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Turn your frown upside down!

Friday, 30 November, 2018 - 9:07 am

What a week it’s been! Sunday started off with a bang as children gathered at Home Depot to enthusiastically build their own Menorah’s. On Tuesday we hosted the incredible Rabbi Yechezkel Kornfeld of Mercer Island as he Farbrenged with our community for Yud Tes Kislev, giving us a healthy dose of perspective and inspiration. On Thursday, however, I broke from the celebratory mode and headed to Helena to perform the Tahara and officiate at the funeral of Bruce “Chaim Baruch Ben Moshe Chatzkel” Hodess, a warm Jew who will be dearly missed. Dealing with end-of-life experiences serves as my personal reminder of the fragility of life, the preciousness of each moment and the need for continuous gratefulness.

In this week’s Torah portion, Vayeishev, my Bar-Mitzvha Parsha, we read about incarcerated Joseph. The verse says “And Joseph came to them in the morning, and he saw them and behold, they were troubled. And he asked Pharaoh's chamberlains…Why are your faces sad today?" “ Yes, Joseph, the young lad who lost his mom when he was a young child, Joseph who was placed in a snake-infested pit and later sold as a slave by his brothers, Joseph who was falsely accused by his masters wife and thus imprisoned wrongfully; how does this same Joseph genuinely wonder why the butler and baker, fellow inmates, are having a tough day? Shouldn’t he be the first to understand why they looked sad? Yet, Joseph didn’t get it, as he recognized a deep truth of Judaism: each day that we are alive is a unique gift from G-d and should be utilized and celebrated as such. His joyful "good morning" changed the trajectory of humanity, as it led to dream interpretation and eventual appointment as viceroy of Egypt. 

On Sunday evening we will usher in the festival of lights. We will listen closely to the story shared by the candles. It’s the story of Judah the Maccabee and his band of Jews, who, despite seeing death and destruction, despite knowing that most Jews disagreed with their tactics in dealing with the Syrian-Greeks, despite losing family members in the battle for Jewish survival, they remained committed to fighting the good fight and were grateful every morning anew for the life G-d had given them. Judah, like Joseph, didn’t spend his day thinking about what isn’t right in his life, but rather, the very fact that he was still alive was a sign that he must forge ahead in bringing more brightness to a darkened world.  

Miracle of light! 

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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