May 25, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

In Boston they are rejoicing, in Queens they are breathing a sigh of relief, and in the Bronx they are grumbling morbidly. The Yankees season is over! 2018 will not be the year the Yankees win their 28th championship! To lose on a reviewed play to their hated rival Red Sox just makes it worse.

The fact that the Yankees almost made an uncanny comeback, being down 4-1 going into the ninth, and losing 4-3 with runners on first and second, will largely be forgotten within a short time. The fact that they ended the season with the third best record in baseball also proves meaningless. Alas, for proud (and spoiled) Yankees fans, anything less than a championship is worthless.

If the Red Sox don’t win it all (hopefully:), their incredible best record in baseball this season will also largely have been for naught and will end up being a forgotten accomplishment.

The truth is that this attitude is not limited to baseball. It’s true about our society generally. People want to see results, and anything less is a failure; only production matters.

In our yeshiva, Heichal HaTorah, during the first few weeks of the school year we enjoy a very beautiful event each morning after Shacharis. Students who have undertaken to review an entire masechta of Gemara during their summer break make a siyum in front of the entire student body. The siyum is followed by brief but energetic dancing, celebrating the student’s admirable accomplishment.

The words that the mesayim (one making the siyum) recites beautifully laud the greatness of Torah and our privilege in meriting to study its timeless wisdom.

He also recites a passionate declaration: “I am thankful before You, Hashem… that you have placed my portion among those who sit in the beis midrash, and you didn’t place my portion among those who sit at the corners…”

As I heard the words recited repeatedly, one morning it struck me—what does it mean to “sit at the corners,” and how is that contrasted with those who sit in the beis midrash?

The world of financial growth, economics and entrepreneurship is built on an insatiable drive and ambition. No matter how much one has achieved, there is always more to be acquired. Time is money, and as long as there is time, there is more money to be made.

The Gemara says that the more one has, the more one wants. Therefore, the pursuit of wealth is without limit.

One who is stationed at a corner is always wary about what lies just beyond the turn. He cannot quite see what there is, but he anticipates it.

The world of commerce and business is a world of corners, in the sense that, unless one actively strives to be otherwise, he will never be satisfied with what he has. Our society is inundated by advertisements that seduce us into thinking we need, we can have, and we deserve the next best innovation.

The study hall is called a beis midrash—the House of Seeking. Those who grow spiritually and learn Torah also are never satisfied with prior accomplishments. The more one earnestly learns, the more one realizes how little he knows and the more he desires to accomplish and learn more. But the stark difference is that in the world of spirituality, the journey itself is the destination. The effort and struggle is the greatest accomplishment. True, we only make a siyum when we complete, but everything along the way is itself an eternal attainment and an integral component of our growth process.

Thus, at a siyum we thank Hashem for granting us a portion in the house of seeking—where the seeking itself is praiseworthy, and not from those who sit in the corners, where the only excitement is in the next million.

There’s always next year, Yankees fans. But (l’havdil) there’s today, tomorrow and the day after for those who learn Torah and serve Hashem.

By Rabbi Dani Staum


Rabbi Dani Staum LMSW is a rebbe and guidance counselor at Heichal HaTorah in Teaneck, NJ, principal at Mesivta Ohr Naftoli of New Windsor, and a division head at Camp Dora Golding. He can be reached at [email protected].

Looking for “Instant Inspiration” on the parsha in under five minutes? Follow him on Torahanytime.com.

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