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Weekly Message

When G-d smiled!

Many waters would not be able to quench the love, and rivers would not drown it.

King Solomon's words rang true, as a beautiful Minyan came together yesterday, outdoors, to commemorate the Rebbe’s 26th Yahrtzait and when we reached the Amidah it started raining. The unexpected rain didn’t faze us, and I realized that it was the heavens opening up to us with tears of joy. Yes, we mourned throughout the day and followed the memorializing customs of lighting candles, saying mourners Kaddish and learning Mishnayot in memory of our beloved Rebbe, but these heavenly tears weren’t bitter ones, they didn’t reflect a person who is gone and missed. I believe, Hashem was recognizing a Rebbe who continues to live on in the lives of so many, including in breathtaking Bozeman, and he shed a tear with a Shmeichel, a smile, for all the love the Rebbe gifted Jewry.

You see, being a lover of Jews isn’t easy. In this week’s Torah portion, Korach, we read about Moses and Aaron’s struggle with a group of Jewish rebels who questioned the leadership structure instituted by G-d. Yet, despite their unwarranted, and horrific, behavior towards their Levite cousins, Moses worked overtime to bring them back into the fold. Moses didn’t allow his ego and public disgrace to push for his opponents demise; quite the contrary, he tried knocking sense into them, even after their fate was sealed by G-d, hoping their Teshuva, their return to religious sanity, would change G-d’s mind.

The Rebbe had his fair share of Korach’s who questioned, and even opposed, his bold leadership and undeniable love for humanity. Occasionally, they even riled up segments of the Jewish community in support of their dissent. Yet, the Rebbe never saw them as opponents and never stopped loving and caring for their wellbeing. Though today it’s clear that Rebbe’s vision of dignified respect for every living creature, non-judgmentally, is the correct path, not always did the Korach’s get it in real-time, but the Rebbe persisted and love won the day. As the rain dripped on my Talis and I read Korach’s story from the holy scroll, I looked behind me and saw magnificent souls wrapped in their Talis and Tefillin and I knew that Moses, and the Moses of our time, always triumphs.

L’Chaim dear Rebbe!

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!!! 

Protecting my forest!

Earlier this week, I spent time up in Northwest Montana to Kosher certify three “Made in Montana” manufacturing plants. I took three kiddos along, so Chavie could catch her breath, as they enjoy swimming in the hotel pool. While heading to the pool at 7:45 AM, we ran into a big delegation of US Forest Police officers who were in town to serve at the upcoming Rainbow Festival. Three of them, two from California and one from Wyoming, initiated a conversation with Menny that included explaining their dress-code with all its amenities and giving the kids badges, pins, and bracelets. It was good our family to spend time chatting with officers of the law, especially those who keep our forests safe from prison escapees, arsonists, and other potential trouble.

In this week’s Torah portion, Shlach, we read about the Meraglim, the infamous twelve scouts that Moses sent on a reconnaissance mission to the Holy Land. All of them, except for Joshua and Caleb, returned and said the land is unconquerable. It’s so sad that they chose to substitute their actual mission with a naysaying report. Instead of sharing with Jewry the healthiest form of conquest, they chose to disagree with G-d, who already promised we would conquer the land. It’s like a doctor, who was blessed by G-d with the ability to heal, who decides to replace G-d and tell the patient “you have six months to live”. G-d decides “who shall live and who shall die” and all others must stick to their day job, the one entrusted to them by G-d, in the case of doctors, the job of healing those who are ill.

As I was sitting with these friendly officers, I realized that they too have no say about their mission. They get the call, immediately get into their car whether in Folsom, California or Gillette, Wyoming and, with a smile and energetically, head out to the Bitterroot Valley of Montana and scout out the forest, assessing the risks for humans and animals. I, for one, am grateful that our incredible forests are cared for and protected, so that I can visit with our kids without too much worrying about our safety. G-d gave us each a mission, we have demons to conquer and flames to ignite, let’s spend less time swapping the mission and more time, getting the job done.

You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it!

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!!!

Moses & Associates!

Chavie and I can’t go it alone. Making decisions for our Shul, for our beautiful community, especially during a pandemic, is overwhelming. We are blessed to have a Chabad Advisory Board in Bozeman, made-up of men and women who for eleven years have been working together for Chabad’s success. Sitting with them a week ago, discussing our options for re-opening our Shul building and the summer plans, we realized how truly blessed we are doing this as team. Each member gives their input, different points of view are shared, and when it’s all done you feel understood, supported, and have deep gratitude for the people who are there for you 24/7 to ensure that it gets done right.

It genuinely takes a village.

In this week’s Torah portion, Behaalotecha, we read of the Jewish people’s complaints to Moses about the food conditions in the desert. Moses tell the Almighty “Alone I cannot carry this entire people for it is too hard for me. If this is the way You treat me, please kill me..." In response, G-d instructs Moses to choose “seventy elders”, the same individuals who served selflessly as officers while in Egypt and were now appointed co-CEO’s with Moses. In G-d’s words “and I will increase the spirit that is upon you and bestow it upon them. Then they will bear the burden of the people with you so that you need not bear it alone.” It was an amazing lesson in delegating, one first taught to Moses by his father in law Jethro and now again when he Kvetched to G-d about his lot in life.

It is said, “you can do anything, but not everything”. It is true; only a fool or arrogant soul believes that they can go it alone. Delegating isn’t easy; we have to be vulnerable, recognizing our vincibility and open to the style/ideas of others, but the results of delegating are incredible. Phil Jackson once said, “Good teams become great ones, when the members trust each other enough to surrender the Me for the We”. I’m sure Moses would’ve liked to lead all by himself, but G-d taught him that when we are feeling lost or swamped, bringing in your friends, teammates, supporters and working it together changes everything for the better.

In the words of king Solomon “Two are better than one”!

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!!!

Hating haters?

Celebrating Shavuot together was incredible. Seventy tribespeople came together on the front lawn for sushi, cheesecake, and Ten Commandments and it was thrilling. It wasn’t only an elated spiritual experience, but also contributed immensely to our mental, emotional, and physical health. Yet, after Shabbos, when we powered up our phones, we discovered a country in chaos with no respite in site. I’ll leave it to Chavie to do the heavy lifting of discussing what’s it’s like raising a black son during this time (you can  read it here), as I address a profound life principal that is applicable now and always.

In Leviticus we are taught the eternal rule to “love our fellow as ourselves”. In this week’s Torah portion, Naso, we are told that members of the priestly family, Kohanim, are empowered to bless Jewry and when they distribute those blessings, it must be done with love. Their pre-blessing intro is “Who has sanctified us with His commandment…to bless His nation Israel with love”. If you hate in your heart, you can’t be in a position to bless and bring people together. It’s unequivocal: hating hate and haters doesn’t make you a loving person, as you’re still hating and that’s NOT love. Everyone I know, no matter their politics, believes that George Floyd should be alive today and so should David Dorn. Neither of them would be in heaven today, if people lived their life with love.

I know what I write isn’t instantly implementable, but it must be where we aim. How can we discuss love when posting horrific hatred on social media? How can we tell our kids that we care about George when they hear us saying things about other people that seem very un-caring or worse? How can we look in the mirror and scream we want, and believe in, justice while maligning the entire justice system and all of law enforcement? Test yourself: When you awake in the morning, thank G-d for the gift of life and then resolve to love. Yes, love for the “other” who doesn’t look, sound, think, behave, pray or smell like you. Once the love is instilled and activated, it will be so much easier to effect change, as those listening will hear love and love Is addictive.

Love is what you make of it; hate is what it makes of 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!!! 

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