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Shabbat Shalom from Bangkok

Myriads of Jews ONE opinion!

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Two Jews three opinions?

We like to joke about ourselves that we are a people that can’t get along. 

The problem with some jokes, is that sometimes we start believing them. 

But its not true. We are not fragmented. We are united.

Yes, we bicker a bit here and there. So do all good families. But we are deeply connected with each other at the same time. 

And this is precisely the reason we argue a fair bit. 

Because we care about each other. And because we care about the future of Judaism. 

When you care, you get passionate and emotional. 

Sometimes you even say something you wish you wouldn’t have said. 

(This is one of the significant challenges of being quarantined for long periods together with your loved ones).

To me it seems that we now have an indisputable proof that we are a very united people.

The spread of ‘the virus’ (I don’t even want to call it by name…. this is an ancient Jewish practice) among the Jewish community is a shocking yet quantifiable proof.

See the below quote from a prominent American Jewish publication explaining why the American Jewish community has to be extra careful in precautionary measures against the virus:

That’s because Jews today are among the most socially intimate groups in the nation, according to data. The Jewish American community, from the most religious to the most secular, is at unique risk from the coronavirus because the density of Jewish social networks across all denominations is almost twice as thick as that of the average American.

In a grim way, it is obvious that we are a VERY united people. 

OUR UNITY is a VERY good thing. Nothing negative about that AT ALL.

From the medical perspective this means we need more urging about keeping distance and protecting each other by staying away from each other.

But let us always remember. Our CLOSENESS is our strength. 

Right now, our closeness and love is expressed not by hugging and hand-shaking, rather by staying distanced physically. 

But emotionally we need to be even more present for each other. 

Dear fellow Jews be heartened and inspired! 

You belong to a nation that practices mutual responsibility for each other. 

The Jewish people LOVES going to Synagogue. RELISHES going to weddings. 

Yet, for the love of each other the Synagogues are closed. Weddings are held outdoors under a Chupa and exactly a minyan all distanced from each other as mandated by the laws of the various countries.

We are terrified that G-d forbid someone should be infected inadvertently by someone else who unknowingly was carrying the virus.

We act this way because we love each other. 

And we act this way because we love G-d.

G-d has told us to cherish and protect life. The sanctity and sacredness of life is what the entire world is now focused on.

How fortunate we are to be G-d’s children.

Look at yourself, look at those around you, and recognize the unique expression of social responsibility that we are blessed to be able to perform. Albeit at great expense to our financials and with huge sacrifice in myriad ways.

I would like to use this line of thought as a plea to our Father in Heaven.

And I invite you to join me in this in a kind of ‘class action’:

The Torah teaches us that the Second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred between us. This was the final blow that thrust us into the exile that we have still not emerged from. Since then we have been persecuted and hounded and the world has been a morally lacking place. 

True, the world has shown signs of getting more civilized and morally sound, but these are baby steps compared to where we need to go.

Almighty G-d, it is quite clear that Your people is a united one! 

Now that we are certifiably and provably a loving and integrated nation, isn’t it only right that the sickness CEASE immediately, the exile be ended, Mashiach redeem us and the Temple be rebuilt again?

Perhaps we can go a step broader and further. 

Almighty G-d, 

Look at all the inhabitants of Your world, all of whom are created in Your image.

Look at the increased belief in You, G-d the Creator of the universe. No longer does anyone live with oversized and misplaced trust in might, money, power or fame. 

The tiny microbe has not skipped over royalty, government, militias or people of religious stature. 

There is no one who is not disrupted. No one who thinks they know or understand. Everyone is in a state of disbelief. 

All of humanity is in awe of Your absolute might and grandeur.

Some know how to say the word ‘G-d’, some still call You by your ‘disguised name’ ‘nature’ or other various names that really just mean You. 

This is the first step toward a new world order.

A world that fulfils its moral mandate of G-dly inspired laws for humanity. 

The reaction of humanity is astounding and inspiring.

The world has banded together to care more about human life than about money. Economies flounder but governments and society at large stay home to protect lives, one of the cornerstones of the Seven Universal laws given by G-d to the human race.

We need to ensure that when we emerge from this ‘war’ we rebuild a more G-dly, moral and compassionate world!

Let us pray. Together. Albeit from the individual homes and rooms that separate us physically but with a love and care that transcends the walls of bricks and mortars. Our collective voice will pierce the Heavens!

