Thursday, June 28, 2012


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Chukas Pirkei Avos, perek 5
10 Tamuz 5772/June 30, 2012

It seems like a favorite pastime for people to talk about their former teachers and their unique idiosyncrasies, as well as the antics students pulled in class. Undoubtedly, one of my most unique teachers was ‘Rich’ (as he liked to be called). Rich was very into poetry – not the rhyming kind, but the kind you read as a high school student, and think that it’s complete gibberish, and laugh when the teacher is annoyed at you for not comprehending the deep meaning of the poem.
On one occasion Rich gave us a paper which had only three words on it. On top in big bold letters it said ‘HERE’. Towards the bottom right corner of the page it said in small letters ‘we are’. He was extremely frustrated when we all looked at each other blankly with snickers on our faces. “Gentlemen, I’ve been called a genius for this and you have no clue what it’s about!” He finally explained that his point was that very often we are not where we say/think we are. We like to believe that we have achieved certain things in our lives and have matured to certain levels, but frequently it is just not true.
I would like to piggy back on Rich’s point, albeit with one twist. I would spell the first word HAIR. In other words, sometimes one’s hair is no longer where it once was, as the hair line of youth recedes and thins. [I of course speak from observing others. Personally, I know nothing about this.] An older friend related that when he goes to the barber and asks for a haircut, the barber asks him which hair.
But here’s my observation: The halacha is that when a man dons his tefillin shel rosh each morning, the front of the shel rosh must be positioned at the place where one’s hair line was in his youth. Even if one’s hairline recedes, the positioning of his tefillin shel rosh remains in that original place.
In the physical world, as well as in society, the lines of acceptability and societal norms constantly shift with the times. What was once taboo may be completely acceptable today, and what was once innovative may now be completely passé. But in the spiritual world, the lines never change. Our barometer of morality and acceptability, have not altered one iota throughout – and despite – millennia in exile.
No matter how much the hairline moves, the tefillin remain where that line once was. Even if the physical hair is gone, the spiritual hairline never shifts!

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

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