Thursday, February 19, 2015


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Terumah
Rosh Chodesh – 1 Adar 5775/ February 20, 2015

I have often wondered what life is like in the north where temperatures hover around zero degrees for weeks at a time with strong winds with snow and ice burying the frozen tundra beneath.
Recently all of us on the east coast found out what it was like without having to leave our neighborhoods.
The deep freeze that has engulfed us these last few days has left us pining for spring. We have experienced the words we state each morning “Before his cold, who can stand?” and now we await the fulfillment of the next pasuk: “He sends His word and He melts them; He returns His wind the waters flow, and the snow birds in Miami return”. (The last phrase is not from Dovid Hamelech; it’s my own addition.)
During this slew of Arctic air, a thick patch of ice has formulated right in front of our front door. It is the result of melting snow from the roof from the sunlight that drips down and freezes when it hits the frigid ground.
Even after I have made it down out steep driveway and down our snow covered path I have to stop and proceed slowly over that ice patch before I get to the front door.
It serves as a good reminder of G-d’s warning to Kayin in parshas Bereishis that the evil inclination “crouches at the door”.
When I was a high school student, I remember the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Berel Wein, exhorting us to be mindful of how we come home at the end of a day at the office. He would relate that during one particular time of his life when he held a very challenging position he would often leave the office feeling frustrated and annoyed. When he arrived home he would drive around the block and spend a few added minutes reminding himself that his wife and children should not be the target of his frustrations.
Those first moments set the tone. The black ice lies insidiously right in front of the door and we must be wary of it!
In education, it’s often said that the tone of the day is set in the first moments. Students can gauge from the teacher’s immediate reaction if their presence is welcomed or not. The seasoned teacher ensures that he/she greets each child at the beginning of class with a happy countenance and a friendly comment, even though with some students it has to be acted.
A child too can sense their parent’s feelings when they come home from school or when they wake up in the morning. “The greatest gift that a mother can give her child is to have her face light up whenever the child enters the room” (Toni Morrison).
Another facet of this analogy is that any potential growth in life always contains its share of pitfalls and challenges that hinder that growth from taking place. One has to be dedicated enough, and want it badly enough, to figure out how they will traverse the ice in their path.
The good news is that warmth melts ice. But the warmth must be directed at the ice as it lurks menacingly right in front of the door. Once you get passed it the pleasantness of home awaits.    

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

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