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ב"ה

Weekly Message

A Camp of Simcha!

Yesterday morning Chavie and I reached a milestone in raising our children, as Zeesy, our ten-year-old, headed off to Camp Simcha for a two-week experience of a lifetime. Zeesy has medical challenges that, according to the current medical research, will affect her throughout her life, but she’s a spirited girl with lots of fight in her core and she’s going to have an awesome time. Camp Simcha, which is geared specifically to kids with special medical needs, sent a chaperone to pick her up so that the experience is five-star from beginning to end. How much does the camp cost us? Not a penny. It was created to help families with kids like Zeesy and it doesn’t cost us a cent.

In this week’s Torah portion, Balak, we read Balaam’s words infused with poetic compliments and prophecies about the Jewish people. He uttered those famous words "Mah Tovu", "How good are your tents, O Jacob, and your dwelling places, O Israel!", lauding Jewry for their modesty, humility, courage and optimism. Sometimes we need to pause and say to ourselves “Wow, Jews are truly an incredible people. Despite all our challenges and the never-ending plague of infighting, we are something else. We care for each other, our brothers and sisters, in ways that most can’t fathom”. Balaam was reminding us to cut ourselves some slack and see all the good that exists in the “Tents of Jacob”.

It takes a village to survive, and thrive, in our world and we’ve experienced that firsthand. HASC and Camp Simcha, Yaldei Shluchei HaRebbe and RCCS, Chai Lifeline and Bonei Olam, Amudim and ATime, Project Heart and Bikur Cholim, Ten Yad and Interest Free Loan Society’s, Misaskim and Neshama, Friendship Circle and Yachad, Masbia and Hatzalah, the list doesn’t end. These are organizations that I know personally, and I am sure that I am missing a few. We are one-of-a-kind and sometimes it takes a Jew-hating Balaam to remind us just that. I am a grateful member of the Jewish collective and I’m not ashamed to say it.

Zeesy dear, enjoy every minute!

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!!!

Take me to the river

After returning from the Rebbe’s Yahrtzait commemoration in New York, we headed to Eastern Idaho for a family recalibration R&R. We found a picturesque spot near the Warm River with views of the Tetons and enjoyed three days of just us, our family of seven, basking in nature and each other’s presence. Included in our adventures was 2.5-mile hike through Mesa Falls, taking-in the vastness of the upper and lower experience of the Falls. There is something about the G-dliness embedded in water that blows me away at each encounter with this inanimate, yet super lively, creation.

In this week’s Torah portion, Chukat, we read about water. As the Jews were to cross through the valley of Arnon, the Amorites and Moabites both planned to ambush them, and through an incredible miracle, akin to an earthquake, the mountains shifted and the Jews marched through freely, as the ambushers killed each other. So, when taking into account the Sea of Reeds, the Well of Miriam, the Splitting of the Jordan with Joshua, the Nile turning to blood, water coming from the rock, bitter water changing to sweet, encountering Rachel, Rebecca and Tziporah at a well; we are constantly drawn to, and inspired by, episodes that are water related, and that is no coincidence.

From the Puget Sound in Seattle to the Caribbean in Puerto Rico, from the Gallatin River in our Bozeman backyard to the Takakkaw Falls in British Columbia to the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of our homeland Israel, I love any body of water I’ve ever met. Water is not only a provision for life, but seeing it ignites a spark of life inside the viewer that touches our soul. There is a Slovakian proverb that teaches “Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine”, It is so true, so real. Water, with its miraculous G-dly existence, can remedy our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing; the Torah recognized that long ago.

Take me to the river; I want to see G-d!

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!!!

My Rebbe of Kindness

 

 

Last Thursday, Shoshana and I were driving on Main Street when we were suddenly hit by a pizza delivery driver. My car was totaled and I was taken via ambulance for a checkup at Bozeman Health and Baruch Hashem, short of bruises and scrapes, we are doing well. When I arrived home, I was thinking about what had transpired and didn’t spend a minute focusing on the pizza guy, I was focused on the incredible Police Officer Brett Logan, the Medic whose name I don’t recall, the firefighters, the nurses and doctors at the hospital, the bystanders who came by to help, the insurance agents who got to work, the Honda team in Bozeman who always rock it for our family, and even the tow truck fellow who was kind and gracious. The accident was horrible, but the aftermath was full of gratitude to Hashem for a world of awesome people. 

 

 

In this week’s Torah portion, Korach, we read about the unjustified rebellion of Korach and his ilk. Despite their viciousness, Moses spent the entire night prior to the sacrificial showdown, going from tent to tent, pleading with the rebels to repent, so they don’t bring forth their own demise. He didn’t need to, they were deserving of punishment, and they were messing with him personally, but he did it anyhow, because that was Moses, looking for the good in everyone and everything, no matter the severity of their crime. He wasn’t just kind to those he loved and agreed with, as that isn’t pure kindness, it has a personal agenda; he was kind to all and went overboard to see the goodness in each of his flock. 

 

 

This Sunday, the 3rd of Tammuz, we commemorate the Rebbe’s 27th Yahrtzait. I lost him when I was a young boy of twelve, but he remains evocative in my life, 24/7. There are many things he taught me, but what guides me most is his love for humanity, his gentility and kindness even to those who antagonized him, his appreciation for all that is good in the world and his total disdain for cynicism. I miss him every day, but when I choose to see the good, to see the kind, to see the hope, I feel his endearing presence with me and await the time when we will be reunited with Mashiach’s coming.

 

 

Oh how sweet that will be! 

 

 

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!!!

 

Embracing the bubble!

On Monday, I, along with Chaya, Zeesy and Chana Laya, attended the Memorial Day parade in Downtown Bozeman. We waved our flags and thanked the Gold Star families and mostly spent some time thinking, and talking, about the pain, the aching, the yearning, of those parents/siblings/children/spouses who never stop missing their loved ones who died protecting our beloved country. I thought it was hard to have my boy away from home for seven weeks, but in truth, despite my yearning to be with Menny, it’s a blip of time in the bigger scheme of things and I am super grateful that I was able to bring him home yesterday, a moment I was hoping, praying and waiting for every minute since he left. 

In this week’s Torah portion, Shlach, we read about the spies who scouted out Israel and concluded it was unconquerable. Though Joshua and Caleb were a vocal opposition of two and felt that G-d’s instructions to enter Israel must move forward, the Jews clung to the negative reports and cried all night, believing it was all over. Why were the ten spies so scared? Chassidus emphasizes that they weren’t just cowards afraid of facing those living in Canaan, but rather they enjoyed the spiritual ecstasy in the desert and didn't want to dirty themselves with “real life”, “work” and “materialism” in the Holy Land. Like every child who basks in their parents' protection, the Jews felt embraced by G-d in the desert, cared for 24/7 with all their needs, and they didn’t want to feel, and be, distant. 

Bubbles feel safe; leaving our bubble has a touch of vulnerability. Yet, in life, our greatest accomplishments, our deepest impact, comes when we leave the cocoon and head out into the world and transform it. We, like the spies, at times despise the world, even hate it, it makes us question our existence and our purpose, but don’t let that fear paralyze you or make you cry, remember that a child's growth is dependent on their survival outside of the home and Jewish survival is dependent on Jews who leave Jerusalem and New York and head to Missoula and Grand Cayman, leaving G-d’s clouds of glory to be with G-d himself. 

Like the butterfly, the wings of transformation are born of patience and struggle!

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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