Thursday, August 15, 2013


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Ki Setzei
10 Elul 5773/August 16, 2013
Pirkei Avos – perek 2

Soon after our first child was born, a friend offered me a valuable piece of advice: “Once you have children, you only wear one shirt a Shabbos. No matter how dirty he makes your shirt, no matter how many times she wipes her greasy hands on you, you don’t change your shirt. Doing so is just pointless.”
For over a decade of my life I was a student in Yeshiva Shaarei Torah in Monsey, NY. After graduating High School in Shaarei Torah, I returned to learn in Bais Medrash there a little over a year later. I remained there for another eight years, which included the first three years of our marriage.
. When I returned to Yeshiva after Sheva Berachos were over at the end of February 2002, the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Mordechai Wolmark, requested that I begin wearing a tie to yeshiva every day. I wasn’t very keen about the idea, but Rabbi Wolmark explained that it was a matter of perspective for me. I had to realize that I wasn’t just ‘Bais Medrash guy with a tie’. Rather, now I was a member of the Kollel, and had to view myself in that light. The tie would serve as a subtle reminder of that distinction.
I came to learn very quickly that there was a great advantage to wearing ties, especially when you have children. As mentioned previously, it’s only one shirt for Shabbos, but what about all those stain marks? Enter the tie! Suddenly all those little stains in the center are hidden from view. [That’s why I don’t like those trendy skinny ties. They don’t hide enough of the shirt.]
Sha’arei Teshuva (1:9) uses a stained shirt as a parable for teshuva. He writes that although any amount of teshuva accomplishes, the greater the level of internal introspection and practical rectification, the greater teshuva accomplishes. The more the effort expending in the cleansing process the greater will be the results. 
If one is eating spaghetti and meatballs and some of the sauce splashes on his shirt and he runs to the sink to wash the sauce off his shirt, he will be able to get out the glaring red stain. However, the faded imprint will remain until it is scrubbed and soaked.
There is of course an easier route to take care of the stain, and that is by putting on a tie which covers it. The only problem is that covering the stain doesn’t actually remove it, and it still lurks in the grimy shadows, obscured from view, but waiting for a moment when the tie shifts unwittingly. At that moment the truth will be apparent and everyone will see the stain lurking beneath.
Ours is a society that likes to hide the truth. Everyone seems so happy, life is so perfect, we have so many friends, and things are so blissful. And yet we know that the truth is otherwise.
Elul is the time when we take off our spiritual neckties, roll up our sleeves, and seek to do some real cleaning. The first step is to confront the stains we have covered all year, so that we can get to work removing them completely.
As the summer winds down, many vacationers and mountain-goers are removing their ties from their drawers, after a few weeks’ hiatus. As the physical ties come back on, the spiritual ties need to get loosened so we can see what’s underneath.

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

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