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Weekly Message

Ignore tomorrow!

Yesterday, just a few hours before the sun set and we ushered in the month of Menachem-Av and the nine-days of mourning leading to Tisha B’Av, I had the great honor of officiating at the wedding of Nate and Rachel, a beloved couple in our growing community, who have, in the sixteen months since we’ve met, become very dear friends. There was something so pure, so pristine, so beautiful about the ceremony. I will share with y’all what I shared with them under the Chuppah, just before Nate broke the glass, recognizing the absence of our Holy Temple:

This week we read two Torah portions, Matos and Massei, wrapping up the Book of Numbers. In Matos we read about vows, the power of verbal commitments and their potential nullification. In Massei we read about the forty-two journeys, locations at which Jewry resided while in the desert, en-route to Israel. At each place, even if only spending the night, they would erect the Tabernacle in all its glory. It represented the stability that is needed in life that guides us to focus on the “now”, living life in the present. Ignoring today and its value because of our excitement or anxiety about tomorrow is illogical, unhealthy and unholy.

My wish for the bride and groom, is really a wish for all those seeking a “G-d inspired” relationship, including me and Chavie, and that is to have the “Matos”, the unwavering commitment to each other through thick and thin, and the “Massei”, the journey that is anchored in remaining focused on the gift that is before us now. Internalizing these combined values creates a sacred, successful, union, and helps inch our world closer to celebrate the ultimate union, the wedding we all await, that of G-d and His people, in the holy city of Jerusalem, when mourning will be substituted with joy and gladness.

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift.

That is why it is called the present!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 good care of yourself!

With Chaya in Sweden, Menny in Michigan, Zeesy in New York and Shoshana in California, Chavie and I took our almost-five-year-old “baby” Chana Laya and spent four nights on the north shore of Lake Superior, Minnesota. It was refreshing, adventurous, gorgeous, and fun, and it’s important for couples to find the time to get away, even it means a little kiddo comes along. I still stayed on top of my never-ending workload, I still had an occasional stressful moment, but overall, it was relaxing and healthy for us to just be.

In this week’s Torah portion, Pinchas, we read about Shabbos and the Jewish holidays, and the offerings associated with each of them. It’s fascinating that Judaism has so many days associated with rest and “holding back” from creativity and “work”. These holy days aren’t just about leaving the mundane, but about entering a state of “service”, bringing “offerings” to G-d, which is really just a form of spiritual fulfillment for each of us. It's an opportune time for us to tap into our depth and spend time focusing on that which really matters.

In his book “The gift of rest”, Joe Lieberman writes that “G-d gave us the Sabbath as a gift, and He meant for us to enjoy it. We begin the holy day with darkness so that we can more fully appreciate the light of the Sabbath day when it dawns.”. We all need downtime, but not downtime to do nothing and tune-out, but rather downtime to tune-in to our souls, our emotions, our psyche and to why we are blessed to live on G-d’s green earth. In one of the wilderness cabins at which we stayed, there was a cellphone lockbox that said, “For a true escape, forget your phone inside”. We all need breathers and sooner is always better than later. 

 

Taking care of ourselves, ensures we can take care of 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!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carrots, not sticks!

Wednesday morning, before sunrise, I brought Zeesy and her beloved counselor Shana to the Bozeman Airport to send them off to Camp Simcha, a camp for children with special needs, where Zeesy will spend two weeks being wined and dined with boundless joy and fun. I approached the Delta agents, who know me well, and told them that Zeesy was off to a special needs camp, and it would be super nice, if they have the seats, to upgrade her and Shana to business. 30 minutes later Shana sent me a picture of them both sitting up front with smiles from ear to ear.

In this week’s Torah portion, Balak, we read about haters coming together to spew negativity against the Jews. Yes, Balaam didn’t succeed, because as a prophet he had no choice but to follow G-d’s will, but he certainly tried to use his G-d given powers to bring down a nation that he disliked. I think it’s so unfortunate to live in this beautiful world and spend time, precious time, messing with G-d’s other children and belittling them in any way. Each human being is considered G-d’s only child, perhaps His special needs child, and it’s a gift to be like those Delta agents and see that specialness and do something about it.

On Tuesday my buddy in New York was having an issue with the building department in his village. Before he brought in the big guns, the threats and attorney letters, I told him to try the carrot before the stick. He called me later that evening and was delighted to share that he met with the head of the building department, and it went super well. He couldn’t believe it; he always thought you must be the tough cookie, but it turns out that a bit of Mentchlechkait, humanity, goes a long way. The Torah reminds us that almost everyone appreciates blessings and good words and almost no one likes a Balaam or Balak who spend their life mistreating G-d’s children.

Don’t be Balaam; be a Delta agent! 

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!!!

Love from Helsinki!

On Monday, I arrived at JFK Airport to escort Chaya onto her flight to Europe. She flew as an Unaccompanied Minor; I was just there to sign the paperwork and hug her goodbye. She is spending the month of July in Finland and Sweden with fellow Lubavitch girls, where she will enjoy time with her classmates from the Jewish online school and, I’m sure, making new friends. I was delighted to meet the Finnair team, from the check-in staff to the flight attendants, gate agents to the pilots, they all made me feel like “we’ve got this” and did their best to minimize Chaya’s anxiety about flying alone. They exuded kindness, and it went a long way.

In this week’s Torah portion, Chukas, we read about Moses leading Jewry towards the Promised Land. As they traversed the Transjordan, they were refused passage by various nations for no good reason. The Jews had pledged to purchase their water from the locals, eat their own food, stick to the road without deviating left or right; all they wanted was the right to cross the territory by foot. In Jewish law there is an idea of “Zeh Nehene, Vezeh Lo Chaser” meaning “One person benefits and the other person doesn’t lose anything as a result”. The Edomites, Emorites, Bashanites and the rest of them had nothing to lose, nada, and it would be so helpful to the Jews, yet they couldn’t find the kindness within their hearts to allow them through.

One of the three traits that the Talmud attributes to the Jews is that we are “merciful”. One can’t be Torah observant and cruel, it’s impossible and a contradiction in terms. Cruelty and kindness don’t dwell together. When we are younger, we can, sadly, believe that our religious principles are more important than basic humanity, genuine kindness, but it’s an absolute falsehood. My Rebbe, whose resting place I visited on Sunday, always lived by this ideal: Religion and kindness are always in sync, and when viciousness is on display one can be certain that Torah values are nowhere in the vicinity.

In the words of Abraham Lincoln “I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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