Thursday, October 2, 2014


Erev Shabbos Kodesh-Yom Kippur 5775
9 Tishrei 5774/October 3, 2014
A few weeks ago I was invited to give a presentation in the Yeshiva Ketana of Waterbury, Connecticut. While driving on the highway to Waterbury I noticed the yellow light on my dashboard, which indicated low tire pressure come on. My mechanic once informed me that those lights are more sensitive than a grumpy infant so I proceeded without giving it much thought.
When I concluded the presentation and headed back to my car however, I realized that the warning was well founded. One of my tires was almost completely flat. I called my brother-in-law who lives locally and he directed me to a mechanic that was fairly close. With four working tires the drive to Don’s Garage would have taken 2 minutes. But because I had to drive so painfully slowly it took me almost fifteen tense minutes.
The mechanic removed the tire to get a better look. In under a minute he related to me his grim prognosis: the tire was a goner. He showed me that a thick nail had lodged itself in the tire and the tire could not be salvaged. Not only did that tire have to be replaced, but to maintain balance the opposite tire had to be replaced.
I pulled out Mr. Visa and within a few minutes the tires were replaced and I was back on the road heading home (after stopping to visit my sister and brother-in-law’s new home of course).    
In the waning moments of Yom Kippur, when we are running on nothing other than spiritual strength, we emphatically proclaim in unison the timeless mantra of our people: “Shema Yisroel Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad!”
It is the proclamation of our complete subjugation to G-d, above all else. Rabbeinu Yonah in Shaarei Teshuva writes that if one accepts upon himself the yoke of heaven in regards to all mitzvos except for one, he is considered a ‘poreik ol’ one who has cast off the yoke of Heaven. Kabbolas Ol Malchus Shamayim, accepting upon ourselves the Yoke of Heaven, is an all or nothing endeavor.
Perhaps we may falter and sin, but it’s not because we have not accepted the yoke of heaven upon ourselves fully. Rather, it’s that we become sidetracked and lose focus on our mission and priorities.
My tire was virtually completely intact. There was only one spot which had a massive nail wedged into it. But that one nail was enough to deflate and destroy the entire tire and impede my car’s ability to drive properly.
At Sinai we proclaimed our unyielding acceptance of our mission to be G-d’s Chosen holy people. Every year on Yom Kippur we renew our dedication to that mission.
Our tires don’t have any holes, for our dedication is steadfast and unrelenting. It’s that just that throughout the year our internal yetzer hara adeptly gets us to let some air out of our tires. On Yom Kippur we refill them, so that we are rearing and ready to go!

G’mar Vachasima Tova
Good Shabbos & Shabbat Shalom,
            R’ Dani and Chani Staum      

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