Thursday, January 5, 2017


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vayigash
8 Teves 5777/ January 7, 2017

One morning this past summer, I looked at my watch and noticed that the pin which represented the number 3 (my watch doesn’t have actual numbers) had become dislodged and was rolling around the inside of my watch. I wasn’t happy about it, but camp life is very busy, so I didn’t give it much thought.
The pin continued to aimlessly roll around the inside of the watch for a few days, but for the moment my watch still told the time. Within a few days however, the 3 pin lodged itself under the minute hand and my watch stopped. I gave the watch a good ol’ klopp and that was sufficient to dislodge the pin. I then reset the time. It didn’t take long before it happened again, and then again, until it knocked into the small seconds-hand, before eventually knocking off the minute hand completely. At that point I had a watch with only a functioning hour-hand. The rest of the pieces were jovially rolling around within the interior of the watch. 
I finally admitted that it was time for a repair. I sent the watch back to the company, and it arrived back fixed a few weeks later. I am happy to report that as of this writing my watch is accurately reporting the time, and all its pins and hands are where they need to be.
Someone once complained to the Chofetz Chaim that he felt overwhelmed and trapped by his Evil Inclination. He was frustrated because he felt he never had a moment’s respite from its whims and enticements.
The Chofetz Chaim replied that the internal struggle with our Evil Inclination is analogous to the old-fashioned wind-up watches. The watches had two wheels (gears) that rotated in opposite directions. It was those conflicting forces that kept the watch going, telling the correct time.
While one’s Evil Inclination pulls him in one direction, his Good Inclination urges him in the opposite direction. When one makes positive choices, and allows his conscience to dictate his behaviors, he can be the optimal Eved Hashem. As long as he is able to keep himself balanced, he can proceed confidentially, despite, or perhaps because, he is constantly struggling.
The conflicting forces of life present us with the greatest challenges. It’s not the battle of right and wrong which so befuddles us, as much as the struggle to know how to proceed in the gray areas of life, when one is unsure what is right and what is wrong.
One of the most poignant shmoozen I recall from my years in Yeshiva Shaarei Torah, was delivered by the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Mordechai Wolmark. It was during the time when I and my friends were just “entering the parsha” of shidduchim.
Rabbi Wolmark noted that yeshivos invest great effort to cultivate within their students a sense of ga’avah dekedusha – holy pride. It is a vital trait to build confidence in a society that often fails to appreciate the merit of Torah study. When one is a yeshiva student he must be exceedingly proud of that status, and in a certain sense he must exude that feeling of self-importance.
The challenge presents itself when yeshiva bochurim get married, and have to learn to humble themselves before their wives. They have to be able to balance their feelings of being an elite Torah student, with being a respectful spouse, which entails not conveying any sense of superiority whatsoever. In fact, Rambam writes that a husband has to honor his wife, more than he honors himself.
That delicate balance is another example of wheels turning in opposite direction. Without that balance, the pieces begin to knock into each other and chaos ensues within.
The good news is that in many cases, the situation can be rectifiable. That can happen if each side is able and willing to learn its place, and thereby come to an understanding of how to work together in harmonious peace.
Then they can be ensured that instead of becoming ticked off, they will be able to be tick in perfect balance, and right on time.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

            R’ Dani and Chani Staum