Friday, December 29, 2023

Parshas Vayechi 5784




Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vayechi – Shabbos Chazak!

17 Teves 5784/ December 29, 2023



Winter means different things to different people. For those living further south, it’s time to enjoy the sun without it being too hot. But for the majority of us living further north, winter weather ranges from cold to freezing with unpredictable snow and ice storms. Around here you can’t be outside too long without a coat.

Years ago, I had a neighbor who had predictable lines. Whenever someone said he was getting his coat because it’s cold outside, this neighbor would quip, “and if you get your coat, it’ll become warm outside?”

The truth is that unless it has a built-in heating device, a coat cannot make a person warm. The body is constantly emitting heat. When exposed to cold, much of that heat is lost. A coat preserves our natural body heat, much the same way that closing doors and windows preserves heat in a house. A coat can keep a person warm, but the source of the warmth must come from the person himself.

Our incredible Yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs invest tremendous thought and effort to create guidelines vis-à-vis technology use by their students. The same is true about their respective dress codes. In Bais Yaakovs tzenius guidelines are defined as well.

The rules about technology and modesty are analogous to a coat that keeps a person warm. Even if a person walks out of a building hot and sweaty, during a cold winter day, without proper attire, he will soon be consumed by the cold. In a similar vein, no matter how much a student has grown in his/her learning and how well he/she is performing, external pressures and influences can quickly compromise that growth leaving the student exposed to negative influences.

However, at the same time, it’s important to remember that those guidelines do not create the warmth. They are there to preserve the inherent warmth that’s already there. That is no small feat, and it is quite important. But the inner fire must first be ignited so that it can radiate inner warmth that then needs to be preserved. That inner fire is created through feeling worthy of connection with Hashem and actually connecting with Hashem (those are two different, vital qualifications). We connect to Hashem through fulfilling His will, by engaging in Torah, Tefillah, mitzvos, and all forms of avodas Hashem.

Parshas Tetzaveh contains the instructions for how the special vestments of the Kohanim and the Kohain Gadol were to be made. During the week when Tetzaveh is read, many Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshiva speak about the Torah outlook on clothing.

Interestingly, the parsha begins with what seems to be a complete non-sequitur - the procedure for how the Kohain lit the Menorah each day in the Mishkan.

Perhaps it is a reminder that as important as the vestments of the Kohain Gadol were, the initial step was to light the fire. The candles of the Menorah symbolize the wisdom of Torah practically. Flames also symbolize our soul within.

The vestments of the Kohanim gave pride and honor to those worthy of performing the Divine Service. But the ultimate honor is to recognize that our souls comprise the flames of Hashem’s menorah, as it were.

The most important task of every parent and educator is to light the inner fire of our children (and ourselves). Without that, all other efforts are somewhat futile. Once the fire is lit there is an additional, vital need to preserve that flame and ensure that it isn’t dampened or extinguished by external factors.

It is important to realize that when the inner fire is lacking, the protective measures can feel overbearing. Sometimes when a young man or woman doesn’t feel connected or worthy of connection, he/she can become resentful for being denied ulterior avenues of connection. In such situations it’s important to remember that we have to find the way to flame the inner spark so that he/she will recognize the need and value to insulate and protect their own beautiful and unique inner fire.

The coat can keep us warm, only if we provide the body heat for it to preserve.


Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

        R’ Dani and Chani Staum     


Thursday, December 21, 2023

Parshas Vayigash 5784




Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vayigash – Asarah b’Teves

10 Teves 5784/ December 22, 2023


One of the great techniques of drama is to use a cliffhanger. When the power of suspense is harnessed, it ensures that the reader/viewer will stay tuned to find out what happens next. All good serials - books, magazines or shows use a cliffhanger to ensure interest in the next segment.

While the holy Torah is not a history book, it does relate stories. Those stories are meant to guide us and teach us about contemporary living.

There is no greater cliffhanger in the Torah than between the parshios of Miketz and Vayigash. At the end of Parshas Miketz, the chalice of the Egyptian vizier has been found in Binyamin’s sack. The vizier tells the brothers that they are all free to go, save for the culprit himself. And then?

We wait a week before we read about the dramatic crescendo of the story wherein Yehuda poignantly addresses the vizier, before Yosef reveals his true identity to his brothers.

Every year when the ba’al korei completes Parshas Miketz by reading the words Yosef says to the brothers, “And you, go up in peace to your father,” I feel like an elementary school child who begs his teacher not to stop reading.

