blizzards to sunny beaches

Friday, 4 February, 2022 - 4:53 pm

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

During these winter months, it is quite comfortable to be living in Thailand.

Just reading about the recent weather patterns in Israel and large parts of USA makes one shiver.

My brother-in-law Rabbi Shalom Paltiel, is the founder of Chabad of Port Washington, in New Yorks Long Island. Maybe that is why he shared a story about a blizzard in a recent email newsletter.

The story inspired me deeply, and I am sharing it the way he wrote it.

Growing up, my father (may he be well for long and healthy years) would tell us a story of a man journeying on foot from town to town, back in the day, when he was confronted by a huge snowstorm. He's in middle of nowhere between towns, there isn't an inn or any house in sight, and he's beginning to freeze.

After trekking for hours in blizzard conditions, he's feeling weak and tired. But he keeps on moving in the direction of the nearest town. Each time he's tempted to succumb to the temptation to take a little rest, he forges ahead, realizing that even a short nap means he'll surely freeze to death.

But eventually the exhaustion gets the better of him. He's exhausted. He's totally depleted. He can't move another inch. He's feeling dizzy and faint. He makes the bad decision, against his better judgement, to take a little rest, telling himself it'll be a short rest and it'll be ok...

As he sits down near a tree, and clears away some snow, he feels a human hand beneath the snow... OMG! He quickly moves away more snow to uncover a full human being lying frozen under the snow. He takes the man's pulse. It's still beating. He jumps into action! With newfound strength he lifts the man, shakes the snow off of him, throws him on his shoulder, and runs to the next town...

Saving two lives...

My father would explain the anecdote to give insight into the Rebbe's approach to Jewish outreach. The Rebbe encouraged every Jew to be an ambassador for Judaism, sharing whatever he or she knows and practices to help inspire another Jew, paying forward the love and the inspiration, one Jew at a time, with one Mitzvah at a time.


"Warming up" a fellow Jew is the surest way to keep ourselves warm and inspired!

When it's cold and snowy outside, my heart is always warmed with the sweetness of the message this story conveys. Let's keep the inspiration going. Let's keep it warm on the inside, and these freezing days will have served their purpose well.

Stay well and stay warm!

Thanks dear brother-in-law for sharing that inspiring concept.

Now, let me get you out of the cold and bring you back to the sun and its warmth. I write to you from the heat of Bangkok with air-conditioning on, not heating.

It’s a very special time. We are in the first week of the month of Adar, (of which this year we have two due to the Jewish ‘leap year’).

Adar, is the month that the sages instruct us to be happy. It’s a healthy and happy month. G-d Almighty saved us from the despotic, tyrannical Haman who intended to carry out genocide against our people. Things were transformed. We didn’t just get our lives back, and succeed in repelling the pogrom, we got a new holiday added to our calendar. The holiday of Purim (this year Wednesday night/Thursday – March 16-17). The most joyous day of the Jewish calendar is Purim.

The joy of Purim spreads to the entire month. In this year its two months. SIXTY DAYS of Adar. Sixty days of joy.

The Rebbe made a very passionate plea to urge all of us (you, I, and anyone else who hears the message) to rejoice, but not just keep the joy to ourselves. Rather we should be sure to bring joy to OTHERS!!!

Starting of course with your own immediate family. Spouse. Children. Other family members.

But not limited to your family circle only.

Preferably your ripples should spread even broader, to a ‘minyan’ of people – to TEN other people at least.

Do you know what happens when you cause others to be joyous?

Yep. You guessed. YOU TOO BECOME JOYOUS.

And do you know what happens when you become joyous?


So here is the recipe to happiness.

Look to make someone else joyous. Moreover, look to make a ‘minyan’ of people joyous.

Just like that snow story. If you are busy making others happy you too will be happy. You can take a look at yourself in the mirror and appreciate the great joy that you have been suffused with. Don’t put up barriers. Just let yourself ‘go with the flow’ of healthy and positive energy that comes your way.

Hashem gave me a special opportunity this week.

As Covid shut the world down, I had been hearing more and more, of Israeli families relocating to the island of Ko Pangan. As part of my mission from the Rebbe to spread Torah throughout the Thailand region, I realized it was time to pay a visit, and feel out what Ko Pangan was like and consider how to best service the Jews living there.

