Thursday, May 15, 2014


                                  Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Bechukosai - Shabbas Chazak!
Pirkei Avos – Perek 4 --- 16 Iyar 5774/May 16, 2014 – 31st day of the Omer

This past Shabbos I had the pleasure of participating in the Torah Umesorah Convention at the Split Rock Resort in the Pocono Mountains. The convention is a weekend of chizuk, spent in the company of 1800 of Judaism’s finest and bravest – a collection of the great educators of our Torah institutions.
On Shabbos morning I davened behind some of the greatest Torah leaders of our time. The ‘lineup’ of those called up for aliyos was unparalleled, including Harav (Shalom) Reuven ben Harav Moshe (Feinstein), Harav Shmuel ben Harav Yaakov (Kamenetsky), Harav (Aryeh) Malkiel ben Harav (Yosef Chaim) Shneur Kotler. It was no less inspiring to hear words of chizuk from Harav Aharon Feldman, Harav Avrohom Chaim Levine, and the Novominsker Rebbe, among others.
One of the many arduous tasks involved in hosting such a convention is arranging the seating for the Shabbos meals. Dealing with 1800 personal requests can be quite intimidating. Most of the convention attendees know Mrs. Fran Shulman, the one charged with the aforementioned task. Mrs. Shulman and her husband are good friends of my parents from their days living on the Lower East Side.
Having connections is always advantageous, and this year – thanks to Mrs. Shulman – I landed a seat at Mrs. Shulman’s table, which is also the table of Harav Reuven Feinstein shlita and his Rebbitzin, who also know my family from the Lower East Side.
Aside for the pleasure of sitting at the Rosh Yeshiva’s table, it was also fun to see the reaction of those who came to wish the Rosh Yeshiva a good Shabbos and saw me sitting there. I just replied with a smug nod. After all, what can I do if the Rosh Yeshiva wants to sit at my table?
Many people struggle to recite Pesukei D’zimrah each morning. They find it tedious and have a hard time relating to what they are saying. Some purposely come late to davening so they can recite the abridged b’dieved ‘latecomer’ version of Pesuki D’zimrah.
Part of the pleasure of reciting those hallowed ‘Verses of Praise’ (literal translation of the words Pesukei D’zimrah), aside for the actual beauty of the words themselves, is the feeling of connection those words engender.
For example, we declare, “You Hashem; do not withhold Your compassion from me…” It’s mind-boggling to think that we are calling out to the Master of the World directly!
Another example appears just two verses later: “Give strength to G-d, on Yisroel His pride!” Some people love to show off a picture of their “Pride and Joy”. We are Hashem’s Pride! Is it heretical to say that if Hashem had a wallet with a picture in it, the picture would be of us serving Him?!
The only way one can experience the joy of reciting such words is by expending the effort to understand and appreciate the words. The mere ability to sing out the praises of Hashem directly each morning is an opportunity not to be missed. How fortunate we are to have been seated around G-d’s table!   

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

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