Thursday, December 31, 2015


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Shemos   
21 Teves 5776/ January 1, 2016

It was so strange. This week on Tuesday morning, those of us in the New York area, awoke to ice and snow. After a December which boasted days when it was warmer and brighter in New York than in Los Angeles, the “normal” wintery weather took us by surprise. Throughout the previous weeks we all undoubtedly appreciated the bright sunshine and over sixty-degree weather. This year the weather on Chanukah was warmer than it was last year on Pesach (not to mention last year’s snowstorm on Purim). But alas, now winter has finally caught up with us in New York!
It seems that we only appreciate things when they aren’t expected. When we feel es kumt mir, a sense of entitlement, we don’t enjoy it as much, or at all. 
Anytime I have visited a city blessed with beautiful weather during the winter, such as Miami or Los Angeles, I couldn’t get enough of the beautiful weather. I also realized that the natives didn’t appreciate what they had. 
The truth is that those of us who live in chutz la’aertz have a benefit over those who live in Eretz Yisroel, i.e. a deeper appreciation for Eretz Yisroel. Those who have it never appreciate it as much as those who wish they had it.   
This world follows a definite pattern, what we know as the circle of life. The divinely ordained trajectory is relentless and generally monotonous. It therefore behooves us and is incumbent upon us to find meaning, purpose, and direction within the natural course. 
When unusual events occur it adds drama to the commonplace routine of our lives. It’s the unexpected, the ironic components of life, that give us cause for excitement. We pray that such drama only stem from blessings and special occasions. 
This week our family is blessed to be celebrating such an experience. Our bechor, Yaakov Meir Shalom, will iy’H become a bar mitzvah on Tuesday evening, 25 Teves. It doesn’t seem so long ago that his birth transformed us from a young couple into a young family. Now thirteen quick years later he is entering the next milestone – complete obligation in Torah and mitzvos, our truest measure of adulthood. 
When such wonderful occasions occur it is an opportunity to thank Hashem and to reflect, not only on the actual celebration of the current milestone, but also upon the guidance and blessings He has endowed us with throughout the last thirteen years. 
We thank Hashem for His past blessings and pray for the future, that we have the wisdom and insight to appreciate even the mundane blessings, and to enjoy many wonderful celebrations which add meaning and direction to our entire lives. 

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

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