Friday, August 31, 2012


Rabbi Doniel Staum, LMSW
Rabbi, Kehillat New Hempstead
Social Worker, Yeshiva Bais Hachinuch/Ashar

          “The greatest gift you can give your child is the love you give your spouse! The harmony and security created in a home that contains peace and harmony is the most nurturing environment for a child.
          “At times, my children have asked me, “Totty (Father), who do you love more, me or Mommy?” Without hesitation I answer, “What’s the question; Mommy, of course!” The child then usually grins because he appreciates that response, and he intuitively feels that it is correct.
“I remember once sitting at a Sheva Berachos[1] while one of the speakers was describing the bliss and beauty of marriage in very glowing and enamoring terms. It turned my stomach because I felt - as I often do - that people mislead a new bride and groom about what marriage is really about. A famous Rosh Yeshiva was sitting next to me and he whispered to me, “Get up and tell them the truth!”
“On one occasion I indeed got up to speak and said, “Rabbosai![2] The truth is that marriage is hard work! From beginning until the end, and all the time in between, it’s hard work. The sooner one embraces and comprehends that fact, the sooner one can develop genuine love and happiness. But if one enters a marriage naively thinking that all will be blissful and fantastical, there is something inherently wrong with the fabric of that marriage.
“Of course marriage can be wonderful and sublime but only when it is bound to effort and work. Hard work and devotion brings love and goodness; romance is nonsense and void. Real love only increases and improves the longer one is married. At the wedding, spouses do not truly love each other, though they may think they do. It takes a lot of work before one can achieve a true level and experience of love.”[3]

The passage about the Ben Sorrer U’moreh, the rebellious and wayward son, is one of the most unusual passages in the Torah. In order to properly comprehend the laws regarding the Ben Sorrer U’moreh, there are two points that must be understood. Firstly, the death penalty that is imposed on the child is not because of the gravity of the sins he has committed, but because, based on his behavior up to this point, the Torah guarantees that he will degenerate into a terrible person as he ages[4].
The second point is that there are so many precise requirements necessary in order to declare a child a Ben Sorer Umoreh that it is virtually impossible for such a scenario to ever evolve. The commentators explain that this passage is only recorded in the Torah as an implied primer for parents on how to - and how not to - inculcate values and morals into their children.      
The verse says that the parents will bring their son to the elders of the city and declare before them, “This son of ours is wayward and rebellious; aynenu shomaya b’kolaynu - he does not hearken to our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.” The word “kolaynu- our voice” is written in the singular, our voice, rather than the plural, our voices. This suggests that the two parents speak with a single voice, agreeing on all issues regarding their rambunctious son.
A few verses earlier however, it says, “He does not listen to the voice of his father and the voice of his mother.[5]” Here two separate voices are mentioned, implying that there is disharmony and discord between them.
Rabbi Dovid Feinstein shlita[6] suggests that a child is more likely to be defiant regarding issues he knows his parents disagree about. He is intuitive enough to realize the discord between them in those matters and he will capitalize on it and exacerbate their disagreement to his benefit. When the child develops into a deviant and defiant youth, it will then become clear that the lack of unity between the parents was at the root of the child’s waywardness. Even though they will then realize that they must develop a united front, it may be too late to repair the irrevocable damage that their discord bred. At that point, it may become necessary for them to seek outside guidance in order to rectify the situation.
The Commentators note that this idea is also alluded to in the peculiar requirement that in order for the child to be deemed a Ben Sorrer U’moreh both parents must have similar voices. In other words they must speak to him with a united front and not contradict each other in regard to their expectations of their children. Consistency and constancy are two of the most important components in the development of a vibrant home.

To create a stable marriage, one needs patience, devotion, and an uncompromising will to make it work. For two different people with diverse viewpoints and ideas about everything to build a home together is virtually impossible without that commitment (and a dose of Divine Assistance). Our Sages teach that the ultimate purpose of marriage is to perfect ourselves through self-sacrifice. The irony is that when we force ourselves to be selfless we benefit most from it, psychologically and spiritually.

