Thursday, July 31, 2014


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Devorim/Shabbos Chazon
Pirkei Avos – Perek 3 --- 5 Menachem Av 5774/August 1, 2014

I was eight years young. My mother’s father - my Zaydei - had recently passed away, and I was still trying to come to terms with the concept of death. I was having a hard time grasping the idea that I would never again see my Zaydei, who I loved and adored. The fact that my mother was not home for the first week after so she could sit shiva with her mother, sister, and brother in my Zaydei’s apartment in the Lower East Side only made it more difficult.
But shiva ended, my mother returned home, and life was starting to return to normalcy. Now a few weeks later, for the first time since my Zaydei had died, we were going to visit my newly widowed Bubby. We came to the door and rang the familiar bell. Bubby replied in her familiar way. It all seemed so usual, like it always was.
Then we entered the apartment. I will never forget how my mother began crying bitterly as we walked in. All the usual pictures were where they always were, the furniture was where it had always been, Zaydei’s myriad seforim were still lining the shelves of his study, and as usual Bubby was cooking something. But there was no big gemara open in his study, no new seforim hidden under the dining room table, and most profoundly Zaydei did not come to greet us with his trademark gleaming smile.
That painful moment revitalized the pain of the raw wound that Zaydei was gone.
My younger siblings born after Zaydei’s passing, had a very different experience when they came to visit that apartment in later years. They could hardly understand the pain we felt because they never knew Zadei; they didn’t know what was missing.  
We are very blessed in the current exile. We can visit Eretz Yisroel and the Kosel, there is no dearth of Shuls or Yeshivos throughout the country, and the proliferation of Torah and mitzvos is unparalleled.
The events of the past week remind us of the peril we constantly face and that the Messianic era has yet to arrive. But even so Yerushalayim has regained its status as the capitol of our world, and the country is flourishing.
            However, all is not well. As long as the Bais Hamikdash is not rebuilt and korbanos not offered, things are not as they should be. The greatest challenge for us is that we don’t even know what we are missing. We cannot fathom the excitement of offering a Korbon Pesach, and we have no inkling of the inspiration of seeing the Kohanim performing the Avodah while the Levites sang with harmonious beauty. We do not know the excitement of the tri-annual pilgrimage for the holidays, and we never experienced the awesome trepidation of seeing the Kohain Gadol perform the Yom Kippur service. We were never privy to the feeling of devotion to G-d and acutely sensing that you have achieved atonement when offering a korbon.
            Although we don’t know what we are missing, the very fact that we want to know what we are missing, is indicative of the fact that we wish to connect with that forgotten world.
            On Tisha B’av, we demonstrate or connection, or at least longing for connection, with that more G-dly world. We remind ourselves that for all the blessings we have G-d is not yet home. His Presence may have never left, but we cannot experience it fully. We long for the day when the dome of the rock will be replaced with the third Bais Hamikdash, an eternal reunion, when all our tears will be dried forever.     

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos
A meaningful & inspiring Tisha B’av,
            R’ Dani and Chani Staum           

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