Thursday, February 27, 2014


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Pekudei/Shekalim
28 Adar 5774/February 28, 2014

I haven’t received one of them in some time, but for a number of years I must have received five of them a day. It was those pesky emails which contained either a joke, an attempted inspirational thought, or some silly message, which concluded with a command that you forward the email to ten other people: “Don’t break the chain!” it would demand. Or it would say “Now that you have finished reading this, you have a choice. You can either do nothing with this (as in you can go back to do your work, pay attention to your family, or some other more worthwhile endeavor) or you can forward this to ten friends and brighten their day, by showing them you care!”
The sheer guilt involved was overwhelming for many of those who had my email address on their contact list, and I would receive many of these emails. I will be bold enough to say that I almost never forwarded those emails or text messages. That’s right; I was the trend-breaker. If I thought it was a worthwhile message I might send it to a few people who I thought might be interested, albeit without the insistence that they not ‘break the chain.’
My favorite of that genre of insipid emails were the ones that promised that you would receive a dollar for every person that you forwarded the email to. It was even better when the heading on top read “This one is not a joke!” It would then contain some elaborate story about why all you needed was the forward button and a dream to become an instant millionaire. I would often email the sender of one of those emails to please let me know when they received their first bag of money. As far as I know, no one ever received a penny for forwarding, and spam senders had all the email addresses they could have wanted.
I was thinking about this because this week, with the help of Hashem, I have concluded my personal study of Seder Zeraim, the first of the six Orders of Mishnayos. When I was in the kollel of Yeshiva Shaarei Torah over a decade ago, there was an elderly gentleman named Rabbi Yosef Solomon z’l, who learned with us each morning. Rabbi Solomon was a retired educator and businessman, and he learned with one of my friends, as if he was just another yeshiva student.
Rabbi Solomon would often encourage us to learn a Mishna or two a day, and have our own study of Mishnayos. At one point I decided to follow his advice and took up the study. Since then I have completed the entire six orders of Mishnayos, and now am 1/6 of the way through my second cycle. I only learn a Mishna or two a day, and generally not for more than 5-10 minutes, but it adds up quickly. Artscroll has completed their commentary on all six orders, so there is a great English resource available. 
Every time I complete another tractate or order it is another load of ‘spiritual points’ delivered to Rabbi Solomon in his place in Gan Eden. I am sure I am not the only one who was inspired by his advice to commence the study. 
It’s been said that if it is customary to learn Mishnayos in someone’s memory, isn’t it far more worthwhile to learn Mishnayos while one is still living?
So I invite anyone to forward – not necessarily this brilliant writing – but this idea. Beginning your own study will not only grant you a feeling of accomplishment and growth in many areas of Torah, but it will also grant me some ‘spiritual points’ for influencing you. That, in turn, will grant Rabbi Solomon additional ‘spiritual points’ for influencing me, which will then grant ‘spiritual points’ to whoever influenced him…
By the way, this idea is of course not limited to Mishna study. Anytime a person influences another person to further his/her own growth, they have forwarded a timeless message, which ensures for themselves a continuous chain of growth.
So pass it on, and don’t break the chain!
               Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos
               Good Chodesh,
               R’ Dani and Chani Staum

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