OUR FATHER OUR KING, SEND A COMPLETE HEALING TO OUR PEOPLE WHO ARE SICK!!!!

OUR FATHER OUR KING MAY THE SALVATION SPROUT FORTH IMMEDIATLEY!!!!

Prayers should be backed up with good deeds!

Do another mitzvah. 

If you have tefillin at home, put them on and say Shema.

Give charity to the cause of your choice.

Print out a magazine of Torah study and thought provoking articles to study over Shabbat.

Light candles before Shabbat eighteen minutes before sundown.

Say an extra prayer.

Make kiddush and usher in the sanctity and light of the Shabbat

Reach out to family and friends to touch them with your ‘virtual’ warmth and caring. 

Believe, that there will be a glorious future. 

It is a mitzvah to believe that MASHIACH is coming. Waiting in anticipation for him, speeds his arrival.

Let us enter the Shabbat TOGETHER in unity. 

With FAITH, with JOY with unshakeable TRUST in Hashem that all will be GOOD and IT WILL BE GOOD!!!!!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS if there is anyone looking for a way back to Israel here is a link to a flight that is being organized. I don’t know any details but I am passing it on in case it may be of use to those still stranded here. https://www.flyeast.co.il/contact-us.html





More Shabbat (not less)

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

It doesn’t make sense. 

But then again, nothing makes much sense these days.

This week’s Parsha is Vayakhel (& Pekudei, it’s a double one, as well as taking out a second Sefer Torah for reading Hachodesh about the upcoming Pesach).

The Parsha starts off about keeping Shabbat….

And just yesterday I sent out a notice that was painful and unprecedented about the cancelling of all communal Shabbat meals in Thailand.

It was one of those puzzling things.

How does the weekly Parsha fit with the current reality?

I know that cancelling our Shabbat meals it is all part of our love to G-d. But it still felt incongruous with the Parsha. (Click here for an explanation of how the love of G-d is keeping us away from communal Jewish expression at this time).

It dawned on me.

This whole situation is an invitation and a unique opportunity to have MORE Shabbat in our lives. Not G-d forbid less.

And I am NOT referring to the ever-widening swathe of lockdowns in many cities of the world. Meaning that people are forbidden from non-essential movements outside the home. This sweeping albeit necessary restrictions on people’s movements, I believe is mostly quite negative. Yet, negativity always has some positive aspects to it. So yes, when it comes to Shabbat in Israel, the side benefit of a lockdown is that in a most unifying way, millions of Jews will not do anything to publicly ignore the Shabbat. But the enforced inability to do things contrary to the spirit of Shabbat is not what I am referring to.

I am referring to the fact that hopefully the CELEBRATION of Shabbat will be upgraded this week. I am optimistic that the spirit of Shabbat will be accentuated in a POSITIVE way.

Let me explain why I think that this current situation is a perfect opportunity to have a Shabbat experience that is above and beyond anything we have yet experienced. 

It requires a bit of forethought and preparation though. 

First let me address you, my dear community member living in Thailand.

My wife and I don’t recall ever having eaten a Shabbat or Yom Tov meal in private with just our family, ever since we arrived in Thailand.

I say that with much joy. One of the highlights of our life is the communal celebration of Shabbatot and Chagim. 

The Friday night dinners, Shabbat lunches, Passover Seders, Rosh Hashana meals, Simchat Torah Kiddushim and all the other rip-roaring, inspiring, sensational times we have spent together, are always exhilarating and inspiring. 

Welcoming hospitality is what our centers in Thailand are known for. 

The Shabbat meals served at Chabad’s centers across Thailand often number close to two thousand per week and during peak seasons, surpass even that number. 

The Pesach Seders that host thousands of people in joyous inspirational unity are legendary. Pesach in Thailand has become a fixture that people have come to rely on. 

So much so, that moments after we put up a notice on our Facebook page about the possible disruption of our usual public Pesach Seders and the strong possibility that we will be rolling out alternate Pesach Seder plans, it became a news headline in the news in Israel. 

Canceling our unifying celebratory meals indicated the next stage of disruption to normalcy. Thailand the ‘mai-pen-rai’ (all is/will-be ok) destination, has also become affected.  

I asked myself in consternation. What will now be with Shabbat celebration in Thailand?

Calm down, I tell myself.

Shabbat is a gift from G-d to the Jewish People.

