It’s one of those things that make you wonder. During the winter there can be days of resplendent sunshine, without a cloud in the sky, and yet it will be freezing. If the earth is warmed by the sun, how is it possible that the sun can be shining brightly and yet it’s so cold?

Like so many other Jews, the Staum family’s American roots begin on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. My grandparents all lived there, and until we moved to Monsey in September 1988, I myself grew up on the hallowed streets of the Lower East Side. We lived in an apartment on the second floor of 550 Grand Street.

It’s not something anyone wants to hear or see.

While enjoying a Chanukah family get-together in Lakewood, New Jersey, on Motza’ei Shabbos, I saw a message on my phone that made my heart drop: “Is everyone okay in Forshay?”

 Dear Rabbi:

Rabbi, I was wondering about our prayers. What’s with all the praises of G-d? It seems like we say a lot of similar stuff in different ways, over and over. I’ve always been taught that because G-d is infinite, He doesn’t need our praises. Instead, the praises we say are for us; somehow it helps us when we keep praising G-d. I don’t get that concept. How does it help us to say the same praises about G-d every day? I mean, don’t we get it already? G-d is great, it’s great to be close to Him, He is all powerful, mighty, eternal, and incredible, He makes everything happen, etc.