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Weekly Message

Flossing a Soul!

Yesterday, I had the great "honor" of visiting the dentist. While, thank G-d, it was just a standard cleaning, no other bonuses included, I had plenty of time to think during my hour or so on the dentist chair. As a parent I’m always reminding the kids to brush and floss, morning and night, because if you don't take care of your teeth now, you'll pay the price later in life. I guess, in a sense, it's an investment for the future.

In this week's Torah portion, Ki-Tisa, the Jews sin with a golden calf. Astonishing: it's just a short few months after the Egyptian Exodus and a few weeks after the gift of all gifts was delivered at Sinai. They are now collecting funds to successfully build a substitute for G-d, idolatry in all its glory. It’s clear that part of the reason for this erratic behavior may be associated with their state of mind as recently freed slaves. Sinai was the birth of a nation and in its infancy there was a great need for guidance, hand-holding and TLC, which is why Moses demanded forgiveness not punishment.

We often overlook the impact and importance of education. I don't mean just schooling but rather the things kids see, hear and absorb. The golden calf reminds us that without proper direction, our energies can be wasted on fruitless endeavors that confuse us and don’t do us any good. It's not easy to be a shining example for our children and community 24/7 but knowing that that the investment in these delicate souls, like the effort we place on their teeth’s wellness, goes a long way for generations to come, should make it worth our while.

Keeping our teeth and soul healthy!

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May He protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!! 

Crushed to Life!

Twenty two years ago I met Ian and eight years ago I met Sasha. I had the great pleasure of meeting both of them this week, one on the east coast and one here in Bozeman. They both experienced severe hardships in their life, Sasha was abused terribly as a child and Ian lost his only son to Tay-Sachs a few years back. They each turned their personal devastation, their individual darkness, into a bright light for themselves and those around them. Sasha is producing Rewind-To-Fast-Forward to teach the world how to heal and Ian created a foundation to help families with children suffering terminal illnesses. Their stories were, to me, the ultimate transformation of darkness to light.

In this week’s Torah portion, Tetzaveh, we read about the eternal flame flickering on the Temple’s Menorah, the G-dly candelabra. The verse says “And you shall command the children of Israel, and they shall take to you pure olive oil, crushed for lighting, to kindle the lamps continually.” Isn’t obvious that pure olive oil is crushed for lighting? Why the repetitive language? In his last will and testament, handed to me – and each of the Chassidim on hand - on Purim Katan 24 years ago, just before his debilitating stroke, the Rebbe answered the question: The more harsh the crushing of the olive, the more refined the oil it exudes.

If you’re alive, then you’re experiencing some challenge. They are not meant to throw you off your game and cast you into a state of eternal darkness, but rather to bring about the best in you, the purest form of your essence. While being temporarily crushed, it’s hard to focus, but we must, and allow it to serve as a personal reminder that this is the vessel for real brightness, that can only come about when all residue and tainted particles are purified. Yes, we await a time of only revealed light, a messianic experience, but until then we are to be crushed dancers, joyously experiencing the journey to refinement.

Crushed to life!

 

 

 

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May He protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

A Love Affair!

While I’m no historian and certainly not an expert on Christianity, it seems pretty clear that Valentine’s Day, as celebrated in the United States and United Kingdom, has nothing to do with St. Valentine and has everything to do with love, romanticism and capitalism. In our country, about 190 million Valentine's Day cards are sent and that doesn’t include school children exchanging cards. Yes, as Jews we believe in strengthening our loving marriages with flowers, gifts and chocolates as often as possible, but it’s probably not a bad idea to educate society, even if only once a year, about the beauty and sacredness embedded in true love.

This week’s portion, Terumah, discusses the building of the first Tabernacle, The Mishkan. It was a place for the Jewish people, the collective bride, to bond with their groom, Almighty G-d. Every healthy relationship has ups and downs, moments of stress and many moments of bliss and this one was no different. Like newlyweds in a small rented apartment, their first home, the Tabernacle, was where the journey began. It took a while (about five hundred years) for things to fall into place and finally, (thanks to David & Solomon, Inc.) they build their dream home on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. After a few years (a few hundred, to be exact), the wife has multiple extramarital affairs, the home falls apart, the husband needs time to rethink this relationship, while his wife finds temporary shelter in a neighboring State.

The heavenly husband is lonely and saddened by his wife’s vulnerability, so He gives her the opportunity to come home. She hires the finest architects and rebuilds the home even more magnificent than before. The husband, who was really burned by her previous actions, takes a few of the most meaningful pieces of furniture, like the Ark and Showbread, and places them in long term storage, waiting for the right time for them to enhance the healing relationship. The marriage blossoms for a while, but the wife drops the ball again and although they don’t divorce, they do they separate and evil squatters ruin the home. Our husband in His infinite and eternal kindness sends us to boot camp therapy, where we are shamed, broken, weak, and feel pretty hopeless; it forces us to yearn for the love of old and our eternal lover. A final permanent home awaits us; when we finally reunite.

He never forgets His first love, we shouldn’t either!

 

 

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May He protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!! 

Are You Responsible?

On Thursday I had the opportunity to lecture at MSU on "Women and the Holocaust". It's never an easy discussion, as my Zaidy lost his entire family to the Nazis and their hateful ideology of genocide, but it's vital for all of us to share this painful part of our history with the next generation. It’s the “personal responsibility" that lies on the shoulders of all good people, to stand up to evil, whenever it raises its ugly head.

In this week's Torah portion, Mishpatim, we read a lot about personal responsibility. Sadly, it’s becoming less and less common for people to take responsibility for the things they do, the words they say and certainly the thoughts they think. We have a list of people who we can blame for our flaws at any given time: it's my parents, my siblings, my community, my neighborhood, my politicians, my boss, my children and so on. Yes, there are undoubtedly many facets that make up the life experience of each individual, but for the most part it's up to us to take responsibility for our choices.

Moses addresses guardianship, monetary loans, animal ownership, employee treatment, manslaughter, kindness to widows, orphans and converts to Judaism; we are being guided to be responsible contributors to a healthy society. It's not about our "rights" but rather about our "obligation" to make our life more meaningful and brighter for those around us. Yes, social justice is important to Jews, but that includes being honest, and teaching our family and friends that “personal responsibility" is vital for a healthfully productive world.

Blaming is easy; changing is impress ive!

 

 

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May He protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

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