Friday, October 26, 2012


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Lech Lecha
10 Cheshvan 5773/October 27, 2012

Surely you’ve heard of Country-Yossi and the two most famous Shteeble-Hoppers in the world - Kivi and Tuki. Tuki is self-described as “kooky but not a little fluky”, while Kivi ‘knows more Torah than my Morah’.
On their original album, Country Yossi challenges Tuki to tell him about a mitzvah he did that day. After Tuki unsuccessfully tries to convince Country Yossi that reading a Superman comic book is a mitzvah, Tuki says ‘I kissed my Bubby’. Country Yossi replies, “That’s not a mitzvah.” Tuki is surprised, “It’s not?”, to which Country Yossi replies, “It’s nice and everything, but it’s not a mitzvah.”
I have to say that I agree with Tuki on this one. Is kissing your Bubby not a mitzvah? To be fair, I imagine Country Yossi was referring to a mitzvah written explicitly in the Torah, and indeed it never says “Thou shall kiss your Bubby” in the Torah. But as far as the Torah’s unwritten - yet strongly emphasized - demand for mentchichkeit and respect, undoubtedly kissing one’s Bubby is a mitzvah.
Why is there a magical connection between grandparents and grandchildren? I am fond of the late Sam Levenson’s quip that Grandparents and grandchildren get along so well because they share a common enemy. Grandparents see in their grandchildren the fulfillment of their ultimate desire to leave behind a future that will carry out their legacy and remember them. And because every grandparent is blessed with the most perfect, cute, and wonderful grandchildren, that blessing is truly magnified.
The nostalgic memories of visits to the homes of grandparents often leave the strongest indelible memories throughout one’s lifetime. The feeling of complete security where that one can do no wrong is unparalleled anywhere outside of a grandparent’s home.
I have been blessed that I can still kiss my Bubby. She now lives local and I try to see her at least once a week. She is a connection to a forgotten world and I treasure the fact that my children are able to know her. She is the Matriarch of our family and continues to inspire us b’h.
But what wouldn’t I give to be able to kiss my Savta one more time! And what wouldn’t I give to kiss my Zaidy and my Sabbah one more time! Personally, the month of Cheshvan is always a time when I think a lot about my grandparents, because both my Savta’s and Zaidy’s yahrtzeits are during Cheshvan (17 and 27 Cheshvan respectively).
So whether it’s a mitzvah or not, Tuki, give your Bubby a big kiss, and appreciate the incredible gift that you have to kiss a living connection to the past; one who sees in you the fulfillment of the greatest dreams for the future.

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

720 Union Road • New Hempstead, NY 10977 • (845) 362-2425

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Noach
3 Cheshvan 5773/October 20, 2012

“C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me.” He’s blue, furry, googly-eyed, and can’t get enough cookies. He’s a legend in America and has been inspiring children everywhere for decades. He’s the one and only Cookie Monster!
But in recent years his inspiration has been called into question. Child psychology experts and parents throughout the world have begun to wonder whether Cookie Monster is playing a role in the obesity epidemic ravaging Western Society.
Innocent children are being exposed to this beloved puppet who can eat as many cookies as he wants without compunction. What’s more, he eats his cookies with animalistic and crazed fervor and like a complete slob, sending crumbs flying in all directions. How can we expect our children to grow into fine, decent, health-conscientious, productive members of society with such terrible role models like Cookie Monster?!
And so in their brilliance and foresight, the creators of Sesame Street have added vegetables to Cookie Monster’s diet. Yes, he still enjoys a tasty cookie. But he also enjoys a good piece of carrot and broccoli. His new song is “A Cookie is a sometimes food”.
Kudos to the experts who have come to the conclusion that children’s eating habits can be influenced by television, even by a Muppet-monster that every child knows isn’t real. The fact remains the same: children are very impressionable.
At the same time it’s fascinating to note the increase of children exposure to television. And the television of today is very different from that of the past. Hardly a commercial doesn’t have an innuendo, and hardly a show on TV doesn’t have scenes of relationships that any decently moral person would be disgusted by, or a scene of violence depicting shootings and blood that we would be horrified to ever see in real life.
I read recently that if an average child/adolescent is asked to guess how many times he/she thinks a police officer fires off a gun during his career on the force, most would answer upwards of 50. In truth the overwhelming majority of police officers NEVER fire their gun throughout their career. The fact that police officers are almost always drawing their guns on TV probably has absolutely no bearing on that mistaken idea.
The effects of continued TV exposure have been shown to increase anxiety, social withdrawal, social incompetence, and attention deficits, to name a few. This is all based on studies done in the general society. As Torah Jews we have other vital concerns to contend with as well.
So in conclusion I just want to express my happiness that Cookie Monster has realized the need to include salad in his diet. Let him go back to eating only cookies and parents all over America may decide that it’s time to pull the plug on the blue beast. But let Cookie Monster shoot someone who tries to steal his cookies (with the salad on top), and that would seem to not be as much of a concern. After all, that type of stuff is entertainment, and what could be wrong with a little entertainment?

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

720 Union Road • New Hempstead, NY 10977 • (845) 362-2425