Printed from JewishThailand.com

Shabbat Shalom from Bangkok

UN 25 years later...

 

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend

Twenty-five years after his physical passing, yet every day he becomes even more alive here in this world!

These were the impassioned words that my Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn said about his predecessor and father in law.

The simple explanation of this. The life of a Tzadik, a saintly person who is egoless and transparently connected to G-d, was never about their physical bodies even during their sojourn here on earth. Their lofty soul was what made them special. That soul lives on, even once it leaves the body. Actually, souls become freed and unfettered once they leave the body.

We all have souls. And indeed, all of our souls live on. But for average people, the central occupation of their life are the materialistic matters of life. For the Tzadik, the only interest they ever had, even while here on earth, was faith, love and fear of G-d. That doesn’t stop upon passing. It gets stronger.

I understood all that. (Click here for more on the topic). But that is all in the spiritual realms. I wasn’t sure I understood what the Rebbe meant by saying that the Tzadik becomes ‘even more alive here in this world’ even twenty-five years after his passing.

A few days ago a groundbreaking speech was given at the U.N. by Rabbi Goldstein, during a special session on anti-Semitism, calling upon 1 billion global acts of goodness and kindness and a return to the foundational mission given to mankind.  

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, was seriously injured in an  anti-Semitic attack on his synagogue  in Poway, Calif. on the last day of Pesach. He has since then traveled the world sharing his passionate and convincing message of enhancing our commitment to common respect and universal morality.. (Watch or read about the speech here.)

When I heard about this speech, I was flooded with memories of my late maternal grandfather Rabbi Abraham Hecht. I remembered that my grandfather was supposed to give that speech in the UN. Thirty something years ago.

In October of 1987, the Rebbe had requested that a talk of this nature – encouraging all nations of the world to commit to the basic tenets of universal morality as transmitted at Sinai in the form of the ‘Seven Noahide laws’ be given in the UN.

The Rebbe then told my grandfather, a dedicated student and chassid of the Rebbe, that as a prominent Rabbi in one of the largest congregations in America, he would like him to deliver that address in the UN.

My grandfather tried very hard to carry out the Rebbe’s mission but seemingly did not meet with success.

Twenty-five years ago the Rebbe left this physical world.

It would have seemed that his request for one of his students to address the UN was not to be.

This week it came to fruition.

Here in this physical world. At a UN session attended by representatives of the entire world. In front of cameras for the entire world to see.

For me it was a deeper understanding of how a Tzadik continues to live here in this world even after his passing.

His effect, the results of his teachings and inspiration continues to be felt, and his reach even expands with every day that goes by.

Jewish leaders are referred to as shepherds. The Talmud teaches that Moshe was a shepherd. Even after their passing they continue from on high to shepherd and tend lovingly to their flock. Person by person, big and small, young and old.

On a practical note for you and me.

In the 1970s, Mr. Frank Lautenberg was the national president of the UJA and came to meet the Rebbe. After a long night of discussing communal matters, the Rebbe steered the conversation toward the personal, encouraging Mr. Lautenberg to introduce more Jewish practice in his life, saying, “[if] you will look  in the mirror tomorrow morning, and you will see the same Lautenberg from yesterday – that means that I have achieved nothing.”

“You have achieved plenty, plenty!” exclaimed Mr. Lautenberg.

“That all depends on you,” the Rebbe responded.

Click here to hear it in the Rebbe’s own word.

The Rebbe loved every person unconditionally for who he was and where he was at. At the same time, though, he saw the infinite potential of what each of us could be and precisely because of that encouraged--and lovingly demanded--that we reach higher.

The Rebbe’s empowering message: Wake up tomorrow morning and see a new view of yourself. Yesterday was good, but tomorrow can be even better.

Let’s take the Rebbe’s message to heart. Let's do another mitzvah and make sure that today is different from yesterday and that tomorrow is even better.

And may all this speed up the coming of Mashiach. May he come NOW!!!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS Please join Nechama and I, on Monday evening at the Tribute event honoring the life and legacy of our dear Rebbe who entrusted us with the mission of bringing more light and Jewish life to Thailand. 

Details below. 

Broken Plate Joyous Hearts.

 

Dear Friend,

With songs of praise and thanksgiving to the Almighty we were blessed to celebrate the shiduch-engagement of our daughter Chana to Mendel Lerman of Atlanta, Georgia on Monday of this week. Rabbi and Mrs. Lerman together with Nechama and I, accompanied Chana and Mendel to the Rebbe’s resting place. There we prayed and asked for blessings for the young couple to establish an everlasting Jewish home on the foundations of Torah and Mitzvahs as illuminated by the teachings of Chassidim. Upon exiting that holy space, the engagement was formally announced, and a celebration took place.

During morning services in a Crown Heights, Brooklyn shul, a friend saw me and said, ‘I have a nice story to share with you from Thailand’.

New York is geographically distant from Bangkok. VERY distant. Sometimes though, you must travel far to learn more about your own backyard.  It seems like I had had to get to New York to hear this particular story about Thailand.

Here is the story my friend shared with me.

