Thursday, February 21, 2019


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Ki Sisa   
17 Adar I 5779/February 22, 2019

Our Yeshiva, Heichal HaTorah, embarked on a special project to compile our own yeshiva siddur. The siddur will iyH include insights and explanations from our talmidim and rabbeim. It’s quite an undertaking, but it has already had a positive effect in elevating the focus of the students towards something which plays such a vital role in our lives, and to which we devote so much time to each day.
I warned our students that there is a very significant drawback to this project, because it will generate frustration and at times guilt.
Years ago when I was a student, one of my teachers was frustrated with the ignorance of our class about what was being taught, and exasperatedly quoted the famous like that ignorance is bliss. When one of my classmates asked what bliss means, the teacher replied, “and that’s exactly what I’m talking about!”
This past Monday, President’s Day, our children’s school district did not provide bus service, and it was our family’s turn to drive the Shaarei Torah minyan carpool for our tenth-grade son Shalom. It was a snowy and icy morning, and it took some time to clean off the car. The roads were also slick, and I had to drive slower than usual. By the time I picked everyone up and drove to Yeshiva, we were a few minutes late to davening. As I was davening with the yeshiva, I quickly donned my talis and tefillin. But I realized I was going to have to skip most of Pesukei D’zimrah in order to catch up. I never liked doing that, but on Monday I found that I was more upset about it than I had been in the past.
Having worked on the siddur for the last few weeks, I have personally learned many new insights about the structure of tefilla and the rich depth and meaning behind every paragraph, and how they were precisely enacted by the sages throughout the ages. There are numerous lecture series on tefilla from various rabbonim that literally offer full classes on one single phrase from davening.
Suddenly, missing out on a tefilla feels like a significant loss.
When one isn’t aware of the significance or deeper meaning, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal to miss a few paragraphs. But the danger of learning about something is that you start to realize the wisdom behind it.
Ignorance is indeed bliss. But far more blissful is the one who garners wisdom and is able to bask in it.
The Gemara says that tefilla is something which “stands at the height of the world, but people disregard it”. Like all invaluable commodities, appreciating tefilla is the result of an investment of effort to ascertain it. But being that prayer is key to the fulfillment of our hopes, it’s well worth the investment. It’s a relatively small deposit which allows for major constant withdrawals.

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