Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Erev Rosh Hashanah of 5774
29 Elul 5773/September 4, 2013

It’s always special to make a simcha, especially in our community. The bell hardly stops ringing as friends and family stop by full of smiles and heartfelt warm wishes of mazal tov, while holding food platters, candy, and pastries.
Everybody knows that you don’t just put down the delicacies without sampling them to make sure they weren’t poisoned. So even though I would not haphazardly consume too much cake and candy, as it’s unhealthy and imprudent to do so - somehow sampling and noshing don’t seem to be so bad.
There’s an old rule in the spiritual world that 12 + 12 doesn’t equal 24. It comes from the story of Rabbi Akiva who was completely engaged in Torah study for 12 years, away from home. Then, when he finally stood outside his door, he overheard his wife telling a scoffing neighbor that she would gladly grant him another 12 years of uninterrupted study. Upon hearing her words Rabbi Akiva immediately turned around and set off to resume his studies.
Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz zt’l (Sichos Mussar) explains that Rabbi Akiva did not even stop in to say hello, because he knew that once his learning was interrupted, it would require much more effort to recommence. Perhaps 12 + 12 equals 24 quantitatively, but on a spiritual level one set of 12 and another set of 12, is not the same as one uninterrupted set of 24. Spiritual accomplishment requires consistency and constancy.
The problem is that such logic does not apply in the physical world. Noshing on fattening foods does indeed add up quantitatively and qualitatively, as your belt informs you the next morning, when it forces you to move one hole over.
If one really wants to watch his weight (and I don’t mean watch it increase…) the only way is to be vigilant, by constantly being aware of what and how much he is eating.
In order to be an upstanding Jew we have to be on guard constantly.
When we are not so vigilant, our Evil Inclination can goad us to ‘nosh’ on sins: A word of loshon hora, an insincere prayer or blessing, failure to care about a fellow Jew, not being wary enough with halacha, etc. We can be knee-deep in sin and hardly even realize it.  
We refer to religious Jews as ‘Shomer Torah uMitzvos’ and ‘Shomer Shabbos’, which literally means one who guards Torah and mitzvos and guards the Shabbos.
It’s not sufficient to be a ‘Torah fulfiller’ or a ‘Shabbos fulfiller’. Rather we must be guards standing at our post, proactive and vigilant, to ensure that we are fulfilling our duty. As the new year commences we recommit ourselves to fulfilling our roles in the vital service we merit to be a part of. 

    Kesiva Vachasima Tova
   Good Yom Tov & Shana Tova,
    R’ Dani and Chani Staum

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