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What are you worth?

Friday, 1 December, 2017 - 8:25 am

After a whirlwind trip to Shelby, Fort Benton, Ulm and Helena, I returned to Bozeman for a busy week; sending Montana’s Jewish Voice to print, prepping for our winter programming, including Chanukah, and, wretchedly, dealing with another struggling soul who has had hopeless thoughts for quite some time, but finally attempted suicide. This beautiful Neshama was so broken, in so much pain and felt so helpless that she thought there was no other option other than “getting out”, saying “I don’t want to live anymore”. Obviously, rabbis/parents/teachers/relatives are not mental health professionals, which must always be consulted and are an integral part of the experience, but as a rabbi, seeing this person's pain was raw and gut-wrenching.

In this week’s Torah portion, Vayishlach, we read about Jacob’s reunion with his lawless brother Esau. Jacob is concerned, even frightened, for his four wives, twelve children (Benjamin wasn’t born until after the reunion), and of an altercation with another wicked relative, having just been freed after two decades with conniving Laban. Esau is a known mobster, coming toward Jacob with four hundred of his toughest men and Jacob prepares with appeasement gifts, prayer to G-d and even for the possibility of outright war. Jacob’s life was no picnic, he was on the run, dealing with cheaters and abusers and trying to raise a family in an immoral middle east. What’s Jacob’s secret? How does he overcome, seemingly, insurmountable challenges? What was his education trick that taught his boys and girl to have the inner courage to deal correctly with anything that life brings?

He didn’t ignore the world; he just saw it in a very different light.

The Torah tells us that when Esau departed “Jacob traveled to Succoth and built himself a house, and for his cattle he made booths”. Jacob builds a stable home base for “himself”, for the things that mattered to “him”, to his essence, but for his “cattle”, for the materialistic realities of the world around him, he made “booths”. Our society has allowed, and even commanded, us to think of superficial and less important aspects of life as integral and essential, when they are anything but that. These factors can lead people, especially younger ones, to thoughts of inadequacy and hopelessness. We must teach anyone who will listen that at the core they’re beautiful; life is so much more than broken friendships, bullying jerks and the void felt in our hearts when experiencing terrible losses. Our worthiness doesn’t come from the outside, it comes from the inside which sparkles and shines.

Seek professional help and internalize/share this message with everyone!

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May He protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

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