Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vaera
25 Teves 5775/ January 16, 2015
Mevorchim Chodesh Shevat

I never understood why I did it, but I always did. Whenever I needed to go shopping for ‘just a few things’, either during an early weekday morning or on Friday afternoon, I would run into the store without grabbing a shopping cart. I reasoned to myself that I didn’t need the cart if I was only buying a few quick things.
Yet somehow the scene repeated itself every time. I would get on line at one of the registers with my hands overflowing, trying pathetically to maintain the precarious balance of all the things I ended up buying. I tried to ignore the pitiful stares from the other cart-wielding shoppers as I pretended that I was really fine without a shopping cart.
Recently I was teaching my fifth graders about the final beracha of Shemoneh Esrei. I explained that after delineating and petitioning G-d for all of our needs – wisdom, repentance, health, livelihood, redemption, etc. - we conclude with a request that we be granted the blessing of peace.
The Sages explain that “G-d found no better vessel to contain blessing than peace.” One who merits tremendous blessings but has no receptacle to contain it all, will not be able to maintain or enjoy his bounty. Even if one has wealth, health, and respect if he has no peace in his life, with others, in his home, or even with himself, he will not be able to enjoy any of the blessings he has been endowed. Therefore, before concluding Shemoneh Esrei we beseech G-d to grant us peace, for therein lies the key for our being able to glean blessings for divine countenance, Torah living, loving-kindness, righteousness, and goodness.
I explained this idea with the shopping cart analogy. I told my students that even if I have enough money to buy everything in the store, if I don’t have a way of getting all the groceries I purchased onto the conveyor belt to pay for them, all my money won’t help me.
So this past Friday I finally wizened up. When I ran in to a store to buy some last minute items for Shabbos, despite my desire not to, I grabbed a shopping cart. When I came to pay a few minutes later I was gratified that I had the shopping cart.
As the cashier was ringing up my purchases I turned to see a friend standing on the adjacent line his hands folded and a slew of items piled up precariously and pathetically atop his arms. With a smug look on my face I told him that there are shopping carts available outside for no extra charge. He smiled and replied “I’m only buying milk!” 

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

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