The parshios that detail the saga and journeys of Yosef, provide us with incredible lessons of faith, resilience, reconciliation and patience. We want life to be clear and easy but, more often than not, it’s anything but that.

In the words of my rebbe, Rabbi Berel Wein, “Life is like a piece of chewing gum. There’s a little bit of flavor but most of the time it’s just chew, chew, chew.”

It’s surely not by chance that Parshas Miketz concludes at such a dramatic moment. Much of life is spent in cliffhanger moments: A young man or woman waiting for his/her shidduch, one who is ill and hoping to regain his health, a person looking for a job or waiting for his big break to become successful, a young couple hoping and waiting to have a child, parents struggling with the chinuch of their children, spouses and children who live in broken homes, etc.

At present, the entire Jewish people are collectively in a cliffhanger state. While we mourn the past and current losses, we are also anxious and unsure about the future. Thousands of families are displaced, living for months in hotels far from their homes. Families and friends of soldiers and captives live in a state of constant anxiety.

At times the tension can feel unbearable. Being able to plunge ahead is a mark of true greatness.

Part of the challenge is that such greatness is not recognized by others. Others don’t see it but for those whose lives are at a cliffhanger juncture it can be heroic for them just to get through their day. That’s why it is vital that those in such situations recognize how valuable their own efforts are.

In the Torah, from when they arrive in Egypt to procure food, Yosef’s brothers lives are like a cliffhanger. They do not understand what is happening to them and do not know how things will proceed.

Yosef is given the title of hatzaddik, because he maintained his integrity despite all the travails he endured. If there was ever someone living a ‘cliffhanger life’, it was Yosef.

The test of greatness is how one handles such moments, even more than how he conducts himself when life is smooth sailing.


Easy & Meaningful Fast

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

        R’ Dani and Chani Staum     

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Parshas Mikeitz 5784




Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Miketz – Zos Chanukah

3 Teves 5784/ December 15, 2023


On Thursday mornings I have a weekly phone conversation with our older son Shalom, who is learning in Eretz Yisroel. Often our conversation centers on the parsha. Recently he asked me why the Matriarchs named their children after their own experiences? “She called him Reuven because Hashem saw my pain.” “She called him Shimon because Hashem heard that I was hated…” “She said this time my husband will accompany me because I gave birth to three sons. Therefore, she called him Levi” “This time I thank Hashem. Therefore, she called him Yehuda…” 

Does it make sense that for their entire lives the tribes bore a name based on how their mother felt when they were born?

It was an intriguing question that I had never thought about. (There are many things like that, particularly in the stories in Tanach. We learn the stories when we are young and therefore often take the details for granted.) I told Shalom I wanted to think about it.

The following week I came across the Medrash that states that when Shimon and Levi went to rescue their sister Dinah from Shechem, Dinah refused to leave until Shimon promised to marry her.

From when she was abducted by Shechem, Dinah had been objectified and she was afraid to leave after all that happened to her. By promising to marry her, Shimon demonstrated that he did not see her as debased. He recognized her shame and restored her dignity.

After seeing that Medrash, it struck me that when Leah named him Shimon it wasn’t merely because she felt Hashem had heard her own prayers at the time of his birth. Rather, because Leah felt so uplifted and encouraged when Hashem heard her cries, she wanted her child to live his life as one who hears the pain of others. She wanted her child to ensure that others would benefit from being heard, as she did. In other words, she didn’t name him Shimon simply to remember what occurred to her. His name was to become his mission for life - he was to be a listener who heard the pain of others.

That same idea can be applied to all the Shevatim. Leah named her oldest son Reuven, not only because Hashem saw her pain but so that he should live his whole life with a mission to recognize the pain of others and be sensitive to it. It was Reuven who stood up (albeit inappropriately) for the honor of his mother and moved Yaakov’s bed into her tent, and it was Reuven who saved Yosef when the brothers wanted to kill him.

Leah named her third son Levi because being her third son, Yaakov would need to accompany her and help her more. The mission of Shevet Levi are to be those who accompany Klal Yisroel as their spiritual guides and represent the nation in performing the Avodah.

Yehuda was named as an expression of Leah’s gratitude. Monarchy can only be granted to one who can admit to his own mishaps and has sufficient humility that allows him to be grateful to others.

