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Rabbi's Weekly Message

Integrity matters!

December 1, 2023

On Wednesday we hosted an uplifting Farbrengen/dinner with Rabbi Avremi Zippel of Salt Lake City in honor of Yud Tes Kislev. Earlier in the day, a Jewish journalist from Missoula, Max Savage Levenson, published an interview with me about the challenging situation in Israel and the rise of antisemitism across the western world. I realize that for many people having a media interview can be daunting, but for us, the Jewish people, as our answers are anchored in the Torah, it's fairly easy, because we don’t have to invent values, come up with new clever ideas or one liner's, we live with the same values through thick and thin, from Moses until today.

In this week’s Torah portion, Vayishlach, we read about the reunion of Jacob and Esau. I always find Jacob’s life inspiring, because no matter where he was, whether with evil uncle Laban, conniving brother Esau, dealing with Pharaoh in Egypt, dealing with the ups and downs of his own children, the death of Rachel or the sale of Joseph, no matter what was transpiring, he was the same Jacob, a man of integrity, wholesomeness, and clarity. He had the wisdom to interact with each person, each situation, individually, but never sacrificing his essential soulfulness that remained untainted, always.

Today’s world is plagued by polls and peer pressure that guide politicians and citizens in how they relate to domestic and international issues. There’s less thinking and more feeling, less foundational values and more appeasing my roommate, less out-of-the-box perspective and more group thinking. The beauty of being a Jew who is guided by our eternal Torah is that we don’t have to worry about societal mood swings and pressure to conform; we have Moses, Deborah, Josiah, Rava, Beruriah and Rambam who laid the foundation for us and taught us to be a Jew with a backbone who stands for what’s right, even if the pundits don’t approve.

It's so much easier than keeping up with the Joneses!  

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. Good Shabbos! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

Meditating on the dental chair!

November 23, 2023

Dr. Jason Tanguay at Mint Dental has been our family dentist since 2008, and even though he’s awesome in every imaginable way, no one enjoys going to the dentist. This week I had the “honor” to have some dental work done and it wasn’t fun, but I kept thinking about those who experienced toothaches or cavities before we had modern dentistry and how much pain they must have felt. I was full of gratitude for the treatments we have available, and how far we’ve come in the realm of physical healing and the minimizing of pain and discomfort.

In this week’s Torah portion, Vayeitzei, we read about our patriarch Jacob, his four wives, and most of his twelve children/tribes. After Joseph’s birth, when Jacob felt safe again to return to Israel where he’d inevitably encounter his wicked brother Esau, he turns to his father-in-law, uncle Laban, and says “Give me my wives and my children for whom I have worked for you and let me go…”. Jacob could’ve demanded backpay, he could’ve negotiated severance, but all he asked for was for his wife and children. He was thankful to G-d for his beautiful family and recognized that this was what mattered most in life. When Laban refused to let him leave, he did work out a payment plan, but that was initiated by Laban who was going overboard to keep Jacob in the neighborhood.  

On this Thanksgiving weekend, when we thank G-d for the blessing of this country where we are free to assemble in worship, free to bear arms, blessed to have a free press, have freedom of speech, let us resolve to be more thankful all year long, not just one night a year. While we could complain about tooth fillings and root canals, we could also choose to focus on how miserable life would’ve been without those medical solutions. In the words of a wise poet “Train your mind to see the good in everything. Positivity is a choice. The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.”

A Freilichen Thanksgiving!

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. Good Shabbos! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

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Chabad Lubavitch
Of Montana

1610 Ellis Street Suite 2B
Bozeman, MT 59715

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