When I was engaged, one of the Rabbeim in Yeshiva candidly commented that at every stage of his married life he thought he knew what love meant. “When I got married I thought I loved my wife. But then, after I was married for a year I mocked what I thought was love. I was convinced that after being married a year, I had discovered what love meant. When I was married for five years I made the same observation and thought that at that point I had surely reached the pinnacle of true love. But a few years later I made the same observation, and then a few years later I did so again. I hope Hashem will help me continue to discover what genuine love means for as long as I live.”
All of the jokes and jest surrounding marriage essentially stem from our natural selfishness. Marriage, which forces us to look beyond ourselves, challenges our narcissistic nature and therefore makes us feel uncomfortable.
          It is well-known that while delivering a eulogy at the funeral of his esteemed wife, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Aurebach zt’l emphatically stated that he is not asking his wife for forgiveness because he is certain that they both have nothing to ask each other forgiveness for. It was a mind-boggling statement that after being married for so many decades and going through life together he still was confident that he did not need to ask her forgiveness “just in case”.
          I once read that when someone recounted those words to Rabbi Shlomo Zalman’s son, Rabbi Shmuel Aurebach shlita, Rabbi Shmuel was quick to add that no one should think that his parents did not argue. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman was a very strong-minded person and on occasion he would voice his views and opinions very emphatically. The greatness of his parents was that, despite their differences, they never (!) belittled each other or allowed their disagreements to become personal.

          “He does not hearken to our voice.”
“What’s the question; Mommy, of course!”      

[1] one of the joyous meals celebrated during the week after a marriage
[2] my masters
[3] [From a lecture by Rabbi Shimon Russel L.C.S.W. in Lakewood, N.J., delivered on May 22, 2006, entitled “Creating and Preserving harmony in the home”]
[4] “The wayward and rebellious son is put to death because of his end…Let him die while he is innocent and let him not die when he is guilty of committing capitol crimes.” (Sanhedrin 72a).
[5] 21:18
[6] Kol Dodi

Your browser may not support display of this image.
Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Ki Setzei – Pirkei Avos, perakim 1-2
13 Elul 5772/September 1, 2012  
      One evening last week, shortly before we returned home from camp, I had to travel into Brooklyn to be menachem avel a fellow camp administration member. The trip is normally about an hour and forty five minutes from East Stroudsburg, PA, in the Poconos to Brooklyn. I took along with me a car full of people including someone who reassured me that he knew the directions. To be safe, I also plugged the address into the GPS, and we set off with confidence. When my navigator in the front seat dozed off somewhere down Route 80 I turned my attention towards the GPS.
      Of course, all of you brilliant readers are shaking your heads. But how was I to know that the GPS was not taking me to Brooklyn via Staten Island, but through Manhattan? It seems that as far as mileage goes, Manhattan is the shortest route. No one told the woman inside the GPS that one must avoid Manhattan at all costs in the late afternoon.
      So we got off the 80 and wound around some streets in scenic Jersey City where the natives looked as happy to see us as we did to see them. Before I knew it we were sitting in abysmal traffic waiting to get into the Holland Tunnel. The way we were moving I think we could have walked to Holland in less time. By then my navigator woke up and realized what occurred, but by then we were resigned to our fate.
      Dr. Stephen Covey, in his acclaimed New York Times best-selling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People writes (habit 2), “To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction…It is possible to be busy – very busy- without being very effective…the carpenter’s rule is, ‘measure twice, cut once’.”  
      The road toward spiritual growth is not easily traversed. There are many bumps along the curvy and lengthy route, and traveling is arduous at best. But there are directions that have been pre-posted for us by our sages which instruct us of the best way to get to our destination. But we often think we are smarter and wittier and can figure out quicker ways to get there without all the fuss and struggle. We think we can tunnel our way to spiritual greatness.
      But in the end we aren’t wiser than Chazal, and, au contraire. There is a price to pay for every attempted shortcut. More often than not, the shortest route is not the fastest route.
      That’s part of the reason why we have a full month of Elul to prepare for the yimei hadin. If we want to take advantage of the opportunity being afforded to us to renew our lives and our priorities and direction, we need to chart our course carefully and calculatedly.
   By the grace of Hashem we eventually made it to Brooklyn, despite hitting more traffic at the Battery Tunnel (and then at the BQE, and Prospect, and at every corner in Boro Park. Boy, do I love Brooklyn!). The good thing for us in Elul is that our spiritual destination is a much greater and blissful destination than Brooklyn.  
      Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
   R’ Dani and Chani Staum 
  720 Union Road • New Hempstead, NY 10977 • (845) 362-2425