Yissochor was named because Leah felt Hashem granted her reward for her efforts. Yissochor would live his life earning reward for engaging in Torah study.

Zevulon was named because Leah felt Yaakov would now make his main lodging with her since she bore six sons for him. Zevulon provided homes for Yissochor so that Yissochor could learn Torah.

The same can be applied to all the sons of Yaakov. It will also explain the names of Perez and Zorach, the later sons of Yehuda, and Menashe and Ephraim, the sons of Yosef.

When Rochel finally merited the birth of a son, she called him Yosef because Hashem has gathered her disgrace. Rashi explains that she would no longer be shamed for being barren. In addition, from then on when there would be a misdeed in the home, they would attribute it to the infant Yosef, and not to Rochel.

Yosef lived his life always assuaging the guilt of others. Even after the brothers had treated him so harshly and caused him so much pain, years later Yosef repeatedly comforted them and reassured them that he bore no ill feelings. He was always “gathering the guilt of others.”

The pasuk states that she also named him Yosef as a prayer that Hashem add another son.

Yosef also lived his life seeking to add to the welfare of others and increase the betterment of their lives. He was always focused on others and that is what made him worthy of leadership. He was trustworthy in the home of Potiphar, he concerned himself with the anguished appearance of his fellow prisoners - the chief butler and baker, and he offered unsolicited advice to Pharaoh about how to preserve his economy in the face of the impending famine.

Each day of Chanukah we state in Hallel, “Yosef Hashem - may Hashem add upon you and upon your children. Blessed are you to Hashem, Maker of heaven and earth.” We pray that Hashem adds blessings to us, as Yosef did for others.

On Chanukah we follow the practice of being mosef v’holech - adding one candle each night.

As we read the parshios that contain the saga of Yosef we remind ourselves that like Yosef, our task too is to always add blessing to others.

We read the parshios of the story of Yosef on Chanukah and seek to follow his example.

In addition, we seek to live up to the names/mandates/missions of all the tribes as well. We seek to see and hear the pain of others. We try to be there for others spiritually and physically. We seek to admit to our failures and to be grateful to others and to Hashem, to name a few.

We are called b’nei Yisroel. Yisroel refers to Yaakov’s relentless struggle to overcome his challenges. Our greatness lies in our ability to never give up and always maintain our struggle for greatness.

We are also called Jews, Judahs, leaders of the world. Like Yehuda we are worthy of leadership because we are willing to accept responsibility, despite the high cost of doing so, and we are always expressing our gratitude and unwavering allegiance to Hashem.

May we always live up to the example of our lofty ancestors.


Chanukah Sameiach & Freilichen & Lichtig Chanukah

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

         R’ Dani and Chani Staum      



Thursday, December 7, 2023

Parshas Vayeishev, Shabbos Chanukah, Shabbos Mevorchim 5784




Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vayeshev

25 Kislev 5784/ December 8, 2023

Mevorchim Chodesh Teves


A former colleague who is a wonderful educator would address his students each day before the students began afternoon classes. For a while he would end each day’s announcements by bidding the students that they “be matzliach (successful) and make us proud”.

One day he announced to the students that upon further reflection he decided to reword his daily signature closing. He explained that he felt it was not correct to bless the students that they make us proud, for that should not be a student’s true objective. A student’s goal in school is to do the best he can and develop his skills and actualize his potential. True hatzlocho isn’t based on the standards or expectations of others, but upon being true to oneself. Although we likely would have tremendous nachas from their accomplishments that should never be their primary motivation. The goal was for them to be matzliach in their own way. From that point on he would simply wish the students that they “be matzliach”.

I suggested to my colleague that the new closing was somewhat lacking as well. There are many students, and adults, who are matzliach yet do not recognize it. Despite the fact that everyone around them feels that they are performing well, they feel deflated and discouraged.

The flip side is equally a problem. There are those who do not recognize that they are not performing at their optimal level but feel they are doing perfectly fine. Such students cheat themselves out of far greater accomplishment.

Therefore, I suggested, the blessing be reworded that “you should be matzliach and you should feel matzliach.”

This is especially true regarding Avodas Hashem.

Recently, while reciting Tehillim in Yeshiva after davening, I noticed one of my students heading for the door. Later in the day, I asked that student if he heard what recently happened in Gaza. I told him that an Israeli soldier in combat was running towards an enemy position without any ammunition. When a fellow soldier asked him where his gun was, he waved him off and said that his few bullets weren’t going to make much of a difference anyway. The other soldier screamed at him that he better get his gun quickly if he valued his life.