It is here with us for eternity.

Shabbat has been here since the dawn of creation. 

G-d created the world in six days and on the seventh day He rested. 

After the Jewish people left Egypt G-d gifted them this most delectable treat, SHABBAT.

Before Covid19 Jews have kept Shabbat. After Covid19 will be over and it will be like a bad dream, Jews will keep the Shabbat.

DURING THE DISRUPTION OF COVID19 JEWS WILL KEEP THE SHABBAT TOO. NOT TOO, DURING THE COVID19 WE WILL KEEP IT EVEN MORE.

More than we will keep the Shabbat, the Shabbat will keep US!!!

Nothing in our world is the same as it was even last week.

We need to take the time and invest the thought to adjust to the new situation. School have gone online. 

Preparing for Shabbat is no different. It to requires a reframing and adjusting.

Our sages taught us ‘he who toils and prepares before Shabbat will eat on Shabbat’. In other words, to truly be prepared for Shabbat one needs to invest some time, thought and energy into the Shabbat.

Till now we offered communal Shabbat meals. 

There is a great gift in coming to a communal Shabbat meal. 

Not much preparation needed. 

All you need to do is clear your schedule, freshen up and then ‘suit-up and show-up’. 

To do Shabbat on your own? 

You need to prepare. Perhaps even ‘toil’ a little.

But you know what? If you invest more in something, if you have to work harder to prepare for an event? 

You appreciate it more. It becomes more meaningful and special.

Click here for a comprehensive list of things to do to prepare for Shabbat

This is why I am sending out this email on Thursday. 

So that you have more time to prepare for Shabbat.

To get set up with food for the body. 

Chabad of Thailand will be happy to provide anyone in Thailand (in cities in which we have centers) with complimentary Candles, wine, challas, and a prayer book with the Kidush prayer. Kosher food can be ordered from our restaurants for delivery on Friday before Shabbat.

Contact me rabbi@jewishthailand.com +6681 837 7618 or Yossi Goldberg yg.kosher@gmail.com +6681 753 5071 to arrange delivery.

And it’s important to also prepare for Shabbat with ‘food for the soul’. Since we are ‘unplugged’ on Shabbat one needs to prepare reading material for studying and discussion (if you have others with you). on Shabbat we don’t just talk about our mundane lives. That would be too ‘weekday’ and be an affront to the sanctity of Shabbat. 

On Shabbat talk about things that are ‘Shabbat appropriate’. Torah is the best thing to think and talk about on Shabbat. Singing Jewish songs is an integral part of Shabbat.

HERE IS A MAGAZINE YOU CAN PRINT OUT (before Shabbat) ABOUT THE PARSHA AND OTHER VALUABLE INSIGHTS

One of the customs our family loves doing is going around the table and asking everyone to share one thing that they want to give special thanks to Hashem for. 

Shabbat is an island of normalcy and tranquility in the raging sea of tumultuous instability.

Try turning off all your electronics for the twenty-five hours of Shabbat.

You will have a G-dly given ‘detox’.

Light Shabbat candles (all candles are kosher for us for shabbat) at the proper time, within the eighteen minutes before sunset

Recite the Shalom Aleichem welcoming the Shabbat angels to your home. Some have the custom to bless their children at this time. Blessings can be done from afar and virtually. Positive thoughts about others have tremendous powers.

Recite the Kiddush over a glass of kosher wine, grape juice (or bread if you don’t have access to kosher grape juice or wine).

Say the Hamotzie over Challa/bread.

Have an unhurried meal.

Say a lechayim toast. Don’t talk about Corona, unless you mean the beer.

Read, discuss, think, about Torah concepts.

Sing, rejoice, relax. 

Annunciate the things you are thankful to G-d for. 

Let the Shabbat spirit pervade your being.

As the evening progresses, without being bombarded with the stimuli from social media, allow the relaxing aura of Shabbat envelop you in its warm embrace.

Because you have done all this at home, your bed is not more than a few steps away. 

Sleeping on Shabbat is also a Mitzvah. 

Have a meaningful Shabbat! 

A joyous shabbat!!!!

A HEALTHY SHABBAT!!!!!

And a great surprise awaits the world. Everyone knows that the world won’t be the same after COVID19. We pray that this disruption is the introductory stage to the coming of Mashiach which will usher in a world of PEACE, TRANQUILITY, a permanent SHABBAT like state. Keeping Shabbat hastens the arrival of Mashiach! AMEN.

