Thursday, June 26, 2014

Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Chukas 5774

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Chukas
Pirkei Avos – Perek 4 --- 29 Sivan (Erev Rosh Chodesh Tamuz) 5774/June 27, 2014

250! That’s an impressive number!
It was a great feeling when I realized that this is the 250th Rabbi’s Musings column that I have written. It is an added honor that column archives are now posted weekly in the Five Towns Jewish Home, Baltimore Jewish Home, and Bergen County Jewish Link.
The column began as a venue for me to share thoughts with our kehilla, Kehillat New Hempstead, during the summer when our family is away in Camp Dora Golding, where I am a Division Head. It began Erev Shabbos Pinchos in July 2009. It has continued virtually every week since, until now – a little more than 250 weeks later - incidentally back at Camp Dora Golding.
I have been asked where I find or how I come up with the material for this column. After all, it generally has nothing to do with the parsha and can be about any random topic. Firstly, I consider myself privileged to be counted among the students of Rabbi Berel Wein shlita. I was a member of the final class of students to graduate Yeshiva Shaarei Torah under his tutelage as its Rosh Yeshiva. [When I graduated in June 1997 he apparently felt there was nothing more to stay for, and his family made aliyah.]
Rabbi Wein has instilled within his students and myriad admirers an appreciation of the fact that there are lessons to be gleaned from every occurrence in life if your eyes are trained to see them. His book, Buy Green Bananas, is a collection of short witticisms of his unique perspective of seemingly mundane events. The book is so named as an encouragement to invest in things that are not yet ripe, because we always have to invest in our future. Modeling myself after my Rebbe, I have toyed with the idea of writing a book called ‘Eat Mashed Potatoes’.
My weltanschauung and perspectives on life have been vastly influenced by Rabbi Wein, as is especially recognizable in this column. In fact he has influenced me more than I realize. I was very proud of myself for the title of this column, Rabbi’s Musings (and Amusings), until I found that it’s actually a chapter heading in Rabbi Wein’s book, Second Thoughts.    
I would add that looking for material to write about each week helps bolster one’s search for significance in everything that occurs in life. A friend of mine once wondered whether more eccentric things happen to Ba’alei Teshuva or is it that they are they more in tune to finding G-d in every aspect of life, and so they recognize the Hand of G-d more than others who allow their religious responsibilities to become passé.
I would venture to think that although the Hand of G-d is often blatantly clear in the journey of Ba’alei Teshuva, it’s the latter explanation that carries more weight. Every time a shidduch is celebrated, one finds a job, buys a house in a specific neighborhood, meets someone random on the street, needs repairs in his home/car, deals with frustrations, or merits particular blessing, it is a clear manifestation of a Divine Hand guiding the world and our lives.
When one trains himself to search for Hashem in life, He is readily found, even in bananas and mashed potatoes.     

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

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