April 17, 2024
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April 17, 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 life-long 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 Yisrael. He and his family finally departed for good during the summer of 1997.

The real truth is that I graduated high school in June 1997 and, once I left, I think 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 Sukkot 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 thirty 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 well 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, plastic tablecloth from Wilmington (we only use a plastic on Friday night, so please don’t discount a shidduch for our daughters because of that), wine from California, soup croutons from Eretz Yisrael, 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 Colombia 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 on Shabbos Kodesh.

By Rabbi Dani Staum

Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW is the rabbi of Kehillat New Hempstead, as well as guidance counselor and fifth grade rebbe in ASHAR, and principal at Mesivta Ohr Naftoli of New Windsor, and a division head at Camp Dora Golding. He also presents parenting classes based on the acclaimed Love and Logic methods. His email address is: [email protected]. His website is: www.stamtorah.info.

 

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