Thursday, June 22, 2017


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Korach
29 Sivan 5777/ June 23, 2017 - Avos Perek 4
Erev Rosh Chodesh Tamuz  

Each weekday afternoon, I head north on the Palisades Parkway, on my way to Mesivta Ohr Naftali in New Windsor, NY. As the Yeshiva’s Principal, you can only imagine how devastated the talmidim are if I am not there early enough to send them to class on time.
The Palisades Parkway ends next to the beautiful Bear Mountain Bridge. At that point, I continue north on Route 9W. After a short drive, the highway ascends precipitously, affording a magnificent and breathtaking view. From the summit, one can see for miles. It is impossible not to be overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the panorama.
The first few times I drove up, I stopped to marvel at the stunning view. But with time I no longer stopped, although I was still excited by the view. Within a few more weeks, I hardly thought about it at all. Sadly, that is the way we are. What was once novel and exciting quickly becomes trite and commonplace.
It is only when I am driving a passenger who is unfamiliar with the area, that I again feel a tinge of excitement for the magnificent view. When someone else sees it for the first time and begins to marvel about it, that initial excitement that I once felt, is aroused within me, and I again sense how extraordinary it is.
For the last couple of years, I have had the privilege of being the Dinner Chairman at the dinner of Yeshiva of Spring Valley, our sons’ elementary school. Being Chairman includes introducing the Guests of Honor. This year, I was not previously familiar with the Guests of Honor, but wanted to introduce them affording them the honor they deserved. Well before the dinner, I spoke with some of their friends, family members, and employees. But more significantly, I called the honorees themselves, first the husband and then the wife, and asked each to describe the virtues of their spouse in sixty seconds or less.
I was deeply impressed and moved by both of their responses. Sixty seconds is not a lot of time to relate the uniqueness[DS1]  of a person, all the more so a spouse. But if you’re forced to try to sum up the greatness of your spouse within that time, it forces you to concretize your reflections about their golden qualities.
I realized afterwards that it’s a great shalom bayis exercise. How often do spouses think about the uniqueness of the person they married? How often do they remind themselves of the things that once excited them about their partner in life? It’s vital, for those, who, on a daily basis, contend with annoyances and idiosyncrasies of their spouse.
It’s an idea that is helpful with all those other things which are so precious, but we often fail to appreciate. A friend related that before he goes to sleep every night, he looks at the faces of each of his sleeping children and thinks about how much he loves them, and thanks Hashem for each one. He admitted that when his children are awake, there are days and situations when it can be challenging to fully appreciate all his children. But that’s all the more reason why he makes sure to think about them in a positive manner every night.
Rav Noach Weinberg zt’l noted that complacency is the enemy of growth. When people become fixated with their ideas, life becomes stable and people can become weary and grumpy.
Our nature is to take things for granted. The only way to combat that nature, is to actively reflect upon what makes those things special and dear to us. One can recapture enthusiasm by reminding himself his original emotions for everything he has.
If one is able to recite “Modeh Ani” in his waking moment each morning, with some level of attention, he will set the tone for beginning his day with gratitude.
If we are able to reflect upon the simple gifts of life, we will remember that those simple gifts aren’t simple at all.

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