Monday, September 24, 2012


Erev Yom Kippur
9 Tishrei 5773/September 25, 2012

It’s never a good thing when your vacuum cleaner, not only stops cleaning the floor, but also begins regurgitating what it previously suctioned.
That’s exactly what happened in the Staum house Erev Shabbos last week. So with no recourse I surgically opened the bowels of the machine to try to figure out what had gone wrong. The bag wasn’t full and the main part of the machine seemed fine. So, my dear Watson, I surmised that there was obviously something wrong with the hose.
We (yes we, I had to call Chani in for backup…) realized that somebody (somebody to whom we pay money to clean our home!) had vacuumed up something big which had now wedged itself inside the hose, completely obscuring the air suction. The anonymous perpetrator herself brought the problem to my attention the next time she tried to use the machine.
We finally realized that it was a makeup brush that was stuck inside the hose. Now I don’t really know what a make-up brush is for, but I do know that it’s big enough to render our vacuum cleaner ineffective. Logic would dictate that if it was able to get in it should be able to come out, but thus far we have been unable to pry it out. (Sweeping the carpet is annoying)
You may be thinking that I’m going to use this anecdote to emphasize that Yom Kippur is a day to ‘makeup’ and rebuild relationships that have become ‘stuck’. There is definitely truth in that observation, but I have a different point in mind.
Every morning we declare before our Creator that ‘the soul that You have placed inside of me is pure.’ Our soul is a piece of divinity, an untouchable spark of holiness embedded in the core of our essence. When one performs mitzvos and acts in accordance with the Torah that spark becomes strengthened and we are further drawn to Torah and mitzvos like a spiritual magnet. We pine for even greater spiritual accomplishment and connection.
When we sin and do not act properly on the other hand, that connection becomes enervated and we start to feel spiritually numb. There is an empty sense of disconnect, like a barrier has been erected between us and what we intellectually know is right. But unlike our vacuum which became completely blocked and totally ineffective, Chazal tell us that the spark within us never becomes extinguished. The plug never falls out and the connection is never completely severed. Dimmed and numbed – yes, but always glowing beneath the muck and grime of our hindering foolish actions.
The great gift of Yom Kippur which Hashem grants us with love is an opportunity to clean the hose and – with proper repentance – instantly clear the channels so that the spark within us can again glow to its full capacity and draw us into its hypnotic spiritual embrace. Metaphorically, we need only to open the mechanism so that Yom Kippur itself will yank out the hindering debris, so that we can again feel the spiritual draw of our soul.
Forget Orrick, Hoover, and Electrolux. The joy and purity of Yom Kippur is the greatest cleanser of them all.

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

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