One of the things I enjoy most about using an eruv is walking to shul Shabbos morning with a cup of iced coffee. I’ve found it to be rather hot in Chicago, even when I go to a hashkama minyan. The iced coffee makes the walk all that much better. The minyan starts at 7:30 in the morning, but I’ll be honest, I usually get there by 7:49. So, I’m walking to shul, coffee in hand, and I see an older woman in her 60s-70s walking towards me on the sidewalk wearing a sweat-suit and a sun hat. As we get closer to each other I say, “Good morning,” expecting a similar response. Instead I get, in a thick russian accent, “Good Shabbos.” Beautiful!! The Berditchever would have loved this lady.
We’ve only been in Chicago since the beginning of March, and I really oscillate between two different shuls on a regular basis. I (and my family) really haven’t found our shul. There are plenty of places (B”H) to daven in West Rogers Park, but it’s hard to choose a makom where we want to daven. More often than not, I attend this hashkama minyan that is housed in a rather large congregation. The minyan is great. 50-70 men, a few women, d’var Torah after mussaf, and a great kiddush. Everyone is really friendly.
When I get home, I give my wife a copy of the Likutei Peshatim (Rafi and Zev will know what this is). It’s a fantastic weekly publication put out by the Hebrew Theological College (as I call it. Everyone else says “Skokie Yeshiva”) and contains several d’vrai Torah, a Halachic Corner, and several questions on the parsha. I think for most people the highlight is that it is really is the source for community announcements and mazal tovs. As I play with my kids my wife asks me, “Neil, where are your cuff-links that belonged to my grandfather?”
Good question. I wasn’t wearing them, but did wear them last Shabbos. “Why do you ask,” I answered.
My wife then quotes an annoucement in the Likutei Peshatim: “If anyone found a square shaped while gold cufflink with diamonds, lost this past Shabbos in West Rogers Park, please call 773-619-7875.”
Again, “Where are your cuff-links?”
I go to the bed room and look in my wife’s jewelry box. I grab both of them, and head back toward the living room. I stop and open the closet, then say, “Well, let me check my rain coat. I think I wore them the last time it rained.”
My wife then said, “Your rain coat? The one you left in shul for, like, a month?”
“Do you think I lost my cuff-links?” I asked with a smile. “And if I did, why wouldn’t I list our phone number,” I said as I handed her my cuff-links. As stated in a previous post or two, my wife is, more often than not, right about most things. This past Shabbos was the exception.
The rest of Shabbos Kodesh was just as great. After lunch, with the bribe of brownies and a trip to the park, my kids took a nap. A true rarity. Everyone had a great time at the park. My kids played, and I finished (for the second time) RABBI FREIFELD SPEAKS. It’s awesome. I never learned in Sh’or Yoshuv, but I’m close with people who do. BTW, I’ve been blessed to spend the Yorim Noraim there for the past two years and it’s an unbelievable experience.
Sunday night we made what my kids call “Abba Pizza”. It’s their fancy name for homemade pizza. One of the realities of moving from New York to Indianapolis was that for 7 1/2 years we were without a pizza shop (imagine that). Of course, whenever we were in NY or Chicago we’d eat pizza out, but my kids (girl 4 and boy 6 1/2) grew up with homemade pizza. When we moved to Chicago I kind of decided that we’d stick with making our own pizza (most of the time). I want my kids to grow up appreciating what they have. Just because there are places to get kosher pizza doesn’t mean that you have to go to them all the time.
I’ve got to start preparing for Midah #5, but I’ll end off with a quote from the Rav Freifeld book:
Our problem is not that we don’t have the opportunities
to grow. It is that we don’t have the proper will and desire to grow. In all
circumstances, there are always excuses. The kids were sick. The boiler broke. I
had to work overtime. I was so tired when I came home and had to spend time with
the family. We know the excuses, and they’re all valid excuses. But they don’t
really explain our failures.
We fail because we despair of being successful. We fail
because we do not belive that we have it within us to succeed. It is not the
interposition of obstacles that prevents us from succeeding, but our own lack of
confidence and determination and sheer will.
We fail because we are making a
mistake. Because the truth is that we do have it within us to succeed. Because
the truth is that each of us possesses the most incredible divinely-empowered
instrument that can help us smash all obstacles and scale all peaks. It is
called the human will. (Page 25)