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Weekly Emails "Shabbat Shalom from Bangkok"

Win WIN. A battle you can't lose.

Posted by Jewish Thailand on Monday, August 31, 2020

Lemons to Lemonade 🍋

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

‘Rabbi, what are the High Holiday plans’? 

This is by far the most popular question that I am getting these days.

Yes.

Rosh Hashana is coming nearer.

Three weeks from today on Friday evening September 18th the new year of 5781 from creation will be ushered in.

Yom Kippur follows ten days later on Sunday evening September 27 till Monday September 28th after nightfall.

Rosh Hashana will descend upon the world. The energies in the world will change from 5780 energy to 5781 energy. Nothing can stop that.

Nothing in the world can push off the High Holidays, or any of the Jewish Holidays for that matter. 

This is simply because the essence of a Holiday is its spiritual content. G-d revealed to us in His Torah that on certain calendar dates there is a special and extraordinary G-dly energy that needs to be treated in a deferential way. Literally it is Holy Day – day of holiness. The reason we cannot work on Shabbat and Jewish Holidays is because of the special aura that exists in the world on that day. If we had a higher ‘frequency’ we would actually feel it. Since most of us don’t, we only know about the speciality of the day because the Torah tells us.

We feel that the day becomes special BECAUSE we don’t work and BECAUSE we eat special foods and do special rituals.

The reverse is true. The day is SPECIAL without regard for what we do on that day. It is special because of the innate divine flow that is prevalent at that intersection of time. We do all the special rituals on that day BECAUSE of its intrinsic unique holiness. 

Viruses or any other physical hiccups don’t pose a hindrance to the divine light just as fences and locks can’t keep the Holiness of the Holiday out of its perimeters.

So its crystal clear.

ROSH HASHANA and YOM KIPPUR are COMING. That is an immutable reality. No questions about that.

How are we going to celebrate the Holidays this year?

This is truly a valid question.

One that gives me trouble falling asleep at night.

Not to be too strict. 

Certainly not obsessive. 

Not to be too lenient. 

Definitley not callous. 

I have a brother in law who worked around the clock at his ‘Chevra Kadisha’ burial duties in Brooklyn as insane amounts of people died from Covid-19. It was terrible.

So, I know full well that this is a terrible and dangerous disease.

On the other hand, we in Thailand have been miraculously blessed by the Almighty to have zero local transmission for more than ten weeks now.

Which is why Thailand has cautiously reopened. We are no longer on full lockdown.

From the traffic jams it seems like life has taken a vigorous upward velocity.

Restaurants are open. Bars are open. Malls are humming with life. Symphony orchestras are playing. Cinemas are operating. 

Shouldn’t Jewish religious life also benefit from this Joie de vivre?

With three weeks till Rosh Hashana its time to engage and tackle the issue of how to prepare for the celebration of the High Holidays. 

Once I am doing it, I figured let me share it with you my readers. It may be interesting for you as well.

One thing that has come up again and again is the concept of ‘essential services’. Even during the extremely strict lockdowns, food shops remained open. They are essential. Medical establishments are obviously essential. Alcohol shops? Ammunition shops? That depended on who you ask.

Congregating was banned. What about the right to demonstrate? That seems to have been deemed essential. Indeed, it is understandable that democracy requires certain safeguards. 

So much is hinged on the question of what is deemed essential. There were some difficult decisions to be made regarding that by the government authorities.

When I was a kid my mother taught me ‘one man’s junk another mans gold’. A used couch for a millionaire may be a beautiful centerpiece of the more austere dwelling of a low-income person. This is why sometimes people put used stuff out on the curb and the next morning it isn’t there. 

House of worship? It seems like that did not really get into the ‘essential’ list in most places. And this is why indeed Synagogue activities were very severely curtailed for a long period.

To be honest, I think that houses of worship got a bit of a battering during this pandemic in terms of how non-essential some people considered them. However, since the Torah values LIFE so absolutely, it was clear to the majority of the Rabbinic leaders that when in any sort of doubt regarding the safety and health of the community it is proper to keep the Synagogue closed. One can pray at home. But G-d forbid if a life is lost, it cannot be brought back. 

Thank G-d, here in Thailand things are stable. May the Almighty take us from good to better, here and all over the world. We now have the luxury to consider some form of congregating, responsibly, but still together, over the Holiday period.

What is essential regarding the High Holidays?

Let us take a quick look at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur rituals in terms of their essentiality.

On Rosh Hashanah the one and only Biblical commandment is to hear the blowing of the shofar during the day of Rosh Hashana (this year only on Sunday the second day of RH). 

The only thing you absolutely need in order to celebrate the most essential aspect of Rosh Hashana is a shofar. 

There is still time to get a shofar (contact me if you would like to order one) and learn how to blow it. It can be done in lockdown without any need for any social interaction. Even if you happened to be quarantined, if you had a Shofar and know how to blow it, you can properly and authentically fulfil the requirements of Rosh Hashana.

Next, are the Rabbinic rituals and customs of Rosh Hashana. These include Rosh Hashana dinner on the eve of the Holiday and Rosh Hashana prayers on the days of Rosh Hashana.

While the prayers of Rosh Hashana were composed with the express intention for group praying requiring a minyan, dinner was traditionally always done more privately at individual homes.

To sum it up:

Rosh Hashana has three main items.

Shofar. Can be done with no social interaction.

Prayers. Group prayer is advisable.

Dinner. Hosting at private homes is the traditional way.

The big dinners (last year we had nearly four hundred local Jews at our Rembrandt hotel Rosh Hashana dinner) we usually hold are actually a move away from the original tradition. 

We do them because of the IMMENSE value of togetherness and unity that the community dinners foster. The evening begins with four hundred individuals and by the time the dinner concludes, the individuals have merged into one unified family. It is truly a feeling of elation.

Hmmm. That togetherness probably has some of the characteristics of what they call a ‘super-spreader’ event. This kind of event is exactly what we are not really allowed to do right now, even when there is thank G-d no local transmission, as the Government authorities have instructed us to be cautious about the possibility G-d forbid of a ‘second wave’ virus spread.

Prayers. Communal prayer is the way it was intended to be 

This should definitely be possible in responsible distanced way. Actually, it’s probably the best contribution we can make to good health here and everywhere. Praying for good health. And particularly praying for the elimination of the plague that hounds us.

But, it goes without saying that Prayers with a quorum should only be considered for those who are not considered to be at high risk. For people in what is called ‘high risk’ extra precaution should be taken in consultation with medical experts. 

And certainly only if distancing requirements can be met.

In our case, (seeing that we have a small temporary location for Beth Elisheva as construction on our new Synagogue is still underway), having the right amount of space for communal prayer on Rosh Hashana means securing a suitable venue. 

And realistically, even if we have a proper venue, people are people are people and have different levels of vigilance so perhaps it would be prudent and useful to offer two prayer options. 

A) A full service (but shorter than usual so as to limit ‘saturation’). 

B) A brief condensed prayer gathering of one hour with even stricter distancing and briefer congregating. 

Something that we can definitely do is an outdoors shofar blowing and tashlich service at the Benjasiri Park lake and perhaps at other appropriate venues. 

No communal dinner? 

Yep, sorry, no communal dinner….

That sounds like a negative. Is there anyway to turn it into a positive?

I think that YES, we can take these lemons and make lemonade.

But it takes a willingness to make an effort. 

Lemons don’t become lemonade unless you squeeze them and add sugar. 

I believe that you can take the unique circumstances of this year and bring Rosh Hashana with all of its sweet and blessed spirit, into your very own home.

I am encouraging anyone who has a dining room to consider hosting your own Rosh Hashana dinner. And if you have an open heart, consider inviting others to spend Rosh Hashanah dinner with you and your family.

We can provide the food, delicious kosher food, if you provide the venue.

I will also happily provide the content of how to meaningfully celebrate your Rosh Hashana dinner with song and authentically Jewish discussion. We can share the content, and then you can be the inspiring leader of at your Rosh Hashanah table.

Deal?

As we get closer to Rosh Hashana I will send out a link for Rosh Hashana dinner orders to be picked up from JCafe or delivered to your abode.

As to prayers? 

We will have a minyan please G-d. 

For Rosh Hashana.

And for Yom Kippur.

We are currently in discussion with some venues that should suit our needs for the Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur prayers. More details to follow.

In the meantime, 

With blessings of a Shana Tova and Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS In order to plan properly I will please G-d send out a questionnaire during the week,  asking for your feedback about being a Rosh Hashana host, finding out if you need help in finding someone to host you, your preference for attending prayers and your general comments on how you think we can enhance the High Holiday celebrations even during these challenging times.


Asymptomatic. Blessed without knowing it

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Asymptomatic contagion.

I hadn’t heard much about it till the outbreak of this pandemic.

That a person could be a carrier of a Flu or Coronavirus without even knowing that they are carriers.

With Covid19 the reports are indicating that you can be totally asymptomatic and still be a carrier of the virus and unknowingly spread it further G-d forbid.

It’s a game changer.

It means that even though you feel fine, and you are the nicest person in the world, there is no guarantee that you are not going to spread anything negative to anyone else. Because it is possible that you are unknowingly carrying the errant microbe. 

This is the reason for the widespread insistence on masks, and distancing and the other mandated precautions. Because even if you think you feel fine, maybe G-d forbid there is something you are carrying that you simply don’t know about.

Enough of morbidity.

I am going to share two UPLIFTING stories, about life and health that I just witnessed and heard, which will reframe the concept of ‘asymptomatic carrier’ to the context of infinite blessing.

My hope is that  it will motivate you to engage in the hallowed Jewish tradition of wishing all your loved ones, friends and anyone you know, with a SHANA TOVA UMETUKAH to be inscribed and sealed for a GOOD and SWEET year.

Eliezer G. told me the following story:

Last Rosh Hashana, before embarking upon what they intended to be their last attempt at having a child, after all their previous unsuccessful attempts, he and his wife ate Rosh Hashana dinner at a friend’s home. The Rosh Hashana dinner host knew how hard Eliezer and his wife had tried to conceive, thus far unsuccessfully. To lift their spirits, he told them about his rabbinic grandfather who had blessed him and his wife with a child when it looked medically doubtful. A year later they had a baby. 

‘How did your grandfather bless you’? asked Eliezer on Rosh Hashana eve. ‘Like this’ responded the host and proceeded to put his two hands on the head of the couple and blessed them with a healthy baby. 

It is now less than a year later.

The host of the Rosh Hashana dinner is being honored to be the Sandek (one who holds the baby) for the upcoming Brit Milah of the baby boy who was born a short while ago to Eliezer and his wife.

Eliezer and his wife told me this story and stated to me emphatically that they are sure it was the Rosh Hashana hosts blessing that elicited G-d’s miraculous gift to them of their newborn son. 

MAZEL TOV!!!

Phenomenal story. 

It reminded me of a story I heard from a colleague. He said that a visiting couple had come to his Synagogue while on vacation after being married a few years and had not yet been blessed with children. He told the couple ‘I hope you will have a noisy home soon, with the noise of a child’. A few years later, they came to visit again. This time with a toddler in tow. ‘Thanks for your blessings’ they told my friend. 

My friend was truly astonished. He barely remembered even meeting the couple, let alone giving them a blessing. Yet, they were adamant that it was his heartfelt blessing that had elicited G-d’s gift to them of a child. 

I know why my friend was startled. He is a good Jew, but as a close friend, we both know that he is not particularly saintly. I think it is also safe to say that while the Rosh Hashana host may be a nice guy, benevolent, amicable, and son on, but unless he is a really hidden Tzadik, he does not come across as extraordinarily saintly. 

Its kind of counterintuitive. 

You wouldn’t think that these kinds of blessing have such power in Heaven. Traditionally that kind of ‘power’ is attributed to great spiritual giants. And indeed, our tradition is replete with miracle stories of the great Tzadikim, spiritual giants to whom G-d listens and fulfills their prayers and blessings. Click here for Tzadikim stories. 

Again, it is not that I am judging them but I am sure if you ask the host of the Rosh Hashana dinner last year or my colleague who I just mentioned whether they were ‘tzadikim’ or ‘miracles workers’ they would say emphatically that they are just average people. 

Asymptomatic.

But carriers. 

Of huge mammoth blessings. 

Waiting to be shared with others.

Imagine if they wouldn’t have shared those blessings?

My dear friend, can I ask you a question?

Do you know for sure that you are not carrying that kind of power around within you?

Don’t you think it’s worth the try?

Just in case?

We have entire societies wearing masks, just in case they are asymptomatic carriers of a virus.

We ought to be even more attentive to the possibly life-giving potential that we have at our disposal and share blessings with each other.

Actually, according to the Jewish tradition there is absolutely no doubt about the fact that we do have the power to unleash blessings in other people’s lives.

The Talmud (Megila 15, a) states ‘one should never regard the blessing of an ordinary person [hedyot] as light in your eyes’ i.e. everyone has a potential within them to bless others!

I remember learning this poignantly in my early teens. The Rebbe, during a 1983 Simchat Torah gathering told everybody that since they had the power to bless each other, they should make a point of doing so. 

Hashem wants us to bless each other!

Just as with physical parents, when the kids get along harmoniously and lovingly it brings the parents great joy and much nachas, similarly, it gives Almighty G-d the greatest pleasure when he sees us, His children blessing each other lovingly.

Moreover, the Rebbe suggested that Simchat Torah, that they use the verses of the ‘Priestly Blessing’ to bless each other in the deepest possible way. Part of our daily ritual is to say the verses of the Priestly Blessing in the morning blessings. It is a great time said the Rebbe to focus on blessing everyone in the entire world. Starting your day with blessing is a phenomenal thing.

This all becomes magnified as we approach Rosh Hashana.

It is a custom taught in the Shulchan Aruch that during this month of Elul we bless each other in anticipating of the New Year. Click here for a full list of the customs of this month.

May you be inscribed and sealed in the book of LIFE for a GOOD and SWEET year with the fulfillment of all of your hearts desired for the good.

Can I make a request of you?

Please bless me and my loved ones.

I believe that you are a carrier of the power of blessing.

You don’t feel it?

Hey, maybe you are asymptomatic. But you are definitely a carrier of BLESSING.

And bless anyone else you can!!!

Our world needs blessing!!! Loads of it!!!

Stay healthy and safe.

Shana Tova!

And may we all merit to have the coming of Mashiach NOW!!!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

The "I give up" story Part 2

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Which words jumps out more at you when you see the term:

‘I give up’.

There are several options.

 I give UP.

Or

I GIVE up.

Or i GIVE UP

The third option has a small i. A big GIVE. An even bigger UP.

Which way do you see it?

Last week I wrote an article about feeling like ‘giving up’ and how I had discovered that the word UP is an integral part of ‘giving up’. The lesson I had learned was that in a reframed context, ‘giving up’ means realizing that (after you have done whatever YOU can), the true reality is that HE – G-d is in charge.

Once you give yourself over to UP – to G-d, life becomes better and more joyous. (In Yiddish the word often used for G-d is ‘Eibershter’ which means literally the ‘Higher One’ the one who is ‘up above’).

I received much feedback on my article. 

One person wrote to me angrily. Obviously, he had read the heading without reading the article. He was irate that I had used the words ‘I give up’ in my subject line. ‘Giving up’, he berated me, ‘is anathema to Judaism’. And I happen to agree with him. He is spot-on. If it’s used in the context of giving up hope.  Sticking up your hands in defeat and falling into a state of hopelessness, is totally against the ethos and values of Torah. (click here for link to articles about faith and trust in Hashem).