The student looked at me quizzically. Why was I telling him such an outlandish tale? I admitted to him that the story hadn’t happened in Gaza. But in a sense, it happened that morning after shachris.

If I had chastised him for being callous toward the situation in Eretz Yisroel, it would have been a harsh and false indictment. More accurately he has the same misperception many of us have. We often don’t realize or believe in the poignancy of our own prayers. If we realized that our tefillos and the merit of our Torah learning and chessed truly protects our soldiers and makes a difference in the ongoing outcome of the war, we would perform them with greater concentration. 

Yerushalmi (Chagigah 2:2) relates that the Greeks forced every Jew to write on the horns of their oxen, “I have no portion in the G-d of Israel.” The Greeks denied the idea that there is holiness and that a person can spread holiness. That concept impinged on their epicurean philosophy.

The victory of Chanukah celebrates not only the eternity of Torah but also our personal connection with the G-d of Israel.

As a rebbe and as a therapist, I can attest that there are many students in our Yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs who excel in their learning and are viewed as stellar students. Yet in their hearts they feel like failures, bitterly and utterly disappointed with themselves.

It’s not enough to be successful, one must recognize and feel successful as well.    

Rav Nachman of Breslev (and others) note that when we light Chanukah candles and for the first half hour afterwards, our homes are elevated and attain the kedusha of the Beis Hamikdash and we have the kedusha of the Kohain Gadol.

It is not just on Chanukah when we light the Menorah that our Avodas Hashem is precious. That is how we must view ourselves constantly. We should not serve Hashem primarily out of feelings of guilt and inadequacy. True Avodas Hashem is performed with simcha in knowing our value and how precious our tefillah, Torah and avodah is to Hashem.   


Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos

Freilichen & Lichtig Chanukah,

        R’ Dani and Chani Staum     

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Parshas Vayishlach 5784




Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vayishlach

18 Kislev 5784/ December 1, 2023


Not far from our home in Monsey/Spring Valley is the Jewish cemetery where many great tzaddikim are buried. There is an enclosed area, where, most notably, is the kever of the Ribnitzer Rebbe. In the vicinity are the kevarim of the previous two Skulener Rebbes and the late Viznitzer Rebbe. There is another section of the cemetery outside the wall where Rav Mordechai Schwab, the tzaddik of Monsey, is buried. There are many other great people buried throughout both sections of the cemetery.

On one occasion, I was davening at the kever of Rav Schwab, when I noticed some people davening at a kever nearby. The cemetery was virtually empty, and it didn’t seem like the other people had come together. Ever curious, I asked one of the people leaving if it was the yahrtzeit of a tzaddik I was unfamiliar with. He explained that he had come to daven at the kever of Rav Moshe New Yorker. When I asked him who Rav Moshe was, the man shrugged and said he had no idea, except that he knew that great things have occurred for people who davened there.

I was intrigued that I had never heard of Rav Moshe New Yorker. When I walked over to his kever it was abundantly clear that many people frequented it. There were many rocks piled atop the matzeivah, and numerous kvitlach spread across it. There was also a place to light candles. The glowing epitaph showed that he was a holy man.

I wanted to know more about the mysterious tzaddik I had never heard of. I knew he had lived on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. But when I asked some former residents of the Lower East Side, including my parents, if they knew of him, they all said that they had never heard of him.

It took some research and inquires before I connected with Rabbi Moshe Chaim Steinberg, currently of Boro Park, NY, who remembers him well. Rabbi Steinberg shared some fascinating anecdotes and memories he had of Rav Moshe.

Back in the day, Rav Moshe was indeed a familiar figure on the Lower East Side. He would walk from shul to shul to daven and learn in all of them. When asked why he explained that he was fulfilling the words of the Mishna, “One should be exiled to a place of Torah.”

Following Kristallnacht, he escaped Berlin and came to New York. Beyond that he never spoke about himself or his experiences.

Those close to him knew that he was brilliant and fluent in many languages.

He learned Tanach, Bavli and Yerushalmi by heart and the entire Zohar on the parsha every week. He was well versed in all Medrashim, the seforim of the Shelah Hakadosh, Maharal, and classic Chassidishe seforim. But the average person had no idea he even knew how to learn.

