Weekly Message

Shrimp on the Clark Fork River!

Before sailing into another school year, Chavie and I took the kids for some family time, spending four days on a farm South of Hamilton. We woke each morning to milk the goats, feed the chickens, collect the eggs, inspect the beehives, drink crystal water, and enjoy the view of the Bitterroot Mountains, including a spectacular evening lightening show. In addition, we swam in Lake Como, enjoyed dinner on the Frenchtown Pond, boated on Flathead Lake, celebrated Menny Wolf’s Upshernish in Kalispell, and rafted on the Clark Fork River between Tarkio and Superior. Our guide Cy was a super intelligent eighteen-year-old who taught us a lot about his Hindu heritage, and we taught him a lot about Kosher.

It was delightful.

In this week’s Torah portion, Re’eh, we read about Kosher fish, birds, and domesticated animals. We are Jews and G-d says, “For you are a holy people to the Lord, your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a treasured people for Him”. Jews have a food code that includes salmon and ribeye, duck and halibut and of course almost everything that grows in the ground, but it doesn’t include shrimp, oysters, lobsters, crabs, squid, bacon, hunted game, cheeseburgers and bear meat. Yes, my friend Cy told me that he’s eaten bear and went on to explain to me how it tastes. Human beings can’t decide which foods are good for our souls and which aren’t. We have a guide from G-d that instructs us how to eat spiritually to attain holiness.  

Humanity respects those who are bold. We appreciate vegans and vegetarians who stand on principle, we salute Muslims who eat Halal and Hindus who don’t eat beef, we admire those who farm their own food and won’t eat food that is transported three thousand miles via gas-guzzler trucks, and I assure you, based on my many years of experience, that not only is Hashem happy when we eat Kosher, but the world stands in awe of those who choose a relationship with G-d over convenience. “I’m not Kosher” is a Jewish excuse for not taking some steps towards incorporating Kosher eating habits. Just because your chicken isn’t Kosher, doesn’t mean you should eat shrimp, it’s not all or nothing.

Eat like your soul depends on 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!!!








It's not old-fashioned!

A Bris is such a powerful covenant, yet the cry of the baby can be so distressing. A father and mother who were gifted with a newborn son are asked by G-d to have that child circumcised at eight-days-old. This week our Shul merited a Bris. Rabbi Nachman Kreiman, a Mohel from Los Angeles, flew to Bozeman to circumcise the newborn son of Nate and Rachel, a wonderful young couple in our community. It wasn’t a forty-five-minute surgery with anesthesia, but rather a ninety second holy Mitzvah connecting Zev Michoel with three millennia of Torah observance and Abrahamic tradition. What a fortunate baby.

In this week’s Torah portion, Eikev, we read about the secularization of society and the red flags that flash when a nation is heading in the wrong direction. “Beware” says the Torah, “that you do not forget the Lord, your God, by not keeping His commandments…Lest you eat and be sated, and build good houses and dwell therein, and your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold increase…and your heart grows haughty, and you forget the Lord, your God, Who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage”. When we are blessed with an abundance and living in the “land of the free”, we can’t forget who blessed us. We would be wise to do what G-d asks of us, even if we need to cry a bit, or hear our baby cry, in the process. Remembering G-d in the good times, keeps the good times coming.  

I stand in awe of parents like Nate and Rachel. They could’ve easily joined the “hip” bandwagon of those who dismiss tradition and find new-age options for “doing Judaism”. Who could even judge a young couple for making a choice that fits with the modern philosophies and gets them more brownie points in today’s “highfalutin” circles? Yet, they made the choice thinking of only one thing: Their child’s relationship with G-d, those who came before him, those who lived and died as Jews in the European Shtetel and the North African villages, and doing right because it’s right, no questions asked. It may not always be convenient to do the right thing, but it sure feels good on the inside, where our soul talks to our heart and mind and shows us inner clarity.

G-d isn’t old-fashioned, and paganism isn’t a modern-day invention!








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!!!









Say no to numbing!

Earlier this week, I was working through some inner emotions that were bogging me down. It was nothing earth shattering or life altering, just some “inner stuff” that has been kept locked away for a very long time in the recesses of my heart and were starting to surface. It wasn’t easy to talk about them with Chavie, I am a guy, and we don’t like to talk about feelings, and, truthfully, I’ve never really tried before, but it really felt good to stop talking about the periphery, the externalities, and get to the bottom of something I feel, as hard as it may be to do that.

In this week’s Torah portion, Va’eschanan, we read the Shema, in which we are commanded to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might”. If we are constantly suppressing how we feel and why we feel that way, do we really think loving Hashem is even a remote possibility? We want to create healthy emotions guided by our meditations and intellectual pursuit of G-dly ideals, but can we do that when we quash any attempt at feeling? In the words of Brene Brown “We cannot selectively numb emotion. If we numb the dark, we numb the light. If we take the edge off pain and discomfort, we are, by default, taking the edge off joy, love, belonging, and the other emotions that give meaning to our lives.”

In Tanya this week we read the words of the Alter Rebbe instructing his Chassidim to behave humbly and not with haughtiness, telling them that they are “to subdue your spirit and heart before everyone according to the attribute of truth unto Jacob”. The 4th Rebbe, Reb Shmuel, said that “if the Alter Rebbe had not inserted the three Hebrew words that mean ‘according to the attribute of truth unto Jacob’, he would have had another 50,000 disciples, but the Alter Rebbe demands truth”. We need to be true to ourselves, working through the sunny days and muddy waters, and when we do the work, we are in sync with our inner self, allowing us to be better human beings and better servants of our Creator.

Feeling can hurt, but quashing is deadly! 








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!!!

Four words that warmed my heart!

On Sunday evening, Chaya and I boarded a flight from LaGuardia to Detroit to pick up Menny from his amazing summer camp in Tustin, Michigan. An observant looking Jew, and what seemed like his mother, sat down in the row in front of us, upon takeoff he recited the “Traveler's Prayer” loud and clear, and in no-time we were beginning our descent into DTW. Upon landing, waiting for the plane door to open, we chitchatted about possibilities for a morning prayer Minyan near the airport, and when hearing that I was from Montana and Shlepping cross country to pick up the kids from camp, he said “you’re an amazing father”, which warmed my heart.

What didn’t I know about my fellow passenger Elie?

This Shabbos is the 9th of Av and beginning Shabbos (Saturday) evening we will begin a 24-plus hour fast to mourn the destruction of both of our Holy Temple’s in Jerusalem. The second Temple was destroyed in 69 CE, and we are told it was due to Jewish infighting and lots of “reasonless hatred”. I once read that the meaning of “reasonless” is that when we hate on the “other”, even though it will hurt us even more than it hurts them, and yet we won’t give up on hating, it’s “reasonless”, it’s illogical, and must be eradicated. The antidote to that is “reasonless love”, loving someone even if it means giving up on something we really enjoy, so in a sense loving them more than we love ourselves.

When I tracked down Elie via a LinkedIn friend, we had a warm, heartfelt phone conversation. It turns out that Elie’s nine-year-old daughter passed away six weeks ago after battling Leukemia for almost five years. He told me that she always made people feel good, showering them with anything complimentary that would uplift them, and Elie resolved to do the same in her memory. So, when he saw me, beaten from the travel, he said something simple “you’re an amazing father”, which made my day, my week, and really hit the spot deep in my heart. An Act of reasonless love, no strings attached, makes a real difference, and makes our world a more loving place worthy of a third Holy Temple.

Let’s do our part and make it happen!








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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