Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Erev Z’man Simchaseinu - Succos
14 Tishrei 5774/September 18, 2013

Don’t get me wrong, I like my mechanic. I think he really knows what he’s talking about. The problem is that I have no idea what he is talking about.
The situation has happened numerous times over the years. I pull into the garage and tell the mechanic about my car’s latest malady. He asks me to describe it. I try to replicate the sound the engine makes to the best of my ability. (I think the mechanic goes outside to laugh at me afterwards).
He comes back some time later with his prognosis, which sounds something like this: “Your internal metabolic efficiency frydroclic belt is not working properly. It keeps getting caught on your combustion mega-stopper under the syriphillus booster. That’s what’s causing the noise. It needs to be replaced immediately!”
Not wanting to seem like a complete ignoramus, I nod my head knowingly, pretending I know exactly what he’s talking about, even though he probably just made up all of those parts. “And how much will the new belt cost?” I sophisticatedly ask. He quickly responds with a slew of explanations that because of the particular make and model of my car, and because my birthday is in March, and my Grandparents weren’t born in America, he needs to order a special part which is extra expensive. The cheapest he can give it to me for is $450. I sigh and without feeling much recourse pull out Mr. MasterCard, fulfilling the dictum, “Pay now; cry later!”
Thankfully, the great Yom Tov of Succos – our season of joy – is upon us. It’s time for my annual trek to purchase my Lulav and Esrog. I proceed to the table upon which the most expensive esrogim are on display, from the pardes (orchard) of the Chazon Ish. I figure that if I am willing to shell out $450 for a vague sounding car part, should I be skimpier with my choice for this special mitzvah? It’s an opportunity to demonstrate the value I place in this special and unique mitzvah.
The Mishna Berura states that if one has money to purchase either a beautiful talis and ordinary tefillin or beautiful tefillin and an ordinary tallis, he should opt for the latter. The Mishna Berura adds that even though that is the correct choice, most communities do not adhere to this law.
The reason is that it is far easier to splurge on an expensive tallis which everyone can see, than it is to spend extra money on beautiful tefillin which are obscured inside a sealed black box.
It is inspiring that people spend money to purchase a beautiful esrog case, silver menorah, mezuzah cases, atarah (crown) for a talis, etc. But it is a far greater testament of one’s love for G-d if one expends extra money on mitzvos no one else can see – such as beautiful mezuzah/tefillin scrolls, or a more expensive lulav or esrog.
A typical new car owner excitedly cleans his car, and makes sure it glistens in the sunlight, so everyone who sees it will be impressed. A seasoned mechanic however, ensures that the parts under the hood, which determine the car’s level of functioning and efficiency, are all up to date and in good working order, so the car lasts for a long time.
In regards to our Avodas Hashem we should strive to be mopre like the seasoned mechanic who ensures that the internal workings of his car are working optimally, than the amateur driver who is more concerned with how it appears to others.

    Good Yom Tov & Chag Sameiach,
      R’ Dani and Chani Staum