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Weekly Message

In G-d Do I Trust?

My parents taught me the importance of keeping my word. So it was very hurtful for Chavie and I, when, earlier this week, someone we trusted reneged on a firm commitment. Naturally, I was questioning my faith in humanity. Yet, twenty-four hours later we were dealing with another issue, wondering how we would pay for the new Mikvah heater, after our current one died, and lo and behold, a group of 30+ committed souls on Facebook came together to make that a reality, giving us a glimpse of humanity at its best. The eternal words of King David, that I’ve prayed thousands of times, were ringing in my head all week long, “Do not trust in princes, in the son of men, who has no salvation”.

 

Believe in humanity but trust only in G-d.

In this week’s Torah portion, Beshalach, we read about the Manna, a heavenly bread delivered to the door step of every Jewish family in the Sinai desert. For almost forty years they received their primary sustenance through this Divine food and instead of getting a weekly ration, they received it every morning anew. G-d was using the Manna as a teaching tool, instilling within His people trust. “I believe in G-d”, “I am religious”, even the mighty dollar bill screams out “In God we trust”. Yet, us so called believers, often times lack the trust, that indeed G-d will be our provider. We say in Grace after Meals “Who, in His goodness, provides sustenance for the entire world with grace, with kindness, and with mercy. He gives food to all flesh, for His kindness is everlasting”. Yet, when we are done the melodious singing, do we actually believe it?

I admit that this is hard to internalize, but if G-d can provide Manna from heaven, he can certainly ensure that we won’t go hungry. He doesn’t want us to sit back and rely on him without working hard; we must make a vessel for His light, His countenance, His blessings, but to think that our survival is dependent on this one or that one, this investor and that banker, even if they’ve committed and signed on the dotted line, is silly. Those who are unethical will have to answer to the Almighty, as for me, I must walk the walk and remember that Hashem is always in charge and if you think He isn’t, that’s probably why you’re anxious.

Through the fire, through the hell!

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 Break Free!

The feedback from the Shabbaton was remarkable. The thoughts shared by Hollywood screenwriter David Weiss, specifically the idea that his journey back to his Jewish faith was one of many baby steps in the right direction, resonated deeply with those who participated. It wasn’t overnight, it wasn’t a quick fix; it was slow but steady. Interestingly, yesterday, Chavie started her new course “Pause & Affect – A Shabbat Outlook” and it got me thinking; there’s no better place to start a journey of more observance than the Shabbat experience.

In this week’s Torah portion, Bo, we read about the miraculous exodus from Egypt. On Shabbat, while sanctifying the day, Kiddush, over a cup of wine, we thank G-d who “has desired us, and has given us, in love and goodwill, His holy Shabbat as a heritage, in remembrance of the work of Creation; the first of the holy festivals, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt”. Shabbat is not only a weekly opportunity to remember the Creator and His amazing creation, but it’s a time to remember Egypt. To paraphrase Maimonides in his Guide to the Perplexed, slaves can’t choose when to work and when to rest, but a free person can. When a Jew celebrates Shabbat, they are celebrating their freedom from Egyptian – and all other – bondage.

All weeklong we are enslaved to the mundane. We’re trying to make a living, to care for our families, to shovel the snow, do the laundry and to enjoy a few hours of sleep.  G-d recognized this reality and gave us a day to simply let go. G-d gives us the weekly opportunity to free ourselves from internal bondage, internal Egypt, and head to the promised land of spirit, soul and family. Shabbat is a freeing day to focus inwardly without being concerned with who likes us on Facebook, retweets us on Twitter and shares our pictures on Instagram. Enjoying Shabbat is not all or nothing; you do a little, then a little more, at your own pace.

TGI Shabbat – one weekend at a time!

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!!!

Show Him Passion!

