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Weekly Message

Cry no more Yerushalayim!

I would love to ignore the horrible news, but I can’t. I’d rather talk about much happier things, there are plenty, but I can’t.  I can’t ignore the Savta (grandma) who watched her husband, son and daughter slaughtered before her eyes as she barely survived her injuries. I can’t ignore the mother holding the door knob tightly as she protected her five young kids, while listening to her husband scream before he breathed his last breath. I can’t ignore the arab world claiming victimhood over metal-detectors, after two of their very own cold bloodedly murdered two Druze police officers. I’d like to go back to my Bozeman bubble and say “we just need peace”, I’d like to think I can solve this issue by placing a “Coexist” bumper sticker on the back of my Subaru, but in truth, what we really need is our arab neighbors to love and teach life as much as we do.

In Israel, Mickey Mouse hangs out with Donald Duck and Minnie, in Gaza he sings about using his AK-47 .

For close to two thousand years, since being tortured, humiliated and exiled by the Romans, we’ve never stopped yearning. The Jews in Israel and abroad have been praying thrice daily “May our eyes see Your merciful return to Tzion.”, every Shabbos we pray, sometimes in heartwarming song,  “From your place, our King, may You appear, and reign over us, for we are waiting for You….May You be exalted and sanctified within Your city Jerusalem, generation after generation, and for all eternity” and we alwayspray towards our holy Jerusalem, no matter where we are in the world, while Muslims pray towards Mecca, their holiest site, even when they’re kneeling on the Temple Mount.

Tuesday is Tisha B’Av, our national day of mourning, and in addition to fasting, we must have a collective moment of honesty. Jews are peaceful, we don’t want any person in the world to suffer, including Jews. We need to say the truth - even if a friend or two will disown you - that the Holy Land of Eretz Yisroel was, and will always be, our home. Whether Canaan, Israel, Palestine or Palestina, we’ve lived on its holy soil since Abraham’s days and that will never change. My paternal grandparents were Palestinian, as they lived under Ottoman and British rule in Palestine way before 1948 and our people will continue living there way past 2048! Political persuasions aside, we can, and should, have healthy debates about Israeli government policy, but we can’t, and should never, debate our right to be home.

Cry no more Yerushalayim!

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!!!

Bad Habits!

The three of them arrived Tuesday morning to replace the carpet. They seemed real nice but their fascination with Judaism was not what I expected. We spoke about G-d, faith, New York, Kosher and the picture of the Rebbe on the wall. They wanted to know who he was and they loved learning about his life. Before they headed home for the night, I gifted each of them with  Seeds of Wisdom. They were touched and I know they will enjoy its meaningful nuggets.

In this weeks’s double Torah portion, Matot-Massei, we read about koshering our non-kosher utensils. When making a mistake in the kitchen, there is usually a remedy – either through boiling water or blowtorching – to re-kosher the utensil. In life, it’s very much the same. We are naturally Kosher, we are pure, but at times, by mistake – either a behavioral mistake or the mistake of thinking our choices don’t matter to G-d when they clearly do – we become impure, temporarily invalidating the Kosherness of our vessel. Yet, that doesn’t mean we are a lost cause, rather, it means we need to find the right path for spiritual realignment, which isn’t always easy, but is almost always doable.

In a “classic Rebbe moment”, the author of the aforementioned book, shares the following: Responding to a young man who struggled with bad habits and asked, “how can I achieve lasting transformation?”, the Rebbe said “the key to real change is to firmly resolve in your heart of hearts that this behavior doesn’t reflect who you truly are. But the first step toward freeing yourself of the habit is to avoid the situations that trigger it in the first place”.

A word from the wise:

Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don't belong.

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!!!

Clarifying Agent!

In an overly superficial society, most of us appreciate authenticity. In the Chabad world, there are many Chassidim, many ambassadors of light serving in Chabad Centers around the world, many vital institutions in Brooklyn and beyond, but then there’s my uncle Chaim Shaul. Sharing the same Hebrew name as me, my father’s youngest brother stands out as a one-of-a-kind individual who is an inspiration, a beacon of authenticity and a man who loves Jewry. It’s been 23 years since our Rebbe’s passing and Chaim Shaul is still devout to the teachings, directives and world perspective of the Rebbe, and trusted by all to deliver truth.

In this week’s Torah portion, Pinchas, we read about the plague that killed twenty-four thousand sinning Jews. With the advice of Balaam, Jew hating King Balak instructs the Moabite women to seduce Jewish men into adultery and idolatry, resulting in this terrible plague. Upon seeing a public desecration of everything Judaism holds dear, Pinchas seeks Moses’ instruction on procedure, but Moses was unsure. Pinchas recalled the biblical rule and killed Zimri and Cozbi himself, and the plague ceased. While most focus on the killing episode itself, I find the motives impressive. Even when Moses’ clear ruling was unavailable, the Jewish people needed a Pinchas to have the clarity to stay on message and not deviate from G-d’s wishes.

People like my uncle Chaim Shaul are occasionally on the receiving end of criticism, but which leader isn’t? He isn’t swayed by public opinion, isn’t able to be bought off with money and doesn’t worry about his reputation; he fights the good fight no matter what. He has been blessed to print one hundred and fifty books of the Rebbe’s teachings, unearthing seventy years’ worth of archives and is a mentor to hundreds. As he turns fifty this Tuesday, I wish my Pinchas, my uncle, the best of blessings and thank him personally, in this public email, for all he has done for me, our family, our Bozeman community and my beloved Lubavitch.

May we each enjoy a Pinchas moment; doing what’s right without a care in the world!

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!!!

What doesn't keep me up at night!

You don’t need to be a history buff to cringe when reading UNESCO’s recent resolution about Native Americans. They announced this week that the Indian Tribes in the United States are an occupying force and the Native lands must be returned to their original owners, the Americans. OK fine, UNESCO didn’t say that about the Native Americans, but rather about the Native Israelite's, the Jewish people, and their historic connection to the Western Wall, Cave of the Patriarchs and Jerusalem’s Old City. You don’t need to be an ardent Zionist to understand the lunacy of their declaration and to realize that it’s blatant anti-Semitism.


UNESCO's members should’ve read this week’s Torah portion, Balak. In it, Balaam the prophet of Midian, is hired by Balak, the king of Moab, to use his Divine powers to curse the Jewish people. Balaam begs Balak to withdraw his request, explaining to him that when tapping into the energies of prophecy it is unpredictable; you never know what words G-d will ultimately place in your mouth. Yet, Balak’s hatred for Jewry was voracious and he insisted Balaam spout the curses. The results were every anti-Semite’s worst nightmare: Balaam delivered the most beautiful blessings to, and predictions about, Jewry. Isn’t it always better when our virtues are bestowed upon us from the outside?

Naturally, I am worrier. I worry about turbulence on planes, money in the bank, the success of my kids in school, the wellbeing of my septic tank, my physical health and pretty much everything in between. The one thing I never worry about is the Jewish people. Do we have our ups and downs? sure. Do we encounter terrible moments of tragedy? sadly, way too often. Yet, are we the most durable survivalists to ever walk this green earth? Indeed, we are. UNESCO may have a few moments of fame, but their legacy will join that of all the others that have come and gone as the Jewish people thrive.

Am Yisroel Chai!

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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