Thursday, November 24, 2016


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Chayei Sarah
Mevorchim Chodesh Kislev
24 MarCheshvan 5777/ November 25, 2016

No one was complaining about the weather last week in New York, especially last Shabbos. Sixty degrees with bright sunshine in mid-November is well above the average temperature for this time of year. But within a few hours after Shabbos ended, the weather changed drastically. The wind picked up as the temperature dropped, and by Sunday morning the first snowfall of the season coated our area. By Monday afternoon it felt like mid-February, with another inch of snow on the ground, and hardly a trace of the previous week’s beautiful weather.
On Sunday morning, our three-year-old Dovid took one look out the window and immediately became very excited. “It looks like cream cheese! I want to go outside and play in the snow!” Standing in his pajamas, peering out the window, he seemed to have forgotten that if there is snow on the ground, it means it’s freezing outside, and you can’t go out in your pajamas.
When he came out of school on Monday afternoon he was disappointed that most of the snow was gone and he commented that, “It looks like someone ate the cream cheese.”
On Friday night before Kiddush we extol the virtues of the Aishes Chayil (Woman of Valor). The prayer, originally said by Avrohom Avinu as his eulogy for Sarah Imeinu, was later recorded in Mishlei by Shlomo Hamelech.
One of the praises stated there is: “She does not fear for her household from snow, for all of her household is clothed with scarlet wool.” (Mishlei 31:21)
After it snows everything is blanketed in crisp white. During the early morning after a snowstorm there is a serene stillness, under a coat of pristine beauty. At that time everything looks exactly the same, no matter what is beneath the snow,  
Every person craves individuality through recognizing and capitalizing on his/her unique talents and capabilities. The world covered in snow symbolizes everything being the same. It may appear beautiful and serene, but it also negates the uniqueness of all the colors beneath.
When raising children we are reminded constantly about how vital it is to recognize the individuality of each ad every child. It can be damaging when children are grouped together and only dealt with collectively, without paying attention to each one’s distinct personality.
The Aishes Chayil has invested in her children the love and time necessary for each of them to recognize their own greatness. She doesn’t fear that her children will become “lost in the shuffle”. She isn’t concerned that her children will feel like the world when coated in snow, where all uniqueness is obscured. The Aishes Chayil has built her family from within, dressing each in the colorful wools of their own spirit and talents. She always seeks ways to help them appreciate their individuality, and so she is confident that they will always maintain a sense of pride in who they are and in what they can accomplish.
This Friday, 24 MarCheshvan, we celebrate the Bas Mitzvah of our oldest daughter, Aviva Rochel. Like any parent who reaches such a milestone, we have a hard time believing it - that we have a daughter who is now joining the elite ranks of responsibility within Klal Yisroel.
We b’h have great nachas from her. We also hope that we have been successful in “dressing her in wool”, by helping her recognize her personal uniqueness, throughout her formative years. We also daven that she will never fear the vicissitudes that are par for the course of living in this world.
May Hashem continue to bless us with nachas from Aviva and from all her siblings, and may He give us the wisdom, patience, and insight to warm each of their souls with the wool that will protect them from the snowy tempests of life.  

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