Thursday, June 14, 2018



I heard the following story, and then found it written by Rabbi Yerachmiel Milstein. It is taken from It is a story that could only happen in Eretz Yisroel:

It was right after Rosh Hashanah, in Bnei Brak, one of Israel’s most densely populated communities, and thousands of visiting families of every age and description were congregating around the ubiquitous Israeli bus stops eagerly waiting to get home. The bus stop reserved for the 402-express line to Jerusalem was extremely crowded as tired seniors, parents blessed with many children and crying infants were waiting none-too-patiently for a bus that was nowhere in sight.
After what seemed an eternity, an Egged bus could finally be spotted in the distance. But relief turned to dismay as the bus pulled into the station. It was #318, heading for Rechovot, not Jerusalem. The poor driver was besieged by the disappointed passengers. “Look at the size of this crowd! Can’t you help us get to Jerusalem!” they begged. “Have mercy on our senior citizens who have been standing here forever,” they asked. The driver, while sympathetic, pointed to the numbers 318 and said, “This bus goes to Rechovot and there’s not much I can do about it.”
The parents of a wailing infant approached the driver and said, “Have you no heart at all? Please for the sake of the babies who are suffering here by the roadside…”
This plea seemed to resonate with the driver, who actually got up from his seat and announced with some resignation in his voice, “Okay, okay. We’re going to Jerusalem,” as he fiddled with buttons that transformed the bus into a 402 Express.
Smiles broke out and the crowd spontaneously cheered. As they climbed aboard, the passengers thanked the driver profusely for his extraordinary kindness and wished him the traditional holiday blessings reserved for those we love and hold dear.
“May you live a long, healthy life,” wished a Hasidic older gentleman. “May you prosper greatly,” said a grateful young mother. “May your children become leaders of Israel,” a rabbi said.
The packed bus left the station as the maximum number of allowable standees gripped the bars. A gentleman approached the driver and asked if he could use the public-address system for a special announcement. After the slightest hesitation, the diver said, “Sure, why not.”
The man clutched the mic and launched into a masterful speech about just what kind of man this bus driver must be, sprinkling his remarks with adjectives like “a saint,” “a giant of a man,” “someone of sterling character who deserves our everlasting gratitude…”
Loud applause capped the man’s eloquent speech and things began to settle down. Just minutes before reaching the central bus station in Jerusalem a young man approached the driver and asked, “Do you mind if I asked you a question?”
“Not at all,” said the driver.
“Despite your really beautiful act of kindness, I just can’t wrap my mind around the fact that you were prepared to probably lose your job over what you did. No self-respecting bus company would ever let a driver get away with changing his route on the fly, regardless of how nice a gesture it is.”
The driver responded with a chuckle. “Let me tell what really happened. Back at the depot we’ve got cameras trained upon all the busier bus stops. At some point my supervisor saw the swelling crowd at the 402 stop and how the mob was beginning to turn ugly. The kids screaming, their parents complaining, he yelled out to the waiting drivers, ‘Who wants to do the Jerusalem run?’
“My friend Dovid says, ‘Not me. I don’t want to be cursed by all those cranky people.’ My buddy Shimon calls out, ‘You wouldn’t believe the abuse I got on the 402 last Saturday night. Not me!’ And so it went with all the drivers.
“I called out, ‘I’ll take it and I bet you I can transform the curses and complaints of all those frantic Jews into heartfelt blessings!’ They looked at me like I was nuts, but I just climbed onto the bus changed the numbers to 318 and it worked like a charm! I haven’t been blessed like that since my Bar Mitzvah!”
The best way to transform misery into blessing is simply to drop the sense of expectation and entitlement, and just like the driver of bus 318/402 and his passengers, live (more) happily ever after.

A rebbe shared that there was a sign hanging by the yeshiva’s secretary’s desk: “Don’t complain about what you didn’t get; just be happy you don’t get what you deserve!”
Our level of happiness and satisfaction in life are interconnected with our expectations. When we look at what others have and feel that we are lacking, we are unable to fully appreciate the blessings we have.
Not too long ago, it was in vogue for families living in the city to leave their apartments and homes for the two months of summer to head up to the Catskills Mountains. Truthfully, it is still common, as is apparent by the fact that one can easily find parking on 13th Avenue in Boro Park or Avenue J in Flatbush during July and August. However, years ago families would crowd into dilapidated, run-down, mice infested two room bungalows for the summer, as my family did during my youth before we moved to Monsey. Despite the lack of comfortable accommodations, we all looked forward to the time we spent in the bungalow colony surrounded by friends in a carefree atmosphere.
Today, most people wouldn’t be able to handle those bungalows. Many people have summer homes in the mountains that are nicer than their apartments in the city. One of the main reasons is that years ago, most people who went up to the mountains tolerated, and even enjoyed that life. When everyone around us is living based on a certain standard, we can be happy doing it too. But as soon as people start living on a higher standard, it causes a ripple effect, and within a short time no one is happy with what they used to be content with.
When we live with a feeling of entitlement, it impedes us from enjoying what we have.
Korach was one of the carriers of the holy Aron, a member of Shevet Levi, and a respected wealthy individual.
What drove him to rebel against Moshe and earn him a place of infamy for all time? Chazal say, “his eyes fooled him”. He looked beyond himself and, instead of appreciating the greatness he attained, he enviously saw what more others had attained.
When it’s never enough, one can never feel content with what he has.
The gemara[2] relates that when certain Amoriam would take leave of each other they would bless each other, “May you see your "עולם" during your lifetime.”
Rav Shimon Schwab zt’l explained that the word עולם is an expression of ha’almah – hiddenness. Every person possesses innate talent and capabilities. When we are young those talents are hidden, until we discover them. The blessing they conferred upon each other was that they recognize their internal greatness, and that they see their ‘hidden qualities’ during their lifetimes, so they could utilize them to serve Hashem and His people.
The Mishna[3] states: “Rabbi Elazar Hakappar said – jealousy, desire, and honor remove a person from the world.”
We can add the blessing they conferred upon each other was also that they should be able to be content with what G-d has granted them – in regard to whatever prestige, acumen, finances, and social standing they were blessed with. If one is not smitten by the curse of envy, avarice, and lust they will be able to enjoy and appreciate the life/world that G-d has granted them.
Korach was destroyed because of his pursuit of what was beyond him. One can only be content when he doesn’t set his expectations too high. Our society bombards us with messages about how ‘we deserve it’, and are lacking if we don’t have what everyone else has. Our generation doesn’t seem happy or content.
The Torah teaches us to learn to be satisfied with the blessings we have been granted, including our intelligence, family, community, finances, and health.

“His eyes fooled him”
“May you see your world during your lifetime”

Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW
Rabbi, Kehillat New Hempstead
Rebbe/Guidance Counselor – Heichal HaTorah
Principal – Ohr Naftoli- New Windsor

[1] Based on the lecture given at Kehillat New Hempstead, Shabbos Kodesh parshas Korach 5777.
[2] Berachos 17a
[3] Avos 4:21


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