An opportunity arose. A friend from Bangkok was visiting Ko Pangan and introduced me via video call to a family living on the island who has a son approaching Bar Mitzvah. The ceremony and celebration will take place in Israel, but they asked me if I could teach the boy to prepare him. I now had a concrete mission. A Jewish boy, reaching the age of manhood, and I had the opportunity to teach him how to put on Tefilin and be called to the Torah. This to me is presented the perfect and irresistible reason to make time to visit Ko Pangan and meet the family.

It is always a challenge to find the time to make exploratory trips of this nature. Hashem presented me with the perfect opportunity. Earlier this week I found that some appointments on my schedule had been changed unexpectedly, leaving me with two days that I could make this trip. I asked my wife if she would be game to go to Ko Pangan for the day. When she heard the reasons, to further our mission of spreading Torah and meeting a potential Bar Mitzvah student, she gave the green light.

Off we went. Flight to Samui. Transfer to pier. Speedboat/ferry ride of 30 minutes to Ko Pangan. Hot sun. Choppy waters. Strong smell of engine fuel. I can’t say we enjoyed the ride. In the pictures it sounds nice, and the word speedboat ferry sounds glorious. Which is why you can’t rely on social media posts to experience life. You need to get out there and actually experience things.

We visited various areas of the island and had some very enlightening and informative meetings and experiences. We wound up our visit with our meeting with the Bar Mitzvah boy. We met just across the street from pier. I put on tefillin with the father and confirmed that they would come to Bangkok for some lessons, which we would complement with lessons via Zoom. Off we went to the return ferry.

The ferry departure time was 16:30. At about 16:25 they started boarding. Jumping into the bobbing boat was not something I do every day but we made it in safely thank G-d. After sitting down on the boat, I took out my phone and noted the arrival of a new voice note from a number in the USA that I didn’t recognize. That voice note had arrived at 16:28.

As the boat was revving up its engine to leave the island, I listened to the note. It was from a friend of mine in Yeshiva. He called to tell me that his son – who has the soul of a ‘searcher’ – would be coming to spend six months on some island not far from Ko Samui to learn Muay Tai. He was sending me the note to introduce his son to me and tell me that he was coming. He didn’t know the name of the island. Only that it was near Ko Samui as his son said he would visit Chabad of Ko Samui periodically.

I couldn’t believe my ears.

I asked my friend (not sure what he was doing up at 4:28 AM in the USA) is the name of the island Ko Pangan? He confirmed a few minutes later that yes, his son was coming to Ko Pangan. I told my friend that I was just concluding a fact-finding mission and was on my way off that very island.

Divine Providence at its best.

I could not have received greater heavenly confirmation to our itinerary than this.

Just as we had concluded a pioneering visit to the island, we got a further sign that indeed Ko Pangan, while being famous for its parties, has another dimension to it. It is also a haven for people looking for meaning and purpose in life. Apparently against the backdrop of this calming and peaceful island people are able to slow down and get more in touch with themselves.

Wouldn’t this be a wonderful location to spread the depth and meaningfulness of Torah? We left from this short visit with a much deeper understanding and feeling about the nature of the island and the mindset of the Jewish people who choose to call it home or pay it visits of varying lengths.

To be continued please G-d.

The ferry ride back to Ko Samui was even more turbulent than the way there. not very enjoyable to say the least. After a brief visit to Chabad House of Ko Samui where we enjoyed Rabbi Mendy Goldschmiedt’s warm hospitality, we flew back to Bangkok. Happy to be back ‘home’ in our familiar environment.

It’s a few days later, but Nechama and I are still elated and uplifted from the positive energy of this trip and the possibilities that exist for reaching more Jews and spreading more Torah and Mitzvahs. Especially this G-dly ‘caress’ of the voice note showing up when it did. This showed us in a tangible way just how every detail of our lives is directed by the Almighty down to the exact timing of visits and voice notes.

Our visit was on the first day of the month of Adar.

Clearly, Hashem gifted us with a JOYOUS trip and an affectionate gesture by showing us the openly Divine Providence coming together of events.

My month of Adar blessings to you, my dear friend.

May Hashem remove all obstacles to happiness.

May Hashem provide you with all of the ingredients that engender JOYOUSNESS.

Good health, stable income, nachas from children, amongst all of the other ingredients that make happiness easier to achieve.

And may you adopt the Rebbe’s advice, to make others happy, and have much success in achieving the mission of spreading happiness to others, and becoming a HAPPIER YOU!

May the Almighty grant our world the ultimate happiness. The coming of Mashiach NOW!!!

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