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Rabbi's Corner

Unpacking...

The most difficult part of any trip is unpacking when we return home. Traveling, sightseeing and buying souvenirs are enjoyable and fun. Unpacking when we get back is hard. But if we don't unpack we cannot use anything we brought back.

We have all just come from a spiritual trip - a month full of festivals, celebration and inspiration. Along the way we acquired all sorts of new things like forgiveness, renewed commitment, joy and divine blessings.

Now the work begins to ensure that we can hold on to our festival experience. Each in our own way we have to unpack and use the gifts we received during this month. Whether it is attending a new class, doing a new Mitzvah or strengthening our relationships, we all need to find something tangible with which to take this month's inspiration with us.

Happy unpacking many mitzvahs!

Shabbat Shalom,

G‑d's Shade and Protection...

As we prepare for this special Shabbat that precedes the festival of sukkot, allow me to share a thought in this spirit: The sukkah-edifice is meant to remind us of G‑d’s protection over his Chosen People - a protection that has lasted for over 3300 years and a protection that continues to this very day.

The following tale I recently read will perhaps shed some light and give us a greater appreciation of the sukka.

One of the great Jewish sages of the 17th Century was Rabbi Yonasan Eibeshitz. As a young child he was so well-known for his wisdom that the King of Poland heard about him, and decided he wanted to meet the child prodigy to test his Jewish faith.

The king sent a message to Yonasan’s father saying that he’d heard about the child’s wisdom, and was interested to see if he was smart enough to find his way, unassisted, from his home, several miles away, through the confusing streets of the city, to the Palace. Yonasan’s father had little choice but to comply. The next day he dressed the boy in his best clothes, and sent him off, praying for the best.

It was an unusual sight to see a small child, walking with certainty through the city streets, as though he had done it many times before. After several hours the boy arrived at the Palace. The guards were impressed when the youngster presented himself proudly before them, announcing that he had come to see the King.

Minutes later the royal court gathered. The King called for silence, motioned the child to approach and asked, “Tell me, my boy, how did you find your way to the Palace?” “Well, your Majesty,” he answered, “whenever I had a doubt I asked anyone that happened to be nearby, and it seems that G‑d helped.”

Everyone laughed. The King raised his hand for silence and continued, “But didn’t it ever occur to you that two people might say opposite things? What if one said go to the North and the other South? What would you have done then?” The boy replied, “Your Majesty, in our Torah it says that when faced with conflicting opinions, one should follow the majority. That’s what I would have done -- I’d have asked a third person and followed the majority opinion.”

A mischievous look flashed across the King’s face. The room fell silent. He gazed at Yonasan and said, “Young boy, you should listen to what you yourself just said. If in the Jewish Bible it says you ought to follow the majority, then certainly you should abandon Judaism and believe as we Christians do, we are the majority.”

The audience burst into applause at the royal brilliance. Once the clamor died down, little Yonasan spoke. “Your Royal Highness. Indeed you make a good point, however please allow me to clarify. When I said that I’d follow the majority, I meant when I was far from the Palace and uncertain of it’s location. But now that I’m in the Palace and I see the King before me, even if all the King’s ministers tell me I’m in the wrong place, I will not listen to them.”

“Your Majesty, the G‑d of Israel is everywhere. The world is full of His presence. Just consider the miracle of Jewish history and you will realize G‑d is always close to us. For the Jew - it is like being in the Palace with the King. Even if the entire world disagrees, we have no reason to listen to them!”

So as we’re preparing for this special Shabbat, let’s spend a moment to appreciate that delightful Jewish gift we possess – G‑d’s protection. Let’s do a mitzvah today. I will  be available to help fulfill the Mitzvot of this holiday throughout the week please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Shabbat Shalom and a Joyous Sukkot,

How to Have a Successful Year...

The secret to success – in every area of life - always lies in the beginning. If we align ourselves properly from the outset and set the compass properly, the remaining portion of the journey or task can be tackled much more easily.

This golden rule applies to each day of our lives. If, upon awakening, we first eat a piece of cheesecake and run to check our e-mail, we allow our basic physical instincts to gain primacy in our lives. As the day lingers on we may find that instead of tackling our duties for the day, the day tackles us with our continual buckling into temptation, laziness, etc.

On the other hand, if we wake up and, contrary to our animal instinct, we spend some time in meditation, study and prayer, we can then turn even the most difficult encounter during the day into a positive and growing experience. This is because we first aligned our self with the space in our identity that is secure, genuine and idealistic.

If this truth is so evident each day, how much more should this thought resonate at the onset of a year. Rosh Hashana - a fresh new start took place just a few days ago. Let us take a moment to calculate and focus our spiritual compass and set the direction and course towards our father in heaven and in this way as the year 5777 greets us, we will be ready and able to tackle the challenge and meet G‑d’s expectation.

May I suggest learning more about the Modeh Ani prayer, a prayer we say as soon as we wake up. A very deep prayer indeed. Perhaps this prayer can set the course for our day and year to come.

See here: www.chabad.org/623937 

Let’s do a mitzvah today!

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