Thursday, April 14, 2011


Rabbi Doniel Staum, LMSW

Rabbi, Kehillat New Hempstead

Social Worker, Yeshiva Bais Hachinuch

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Chrysler recall of vehicles for possible brake failure

By Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer January 19, 2010

NEW YORK ( -- Chrysler Group is recalling about 24,000 late-model Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles to fix a defective part that could cause sudden, unexpected brake failure…

Some of these vehicles could have an improperly formed brake booster rod retaining clip, and some Ram trucks may have been built without the piece. The part is necessary for consistent and proper functioning of the brakes...


Now It's the Brakes on the Prius, as Toyota Recall Spreads to Japan

Japanese Government Asks Car Maker to Investigate Brakes on 2010 Prius


Feb. 3, 2010

The Japanese government has called on Toyota to investigate a number of complaints about the 2010 Prius in North America and Japan, potentially spreading the carmaker's largest recall ever to its home country.

"While I was trying to park the car at home, I stepped on the brake pedal but didn't stop and I ran into my house," read the details of a complaint as translated on the Ministry of Transport's homepage.


Toyota’s Top Executive Under Rising Pressure

By Hiroko Tabuchi and Bill Vlasic - NY Times

Published: February 5, 2010

NAGOYA, Japan — When Akio Toyoda took control last summer of the company started by his grandfather, his challenge was to lead Toyota out of its worst financial crisis in half a century.

That, it turned out, was the easy part.

Since last fall, Mr. Toyoda and his top United States executives have been struggling to find the words to calm consumers about the safety of Toyota’s cars, and it is proving to be a far more difficult task than fixing the company’s finances.

After the first big recall of Toyota vehicles last fall, Mr. Toyoda said publicly that the company was a step away from “capitulation to irrelevance or death.” The company, he added, was “grasping for salvation.”…

The company has recalled about nine million cars worldwide, and reports are growing of fatal accidents involving possibly defective Toyota vehicles.


Honda Brake Problems Lead to Recall of 412,000 Minivans and SUVs

Published: March 17th, 2010

A recall is being issued for approximately 412,000 Honda Odyssey minivans and Honda Element sport utility vehicles (SUVs) due to brake problems that have caused a number of crashes.

The Honda brake recall was announced on Tuesday by American Honda Motor Co., Inc. after the Japanese automaker received complaints that the brakes in certain 2007-2008 model year vehicles felt “soft” and lost effectiveness over time.

Defective manufacturing allows air to slowly enter into the Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) modulator, which is part of the brake systems of the recalled vehicles, Honda said. This results in the brakes not engaging until the pedal is pushed closer to the floor than usual, and the Honda brake problems may worsen over time.

The Torah introduces its discussion about the details of the Yom Kippur Service performed by the Kohain Gadol by stating that G-d instructed these laws to Moshe, “After the death of the two sons of Aharon, when they approached before G-d, and they died1.”

The Torah seems to be conveying that there is a vital lesson to be learned from the death of the sons of Aharon that must preface the unique and holy Yom Kippur Service. What is that underlying message?

The commentators offer numerous explanations for what exactly was the sin that Nadav and Avihu, the two righteous sons of Aharon, committed that warranted immediate death in the sanctuary. The Torah states, “Nadav and Avihu died before G-d when they offered an alien fire before G-d…2” Righteous and holy as they were, Nadav and Avihu were guilty of overzealousness. In their unyielding excitement and burning desire to serve G-d they performed an act which had not been authorized by G-d.

Their death served as a vital example that one cannot dictate G-d’s Will. It is not within our purview to compose our own dictates and laws, and we have no right to add to His Commandments. Rather it is incumbent upon us to adhere to the laws and commandments of G-d as He commands them3.

This idea had to be understood before Aharon could be instructed about the Yom Kippur Service. On the holiest day of the year the holiest man in the world was to enter the holiest place on earth. At such an intense moment he may be tempted to add to the Service. He may be seized with such feelings of devotion and love to G-d that he may want to do more than what he was instructed. Thus does the Torah commence its narrative of the Yom Kippur Service by invoking the memory of the tragic death of Nadav and Avihu. He must remember that the Service is Divinely ordained. The Kohain Gadol would only be able to achieve penitence and forgiveness for the nation if he followed the prescribed modus operandi.

In the Hagaddah we quote the verse4, “And I passed over you and I saw you downtrodden in your blood and I said to you: “Through your blood shall you live!” And I said to you: “Through your blood shall you live”.”

Rashi explains that the prophet repeats the words, “In your blood you shall live” in reference to the ‘two bloods’ in whose merit our forefathers were redeemed from Egypt: the blood of the Pesach sacrifice and the blood of circumcision5.

