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Weekly Message

Master of the World...

I love Jewish music. I cherish Chassidic melodies. It’s my favorite part of the High Holiday service. Personally, songs impact me way more than words; it touches my core, my soul, my essence. So in honor of the New Year, I’d like to share with you a new song, a new tune that has inspired me and perhaps will do the same for you.
 
Beginning in the early 16th Century, the town of Opatow, in Southeast Poland, served as home to thousands of Jews. Torah giants and luminaries including the “Apter Rav” Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heshel, and later, Rabbi Meir of Apta, author of Or Lashomayim, led the community there.
 
Meir’s life was filled with constant hardship and poverty, yet he enjoyed a life of total devotion to G-d. Orphaned of his father as a child, Meir was brought up by his loving mother, who eked out a meager living by making and selling liquor. Even after he married, the newly ordained Rabbi Meir lived with his wife in abject poverty. This never deterred him from being steeped in his Torah studies, prayer and shepherding his beloved flock.
 
It is perhaps with his own life story in mind that he composed the following prayer:
 
Master of the world, I know full and well That I am in Your Hands, Like clay in the hands Of the potter. And try as I may, With wise counsel And scheming, And with all the people of The world standing at my Right hand to help And support me – If not for Your strength And help, There’s no help and No deliverance
 
That should be our Rosh Hashana perspective and may it carry us through 5777!
 

Shana Tova!
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!!!

I want to get high!

On Sunday, after Mishna & Mysticism, I headed to Spire Climbing Center with Menny, so he can experiment again with rock/wall climbing. We were joined by Menny’s buddy Giorgio and his grandpa, my friend Mike. While harnessed up to help belay them, I figured I should give it a try myself, so I did. No, I didn’t climb to the top, not even close; and hanging in the air, not on my usual stable surface, brought out some fear of heights I didn’t know existed within me. Yet, I have graded myself with an A for effort and I am hopeful that next time I’ll make it higher.

In this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tavo, we read about G-d’s promise to His people, that upon their observance of His laws, they will merit His infinite blessings. Moses reiterates to Jewry that they have chosen G-d as their Master and He has chosen them in return “to be a holy people before the Eternal, your God, just as He spoke to you”. We are holy, period. We are meant to brighten this world for all to see what holiness looks like. Do we fall along the way? Sure. Do we occasionally get injured coming down? You bet. But our harness is connected to the Almighty and therefore we can always rise back up.

Rosh Hashana is ten days out and for many Jews it, wrongfully, makes them feel uncomfortable. “I need to face G-d and He’s probably unhappy with my behavior”. So let’s set the record straight: you can act un-American and still be an American, you can be anti-Israel and still be an Israeli and you can live un-Jewishly and you are still as Jewish as Moses. Once a Jew, always a Jew, once holy, you are always inherently holy and even when free-falling, we can always get back up. We have an internal harness that is always connected and G-d is the one that happily belays. So celebrate Rosh Hashana with joy and conviction, knowing that next year, our climbing efforts will see success, infinite success.

Higher and Higher!

 

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!!!

Fencing!

It took many years, but our dream to have an Eruv enclosed front yard, where we can now carry on Shabbos, has come true. With the support and hard work of dear friends, this week the fence was completed and this Shabbos the kids will spend even more hours outdoors under the splendid Big Sky. In addition, it will stop the kiddos from running into our “busy” street, making it safer for them and less nerve-wracking for us.  

Interestingly, in this week’s Torah portion, Ki-Teitzei, we read about fences. Moses instructs Jewry that when building a home, even before placing the Mezuzot, one is obligated to fence off the rooftop, ensuring that the roof, and all other hazards, are secured. Spiritually, it’s the same. We need fences in our life, both Torah mandated and self-created, to ensure that we don’t end up falling off our spiritual heights and into the gutter. We all slip, we all swerve, we all trip, and that’s why we need a fence, a guardrail, to protect us from the potential blow to our physical or spiritual wellbeing.

Recently, I shared with Chaya something from my Zaidy Shimon’s book From Shedlitz to Safety, in which he describes his dads’ insistence that he play ball near his hometown Shul instead of in the park. His dad would quote from the Talmud that says “Whoever walks into a perfume store, even if he does not buy or sell anything, walks out with a pleasant smell. However, he who walks into a tannery, even if he does not trade or purchase anything, leaves the store with an offensive odor”. The things we hear, see, encounter and the environment we live in affects us, so having fences is for our own benefit, to ensure we don’t fall prey to the un-holiness around us.

"Fencing" is a healthy sport!

 

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!!!

Caretakers!

Labor Day gave our growing family a first time experience, enjoying the Lewis and Clark Caverns. While huffing and puffing my way up the magnificent path to the caves, blaming my slowness on Menny, I immediately realized how special this place was. I was deeply grateful to those who came before me, who cared enough to maintain the pristine nature of this area. G-d entrusts humanity to keep an eye on His world and maintain its wellbeing.

Case in point: In this week’s Torah portion, Shoftim, we read about the laws of war. Biblically, war is almost always an unwelcome necessity, not a delight. In the midst of these laws G-d tells us “When you besiege a city for many days to wage war against it to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them, for you may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Is the tree of the field a man, to go into the siege before you?“. G-d is teaching that although, at times, certain people need to be eliminated, at the same time we don’t just bomb the whole vicinity and destroy other forms of life, including fruit bearing trees.

That’s Hashem’s world perspective.

The principle of being a custodian of planet earth shouldn’t be political. G-d created heaven and earth and we are His caretakers. We can’t control all environmental issues, as some are “acts of G-d”, but we can control our behavior. Personally, I have a long way to go until I impress every self-proclaimed “tree hugger”, I am far from being the environments best friend, but I am on a journey. A lifelong journey to do my best, our family’s best, to treat Hashem’s world a little better. As Chaya told me back in the spring “I don’t know why there is Earth Day? Every day should be Earth Day!”.

Out of the mouths of babes!

 

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!!!

Answer His call!

After a remarkable family road trip to the Twin Cities of Minnesota, which included enjoying the amazingPrime Deli , we headed back to Bozeman to welcome our newest child. Courtney joined us during the two weeks of Camp Gan Israel and has now become a loving member of the Bruk household. Courtney is sweet, smart and adventurous and is so excited to join our family and the Bozeman Jewish community.

This weekend ushers in the month of Elul, a month of personal reflection in preparation of the High Holy Days. As a child I read with great awe how Elul was experienced in the town of Lubavitch "Though summer still lingered and the day was bright and sunny, there was a change in the air. One smelled already the Elul-scent; a Teshuvah-wind was blowing. Everyone grew more serious, more thoughtful... All awaited the call of the shofar, the first blast that would announce the opening of the gates of the month of mercy...."

A big part of the Rosh Hashana experience is crowning Almighty G-d as King of the universe. When accepting His kingship, we are essentially surrendering our will to His. American’s don’t like submission, but rather independence; yet, humanity is meant to be totally subservient to G-d. As we Elul-prep for the days of awe, let’s spend some time being less self-centered and more in sync with Hashem. When G-d brought Courtney into our life, it was unexpected, but G-d was knocking at our door and we chose to answer His call and bring her in. It will undoubtedly add to the amusing journey we call life.

 

Don’t send G-d to voicemail; answer the call!

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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