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Rabbi's Weekly Message

Special needs; special place!

July 12, 2024

Just one day after the Rebbe’s 30th Yahrtzait, I dropped Zeesy off at the Brooklyn bus heading to the happiest place on earth, Camp Simcha. It’s a Jewish camp for children with special needs and there’s truly nothing like it. They don’t only take care of the kids and all their special needs, they do it with love, joy and vigor. Zeesy isn’t a burden to her counselor Shayna or to Margolis, Rivka and the hundreds of selfless staff who make happiness a reality, she’s a gem, a blessing from G-d, who has unimaginable life struggles and who deserve a to feel special and be treated with royalty.

In this week’s Torah portion, Chukas, we learn about the Jewish people journeying towards Israel, and the Edomites and Amorites not allowing them passage through their respective lands. They didn’t want any hand-outs, they weren’t seeking to free-load, they just wanted to walk across the land, and they were told no. In Talmudic terminology that is called “Zeh Neheneh Vezeh Lo Choser” which means “one side gains and the other side does not lose”. There are people who aren’t kind even if they have nothing to lose and the recipient has so much to gain, and there are those who are selflessly kind even if it hurts them in the process.

In the words of Abie Rotenberg’s incredible “Who am I?”: “I have trouble with my words, they don’t seem to come out clear, but I want you all to know me, so I’ll try, by asking one small question, it won’t take up too much time, can you tell me, can you answer, who am I?... Do you know the joy of friendship, of caring and of love? Somehow, I get the feeling that you do. Then we are not so different, we are very much the same…You do know who I am…I’m just like you.” Hats off to Camp Simcha and to every human being that wakes up and asks, “What can I do to make another child, another human, smile and feel connected?”.

Kindness is the greatest attribute of all!

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Mashiach speedily. May G-d protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be!

I know that he misses me!

July 12, 2024

Earlier this week, Menny headed off to Camp Gan Israel in the Catskills. It’s not his first rodeo, he’s been to summer and winter camp before, but it was his first time traveling east, with a stopover, as an Unaccompanied Minor. He aced it like a pro. As the Delta agents whisked him off to the jet bridge, I stood there waving goodbye to my smiling boy, choking up, as a tear or two rolled down my cheeks. The feelings were an emotional concoction, sad to separate from my kid for a month, deep hope that he succeeds in camp beyond our wildest dreams, and reality-check that he’s getting bigger and can now travel alone.

Families belong together and it’s hard when we are apart.

In this week’s Torah portion, Korach, we read about a family torn apart due to jealousy, arrogance, stupidity and misaligned holy aspirations. Korach, Moses and Aaron’s cousin, is an unhappy Levite who feels left-out of the unique leadership appointments made by G-d. He initiates a revolt, getting some good people on board, which costs many people their lives. Yet, what’s most fascinating in the story is Moses, who, on the night before the planned showdown where all will witness who is right and who is wrong, goes tent to tent, rebel to rebel, pleading with them to change their heart so that they survive. He could’ve let them be and get what they deserve, but the leader in him, the family man in him, the Levite in him, knew that it’s much better for a family to be together than to break it apart, even if one faction is absolutely wrong.

Hashem didn’t want the rebels to die; he wanted them to repent and to stay together. Sadly, they didn’t.

This upcoming Tuesday, the 3rd of Tammuz, marks thirty years since the passing of our dear Rebbe. I think about the Rebbe daily and study his teachings each morning when most humans are still asleep. Rabbi Menachem Schneerson was a lot of things, but more than anything else he was a Rebbe, connected to each person of his generation, and to all those who connect with him posthumously through his eternal wisdom. Personally, I miss him dearly, I think the world desperately needs his physical presence, but I also believe that, from heaven, he misses me too, like a parent who is eternally connected to their child. As I stand at his resting place, I will thank Hashem for gifting me a Rebbe, allowing me to be his Shliach, and for never letting me stop yearning to be better, illuminate my community and hope for the day I see him again.

Every sheep matters to the shephard!

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Mashiach speedily. May G-d protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be!

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Of Montana

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Bozeman, MT 59715

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