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Rabbi Doniel Staum, LMSW
Rabbi, Kehillat New Hempstead
Social Worker, Yeshiva Bais Hachinuch/Ashar


Rabbi Yisroel Klein was a saintly Jew from Yerushalayim who passed away in his mid 80’s. While the family was sitting shiva, a steady stream of visitors came to pay their respects to Rabbi Klein. One night during shiva a man quietly walked into the room and sat down next to the mourners. He waited to be acknowledged and then told the mourners the following story.
“I was a young man - perhaps sixteen years old, when I was deported to Auschwitz. I was starving and practically delirious. I was rummaging through the garbage heaps searching and hoping for a morsel of food. After a short while I realized that my search was in vain and I was terrified that I would die from hunger. Then I saw another man, who was slightly older than I was, also searching. He came over to me and asked me what I was looking for. When I begged him for some food he replied that he too was searching for food but had not been able to find any. Then he walked over to me and embraced me. He looked at me with loving eyes and said, “This is what I can give you. I can give you a hug because you are a Jew and I love you and you must remember that Hashem loves you just because you are a Jew.”
The man dabbed at his eyes as he continued. “After the war I went through many difficult times and my religious convictions teetered. But I always remembered that hug and the warm words that that man said to me. Eventually I moved to Eretz Yisroel and I remained religious until today because of him. Today I came today to pay my respects to your father for that hug![1]

In parshas Mishpatim the Torah instructs that there had to be courts to resolve disputes[2]. In Parshas Shoftim the Torah gives a formal command that such courts be established in every city of Eretz Yisroel. In addition, the Torah requires the appointing of officers of the court who have the responsibility to enforce the rulings and decisions of the judges.
“Judges and officers shall you appoint in all your cities- which Hashem, your G-d, gives you – for your tribes; and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment… Righteousness, righteousness shall you pursue, so that you will live and possess the Land that Hashem, your G-d, gives you.[3]” Rashi comments, “It is worthwhile for you to appoint valid judges that will give life to Klal Yisroel and return them to their homeland.” What is the connection between maintaining a judicial system, our posterity, and returning to Eretz Yisroel?
The preceding parsha, Parshas Re’eh, concludes with a discussion of the three pilgrimage festivals, Pesach, Shavuos, and Succos. That too needs to be understood; what is the connection between the celebration of the festivals and the enactment of a judicial system?      

In Parshas Yisro the Torah records that Moshe told Yisro, “When they have a matter, one comes to me, and I judge between a man and his fellow, and I make known the decrees of G-d and His teachings.[4]” Ohel Yaakov explains that there are two distinct forms of cases that can be presented in court for litigation. The first is the classic dispute between two individuals. One party claims that something belongs to him while the other claims that it belongs to him. Or one person claims that the second person owes him money and the other denies it, etc. The second category of cases is when the opposite occurs. Two individuals enter the court both claiming that something belongs to the other.
The Medrash[5] relates such a vignette about two men – Reuven and Shimon - who had a dispute over a small treasure. Reuven sold a piece of property to Shimon. Shortly after, Shimon discovered a small fortune hidden away on the property. Reuven adamantly claimed that Shimon had purchased the land and everything on it and, therefore, the fortune belonged to him. Shimon countered that he feared transgressing the prohibition of stealing and, therefore, Reuven had to take the treasure since he was unaware of it when he sold the land. Since he was unaware of it, there is no way he could have intended to include it in the transaction.
The Ohel Yaakov continues that there is a difference between the adjudication in these two types of cases. In the former case where both sides claim ownership, both parties will need to be present in court to present their claims and ensure that a fair trial is held. However, in the latter case where the paramount concern of both parties is to determine the truth, only one person needs to be present in court to state what transpired. If the true goal is to ascertain who the rightful owner is we need not be afraid that the presenter of the case will skew or misrepresent the events.
It is about this second form of litigation that Moshe was referring to. “When they have a matter, one comes to me”. In other words, since they are dedicated to discovering the truth only one member of the dispute need appear before me, “and I judge between a man and his fellow, and I make known the decrees of G-d and His teachings.”
The Yitav Lev utilizes this idea to explain the opening pasuk of Parshas Shoftim. The literal translation of the pasuk reads, “Judges and officers shall be given to you…” In other words, the judge shall be given to you – an individual. If you present your case because you want to know if the blessing that Hashem, your G-d, has given to you, truly belongs to you or if it really belongs to another member of your tribe, then - when one’s concern is that, “they shall judge the people with righteous judgment,” it is deemed a virtuous court. Such a case seeks truth not merely validation.