Shabbat SHALOM

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS If you need to reach us on Shabbat for anything extremely urgent, please call Paew at 6684 728 8494

PPS I would love to hear how your ‘adjusted’ Shabbat went. Please email me after Shabbat with your experience. 

 

In a word. DISRUPTION

 

 

 

 
Jewish Thailand• Email: rabbi@jewishthailand.com• Phone:  66-2-663-0244  • www.JewishThailand.com
A Word From The Rabbi

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Purim has come but it has not yet gone.

Considering that the entire month of Adar is considered a joyous one, we are still empowered by the instruction of our Sages to be joyous during this month.

Someone who is seeing major hiccups in his China-based business just asked me ‘Rabbi, if this is a good month, what would a bad month look like’?

There is one word that seems to jump out at me regarding this whole world situation.

Disruption. 

Our lives have been disrupted.

As of now, the majority of problems I am hearing about are really all about disruption. 

Schools closed. 

Quarantined people. 

Travels plans cancellation. 

Financial fallout. 

Supply chain breakdown. 

Yes, there are ill people. 

Sadly, there are even fatalities.

For the friends and acquaintances that I am in touch with, and to whom these words are addressed, I find that it is not really their health they are so worried about. The main challenge of the Coronavirus is the disruption it is causing to their lives. 

And fear.

Fear of what? 

Fear of having been in the same room as someone who was discovered to be infected.

Mind you, what they fear about having shaken hands with an infected person is not fear for their health necessarily. 

 (I am aware that older people have to be even more careful as their immune systems are naturally weaker. It is a testament to our society that so much care is being taken to protect our elders from illness G-d forbid. May we remember to respect and cherish them when the epidemic is over as well not relegate them to mothers-day and fathers-day visits).

For most people its the fear of the unknown.

The fear of having to be quarantined for fourteen days.

The disruptiveness to the normal flow of life by being quarantined is significant. 

Disruption faces us all as the domino-effect of closures and restrictions continue. 

Lets discuss disruption in more depth.

Besides for being a major nuisance and source of angst, there is a side benefit to disruption.

It causes us to stop and reflect.

Our vulnerability and smallness become evident.

The suave and confident feeling of ‘being in control’ is lost. 

Money, with all of its feelings of invincibility, cannot buy you protection from this virus. 

Social status doesn’t help.

The wife of the Prime Minister of Canada is apparently infected. 

Guns and ammunition are of no help either. Some of the most fearsome terrorists in the world have been infected.

I have seem quite some ‘macho-men’ who tried to play down the seriousness and contagion rates of this disease that have been soundly disproven.

When your life cannot just continue ‘as usual’ you are forced to reassess. 

Optimists continue to point out that its not as bad and not as lethal and there are many ways to interpret the figures.

Pessimists will say that this time around it is they, the pessimists who have the upper hand. They point to many gloomy predictions that are coming true.

I will leave the optimists and pessimists to their wrestling.

One thing is for certain.

No one is unaffected.

While we pray and take natural precautions to stay away from being infected and may G-d protect us from being infected, by this stage, everybody is affected in some way.

After spending countless hours dealing with the disruptiveness of this epidemic, I wondered to myself, my friends question is a good question. 

How indeed does this massive disruption fit with the theme of joy and light that the month of Adar is endowed with?

Then it dawned on me.

We all know and believe that G-d is completely in charge of every single microorganism, and thus in total control of the entire universe. 

It is also clear that we are being forced to stop life as usual. 

In other words, G-d is definitely the One introducing this major hiccup in the worlds smooth functioning. 

When G-d brings upon us such a disruption what we ought to do is quite clear.

We should not feel punished or ‘beaten-up’ by Divine forces G-d forbid.

In Chasidic thought, most people are generally good and deserving of good lives. Disruptions and suffering are thus generally not brought upon people as retribution. Rather they are brought to help a person reflect and meditate on the trajectory of their lives. They are meant to soften a person’s rough exterior and insensitivity. 

We believe that G-d is the ultimate of Good. We don’t understand WHY sometimes bad things happen to good people, but we accept that we can’t expect to understand, as G-d is beyond our understanding.

Disruptive events cause one to be humbler and more reflective. This allows for a deeper sensitivity and connectivity to spirituality. When our egoistic armor is peeled away, we are more receptive and attuned to the G-dly presence in the world. 

