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ב"ה

Weekly Message

Working out for two!

Losing a friend is really hard. On Tuesday, I received the dreaded call from Molly, informing me that her dad, Mike Chaet, one my dearest local friends, passed away. I spent the last two weeks Farbrenging almost daily with Mike while he was being treated at Bozeman Health, he knew his beautiful life was coming to an end and he shared with me the things he wanted me to know when he’s gone. Last Friday I had a chance to put on Tefilin with him for the last time, after which he held my hand, told me he loved me and said, “thanks Buddy”.  The last text he ever sent me was about getting his own memorial plaque on the Shul memorial board, ending the text with “LOL”; never losing his sense of humor.

 And you will eat and be sated, and you shall bless the Lord, your God.” In addition to post eating gratitude, the Torah, as elucidated in the Talmud, Code of Jewish Law and Chassidic thought, emphasizes how a Jew should eat healthfully. I am far from perfect in this field, as we live a world with so much processed food with ingredients we can’t even pronounce, but I have been working extra to find healthy options, to eat healthy quantities and to be kind to my body.  

Mike spent his entire life as a Whole Health Warrior. He imparted to me an understanding of plant-based eating, a fascination with the workings of the human body and a focus on the quality of our lives, not just the quantity of years we live. He was a vegan through and through, and I joked with him that if he tried a “ribeye” he may heal from his horrible infection. He laughed, I laughed, we both laughed a lot over the past two weeks. In 2015, after inviting him to a Shul event, he wrote to me “Stop bugging me...I'm at gym working out for both of us....Tough duty...”, that was Mike in all his glory.

Give your body the love it deserves!

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!!!

The Body is a Masterpiece!

On Monday, while visiting the mall, there was a clinic set up asking Montanans to donate blood that is used for a network of thirty Montana hospitals. I volunteered, and after answering 900 questions, they drew a pint of blood to, hopefully, help save a life. As Menny watched this go down, I explained to him how incredibly remarkable the body is, how Hashem created every detail of the human being with a purpose, even giving them the ability to help another human. It’s truly amazing to know that not only does donating blood help the patients, but it also helps the donor, regenerating red blood cells which is good for our health.

In this week’s Torah portion, Va’etchanan, we read the powerful “Shema” in which we are commanded to “love the Lord your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might”. Love is never easy, certainly not when we are commanded to feel love, so why does the Torah demand it? Chassidus explains that the commandment isn’t about the emotion of love, but rather a command of the meditative state that can bring the Jew to love. If you don’t think G-d is “pretty”, if you don’t think He’s “intelligent”, if you don’t share His “values”, of course love will be impossible. Yet, if we meditate on all things G-d, realizing He’s everything you ever wanted, you will love Him too.

When we get caught up in all the perceived negatives in our life, then of course loving G-d won’t come easy. When stuck in the self-pity and “woe is to me” mentality, we are destined to anger, or worse, apathy. Yet, If we think of the miracle that is our bodies, when we think of the natural beauty that surrounds us in Big Sky Country, when we think of the ideas science has discovered in the creation, when we ponder the wonder of childbirth or kidney donations, it’s easy to fall in love with the “Producer” of this world.

Reflect on G-d’s system each morning; the love will follow!

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!!!

Bar Mitzvah @ Bridger Creek!

 

On Sunday, I was fortunate to celebrate at the Bar Mitzvah of Adam Mendelsohn, a young man whose thirst for Jewish knowledge, and devotion to its study, is inspiring. As we stood near Bridger Creek and listened to him read the morning Brachot, blessings of gratitude, in fluent Hebrew, I realized that the “doom and gloom” research groups, who sit in ivory towers discussing the future of Jewry, are off, off big time. Adam’s parents Jason and Ronni introduced Adam to me and 25 Facetime lessons later this kid rocked it. He didn’t want a ritzy glitzy showbiz “Bar Mitzvah”, he wanted “tradition” and his wish was fulfilled.

 

 

This Shabbos, on which we read the Haftorah with the visionary words of Isiah, is known as “Shabbos Chazon”, the “Shabbos of Vision”. The Rebbe of blessed memory emphasized that it’s not just Isaiah’s vision but about us. Do we see the world with our soul lens or the coarseness of our bodily lens? Do we have a vision of doom when things are bright or a vision of brightness when all seems lost? Can we see the destruction and envision redemption like Isiah or see redemption and envision devastation like Pew Research? On This Shabbos, as we prep for the saddest day of the year, Tisha B’Av, our soul sees the Third Temple that will come with Mashiach, and it thirsts for the brightness.  

