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Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Originally Published at Beyond BT on July 26, 2006.

This morning it hit me. Rosh Chodesh Av is amongst the strangest of days.

As we’re aware, Rosh Chodesh Av marks the commencement of the nine day mourning period culminating in the most tragic and mournful day of the year, Tisha B’Av. As the gemorah states “MiShenichnas Av MeMa’atin B’Simcha” when the month of Av enters, we decrease our joy. Yet, it is still Rosh Chodesh, a joyful day, a semi-holiday. Quite the discordant mix.

On Rosh Chodesh Av, the melody of Hallel is tinged by the portending sobriety of Kinos and Eichah. Leining and mussaf which speak of the korbanos offered on Rosh Chodesh in the Beis Hamikdash remind us of the fact that we were deprived of the ability to bring such korbanos when the Beis HaMikdash was torn from our lives and hearts.

One of the causes for the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash was sinas chinam (baseless hatred). The Netziv explains that the sinas chinam that caused the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash was not exactly what we commonly think it was. The Netziv points out that the sinas chinam that caused the destruction included hatred between Jews with different hashkafas or a different psak in halachah. If someone would see another frum jew serving Hashem in a way that was different from his own, he would judge and vilify that person. The Netziv grieves over the fact that this type of sinas chinam existed in his time as well. Is our time any better? Are we getting closer to ahavas chinam (groundless love, the cure for sinas chinam) or further?

Rosh Chodesh Av is also the yahrtzeit of Aharon HaKohen, the ultimate lover and pursuer of Peace. Perhaps the fact that Aharon’s yahrtzeit falls on Rosh Chodesh Av serves as a reminder to us to make peace with our fellow jews, even when they are very different from ourselves. In doing so, may we be zocheh to see the tinge of sadness of this Rosh Chodesh removed and the fulfillment of King David’s statement “You turned my mourning into dancing, you have removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.”

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Missing My Dad

My father, a”h, passed away a little more than seven years ago. At sixty-seven, he was far too young. I must admit that, even though I have his picture up on my screensaver, there are long stretches of time that go by and I don’t think all that much about him. After all, it would be difficult to function if we were to constantly recall the losses in our lives. There are, of course, the times when I find myself quoting my Dad or using one of his lines or jokes, especially when talking to my own kids. Less often, but still there, are the times, usually late at night, when everyone else is asleep, that I think about him, alone in the dark, for a full hour or so. Then, there are the mundane occurrences that jog a vivid memory.

One Thursday, a few weeks back, I spent the entire morning in court and then went directly to a meeting. By the time I was finished it was after 2:30 and I still needed to stop by my Mother’s for a few minutes and also to run some local errands. Since I had been a bit under the weather and by the time I finished everything it was close to 4 , I decided not to go in to the office (I work for myself).

I really needed a car wash and I found myself not far from a local one so I decided to take care of that as well. As I pulled up, I remembered how my Dad used to bring my brothers and me to the same car wash 25-30 years ago. The place has changed, substantially. Modernized. An oil change place has been added and everything is sparkling clean and computerized. I’m fine with change. And modernization. But the one change I didn’t like is that you now have to exit the car before it goes through the wash.

When my Dad would take us to the car wash, you got to stay in the car as it went through the wash and, boy, was it a wonder: Soapy foam slowly creeping down the car, huge water machine guns spraying their high power, steamy mist, large brushes and floppy, orange linguini-like cloths gently slapping the car, flashing lights as you went through the hot wax and that oversized blower with the small wheel in the middle rolling up the front windshield at the end. We loved it so much that I’m positive that there were times when my Dad took us for a car wash even when we didn’t need one. ‘Cuz that’s just what Dads do.

Now, banished from my own car and relegated to longingly watching it slosh through the car wash from a picture window, I could almost see my Dad smiling behind the wheel while my brothers and I frollick in the backseat, enjoying our momentary, watery escape from the world outside.

I don’t know if there are any more “ride through” car washes. I haven’t seen one in years. I think I was able to bring my own kids through one only once and I’m not sure who enjoyed it more, me or them. I assume that insurance evaluators and risk managers have pretty much put the kabash on them.

Anyway, I miss my Dad.

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Life can sometimes get you down. At those times, it is of primary importance to turn to Hashem and strengthen one’s emuna. Equally as important, perhaps, is to be careful not to turn away from others. In fact, the way up is often through the advice and assistance of a friend.

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Enjoying the Ride

Sometimes, life is a lot like an amusement park ride.

Sometimes you’re waiting for something good to happen. Sometimes you wish it would just slow down. Sometimes, you get sick. Sometimes, it’s a blast. Sometimes it’s scary.

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