Thursday, September 7, 2017


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Ki Savo
17 Elul 5777/ September 8, 2017 - Avos Perek 3-4

This past Wednesday, parents in the Tri-state area gleefully celebrated the return of their children to school. No doubt they are thrilled that their children will be learning Torah and broadening the horizons of their mind again. But on a more practical level, after a couple of weeks of “Ma, I’m soooooo bored”, mothers were more than willing to wake up early to help send their children off to school. Now, they have a few weeks reprieve before the Chol Hamoed morning pestering begins: “Ma, where are we goooooooing today?”
On Tuesday evening, as she was going to sleep, I was talking to our daughter Chayala about beginning second grade. I told Chalaya that I remember vividly my first day in second grade. Our family had just moved to Monsey from the Lower East Side during the previous summer. For me, it wasn’t just a different school, it was a different world.
As I sat down in my seat in Yeshiva of Spring Valley that first day, I vainly tried to restrain my tears. My rebbe, Rabbi Chaim Trenk, immediately noticed my discomfort, and told me he had special medicine for someone in my situation, and he proceeded to pour a few candies into my hand. Aside for being a great rebbe, I remember the warmth and care he displayed during those first few challenging days. Within a week, coming to school became part of my routine, and those initial pangs of anxiety and discomfort dissipated.
Despite being settled in Monsey and in the yeshiva for a few years, at the beginning of every school year, I would still feel some anxiety on the first day. Truthfully, even now as a rebbe, those same feelings still crop up each year. I am confident that most students and teachers feel the same way.
Unfamiliarity always breeds anxiety and discomfort. It’s all the more so, when that unease is combined with expectations and fear of not living up to those expectations.
Last week, our oldest son Shalom began High School in Yeshiva Shaarei Torah, my alma mater. At the same time, I began a new position in Yeshiva Heichal HaTorah, a prominent High School in Teaneck, New Jersey, as a rebbe and Guidance Counselor. I felt like a yeshiva bochur again when people asked Shalom when he was starting, and then asked me when I was starting.
New beginnings are exciting, but they are never easy. Accepting a new position entails learning the culture of the environment, figuring out expectations, and getting to know new personalities.
During these first few days of school I have also seen a lot of new shoes. Wearing new shoes is exciting but it’s also uncomfortable. It’s only when the shoes adapt to the wearer’s foot, that they become truly comfortable.
As we approach Rosh Hashanah, we begin to think about areas of our life and personality that we would like to improve upon. To do so requires change, and even minute changes make us feel uncomfortable. It helps to bear in mind that the discomfort is only temporary, because with time the change we work so hard to create, becomes part of our routine, and eventually part of our identity
So the question is are we willing to bear that temporary discomfort to experience the changes we want for ourselves[DS1] [DS2] ?
The answer depends on just how badly we want it!

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