Thursday, July 5, 2012


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Balak Pirkei Avos, perek 6
16 Tamuz 5772/July 6, 2012

In honor of the July fourth heat I am recounting one of our experiences after one of the major winter snow storm last year. By the time our snow-plower arrived almost a foot of snow had fallen. As he cleared the bottom of our steep driveway he not only cleared away the snow, but he also plowed the wall we have on the side of the driveway. He reassured us that he would not charge us for the additional clearing.
Walls are very important. They create limits, enabling us to have parameters and boundaries. When Bila’am sought to curse Klal Yisroel and peered at their camp he was overwhelmed by their modesty which was apparent by the walls that divided each family in the desert. One of the detriments to our permissive and liberal world is the demolishment of many of the walls which society maintained since time immemorial.
But walls can also hinder and be detrimental. Almost any parent or teacher knows the proverbial feeling of talking to a wall. You are trying to get a message across to someone but the message just doesn’t seem to be penetrating. Sometimes one may feel like he is climbing the walls’; a feeling of restlessness that emanates from his inability to accomplish what he wants.
There are places where walls and barriers are necessary, and there are places where walls and barriers are inappropriate. The problem is when walls – or the lack thereof – become misplaced. A wall of snow on a driveway needs to be pushed away so the driver can reach the road and take care of his needs. But an adjacent wall needs to remain in its place for aesthetic beauty and protection from anyone slipping on the snow that was cleared away.
Bila’am also declared that Jews are a people that dwell in solitude. Although we live among the nations we maintain certain moral and cultural divides, which ensure that we are an example to the world. However, between each other – although we may have different traditions, customs, and even laws which we adhere to - there must not be barriers which divide us.
In a sense, the walls surrounding Jerusalem, symbolizing our separation from the world, must be robust. But within Jerusalem the roads must be open with inviting warmth for every Jew.
At the time of the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash, symbolic walls divided Jews from each other, as enmity and baseless hate became rampant. When we erect walls within, our enemies demolish our walls from without. In the millennia of exile we have yet to demolish the internal walls which divide us. We are still plagued by emotional barriers which we have erected between ourselves.
When we finally demolish those internal divides, the external walls of Jerusalem will indeed be rebuilt. We will never again have to entertain the notion of making G-d’s Home an international city. The world will recognize that Jerusalem belongs to a united Jewish people; united under the banner of Torah. 
And when that occurs the fast of the seventeenth of Tamuz which commemorates the destruction of Jerusalem’s walls, will become a holiday celebrating the destruction of the internal walls which have divided us for way too long. The chorus of the hymn recited in selichos “The day the enemy prevailed us broke through the (walls of the) city” will be altered to a celebratory and exuberant chorus of “The day we finally prevailed and broke through the walls inside the city”.

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

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