Thursday, January 19, 2017


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Shemos
Mevorchim Chodesh Shevat
22 Teves 5777/ January 20, 2017

We still often find ourselves asking aloud if we really had twins a little over 16 weeks ago.
Beautiful as they are ba’h, caring for twins is a tremendous challenge. Thankfully we have had a baby nurse who has alleviated much of that challenge. Our most recent nurse, Marlene, is incredibly professional, and leaving our twins in her care has given us great peace of mind.
One day each week the nurse has off. Generally, she will go home or to family for the twenty four hours, so she could relax and catch up on some sleep.
Two weeks ago, on the last day of Chanukah, which coincided with January 1st, our family headed to Lakewood for a family get-together. Marlene was off that day, and we were taking the twins with us. Before leaving, Chani gave Marlene the number for a taxi company. Marlene called them, and after they assured her that they were on their way, she waited by the door, coat on and valise next to her, for the taxi to bring her to the bus station.
When we arrived in Lakewood, Marlene texted Chani that the taxi had never arrived. Two hours had gone by, and they still hadn’t come! Chani felt badly, and offered to call a different taxi company, but Marlene said that at that point it wasn’t worth her schlepping home, and she would just enjoy the quiet in our home. 
The next morning Chani again expressed to Marlene that she felt badly that it hadn’t worked out for her. Marlene simply and sincerely replied, “It’s okay; I believe G-d has a plan for me!”
In the words of Rambam (introduction to commentary on Avos): “Hear the truth from whoever utters it!”
Rabbi YY Jacobson related that, even though he travels a lot, after a personal experience a few years ago, he has a very different perspective about travel generally.
In his words: “A few years ago, I was heading to Ottawa for a speaking engagement. I arrived at the airport with plenty of time, but soon enough the flight was delayed, and then delayed again. After some time I came to the realization that there was no way I was going to make it there for the talk.
“I called the Rabbi who had hired me and explained to him the predicament. He was insistent that I had to figure out a way. “There are so many people coming to hear you…” I apologized a few times, but there was nothing I could do.  
After I hung up the phone, my mind was still racing, trying to think of any way I could pull it off, when I noticed an elderly chassid sitting nearby calmly learning from a sefer. I sat next to him and we began schmoozing. I asked him where he was heading, and he replied that he was heading to Ottawa to be sandek and his grandson’s bris. I looked at him surprised, “You realize that there is no way we are going to make it there before sunset, and the b’ris has to be before sunset?” The chassid nodded. I couldn’t believe it. “So you are missing your grandson’s bris, and you’re okay with that?”
The chassid looked at me and calmly replied, “Don’t you know the vort of Reb Chatzkel of Kuzhmir?” I admitted that I didn’t, and so he continued: “Reb Chatzkel explained that every morning we recite the beracha thanking Hashem, “hameichein mitzadei gaver – Who prepares the footsteps of man.” If one recites that beracha and doesn’t think to himself that wherever he ends up that day, and in whatever situation he finds himself in, is exactly where G-d wants him to be, has recited a beracha levatala!
“I wanted very much to be in Ottawa for my grandson’s bris, and I had planned on being there. But I said that beracha this morning, and now I see that Hashem didn’t want me to be there, so I have accepted it.””
If we could truly live by that mantra, imagine how much frustration, anger, and impatience we could eliminate from our lives. The challenge is that we usually cannot see how Hashem has prepared our footsteps, and what the plan is.
G-d prepares our footsteps each day. Our task is to walk in those footsteps that He has lovingly and uniquely charted for each one of us.
In 1905, Friedrich, a native of Kallstadt, Bavaria, traveled to America to make some money. After a few years he sought to return to his hometown where his wife had remained. He wrote a letter to Prince Luitpold of Bavaria, pleading with him to allow him to return. The prince denied his request, as punishment for not fulfilling his responsibility to serve in the Bavarian military forces, when he went to America. Because of that, he had been stripped of his Bavarian citizenship and was barred re-entry. 
Friedrich was forced to return to America. At the time he was undoubtedly quite dejected because of it.
This coming Friday, January 20, 2017, Friedrich’s grandson will be sworn in as the 45th president on the United States. How different would things be if Prince Luitpold had acceded to Friedrich Trump’s request!

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

            R’ Dani and Chani Staum