"Shabbat Shalom from Bangkok"

Keep Trying!

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Part three of the ongoing saga of saving Mr. T. E. from the village of Pai, in the rolling hills of Northern Thailand.

An unfolding story: (I shared part one back in May of 2018 and Part two in April 2019 click here for details).

Part Three August 2019

On August 5th I got this text message from T. E. 

Are you there?? I’m in too deep and need to get out.

After getting to work to sort out all the issues:

  1. Sending money to get back his passport which had was being held as collateral for the motorbike rental that he owed money on.

  2. Sending money for bus from Pai to Chiang Mai.

  3. Making a ticket from Chiang Mai to Israel. 

  4. Ensuring that Chabad of Chiang Mai would send someone to the airport to pay the overstay. 

  5. Coordinating with a friend in Israel to pick up T. E. and give him a week or two of hospitality till he could figure out his best options. 

On August 18th T. E. left Thailand. Everything went off without a hitch thank G-d.  On August 19th T. E. landed in Israel where he will hopefully rehabilitate himself.. 

It felt exhilarating to get this note from T. E.

Good Morning Rabbi, 

First off let me thank you for all that has been done for me. The gracious welcomes and hospitality has been truly remarkable.

I find myself settling down more each day and am eternally grateful.

This long-winded saga reminded me of the saying of our sages (Pirkei Avot Chapter 2 Mishna 16:

It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task, but neither are you free to absolve yourself from it.

Sometimes the task at hand looks daunting and impossible to achieve. Don’t panic over your seeming inability to bring the matter to completion. But don’t just sit back and give up either. Try to do what you can. One step at a time. You never know. You just may be blessed to achieve what previously looked unachievable.

After I schlepped to Pai and T. E. didn’t even show his face, I thought game over. But in the spirit of the teaching of our Sages ‘but neither are you free to absolve yourself from it’, I kept reaching out to T. E. Every once in a while, I sent him a WhatsApp to enquire about how he was faring. He didn’t always answer. But ultimately the matter is developing nicely. And I hope it indeed continues to sort itself out.

Hashem is in charge, indeed! Yet he wants us to expend our efforts, sometimes even strenuous efforts, to help our fellow during their time of need.

May we always be blessed to be able to give help to others.

With blessings for a Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor


Who Needs Comforting?

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

When a parent punishes a child, for whom is it more painful?

Counterintuitively, often the parent suffers more than the child. 

Let’s say that the parent has discovered the child doing something bad that they cannot ignore. In order to educate their child, they understand that they must administer punishment. However, the pain that the parent undergoes because of the disappointment in their child, may far outweigh the pain of the punishment that the child endures. 

There is a story told by the Rebbe that touches me to the depth of my soul every time that I repeat it. It is about a pious father who discovered that his young son was acting cruelly to animals. The father was terribly disappointed with his son and administered appropriate punishment. The son broke out in tears as to be expected. Strangely, the son heard his father sobbing from a nearby room. The son realized that the father had more pain from administering the punishment than the son had from receiving it. This realization caused a transformation in the son who became a changed person.

Click here for full version of the inspiring story

Today is Rosh Chodesh. The ‘head of the month’. The fifth month of the year named Av. We add a descriptive word before Av. MENACHEM Av. Menachem means comfort. Because it was in this month the the Bet Hamikdash was destroyed and we observe the fast day of Tisha B’av we insert the prayerful wish that G-d comfort us.

The Rebbe pointed out that the literal translation of Menachem Av is to comfort the father. Who is the father in reference to the people of Israel? Almighty G-d is compared to our father and we; the people of Israel are his children. 

Why would G-d need to be comforted?

It’s US who needs comforting isn’t it? OUR temple has been destroyed. WE are in exile. Anti-Semitism threatens US the Jewish people. Why do we talk about comforting our ‘Father’ - G-d.

Our sages taught that when we the Jewish people are exiled, G-d joins us in exile.

When our heavenly Father needs to admonish us and banish us from His Holy table, it is more painful for him that for us.

How do you comfort a distraught father?

When kids get along affably and lovingly with each other, their parents are joyous. There is nothing worse for a parent than seeing their children quarrelling G-d forbid. The best feeling for parents is seeing their offspring getting along with each other and bonding deeply.

I muse to myself. Perhaps this is why providentially so many Jews from Israel travel to Thailand during this month of Av. 

Last Friday night, two thousand one hundred and six guests joined Chabad of Thailand. Most of them were tourists visiting from Israel. They wore all kinds of head coverings. They came from every imaginable background. They were diverse and different. 

It is incredibly inspiring to see how all these different Jews, merge together and blend as one unified family when joining for Shabbat at the Chabad Houses. Political differences fall by the wayside. Geographical origin is not important. Levels of Jewish observance are not a hindrance. The Shabbat table has the magical mystical power to bring us all together despite our external differences.

This gives nachas and pleasure to our Father in Heaven. 

This provides comfort.

You may rightfully point out, the travelers come because of school holiday. Nothing to do with the Hebrew month of Av and the need to be Menachem and comfort our Father.

I will say, look a little deeper. Perhaps G-d destined it so that school holiday would coincide with this month?

I know I am being a little fanciful. I don’t mind if you take a chuckle at my seeming naiveté. 

The main thing is that you join forces with me to cause nachas and bring comfort to our Father in Heaven. By being brotherly. By doing things that express Jewish unity. By eradicating gossip. By doing favors for each other that we wouldn’t ordinarily do. Walking the extra mile or meter for those we usually wouldn’t go out of our way for.

This will bring joy and comfort to G-d.

And will hasten the end of our exile. The coming of Mashiach and rebuilding of the Bet Hamikdash.

Chodesh Tov

Shabbat Shalom

We want Mashiach NOW

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS to be a co-host of guests at the inspirational and united Shabbat meals at Chabad of Thailand please click here.

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