How does our current period match up with other ‘wake-up calls’ by G-d? 

There have been many periods in the world’s history when G-d has introduced massive disruption.

Usually they have been quite tragic. 

War.

Famine.

Pandemics with huge fatalities.

True, we are suffering a massive cycle of disruption.

The word pandemic has been used by the World Health Organization. 

We hope it will be a far less deadly pandemic than the pandemics that have come before it over the centuries. The rate of fatalities is still to be seen. We need to do our very best to fight it. Besides for following the instructions of our governments, we need to pray to the Almighty that all those who are stricken, should recover fully.

For the most part though, the massive disruption is only to our preplanned schedules. To our financial systems. To our nerves. Most of us are sleeping in our own beds thank G-d. We are not running away from falling bombs G-d forbid. We are not starving, not knowing where our next bite of food will come from. 

What is undeniably already here and seems unrelenting, is the pandemic of chaos, fear and anxiety.

But that pandemic is something we DO have some control over. 

Now WHAT happens, but how we react to it. How much we allow it to infiltrate our lives. How depressed or gloomy we are at our breakfast or dinner tables. 

It is against that pandemic, the pandemic of fear, panic and confusion, that I wish to protest!

Our Torah portion tells us about what NOT to do in the case of disruption, fear and anxiety.

Don’t panic!

The Jewish people reacted in panic to Moses’ delayed arrival by making a golden calf. Click here for more on the topic.

What YES to do?

Have ‘Bitachon’ TRUST in the Almighty. 

In Rabbi Tzvi Freemans words: Situations may arise from time to time when you can’t see any natural means by which you can get out of this. At that point, bitachon needs to wake up and step up to bat. Rather than saying, “Woe is me! Who can help me?” you say, “My help is from G-d, who makes heaven and earth—and therefore can do whatever He wants with them.” (Click here for the complete article). 

When Israel was in a state of fear and turmoil in 1991, we were blessed with the calming saintly voice of the Rebbe who quoted the Torah as saying: ‘…Israel, too, will be thrown into turmoil and terror, and will cry: `Where shall we go? What shall we do?'  And G-d will say to them: `My children, do not fear! All that I have done, I have done only for your sake.  Why are you afraid?  Do not fear, for the time of your redemption has come...’”

Click here for the full article on ‘1991: Missiles and Miracles’ 

No doubt now too, the Rebbe would have a message of faith and optimism to calm the frayed nerves of our fatigued, frazzled, disrupted and confused world. 

The Rebbe would remind us that that its still the month of Adar. That the Torah teaches that simcha-happiness is a lightning rod that attracts good health and good spirit. 

That if you Think GOOD it will be GOOD!!!!

That the month of Adar is at its height and increasing in intensity as we advance further into the month. And therefore we should practice even more joy and happiness – SIMCHA during this last two weeks of Adar.

Click here for loads of information on joy and happiness.

And that MASHIACH IS ALMOST HERE, it is up to us to do more good deeds to make him comes even sooner.

Shabbat is about to start here in Bangkok and I can’t wait to be enveloped in the gift of the Shabbat, the ‘Noah’s ark’ of calmness. To turn off the relentless barrage of the media reports. To spend time in prayer to G-d, in studying and teaching Torah and in feasting and celebrating with my beloved family and community. 

Lechayim! To LIFE, To JOY! To HEALTH!!!!!

TO MASHIACH COMING NOW!!!!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Chaim Kantor

 

DO YOUR BIT TO FIGHT THE VIRUS: HAPPY PURIM 🎉

By the Grace of G-d

Dear NAME

Do your best to fight the virus!

PUT ON A MASK!!!

It’s Purim after all.

The reasons we wear masks on Purim?

Here is a smorgasbord of reasons:

Why do we get dressed up on Purim?

Let me focus on one of the reasons that I think is pertinent to us now.

A mask conceals and covers. 

The constant Providence of G-d, the guiding Hand that is always on the ‘steering wheel’ is also concealed and covered.

The miracle of Purim is a miracle that took place under wraps. It was guised as a natural event guided by political intrigues. 

Only from the perspective of hindsight can we see the miraculous in the events that took more than a decade to unfold.

On Purim we celebrate the miracle that wasn’t overtly ‘miraculous’ like the splitting of the sea. It was a miracle that could have been interpreted as being a series of lucky coincidences. 

