Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Shelach
Pirkei Avos – Perek 2 --- 15 Sivan 5774/June 13, 2014

Remember the winter? The truth is, I don't think anyone in the United States is going to forget this winter too quickly. For over four months it seemed like every day it was either frigidly cold or it was snowing.
But by now under the warming June sun, for most people the cold bitter winter has for the most part been relegated to table talk and a point of past fascination. Not so for the Staum family, who have a stark reminder of the effects of winter every day as soon as we walk out of our house. During one of the many snowstorms this winter one of the village snow plows did an excellent job of, not only clearing away the snow from the road, but also of clearing away the first few feet of our lawn. During the winter the damage wasn't very noticeable. But when the snow finally thawed and melted the herbal carnage became visible.
In every situation that arises in which we must respond we have to approach from two perspectives: - long term effectiveness and short term effectiveness. Although often our response can be beneficial for both, the challenge is that what works for one is not necessarily the most productive for the other.
For example, if a father embarrasses his son in shul because the latter was talking during davening, he may get his son to stop talking in the moment, but in the long term he has not taught him anything about kavod hatefillah. In fact, in the long term he may have sown seeds of resentment towards tefillah in his son’s heart. Another example, if a mother does her child's school project for him the night before it’s due, she may help the child get a good grade in the short term, but what is the long term lesson the child has learned?
The rule is that we can demand short-term compliance, but real internal growth can only be fostered with patience, empathy, and love. Those are the components needed for long-term effectiveness. Consider the following quote from Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People):
Suppose, for example, that I am highly overreactive to my children. Suppose that whenever they begin to do something that I feel is inappropriate, I sense an immediate tensing in the pit of my stomach. I feel defensive walls going up, I prepare for battle. My focus is not on the long-term growth and understanding but on the short-term behavior. I’m trying to win the battle, not the war.
“I pull out my ammunition - my superior size, my position of authority – and I yell or intimidate or I threaten or punish. And I win. I stand there, victorious, in the middle of the debris of a shattered relationship while my children are outwardly submissive and inwardly rebellious, suppressing feelings that will come out later in uglier ways.”  
Sometimes we get so caught up in the short term that we hurt ourselves in the long term. Sometimes we're so focused on plowing the snow off the road that we forget that one day it will all melt into oblivion, and bare what until now was concealed underneath. In the dead of winter we need to consider how our decisions will manifest when the summer sun eventually shines.

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

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