Let's keep in touch!
Want to keep in the loop on the latest happenings at . Subscribe to our mailing list below. We'll send you information that is fresh, relevant, and important to you and our local community.
Printed from JewishMontana.com

Weekly Message

The Gifts of Imperfection!

I’ve been reading “the gifts of imperfection” and it’s got me thinking. Words like vulnerability, shame, belonging and fitting-in have been swirling in my head. I chatted with Chavie about how hard it is for me to be vulnerable, to admit imperfection, to recognize I can’t tackle everything alone. It’s against my “Bruk” gene which demands bottling it all up inside and presenting machoness. In truth, it’s only flawed humans who think they must be perfect.

In this week’s Torah portion, Vayikra, the first in the book of Leviticus, we read about the Temple offerings. G-d demands that the wealthy, poor and broke each bring a unique type of offering. Whether an expensive animal, a bird or a handful of flour; it’s your heart that matters most, not your financial capabilities. It’s ok to show up at the Temple in a vulnerable state, penniless and perhaps flawed, as your humanity doesn’t diminish your status in the eyes of G-d or man, but actually shows your healthy character. We’re not on show and G-d doesn’t want our show, He wants us imperfect beings who are trying to be better.

I asked my buddy Stu this week, why were the ten tribes lost when the Assyrians dispelled them from Israel? Answer: there was no Rebbe who sent loving couples to inspire and uplift the exiled Jews wherever their journey took them. In 1945 the Rebbe saw a world of vulnerable Jews and started a revolution to ensure that their vulnerability doesn’t shame them away from their faith and people, but encourages them to come together in their current state, non-judgmentally, to learn, celebrate and grow. It for this reason, that despite his passing in 1994, on Friday, the 11th of Nissan we will celebrate and toast L’Chaim for the Rebbe’s birthday. He’s the gift that keeps giving to the Jewish people.

Angels are perfect; humans are a work in progress!  

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!!!

Finding Nemo!

Zeesy is Montana’s Champion Child and the CMN hospitals gifted our family - along with 63 fellow champion families representing each of the fifty States, thirteen Canadian provinces/territories and Puerto Rico -  with a trip to Orlando’s Disney World. Perhaps at a later date, when my feet heal, I’ll write about the torturous Shlepping I endured, today I’d like to write about Nemo. I’d never seen “Finding Nemo” before and while watching the musical at Magic Kingdom I was blown away by its many meaningful messages. Although, at times, Nemo gives up on his dad, Marlin’s yearning for Nemo never ceases for a moment. Whatever the challenges, he continues to search until he’s reunited with his beloved son.

In this week’s double Torah portion, Vayakhel-Pekudei, the last in the book of Exodus, we read about the importance of observing Shabbos. Amid discussing the Tabernacle and its glorious construction, G-d pauses to remind us that, despite its importance, Shabbos is a day of rest and even “holy excuses” are no justification for desecrating the Shabbos. For six days (including Sunday) we work away, sweating, laboring, playing the market, making deals, hustling; we work so hard sometimes, we barely find time to squeeze G-d in for the three daily prayers. Yet, every week ends with a Shabbos, a day to focus on our relationship with our Creator; where hopeless Nemo has a chance to realize that Marlin still believes in him.

During the week, Nemo is overwhelmed. The barracuda attacks in the morning, the shark hunts in the afternoon, the fishermen seek dinner in the evening; he’s just trying to survive. Though Marlin is always thinking about Nemo, Nemo doesn’t always have time to reciprocate. Shabbos is reunion day. Whether during Lecha Dodi or Kiddush, during the Torah reading or eating Cholent, the entirety of the Shabbos experience gives us a weekly opportunity to remember that we are eternally bound with Almighty G-d and He awaits our weekly visit. No radio, no internet, no TV, no social media, no markets, no phone calls, no working in the yard, no hunting, no fishing, no skiing; just a day for the figurative Nemo and Marlin, father and child, to unite over the meaning of life that matters to them both, distraction free.

Finding Nemo; within! 

 

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!!!

Holy Cow!

Purim rocked and I’m still on a high. The crowd, atmosphere, entertainment, food, L’Chaim was all great, but if the rabbi was able to lift his feet off the ground and dance, you know pure joy dominated the evening. I’ll make a confession, I attend weddings, Bar Mitzvah’s, Simchat Torah Hakafot and even Torah inaugurations, I almost never dance with vigor. Yes, I circle the Bimah or walk the dance circle, but to really get my heart pumping, to Shvitz, I need to be in a state of pure ecstasy. Quincy gave me the Purim push and we were off and the joy shook my soul.

In this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tisa, we read about the infamous Golden Calf. Just after the giving the Torah, with the “mentoring” of the exodus tag along “riffraff”, the Jewish people, with sorcery, created a new type of god in the image of a calf (Hindu’s who honor cows, must have not read the rest of the story :)). No it doesn’t make sense, but humanity is always susceptible to brainwashing and deceit, especially when they are vulnerable. So the enthusiastic idolaters danced in celebration around their new invention and when Moses, descending the mountain, saw this, he broke the tablets. You see, happiness and dancing doesn’t always equal purity and joy. Superficiality can certainly create the allusion of happiness and peacefulness, but it’s a false experience and when the ulterior motives fall away, so does the happiness.

On Purim we danced for no other reason than the fact that we are Jewish, and that is eternal. We didn’t dance because of what we have and what we own, we danced because of who we are. Take a moment to think about the gift of life, being a beloved child of G-d and you too will be joyous. For a moment, don’t think about your deficit in the bank, your unemployment dilemma, the challenges with your children’s health, the impending snowstorm which is out of your control; just dance, purely, for all that you are. It’s not always easy, but Purim reminded me that joy is not circumstantial, it’s inherit.

