Photo credit: 123rf.com
The change of scenery is always pleasant and our family enjoys coming to the Pocono Mountains every summer. Besides being part of Camp Dora Golding, we also enjoy the unique environment of the local people who live here.
One day a few summers ago when my wife went to do laundry at the local laundromat, a guy came in and emptied his laundry into a washing machine and added most of the clothes he was wearing. He then joined a crowd watching a TV show called “Rednecks”. True story!
This summer, when we first came here and went shopping at the local supermarket, we noticed an ad on the back of the cart that read, “Pocono Cremation Society: Your Affordable Cremation Option. No hidden fees, no additional charges. I wonder how many people considering using the contest switch to Pocono Cremation Society because they see the ad on the back of their cart. I don’t think you’re going to see that in New York.
Then last week I had to visit the mechanic downstairs to get my tire fixed (I think the tape didn’t work). You can learn a lot about an institution from the reading material in the waiting room. At this mechanic, there were two Sports Illustrateda pile of fishing magazines and a stack of hunting magazines.
I had never watched a hunting magazine before, and it was very informative to see how to shoot bears and moose, and why you should eat the animals you kill. There was a line on the cover of one of the magazines featuring a feature article that caught my eye: “Today’s hunters have equipment, but do they have skills? »
This line does not only apply to hunters in Pennsylvania, but it also applies to our religious observance. There has never been a time in our history when people have spent so much to embellish their mitzvah observance. We have beautiful menorahs, esrog boxes, Seder plates, Shabbat candelabra and besomim boxes. We have beautiful tefillin and tallesim and spending huge sums of money to observe Shabbat, Yom Tov and live daily as Torah Jews. All of this is commendable and deserves recognition. But the aforementioned magazine cover question could very well be addressed to us as well: “The Torah Jews of today have the material, but do they have the skills? »
It is not enough to buy the means to accomplish mitzvos at the highest level, we must also have an appreciation of the meaning, essence, and laws regarding the mitzvah. A bar mitzvah bochur who dresses expensively tefillin and has a superb tefillin bag but never learned the halachos and does not understand the incredible beauty of this special mitzvah has material but lacks skill. The family that has fine Shabbat tablecloths and sumptuous food but does not study the laws of Shabbat or speak a few words of Torah or parsha at their table has equipment but lacks skills. One who goes through the motions of living as an Orthodox Jew but has no appreciation for the depth and value of living such a life has the equipment but lacks the skills.
A friend of mine once joked that it’s ironic that sometimes a kid rushes onto a baseball field with all the latest gear – including batting gloves, sweatband, sneakers and cool socks etc. and yet the child can barely kick or throw a ball. He has all the equipment, but he lacks talent.
If you were on a camping trip and encountered a bear, would you rather be with someone who has gear but no skill or skill but no gear?
It’s good to have the latest gear, but without the skills it won’t get you very far.
Should our observance of Torah and mitzvah be less?