Thursday, October 17, 2013


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vayera
14 MarCheshvan 5774/October 18, 2013

In camp this past summer one of the more intelligent points that were debated, was of personal preference between “Dougies BBQ and grill” and “Chickies French Fry and Chicken Bar”. The common denominator is that both are cardiovascular disasters. But the question was which one of the two restaurants really takes the cake (or the greasy fried fries). That was the subject of disagreement between many a counselor and staff member.
Shortly after we arrived home from camp, our nine year old son Shalom ruefully noted that he had never been to Dougies or Chickies. He heard so much discussion about the wings, poppers, and ‘unbelievable onion’, and he wanted to know what the hock was all about. We simply hadn’t realized how much we had woefully and negligently deprived our children. Had we actually been raising our children in America and never once brought them to Dougies?
On Sunday evening August 25, 2013 we repented by taking our four children for a special family dinner at Dougies. It wasn’t just special because we got to eat tortilla chips before supper, or because we were able (and were provided for) coloring all over the table, or because of the big portions of greasy and spicy food that we all enjoyed. It was also the final outing we had as a six member family.
Later that evening we went to the hospital and, Boruch Hashem, our son Shimshon Dovid, was born Monday morning, August 26 (20 Elul). We contemplated naming him “Douglas” in commemoration of our final family meal before his birth, but in the end we decided against it for various obvious reasons.  
One thing was for certain. Our children really enjoyed themselves and can’t wait to go again.
There are children in school who seem to make it their mission to drive their teacher crazy and disengage the class from the lesson. On a subconscious level, often the child’s real goal in derailing the lesson is to get the teacher to stop teaching things that makes him feel dumb, especially in front of his classmates.
Many of those children have had limited experiences feeling successful, at least in the classroom. The old adage that ‘success breeds success’  is partially based on the fact that once one realizes that he can be successful, he will be more confident and invest more effort in trying to recapture that feeling. 
Dovid Hamelech declares in Tehillim (34:9) “Taste and see that Hashem is good”. From an outsider’s perspective being a G-d-fearing, Torah-observant Jew can seem archaic, insular, and overbearing. But one who has truly experienced it can attest to the fact that it is the most rewarding and fulfilling life.
If one experiences the joy of one blissful davening, one fulfilling session of Torah learning, one elevating Shabbos meal, that may be all he/she needs to serve as a reference point that reminds him/her of how deeply fulfilling it was, and can be. Those few positive successful experiences can make a tremendous difference.
One bite of success of often enough to make us want to keep coming back for more.   

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

720 Union Road • New Hempstead, NY 10977 • (845) 362-2425