Thursday, September 3, 2015


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Ki Savo
20 Elul 5775/ September 4, 2015
Pirkei Avos Perek 3-4

One night this past summer, camp was graced with a performance from a professional balloonist/magician. He was not only spectacular he was also very funny and it was an all-around enjoyable show.  Throughout the show, in between tricks and sometimes as part of his tricks, he would blow up balloons in various shapes and sizes and give them out to volunteers, or cast them into the excited audience.
For his grand finale, he used an electrical blower to blow up a massive balloon. It was so large that the performer was able to fit his entire body into it. With his cordless microphone attached to his lapel we were able to hear his voice, and saw movement inside the balloon, but for a few seconds we couldn’t see him at all.
Then he popped the balloon and remerged. Everyone clapped and cheered, and then left and lived happily ever after (until it was time for curfew…)
It was a funny scene because it was just part of an act, and it was over in a second. But upon reflection, on a certain level we all live inside our little balloon and because of that we have a hard time seeing others from inside it. They hear our voices because we are confident enough to state our opinions and viewpoints but we often don’t realize that we aren’t seeing the full picture because we are so full of our own hot air that surrounds us. It’s not helium which encapsulates us but our own egos.
A Jew once complained to the Tzemach Tzedek of Lubavitch that he was being disrespected by his fellow congregants in shul. He felt that they literally stepped all over him.
The Rebbe gently replied, “Perhaps you have spread yourself out over the entire shul so that wherever anyone steps they have no choice but to step on you.”
The rule is that an ego that is too big is apt to be bumped and jostled by others.
I recently heard someone quip that EGO is an acronym for “Easing G-d Out”. Part of our challenge is that we have a hard time letting go. We feel that we are in control and that we need to maintain that sense of control. In truth that attitude only breads anxiety and discomfort.
Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski recounts that someone once related to him that for years he worried about his business transactions all night, and had a very hard time sleeping. Then he discovered that G-d doesn’t sleep. Once he realized that G-d was up anyway there was no use in both of them being awake, and he began to sleep more peacefully.
Every night we recite the verse “In your hand I entrust my spirit; You redeem me, Hashem, G-d of truth.”[1] We can only trust when we allow ourselves to emerge from our selfish bubble.  
Perhaps our first step must be to pop the huge balloon which envelops us so that we can see beyond our own confines. Once we let out all that hot air we will also be able to accept that we are all within the warm embrace of G-d. 

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

[1] Tehilim 31:6