Thursday, August 14, 2014


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Eikev
Pirkei Avos – Perek 5 --- 19 Menachem Av 5774/August 15, 2014

During the last few weeks, when I or one of my editors read something I typed we noticed that the same mistake keeps surfacing – I missed a ‘u’. In fact, two weeks ago in the Msings column I didn’t realize the inadvertent omission ntil after I had sent it ot.
One of my beloved children, who shall remain nameless for the sake of anonymity, decided that the laptop I se to type all of my brilliant colmns wold be better off withot certain letters. When she ripped off the ‘z’ and the ‘x’ that wasn’t sch a big isse. After all, how often do yo type a z or an x? But the ‘u’ was a different story. Now anytime I want to type a ‘u’ I have to press down hard on the spot where the btton sed to be. Often as I type casally I don’t realize that the ‘u’ didn’t register.
What does that have to do with ‘t’ in China, you ask? Nothing really. In fact, as of the moment my laptop still has a ‘t’. But I think the plucked off ‘u’ button has a lot to do with what we are all focused on this time of year. During the Three Weeks and Tisha B’av there is a lot of talk about focusing on others, thinking about ‘you’ and not just ourselves.
It seems that in our self-absorbed, self-promoting, self-aggrandizing society it is a particular challenge for us to focus on the ‘u’. In a society so focused on the mighty ‘I’, who has place for ‘u’?
Someone once quipped that we live in a beautiful world but many of us never get to appreciate it because we can’t see past ourselves. During the middle ages the world believed in the geocentric model which espoused that the earth was in the center of the universe. Under the threat of death, Galileo was forced to publically recant his ‘heretical belief’ in the heliocentric model, which claimed that that the sun was in the center of the world. While today it is accepted that the sun is indeed at the center of the Milky Way, there are many who un-admittedly believe in the ‘I-centric model’, i.e. that they – the all-important ‘I’ – is at the center of the world, and everyone is here to serve them.
We are familiar with the gemara which states that the second Bais Hamikdash was destroyed because of sinas chinam, loosely translated as baseless hatred. Sinas chinam includes all strife, disagreement, jealousy, loshon hara, petty arguments, and resentments. The root of it all lies in the ‘I’, and the inability to see the ‘u’. When the ‘I’ consumes all there is no room for anyone else.
It seems that it’s not only my ‘u’ that’s broken, but it’s a general malaise affecting us all for two millennia. When we all figure out how to fix our ‘u’ button we can be sure that the ultimate redemption will hastily come.

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

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