Thursday, July 17, 2014


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Matos
Pirkei Avos – Perek 1 --- 20 Tamuz 5774/July 18, 2014

It was practically a tradition in our home. When my father would see myself or my brothers the first time after we got a haircut, he would gently waft his hand through the back of our freshly cut hair and half ‘sing’ a brief high-pitched somewhat purposely off-key ditty (it’s hard to describe). Even now my father will still perform the ritual when he sees me soon after I get a haircut. My sons excitedly to go to Zayde for the ‘hair thing’ after they get a haircut too.
There’s something nice about getting a haircut. For a few days the person looks put together and fresh. [For me there’s an added benefit because I’ve been told that I look like I’ve lost weight after getting a haircut. “The haircut diet: You don’t need to change your eating habits, or make any lifestyle changes. Just go to your local barber.” I could make a lot of money if I could market that.]  
The same holds true in regards to a lawn. We have a neighbor in Monsey who doesn’t cut his grass much. In fact, the grass in his yard can grow up to a few inches before he finally mows it. But afterwards his whole yard and the exterior of his house look so much nicer.
During the Three Weeks, as well as the period of Sefirah, when all of the simcha halls and frum barbers are on vacation, the laws of mourning include that we do not take haircuts or shave. Naturally that means that men’s hair and beards grow noticeably long and somewhat unkempt.
We also refrain from listening to music during this time. Music has a palpable effect on people and their deepest emotions. Music can evoke tears, smiles, and even a dance.
In the haftorah for Shabbos Chazon, Yeshaya Hanavi’s chief complaint against the nation is that their Judaism has lost feeling. They haven’t necessarily stopped fulfilling any of their responsibilities, but they do so in a dry unemotional manner. They performed mitzvos, brought korabos, and davened when they had to, albeit without passion or feeling.   
The laws of mourning help us maintain perspective. Part of the reason why the destruction and exile occurred was because their Avodas Hashem lacked passion and excitement. The nation resorted to serving G-d out of rote, just to fulfill their responsibilities.
Our task is to be passionate and excited with the privilege we have to be part of the Torah nation, to perform mitzvos with youthful vigor and passion, and never appearing old and withered. Torah is compared to a song, for it dictates, and elevates, all the emotions we feel.
The restrictions of this period reflect our national and personal deficiencies. Ultimately, when our divine service is performed in an orderly, fresh, and passionate manner we will no longer be bound by these restrictions. At that time we will celebrate our newfound vivaciousness and passion with music, haircuts, and great celebration.  

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

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