Wearing a mask reminds us that things aren’t always the way they look.

Behind the mask lies something different. 

It’s not nature that runs its haphazard course and creates ‘coincidences’.

G-d is in charge. 

G-d makes the constant miracles that we call nature. 

He masks His presence so that we don’t see Him unless we choose to look beyond the masks.

My dear friends, now more than ever we have the chance to WAKE UP and realize that it is G-d who is the Master of the Universe. 

How big is a virus?

Virus particles are about one-millionth of an inch (17 to 300 nanometers) long. Viruses are about a thousand times smaller than bacteria, and bacteria are much smaller than most human cells. Viruses are so small that most cannot be seen with a light microscope, but must be observed with an electron microscope.

Yet, this miniscule, creature called a virus, has the entire world at its knees.

Click to read this story from the Talmud about Titus the Emperor of Rome

Our lives have all been affected by this little nothing. By this speck of viral matter. 

Superpowers. Space-age countries. All have been brought to their knees by this teeny-weeny brat. 

It seemingly has no boundaries and doesn’t recognize different religions or political affiliations. All are equally at risk. The contagion is universal. We struggle mightily with being able to contain it. Every once in a while, someone gets it and we can’t even find out how he picked it up.

This all points to one thing. 

It is time to peel away the veneer of our belief in haphazard evolution. 

It is time to wake up and identify the sophisticated denial of a Supreme Creator as being a subtle and genteel variation of idolatry. 

It’s time to put on our Purim masks and recognize that G-d is the Master of the Universe!!!!

If you are Jewish, you have a very timely opportunity during the next thirty-six or so hours. 

The gift of being able to help the world out of its great time of need.

How? 

By CELEBRATING PURIM. 

This afternoon as we near the end of Taanit Esther the fast of Esther, we give the Machatzit Hashekel half shekel about which the Torah uses the words ‘there will not be a plague’, and we pray to the Almighty for His constant benevolence to us.

This year, the entire world needs our prayers.

First of all, let us pray for Israel. The situation there is very tense. The economy is facing unprecedented challenges from the huge numbers of people in quarantine as well as the severe limitations on its borders and subsequent tourism fallout.  

As well the entire world is in distress. 

We need to pray on behalf of all of the inhabitants of the world, to send a Purim miracle to the world.

REVSERSAL of the sickness.

Eradication of the fear, panic and terror that grips us and threatens and disrupts our lives.

As there was for the Jewish People in Persia of yore, so may there be for us here and now ‘light and joy’!!!

Dear Friends,

There is something else I want to share. 

I want to invoke the memory of a more modern-day miracle and perhaps tap into that miraculous energy of contemporary times and thus ‘draw down’ the G-dly miracles that we are so desperately in need of now.

Twenty-nine years ago in the weeks and months before Purim, Israel was gripped with uncertainty and fear. 

Not from a virus. From missiles. 

Sadaam Hussein did not just threaten to rain down missiles on Israel. He actually sent barrages of missiles that landed on Israel.

However, MIRACLES happened. There were no direct fatalities. 

On February 28 1991 – PURIM DAY 14 Adar 5751 the Gulf War ended the miracle reached its crescendo. The regional conflagaration that had the potential to get unimaginably worse, ended with a ceasefire. On PURIM DAY.

The Rebbe had spoken about this beforehand, encouraging us to believe in G-d and anticipate miracles. 

Here is an article from ‘kabala online’ about the unfolding of these events from the Rebbe’s perspective.

The Rebbe wrote several letters just after these events, directing us to look at these event at the Divine G-dly miracles that they were. 

Not content with simply pointing out our responsibility to thank G-d for these miracles, the Rebbe encourages all of us to become "even more strongly aware that this is the time of urgent preparedness for the fulfillment of the prophecy 'and the kingdom shall be G-d's,' when all nations will recognize that... '(the world) has a Master' — a recognition that will lead 'all of them to call upon the Name of G-d, to worship Him with one consent.'"

Furthermore, in his signature manner, the Rebbe urges everyone to reciprocate to G-d by elevating our own "daily Jewish conduct to the level of the supra-natural... everyone, man and woman, elevated above their natural tendencies and habits, in the area of Torah study and doing Mitzvos with hiddur (excellence) in a manner of "multiple miracles," striving ever higher and still higher..."

