April 13, 2024
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April 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

For four years of high school, I was a talmid of Yeshiva Shaarei Torah in Monsey. During those years the rosh yeshiva was one of my lifelong rabbeim, Rabbi Berel Wein shlita. Throughout my high school years Rabbi Wein had “one foot out the door” in the sense that he had been attempting to make aliyah to Eretz Yisroel. He and his family finally departed for good during the summer of 1997.

I like to tell people that the real truth is that when I graduated high school in June 1997 Rabbi Wein felt there was not much for him to stay for. [He had no way of knowing at that time that I would return to Shaarei Torah a year and a half later, and remain there for another eight years…]

The following Elul I was learning in yeshiva in Yerushalayim. Along with my former classmate Yaakov Lieder we were invited to join Rabbi Wein for a seudah in his sukkah on Sukkos on the mirpeset (porch) of his apartment in Rechavia.

It was a special seudah in many ways. Just before kiddush Rabbi Wein commented that “this sukkah is a dream of ours for 30 years.” What a beautiful thing to hear–the fulfillment of a decades-long dream.

He then pointed out to us that there were trinkets hanging around the sukkah from different countries throughout the world. It is fairly known that Rabbi Wein is a world traveler, and he collected those items during his vast travels. It was fascinating to see items from, literally, the four corners of the earth.

It struck me recently that our tables, particularly our Shabbos tables, contain a similar aggregate of things from around the world.

With only a small modicum of research I realized the following: The tea lights for our Shabbos candles are from Europe, our Shabbos china is from the Philippines (everything in America is made in China, except the china is from the Philippines – go figure), the napkins were from Atlanta, Georgia, plastic tablecloth from Wilmington, Delaware (please don’t discount a shidduch for our daughters because we use a plastic on top of our tablecloth), wine from California, soup croutons from Eretz Yisroel, pickles from India (!), salad from Canada, eggs from Pennsylvania, lemon juice for the avocado salad from Argentina(!), meat from somewhere in the Midwest. And all that is merely the tip of the iceberg (or Romaine).

I called my friend Yishai Malul, of Monsey Florist, and asked him where his store gets their flowers from. He replied that they are primarily from Ecuador and Columbia in South America. They are flown to Miami and then trucked to New York.

At the beginning of bentching we thank Hashem “who sustains the entire world with goodness, grace, kindness and mercy.” It’s something to think about. On our Shabbos tables in our humble homes, our tables are graced with things we enjoy that span hundreds if not thousands of miles in order for them to get there.

And to think that they all gathered together just so you and your family can enjoy Shabbos Kodesh.


Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW, is a popular speaker and author. He is a rebbe in Heichal HaTorah in Teaneck and an experienced therapist who has recently returned to seeing clients in private practice as part of the Rockland CBT group. To schedule an appointment with Rabbi Staum, call (914) 295-0115. Looking for an inspirational and motivational speaker or scholar-in-residence? Contact Rabbi Staum for a unique speaking experience by emailing [email protected]. Archives of his writings can be found at www.stamtorah.info.

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