Thursday, July 30, 2015

PARSHAS VAESCHANAN 5775


“RABBI’S MUSINGS (& AMUSINGS)”
Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vaeschanan- Shabbos Nachamu
TU B’AV- 15 Menachem Av 5775/ July 31, 2015
Pirkei Avos Perek 3

Rabbi Dovie Eisenberger is one of the esteemed learning rabbeim here in Camp Dora Golding. As Tisha B’av was beginning a few summers ago, just after he had left his bungalow to daven marriv and eichah, Rabbi Eisenberger was frantically summoned back. A bat had been spotted in his daughter’s bed room. After a few frenzied minutes, George, camp’s legendary worker, was summoned. In his inimitable fashion he coaxed the bat as he gently proceeded towards it before he grabbed it by its feet and removed it from the premises.
When informed about the ordeal one of their neighbors remarked that in Perek Shirah it says that the shirah of the bat is the opening words of the haftorah read the Shabbos following Tisha B’av: “Nachamu nachamu ami – Console, console my nation!” No one wants to find a bat in their home or bungalow, but the symbolism of the bat flying into the room just as Tisha B’av was beginning was extraordinary. The fact that the room which the bat had flown into was that of the Eisenberger’s daughter Nechama was even more remarkable.
Why is it the bat who sings the song of consolation?
Before Camp Dora Golding redid almost every building in camp, including the ‘Family House’ where the Eisenbergers reside for the summer, for many years performances and plays were performed in the Recreation Hall, referred to as the rec (or wreck) hall. As the plays were set to begin it was not uncommon for bats to fly around in front of the stage, and occasionally above the crowds. It definitely added a great deal of drama to the production, especially when an actor had to duck in middle of a scene.
Bats function best at night. Using echolocation the bat navigates with precision, even in the darkest of places. Exile is often compared to darkness; a time when it is difficult to see things clearly. During exile it is challenging to comprehend the ways of G-d and why there is so much pain and suffering. Just as the bat has the ability to navigate through the darkness by utilizing ‘echolocation’, so too must we learn how to navigate the darkness of exile using the ‘echolocation’  provided for us by the Torah and our leaders.  
It is commonly known that pirates wear a patch over one eye. Truthfully however, it has nothing to do with a missing eye, but rather to help them see adequately. While the eyes adapt quickly when going from darkness to light, studies have shown that it can take up to 25 minutes for eyes to adapt when going from bright light to darkness. Pirates frequently had to move above and below decks, from daylight to near darkness. They wore a patch over one eye to keep it dark-adapted. When the pirate went below deck, he would switch the patch to the outdoor eye and see in the darkness easily, potentially to fight while boarding and plundering another vessel. Like pirates we need to be able to endure in worlds of lights and worlds of darkness.
Rabbi Eisenberger added that bats hang upside down. In exile when the world often seems backwards and upside down the bat symbolizes the ability to ‘hold on’ if its feet are firmly rooted.
Finally, bats tend to nest together in very close proximity, as we were reminded during every performance in camp. The symbolism of this characteristic of the bats is obvious. United we stand; divided we fall. Unity is the key to our redemption and the source of consolation. 
“Nachamu Nachamu Ami!”
   
Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
            R’ Dani and Chani Staum       


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