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Weekly Message

Hard working butterflies!

With the kids off school for parent/teacher conferences and the weather dropping way below zero with an abundance of snow, we sought indoor activities. While Chavie had them under her wing most of the time, I had the good fortune of taking them to see the new butterfly exhibit at the Museum of the Rockies. We learned lots about this mystifying creature, including how an adult butterfly works so very hard to emerge from its chrysalis, transitioning from its first version as a caterpillar.

Life’s beautiful moments don’t necessarily come easy.

In this week’s Torah portion, Noach, the second in the book of Genesis, we read about the great flood and those meriting to be aboard Noach’s ark. While there was the lower compartment for waste, the middle compartment for animals and the upper compartment for humans, Noach was entrusted by G-d to care for all the living beings on his hand-built boat. One day, Noach arrived late for the lion feeding and was greeting with an injuring bite. Noach could’ve complained about the unfairness of his suffering, as it was G-d who got him into this job in the first place and the little He could’ve done was to protect him, but he didn’t Kvetch. He accepted his mission as animal caretaker without self-pity bemoaning of his awful lot in life.

All of us, at some point, wonder why G-d must make our life so hard, especially as we are trying to be good citizens, healthy Jews and better the world through our deeds. News flash: It’s a thought that Noach taught us is futile. We do what’s right, what’s good, what’s vital, without any expectation for reward or G-dly guarantees. Sometimes our good work gets us hurt, physically or emotionally, but that shouldn’t result in us dropping it like a hot potato. Part of our experience is to develop our perseverance and if we cowardly run from anything that doesn’t go our way, we will never internalize the endurance attribute. I’m sure Noach had a grievance or two, but when on a mission, there isn’t any time to share it, let alone to dwell in it.

Love your work, recognize your mission and beauty will ensue!

May You guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May You protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

White collar, blue collar & arty!

What an incredible holiday season! The meaningful moments of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret & Simchat Torah are forever etched in my mind and on my heart. So much life, so much upliftment, so much inspiration; I know that out of the thousands of Shuls the world over, Hashem gazed at the purity of the Bozeman joy, as we danced, sang and wished each other well with L’Chaim, and He hummed to Himself “My people are awesome, they really do get it, they deserve only revealed good”. An especially vivid moment for me was when our beautiful Chaya asked if she could shake the Lulav and Etrog with the women and girls in the Sukkah; it made my day.

Children need to actualize themselves.  

In this week’s Torah portion, Bereishis, the first in Genesis, we read about Adam, Eve, their sons and their many descendants. Among their offspring was a fellow named Lemech who, together with his two wives, had three sons and a daughter. The daughter, Na’ama, married Noah and together survived the great flood in the Ark. The sons, Yaval, a rancher, Yuval, an artist, and Tuval-Kayin, a craftsman, inherited grandpa Kayin’s ingenuity gene, using their G-d given talents to invent creatively. Rav Shamson Rafael Hirsch explains that our world needs businessmen such as ranchers, artists such as musicians and craftsman such as blacksmiths to each do their part in making our world a better place. It’s the combination of white collar, blue collar and arty individuals that give our communities a healthy balance.

As the first portion of Moses’ Five Books, Bereishis lays the foundation for our behavior this coming year. G-d, the Creator, asks each of us to partner with Him in perfecting His imperfect world, by finding the Creator within every fiber of existence. If we ignore our talents and insight, our style and personality, then the G-dliness in those aspects of our lives will remain dormant and undiscovered. If we have a passion, if we have a drive, if we are gifted with a strong suit, we must ask ourself: Am I doing enough self-development? Am I using these incredible tools to enrich my spirituality and subsequently the world at large?  Lemech’s kids made the world better, each with their own special touch, Chavie and I hope the same for Chaya and all the kiddos.

In the words of Oscar Wilde “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken”!

 

May You guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May You protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

 

He needs a hug!

