Not far from our home is a lush and beautiful golf course. Every Shabbos morning as I make my way to shul it is still relatively early for most of the world on a weekend morning. Aside for an occasional early jogger, the roads are virtually empty. That is until I arrive at the golf course. Even now, as the weather is rapidly getting colder, as long as it’s not too cold and raining, there will be figures on the golf course, standing in their windbreakers, swinging their golf clubs.
Truthfully, those golfers make me feel somewhat uneasy. It’s Saturday morning, their day off, and it’s chilly. Why are they out there? Obviously it’s because they love the game and are excited by the opportunity to play. I make my way up to shul on Shabbos Kodesh morning wondering if I feel the same way about davening.
In this country the day after Thanksgiving has become sanctioned as a holy day, now known as Black Friday. People literally stand on line all night in order to save a few bucks and fight for a few good deals. I asked one such friend why and how he maintained his sanity all night long. He shrugged and smiled, “We brought stuff to keep busy; it was an experience.”
Chazal say that in the World of Truth we are judged based on our own actions and the actions of those around us. If when asked why we did not accomplish more during our lives, we will say that we were too overburdened and emotionally maxed out. The celestial courts, however, will ask us how we had energy and strength to do other things that we wanted to do. I sometimes wonder if the “Black Fridayers” and the “early Saturday morning golfers” are going to get us into trouble in the heavenly courts. ‘You see they did it because they wanted it badly enough.’ Hmmmm!
Recently, a friend related to me that that he and a friend named Mark were high school teammates on a Young Israel basketball team. Once during a semi-final playoff game, Mark fell asleep on the bench during halftime. When my friend woke him up, Mark told him that he was very happy that he fell asleep. He explained, “When I get up to heaven and they ask me why I sometimes lacked passion and energy for learning Torah and davening, I will be able to respond that it’s not because I lacked value for those things. You see I also fell asleep during a playoff game!”
We can accomplish far more than we give ourselves credit for…if we put our minds to it.
Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW, is the Rabbi of Kehillat New Hempstead, and the Guidance Counselor/Rebbe at Yeshiva Bais Hachinuch & Ashar in Monsey, NY. In addition he is a Division Head at Camp Dora Golding for boys during the summer. He is the author of Stam Torah and can be reached at stamtorah_gmail.com. His website is www.stamtorah.info.
By Rabbi Dani Staum