Thursday, August 27, 2015


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Ki Setzei
13 Elul 5775/ August 29, 2015
Pirkei Avos Perek 1-2

Auntie Em will tell you: There’s no place like home. This week we arrived home from Camp Dora Golding where we enjoyed another wonderful summer season b’h. After all the boxes and packages were unloaded and everything was (will be) finally unpacked, it’s great to be home. Although we will undoubtedly miss our summer home and all our friends from there – including a few skunks, daddy long legs, and raccoons, it’s nice to be home.
The morning after we came home it was time for the big shopping trip to replenish our kitchen shelves. Our older children went to visit their gracious (and daring) grandparents in Lakewood for a few days, and our younger two went to a day camp. That left me with no excuse to get out of going food shopping with Chani. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against food shopping. In fact, I do it quite often during the year. Along with all of the other men wandering aimlessly around the markets, on Thursday night I meander around the store with my cell phone in hand trying to figure out what I’m supposed to buy. But shopping with my wife is a different story. She doesn’t really need me, since she knows what she wants. Sure it’s great to spend time together, but when it comes to food shopping I’m merely the porter and the payer who is supposed to look pretty as she shops and shmoozes.
It was a flashback to when I would go shopping with my mother years ago. Only now it was much worse because these days I can’t tug on my wife’s foot and whine, “Come onnnnnn! Can’t we goooooo alreadddddyyyyy!” as she is schmoozing with a woman whose children are doing the same to her. Nor can I empty the shelves and throw things at other kids to get her attention. After all, I have to speak from the pulpit on Shabbos and people know me. What was worse was that I couldn’t even incite one of my children to whine to Mommy to get her to hurry up (not that I ever would do that anyway…)
The situation reminded me of a classic thought from Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt’l who always had a unique perspective about life and its challenges. Rabbi Miller notes that everything in life is an opportunity from which we can grow.
“A man standing under the chupah looks at the array of his wife’s relatives. He has to know that each is a different opportunity for perfection… This one is stubborn… another relative is selfish… then there is a hot-tempered man…
“Each person who crosses your path is sent by Hashem and in such a way that is suited to your needs… Each test is another opportunity. Think of a chicken roasted on a spit. It’s turned slowly to get every crack and wrinkle cooked just right. Likewise, in order to make us perfect in every facet of our character, Hashem ‘rotates us’ as we pass through life over the fire of ordeals.”[1]
I looked at the frozen chickens as they were placed in our shopping cart, and thought about how delicious they would be on our Shabbos table after they were cooked to perfection. After reminding myself how lucky I am not to be one of those frozen chickens, I thought about how every situation is an opportunity to grow. Sometimes it’s about working on being patient and appreciating just being there.
I guess I need a lot more turning before I’m roasted to perfection.    

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
            R’ Dani and Chani Staum
720 Union Road • New Hempstead, NY 10977 • (845) 362-2425

[1] Rabbi Avigdor Miller on Emunah and Bitachon, by Rabbi Yaakov Astor, p. 98-99