Thursday, August 9, 2012



Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Eikev Pirkei Avos, perek 4
22 Av 5772/August 10, 2012

The yeshiva bochur was late for his close friend’s wedding and he really wanted to catch the chuppah. When he finally neared the hall, to his chagrin, there were no parking spots to be found. Beads of sweat began dripping down his face as he neared the hall but still no spots were available. Then as he drove up the block of the hall itself, just five feet from the main entrance, the bochur was ecstatic to find an open spot. He parked his car and quickly grabbed his hat and began rushing towards the entrance. Just then he noticed a police officer writing him out a ticket. When the bochur asked him why he was getting a ticket the cop snapped, “Son, are you blind? There’s a sign right there which says No Parking.” The bochur smiled, “Officer, let me explain. I also thought that way originally. You see, I was driving around when I noticed this spot. My immediate thought was that there was no way that could be a legal spot. But then I saw the sign which said, “No (don’t think you can’t park there); Parking!” 
We often fail to appreciate the nuances or the vital importance of proper punctuation. Those little dots and lines can make all the difference in the meaning of a statement. One famous example is how two different groups punctuated the words: “A woman, without her man is nothing”. The men punctuated it as, “A woman without her man, is nothing” while the women punctuated it as, “A woman: without her, man is nothing!”
The New York Times Bestseller “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: The Zero tolerance approach to punctuation” was so titled based on the following joke:
“A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air. “Why?” asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes his way towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder. “I’m a panda”, he says, at the door. “Look it up.”
“The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation. “Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to china. Eats, shoots, and leaves.”
What does this have to do with the post-Tisha-B’av seven weeks of consolation which we find ourselves in?
The sefer Nechamas Tzion is the Ben Ish Chai’s unique commentary on Megillas Eicha. In it, the Ben Ish Chai demonstrates how every phrase in Megillas Eicha can, and will, ultimately be words of consolation. For example, the opening words which lament how the great bustling metropolis of Jeruslaem has become barren like a widow, can be read as an explanation of admiration that such a great city with so many inhabitants stands alone and in solitude, towering above all other cities and peoples. The word ‘K’almanah - like a widow’ can be read as ‘k’al manah – as if above count’, because of their spiritual greatness they defy numbers and limitations. 
As another brief example, in pasuk 3, when the prophet speaks of the cause of ‘galus – exile’, the Ben Ish Chai reads it as an expression of ‘gilui- revelation’.
Thus, the future consolation is, and has always been, covertly embedded in the exile itself. It is just a matter of reworking the words and adding some punctuation to alter the meaning.
So you’re grammar teacher was write, when, she said that grammar; is important. After-awl: they can change the hole thing around

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

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