"Shabbat Shalom from Bangkok"

Motivation for Post Millennial Generation

By the Grace of G-d


Dear Friend, 

You may have expected me to address the Coronavirus in my column. I would, if I thought I could wrap my mind around it. However, this topic is still unfolding, and I am at a bit of a loss of what to write. I hope it will turn out to be nipped in the bud by Almighty G-d. Both by blessing the massive efforts of the Health authorities and by bringing a much-needed miracle to our region. 

One thing is clear. The world is frightened of China right now.

No one is traveling there. Borders are closed.

Some have even cancelled all Asia travel.


My colleagues in China have built Jewish infrastructure that is dependent on business and leisure travelers for funding. 

They are facing a crisis and have united to try and raise emergency funds so that their communities do not collapse G-d forbid during this period of uncertainty caused by this fast spreading virus.

I feel for them very strongly and want to help them as much as possible. Please accept my plea as I urge you to help them weather this situation. 

Click here to donate to keeping Judaism in China alive as it weathers this humongous challenge.


Dear Friend,

Last week I highlighted one kind of reaction that Holocaust survivors had, which was to hide their Jewishness from their post war children.

I only learned about those stories later in life as I started to counsel people as a rabbi. 

The reaction I am more familiar with, is what I witnessed during my childhood in Melbourne, Australia. The burning desire that many survivors had, to rebuild the Jewish people and community.

Every new Jewish child born was an act of defiance and victory. The building of Jewish schools, shuls and mikvahs and kosher food availability that define and facilitate Jewish communal life, were top priority.  

There was an urgency to these efforts. 

So much was lost during the Holocaust.

There was no time to waste in the rebuilding efforts. 

There was so much to do with relatively so few people to do it.

Nobody could possibly feel that they were redundant, not needed. It was an ‘all hands on the deck’ kind of situation. 

This carried on for a few generations. 

The survivors themselves obviously had a great drive. They knew what had been lost. The children raised by survivors were infused with their parents’ sense of urgency. They too felt the supreme importance of galvanizing to the cause of rebuilding. The children of those children (my generation) still has a remnant of that feeling gained by osmosis from their parents’ sense of purpose.

We are now one generation later. The generation of our children. 

My children’s generation are children of children of children of survivors. The chance that they have interacted meaningfully with an actual Holocaust survivor is slim. Anyone who was twenty years old in 1945 is now 95 years old. The direct link between our current generation and those who remember what was before the destruction and what we lost, is almost over. 

Seventy-five years later you would be hard pressed to convince people that we need to RE-build. In a sense, it has been rebuilt. True, it does not bring back what was lost. What once was, is no longer. It is different. But it is a super impressive edifice that has been built. 

As you look around at the Jewish world you cannot help but be inspired. Jewish life is flourishing thank G-d. In Israel as well as in countries around the world. (Even China has a dozen or so burgeoning Jewish communities. Click here to help them during the Coronavirus crisis).

Yeshivas, Synagogues, mikvahs, community centers, kosher eateries and many other religious and cultural institutions are thriving.

This constitutes a certain challenge.

The challenge becomes motivation. 

The motivation that came along with emerging from the painful smoldering coals with an insatiable urgency for rebuilding a flourishing Jewish life, is no longer. 

The challenge for our generation has become maintaining a feeling of relevance during these times of relative calm and plenty.

There is no burning urge to rebuild as everything has been rebuilt.

What now?

There is nothing more demoralizing than not having a purpose to life.

It is no secret that many of our generation struggle with the meaning of life. 

Some people question their role in life. It seems to them that as an individual they are not really needed, the community is so large as it is. Is one less decent human really going to make a difference in the universe? Is one less observant Jew really going to make it or break it for the Jewish People?

Life has its share of challenges. It is difficult to get up and tackle them when you don’t feel that your contribution is important. Motivation is thus a key component to living life. Without motivation one falls into listlessness and depression.

Let me ask the question out loud. The question that many are scared to voice. 

Am I redundant?

Let me answer that question in an emphatic tone of voice:


G-D NEEDS YOU!!! and ME!!! and each and every person on this planet.