 

 

Bozeman won’t have water in ten years, Yellowstone will erupt anytime in the next million years, Iran will have nukes and destroy Israel, Covid will have two hundred more variants that should scare us into our crawl space, vaccines will change my DNA (I actually like that idea, perhaps my metabolism too :)), too many of us live with fear and gloom. How about a bright future? The world has come such a long way in medical research, Israel takes out the nuke sites every weekend, the world has seen worse plagues and has overcome, and sure, Yellowstone may erupt and water may need to be discussed, but fear? What for? The future is bright, the minds are brilliant, and the people are inherently good.

 

 

Ignore prophets of doom, stick to Isaiah and you’ll shine with positivity.

 

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!!!

Bumpy Ride!

While I was in Whitefish, Polson, Missoula and Nebraska City, Nebraska this week for Kosher supervision, in between, I snuck in a twenty hour visit to San Antonio to celebrate Chavie’s 37th birthday with her, as she and the kids spends a few weeks at her parents’ home. Chavie is the real deal; whatever she shares in her Tanya classes online or on Instagram is how she tries to live her life and I benefit from living in a home, an environment, where growth is cherished. I found myself driving to the Flathead while listening to the audio of “Hunt, Gather, Parent” and I knew her perseverance was paying off.

In this week’s double Torah portion, Matot-Massei, the last in the Book of Numbers, we read about the forty-two journeys that the Jewish people trekked in the desert. Listing all the geographical locations at which the Jews rested may seem like overkill at first glance, but it isn’t. It’s so important to celebrate each pitstop, each rung in the ladder of life that we encounter, or we’re missing out on the wholesomeness. I’m sure the Jews remembered Marah and Sukkos more than other places, as consequential events took place there, but they didn’t forget Tachas and Etzyon Gaver, as those too were vital moments in the forty-year journey to Israel.

We would do right by ourselves if we treated each stop in our journey as being a valuable asset to our overall character. When we travel, things happen; cars break down, tires blow out, kids need bathrooms (and even adults sometimes), we need to rest overnight, we need to get a coffee, we get pulled over by a State Trooper. Things happen all the time and it doesn’t mean we give up on the journey. I’ve never met anyone at the gas station in Arlee who said, “I pulled over because I needed more windshield wiper fluid and then I just quit and remained at the gas station”.

A bump in the road is no reason to cancel the trip!

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!!!

27 Year Friendship!

Earlier this week I “Ubered” Chaya across the country so she could attend Camp Pardas Chana in Kingston, New York. We enjoyed a lovely father-daughter time and late Monday evening, after dinner in Queens, I met up with my old friend Jay or as I call him “Yankele”. When I was twelve years old and my buddy Mendy was thirteen, we would take the subway to midtown Manhattan each Friday, and walk into stores and offices, offering Mitzvah opportunities to fellow Jews. Jay was one of those fellows we asked to lay Tefillin back in 1994, and 27 years later we are still good friends.

In this week’s Torah portion, Pinchas, we read about the two daily “Tamid” offerings in the Tabernacle/Temple. No matter if on a weekday or Shabbat, no matter if in Israel or the Sinai desert, no matter if the Jews were in good shape or not, the two daily offerings were there, every single day. That consistency is so important for our wellbeing, for a productive lifestyle. Sure, bonus “Musaf” offerings, occasional spiritual highs and out-of-this-world holy experiences, always add a nice touch, but it’s the regular devotion, the qualitative relationship with G-d which doesn't always “feel-good” and which isn’t easy due to its regularity, those are the moments that truly measure the depth of our bond with the Almighty.

I once read that “consistency is more important than perfection”. It’s true that we are attracted to fleeing moments of inspiration and success, but we all need anchoring in holiness and grounding in our day to day, because stability goes a very long way. G-d loves seeing Jews in Shul on Yom Kippur, but He’d really like to hear from us twice a day with the Shema. G-d is delighted by the kindness and generosity we share with our neighbors, but He’d really like us to have Mezuzot on the doors of our homes so we can kiss them daily. Seeing Jay reminded me that the best things in life are those that stick around for a while.

Say Shema twice daily, 60 seconds you will cherish!

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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