However, the Torah records a different merit for which they were redeemed from Egypt, “This shall be your sign that I have sent you: When you take the people out of Egypt, you will cause them to serve G-d on this mountain6.” In other words, the Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt because they were destined to receive the Torah at Sinai. If so, why did they need the merits of the blood of circumcision and the blood of the Pesach offering?

Rabbi Yaakov Galinsky shlita explains with a personal anecdote:

“I was once traveling on a bus from Tel Aviv to Rechovot to teach. Next to the driver there was a sign posted which said the following: “Driver, check the belamim before you go on your way.” The sign was signed by ‘the committee for the prevention of car accidents’.

I asked the driver what the sign said. He replied, “Don’t you know Hebrew?” I answered that I was from B’nei Brak and only knew Biblical Hebrew. The word בלמים was a Modern Hebraic word.

The driver was only too happy to explain, “You see every car has בלמים, what you call ‘brakes’. At times the brakes can become jammed or disconnected making it impossible to stop the bus, which can cause an accident. Therefore, the sign reminds all drivers to be proactive, by making sure the brakes are in perfect working order before they pull out of the parking lot.”

I nodded, “Now I understand. But tell me; is the sign for people too?” He looked at me with a look of perplexity. I explained, “Every person also travels along a road. It’s a long road which begins in our youth and continues into our old age. Our brakes are our power of restraint, our ability to hold ourselves back from wrongdoing and to swallow our pride when necessary. How many ‘accidents’ happen because people fail to test their brakes and make sure they are greased and in good working order before they get onto that road? What a great and profound reminder; we always have to check our brakes before we begin our journey down the roads of life.”

Based on that story, Rabbi Galinski explained that in truth our ultimate merit for leaving Egypt was because we were going to receive the Torah at Sinai, as promised to our ancestors. However, before we could begin our trek towards that acceptance we had to ensure that our brakes were in perfect working order. Did we have the fortitude and courage to say no, i.e. to defiantly reject the culture and belief system of our captors who enslaved us for over two centuries? We had to prove ourselves worthy to receive the Torah.

We proved that we were committed by circumcising ourselves and thereby engraving the mark of distinctiveness into our bodies, and by slaughtering the lamb, the god of the Egyptians. Only when we had proven that our brakes were vibrant and strong were we ready to exercise our true merit, the fact that we were destined to become the Torah nation.

Before the Kohain Gadol could begin the elite Yom Kippur Service he had to ensure that he understood his limits. He could not allow himself to be overcome by passion and love. He had to know his boundaries and the laws which governed his every action during those most intense moments of the Holy Day.

And before Klal Yisroel could leave Egypt to accept the Torah they too had to know the limitations and boundaries. The Torah is not an added set of laws and dictates which must be adhere to but a completely different way of life. It represents a new direction on a completely new road. Before heading down that road they had to ensure that they were prepared to undertake that challenge; they had to ensure that their brakes were strong.

After a baby is circumcised the Mohel calls out, “זה הקטן גדול יהיה – This small/young one, shall become great.” Now that he has been entered into the covenant of our patriarch Avrohom, he has been indelibly marked with the symbol of the distinctness and diverseness of a Jew. In doing so he has begun his quest to become a גדול.

On the tenth of Nissan when the Jewish people heeded G-d’s command to transcend their fear and set aside a lamb for its eventual slaughter in full view of the Egyptians, that too was a mark of greatness. The Jews had demonstrated that they dared to be different, and that transformed them into גדולים - great people.

The courage to be unique and different, to not succumb or submit to the surrounding culture, and to be able to ‘step on the brakes’ vis-à-vis the trends of the times, is a symbol of greatness. Therefore, the day when Klal Yisroel set aside the lambs following their circumcision, was a day of transformation when they became גדולים - great people. How apt then that the Shabbos prior to Pesach is titled, ‘Shabbos Hagadol – the great Shabbos’ or ‘the Shabbos of the great’. It is the Shabbos when we set out on the path towards greatness by demonstrating our national maturity as a special and unique nation.

“After the death of the two sons of Aharon”

“Through your blood shall you live”

1 16:1
2 Bamidbar 3:4
3 This should not be confused with customs and personal/communally accepted stringencies which are important and necessary. Here we are discussing adding to G-d’s commands, as opposed to differences in understanding of what the command is, or going beyond the letter of the law.
4 Yechezkel 16:6
5 In order to partake of the Pesach offering all males had to be circumcised. Since the overwhelming majority of the nation had never been circumcised during the Egyptian exile they had to do so just days before the redemption. Then on the day prior to the exodus they slaughtered the Pascal lamb, despite the fact that the lamb was the god of the Egyptians. They then smeared the blood of the offering upon theirdoorposts. It was in the merit of these two acts which involved the flowing of blood that we ‘lived’, i.e. were redeemed from Egyptian bondage.
6 Shemos 3:12


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