Thursday, November 5, 2015


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Chayei Sarah
Mevorchim Chodesh Kislev
24 MarCheshvan 5776/ November 6, 2015

It’s been over a decade now that I have been learning with my wonderful chavrusa and friend, R’ Yossi Weimer. Although the location and time when we learn has changed over the years, our learning together has not. Currently we learn during the early morning. With the help of Hashem we have made quite a few siyumim together.
At present we are learning Gemara Yoma. Last week the gemara included a discussion about the events that took place on the first of Nisan, the day the Divine Service in the Mishkan officially began. The gemara quoted some pesukim from Parshas Tzav, my bar mitzvah parsha.
As my Zaydei’s yahrtzeit, 27 Cheshvan, is on the horizon it triggered a memory from when I was a seven year old boy and my Zaydei had come to visit us at our home in Monsey. I asked him if he could tell me the story in my bar mitzvah parsha. He was happy to oblige and began relating the laws of various sacrifices and the details involved in the inauguration of the Mishkan.
I was disappointed. “No Zaydei, I don’t want to hear laws and details; I want to hear the story.” Zaydei smiled and replied that from parshas Yisro onwards there are not many stories recorded in the Torah. The Torah teaches us how to live as Jews including the laws we need to know and observe. A brief but pleasant memory.    
At the end of our learning session each morning, Yossi and I learn a few minutes of mussar. Currently we are learning Chayei Olam, one of the great works of the Steipler Gaon zt’l.
In the second chapter the Steipler explains that man’s intellect and cognitive abilities serve as proof that he isn’t created merely for life in this world. The fact that one can ponder and think demonstrates that he has a great mission and purpose. He quotes the Dubner Maggid who relates the parable of the young boy who dons his father’s clothing, which is obviously way too big on him. One is expected to fit into his clothing. If we do not develop our cognitive abilities and strive for great levels of wisdom we are analogous to the child who wears clothing that is too big for him.
That too reminded me of times in my youth when I would don my Zaydei’s hat and jacket and prance around aimlessly. In fact, there is a famous family picture of me wearing my Zaydei’s hat and jacket which hung on the wall in my Bubby’s house for years.
It’s been almost three decades since my Zaydei’s passing, and he continues to be a tremendous inspiration for me. I still yearn to fit into his clothes, albeit not in the physical sense. [I probably would have fit into his hat and jacket even before my bar mitzvah.] But as a matter of spiritual growth, he remains an example and a role model.
In addition, the legacy he left behind through the way he lived his life is that life is not always a bedtime story, the vagaries and tests of life are par for the course. But no matter the challenges life presents, we must maintain our mission to live according to the dictates of halacha and Avodas Hashem.
I still hope that one day I’ll be able to fit into his clothes.     

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

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