Friday, October 14, 2016


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Haazinu
12 Tishrei 5777/ October 13, 2016

Once upon a time, there was a family named The Staums, who resided at 3 Landau Lane in Spring Valley, NY.
This wonderful family was thrilled to spend its summers at Camp Dora Golding in East Stroudsburg, PA, where Rabbi Staum served as a division head. Due to the fact that the Staum family was temporarily residing in East Stroudsburg, they had their mail forwarded from the end of June until the beginning of the final week of the camp season at the end of August.
This year, when the Staum family arrived home after another wonderful camp season, their mail again began appearing in their mailbox, just as they had arranged. And they lived happily ever after… until the following week.
After a few days they realized that their mail had stopped being dropped off. The mailman would pass by their home and simply drive by.  So they called the Post Office, and after a mere fifteen frustrating tries, decided to go down to the Post Office in person.
At the Post Office a real live person agreed to look into the situation. He returned a few minutes later and explained that there was a simple logical explanation for why the Staums had not received their mail. It seems Walter, their usual postman, was on vacation when they arrived home from camp. His temporary substitute received their request to stop forwarding their mail to East Stroudsburg and did so. But when Walter returned from his vacation the following week, he didn’t realize that they had returned (their two cars in front and children running in and out, etc. apparently weren’t a good enough indication). So he resumed forwarding their mail.  
Thus their lost mail was somewhere in limbo between East Stroudsburg and Monsey. They are still awaiting the grand return of that week’s mail.
It would seem that this whole ordeal was just an annoyance that the Staums had to deal with, and, aside for not receiving some invitations, bills, tzedakah solicitations, and calendars for the new year, it’s not such a big deal. Or so you might have thought!
However, during that fateful week of mistakenly forwarded mail, the Staum’s secondary insurance mailed them a standard letter about a bill they had paid. But that envelope stated that it was not to be forwarded. As soon as the insurance company received the returned letter, they came to the immediate conclusion that the Staums no longer had a valid home address, and they promptly cancelled the Staum’s insurance… the day before Mrs. Staum gave birth to twins!
So as they received Mazal Tov wishes from near and dear, the Staums also began receiving substantial bills from the hospital – somehow those did arrive in the mail.
“No big deal”, you’d think. “Just call the insurance company and explain their mistake.” But speaking to bureaucrats is far worse than speaking to a brick wall. And so the Staums await a trial hearing before the insurance company’s judge, hoping that his/her honor will admit to the inanity of the situation and have the insurance company cover the bills they should be covering, so that the Staums, and their twins, can again live happily ever after.
That whole story is an introduction to the following question: What is someone’s address? Where does one really live?
Is it the place where your mail arrives at, and the place where all of your stuff is, or is it more about the place where your family is located, and the place where you feel secure and settled?
During the Yom Tov of Succos, we demonstrate that it is the latter. We depart from our homes that contains ‘all of our stuff’, the one which is listed as our address, so that we can seek residence in a flimsy succah with our family, basking in the security of the divine beneath the schach.
Succos reminds us that despite the fact that we feel secure and protected in our homes, essentially it’s not our roofs or our security systems that afford us any security. It is only G-d, who is impervious to the fallacies and follies of bureaucrats, and is also above the influence of temperamental and untrustworthy candidates, that can grant us any modicum of serenity.
It is only with a firm knowledge and resolve in that truth that anyone can truly live happily ever after. 

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
Chag Sameiach & Freilichen Yom Tov,

            R’ Dani and Chani Staum