The Bayrach Moshe[6], explains that when the Torah instructs about the celebration of the holidays, it mentions a specific commandment, (16:11) “You shall rejoice before Hashem, your G-d - you, your son, your daughter, your slave, your maidservant, the Levite who is in your cities, the proselyte, the orphan, and the widow who are among you – in the place that Hashem, your G-d, will choose to rest His Name.” Rashi notes that the Torah lists eight categories of people that a Jew should include in his own joy; four of them are poor and four are members of his own household. G-d says, “Your four, i.e. those of your household, correspond to My four, i.e. the poor. If you gladden my four, I will gladden your four.”
The Torah is teaching us that one of the main purposes of a holiday is to promote unity and love among Klal Yisroel. Every Jew has a responsibility to contemplate the plight of his brethren and to do all he is able to ensure that his fellow Jew enjoys the holiday as well.
This is the connection between the festivals and the judicial system. If Klal Yisroel observes the holidays properly by adhering to the spirit of the law and assisting their fellow Jews, then they will develop a sense of unity. Such feelings will breed a desire to ensure the welfare of others which will cause the court-cases that follow to be of the latter nature, wherein the litigants pursue truth. “Judges and officers shall be given to you”, i.e. one litigant will be sufficient.
With this in mind we can understand the depth of Rashi’s words. “It is worthwhile for you to appoint valid judges that will give life to Klal Yisroel and return them to their homeland.” The Mishnah[7] states, “Jealousy, desire, and honor take a person out of this world”. Also, the Gemara[8] writes that because of the sins of jealousy and enmity our forefathers were exiled from their homeland and our Bais Hamikdash was destroyed.” Therefore, when we promote love and unity for each other, as is demonstrated by the proper observance of the holidays, and we enact a judicial system devoted to the pursuit of truth, it will grant life to Klal Yisroel, because it will mitigate the selfish pursuit of jealousy, desire, and honor. Once there is no longer jealousy or enmity the eternal Bais Hamikdash will descend from heaven with the advent of Moshiach.

“I can give you a hug because I love you”
“It is worthwhile for you to appoint valid judges”

[1] Rabbi Paysach Krohn
[2] Shemos 21:22, 22:8
[3] 16:18-20
[4] Shemos 18:16
[5] Vayikra Rabbah 27:1
[6] Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Moshe Tetielbaum zt’l
[7] Avos 4:21
[8] Yoma 9b

