A few nights ago, I was sitting at home when I began feeling cold. When I went to the thermostat to raise the heat, I noticed that it was colder inside than the heat was set to. I went to the basement to check the boiler and found that the pilot flame had gone out.
I called our devoted neighbor Meir who is always there for us in situations such as these. He came over and relit the pilot, and the heat immediately kicked back on. He cautioned me that if it went out again that night we would have to call a plumber. To my chagrin, within the hour I again felt the house becoming colder. I nervously went back to the boiler where my fear was confirmed – the pilot light had again gone out.
I called our plumber who informed me that he would only be able to come by late that night. He needed to head home first, because his wife and eighth grade daughter (who was his built-in babysitter) were heading to a high school open house. I was well aware of the event; Chani and our eighth-grade daughter Aviva were about to leave to that event as well.
In the meantime, I borrowed Meir’s long lighter and he walked me through the process of relighting the pilot. Believe it or not, I successfully relit the pilot and the heater immediately sprang to life. My joy was short-lived, as it went out within a minute.
A couple of cold hours later, our plumber arrived. He took one look and announced that the pilot was on. Still, he had no explanation as to why the heat wasn’t kicking in. He lit it again and the heat sprang back to life.
It was like when there’s a cop on the highway and everyone starts driving beneath the speed limit, or the principal walks by the classroom and all the students (and teachers) start behaving. When the plumber was there the heat behaved perfectly, and he had no idea what the issue was.
When I informed Meir that the pilot had gone out and we had to call a plumber, he humorously quipped that he was looking forward to reading about the experience in that week’s Rabbi’s Musings. Well, Meir could not have been more wrong. I didn’t write about it that week. That’s because I waited until the following week. So there!
Sometimes we may wonder why we need to daven so much. Isn’t praying three times a day on a weekday a bit much?
Shortly after I got married, a friend offered me the following piece of advice: If ever there is a choice between my going to an inspiring lecture or my wife going to an inspiring lecture, I should always allow my wife to go. He explained: “When a woman attends a lecture, she comes home inspired, and retains that inspiration for two weeks. On the other hand, you know how we guys are. On the way home from the lecture, we already need to hear it again.”
No matter how strong a relationship is and how great its foundation is, it will only endure if it is constantly nurtured. The closer the relationship, the more TLC is required to maintain it.
Birds in flight are a magnificent sight when they glide gracefully across the sky with their wings outstretched. But they can only coast for so long. Eventually, it will need to flap its wings in order to remain airborne.
Relationships work in the same manner. Those in the relationship can only coast for a short time before they must flap the relationship’s proverbial wings to foster the relationship.
That is also why we need to daven three times every day. Our relationship with the Divine requires constant nurturance and dedication – not for His sake, but for ours. As we go through our daily affairs, we tend to forget how much we need G-d. So, every morning, afternoon, and again in the evening, we have to reaffirm our faith and remind ourselves that our lives are completely in His Hands.
The pilot flame within us – the spark within our souls – will never be extinguished. But to warm ourselves, we need to ensure that the pilot ignites the fires that provide the internal heat. That process must repeat itself every time the temperature drops below comfort level. It’s an ongoing commitment.
Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW, is a rebbe and guidance counselor at Heichal HaTorah in Teaneck, Principal at Mesivta Ohr Naftoli of New Windsor, and a division head at Camp Dora Golding. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking for “instant inspiration” on the parshah in under minutes? Follow him on Torahanytime.com.