He was cordial and pleasant but also a recluse and kept very much to himself. He had little connection with this world. He didn’t own a telephone and he learned by the light of a candle and wouldn’t use electricity. In fact, nobody knew his last name.

For years he ate the Shabbos day seudah in the home of the Kapishnitzer Rebbe, Rav Avrohom Yehoshua Heschel zt”l. The Rebbe would refer to him as “Moshe foon Henry Street”.

Others referred to him as Moshe der royter because of his red beard, or Moshe der porish because he separated himself from anything connected to the physical world.

On one occasion he was davening in the back of the Satmar Beis Medrash. Uncharacteristically, the Rebbe, Rav Yoylish zt”l walked across the Beis Medrash to greet him. When the Rebbe asked him his name he just replied “Moshe”. When the Rebbe asked him where he only replied, “New York”. From then on people would refer to him as Moshe New Yorker.

In the rare occasion that he had a dollar bill he would look at the code on the bill and share a gematriah or attribute spiritual meaning to the numbers. Any money he had he immediately gave away to tzedakah.

He was always the first in the shul every morning. He would prepare the candles in shul, and he would hang up hand-drawn signs to remind people about the special insertions in davening (mashiv hurach, tal umatar, etc.). He wouldn’t speak at all until after he davened shachris.

Rabbi Steinberg relates that when he invited Rav Moshe to come to his wedding, Rav Moshe apologized and said he couldn’t attend because, “I am from the galus yidden so I can’t go to weddings.”

For many years Rav Moshe lived in a small room under the Boyan shul. Until his later years no one was allowed to enter. In later years when he needed assistance, those who came into his room saw many frayed and well used sifrei Kabbalah strewn around.

Over time, the Boyaner gabbai noticed mail arriving for Max Feil. That’s how they eventually found out that his real name was Moshe Feilschuss.

On one occasion during his later years, Rav Moshe was hospitalized. He refused to accept the IV the hospital wanted to administer, and the hospital was going to restrain him. Rabbi Steinberg came to the hospital and found one of the leading doctors in Beth Israel Hospital at Rav Moshe’s bedside. The doctor pulled Rabbi Steinberg aside and asked him if he knew Rav Moshe personally. When Rabbi Steinberg said he did, the doctor asked him if he thinks Rav Moshe is crazy. When Ravbi Steinberg replied that he knew Rav Moshe to be highly intelligent, the doctor told him he is convinced that Rav Moshe is a genius. He showed Rabbi Steinberg that on the IV bag were listed all the contents in the IV. He then explained, “Almost no doctor in this hospital is familiar with these contents. I am because this is an area of my expertise. When they wanted to hook up the IV to the patient, the patient pointed to one of the contents in the fine print on the bag. I realized that it’s the only ingredient that has pig fat mixed into it. That’s why he refused to allow us to administer it to him.”

Rav Moshe would feed birds every day. Hundreds of birds would flock around him as he threw crumbs towards them. While feeding them he would recite pesukim.

He never said anything negative about anyone. On one occasion, someone physically assaulted Rav Moshe, throwing him to the floor. Rabbi Steinberg was present when it happened and when he rushed to help Rav Moshe up, he told Rav Moshe that the assaulter was crazy. Rav Moshe became upset and immediately countered that the man often helped him.

Most people thought Rav Moshe was eccentric and strange. They didn’t know that he spoke in riddles and the strange comments he made always had hidden depth and meaning. For example, when walking past tall buildings in the city he would comment that he built them.

When asked afterwards what he meant he replied that it was Maseches Shabbos or Maseches Bava Basra. He referred to his accomplishments in learning as great buildings.

He would often speak about things that were going to happen. When asked how he knew he replied that the feigelach - birds told him. His predictions always came true.

At the end of his life, Rav Moshe moved to Monsey where he frequented the shul of the Nikolsburger Rebbe and was a familiar face there.

On one occasion, Rav Moshe passed out on the floor of the Nikolsburg shul during davening. He lay on the floor unconscious. When the Paramedics arrived, a female paramedic was about to grab Rav Moshe’s hand when he stood up and began shouting that she shouldn’t touch him.

Rav Moshe was niftar on Shabbos Hagadol. On Motzei Shabbos the Nikolsburg Beis Medrash was packed for the levayah. The Nikolsburger Rebbe was the only one who spoke. He quoted the pasuk והאיש משה לא ידענו מה היה לו referring to the fact that no one really knew the greatness of Rav Moshe New Yorker.