Your browser may not support display of this image.
Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Shoftim – Pirkei Avos, perek 6
6 Elul 5772/August 25, 2012  
   The Siyum Hashas at Metlife stadium three weeks ago generated a great deal of worthy discussion and deserved fascination. Also, like everything else, by now its discussion has begun to fade, as new occurrences warrant our attention.
   Personally, I feel that the profundity of the experience can only be appreciated after the fact. It was a privilege and a merit to be part of the event, but even more than that night itself, looking back and reviewing it in my mind garners new appreciation each time I think about it. It’s analogous to one’s wedding which passes all too soon and can hardly be appreciated in the moment. But the memories of the event cause a surge of nostalgic joy to the choson, kallah, and their families perpetually.       
   One of the greatest aspects of the Siyum for me, even beyond the diversified yet unified crowd, and even beyond the inspiration of hearing some of the greatest Torah leaders of our time, was the moments of silence. Stadiums by definition are created to be arenas of noise and fanfare. The cries and ovations of the throngs of crowds who seek emotional outlets and entertainment are commonplace during such events. The mere murmurs of tens of thousands of people, even without raucous cheering, itself lends to a high level of noise.
   Yet on the night of the Siyum there were moments of almost absolute silence. The entering crowds, despite constant rain, long lines for parking and security checks, was emotionally charged and excited. Yet as soon as kaddish was said following ashrei during Mincha a hush descended on the burgeoning crowd. The stadium was silent.
   Hours later, after impassioned speeches, vivacious dancing, and energized camaraderie, when it came time for Shemoneh Esrei during Maariv, again a hush descended upon the stadium, as the remaining tens of thousands swayed gently in the stands in silent concentration.
   In addition, each time one of our great Torah leaders arose to speak, instantly the 92,000 strong rose to their feet and, for a few moments, the packed stadium was utterly silent.
   To me those moments of silence spoke more volumes than all of the clapping and responses throughout that august evening. That silence symbolized the respect and reverence we maintain for the Torah and for what we were celebrating.
   In that stadium, and in all sports stadiums, victory celebrations are conducted by the victors with open bottles of champagne being exploded in all directions, along with whopping and jovial shouting. There is no silence during those moments. Suffice it to say that our celebrations are vastly different. While the celebration may not be silent, it incorporates a sense of reverence for its accomplishment. 
     The great Siyum included not only many powerful and inspirational words but also very powerful and inspirational silence. That silence is something we need to capture in our noisy busy world. It is a silence which allows us to think about the blessings we have, the greatness of our accomplishments, and our responsibilities towards the future.
   We need to hear that silence, especially in Elul, as we prepare for a new year of blessing and growth!  
      Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
   R’ Dani and Chani Staum 
  720 Union Road • New Hempstead, NY 10977 • (845) 362-2425

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Rabbi Doniel Staum, LMSW
Rabbi, Kehillat New Hempstead
Social Worker, Yeshiva Bais Hachinuch/Ashar


The obligation to set aside the mandated tithes, and to give charity regularly are basic tenets in the life of a Jew. The Torah instructs us, “You shall tithe the entire crop of your planting, the produce of the field, year by year. And you shall eat before Hashem, your G-d, in the place that He will choose to rest His Name there- the tithe of your grain, your wine, and your oil, and the firstborn of your cattle and your flocks, so that you will learn to fear Hashem, your G-d, all the days.”[1]
Da’as Zekinim writes that when one separates the obligatory tithes the remainder of the produce becomes legally his. However, if one hoards everything and does not tithe his produce then it is all considered G-d’s and the farmer possesses no ownership over any of it.
The Nachalas Tzvi explains that the entire world and everything contained within it essentially has only one purpose - to sanctify G-d’s Name. It is only when one recognizes that all he possesses is a gift from G-d, that he is allowed to bear a sense of ownership over those gifts. This is why the verse which instructs about the obligation to tithe concludes, “So that you will learn to fear Hashem, your G-d, all the days.” The constant separation of tithes serves as a perennial reminder that the world really belongs to G-d and that He is allowing us to utilize what is His.
The Da’as Zekinim continues by pointing out an anomaly in regard to the mitzvah of tithes and giving charity. As a rule, one is not permitted to “test G-d” by saying that he will perform a mitzvah on condition that G-d grant him some sort of blessing or compensation. Such a bargain is deemed brazen and disrespectful. However, in regard to charity one is permitted to “test G-d” in such a manner and charity given solely so that one be worthy of specific blessing is even considered a mitzvah. Thus, when one gives charity he is receiving more than he is giving, for charity and assisting others is an important means in being able to solicit blessing and goodness for one’s self.
The great Kelmer Maggid once ascended the pulpit in a wealthy hamlet and encouraged the townsfolk to donate generously to the cause he was collecting funds for. He pointed to the verse which states, (15:11) “For destitute people will not cease to exist within the Land; therefore I command you saying, ‘You shall surely open your hand to your brother, to your poor, and to your destitute in your Land’.” The Maggid looked sharply at his listeners, “The Torah promises that there will always be poor and needy people. If you know of impoverished people among your brethren, realize that they are fulfilling that role. Help them so that they do not perish for, if they do, it just may be you who will need to fulfill the promise of the verse.”
In a similar vein, Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer zt’l would afford great respect and would exert great effort to assist anyone who knocked on his door to solicit funds for any purpose. He once explained to a disciple, “Do not think that the reason I sit at my table with the comforts of my home is because I possess so much more wisdom than the poor man who is compelled to solicit funds and knock at my door. Rather, it is because the Torah has guaranteed that there will never be a dearth of poor people; it was built into the fabric of society. The poor man fulfills his mission by knocking on doors, while I am lucky to fulfill my mission in alternative and more respectful ways. However, if not for the fact that he was fulfilling his mission, perhaps I would be compelled to do so in his stead. Therefore, I accord him great honor for shouldering that burden and mission.”       

