Thursday, July 18, 2013


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vaeschanan - Shabbos Nachamu
12 Menachem Av 5773/July 19, 2013
Pirkei Avos – perek 4

“I have a light switch in my home which isn’t hooked up to anything. Every now and then I flick the switch up and down a few times. Yesterday I received a call from a woman in Australia who said “Cut it out!””  (Comedian Steven Wright)
Everybody has them somewhere in the house – those light switches that don’t do anything. There is gleeful enjoyment that children feel when they turn a light switch on and off in rapid succession. Mothers are forever scolding children that doing so can start a fire. But those switches that don’t do anything allow the child to flip the switch as many times as he want without having to worry about an angry mother, or a fire.
In my youth we had one such switch and I indeed often wondered if somehow I was causing something to happen, far away every time I flipped the switch.
There may be more truth there than we realize. Nefesh Hachaim (1:14) writes that everything we do, say, and even think has repercussions throughout the world. In a sense, we are all holding switches which, seem to be innocuous, but in reality affect the whole world.
On Tisha B’av we mourn all the calamites that have befallen our people in exile. We also recount the statements of the Torah and sages which explain how our sins, and the fact that we have not lived up to our spiritual responsibilities have caused all our suffering.
And there in that painful awareness lies our consolation. Because if we have been so punished because of our actions, that demonstrates just how resoundingly significant our actions are. In other words, our lives and our actions matter!
Rav Nachman of Breslov stated: “If you believe that it’s possible to destroy, believe that it’s possible to fix!” If our sins caused the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash and the suffering in exile, we are surely capable of causing incredible salvation to occur as well.
During the Gettysburg Address, President Abe Lincoln pledged that the nation would  ensure that those who had died fighting for the Union “shall not have died in vain”. There is no greater consolation than to know that the sacrifice and suffering endured was for a greater purpose and was not in vain. We are comforted on Tisha B’av by the stark realization that all of our actions, our suffering matters!
Tisha B’av reminds us that we are the switchboard operators of the world. If our sins were able to turn off switches of blessing and goodness, than we surely wield the ability to turn those switches back on again.    

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

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