Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Tazria-Meztora
2 Iyar 5773/April 12, 2013 - 17th day of the Omer
Pirkei Avos – perek 2

Public Service Announcement: If you have a gray Honda Accord and you see a stranger getting into your car, please don’t call the cops too quickly; it may be me. [Depending who you are when you notice that it’s me you may want to call the cops even faster. And I know who you are…]
On more than one occasion (two to be exact) I have tried opening the door to a car that looked like mine, but wasn’t. One of those times I sat down in the car before I realized that it wasn’t mine.
I felt better when a fellow teacher in one of the schools I work in sheepishly told me that she had gotten into my car before she realized that it wasn’t hers.
Even worse, a certain close relative of Chani’s who shall remain nameless, was once sitting in what she thought was her car waiting for her husband to come out of the supermarket, when someone opened the door and began screaming at her to get out of his car!
What is it that usually gives it away that you got into the wrong car (assuming you don’t remember your license plate numbers, like me)? The stuff inside! You can learn a lot about a person from the inside of his/her car– not only from how neat and organized it is, but also what kind of ‘stuff’ are in the car, (including the kind of music and radio pre-sets).
Before Pesach, you really get a good window into what people have in their car, when it all comes out for cleaning – pens, tehillimtefillas haderech, business cards, cassette tapes (what’s that?), lipstick, etc.
It’s often said that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The Mishna in Avos expresses it this way: “Don’t look at the jug, but at its contents.” And I say ‘Don’t judge a car by its exterior, but by the stuff inside’. The time I had unwittingly sat down in someone else’s car, I realized it wasn’t my car when I saw that it wasn’t my stuff inside. 
It’s yet another reminder that in our superficial world we shouldn’t be so shallow as to judge people by their exteriors - (especially because they may just be dressing in a certain way to look like someone else…) but rather by the stuff inside which defines us to a large extent.
But the truth is that the stuff inside is not completely definitive because it can be changed. We can straighten up and clean out the garbage from inside. We can change the radio presets, or shut the radio off completely. 
During these days of Sefiras Haomer we count up towards our reacceptance of the Torah. We do so by working on our character traits, and trying to clean out our stuff.
I should also add that if it’s not your car, the car key won’t work, which is very symbolic as well. Only you have the key to start your ignition; unless of course you lose it, but that’s a different story.

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

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