Thursday, July 2, 2020

Parshas Chukas-Balak 5780


 “RABBI’S MUSINGS (& AMUSINGS)”
Erev Shabbos Kodesh parshas Chukas-Balak (EY – Balak)
11 Tamuz 5780/July 3, 2020
Avos perek 5

BLOOMING FLOWERS
            This past Friday morning, Chani and I were walking on the side of Route 45, a busy thoroughfare in our neighborhood, when we noticed some stunning flowers growing on the side of the road. Being that it was no-man’s land, we picked a few for our Shabbos table.
            We were quite surprised when we sat down at our Shabbos table on Friday night to find that our flowers were completely sealed. But then, on Shabbos morning, the flowers opened up again to their full splendor.
            I asked our neighbor, Yishai Malool, who runs Main Street Florist along with his father, about the flowers we had picked. He quickly identified them as Wild Tiger Lilies and noted that they are of a genre of flowers that indeed close at night and reopen in the morning. (Just add it to the list of miracles of nature that we don’t appreciate...)
            Before World War II, there was a famous saying that, ‘the sun never sets on the British Empire’. At that time, the British Empire included numerous territories all over the world. Therefore, there were always parts of the empire where the sun was still/already shining, even when Britain itself was cloaked in darkness.
            Every morning, upon awakening, the first words we utter is an expression of gratitude for the opportunity of a new day.
            The prayer that begins “Modeh ani lifanecha- I am thankful before You”, concludes, “רבה אמונתך - great is Your faith”.
            At first glance, those words seem surprising. “Great is Your faith” - Aren’t we speaking about Hashem? Don’t we have to have faith in Him? Who does Hashem have faith in?
            The answer is that Hashem has faith in us! Each day He grants us a new day with many opportunities and many challenges, because He has faith that we can live our day as Torah Jews.
We have faith in Hashem and are able to deal with the challenges of each day, because we know He has faith in us. Even when dealing with overwhelming challenges, such as a worldwide pandemic, we get through it knowing that Hashem believes in us and is guiding us.
            There are times in our lives when things feel unclear and unpleasant. At such times, one needs to remember that the flowers always blossom again in the morning. The morning always comes after night. The challenge is that we don’t always know how long it will be before morning arrives and the sun shines again, but we know that it will eventually happen.
            Each night, at the beginning of maariv, we bless Hashem Who brings evenings, causes changes in time and season, and creates and separates day and night. Just before we conclude that blessing, we recite a sentence that seems completely out of context: “The Almighty, living and enduring, will always reign over us forever and ever.” What does that statement have to do with the fact that Hashem separates between day and night and brings nightfall each evening?
            It is a declaration of faith that, even though times and season change, there is one thing that is constant and unchanging - the eternal enduring Almighty’s reign - that never alters or falters. In fact, that is the only constant we can bank on. So, as we mention the onset of darkness and night, we reassure ourselves that G-d doesn’t change.
            A few weeks ago, at the height of the social isolation brought about by the Corona pandemic, our printer broke. Like everyone else who has schoolchildren, our home had become our children’s homeschool, so the printer was a vital commodity at that point.
            Chani called HP customer service. The woman from customer service began asking her some questions and making suggestions. Suddenly, Chani heard what sounded like a rooster’s cock-a-doodle-doo in the background. At first, she thought she imagined it, but when it happened a second and then a third time, Chani asked the women about it. The woman apologized and admitted that she was next to a farm where there were roosters in the Philippines.
            It was a rather humorous conversation. The customer service representative tried to maintain professionalism, but Chani couldn’t restrain her laughter every time the rooster crowed in the background.
            It was even more fascinating because it was early evening in New York. In the Philippines, it was twelve hours later.
            I once saw a bumper sticker that said that you can rest assured that the world isn’t coming to an end today, because it’s already tomorrow in Australia.
            The truth is that the only guarantee we have that the world isn’t coming to end is because there is a Power greater than nature and the cosmos, that is in full control over everything. Even in times of challenge and difficulty, we live with faith and confidence that tomorrow is a new day. The flowers will again bloom and we will have new vistas and opportunities, fortified by the knowledge that Hashem fully believes in us.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos
            R’ Dani and Chani Staum       

0 comments: