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Shabbat Shalom from Bangkok

Humbled, not Overwhelmed

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friends,

This evening the holiday of Shavuot begins. Shavuot is the season of "the giving of our Torah".

This year commemorates 3,332 years since the revelation and Sinai and the giving of the Torah.

Our sages teach us that the giving and receiving of the Torah takes place again spiritually every year. 

The Torah was given in the desert a place where there is no ownership to remind every Jew of their equal access to the Torah. 

The desert is a place which is "unplanted" this reminds us that in order to truly study Torah, the word of Hashem, we must have a humble approach, like a barren land waiting to be planted. 

If we study Torah while we are blossoming with our own prior knowledge, we may study the Torah with a subjective approach and not be proper vessels for the word of Hashem. 

Up to this point in this article I have copied and pasted from the youngest sibling in our family, Rabbi Yaakov Kantor of Chabad Lugano Switzerland.

I read the words and they jumped out at me as being so true. His style is to say deep things in few words. 

I enjoyed his thoughts and found them so pertinent. Especially the part about being humble.

Humbled is a better word than overwhelmed. 

Overwhelmed comes together with anxiety because we are not in control.

Humility allows us to invite knew knowledge and deeper appreciation of G-d into our beings.

The mountain of Sinai was a small mountain.

The greatest gift and revelation of all times was not given on the tallest mountain of all. 

Arrogance can never be a vessel for true blessing. When you are full, you have no room to receive. 

Humility. 

Not worthlessness. 

A mountain, not a valley. 

But a ‘humble’ small mountain. 

Our world is in a state of humbleness. 

Should you be overwhelmed? 

Not at all. 

Depressed?

G-d forbid!

Open to change. Yes. 

At this time so many of us are looking for direction and redefinition. 

Praying and hoping to emerge from our lockdowns into a ‘new normal’ that is kinder, friendlier, and more altruistic.

The Torah defines to us what ‘normal’ should be. The Torah defines for us what true morality is. To be liberated is not to do whatever you feel like. 

Liberty is to live a life of meaning and purpose. 

The first words of the Ten Commandments say it all.

“I am G-d who took you out of Egypt”.

The commentaries all ask, why does G-d use Exodus to describe who he is? Wouldn’t it be more impressive to use his credentials of being the creator of heaven and earth?

If you were G-d, what would you write on your ‘name card’? Exodus or creation ex-nihilo?

Click here for the answer in one minute and 19 seconds.

The lesson here is that even though the Torah looks like a web of instructions, restrictions and selflessness, it is all coming from G-d who takes us out of Egypt. 

G-d takes us out of the ‘big’ Egypt, where we were slaves, sweating away with bricks and mortars. 

G-d gave us the Torah to release us from our inner Pharaohs as well.

There is an antidote to our enslavement to our egos, materialistic urges and mindless passing of time.

It is called the TORAH.

In this atmosphere of the search for direction and meaning, the Torah will be received with even more joy and gratefulness.

Most importantly, we are more open to change, than any other year.

Everything around has changed.

Lets take the opportunity to CHANGE as well.

Adopt a new mitzvah to your life.

Strengthen your observance of a mitzvah you are already performing.

Add some Torah study to your schedule.

Intensify your acts of charity!!!

The Torah teaches that benevolent acts of charity and kindness, tzedakah, are the cornerstone of Judaism.

Chag Sameach,

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS Treat yourself to an inspirational story about raw acts of loving kindness and their power in this world and the next.



 

Was quarantining the easy part?

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Babies cry upon birth.

Do you blame them?

It’s traumatic. 

For nine months the fetus was safely ensconced in the mother’s womb. Mothers usually do everything that they can to make that experience as pleasant and healthy as possible.

Emerging from that protective enveloped state to the outside world as an independent being, is fraught with challenge.

It only gets more challenging.

Reminiscing about my own childhood, kindergarten was an okay experience for me as far as I can remember. Entering first grade was far more anxiety filled. I have the blessing of exemplary parents, may Hashem bless them with long happy and healthy years, who were most supportive, but exiting the familiarity of kindergarten to enter the classroom dressed in uniform and school cap (Australia style) was a radical change.

Birthdays are nonetheless days of celebration. It may be a greater challenge to have been born, but it is also a great gift. Good things are not easier, but they are certainly better. 

Nine months in the womb is great. Ten months has the doctors worried. Mothers get very jittery after the ‘due date’ passes. Birth is a very welcome stage for everyone. Even though undeniably it also is more challenging for the baby. Growth and development require effort and energy.

Like a fetus in a womb, quarantining for as long as is absolutely needed is tolerable and necessary. It’s difficult in some way but its very relaxing in other ways. For many it allowed for pushing the looming problem off to be dealt with at a later date. 

Coming out of quarantine is more challenging. Just like birth. 

My dear friends. Look around at the world and you will see something undeniable. 

Closing down our countries was the relatively easy part. Nobody wanted to be an accomplice to spreading a killer virus that was claiming life after life. In the face of a raging forest-fire bravado is not on the menu. That would be sheer lunacy. The vast majority of society was in consensus that the virus was an uncontainable raging fire that threatened to overwhelm our health systems.

Reopening our societies and economies is hardly that consensus filled. On the contrary it is rife with contention and opiniated individuals hurling accusations against each other. Each one retorts that the other is insensitive to the realities of the situation.

I have not come to advocate for any side. There are multiple issues that have to be resolved. There are enough opinion givers out there.

What I would like to impart with these few short lines, is the urgent need for absorbing the timely message of unity that our Torah advocates. 

We are in challenging times.

During times of war, unity is somewhat easier as there is a common enemy to fight against.

It is when the war is over and peace reigns that the real challenge of unity begins.

The Jewish people arrived at the mountain of Sinai six weeks after their liberation from Egypt.

The Torah describes their encampment at Sinai as being unified as one. To the extent that the word used to describe their encampment at the mountain is not ‘they encamped’ rather ‘he encamped at the mountain’. Referring to the entire people of Israel, some 2-3 million souls. The people of Israel was unified at the foot of the mountain of Sinai as one person with one heart. 

They no longer had the common Egyptian enemy to unite them. They were united by something far greater and more inspiring, by the ultimate unifying force. G-d.

Being in the presence of G-d Who is awe inspiring and exaltaed beyond description, melted away their natural differences and they molded together as one. They were united as one in the common goal of connecting to G-d.

This encampment took place 3,332 years ago, six days before the giving of the Torah. It was on Rosh Chodesh, the first day of the month of Sivan, which corresponds this year to Sunday May 24.

Every year we reflect on this message when this time of the year comes around. The Jewish year, with its holidays is a cycle of recurring spiritual influences, with each year bringing a new dimension to the cycle

The G-dly gift of an ‘energy boost’ and a spiritual ‘grant’ of being able to generate unity couldn’t come at a more opportune time. As we emerge from solitude and reengage in society. 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could emerge from our cocoon of quarantine with a deeper appreciation of the gift of society?

We can. If we only focus on our common goal as given to us by G-d at Sinai. 

613 mitzvahs for the Jewish people,

7 universal laws for the entire body of humankind.

By definition, it is more difficult to interact with others than to be all alone.

Pay attention to todays date. 5/22/2020. Almost all 2’s. the only non 2 number is the 5. 

Herein lies the key to unity.

1 is unity because there is no one to fight with. 

Quarantined.

2 provides the possibility of conflict. 

Reemerging to Society.

3 is the mature understanding that 1 can coexist with 2 and create a cohesive society that agrees to disagree on some things and agree on others. Most importantly, 3 means that at all times we maintain respect and tolerance for each other.

(The secret of marriage is inviting the presence of G-d into the marriage. The two opposite partners in the marriage, male and female are both merged through their common surrendering to the presence of G-d in their midst). 

The gift of 3 is the gift of Torah. 

The Talmud notes the predominance of the number three: “A threefold Torah, to a threefold people, through a third-born, on a third day, in the third month.” (Shabbat 88a). click here for more on this.

Unity is not easy. Never was. Especially now. But NOW is the time to try.

When this time period comes around, it’s a special opportunity to generate unity.

Unity starts at home. In your own self. Be aware of who you are and what is realistically expected of you. It’s painful to live with unrealistic expectations of oneself. Be realistic. A spiritual mentor may help you see yourself objectively.

Think about who you are not getting along with. Can those relationships be healed? Some relationships are best left alone, and some require distancing because of the pain involved. But in many instances, we will discover that we could be more tolerant, respectful and even loving of each other.

Hey, with a little bit of G-dly help, that can easily turn into what seems elusive, UNITY.

G-d would be delighted if we were more unified. We would be the first to gain if there were unity as G-d’s Blessed presence is manifest where there is unity.

NOW, as we emerge from the ‘womb’ into ‘real life’, is the time to take up the challenge. 

Let’s eliminate fighting.

Moreover, let’s adopt tolerance and respect.

Let’s take the plunge to be peel away our ‘ivory towers’ even if it means being vulnerable to a certain extent, and embrace unity!!!

Together!!!!

As one united people of Israel we will once again receive the Torah on Shavuot. Some synagogues will be open, others will be closed. Some people are still self-isolating, some have no choice, they have to go to work, and are out there living life as best as they can within the rules. Some are more adventurous and think that its ridiculous to have all this social distancing. Some are super cautious and point to the warnings of a possible second wave G-d forbid. Some go further to call the second wave inevitable, barring a miracle that is. We can certainly all pray that G-d prove them wrong while taking natural precautions at the same time.

I don’t know who is right. 

I do know that 

  1. We need to keep to local laws.

  2. We need to agree to respect the differing approaches that we may have within that framework of adhering to the local governmental laws.

  3. We need to aim for UNITY in our families and communities as we prepare for receiving the Torah on this coming Shavuot – Thursday night May 28 – Saturday night May 30.


Shabbat Shalom

Chodesh Tov

Rabbi Yosef Kantor


Self View on Zoom

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Lag Ba’omer has come and gone.

Right?

Wrong!

Jewish Holidays come but they never go.

Their message shapes us and presents us with a different perspective on everything we do.

Lag Baomer is about the students of Rabbi Akiva stopping to die by plague.

The Talmud gives the reason for the plague as ‘they did not practice respect for each other’.

Rabbi Akiva himself had taught them that ‘Love your fellow as yourself, is the great rule of the Torah’. Sadly, they fell short of living up to what was expected of them as students of this great sage. This earned them a harsh consequence which we mourn till this very day. See the Rebbe’s teaching about this. And A short video about this

Clearly, Lag Baomer is thus a day that reminds us and empowers us to be more mindful of treating others with respect. 

Lag Baomer is also the celebration of the passing of the great sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai the author of the Zohar. This bring great joy with it. Click here for a teaching from the Zohar from our Parsha. It will be helpful in looking at your fellow more endearingly. 

In some respects having a pandemic in the technology age of 2020 enables us to interact with others far more than ever before.

There are many similarities between our current plague and the ‘Spanish Flu’ plague.

In 1918 quarantining was the main way to bring down the flu epidemic that raged through the world.

In 2020, quarantine is still the main way to reduce the numbers and spread of infection.

Masks were mandatory or heavily encouraged in 1918. Same in 2020.

In some respects though, there are major differences. 

For one, in 1918 there was no Zoom. In 2020 there is Zoom.

At face value I would say, what a great tool we now have to connect to others.

‘Love your fellow as yourself’ would seem easier now. For starters, you can be in contact with so many others, even while staying safely quarantined.

Family gatherings via Zoom are very popular. Class reunions are on the rise. My sisters did a great cooking session called ‘Sisters Cook Shabbat’, four sisters over three time zones. (Some great recipes there)

On the surface it seems that we are really more into interacting with others than ever before.

Quarantining is a lot easier now that it would have been before the internet age.

Boy am I happy I am not in 1918….

But, this week as I was wearing my mask, (I try to be religious about fulfilling G-d’s commandments and during this period we need to be religious about protecting lives by not spreading germs G-d forbid) and feeling ever breath of my own carbon monoxide that I was inhaling, I realized that I was thinking about myself a lot. Every breath in and every breath out is an opportunity to thank G-d, no doubt. But it is also a very strong feeling of ‘self’.

That got me thinking.

About how much I have been looking at myself lately. In Zoom. In Facebook. In pre-recording my classes. 

Are we really thinking more about others now than we did in 1918? 

Or do we perhaps need to take precautions to ensure that our new tools are tweaked in a way that they lead us to be loving to others, not just feeling, seeing and thinking about ourselves.

Let me give you some examples.

I have found that it is very common practice for people that post on Facebook to check the amount of ‘likes’ in response to their ‘Facebook Live’ posts.

Which leads to the question. Do you post to benefit others? Or are you posting to create popularity for yourself?

It reminded me of a dating joke.

The guy doesn’t stop speaking about himself. Finally, he takes a break. He asks her, ‘enough about me, now let me hear about you. what do you think about me’?

I discovered that when ‘Zooming’ with people I am attracted to looking at my own face in the screen.

By speaking to people and doing rudimentary ‘Google searches’ I now know that this phenomenon is quite standard and normal. Yes, most humans seem to be attracted to look at themselves on the Zoom screen. And there are many articles that discuss this.

During a Torah class I mentioned that I would really like not to have my own picture on my screen. A community member who is almost eighty, (I mention his age to dispel the notion that the elderly are somehow technology impaired 😊) told me how to fix the Zoom issue. He directed me to the top right corner where there is an option to ‘hide self-view’. So that you can be seen but you don’t see yourself. The reason he found this option is cute. At the beginning of the lesson we couldn’t hear him. Something had gone awry with his microphone. In fiddling around to find the issue, he found the above option of ‘hide self-view as well’. This gave us a vivid reminder that everything is by Divine Providence.

I tried it. 

And I love it.

You can see others without being distracted by yourself.

‘Love your fellow as yourself’.

There is a prerequisite to that. 

You have to first be able to SEE your friend. If you are too caught up and self-consumed, you will not even see anyone else.

This reminds me of a wonderful story I heard as a child.

About a generous man who became wealthy. Sadly, with this wealth came a downgrade in his generosity. One of the favorite upgrades to the newly wealthy persons home, was the ornate mirror that was positioned in his dining room. His Rebbe came to visit and soon noticed this sad change in his disciple.

Then the Rebbe said to Abraham, "It is strange, is it not? A mirror and a window are both made of glass and yet they are very different."

"What do you mean?" asked Abraham.

"Well," said the Rebbe, "when you looked in the mirror you could only see yourself and the things that belong to you. You could see much more when you looked out the window. Then you could see all your neighbors and friends from the whole town."

"That is true," said Abraham. "A mirror and a window are both made from glass. The window is transparent. Light can pass right through it. It is clear and you can see everything through it. The mirror, on the other hand, is covered with silver on one side. The rays of light cannot pass through, and therefore a mirror can only reflect what is in front of it."

"I see," said the Rebbe and nodded his head. "I see. The piece of glass that is plain is clear through and through, allowing you to see others and their lives. But when it is covered with silver, then you can see only yourself. Hm, very interesting. It is really quite fantastic, isn't it? Now do you think it will work the other way too? Could you take a mirror and scrape off the silver so that you would be able to see everyone else instead of yourself?"

Abraham's eyes filled with tears. He felt so ashamed. Finally, he was beginning to understand everything that had happened to him since he became rich.

This is the punch line, but I suggest that you actually read the story in its entirety. Its great to share with kids as well.

Wealth is a fantastic resource to have. You can be of help to so many people. 

This weeks (Double) Parsha Behar-Bechukotai contains fantastic blessings. The verse says:

God continued to instruct Moses what to convey in His name to the people: “If you make sure to advance in the knowledge of My rules by studying the Torah assiduously, i.e., beyond the minimal requirement, and you make sure to study the Torah with the intent to safeguard your proper performance of My commandments, and then indeed perform them properly,

I will reciprocate by granting you material beneficence that exceeds the limitations of nature: I will give you the rains in a manner most favorable to your benefit and convenience: They will fall in their time—i.e., the time I have designated for them exclusively—nighttime, when people are not outdoors working the land. This way, you will be able to work the land by day unhindered by rain. Moreover, I will further limit the rainfall to the time most convenient for you—the Sabbath night, when no one is usually about. Miraculously, the land will yield its full produce from the rain that falls during this short weekly period. Also miraculously, the naturallybarren tree of the field will give forth its fruit.

There will be so much grain that threshing will occupy you until the grape harvest, and harvesting the grapes will occupy you until the time for sowing the fields again for grain. But you will not need this overabundance for yourselves, since your food will be so miraculously satiating that you will be able to eat just a small amount of your food to satiate yourselves. You will live in security in your land, i.e., without fear of drought. 

G-d considers wealth to be a great blessing that He bestows upon people. For when things are good for us materially we can do so much more good. Simply, when you are rich you can give more Tzedaka, when you are healthy you can help others more and study more Torah. With resources, we can live our meaningful lives to an even fuller extent. 

But we need to be cautious not to fall into the pitfalls of the challenges that wealth brings with it.

Technology is an immense gift of wealth that G-d has granted our generation. 

Let us use it for its intended purpose. 

To be a vessel to fulfil Hashem’s plans for this world.

Let us make sure that Lag Baomer has influenced us to SEE others and to LOVE others just as much as we SEE, feel and LOVE ourselves.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor


Speak up UP

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

A little six-year-old boy won’t talk. 

His Mother takes him to the doctor, who says, “He’s fine. Just give him time." 

A couple months later, his Mother takes him to a Child Psychologist, who says, "He's fine. Just give him time." 

A couple months later, his Mother is cooking his breakfast and she accidentally burns his toast. Scraping the burnt toast over the sink, She thinks to herself, "He'll never know the difference". And she serves the toast. 

As she turns back to the sink, the little boy says, “This toast is burnt!" 

Shocked, the Mother turns and says, “What did you say?" 

"This toast is burnt!" 

She says,"OMG! You're talking! What happened? Why did you take so long to talk?" 

"Up till now, everything was OK."

I was reminded of this joke when in connection with the name of this week’s portion which is ‘Emor’ which literally means ‘say’.

What should you say? 

Isn’t it better to ‘not say’?

Well it depends what you are about to say.

Granted, it is safer and easier to remain silent and say nothing at all. 

That is the punch line of the above joke. It was easier for the kid to be quiet. Everything was going fine. Only when something went wrong did he find it necessary to speak.

You will not get into trouble by not talking. You won’t say anything wrong.

On the other hand, you will be losing out on so much.

There is so much that can be achieved by positive speech. 

Expressing your gratitude to those who care for you.

Complimenting someone else about something nice they have done. 

Giving someone encouragement when they go through difficult times. 

The power of positive reinforcement is very well known.

The name of this week’s Parsha says it all. It reminds us to say positive things. The Torah is encouraging us to use our power of speech to be uplifting, inspirational and complimentary of others.

Our choice of words can have far reaching results.

There is a fascinating program I just saw where the Rebbe addresses a meeting of disabled Israeli war veterans during a visit they paid to the USA click here to see the fascinating program 

The Rebbe expressed his unease with the term usually used to describe this group in Hebrew which was ‘Nechei Tzahal’ the ‘handicapped of the IDF’ and insisted on referring to them as ‘Metzuyanei Tzahal’ the ‘exceptional of the IDF’.

As the Rebbe went on to explain, if the Almighty had challenged them in this way, He had definitely given them extraordinary and exceptional abilities to overcome obstacles that other ‘ordinary’ people didn’t have access to.

That extraordinariness needed to be appreciated, not hidden away from sight or shied away from.

This was in 1976. 

It was an inspirationally progressive way of reframing what had traditionally been spoken of in depressing language.

On the one hand we pray from the depth of our hearts that all children be born healthy and that all of humanity be blessed with fully formed bodies and fully functional systems. 

We thank Hashem every morning for all of the blessings of our senses and our bodily form and functions. We dare not take all those phenomenal blessings for granted.

On the other hand, there is something unique and exceptional about those who are created differently. 

As a society and as a people we would be sorely lacking if we didn’t include and learn from the exceptional people in our midst. 

 At the core of the Rebbe’s teachings is that none of us is complete unless all of us are included. 

This concept did not remain in the realm of speech. It led to the birth of one of the most heartwarming programs. 

The ‘Friendship Circle’ with more than eighty chapters around the world.

Here is a brief look at their work (taken from their website).

How we see it:

Everyone in this world has a unique purpose. When we focus on abilities instead of disabilities, those with special needs can be part of the strongest friendships and influence people in positive ways that others can’t. Unwavering acceptance, positive thinking, honesty, and commitment are just a few of the important lessons these individuals teach by example.

What we do

Friendship Circle chapters in local communities create meaningful relationships and friendships between teen volunteers and children with special needs, increasing confidence, igniting dreams, and redefining worldviews for both parties.


 

Words used properly have the power to uplift and motivate! 

They create change in the world!

Focus on the exceptional. Not on the handicapped. 

I like this catchy phrase which has become popular during our current crisis.

Wash your hands well. And every time you do, remember whose hands you are in.’

Join the forces of creating change for the better through positive thoughts, speech and action!

Every thought, speech or action adds to the growing force of good energy and loving-kindness amassing in the stratosphere pushing the world ever-closer to the Redemption. 

Say something loving to a family member or friend.

Keep silent from saying something disparaging.

Never talk about other people behind their backs.

Compliment someone when you see them doing something positive

Zoom and all other forms of communications are great tools for all of this. Its never been easier to communicate! People have never had more time to listen and think! Humanity is inspired and ready to change for the better.

May Mashiach come NOW!!!!

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS if you have the time to listen to a heartwarming

story of ‘compassion done exquisitely’ I think you will be inspired. 


 

 

Keep Fruit Discard Peels

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

The world, our generation, has been given a global situation that is unprecedented.

A situation that is beyond our control. 

Beyond any human beings’ control.

A problem of universal proportion. There isn’t a single country that one could have run to, to hide from the proliferating disease.

Who IS controlling it?

G-d of course.

Everyone knows that.

The death, pain and suffering are also well known. We do not seem to be able to escape it. Wherever we turn there are people in need of healing and those who need to be comforted for the loss of a loved one. 

More than two decades ago, as a young man, Benny Wolf then a Yeshiva student, came to Bangkok to volunteer at the fledgling Chabad House for Israeli backpackers. Tragically he passed away last Friday night from complications of pneumonia at age 43. In his short life he managed to achieve great things as a Chabad shliach to Hanover, Germany where he was laid to rest. May his memory be a blessing. Benny was buried in Hanover and his wife and eight children will continue their mission in Hanover. Click here for more. 

There are many other changes that have taken place in our perception of life.

For starters, this situation is humbling beyond our imaginations. 

Having the entire worlds humming norms brought to their knees, has brought about a universal recognition regarding the limitations of humankind.

