Early Friday morning this past week, as I was preparing the Gemara I would be teaching in shiur later that day, I recalled a question one of my students had asked me about a certain halachah regarding bris milah. I have a couple of s’farim about bris milah that are together on a shelf, and I reached for one of them. If I receive a sefer as a gift, or if I purchase it at a memorable place or a special occasion, I often will record that on the inside cover of the sefer. When I opened that particular sefer about bris milah, I found that I had written the following in Hebrew: “I purchased the sefer in honor of the birth of our twins on the sixth of Elul, Erev Shabbos Parshas Shoftim 5776, and, through the kindness of Hashem, we entered them into the bris of Avraham Avinu on time (the eighth day), Friday, the 13th of Elul.”

Every night, I empty the contents of my pockets onto the dresser in my bedroom. That often includes loose change, receipts – many of which contain shorthand notes or reminders – clean and dirty tissues, and whatever other miscellaneous things ended up there during the day.

I came to a fascinating realization recently: The people who are paid the highest salaries in our society are those who distract us. Think about it: Who gets paid mega bucks and salaries in the millions? Celebrities, movie stars, and athletes. Our society imbibes television, movies, and sports, because they offer us a welcomed distraction from our stressful, fast-paced lives.

For the last six months, I have been working on creating a new siddur for our yeshivah, Heichal HaTorah. Well, I’m not actually writing a new siddur; the Sages throughout the ages who compiled our prayers did a masterful job with that, and they don’t need my approbation. But I, and the students and faculty of the yeshivah, are working on a new translation, annotation, and elucidation of the t’filos in our siddur. The goal is to present them in a manner and vernacular that relates to an American yeshivah student in the 21st century. (To be honest, I don’t even know what annotate and elucidate really mean. But those are the adjectives ArtScroll uses, and – until the Heichal siddur is complete – ArtScroll is the gold standard...)

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt”l was recognized throughout the Torah world as the foremost halachic authority and the leader of his time. As the ambulance sped through the streets of Manhattan carrying the elderly and ailing Rosh Yeshiva in what would be his final moments on earth, Rav Moshe uttered his final words: “Ich hob mehr nisht kayn koach – I have no more strength.”

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