The holy Tchorkover Rebbe, Rabbi Dovid Moshe zt’l, once received a letter from a neighboring town requesting that he help them collect funds so they could construct a communal mikvah. The gabbai read the letter in the presence of the Rebbe and his son, Reb Yisroel zt’l. The Rebbe immediately turned to his son and motioned that he should undertake the responsibility of the appeal. The Rebbe noticed that his son was hesitant and did not reply. After a minute, one of the Chassidim close to the Rebbe remarked that because the Chassidim were already so financially strapped they felt the appeal would bear little fruit and would not have much purpose. The Rebbe replied by relating the following extraordinary story:
During the late 1500’s the city of Krakow, Poland was led by the great scholar Rabbi Moshe Isserles zt’l, the famous Rema, who was the leader of Ashkenazic Jewry. At that time there was a well-known Jew named Moshe who had various nicknames. Some called him “Moshe Trayger” (Moshe the Porter) for that was his job and the source of livelihood, while others referred to him as “Moshe Shikker” (Moshe the Drunk) for obvious reasons. Still other called him “Moshe Shabbos’nik” because of his unusual custom. Every week he would put aside some of the money he earned and, on Friday afternoon just prior to the onset of Shabbos, he would go to the mikvah to purify himself in honor of the Shabbos. Then he would purchase for himself a cup of mead, an expensive alcoholic liquor made of fermented honey and water. As he would drink it he would jovially sing “Shabbos! Shabbos! Shabbos Kodesh!” This was Moshe’s practice for many years.
One week as Moshe was heading to the mikvah on Friday, he was accosted by a woman who was wailing aloud, “Moshe is going to drink and I don’t have money with which to purchase candles for Shabbos.” Immediately, an internal battle raged within Moshe’s heart. On the one hand, he knew that he should give the poor woman the money so that she could fulfill the integral mitzvah of lighting the Shabbos candles. However, his inclination told him not to forego his weekly custom and enjoyment.
After a few moments his conscience prevailed and he gave the poor woman his hard-earned money so that she could kindle the holy Shabbos candles. Moshe proceeded to immerse himself in the mikvah and then left without his weekly delight. Shortly before Shabbos began Moshe suddenly died. Because it was so late in the day, there was no time to bury him before Shabbos so they quietly placed his body in the “room for the dead” adjacent to the synagogue where it was to remain until after Shabbos.
On Friday night the Rema was in shul when Moshe appeared to him. “Rebbe”, he began, “in heaven there is a strong prosecution against you. I am an emissary of the celestial courts and I have been dispatched to warn you.” The Rema, who was unaware that Moshe was no longer alive, looked at him and replied, “Moshe! You are drunk; go back home!” When Moshe claimed that he had died just prior to Shabbos, the Rema refused to believe him thinking that Moshe was in midst of a routine bout of inebriation. Still, the Rema decided to be sure and he went into the Bais Medrash and asked if Moshe the Porter was still alive. The people did not reply because one is not supposed to relate distressing news on Shabbos. However, some of the young children told the Rema that Moshe had indeed died and his body was in the side room until after Shabbos.
The Rema returned and asked Moshe why he had come. “Rebbe, in heaven they are passing judgment against you because you do not grant the poor people of Cracow the opportunity to participate in the community’s charity drives. You decided that because of their difficult financial state, the needed effort and prodding is not worth the small amount that they will contribute. Therefore, you do not solicit funds from them at all. However, by not doing so you are robbing them of an opportunity to have the great merit of giving charity.” When the Rema asked what he could do to rectify his error Moshe replied, “From this day forward, accept upon yourself to expend the effort and trouble to collect and solicit charity even from the simple and poor of Krakow.”
The Rema then asked, “Moshe, please reveal to me the merit that you possess that enabled you to inform me of this prosecution and to act as an emissary of the celestial courts even before you were buried?” Moshe related the event that occurred just a few hours prior and how he was willing to selflessly forego his weekly custom and pleasure to help a complete stranger fulfill the mitzvah of kindling the Shabbos candles. He explained that when he performed that mitzvah the heavenly scales which weigh one’s merits against his sins was tipped toward his merits. Therefore, he was quickly taken from this world before he would have a chance to sin again so that he would be assured entry into the World to Come.
Moshe then continued, “Rebbe, in order to truly understand what occurred I must tell you a story. Surely, I need not tell the great Rebbe about the wondrous events that transpired at the time of the Purim miracles. Every Jew knows well about the righteousness, holiness, dedication, and self-sacrifice of Queen Esther. She risked her life for her people even at the expense of destroying her legacy and her progeny. One can only imagine the eternal reward that awaited her after she left this world. Indeed, Queen Esther was privy to every room in the eternal worlds. She traversed every door and passageway and she enjoyed the Divine Bliss that awaits the most righteous and holy.
On one occasion however, she arrived at a certain doorway where the angels denied her entry. She was told that this room was reserved for those who performed acts of righteousness and mitzvos despite the challenge of poverty. Although Queen Esther performed the ultimate kindness and goodness for her people, she did so out of wealth and not poverty, and therefore she was not allowed into that particular room. Still, Queen Esther was persistent. Every room in the upper world has its own reward and sense of closeness to G-d and she felt she was deserving of that room as well. She claimed that had she been poor she would have done no less and it was not her fault that she never had the opportunity to perform mitzvos out of poverty.
“Her claims were taken to the celestial courts to be adjudicated. After hearing her claims the court decided that she would return to this world again. However, in her second lifetime she would be an impoverished beggar. Only after she lived a life of poverty and paucity would she be allowed to enter that room.”
Moshe looked up at the Rema and concluded, “Rebbe, it was to Queen Esther that I gave away my money so that she could light Shabbos candles!”

