Thursday, July 25, 2013


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Eikev
17 Menachem Av 5773/July 26, 2013
Pirkei Avos – perek 5

One of the many extracurricular activities that campers love in camp is to make bonfires. Campers spend their free time for a day or two collecting sticks and twigs, and setting them up for their bunk’s exclusive after-hours bonfire. There is a certain joy in sitting around a fire you helped construct, and watching it surge upwards, while roasting marshmallows or franks, and listening to a good story, or singing a heartfelt song.
When preparing for the fire, campers look for dry fuel, and then they hope it doesn’t rain. If the twigs and sticks are wet it’s that much harder to start the fire and to keep the fire going.
But there are always a few experts in camp who know a lot about outdoors, and fires. They know everything about them, even how to start and maintain them with wet fuel. In the event of rain, such experts are summoned to salvage the soggy bonfire. It’s impressive to see it get done.
Chazal relate that within the heart of every Jew is an innate love and feeling of connection with Hashem. The only reason we, at times, may not feel it is because we taint it through sin. This is the reason the Torah can instruct us to love Hashem. Normally, like all emotions, one cannot force anyone to feel anything towards someone else. But in regards to loving and believing in Hashem, which is naturally inborn, the mitzvah is essentially that a person not allow himself to become sullied with sin, or that he do teshuva and cleanse himself of sin, so that he can again feel connected with the inner love in his soul.
In our day and age, there has been much attention devoted to ‘emunah workshops’ proving the veracity of Torah, especially to adolescents. There is no universal reason why people have questions and doubts. But definitely some of the proliferation of questions can be blamed on the plague of dulled hearts, from which we all suffer.
In our world, there is much excitement about technology and the newest gadget. In addition, we are all aware of the struggle we face in maintaining a pure environment, despite being surrounded by rampant immorality and free-spiritedness. In a sense we backpedal by trying to flame innate love which lays dormant within sodden hearts. We need experts who know how to start and maintain fires with damp wood. Those experts are well versed in proofs and witty responses to skeptics and doubters.
But if somehow we were able to dry out that wood - if we could dry out the dampness of impurity within our hearts - the flame within would begin to burn that much stronger. At that point it wouldn’t require so much expertise to flame the fires of emunah and ahava, because those emotions would naturally be palpable within one’s soul.
Those experts who can light fires on dry wood do us a great service. But if our hearts weren’t so damp to begin with, we wouldn’t need so many experts.

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

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