G-d Almighty Himself has created each of us. He waits expectantly for us to fulfil our individual roles.

Now more than ever, we need to be reminded that not only is our presence here on earth not a burden to humanity, on the contrary, me, you and everyone in existence it is absolutely vital to the unimpeded functioning of the universe. 

Stated simply, if he didn’t need us, we wouldn’t be here.

Now that, is an inexhaustible source of inspiration.

Can there be anything more energizing and uplifting upon awakening in the morning than the realization that G-d is waiting for you to wake up and serve Him?

Who has time to philosophize about mediate about the purpose of life?

Turns out, that many people do have the luxury of available time. The luxury to think, to ruminate and even fall into a ‘negative-thoughts’ self-induced mild depression. (in cases of clinical depression G-d forbid a doctor must be consulted).

In the olden days there was not much free time. Living life was like being on a fast-paced treadmill that didn’t let you stop for too long.

Today, we have loads of leisure time. Kids don’t go to work in their father’s pushcart at tender ages. Doing laundry requires a push of a button not a trip to the river with sticks to pound out the dirt from the clothing. Our nutritional levels are better. Thank G-d our overall good health allows us to live longer. 

We have much more time to think.

About what life is about. Why we live. what difference does my individual presence on earth make to anyone.

This makes it critical not to brush off this question. We need to really address the core truth of what we are needed for.

It’s a challenge to live in such a privileged generation.

It is also a great gift.

Materially we are blessed, that is without doubt.

Our challenge is being motivated.

Have no fear. In this field too we are blessed. 

We are a privileged generation that has the time and energy to be able to focus on the real existential reason for life.

And what is that reason?

To create an awareness of G-d in ourselves, in our environment and thus in the world at large.

G-d is the ultimate Energy Source, infinitely greater than infinite, the only true ‘I’, the omnipotent, omniscient existence, immanent everywhere and for eternity. G-d is truly beyond description. 

Nothing can be more meaningful or more inspirational than the opportunity to connect to G-d.

And you and I are absolutely vital for this mission. 

The proof that we are irreplaceable? 

We are here! That is the simplest and truest proof.

A good home-manager doesn’t have unnecessary clutter in their home. 

G-d certainly doesn’t keep ‘extras’ or ‘spare parts’ in his world. If you and I are here, it’s a sign that He needs us.

When you know G-d is waiting for YOU, you cannot and dare not feel irrelevant. That would be irreverent to G-d himself. 

That would not be humility*, it would be a sheer mistake. For G-d knew who you are, with all your shortfalls, and yet waits for you to fulfil your part in His symphony. 

The Rebbe, who took the reins of the Chabad movement seventy years ago (this week on Wednesday February will be the 70th anniversary), spoke to the immediate generation of survivors. Yet he also spoke to our generation. I personally was blessed to spend many years drinking from his fountain of wisdom during my Yeshiva-study years.

The Rebbe taught this above concept, as one of the central themes of his leadership. 

His message remains unwavering and applies equally to both generations. 

How so?

On the one hand, the urgency of rebuilding in 1950 when he began to lead Chabad was palpable and pressing. 

Not so seventy years later. Today many grapple with finding meaning for life.

How could one message address both extremes?

The Rebbe, from the very beginning of his leadership, addressed the core of who we are and why we are.

The essence of who we are and what our mission is has never changed since the Torah was given. Nay, since the world was created.

Its about creating a ‘dwelling for G-d in the world below’

When you are needed by G-d to create a dwelling for Him, you have a purpose to live. The purpose motivates you to consciously give forth your best efforts when things are calm and serene (and in a way it may be a challenge to feel motivated) just as you instinctively and naturally do, when you have just experienced the worst destruction in history.

It’s a message that resounds with equal relevance in 1950 as in 2020. Nay with more relevance in 2020 because in the here and now we can make a difference for tomorrow. 

When the ultimate goal is creating a permanent ‘dwelling fo G-d in the world below’, living life in this world becomes like a delightful stroll in the Garden of Paradise. When you are inspired, life can be joyfully enjoyable.

