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Weekly Message

Sometimes I just don't get it!

I spent Tuesday at Children’s Hospital Colorado and it’s highly impressive. You see, at Wednesday night’s class, Jennifer asked a great question. Why does G-d need to give us the exact measurements of the Tabernacle? Does it really matter to the Creator of heaven and earth if the wooden planks are Ten Amot (cubits) high or if there is an exact number of rings to hang the tapestries? It sounds kind of petty for G-d to care about these details. I loved the question, because it’s not only a question about the Tabernacle, it’s a question about all spirituality: do the details matter? And if the details don’t matter, do the commands themselves matter?

Our Torah portion, Terumah, is basically a blueprint for tabernacle construction. If you’re like me, and don’t like math and Home Depot isn’t your stomping ground, it could drive you insane. Yet, it’s the Mishkan study that makes two things really clear: 1) Details do matter to G-d. 2) Though we may not understand it, there’s a reason for everything. For example: The ten-cubit height of the wooden planks reflects the ten faculties of the soul, three intellectual and seven emotional. When placed in the foundational sockets, which reflect the subservience to G-d, and wrapped in tapestries which represent the all-encompassing faculties of will power and pleasure, we are putting together the components for a healthy human being.

Which brings me back to the hospital. This immaculate “home of healing” for children has everything down to a science. They know everything about Zeesy and her “magic diet”, they know our flight schedules and work accordingly, they are so careful not to transfer diseases from one patient to another (especially with this Corona outbreak) and no sane person would ever want them to be less detail oriented. I don’t understand every protocol they have in place, but I’m sure glad they are on top of their game. G-d is infinite, so I certainly can’t understand everything He asks me to do, but I am sure glad that my Creator cares enough about me that He wants to make sure I get it all right.

G-d is my specialist; He knows what He’s doing!   

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

It's not my fault!

Whether it’s forgetting their lunch at home or misplacing their MP3 Player, Chavie and I always remind the kids of their responsibilities. Yes, parents are responsible for a lot, but children need to appreciate their own value, their wisdom and abilities, recognizing that they can, and should, care for certain aspects of their life. It’s vital that we all understand that even if something isn’t “our fault”, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t our “responsibility”. You may have planned for a different outcome or these results may have been out of your control, still, that doesn’t remove our accountability for the reality and being straightforward as to how it happened.  

In this Mitzvah-laden Torah portion, Mishpatim, we read lots about human behavior, including the detail-packed laws of monetary loans and the laws of damages. Whether it’s lighting a fire that spread, owning a dangerous animal that gores, creating a public hazard of any kind, owning a harmful object on private property or serving as a guardian for a friends’ item and losing it, the Torah, elaborated mostly in the large Talmudic tractate of Bava Metziah, guides us for each scenario and what our obligations and consequences would be accordingly.

It’s hard to convey to our children the ethic of personal responsibility, the ethic of integrity, when CEO’s, politicians and, sadly, many religious leaders, don’t take responsibility for their actions and simply blame someone, or something, else for their missteps. G-d doesn’t demand our perfection, He just expects us to be honest with ourselves and others. Lao Tzu wrote “A great nation is like a great man: When he makes a mistake, he realizes it. Having realized it, he admits it. Having admitted it, he corrects it. He considers those who point out his faults as his most benevolent teachers. He thinks of his enemy as the shadow that he himself casts.”

Stop passing the buck; it’s on you!


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

Don't forget #5!

Too often, children assume they are smarter than their parents, but most of the time, they aren’t. It’s just that we expect our parents to see the world the way we do, and when they don’t, we are frustrated. I can’t count the times I thought my parents were wrong and it turned out it was I who was mistaken. As I grow older, sometimes, just a few weeks older, I realize that my father, with whom I love arguing for sport, is correct. Even when he is wrong, I regret mouthing off at him about our disagreements, because he’s my father and has earned my respect, period.

In this week’s Torah portion, Yitro, we are introduced to the Ten Commandments. While we are expected to follow the entirety of Torah, somehow, we are divided into tablet one Jews and tablet two Jews. Tablet one Jews focus on the G-d oriented Mitzvos found on the first tablet: Belief in G-d, no idols, not saying G-d’s name in vain and observing the Sabbath. Tablet two Jews are focused on the human oriented Mitzvos of not murdering, not coveting, not kidnapping, not bearing false witness and not committing adultery. Yet, too often commandment number five, “Honor your father and your mother, in order that your days be lengthened on the land that the Lord, your God, is giving you” doesn’t get the attention it deserves from either group of Jews.

The idea is simple.

You don’t need love them, like them or adore them; you need to honor them. It’s easy things like not calling them by their name, not sitting in their designated seat and not speaking back at them. It’s also complex things like traversing life when they don’t behave healthfully to you or your family, when they are mentally/emotionally/spiritually unstable or when they’ve passed away and you still want to honor them. Judaism discusses all the options and approaches, but one option is never an option: disrespecting them. Parents don’t always make it easy, but G-d made rule number five clear: He thinks we owe them honor and He offers immense blessing in return.

In the words of a Chinese Proverb: Respect for ones parents is the highest duty of civil life!

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

He Ain't Glitchy!

Technology, oh technology. While it has incredible advantages, including the ability to share my recent article in our local paper about our Rebbe and his seventy years of mentorship with folks across the globe, it also has flaws. While I was attempting to email “thank you” notes for 2019 to our beloved partners, I “merited” a computer glitch that sent it out to each recipient multiple times. It was unprofessional and somewhat embarrassing, but also reminded me that, aside from G-d Almighty, everything and everyone has glitches and how we deal with those glitches is key.

In this week’s Torah portion, Beshalach, a personal favorite, we read about the moment of all moments. Jewry was standing near the Sea of Reeds with the Egyptians closing in on them from behind; they felt trapped and acted accordingly. They were divided: War, prayer, surrender and suicide were all on the proverbial table as viable options. Moses himself was perplexed and G-d kept it simple: tell them to move forward. They all saw the sea as an impediment, an impossible obstacle, but G-d knew there was a sea and instructed them to march in that direction. There are no glitches with G-d and His masterplan, never, even if it may be hard for us to see, or understand, it at first. Once they entered the sea, led by Nachshon, everything came into place and it split into twelve paths for each tribe individually.

So, while we are finite and experience personal glitches, G-d is perfect and glitch-less. He didn’t dump a foot or so of snow on us Bozemanites in the last 24 hours because He’s clueless about our driving conditions; He did it because He knew we needed it, whether we recognize it at this moment or not. I have a long way to go in my own journey of accepting G-d’s life instalments as is, but I’ve come a long way, allowing me to see so much more of His providence in my life, our life and the world as a whole.

It’s easy to blame Him for all our problems; it’s more honorable to be grateful for His love!  

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

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