Thursday, August 29, 2013


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Netzovim-Vayelech
24 Elul 5773/August 30, 2013
Pirkei Avos – perek 5-6

It is with the utmost gratitude to Hashem that we announce the birth of our son on Monday morning, 20 Elul 5773/August 26, 2013. That first moment when a new life emerges and detaches itself from its nine-month life source, and is suddenly exposed to an absolutely foreign world, is just so incredible.
During the birth, I was reminded of the following: During the winter of 2002, when we were searching for a band to play at our wedding, we had a few different options. My father, who didn’t mix in with too many of these types of decisions, urged us strongly to use the Yitzy Braun ensemble. My father explained that many musicians seem to play at simchos solely because it’s their job. They may play well, but they don’t seem to enjoy it much. My father wanted a musician who looked like he enjoyed what he was doing; he wanted someone who exuded a feeling of happiness as he played. After seeing him play at a few weddings, my father was impressed that Yitzy Braun smiled and seemed to really enjoy the simcha he was enhancing.
For the same reason we really appreciate the doctor who delivered our baby this week – Dr. Peter Simonson. As a seasoned doctor he has delivered thousands of babies during his decades on call. Yet when he delivers a baby it is obvious that he still enjoys the miracle he is participating in. His excitement throughout the process is palpable, as are his wishes of ‘mazal tov’ afterwards with a warm beaming smile. It may seem like a triviality, but it meant a lot to us, and enhanced our own inexpressible joy at that moment.
How does one fulfill the roles and tasks he will anyways be fulfilling? If you ever encountered a grumpy cashier in the supermarket you understand this idea. In the long run the cashier’s emotions have little effect on our lives, but the cashier’s negativity is contagious and can really put a damper on your shopping experience.
A little bit of honey goes a long way to sweeten something otherwise bland. A little smile and a shining countenance can make a tremendous difference.
As the year comes to an end, and we prepare to commence the new year with hopes for blessing and tranquility, we should pause to consider how we do what we do. Particularly, we should consider how we perform mitzvos and serve Hashem.
The Torah warns that the curses of the Rebuke affect us “because you did not serve Hashem, your G-d, with joy and goodness of heart.”
Three times a day in the final blessing of Shemoneh Esrei we ask G-d to bless us with the light of His Countenance. “For with the light of Your Countenance You have given us, Hashem, our G-d, a Torah of life, loving-kindness, charity, blessing, mercy, life, all that’s good, and peace.”
Similarly, we request from G-d that it not only be a good year, but a sweet new year. The greatest merit we can have in hoping for a sweet new year is to commit ourselves to being sweeter ourselves.
It’s not only about what we do, it’s also how we do it!

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

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