Thursday, April 10, 2014

Erev Z’man Chairusainu 5774

Erev Z’man Chairusainu  
14 Nissan 5774/April 14, 2014

A number of years ago I was in a car with a friend who was listening to a sports talk show on the radio. They were discussing a popular power hitter on the New York Yankees who was in a miserable slump. The host of the show suggested that the player thought too much. “When he steps up to the plate he’s busy trying to strategize what the pitcher is going to throw to him. So let’s say he concludes that the pitcher will probably throw him a sinker. Then when he throws him a curveball he’s totally off guard. So then he readies himself for a curveball, and then when the pitcher hurls a slider he swings and misses. When he is convinced he’s ready for any type of off-speed pitch, the pitcher hurls it down the middle, and he goes down looking like an amateur.”
The co-host added that the slumping star needed to be more like a different player (whom he named), who was a great hitter, and not known to be intellectual.  “Yeah, he probably steps up to bat and thinks, “I like ice cream”. Then, a second later – BOOM! He whacks the ball into the seats!” 
A wise friend asked me recently what my goal is vis-à-vis my children on Seder night. “What is it that you want them to walk away with?” It’s a good question.
One morning a chossid was reciting Shema fervently in proximity of the Kotzker Rebbe. Kotzk is legendary for their abhorrence of externalities and the chossid made the mistake of demonstrating his intense fervor. After davening concluded the Rebbe summoned the chossid and asked him what he was concentrating on as he said the Shema. The chossid proudly explained all of the deep thoughts he was pondering as he said Shema – the oneness of G-d, the omnipotence of G-d, how G-d rules over all four corners of the earth, is above the seven heavens, etc. The Rebbe listened patiently to the chossid’s discourse. When he concluded, the Rebbe replied that he seems to have forgotten one thing. The chossid was stunned; what could he have forgotten? The Rebbe poignantly replied, “That there is a G-d!”  
Sometimes we become so involved and consumed by the deep and mystical that we forget and overlook the simple integral truths. There is an endless amount of explanations, ideas, discourses, and halachic debates which one can study and ponder regarding every passage and law of the Seder. But when all is said and done, the most important idea that we must convey to our children and inculcate within ourselves is the most simple of all: That there is a G-d. It was He who redeemed us from Egypt, He who chose us as a nation, He who punished the evil Egyptians, he who brought us to Sinai and gave us the Torah, and it is He who runs every facet of our lives and every thing that transpires in the universe. He loves us and awaits our success, and has much more faith in us than we do.
We shouldn’t become so involved in trying to hit pilpulistic, Talmudic, and homiletical ‘homeruns’ that we become distracted from remembering the most basic truth of all. Everything else is just “icing on the cake”, or in (non-gebrokst) Pesach lingo “butter on the matzah”.

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

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