Thursday, September 27, 2012


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Ha’azinu/Succos
12 Tishrei 5773/September 28, 2012

According to today’s second leading knowledge authority, Wikipedia, (the number one leader is cha-cha), “Betta is a large genus of small, often colorful, freshwater ray-finned fishes in the gourami family.” But a few years ago there was a Betta fish in the Staum family (the gourami’s never complained to us about it).
The fish was a gift given to our then 3 year old son Shalom by his friend Yoel Weinraub who had two of them. Betta fish are not too fond of each other so it’s best to keep them apart (sounds like your house?) and so we adopted Mr. Betta, who we fondly called “Fisha B’av”.
We didn’t think Fisha B’av would last all that long, especially in his 2 inch by 2 inch tank which he practically filled. But somehow, as fish years go, he had arichas yamim (longevity) and remained with us for over two years. When we went away for Shabbos and Yom Tov we had no choice but to take F.B. with us. So while I drove, instead of a coffee or a soda in the cup holder next to me, F.B. would swim around in his mini tank. When we arrived at our destination F.B. came in with us and was deposited on a dresser for the duration of our stay.
One Pesach morning while visiting my in-laws in Lakewood, I was getting ready to leave for shul when I heard a shriek erupt from upstairs. I ran upstairs to see Shalom standing next to the dresser with a look of horror on his face. The tank was overturned and F.B. was nowhere to be found. What’s more, at the time Shalom often confused his words and he kept repeating “I did it by purpose! I did it by purpose!” This was no time to point fingers. It was time for an immediate ‘bedikas Fisha B’av’. The story does have a happy ending (for Shalom that is). I found F.B. lying on the floor underneath the dresser. I quickly filled his tank and deposited him back inside, where he immediately sprang back to life without any CPR or mouth-to-mouth necessary.
The succos-huts that we move into for the seven day holiday are much smaller than our homes and we give up many amenities and conveniences to be there. Yet there is a sense of jovial tranquility that permeates the succah.
The succah reminds us that no matter where we are in the world, ultimately our only real protection comes from Above. Sometimes we may think that if only we can escape the confining succah and run into the world beyond the s’chach there we will find excitement and fun. Perhaps that is true, but the cost of such an escape is a forfeiture of life itself.
It’s no coincidence that the holiday which celebrates leaving our homes and placing ourselves at the mercy of G-d’s elements, is also the holiday of joy. It’s the joy of being home, even when we are far from home.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos
Chag Sameiach & Freilichen Yom Tov,
   R’ Dani and Chani Staum

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