Blue and White: Shmuel Sackett

My Daddy’s A Tank Commander

I recently visited a kindergarten in northern Israel. The reason I traveled there was to see the...

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Colors: Yellow Color

I realize that there are a lot of problems in the world, and this may seem silly, but this has started to bother me and I need to scream about it. Note: Make believe that the next few sentences are being screamed in a loud, annoying voice… Okay, here goes: Why do several men insist on davening in the women’s section in shul during the week? Please don’t tell me it’s because of COVID, since this problem has been going on since before those days. (Can anyone remember that far back?)

Every now and then, something just hits me like “a ton of bricks” (ouch!) and shakes me to the core. Well, it happened this past Shabbos. We were spending Shabbos by our daughter in Migdal HaEmek, celebrating the bris milah of our newest grandson. During the shalom zachar, a friend of theirs gave a d’var Torah and asked a simple question: “What were the first words spoken in the world?” For some reason, I couldn’t think of them. Did Adam talk to Eve? Was it the discussion between Cain and Abel? My mind went blank. And then he gave the answer. It’s in the third pasuk in the Torah: “G-d said, ‘Y’hi Or!’” Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan zt”l translates that as “There shall be light,” while the Stone Chumash translates it as “Let there be light.” In any case, whichever translation you prefer, the meaning is clear. There was darkness and Hashem wanted light.

During the next few weeks, we will be doing a lot of davening. We will be asking Hashem for good health, happiness, and forgiveness for things we should not have done. We will ask our Father in Heaven for success in educating our children, for parnasah and, of course, for shalom bayis. We will beg Him to heal the sick, take care of our elderly parents, and guide us properly in raising children in the way of Torah.

When I can’t learn Daf Yomi with my regular rav, I make sure to watch and listen to Rav Eli Stefansky’s amazing Daf on YouTube. During one of his shiurim on Sukkah, Rav Eli quoted the Vilna Gaon as saying that the hardest mitzvah on Sukkos – and maybe the hardest mitzvah of the 613 – is “v’samachta b’chagecha” (to rejoice on the holiday). Think about it. There is a positive commandment to be happy for the entire holiday of Sukkos – every second of the day! That’s not easy! Now multiply that difficulty times 100 – during these very challenging and difficult days – and you have a mitzvah that might be impossible to perform.