Thursday, July 14, 2022

Parshas Balak 5782



Erev Shabbos Kodesh parshas Balak

16 Tamuz 5782/July 15, 2022

 Avos perek 6


I’m typing this quickly because I don’t have much time. I have to get back to my computer as soon as possible because it’s Amazon Prime Day. That’s not really true - I really don’t have much to buy; but it was a good opener.

The first Prime Day was observed on July 15, 2015, created to celebrate Amazon's 20th birthday. It’s actually a two-day event, this year on July 12 and 13.

On a website describing Prime Day, it suggests: “Your best bet is to make a list prior to Prime Day. To start, you can jot down a general idea of what you want in the notes app on your phone. This way, when the sales begin, you can check off your wish list before items go out of stock.” In other words, you gotta prepare in advance if you want to (literally) get the most bang for your bunk and take advantage of the bargains.

This week, Rabbi Noach Sauber, the learning director here in Camp Dora Golding, noted that a Jew should view every day as a spiritual Prime Day. Each day presents us with opportunities to perform mitzvos and acts of chesed and to fulfill the Will of Hashem in a variety of ways.

It’s well known that in the last hours of his life the Vilna Gaon was crying. He was asked why he was crying; surely, he had no reason to fear the celestial judgement. The Gaon replied that he was pained to leave a world where, for a few kopecks (his currency), one could purchase a pair of tzitzis and accrue eternal reward. In the hereafter one no longer has such opportunities to fulfill mitzvos and garner reward.

The gemara (Eruvin 54a) says: “Shmuel said to Rav Yehuda: sharp one, grab and eat, grab and eat, because this world that we are going from is like a wedding feast”. The delectable food served at a wedding is there for the taking to be enjoyed by all the invitees. But if one doesn’t eat when he is served, soon enough the waiters will clear it away and he will be left with nothing. Opportunities for spiritual growth abound. But if we don’t take advantage of them, they will soon be gone.

Rav Lazer Shach was one of the great Torah leaders in the previous generation. On one occasion he wasn’t feeling well and overslept the first z’man (deadline) to recite Kerias Shema (the opinion of the Magen Avrohom). When he realized that the time had passed, Rav Shach was inconsolable. A student asked him why he was so upset. After all, the halacha follows the opinion of the Vilna Gaon that one has until the second z’man Kerias Shema to recite Shema. In addition, it was beyond his control because he wasn’t feeling well.

Rav Shach replied: Imagine if someone isn’t feeling fell on Erev Pesach and decides to take a nap. When he wakes up, to his utter chagrin, he realizes that it is the first morning of Pesach and he overslept the entire Seder night. (It should be remembered that in Eretz Yisroel there is only one Seder.) We can understand that the person would be devastated. He has lost out on the mitzvah of matzah, marror, four cups, reciting the Haggadah, and the entire lofty experience. Despite the fact that he may have a valid excuse, it will be of little consolation for his loss of the once-a-year opportunity.

Rav Shach explained that he felt like that individual who overslept the Seder. True, he fulfilled the actual mitzvah. But he had lost out the opportunity to fulfil the mitzvah in a more ideal manner, and that opportunity was lost forever.

A good businessman is always on the prowl, seeking another chance to make a buck. No matter how wealthy and successful he was yesterday, he is always looking to expand his wealth and portfolio.

That is how the wise Jew views his every day. Serving Hashem is a constant opportunity not to be missed. But each one is a rare chance and if it’s not grabbed it will be gone.

A friend of mine related that he never says, “I have to go to Mincha now” or “I have to go learn now”. Instead, he is careful to say, “I want to go to Mincha now” or “I want to go learn now.” Not only is it a far more positive message for his children, but it’s also a reminder to himself that each mitzvah is a privilege, not a burden.

So, be ready. Prepare in advance. Perhaps even jot down a general idea of what you want to accomplish. This way, when the opportunities arise, you can check off your wish list before it is out of stock.


Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

            R’ Dani and Chani Staum