Though my mind is inquisitive, I never thought about hugs enough to wonder who enjoys them more, me or the kids. Last week, as I sat on the couch, Zeesy climbed her way onto my lap and got into a cozy position and just sat there in a delicious embrace for what felt like an eternity. It was so good that she asked me the following day if she could do it again. It got me thinking about how powerful a loving embrace can be, and while the kids love them, I think I love them more. It’s sort of a validating process in which kids, who are normally in their own world of school and play, who are constantly demanding unrealistically of their parents, suddenly turn into these squishy lovable kiddos, who make it all worth it.

On Sukkot, which commences Sunday evening, we celebrate G-d’s embrace. The four walls of the Sukkah are Hashem’s way of hugging His newly returned children, who finally came home to visit during the High Holy Days. He asks us to step out of our comfort zone, come into His domain, the great outdoors, and allow Him to care for us and show us His ability be there for His vulnerable children for the entire Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret. I would venture to say that, like me and the kiddos, He enjoys the Sukkah hug even more than we do. Perhaps therefore Sukkot comes so soon after Yom Kippur, G-d wants to get a hold of us while we are still around, still in touch with Him, and He hangs on to us as long as He can.

Nature and Montanans are old friends, but following G-d’s command and entering the Sukkah for the specific purpose of connecting with Him, is something even more special than regular camping. Yom Kippur was great to repair the relationship, but Sukkot is the opportunity to chill with our Creator post court date drama. We sit together, sing and Farbreng, learn and say L’Chaim and just enjoying familial company in the presence of our Big Daddy. Step into a Sukkah, you’ll be right at home.

Enjoy His bear hug!

May You guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May You protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

A Yizkor Reflection!

If Teshuva means “repentance”, I officially give up, as “losing service” enough times leaves me believing a relationship with this “carrier” is impractical. How many times a day can we regret, feel remorse and try to be “born again”? If, on the other hand, Teshvua means returning, coming home, going back to my essence, then I’m all in, all in, as coming home is never tiring, it’s my home, my natural space. I share this going into the Shabbat of Teshuva, as It’s during these ten days from Rosh Hashana through Yom Kippur that we try to remember who we really are.

Never forget.

My own Teshuva process includes the Yizkor memorialization of those who taught me such valuable life lessons, some that I forget, and others I choose to ignore and thus experience personal failure. I think of my beautiful mother Chana Leah (Chanchy) who cared, with every fiber of her being, for widows, orphans, broken families and children who were vulnerable. I think of my maternal grandparents Zayde Shimon and Bubbe Esther Goldman who epitomized Hachnosas Orchim, five-star hospitality to all, including people who were different and those who they didn’t know personally. I think of my paternal grandparents, Saba Mendel and Savta Chana Bruk, who had a cherished work ethic and earned every Shekel honestly, whether driving his truck for Carmel Mizrachi wine, her hours of teaching at the Jerusalem orphanage or her extracurricular activity of sowing clothing for her family. It forces me to ask myself: Could I learn a thing or two from them about being happier with less? Can I do more for those in our community that are struggling? Can I, perhaps, make our home more open and host more guests who need a place to put their head down?  

Remembering them, helps me remember who I am and where I need improvement.

Yet, this year, I will also say Yizkor for our family friend Georgette who survived the holocaust and passed away three months ago without a husband or children to say Yizkor for her. As our Bozeman Bubby, she taught me, Chavie and the kids so much about loving life and the prominence of New York Pastrami. She could’ve focused on all the trauma in her early life and all the missed opportunities in her later life, but she didn’t. Sure, she Kvetched as much as any healthy Jew, but she enjoyed a life of travel, immersion in nature and a love for animals and good friends. I’ll remember her, because she reminded me where I come from. She enriched our family immensely and the least I can do to say thank you is to say Yizkor for her.

Let’s remember to remember! And let’s do Teshuva, let’s go home, our Father is waiting anxiously for our arrival, even if it’s only a short visit!

May You guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May You protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

 

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