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Weekly Message

Beat the heck outta....

I just returned from a few days in New York, where Shoshana and I commemorated the Rebbe’s 23rdYahrtzait at his resting place in Queens, just before she departed by bus to Gan Israel summer camp in Haliburton, 160 miles Northeast of Toronto, Ontario. It took years for me to realize that one can maneuver with ease through chaotic New York, when being extra nice and gracious to those we encounter. Whether a Dollar-Rent-a-Jalopy shuttle bus driver or a waitress in the many fine restaurants; kindness and softness gets me a lot further than roughness.

In this week’s Torah portion, Chukat, we read the infamous tale of Moses hitting the rock, extracting water to quench the thirst of the Jewish people. G-d had told him to speak to the rock but he chose to hit it instead. So often we act like Moses. We encounter certain friends, relatives or acquaintances and we feel like we are talking to an unmovable stone. We decide “enough is enough” and we start hitting the stone instead, hoping for the desired results. At times, we may even succeed with our hitting, and extract something positive from the human stone, but its long-term effects will be judged unfavorably. The explanation for Moses’ action has been discussed for three thousand years, but what will be said about us in 3000 years, can be decided today.

We all fail from time to time; losing our cool when under too much pressure or experiencing an overload of anxiety. Yet, as I continue to learn myself, we must communicate softly and calmly, as this will not only strengthen our inner equilibrium, but also make it a lot easier for the recipient, whether child or otherwise, to listen. Whenever wild Menny gets out of control (which happens regularly), I “try” to call him over, whisper in his ear the message I want him to hear. It doesn’t always work, but it certainly catches his attention way more than when I raise my voice or threaten him with time-out.  As Shoshana was boarding the bus and I said goodbye, I reminded her to “treat the other campers the way she’d like to be treated”. 

We like sweet words way more than the rod, let’s treat others the same way.

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!!!

It Ain't Easy!

On Wednesday, our family, along with Shoshana’s grammie Sheila, joined together in Judge Rienne McElyea’s courtroom to finalize Shoshana’s adoption. It was a truly special moment; she’s ours forever. Later that evening, as we celebrated with friends, Chavie and I acknowledged that raising a preteen is not always a picnic, but that we wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world. I wished Shoshana a life of happiness, growing to be a Bas Chabad, a girl who lives up to the Lubavitch value system, and be a woman of valor.

It’s not easy, as she was not raised this way, but when there’s a will, there’s a way.  

On Tuesday, we will commemorate the Rebbe’s 23rd Yahrtzait. While I’ve often wondered which of the Rebbe’s life-lessons impacted my life most, this week I figured it out. The greatest malady of western civilization is the need for instant gratification. Everything must be easy; it’s the sacrosanct principle that ensures   Amazon and Brookestone’s existence. The Rebbe taught me that “I don’t have a contract with G-d that all will be easy”. Losing my mom, experiencing infertility, adopting children are not easy to handle. Being a good husband, mentoring a Jewish community, spending time with my children isn’t always easy? But does it have to be? Why?

Korach, the rebel of our Torah portion, wanted something that wasn’t meant to be his. Instead of marveling in his own struggle, he thought he can find inner peace by shifting into another life that was destined for someone else. He failed, because everyone is meant to be themselves. My struggle makes me a better person and your struggle does the same for you. The Rebbe gifted me with the ability to see the light in the struggle, suspending the search for an easy way out. It’s ok to occasionally ask G-d to ease things up, but don’t ask him to give your someone else’s life, as that would just be foolish.

Rebbe I know you miss us, even more than we miss you, but please know that forty-four years of your loving leadership is still inspiring Big Sky Country.

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!!!

Joshua & His Prostitute!

It’s unfortunate, but people often think of themselves as “insignificant” in the world, “inconsequential” in the “bigger picture”. This week, while meeting with Dr. Godfrey Saunders, former beloved principal of Bozeman High School, he shared with me something his mom told him “Son, the universe is like a puzzle. We must place our piece in the precise spot, so that the generations after us, will be able to add their piece to the puzzle”. It’s not about changing all human history, but rather about giving it everything we’ve got to better ourselves and the civilization around us.