Purim is about remembering the miracles and by wearing masks we remind ourselves that the miracles are still here with us. Constantly. We need but peel away the exterior and reveal the every steady guiding Hand of G-d in every single iota of existence.

Happy Purim!!!!

Do your bit for the world’s health. 


CELEBRATE PURIM WITH JOY

Rabbi Yosef Kantor


 

 

 

Erasing Doubt - Craving Clarity (Coronavirus)

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Confusion.

This is the word I would use to sum up the worldwide situation right now.

There is nothing at all clear about the Coronavirus.

The fatality rate is unclear. 

Is it really super-bad?

Or not as bad as it seems.

The infection rate is clearly impossible to determine conclusively.

How exactly does it spread, we know a lot, but there are still some mysteries.

Where does Thailand stand in this whole story? 

Israel obviously thinks Thailand is a hotbed for infection. Anyone coming from Thailand has to enter quarantine for two weeks. Other countries don’t seem to share that opinion as they haven’t placed any travel bans on people coming from Thailand thank G-d. What approach is right?

Even we who live in Thailand also don’t know. Some say the reporting by the authorities is true. Others posit that there are coverups and things are much grimmer than what is being reported. 

I humbly admit that I don’t know. 

The only thing that is crystal clear is that there is a lot of anxiety, panic and confusion.

Is confusion and uncertainty a negative thing?

Perhaps not always. But very often at least, doubt and insecurity are negatives. 

Faith, certainty and dependability are the pillars and foundations for a positive and well-balanced life.

We all know that to raise children healthily we need to provide them a secure environment. Its much the same for adults as well.

Stability, clarity, steadiness and predictable reliability are craved by most human beings. 

We get disproportionately fearful and even terrified from the unknown. 

This is what seems to be adding to the prevalent fear. sUnlike the ‘common’ flu, this virus is highly uncommon and till very recently totally unknown. 

Is there is a pandemic in the world right now.

Medically? I don’t know for certain. I think it depends who you ask.

Mentally and emotionally? Definitely. The pandemonium has crossed all borders and affected all aspects of life.

Nothing is clear anymore. The future seems unpredictably disrupted. Supply chains. Airline schedules. From toilet paper supplies running out in several countries around the world because of mass-hysteria hoarding, to Passover plans being called into question as travel bans are increasingly broadened. All plans seem open for renegotiation. 

Clarity and Holiness go together. 

This week we take out two Torah’s.

In the first one we read the portion of Tetzaveh. One of the topics in the Parsha is about the ‘Urim Vetumim’. This was a function of the breastplate, one of the High Priests special articles of clothing, which allowed the leadership of the Jewish people to get divine answers to critical questions. Click here for more. It would be very helpful in our current situation to be able to ask G-d about how we should react to this virus. Sadly, this level of Divine communication is unavailable to us since the First Temple’s destruction. 

After the destruction of our first Bet Hamikdash the level of G-d’s revelation in our world decreased and was not yet recovered. We need Mashiach to come for its reinstatement. 

What we do have available though, is access to G-d’s timely wisdom as taught in the Torah. 

Let’s take a look into the Torah to glean some sanity and shed some light on our current situation. 

In the second Torah reading tomorrow, we read the portion of “Zachor’, ‘remember what Amalek did to you when you were on your way, leaving Egypt’.

The numerical value of Amalek is ‘safek’ which means doubt. 

A clear pattern emerges here.

Clarity is G-dly. 

Doubt is Amalek – our archenemy. 

Here is what I have to offer. 

For doubts? For pessimism? You don’t need me. There is Google. If you are looking for the bad news, there are plenty of news sources and analyses that give you doomsday responses. 

What I would like to share with you is articulation of the clarity that G-d has transmitted to us through the Torah.

First of all, try to get rid of anxious thoughts. Think about positive pleasant things.

The Torah teaches that joy borne of faith and optimism is the best therapy for creating a healthy and positive outcome. 

The panic and pessimistic defeatism is just not the way we are supposed to live.

I too want to send you to Google. It’s a great source of knowledge. But only once you are fortified with the Torah perspective of being joyous. With a reframed perspective that has you searching for good news not for bad news. If you are looking with that illuminated perspective, you will dig up articles in which you will get a healthy dose of optimism. There are plenty of those too. It depends what you are looking for.

Secondly, act responsibly. The Torah says that doctors were give the Divine mandate to heal. Optimism doesn’t mean irresponsibly putting your head in the sand. 