Those efforts, to create a comfortable space for G-d here in this world, are ongoing. The fulfillment and success of these efforts will only be realized by the coming of Mashiach. 

We are almost there. 

It is up to us to add in the things that make G-d apparent. More acts of goodness and kindness.

To sum it up simply: Ask know what G-d can do for me, ask what I can do for G-d. With that rule of thumb we will get the job done. Once and for all. May Mashiach come NOW!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

*(The Rebbe gave a watershed teaching in 1960 that deals with this, for an audio class in English on this teaching click here (starting at 29:20) 

74 Years...

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Israel was full of world leaders this week. 

January 27th 2020 marks the seventy fifth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. It was on that day in 1945 that the Russian army entered the gates of the infamous extermination camp. 

I think it would be accurate to say that ‘you can take a person out of Auschwitz, but you cannot take Auschwitz out of a person’.

Anyone who survived the nightmare of living under the Nazis came out changed forever.

Not many survivors are still alive.

Today it is in the children of the survivors that we are interacting with. To get married after the Holocaust and bring Jewish children into the world was a heroic act. It was the ultimate act of defiance against the monsters whose goal was to eradicate every Jew. Bringing more Jewish children in the world was our best way of defeating the goals of our enemies.

Raising children after themselves being so scarred and injured was bound to have repercussions on the children. Children of survivors can attest to the challenges of their childhood that were unmatched by those of their peers whose parents hadn’t been through this hell. The children still suffered the inevitable results on their parent’s persona resulting from the Holocaust.

Some parents continued to identify as Jews. 

But not all. 

How many parents were simply terrified to raise children as Jews. If being Jewish could make you a target for hate, degradation and even extermination wouldn’t it be safer to abandon the Jewish designation? Many survivors hid their Jewish identity from their post-war born children.

A few examples of this have come my way here in Thailand. 

I’m currently trying to help a French gentleman whose mother was hidden as a child in a Catholic convent during the war. He was raised as a Catholic because his mother had converted. His mother and her brothers were hidden in the convent because their mother was Jewish, and the Germans had occupied France. The difficulty here is that his mother has Alzheimer’s and his uncles are very unwilling to talk about the war years and their family background before the war. However, the man who came to see me feels that his Jewish soul has awakened. and he is looking to gain certainty about himself and who he truly is.

It was not long ago that we buried a Jew from the UK, Shimon Aaronson whose connection to Judaism was established only by a chance connection with a Jewish family when he was well into his adult life. I just received the copy of a previously overlooked conversation that Shimon had with Rabbi Boruch Hecht via Facebook a while before his passing. 

My mother’s family. Well only she and her brother out of 38 other family members were the only 2 who walked out of Auschwitz.

I made the awful mistake as a 6-year-old to ask why she had a tattoo on her arm... Silence, but uncle told me…

His mother was obviously terrified to raise her kids as Jews.

Our dear rice farmer friend Zevulun was raised by a Jewish mother who didn’t want her children to know they were Jewish. The reason? Her mother had traveled to Europe to save her family and was trapped in the hornet’s nest of Jewish persecution never to be heard from again. Zevulun’s mother, angry and shaken to the core over the loss of her mother, felt it was best to just raise her kids without the Jewish identity.

The Holocaust was an unprecedented low point in Jew hatred. Jews have suffered since time immemorial, but nothing, not the Crusades, Inquisition or even Cossacks was so thorough and so horrifyingly mechanized and systemized.

Britain’s former Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, famously said at his keynote address to the Shluchim conference,

 And how can you redeem a world that had witnessed Hitler? And the Rebbe did something absolutely extraordinary; he said to himself: if the Nazis searched out every Jew in hate, we will search out every Jew in love.

This was the most radical response to the Holocaust ever conceived and I don't know if we still – if the Jewish world still – understands it.

Today, in many parts of the world anti-Semitism has returned, and baruch Hashem [thank G-d] there are hundreds of organizations fighting it. But still, even now, no one is saying what the Rebbe said – not explicitly but implicitly in everything he did.

If you want to fight sinas yisrael [hatred of your fellow], then practice ahavas yisroel [love of your fellow].

