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Weekly Message

He didn't love her!

It is said that “the greatest gift a father can give his children is to love their mother”, meaning, there is no better form of education than role modeling. Parents can babble all we want about ethics, morals, and ideas, but if our children see us living differently than those espoused values, they won’t live up to anything we preach. We live in a time when education has been tarnished by never-ending testing and homework, and while these mechanisms may not be a bad idea, they aren’t infallible and they only help us know about the students’ knowledge, not their internalization of the teachings.

In our Torah portion, Emor, we read about the priestly Kohanic laws. Rashi, the preeminent biblical commentator explains that the double wording “Emor” and “Ve’Amarta”, which both mean “to speak to”, is to teach the older Kohanim that they must always instruct, illuminate the path, and inspire the younger Kohanim to be on track. Unrealistic parental expectations are futile and only set parents up for disappointment, but we must still give them the best shot in life by role modeling for them what a productive life, a healthful Jewish life, looks like, which doesn’t happen by giving them speeches, rather by showing them what we value.

The Talmud relates that when Rabbi Akiva, the man of Lag B’Omer, came home after being away for twenty-four years teaching Torah, he was escorted by an entourage of his students. His wife, Rachel, dressed in her simple house clothes, went out to greet him and fell before his feet. It creates a scene – an elderly woman thrusting herself before the great rabbi Akiva surrounded by scores of devoted students. They move to push her away, but Rabbi Akiva stops them, uttering a line which has since become legendary: “Leave her. What is mine and what is yours is hers.” He didn’t just love his wife, he respected her, he honored her, this is healthy role modeling.

Love is cheap; respect is the name of the game!

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 mess with vulnerable!

Earlier this week I saw a 2015 video clip from CBS Evening News about Jayden Hayes of Savanah Georgia. Jayden, who lost both his parents by the age of six, was blessed to be raised by his loving aunt and was tired of seeing grouchy-looking people out and about. His six-year-old mind got thinking, and he started a movement to bring little rubber-duckies and dinosaurs to random people on the street with the simple goal of putting a smile on their face. As I watched this kid, I couldn’t stop thinking about the vulnerability of this innocent child and how fortunate he was to see the world with a bright perspective.


In this week’s double Torah portion, Acharei-Kedoshim, we read about a convert to Judaism. The verse says “When a convert lives in your land, you should not harass him. The convert who lives with you should be considered by you like a native among you, and you should love them as yourself. For you too were strangers in the land of Egypt”. Like similar verses throughout the Five Books, G-d is always looking out for those who feel left out, those who are in a vulnerable state, those who are grieving, mourning, suffering or lost and yes, even those who may lack self-confidence due to their background and “fitting in” challenges. We are obligated to treat all people properly, but Hashem adds bonus commandments, looking out for individuals who are at risk for mistreatment.


Our country is in turmoil. We don’t give others the benefit of the doubt, we judge people based on political affiliation, we lambast people before getting all the details, and we are ready to decide the fate of fellow Americans without even knowing them. The “individual” we are gossiping about is not a caricature; he/she is a real person and without knowing their background, their family story, their medical conditions, their weaknesses, their personal experience, we attack mercilessly. Whether it’s the woman checking you in at the Delta counter, the Uber driver, the dentist working on your root canal or even a close friend, most of the time we simply don’t know the full story. The Torah is teaching us to just be kind, be respectful, be generous, be a listener instead of a babbler, and you will be better for it and so will our fractured world.


See it yourself! https://www.cbsnews.com/.../after-losing-parents-6-year.../


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!!!


Loving tears!

I cried a lot this week. It’s never easy when a child leaves home and yesterday our beautiful Menny, who turns eight tomorrow, started a journey of healing at a unique facility that helps diagnose children and give them the life tools needed to deal with their particular emotional/psychological challenges. The idea that my 24/7 sidekick, my only boy, who crawls into my bed and breaths on me mercilessly, who hugs me with so much love that I can feel it even when he isn’t embracing me, who is smart, witty and fun, will be out of my arm’s reach for four to eight weeks, is heartbreaking. He needs it, he knows it, we know it, and yet it’s still so hard.

In this week’s double Torah portion, Tazria-Metzora, we read about the Metzora, a Jew plagued with Tzaraas, supernatural leprosy-looking blotches that comes upon a person’s home, home-furniture, clothing, and body as a result of Lashon Hara, speaking negatively about others. The one who pronounces them a Metzora must be a Kohen, a priest, a descendant of Aaron. Why? Because Aaron’s family were pursuers of peace and lovers of humanity and when someone is going to be exiled from the community, even for a short time, it needs to be done by someone who loves them, respects them, and in a way that the recipient of the sentence feels that it isn’t punitive G-d forbid, but simply an act of love for their own benefit.

The incredible Brad Reedy writes “When we understand that our pain is our love uncovered, that feeling pain means that we are alive, we move away from behaviors that anesthetize us and embrace our pain as part of a life that is whole.” He’s so right. Parenting isn’t just a journey of memorable family trips, fun bedtime experiences or even legitimately funny selfies. It also includes lots of pain, mostly internal pain, and instead of numbing that inner cry, we should allow ourselves to feel it and realize that it hurts because we love these kids so much. I will speak to Menny every day, but I will miss him, miss him a lot, but his life’s mission isn’t just to bring me and Chavie Nachas and joy, but to be his best self and that takes work, work that sometimes pains me a lot.

The more we love our children, the more they learn to love others!

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!!!


Crying for Uighurs!

Yesterday, I was honored to sit on a Holocaust Remembrance panel for Malmstrom Air Force Base in collaboration with University of Montana. One of the questions I was asked by the moderator was “What conditions and factors made the Holocaust possible?” in my answer I explained that “It could only happen when people don’t see what’s happening elsewhere as their problem. when abuse comes into our lives, we are indignant, when suffering happens in our country, we are ready to explode with fury, but if it’s in someone else’s family, another nation, we aren’t as involved for the cause as we should be. Sure, we care about all human suffering, but caring and doing something about it are millions of miles apart.

In this week’s Torah portion, Shemini, we read of the untimely passing of Nadav and Avihu, Aaron’s two sons, after entering the Holy of Holies without authorization. The verse says, “your brethren, the whole House of Israel, shall weep about the fire that the Eternal caused to burn”. It’s clear that though it was Aaron and Elisheva’s two sons, Elazar and Isamar’s two brothers, and seemingly their personal time for mourning, the death of these two Jews in the Tabernacle was transformed into communal grieving. When we see each other as family, brothers and sisters, children of the same G-d, then we don’t allow genocides to happen, not in China, Rwanda, Sudan or Syria. Bumper stickers aren’t enough to stop evil from rising its ugly head, we have to do the hard work of making a difference, even if that difference is small at first.

Anne Frank wrote “I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that every-thing will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.” Do we feel the suffering of millions? When we read about the Uighurs, do we wonder why the world is silent? Doesn’t that silence make you sick to your stomach? There are over twelve million Uighurs living in Northwest China that are being exiled, tortured, abused and families are being separated by their government, have I cried for them? Have I prayed for them enough? Talk was always cheap, and it’s even cheaper with social media posts where one can make believe we care with a meme; action is a lot harder and crying for someone else’s suffering is really tough, but if it doesn’t hurt us enough, doesn’t that mean we haven’t learned from the past?

As they say “Where there is deep grief, there is great love”!

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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