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Weekly Message

Integrity!

Raising five children, like living life, is complex, but a vital component throughout the process, is constancy.  Children need the integrity of consistency, but it’s hard for them to integrate this invaluable attribute, if they see their parents live capriciously. We are their role model and therefore must live with the standards we wish of them. I had the opportunity of visiting with Shoshana for a few hours this week and this was the theme throughout our conversations: integrity, integrity, integrity. Living with integrity is not just a bonus attribute to support wholesome living but it’s really at the core of all of life’s experiences.

In this week’s Torah portion, Tetzaveh, we read of the daily commandment “ The one lamb you shall offer up in the morning and the other lamb you shall offer up in the afternoon.”. The Midrashic sages debate the most important verse of the Torah. Is it the Shema Yisroel, the proclamation of, and belief in, G-d’s oneness? Is it to love your fellow as yourself? Is it the idea that G-d created every human in His image and should be treated with dignity? Yet, despite the importance of these concepts, Ben Pazi says that the verse commanding two daily offerings in the Holy Temple is most central, even more than those more popular ideas. The Midrash concludes that Ben Pazi is correct.  

What did Ben Pazi recognize that the other sages didn’t? It’s that Judaism without consistency is destined to failure.

Internalization, building a deep relationship with our Creator, is key and it’s impossible without a steady experience enabling its growth. Bringing bonus Musaf offerings, windfall spiritual highs, are awesome, but can only survive long-term, if they sit on the shoulders of a daily relationship with G-d. There’s no guarantee that holidays will be as super uplifting as we’d like or that our children will adhere to the values we impart to them, but at a minimum we should do our part of “walking the walk” with G-d and humanity, not just “talk the talk”.

In the words of a wise author “Consistency isn’t rocket science, it’s commitment”!

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!!!

State of my union!

The Constitution states that the President “shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Indeed, on Tuesday, over forty-six-million Americans, including members of both Houses of Congress, watched as President Trump spoke to the nation. This 200+ year-old custom, which started with President George Washington, gives the citizens of our precious union an opportunity to hear where things currently stand in our country; making some happy, some furious and some confused.

In this week’s Torah portion, Terumah, we read about the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, the earthly display of the human-Creator relationship. As we ponder the Holy Ark, the Menorah, the Alter, the Showbread and all the other holy furniture, we are taught life lessons. The Ark, housing the Torah, reminds us to stick to G-dly wisdom and not get seduced by other, sometimes appealing, ways of thinking. The Menorah with its seven lamps reminds us to always be a source of light in our tumultuous world. The Alter reminds us the importance of sacrifice/selflessness and the showbread teaches us that all our sustenance is a result of G-d’s kindness.

Every so often, we should pause and ask ourselves, what is the state of my union? What is the state of my relationship with G-d?. Just this morning, while bemoaning a financial challenge, Chavie said to me “Chaim Shaul, you don’t have enough trust in Hashem”. She’s 100% right, but I’m the first to admit that it’s hard. When saying the bedtime Shema, I must ask myself “Chaim, are you learning enough Torah? Are you brightening the world around you? Are you lessening your ego and living selflessly? Are you trusting in the Aibershter for real?”. My union certainly needs some real work to reach healthfulness, how about yours?

In the words of King David “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will bear you”!

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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