Providentially, the 27th of January, the day of the Holocaust memorial is Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the Jewish month of Shevat. World Jewry marks a special anniversary during the month of Shevat. On Shevat 10 (February 5th) we will mark the seventieth anniversary since the beginning of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s leadership of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.

The Rebbe’s stated goal was to promulgate Ahavat Yisrael – love of Jews. Through outreach, social services and anything and everything that could be helpful to fellow Jews anywhere they may be. 

The Rebbe’s far reaching vision to have legions of ‘Shluchim’ -‘do-gooders’, representing him and his vision throughout the world, started small. A shliach was sent to Morocco. Another to Italy. Another to Michigan. Australia, Brazil and other cities and countries followed on. 

Today the world is dotted with Shluchim, emissaries of the Rebbe whose stated goal is to do whatever is needed to build, nurture and reach out to every single Jew they can reach. One Jew at a time, one mitzvah at a time.

The Rebbe saw to it that when a Jewish soul awakens, be it in Jerusalem, New York or even a village in Southern Thailand, someone should be there to nurture their Jewish soul. 

Seventy years is indeed an anniversary worthy of being noted. 

When one turns seventy, thoughts often turn to retirement or slowing down.

The Rebbe taught that seventy is a time to start to plan even more achievement.

What can we do more? 

YOU, my dear friend holds the answer to that question in your hands. 

The impact and reach of the Rebbe’s vision of love can be instantly multiplied and quantified by thousands and tens of thousands. 

Dear Friend, YOU can and must view yourself as an ambassador of that vision of love. As a lighthouse that shines forth welcoming beacons of light and love to your fellow Jews. 

You may meet a Jew through your business, on plane, train bus or just in the street. He/she looks Jewish? Find out, maybe they are. Connect with them. See if you can help them in any way materially. Maybe with some advice on how to navigate life in Thailand if they are newcomers and you are veteran. Perhaps they would welcome an invitation to a Friday night dinner (in Bangkok you can always invite people to our dinner and say the rabbi would love to have you, you don’t need to ask us first). Even getting their name and email to have them on the local Jewish events list may massage their Jewish soul.

Yes, the liberation of Auschwitz is a day that should not be glossed over. But it should not just be remembered for history’s sake. Rather, we must learn the obvious lesson of the tragic consequences of unbridled hate. 

Moreover, the unspeakable events of those calamitous and tragic years must continue to fuel our indefatigable push towards true world peace. Peace of an everlasting and universal nature. A new world order that can make the word ‘utopia’ look like an understatement. 

The Rebbe stated his goals as nothing less than bringing the world to the coming of Mashiach. This can only be done if we all participate, unite and join forces to give the final push. One more mitzvah, one more act of goodness and kindness. Your one act may be the one that ‘tips the scales’ and causes the coming of Mashiach AMEN.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor



 By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

He was ‘barmitzvah’ed’ sixty years ago. 

Still practices orthopedic surgery at a hospital in L.A. 

A fellow surgeon at the same hospital has a wife Elizabeth whose father moved to Thailand and remarried. 

Elizabeths father passed away three years ago and asked his family to have the rabbi put on his ‘Jewish Cap’ before the ceremony. That lead to my going out to Pathum Thani and facilitating Jewish burial in place of the planned cremation.

Elizabeth had wanted to send a donation to the Jewish community in Thailand to help with the burial costs but never got to it. Her husband the surgeon heard that his colleague Dr. B. was traveling to Thailand. Elizabeth asked if he could please deliver the donation personally.

On Monday January 13, Dr. B. looked for our Synagogue, found me at our offices behind J Cafe and hand delivered the donation. After a delightful conversation, I offered Dr. B. the opportunity to put on tefillin. He accepted gratefully and told me it was the first time since his bar mitzvah. Some sixty years back. 

He enjoyed the experience and wrote me the following note:

Dear Rabbi Kantor,

It was our pleasure meeting you and spending time with you at the Cafe! We enjoyed you company and hospitality very much. You have rekindled my desire to use my Tefillin and attend more services at home!! 

Respectfully Dr. B.

