hands, and gripped the bat with menacing eyes. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Casey was back in Mudville seeking revenge.
But then the pitcher called out “Where’s the ball?” The ball? Hello? Who’s got the ball? Oops, one minor detail. If you think about it, it’s the minutest part of the game. They had bases, bats, gloves, helmets. They had forgotten one thing. But without a ball, there is no game. So Casey, mighty Casey, couldn’t even get a pitch.
Rav Shimshon Pinkus zt’l noted that our generation boasts more Torah learning than ever before in exile. We have incredible chesed programs, and beautiful mitzvah observance with unparalleled stringency and alacrity. There is a plethora of taharas hamishpacha lectures, chinuch forums, and kiruv organizations. With all that we have achieved, we are only missing one thing, i.e. we have left out G-d. In his words, ‘We have cultivated a Judaism and have left Hashem out of the equation’. 
In baseball they say that the key to good hitting is to ‘Keep your eye on the ball’. We need to keep our eye on the proverbial ball by constantly reminding ourselves of the purpose of all we do: “Shivi Hashem l’negdi samid – I place G-d before me constantly.” We need to remember who we are davening to, why we live in the way that we do, and we need to speak about G-d throughout our day. There is nothing more important than that truth in our lives.
If we can maintain that focus than we are truly the winners.

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