Monday night, after my GPS malfunctioned and a Divine Providential meetup with my friends Marty and Julie who saved the day, I spent a few hours with a group of Jews from New York vacationing at Moonlight Basin. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them over culinary magic. We talked thoughts of Torah, stories of lost luggage and they were extremely curious about Jewish life out west; yet, close to midnight, as I was winding on the 191 back to Bozeman, I was still discernibly inspired by what three brothers shared with me: they never miss praying with a Minyan. Eleven years, thirteen years, that’s a long time to never miss a Minyan, but whether journeying through Uganda for pleasure or doing Business in Asia, they either arrange for a Minyan at the destination or bring a Minyan along.

 

I love Jews with passion.

In this week’s Torah portion, Va’eira, we read about stubborn Pharaoh and his illogical defiance in face of the Ten Plagues. The first plague was when the water of Egypt, including their “worshiped” Nile, turned to blood. G-d was sending Egypt, and all of us, an eternal message: Don’t be cold like water. G-d was hoping to educate the Egyptians to be less doubtful about spirituality and Himself, the Creator, and to be more “Hot blooded”, more passionate, more alive. Living beings are warm and deceased bodies are cold. Moses was hoping that The Pharaoh would understand that his cold apathetic approach was the source of his spiritual misalignment and he’d change his ways. Pharaoh was a slow learner, but we can learn from his mistakes a lot quicker.

We tend to be passionate about the NFL, the NCAA, sushi, vacation, the Golden Globes and about our political philosophies. We are excited when our children know everything about Martin Luther King, Shakespeare, Michelangelo and Abraham Lincoln, but are we passionate about Shabbat, Passover and Shavuot? Do we dance for joy when our children know everything about  Rabina ,  Reb Moshe Feinstein , the  Baal Shem Tov  or Abudraham ? American Jewry must realign their passions. Watch football, read Shakespeare and be politically savvy, but our “passion” should be utilized for the things that enhance our relationship with G-d, our families and to be a better member of society.

Inner Fire!

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!!!

 

Mincha in Morocco!

After my Zayde Shimon’s passing, a bit over a year ago, he, and my Bubbe Esther of blessed memory, posthumously gifted me with the opportunity to travel with our family and see parts of the world, otherwise out of our reach. So, after an amazing Chanukah in Montana, we headed off for eight days of family alone time in Spain, Morocco, France and Gibraltar. I will write a separate article about the trip itself and what it taught me, but today I’d like to focus on one aspect of the journey: the importance of a healthy Jewish identity. Whether in the market place of Tangier or the Rock of Gibraltar, the Eiffel Tower or at JFK in New York, we stood out as a “Jewish Family”.

In this week’s Torah portion, Shemot, the first in the Book of Exodus, we read about the enslavement of our people in Egypt. The Midrash teaches, that despite the spiritual disillusionment of Jewry, there were important characteristics that they never abandoned. Although they dabbled in Egyptian culture and idolatry, they never changed their language, dress code and Jewish names. We aren’t perfect people, we don’t always get the G-d thing right, but there are certain things that are integral to ensuring we don’t totally drop the ball. When we are called Moshe or Chaya, our Jewish names, when we dress modestly and with a Yarmulke/Kippah; this helps us retain our connection to the G-d of Israel.

While on the late afternoon express ferry from Tangier to Tarifa, there were a few Muslims on board who went to a corner, laid down their prayer rug and started their third prayer of the day. I needed to pray my second prayer of the day, Mincha, so I put on my hat, my Gartel and stood near them to say the Amidah. I wasn’t trying to be cool or looking for trouble, I simply saw it as an opportunity to show them that we aren’t that different at our core after all. When I was done, I told the ferry attendants that I was a “Yahud”, a Jew, and that we both pray to one G-d. Yes, while wrapping up in my Talis and Tefillin in Malaga’s airport, a few people seemed slightly uncomfortable, but we are Jews, and if our people were able to identify as such in Egypt in 1400 BCE, we can certainly do so in Big Sky Country in 2018!

Free from internal bondage; being Jewish 24/7, no matter where we are!

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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