I decide to share the story because it follows on so aptly from last week’s story about Paul Stone.

It brings home the point how sometimes good deeds can be added in this world through things you have done, children you have raised or people you have inspired.  

There is a reason I choose to share these stories. Through telling these stories, others are inspired to add in their own Jewish observances and kindnesses to others. The eternal merit of these good deeds goes to those whose memory inspired them.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you had registered a patent and would keep getting royalties long after you were retired? It’s the same thing when people do mitzvahs and deeds of kindness in one’s merit or fueled by something they have planted in the past. By sharing these inspirations with the many who read them, the souls of those who have passed are getting nachas and delight in Gan Eden.

Here is a classic case of an investment that yields Mitzvah dividends after many decades. Tzedaka was given in memory of Al Baron and tefillin laid because of the child he had raised ages ago in his youth. She in turn inspired her husband’s colleague to come and visit the shul. 

Here is the part that gives me goosebumps: 

As I was writing this article, I looked up the article I wrote three years ago about Al’s burial. I noticed that it was also the same Parsha of Shemot. That is providential I thought to myself. I decided to look up the date of Al’s passing. 

According to my records, Al passed away on the evening leading to Tevet 17. The meeting with Dr. B. took place on Monday Tevet 16, within hours of the beginning of the third yahrtzeit. 

I find myself tearing from emotion as I realize the preciseness of G-d’s Providence. What a gift Al got in Heaven, exactly three years after his passing a few hours short of the exact time of his passing. What a way to mark the yahrtzeit. By Dr. B. giving tzedakah and laying tefillin and undertaking to please G-d continue to use his tefillin to Al’s credit.

This story reminds me of what King Solomon taught in the book of Mishlei (Ecclesiastes) Cast your bread upon the waters, for you shall find it after many days…

To our youth, the millennials and post millennials, I want to use this story to remind us that we need patience. Some things take decades to develop…

This weeks Parsha is a classic example. The Torah tells us that Moshe grew up and fled Egypt. The next time the Torah identifies Moshe’s age is when he comes back to Egypt. By that time Moshe is eighty years old. The Midrash, quoting the orally handed down tradition from Sinai, fills in the blanks. It gives a description of Moshe’s dazzling rise to becoming the king of Ethiopia during the many decades that are unaccounted for in this weeks Parsha. 

Click here for more details.

In summation. 

Doing the right thing is always the right thing!

Sometimes you get to see the blessing inherent in making the proper moral and religious choices immediately.

Sometimes it takes time.

For those who have patience, and persevere in treading the right path, invariably G-d shows His presence.

Don’t despair if you don’t see the ‘endgame’ right at the beginning. 

You don’t fulfil your mission on earth in one fell swoop. It takes seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years and even decades. The heroes, the righteous Tzadikim of our Torah and in our contemporary times, remind us by the way they lived their lives, that we need to keep on sprinting, jogging, brisk walking or at the very least trudging. 

If need be, focus on putting one foot in front of the other. 

My friend David Keen took me with him to the 23.5 km bicycle path around Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport. It sounded really cool and fun. Cycling around the airport. It wasn’t as blissful as it sounds. I will be honest, at the 10km mark I had had enough. But the only way to quit is to have the embarrassment of the emergency ‘pickup truck’ deliver you to the end of the track. David kept on telling me that ‘you can do it’ and I just focused on keeping on pedaling. Thank G-d, I made it. It gave me plenty of time to ponder and realize the lessons to be learned. 

One of them is that you simply must keep moving forward. 

When the going gets tough? The tough get going. 

Don’t stop. Onward march. 

Eventually we will get there. 

Where is there?

The endgame is that we all go to the The Promised Land! With Mashiach’s coming. May it be soon, AMEN!!!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

after 23.5 km around bangkok airport.jpeg 


Chazak ENCOURAGMENT the power of it.

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

I was reminded this week that sometimes the greatest thing you can do is give someone else a nod of approval when they are doing something good. 

When a person is excited and inspired, his or her peer’s positive reaction can ensure that the positive and uplifting behavior continues and even grows.