O.G. is a consultant who is originally from Israel but now lives in the West Coast of the USA. She had been hired to evaluate various aspects of the Chabad school that my friend works for. During his meeting with the consultant, my friend asked her if she had encountered Chabad in the past. Initially she said that she had not had any interaction with Chabad. Then she recalled that yes, she did have an experience.

Her son went for a backpacking trip to Thailand. One day she got a call that put her into a state of major anxiety. Her son hadn’t been feeling well and gone to a hospital in Ko Samui for treatment and had been admitted to hospital. The nurse had told her son that he has 44 degrees fever. While she hoped that the numbers must be a mistake, she went into a panic. Her son is halfway across the world and she has no way of helping him. The language barrier and the physical distance made her feel helpless.

A friend said, ‘why don’t you call Chabad’?

O.G. called Chabad of Ko Samui and within an hour a rabbi was at her sons’ bedside. The rabbi spoke to the doctors and reassured the mother that everything was fine. The fever was not 44 and the situation was under control. The mother didn’t have to go fly out to her son, neither did the son have to cut his trip short.

I got O.G’s number and called her to say hello. I introduced myself as the first shliach that the Rebbe had sent to Thailand and tasked with expanding the presence to the other cities and islands. O.G. thanked me profusely on the phone for having a Chabad House in Ko Samui and for having a rabbinic team that responded to her, a totally unknown Jew from the other side of the world, with love, care and compassion.

As O.G. was telling the story she burst into tears of emotion just recalling the relief she had felt when a Chabad rabbi called her from her sons’ room. She said that while she knew that the rabbi wasn’t a doctor and he couldn’t do anything in terms of medical treatment, but his presence was so helpful and reassuring.

The thanks does not at all belong to me I told O.G.

It is the Lubavitcher Rebbe who deserves the gratitude. For it is his teaching and personal example that inspires the legions of young men and women to take up postings around the world, in large communities and in environs that have small amounts of Jews. The Rebbe’s shluchim emissaries take up residence in first world countries and in third world countries.  The Rebbe’s lived a life that exemplified his unshakeable love of G-d, His Torah and His people! By his sterling example the Rebbe portrayed and projected an unqualified and unmitigated love of fellow. It is this spirit of commitment and inclusiveness that continues to motivate the Jews of our generation and cajoles them and inspires them to raise their own personal bar of commitment, each according to their level.

It would thus be appropriate, I told O.G. to visit the resting place of this great Jewish leader whose inspiration you benefited from so personally.

O.G. agreed with me that this was something she would very much like to do and will make sure to schedule a visit to the Ohel.

My dear friend. If you are receiving this email you too are benefiting from this said inspiration of the towering leader of our generation. For there is no conceivable way that Thailand would have been on Nechama and I’s radar if not for the demanding and empowering words of the Rebbe reverberating in our consciousness ‘go out and become shluchim to spread the teaching and love of G-d, His Torah and Mitzvahs’.

It was solely this motivation that led us on the path to Thailand some twenty-six years ago. And this too is what motivates the thousands of others who serve Am Yisrael with dedication and love around the globe through thick and thin.

Counterintuitively, the Rebbe’s influence gets stronger and more impactful after his physical passing.

The Zohar has taught the kabalistic axiom that the truly righteous and saintly Tzadikim bear more influence in this physical world after their physical passing than during their lifetime.

When it comes to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, we can see this Kabbalistic teaching borne out in numbers as well. Year by year the numbers of emissaries of the Tzadik swell. Even though one may have expected his influence to ebb due to the course of time, the reverse is true. He becomes more alive and more active as time goes on through the ever-growing activities inspired by his teachings.

Moreover, the Rebbe’s message of loving acceptance of fellow Jews, regardless of level of observance, while once a point of contention, it has gradually become the Jewish people’s collective norm.

What does this mean for me and you?

The Rebbe didn’t seek followers. It is leaders that he wanted you and I to become. (click here for illuminating article by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks) Each of us needs to develop and nurture the unique gifts we have been given and contribute our individual part in the mission of making this world a more divine place.

Click here for a wealth of knowledge and inspiration on this topic.

There are some milestone anniversaries that demand more attention than others.

Twenty-five years is one of those landmark geographic markers that begs and mandates introspective thought that should lead to energetic and even massive growth.

This year we mark twenty-five years since the physical passing of the Rebbe. We ought to utilize the spiritual opportunities available to us for growth both in our personal service to G-d and in our communal activities.

Please mark the date of the Rebbe’s yartzeit in your calendars. It is a perfect time to carve away space to ‘hear’ the Rebbe’s message to our generation and to apply it to your own life. The collective mindfulness of Jews across the globe will create a ripple effect of good deeds, bettering this word and bringing Mashiach NOW.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS if you are in Bangkok, please join us for a tribute to the Lubavitcher Rebbe on MONDAY JULY 1st at the Rembrandt hotel.

The program will include two components.

  1. A lecture/study class –  in Hebrew and a separate one in English – exploring the Rebbe’s Torah teachings as they apply to contemporary life.
  2. A dinner, at which time the renowned designer Eliav Nachlieli will present the artistic renderings of the new Beth Elisheva campus.

 

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