Thursday, February 23, 2023

Parshas Terumah 5783



Erev Shabbos Kodesh parshas Terumah

3 Adar 5783/February 24, 2023


לזכר נשמת נטע יצחק בן אלכסנדר ז"ל




By now the world has moved on from the news of the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth. But a few weeks ago, it was all everyone could talk about. There were endless articles, tributes and anecdotes about the Queen and her lengthy reign.

At that time, the Jewish Press featured an article, entitled “My Mother and Queen Elizabeth”. Written by Mrs. Naomi Klass-Mauer, the author recounted that during the late 1950s her mother, Irene Klass, the Women’s Editor of a newspaper, received an invitation to meet Queen Elizabeth during the Queen’s official visit to the United States.

The guest list included many other prominent women, and it was a great honor to have been invited. For weeks before her mother debated what she should wear to the event. In addition, her mother realized that she would likely only have a brief encounter with the queen, and she ruminated over what she would say and how she would say it.

Then on the big day, the author came down with a high fever. She begged her mother to stay home with her, despite the fact that it meant missing the opportunity she had so anticipated.

Her mother decided to remain home with her feverish daughter. Afterwards when the author recovered, she tearfully apologized to her mother. Her mother was quiet for a moment before replying that nothing in the world was as important to her as the welfare of her family and she would never regret her decision.

That was my favorite article about the queen. It was the story of someone who never met the queen because she put her child first.

A few days ago, someone m shared with me the following text that he received from a friend of his. I have no idea who wrote it, but I thought he made a point worth sharing:

"Last night, I was learning in my home, when I realized that there was an important email I needed to respond to. I briefly closed my Gemara and went to the computer. Like most people that open the computer for an email, once I was on the computer, I went to check the news.

“When I opened the news website, it mentioned that Lebron James was 6 points away from breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's record to become the NBA's All-time leading scorer. Being that I grew up an avid basketball fan, I figured it wouldn't hurt to take a few minutes to see the historic moment. After watching for a few minutes, Lebron was just 2 points away from breaking the record.

“A timeout was called and as the commercials began, I started rationalizing that although this was the time that I was supposed to be learning, when else would I have the opportunity to watch this seminal moment in basketball history? But then another thought came up... when else would I have the opportunity to not watch Lebron James break the historic record in order to learn for 5 extra minutes?!

“This was indeed a once in a lifetime opportunity. So, I closed the computer and opened my Gemara and learned while Lebron broke the record.”

This week 113 million people tuned in to watch the Kansas City Chiefs defeat the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII. At the same time there were a handful of Jews who used the opportunity to learn Torah while not watching the Super Bowl.

Our son Dovid attended a beautiful siyum learning Mishnayos with my father during the Super Bowl. In addition, 110 of our students at Heichal HaTorah attended “Super Seder”, voluntarily learning in the yeshiva Bais Medrash during the big game.

Anyone in one knows that good relationships are not only fostered by the things one does to invest in the relationship, but also by the things one sacrifices for the sake of the relationship. Flowers, cards, gifts, and vacations are all important in a marriage. But equally important, and in some ways more important, are the things one doesn’t do in honor of one’s spouse.

The same is true regarding our Avodas Hashem. When we perform a mitzvah, we recognize that we have done a good deed and invested in our spiritual growth. The blessing we say when performing a mitzvah makes this clear - “Blessed are you Hashem… Who has sanctified us through (performing) His mitzvos and commanded us…”

Refraining from doing something because we know it will be spiritually damaging however, may not make us feel as holy and spiritual. But we need to realize the value and significance of such actions. What we sacrifice for spiritual growth can be even greater than what we invest for spiritual growth.

There are worse things one can do than watch a football game. But one who decides to give it up for a higher ideal demonstrates a desire to connect with and prioritize something greater.

A mother who gives up a meeting with the queen to care for her ill daughter, a person who gives up the chance to watch sports history for spiritual growth, and any other sacrifice one makes for higher ideals, makes a deep lasting impression.

That’s true royalty!


Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

            R’ Dani and Chani Staum