It has caused us to look for existential solutions. To turn to the Supreme Being, G-d the source of all life and pray for His help.

It has caused us to reassess the sanctity of life.

The sanctity of every life.

Societies have locked down to preserve life.

Trillions of dollars have been lost so that lives are not lost.

What a powerful statement the world has made. Human life is sacred. Why? Because the Creator has transmitted this message of Divine morality to humanity during the communication at the mountain of Sinai. Because every human being has been created in the image of G-d. Nobody has questioned this absolute value. How inspiring to witness this universal commitment to the preservation of life. 

We have witnessed a sharpening of our core ideals and values vis a vis interpersonal relationships as well.

This week’s Torah portion teaches us that the central rule of the Torah, ‘Love your fellow as yourself’. Or as Hillel paraphrased it, ‘don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want done to you’.

Humanity has risen gallantly to the challenge of reaching out to help each other.

First responders, medics, nurses, doctors, food suppliers, teachers, government leaders, religious leaders are all performing valiantly.

Simple citizens are helping wherever and however they can. Creativity abounds. I read an article about some Jewish teens making masks out of kippahs as many people have stacks of kippahs from bar mitzvah and wedding celebrations that could easily be turned into face masks. There are ordinary people who are providing food for others. Some are volunteering to buy supplies for the elderly. Visits to those who are homebound are taking place through porches and windows. 

The list goes on and on.

And let us not forget the great gift that the world has received called ‘ZOOM’.

Social distancing is difficult. 

It is difficult for people to be at home all alone.

There are many elderly people who have many kids, even more grandchildren and feel totally isolated from their loved ones.

Imagine what a young couple feels like when their marriage turns to a less than twenty-person event. 

Especially during funerals when emotions run high, it is difficult to stay away.

We buried someone yesterday. A sweet Jew by the name of Daniel Dvir. I asked our community to please understand that in the current situation we wanted to do a burial with a minyan of ten Jewish men, but we didn’t want to have more than that.

Daniel was a popular fellow. He was sweet. Spoke a little but did a lot. Personable. Helpful to others without letting his beneficiaries know that he was their benefactor. I only discovered after his passing how tragic and challenging his childhood and teen years were after losing his mother Devorah at a young age.

There were scores of people who wanted to attend the funeral. More than eighty people joined the ZOOM broadcast of the funeral. Yet, our community obviously respected the need for limiting the number of attendees and agreed to stay at home and participate remotely.

ZOOM to the rescue.

Good on ZOOM. For making our lives more manageable. For bringing people together.

I find myself more busy teaching Torah than ever before. Via ZOOM. 

An hour before Shabbat I do a ZOOM pre-Shabbat gathering. 

Yesterday I spoke to a large girls high school in Israel. Via ZOOM of course. 

I have been able to attend gatherings and meetings that I usually could not have attended. Via ZOOM.

ZOOM is a great tool.

From their IPO price of $36 one year ago, they reached a high of $159.56 in March of this year. From ten million users, they reached two hundred million users.

(Do not at all take this as a business tip regarding stock market investments).

Lately the price has fallen. Why? One of the reasons seems to be that society will hopefully emerge from lockdown soon. People may go back to in person meetings. Our dependency on ZOOM may diminish.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I do hope that some of the changes that this crisis has brought with it, stay with us.

ZOOM for example. I hope some of its benefits remain with us even as we go back to some form of normal.

I certainly hope that the spiritual and societal changes remain.

Our heightened sensitivity to the existence of G-d, the smallness of man and the upgraded levels of social responsibility we feel toward others, remain with us to allow for a better world.

As believing Jews we know that our end goal is to emerge from this painful world of confusion to a world of clarity with Mashiach.

Until then, we need to remember to throw out the ‘peels’, the suffering and the pain as we keep the ‘sweet fruit’, the benefits and gifts that humanity has been granted.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

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