Thursday, April 23, 2015


Erev Shabbos Kodesh – Parshas Tazria-Metzora
5 Iyar 5775/ April 28, 2015
21st day of the Omer - Pirkei Avos – Chapter 2

Although it’s always sad when a Yom Tov ends, there was always something exciting about Motzei Pesach. As soon as we finished putting away all of the Pesach dishes, cutlery, tablecloths, haggadahs, etc. we excitedly ripped the tinfoil off the counters, and cut the bows tied around the handles on the chometz shelves. Within a few minutes the kitchen was reverted back to its usual look with nary a trace of the Pesach coverings that had adorned it for the previous week and a half.
It was always amazing to me how quickly we were able to undo what had taken so much time to create. The covering and koshering which had been done so carefully and meticulously required minimal effort to reverse. 
The truth is that the unfair balance is a fact of life. What can take us so long to achieve and accomplish can be uprooted and destroyed so rapidly.
The moral of the story is that it’s not enough to build, but one must also know how to savor and preserve their accomplishments without forfeiting them.
During Pesach we grow spiritually through performing the unique mitzvos and halachos endemic to the Yom Tov. The question then becomes how to maintain that growth and not allow it to be placed in the trash alongside the now defunct counter-covering aluminum foil.
In regards to Pesach the resolution to that dilemma is built into the holiday itself, i.e. Sefiras Haomer. The path to growth is through constant goal-setting and striving to achieve greater levels. The path to maintaining growth is through developing positive habits and routines that “lock in” one’s new accomplishments.
During the days of Sefirah we not only seek to accomplish new growth, but we seek to build upon the growth of previous days and weeks.
This past Shabbos we began the study of Pirkei Avos. Towards the end of perek 1, the great Shammai relates three teachings: “Make your Torah (study) fixed, speak little and do a lot, and accept every person with a smiling countenance.”
After reading the perek in shul this past Shabbos, I was discussing this mishna with others and we wondered, what is the connection between these three seemingly disparate bits of advice?
We thought that perhaps Shammai is relating to us the importance of developing positive habits. Torah study cannot be arbitrary and ‘whenever one has time’. Every person has to set for himself fixed times for Torah study. Learning to regulate one’s words and not immediately say whatever is on one’s mind is a positive habit that one can foster within himself. Finally, one can train himself to greet everyone he encounters with a smile and a pleasant disposition.
So often when people extol the character of great Torah leaders they speak of their incredible adherence to their schedule of Torah study, how they measure their words, and the warmth which they exude to everyone they met.  
 By now we are all again enjoying our pizza and pasta. But we want to hold on to the spiritual growth of Pesach and incorporate it into our daily routine.  

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

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