By the same token, you can easily burst someone’s ‘inspirational bubble’. All it takes is a snide, cynical comment and like a pinprick deflates a balloon, so does the person lose all their previous excitement and motivation. 

Paul Stone did the former for Zevulun the Rice Farmer from Sakon Nakon. He inspired him and encouraged him. With a fantastic outcome Boruch Hashem

Back then when Zevulun was still Scott, he looked for a rabbi to talk to. 

I was the rabbi he met. I have the distinct merit of being the first rabbi Zevulun ever spoke to in his life. Naturally, at that very first meeting I offered Zevulun the chance to put on Tefilin. Even though he didn’t know exactly what Tefilin were, he was happy to put them on and recite the Shema prayer with me. 

Except that after he left that meeting, he was a little ‘freaked out’ (he only told me this later :-)). With the hat, beard, Tzizit and especially the Tefilin.  He wasn’t sure. Was this Tefillin ritual something standard in Judaism or had he stumbled into some kind of a ‘fringe’ practice.    

Knowing that Paul Stone who lived in Hua Hin was born as Shlomo Silverstein, Zevulun gave him a call to ask about Tefilin.

(Born to immigrant parents in Brooklyn NY, Shlomo Silverstein had changed his name to Paul Stone way back, to seek employment in a country club that didn’t allow Jews).

Paul put Zevulun at ease. He reassured him that Tefillin, Tzizit etc. was all part of mainstream Judaism.

About ten days later Zevulun received a package in the mail from Paul. It was a mezuzah. Parchment and case! And as Zevulun is proud to report, it is that same mezuzah case that houses the mezuzah on his door till this very day.

Ten year ago, right after I heard this story, I contacted Paul. He agreed to meet me if I was passing by Hua Hin. When I learned that he was about to celebrate his eightieth birthday I made arrangements to ‘happen to be passing by’ Hua Hin on the day of his birthday.

 (I love celebrating eightieth birthdays with people, if you, or a fellow Jew is turning eighty this year please let me know so I can schedule a visit for that day, cake and all.  There is so much to learn from our elders if we but take the time to listen and turn off our gadgets for long enough).

Our meeting was cordial at the beginning and then warmed up. Paul came across as staunchly and proudly Jewish. Obviously, I offered Paul the opportunity to lay Tefilin. He knew very well what they were, having grown up in a practicing Jewish family. He politely but firmly declined. 

Paul may not have put on Tefilin at our meeting, but it was undoubtedly Paul’s positive reaction to Zevulun’s first Jewish experience that was the key to the subsequent spiritual growth of our dear friend Zevulun. Zevulun who is a beloved, inspired member of our Thailand Jewish community, living and breathing a life full of Torah and Mitzvahs, looks back at that conversation with Paul as being pivotal.  

Click here for Zevuluns story.

I bring up this story now because last week Paul sat up in bed and complained that his chest hurt. A short while later at age 89 Shlomo ben Israel Silverstein aka Paul Stone, returned his soul to his maker.

May these words in his honor be source of nachas and elevation to his soul in the Garden of Eden.

And may we, who live, take to heart. 

How sensitive we need to be in our reaction to others.

Cynicism and sarcasm are sure killjoys and deflating. 

Positive reinforcement and encouragement can make all the difference in the world.

At the very least, let us resolve to never discourage anyone from trying to better themselves. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything.

On the flip side, may we realize the power of our words and body language and constantly encourage those around us to believe more in themselves and aim for even higher goals and achievements in their spiritual and religious growth.

This highlights the opportunity we have for adding light and holiness in the world through doing mitzvahs. At the very least by not discouraging or disparaging others who are excited about doing the Mitzvahs. 

And even better than that, even if you are not in the ‘mood’ or in the mindset of doing more mitzvahs yourself right now, when you get the opportunity to encourage someone else to do a Mitzvah,

Seize the opportunity!


In the synagouges around the world we will be doing just that tomorrow.

We will finish reading the first book of the Torah, Bereshit and when we read the final words of the book we will all call out:

Chazak Chazak Venitchazek

Be strong, be strong and we will be strong!!!!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor


6/6 or 20/20

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Happy 6/6!