Don’t dance over frivolity; dance like you don’t care!

 

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!!!

Can I get an Amen?

On Tuesday, while driving up to Helena to give the invocation at the State Legislature , I was pondering the words in my prayer book “Look from heaven and behold how we have become an object of scorn and derision among the nations; we are considered as sheep led to the slaughter, to be killed and annihilated, to be tortured and humiliated. Nevertheless, we have not forgotten Your name; we implore You, do not forget us “. I’ve read these words, prayed these words, and even sung these words, for three decades, but this time it really impacted me.

This Sunday we will celebrate the holiday of Purim . Its story is an exquisite tapestry, woven together by many colorful threads of Divinity and selflessness. The Scroll of Esther is a testimony to Jewry’s soul: A gentile king “validates” the Jew with an invitation to “his” royal feast. We accept, eat Treif food, drink idolatrous wine, mingle inappropriately and disregard Mordechai, the annoying religious fellow, who begs us to stick with G-d.  Sadly, we – in our recurring Jewish theme - thought assimilation was the key to survival and Haman, the anti-Semite, reminded us that bacon and eggs doesn’t make you less Jewish and when he comes for the Jew, he’s coming for ALL of them.

Yet, despite our spiritual failure, in our moment of truth realizing that “we are going to be murdered by the Hamanic thugs”, we don’t write up press releases, we don’t start change.org  campaigns, we don’t try to arm ourselves; we fast, we pray, we get back on G-d’s wagon and allow Him to lead us to victory. Yes, Queen Esther intervened, but she did so after fasting herself and paving the way for G-d’s miracle. G-d’s name doesn’t appear in the Megillah, as it was a miracle clothed in nature, but if you look a bit closer, it speaks for itself: Mordechai led a spiritual revolution that resulted in Haman on the gallows.

In the Selichot prayer recited yesterday on The Fast of Esther we beseech G-d “behold Your vineyard which is trampled, downtrodden; gather our dispersed, and a new song  will be sung to You; sustain them and enliven them through the rebuilding of the Bet Hamikdash. As you have performed awesome deeds in those days, so do wonders for us with an everlasting salvation, that we may find before You atonement and consolation, Almighty King who sits on the throne of mercy”

Can I get an Amen?  Amen V’Amen!

 

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!!!

Sinai Lumber!

I never heard of "Rare Disease Day" before Tuesday, but I was glad the President commemorated it during the State of the Union address with a real fighter, Megan Crowley, in the audience. Megan was diagnosed with Pompe Disease, when she was fifteen months old. She was not expected to live very long. Megan's dad fought with everything he had to save the life of his precious daughter and helped develop the drug that saved Megan's life. Today she is twenty years old - and a sophomore in college. 

Compassion for those who need it most is the bedrock of humanity.

In this week's Torah portion, Terumah, we read about the construction of the Tabernacle, G-d's home in the desert. The Jews are instructed to erect beams made of pine wood, originating from trees, that Jacob planted generations earlier in Egypt, and which were shlepped out during the Exodus. Yet, one wonders, where did they find the miraculous bending wood that was used as the middle rod connecting all forty eight beams? Targum Yonasan explains that Abraham planted trees near his Beersheba homestead, allowing him to wine and dine his guests beneath the shade and not in the scorching heat. The lumber of those trees of kindness, made its way to the redeemed Jews and were used to hold the beams together.

The tabernacle was standing on the firm foundation of kindness. 

It's simple: All the spirituality in the world - the alter, the Menorah, the show bread, the Holy of Holies, the ark of the covenant, the light exuding from this locale - were all dependent on simple acts of kindness. Without a deep love for humanity and tangible acts of giving, we lack the essence of what G-d and His Torah are all about. As Zeesy's father I am grateful for the kindness that is embedded in our society. I am grateful to the 
Children's Miracle NetworkShodair HospitalYaldei Shluchei HaRebbe and The Rebbe's Partnership Foundation, as well as all the individuals, who show Zeesy kindness and unadulterated love.

In the words of a wise soul "our days are happier when we give people a bit of our hearts better than a piece of our minds"!

 

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!!!

Thieves Have Feelings!

It seems like even children are political these days. So on Presidents Day, I was answering my seven year old Chaya’s political questions, including the difference between republicans and democrats, when she asked “Aba which one are we?”. I thought for a moment and said “Chaya, Mommy and I are neither. We vote based on the character of the person not their party affiliation. There are good people on all sides”. My response reminded me of President Lincoln’s famous statement “A house divided against itself cannot stand -- I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free”.

In this week’s Torah portion, Mishpatim, we read about the laws of thievery. G-d says “If a man steals a bull or a lamb and slaughters it or sells it, he shall pay five cattle for the bull or four sheep for the lamb.” Why less for a lamb than an ox? Rashi quotes the Talmud in teaching “The Omnipresent was considerate of people’s honor. For a bull, which walks with its own feet, and the thief was not disgraced by carrying it on his shoulder, he pays fivefold. For a lamb, which he the thief carries on his shoulder, he pays only fourfold because he was disgraced by it”. Although we are talking about a disgraceful thief parading around with someone else’s lamb, nevertheless, we do need to take into consideration the humanity of the thief and humiliation which he underwent in the stealing process.

Every human being is created in G-d’s image and is deserving of dignity. In our current climate we often shame, attack, ridicule and invalidate those who disagree with us. We go after their family, their friends, their grandmother, their college professor and even their pet cat, and we do so un-relentlessly. It’s not cool, it’s not passionate, it’s not free speech; it’s simply cruel and undignified.  We could disagree, but must do so like Hillel and Shamai, like Hamilton and Madison, like Curtis and Kuby, with respect, honor and poise.

G-d sees the dignity behind the thief’s self-degradation, so should we!

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!!!

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.