“You shall surely open your hand”
“So that you will fear Hashem all the days”



Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Re’eh Pirkei Avos, perek 5
Rosh Chodesh Elul 5772/August 17, 2012

“Isn’t it amazing how time flies?  I can’t believe it’s already time to pack up and head home.”
“I agree. Didn’t summer just begin? And now it’s Elul, almost time for school, and Rosh Hashanah not too far in the distance.”
“Speaking of Elul, I feel like I didn’t live up to my last year’s resolutions too well. Truthfully, I get frustrated every year at this time, and I really want to do something to change that this year.”
“I know what you mean because I feel the same way. But this year I am confident that I’ll be able to do it. I’m joining a new teshuvah program called “Sin Fast”. It’s a bit radical but the idea is that you become so spiritually charged that you don’t even want to sin. Their motto is ‘just three shakes a day’. When you daven with enthusiasm and feeling, you have such pleasure out of the three tefillos each day that all of the machinations of the yester hara no longer add up or seem alluring, so you end up fasting from sin.”
Sounds interesting. Actually I myself was looking into another program called “South Breach”. The program divides between good inclinations and bad inclinations. You’re supposed to engage in the good inclinations and use to help you boost your spiritual system. But the bad ones you have to stay away from completely. That’s the breach part of it. The guide to the program is Mesillas Yesharim.
“Truthfully, there’s a third program I heard about which really sounded feasible and practical. It’s called “Wait Watchers” and is a regimented program tailor-made to suit your personal needs for spiritual growth. Before you do things you’re supposed to see what their value is – whether it’s a positive and appropriate action or not. Then, at the end of every week you weigh your actions to see how you’re doing and if you’re holding up to your commitments. The program is designed to help train you to think before you do things, hence the name ‘Wait Watchers’. 
All of these programs sound great. Still, I think the most important prerequisite for any of these programs is commitment and the knowledge that you can really do it. You really can look like the person you want to be and you can effect the change you dream of with proper mentoring and guidance.
Sounds like a plan. I hope you have a safe trip home.”
“You too. Hatzlocho and Kesiva Vachasima Tova.”

              Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos
              Chodesh Tov & Good Chodesh,
                R’ Dani and Chani Staum

720 Union Road • New Hempstead, NY 10977 • (845) 362-2425