Oops I mean 20/20.

At the beginning of this new calendar year of 2020 I asked some of our Israeli congregants at the post-Shacharit breakfast table, ‘what does 2020 remind you of’?

When I didn’t get any immediate response, I asked ‘how do you say in Israel that someone has good vision?’ 

This is when I learned that in Israel perfect vision is called ‘shesh shehl’ 6/6. While in the USA it’s called 20/20.

6/6 means you see at 6 meters what an average person can see at six meters, and 20/20 is the equivalent in feet.

Please allow me to use the 20/20 term in this instance so I can make a point pertinent to the beginning of the year 2020 in the ‘Common Era’ civil calendar.

There is a prophecy in the book of Yeshaya (Isaiah 40,5) referring to the time after Mashiach’s arrival ‘the glory of Hashem will be revealed, and all flesh will see that it is Hashem’s words (that sustain the created universe)’. 

Granted, ‘seeing’ G-dliness would be ‘awesome’ kind of like a supersonic 20/20 vision. It would be having perfect and impeccable insight into the true reality and source of all existence. 

But how would that make the world Messianic and utopian?

This week’s Parsha describes the incredibly emotional reunion of Yosef with his brothers when they stood before him in Egypt. 

In a dramatic revelation, Yosef tells his brothers ‘I am Yosef’. 

They are stunned. They had absolutely not expected the Egyptian viceroy who seemed manipulative and scheming to be their long-lost brother. Their last contact with Yosef was when they had sold him into slavery more than two decades earlier. 

This revelation by Yosef that he was their long-lost brother, answered all their questions and dispelled all their suspicions. They now understood how the Egyptian viceroy knew to seat them according to their age when they had dined together. They now also understood why he had staged the theft of his special goblet having planted it into the sacks of Benyomin. 

This new piece of information reframed the entire situation. A new light had been shed on a previously confounding predicament.

Before this revelation, the sons of Yaakov were furious at this Egyptian manipulative tyrant. After they had learned of his true identity, they were now fully understanding that this had all been a charade for their own benefit. Yosef had created the right scenario to unmask himself. Before they had felt anger at the injustice of their treatment by the hands of Pharaoh’s’ right hand man. Now they felt a deep shame at their prior mistreatment of their brother Yosef when he was but a lad of seventeen years. 

It’s amazing what new information can do in terms of reframing. 

Can you imagine what the revelation of G-d’s presence will do to our perspectives?

Putting on 3D glasses is an exhilarating experience. 

Getting G-dl’y glasses is infinitely more enlightening. 

To perceive G-d as He is means many things on many levels.

The most basic implication is that the true purpose of our lives will become as obvious as the fact of our being. The dumbest animal does not leap into fire. 

The entire ‘flesh’, all of humanity, will receive that vision when Mashiach comes.

Can anybody steal when they ‘see’ G-d’s presence everywhere?

Is it possible for nations to do battle when Hashem’s glory is revealed?

When man will openly perceive the purpose of his existence, he will be no more inclined to act against it than he is to destroy himself.

This is why we toil so industriously and wait so anxiously for Mashiach’s coming. 

Everything will make sense. We won’t have questions. It will all be utopian. 

The good news is that we can try and get a glimpse of that vision now as well. By learning from our Torah, particularly the teachings of the inner wisdom of Torah as taught in Kabala and Chasidism. Click here to access a treasure trove of articles about G-d and us. 

It pays to get a head-start on delving into the unimaginable spiritual treats that await us. 

It’s like doing homework before you go on a journey…. Let’s say you are planning a trip to the Grand Canyon and you read all the descriptions about its beauty and magnificence. It cannot at all be compared to actually visiting and experiencing it. But it certainly primes you to notice all the nuances and details. 

If we study about the G-dly revelation that we are looking forward to, we will be able to say ‘aha’…. once they become a reality. ‘Aha’, that’s what the holy books were talking about’…. 

The Rebbe said that learning about the awaited for Messianic reality will actually hasten his coming. 

Let’s look forward to the that time coming speedily in our days!!!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

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