In this week’s Haftorah we read about Pinchas and Caleb, two spies who Joshua sent to study the land of Israel just prior to the Jewish people coming home. While lodging, their innkeeper Rachav, who also served as the local prostitute, hid them, thus saving their life from the locals who sought to murder them. In return, they assured her that when the Jews conquer Jericho, she and her family will be saved and indeed that’s what happened. Amazing! A woman who was forced into harlotry at the age of ten, living a life of immorality for forty years, performs an act of kindness for a few hours and is then gifted with life, a conversion to Judaism and the eventual marriage to Joshua himself, meriting grandchildren the likes of Ezekiel and Isiah, Prophets with A+ ratings. 

A powerful moment of good.

We each are endowed by our Creator with choice. The choices we make at every juncture in our day can either be beneficial to our wellbeing, spiritual and physical, or G-d forbid, harmful. We sometimes look at our past and think we are long gone, we occasionally predict our future and believe it is grim, but in truth, our past and future aren’t relevant to the “now”. If we live life in the “now”, we create moments of light, seconds of truth and milliseconds of good, which will affect us positively in ways that we can’t imagine. Don’t be shortsighted or nostalgic; live in the moment and change the world.

Learn from Rachav!

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!!!

Moses & His Trumpets!

Tuesday night was spectacular! When Chavie and I tied the knot eleven years ago, Chana’le was a young eleven-year-old and now she is married to her beloved Shneur. As we danced the night away, I couldn’t help but think about the life that lies ahead for the newlyweds. With G-d’s blessings, they will grow together in their love for each other, raising their future children and together build a home in which Judaism will flourish. A marriage must have G-d as its third partner; it’s the anchor of stability.

In this week’s Torah portion, Behaalotecha, Moses is commanded to use his own wealth to fashion two silver trumpets. When the nation traveled, when Moses needed the elders to assemble at the Tabernacle, when bringing Rosh Chodesh and holiday offerings and when going to war, Moses’ trumpets were sounded with jingle variation, depending on the occasion. The verse says “when you enter into battle in your land, against adversaries who attack you, you shall blow a wailing sound on the trumpets. You will then be favorably accounted before The Eternal, your G-d, and be saved from your enemies”. Ibn Ezra explains that the crying sound awakens Jewry to repent and thus invokes G-d’s mercy for deliverance from their enemy.   

As Chana’le and Shneur embark on their new journey together, they too, may encounter adversity. Life has ups and downs, moments of bliss and those of challenge, but their home will be based on “Foundation of Torah and Mitzvot”, a G-dly footing, ensuring that they remain focused and strong, through thick and thin.  Like in Numbers, our Moses, the Rebbe of blessed memory, has gifted each of us, his Chassidim, with “silver trumpets”, guidance for life, that brings inspirational song to our every day, even the tough ones.  Chana’le and Shneur will undoubtedly use the trumpets, not only for themselves, but to uplift all those with whom they interact.

An Everlasting Edifice! 

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 Rollers!

What an amazing Shavuot holiday. With my beloved Aba, his wife Leah, my niece Mushkie, nephew Sholom and the Yeshiva students Leivy and Shaul, in the house, 65 local tribe members spent time at The Shul, with late night learning of Kedushat Levi on Tuesday, Moses, Sushi and Cheesecake on Wednesday and second day Minyan with Yizkor memorial service on Thursday. Our people are holy; don’t ever doubt it. Despite work/school/gorgeous-weather, souls flocked to Shul, choosing G-d over convenience and tradition over modernism. 

In this week’s Torah portion, Naso, the longest in the Five Books of Moses, we read about the Levi family and their work in the Holy Tabernacle. In its midst, seemingly out of place, we are told “Command the children of Israel to banish from the camp all those afflicted with tzara'ath…both male and female you shall banish; you shall send them outside the camp, and they not defile their camps, in which I dwell among them.” Reb Moshe Alschich, Safed’s 16th century Torah giant, explains that one may have thought that the Divine presence only dwelled in the first two encampments around the Tabernacle, only residing amongst the Kohen/Priestly and Levite families, the Torah therefore informs us that those plagued with temporary impurity must leave all three encampments, as the Divine presence rests amongst the simple Israelites as well.

So often we lose touch, lose our connection and sometimes even fall into despair, thinking that we aren’t important. True, there are different spiritual experiences and the Israelite's and Aaron’s family interacted with the Divine differently, but we must always remember that the Divine dwells with every one of us 24/7. It’s convenient to make G-d seem distant, thus lowering the expectations of our service, but that is improper. Right here in beautiful Bozeman, we are fully capable of being holy, feeling holy and acting holy whether on Shavuot or a simple Tuesday afternoon. We mustn’t underestimate our holiness; we’ve got the ability to touch the Divine.

Holy, Holy, Holy!!!

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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