Erev Shabbos Parashas B’haalosecha 5775

Dear Parents,

As the school year draws to a close, the lessons wind down and the children look forward to summer vacation, schools everywhere face the challenge of keeping school exciting and fresh.  Remaining productive and enthusiastic while still in classroom surroundings becomes more of a task.  When we started in September the excitement was palpable.  Is there a way to be excited about school in June?

In the beginning of this week’s parsha, after Moshe instructs Aharon regarding the kindling of the Menorah, the Torah tells us:  (Bamidbar 8:3) “Aharon did so…”  Rashi says this was a praise of Aharon in that he did not deviate from the command.   The Sifsei Chachomim (quoting from the Sifrei) asks – would we have expected anything less from Aharon than following G-d’s command?  Is this so noteworthy that it must be mentioned in the Torah?

Among the various answers given to this question, the Sefas Emes says the following:  Aharon did not deviate from his initial excitement in carrying out the mitzva. It never became a matter of routine for him.  Despite a lifetime of daily lightings, the mitzva act remained fresh and vibrant throughout his life.

How did Aharon HaKohein do it?  We adults can recall the enthusiasm surrounding the once-in-28-years’ mitzva of Birchas haChama.  Is that any more of a connection to Hashem than the daily Birchas HaTorah, yet that is usually mumbled with scant concentration, let alone articulated enthusiastically?    Are we wired to be blasé about the routine actions of our lives, or can we do something about it?

To retain excitement for something done frequently we can first focus on the importance of what we are about to do.  In davening, learning Torah, or performing a mitzvah, we can keep in mind to Whom we are praying, Who commanded us to learn Torah and do mitzvos.  Perhaps creating benchmarks can motivate us.  Reading just a few words at a time (linear siddurim can help) helps concentration.  Setting a goal of carefully reading three lines with absolutely no errors in kriah, counting the number of times we say “baruch” in baruch she-amar, keeps us tuned in to what we are doing. Celebrating when we finish learning even a small amount of Torah, can add so much enthusiasm.

There is perhaps a more significant factor that dampens our excitement. We usually take things for granted. Our health, our families and our parnassah all get scant attention until something happens to throw them into question, R’L. We and our children also take school for granted. Let’s stop to think how we would react if the opportunity to educate our children in the Yeshiva of our choice were suddenly taken away from us – whether through government decree, tuition issues or academic non-compatibility. When we’re denied something we fight for it tenaciously, but once we have it, we become complacent about it.

We can help our children appreciate what they have in the same manner. Just as they shouldn’t take their parents, family and a loving home for granted, they should appreciate the opportunity to learn Torah in a yeshiva, be among wholesome, like-minded friends and live in a loving, supportive environment every single day. Focusing on this on the way to school every day will help create awareness and an appreciation for what I have in my life today. Life and school will not be drudgery, but rather a golden opportunity to have a meaningful, fun and safe day. In such an environment, learning will remain exciting and fresh. Best wishes for Nachas and Hatzlacha!

Have a most illuminating Shabbos,

Rabbi Baumann

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