Even those who saw him constantly were not aware of Rav Moshe New Yorker’s hidden greatness and piety.


Chanukah is a celebration of the revelation of light in darkness. It’s a time to also remember that there is much greatness in others that we often don’t recognize. The light is shining, whether we recognize it or not.

May Rav Moshe New Yorker be a maylitz yosher for all Klal Yisroel.


Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

        R’ Dani and Chani Staum     


Friday, November 24, 2023

Parshas Vayeitzei 5784




Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vayetzei

11 Kislev 5784/November 24, 2023



It’s part of the paradox of our times. The more comfort, amenities, and conveniences we have, the more anxious and depressed we seem to become. Despite all our technological advancements, we are unable to predict or control the future and, despite what we have today, we have absolutely no guarantees about tomorrow.

Many people invest great energy to dull or escape feelings of emotional angst and pain. The danger is that escaping pain requires increasing effort and doesn’t make the emotions go away. By not dealing with the cause of one’s emotions, the issues become compounded.

Feeling negative emotions is often quite unpleasant and that’s why most people desperately seek to avoid it. But perhaps there’s another perspective to feeling one’s feelings that can make them more tolerable.

I recently shared the following analogy with a client who over time had developed negative habits to escape his emotional pain and was trying to get himself back on track:

During the winter months my hands become chapped very quickly. I have to put hand cream on my hands most nights during the winter. If I don’t do so for a few nights, the back of my hands becomes very red and extremely irritated.

At that point, when I finally put on hand cream, the back of my hands immediately feels like they are burning. But in a strange way, that pain actually feels good because I know it’s part of the healing process. The stinging sensation means that it’s getting better.

Rabbi Dr. Abraham J Twerski related that on one occasion while making rounds in the hospital, a patient told him that he was feeling a lot of pain in his legs. Rabbi Dr. Twerski told the patient that he would immediately call for additional pain medication. The patient replied that this was the first time in ten years that he felt anything in his legs. He wanted to feel every bit of the pain; it was the most beautiful feeling he ever felt because it demonstrated that his feet were still “alive” and hadn’t atrophied.

Feeling one’s pain is uncomfortable but when one can recognize and acknowledge his pain and mental anguish and can forge on despite the pain, it demonstrates maturity and is an integral part of living.

In his powerful memoir, Out of the Depths, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau recounts an experience he had a few months after World War II ended. A 25-year-old acquaintance named Aaron Feldberg addressed an assemblage and said the following:

"If you will allow me, I would like to say a few words on behalf of my friends. We would like to thank you. Not to thank you for coming, because we did not want this visit. Not to thank you for the gifts, because we do not want them. We want to thank you for the greatest gift of all, which we received from you just a few minutes ago, and that is the ability to cry. When they took my father and mother, my eyes were dry. When they beat me mercilessly with their clubs, I bit my lips, but I didn't cry. I haven't cried for years, nor have I laughed. We starved, froze, and bled, but we didn't cry. For the past few months, before and since the liberation, I have had the feeling that I am not a normal person, nor will I ever be. That I have no heart. That if I can't cry when I am supposed to, I must have a stone in my chest instead of a human heart. But not any more. Just now I cried freely. And I say to you, that whoever can cry today, can laugh tomorrow, and he is a mentsch, a human being. For this I thank you.”

Feelings are very much a part of the human experience.

We say that emotions are felt in the heart even though emotions are actually processed in the brain. Intense emotions are felt throughout the body. When we feel happy, our entire body feels elevated, and we have a bounce in our step. Conversely, when we feel sad, we feel a lack of energy and like we want to crawl up and be by ourselves. Being that the heart pumps blood throughout the body, we say that emotions come from the heart because they encompass our entire being.

Part of being human entails dealing with all the different emotions we invariably feel. We can try to bury them and hide from them, but they are still there beneath the surface and will subconsciously gnaw at us. That doesn’t mean that we are subservient to our emotions and cannot persevere despite them. But we still need to acknowledge them and allow ourselves to feel them, because they are part of our reality.

As we pray, mourn and are deeply pained by the plight of our fellow Jews in Eretz Yisroel, and particularly in Gaza, we take comfort in knowing that the emotional pain we feel is itself part of the comfort. The mere fact that our brethren’s pain hurts us so deeply demonstrates that we are part of the most incredible nation on earth. That deep collective emotion reminds us that we will prevail.  


Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

        R’ Dani and Chani Staum