Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vaeschanan/Shabbos Nachamu
Pirkei Avos – Perek 4 --- 12 Menachem Av 5774/August 8, 2014

A number of years ago, one of our children had been learning about the importance of prayer, turned to Chani and said, “Mommy, could you daven that Hashem take away my hiccups.”
It sounds like a cute story, which demonstrates the simple sincerity of a young child. But we need to pay heed to the things those sincere children utter.  
One of the Chassidim of Reb Motel Chernobler saw the rebbe standing at the window moving his lips. The chasid imagined his rebbe was reciting some kabbalistic declaration. He was shocked when he walked closer and heard the Rebbe say, “Master of the world, the maid that helps my wife wants to quit, but my wife really needs her help. Please help the maid change her mind.” Later the chosid asked the rebbe why he was praying for such a mundane thing. The rebbe replied emphatically, “Who else should I ask?”  
It seems that it is easier to believe in Hashem when ‘big things’ happen than when ‘little/mundane’ annoyances happen. [Although being married for some time, I have learned that if the cleaning help quits it is not little or mundane.] When upsetting and frustrating events occur one can comfort himself that it’s undoubtedly part of the Divine plan. But it’s harder to admit the same when one has a headache on a Sunday afternoon (see Rabbeinu Yonah, Misheli 3:6).
This week as I was davening for some of my personal needs and wants I paused for a moment. Is it really proper for me to daven for small things like having nice weather so camp can function properly while soldiers are putting their lives in danger in Gaza and our brethren in Eretz Yisroel are in serious danger?
I reminded myself that, not only was that thought wrong, it may even border on idolatry. The Ran (Derash 9) explains that idolatry began from a misunderstanding about the greatness of G-d. They felt that if G-d was so mighty and powerful, it is audacious of man to assume that G-d cares about the trivialities of his life. Why would the G-d of the universe care if I pray or sin? But that attitude is a drastic mistake. In fact, the true greatness of G-d lies in the fact that despite His omnipotence, He indeed loves every miniscule one of his creations, and cares for the individual welfare of each one.
On Tisha B’av we recount many painful experiences and sagas that our nation has had to endure since time immemorial (the oldest kinah was composed by Yirimyah about the death of Yoshiyahu Hamelech, which occurred before the destruction of the first Bais Hamikdash). It is always astounding to hear the accounts of those extraordinary believers in G-d who endured the worst atrocities of mankind and yet maintained their faith, attest that they knew G-d was with them in the worst of times.
We daven for the welfare of our soldiers, we daven for the welfare, peace, and prosperity of our people, and we daven for the sick and brokenhearted. And we must also daven for our cars to start, that we make it to all of our appointments, and that our family enjoys the supper we cook.
The same G-d who appeared to us at Sinai and will appear with the advent of Moshiach, is the same G-d who orchestrates every detail of our lives, including taking away our hiccups.  

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

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