Follow the instructions of the medical establishment in your country. 

Some may ask, if this is a medical crisis what does faith have to do with it? Isn’t it purely scientific?

The answer is that G-d is the creator of our universe. Every cell is created by G-d. Every atom, to be more precise, every proton neutron and electron, is created by G-d. 

G-d is still at the helm of His universe calling all the shots.

He and He alone, oversees who gets the virus, how it is transmitted, the effect it will have on the one who is smitten and the subsequent rate of recovery.

The very building blocks of nature are miraculously created and enlivened by G-d. 

G-d himself has told us in the Torah that living by His instructions is a source of blessing and healing. 

Strengthening our faith and trust in G-d is in itself the most powerful tool and a pivotal catalyst for prevention and healing from all sickness.

JOY is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal. Click here for ‘The Chassidic Approach to Joy.

This month is the month of Adar.

Click here for a powerful thought about this.

Adar is about reversal. 

Changeover from negativity to positivity. 

Purim was a hundred- and eighty-degree turnaround from sadness to joy.  

From fasting and mourning to feasting and rejoicing.

I will go as far as to say that I believe unequivocally, the best way to help yourself, your family, your community, your country and the world at large is to (I will write it in large font):

CELEBRATE PURIM JOYOUSLY. MORE JOYOUSLY. EVEN MORE JOYOUSLY

Click here for a quick joyous thought about this 

And no less importantly (and in the same size font): 

RESPONSIBLY, MORE RESPONSIBLY AND EVEN MORE RESPONSIBLY 

Here in Thailand based on the local government instruction this is our Synagogues policy:

We are going to encourage people to celebrate Purim of course. And we are going to encourage people to be responsible.

How to celebrate Purim?

As we have done for the last thousands of years. Hearing Megilah, gifts of good to exchange with friends, monetary gift to the poor and a Purim feast with plenty of ‘lechayim’ and oodles of joy!

Click here for the four mitzvahs of Purim and for a wealth of teaching and knowledge about Purim

And responsibly. If you don’t feel well, stay at home so as not to G-d forbid spread anything contagious (even if it’s ‘only’ the ‘old-fashioned’ flu). 

Handshaking? I would suggest that you not be the first to extend your hand to someone else so as not to potentially embarrass him. If someone extended their hand to you? I think it depends on your own personal levels of anxiety. Whatever the case, wash your hands thoroughly as often as you can.

While our Purim party has changed locations based on the reality of less visitors, as well as implementing financial austerity measures during these challenging times, I do realize that some people may be wary about attending a public event at the shul. 

I have good news. Not wanting to attend a large avent does not at all have to interfere with your celebrating Purim properly. 

Purim does not absolutely require big crowds. One can hear the megillah with a minyan in a smaller setting. Giving a food gift to one other person is simple. Money to the poor can be fulfilled online www.jewishthailand.com/tzedaka and you can party away in a smaller setting. Plenty of good kosher wine for saying lechayim is available at www.jcafekosher.com as well as many flavors of hamantaschen (poppyseed, halva, chocolate and maybe one or two others).

To accommodate the current situation, we have added additional Megillah readings during the day which will be attended by smaller groups of people. 

If you feel very anxious about coming to Synagogue contact me privately about the possibility of having someone read the megillah in your home.

Now back to Joy.

Something that made me really bursting with Jewish Pride and Happiness this week, was the NY Saturday night TIMES SQUARE CTEENS event. Click here if you too want to be inspired and energized and if you have a little more time, and want to feel youthful, the very moving dinner with speeches and all is also online here.

Back to PURIM!!!

MIRACLES HAPPENED ON PURIM

MIRACLES CONTIUE TO HAPPEN ON PURIM

MAY THIS PURIM BRING ALL THE MIRACLES WE NEED and PRAY FOR!!!!!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS as stated above:

Megilah reading times at Bet Elisheva:

The evening Megillah reading will be on Monday March 9th 18:45 (6:45 PM)

The daytime Megillah will be read on Tuesday March 10th 

At Shacharit (Prayers begin at 7:00 AM) 7:45 AM

Other Megillah Readings 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM and at the party 5:00 PM and final reading at 6:00 PM

PPS Who is right? The optimists or the pessimists? In my thinking, the optimists are praying that they are right. And the pessimists are also praying that the optimists are right. So what chance do the pessimists stand? 😊



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