Thank G-d many people did read the article and got the point. They wrote to me with thanks for being honest about the anxieties that some of us go through at times, affirming that they too had gone through periods of feeling out of control. The ‘giving UP’ concept, in terms of lifting our eyes and thoughts to our Father in Heaven in complete faith and trust, was reassuring to them.

The most uplifting response I received was from a friend who is a leader in the business world and in the world of philanthropy. He wrote ‘I too am ‘giving-up’ and allocating an unscheduled donation to Chabad of Thailand’. It took me a second to catch what he was saying and how he was using my words in the context of his gift. 

Obviously, the words that jumped out to him in the phrase ‘giving up’ was GIVING. And he decided to ‘UP his GIVE’. 

This inspired me. Not only because of the surprise and largesse of his donation. Of course, the financial tzedakah was extremely helpful and deeply appreciated. In an ever-greater way, he gave me a living example of how one could hone their character to becoming more giving. By showing how his giving habits had become so deeply rooted in his subconscious.

I recalled that there are studies that show that the words you see first reveal your subconscious personality. 

His trait of giving had obviously been developed to the extent that this is what his eyes noticed, and this is the way his brain processed the aphorism ‘I give up’. 

His eyes caught the words ‘Giving’. And he went ahead and gave.

I found myself feeling envious of his proclivity to giving. 

(Torah teaches that it’s healthy to be envious of someone who is better than you.  As it makes you work on yourself to become better). 

It is the greatest blessing to be able to give.

Don’t roll your eyes and say ‘I can’t afford to give’. You don’t need to be wealthy with money to give. Giving has so many variations and expressions. You just need to be prepared to stop focusing solely on yourself and leave room to see other people and their needs. Everyone has some way that they can give to others.

Giving is a G-dly character trait.

The weekly Parsha says ‘cleave to G-d’.

How is that achieved?

The Sages taught, you connect and cleave to G-d by acting like G-d. 

Mimicking G-d can be achieved by mimicking G-d’s benevolence. 

Just like G-d takes care of his creatures, similarly we need to be giving to others. 

Giving to the undeserving, this is G-d’s ‘trademark’. 

We can act like Him when we incorporate kindness and benevolence into our lives. Especially when we give to someone who doesn’t ‘deserve’ our help i.e. we don’t know them or ‘owe’ them any favors. Click here for more on this.

This is why giving feels so right. So good. So wholesome. Ironically, you give and then you have less, but you gain so much more. You gain the feeling of inner satisfaction. Its naturally that way because G-d, the Creator, programmed us to be in the Divine image and giving is Divine.

Giving is also ‘catchy’. Once somebody has it, it spreads fairly quickly and easily. 

Actually, all human behaviors are ‘contagious’. 

(This is why we need to try and be surrounded by good people.  Or be one of those influencers who changes their environment for the good).

I saw this come to life this week in an inspiring and compelling way.

A young man B.N., who apparently also saw the ‘GIVE’ in ‘Give UP’, wrote to me that he was sending a small donation to help me in my work. He added, that if I knew of a few other causes that could benefit from his modest help, I should let him know. 

A cause jumped into my head almost automatically. I thought about a friend of a friend who had lost his infant child and subsequently fell into circumstances that made him lose his business. He needed help. Every small bit of help he could get. I told B.N. about this unfortunate family. B.N. pledged an amount, that while not huge was certainly more than just a token donation and I knew that the person in need would be most appreciative to receive it. A few hours later B.N. wrote to me that a business associate he had mentioned it to, matched his donation and would give the same amount. A few hours later, B.N. told me that yet another friend was also sending the same amount. A few hours later B.N. told me that a third friend from a totally different locale was joining and giving the same amount to be sent to the person in need. In other words, B.N.’s donation was quadrupled.

My friends’ friend was surprised by the unexpected help and sent a beautiful note:

May the creator of the world pay you back a thousand times as much. and I really hope that you will LITERALLY see the reward from Hashem physically and visibly and right away

 

May G-D Almighty open the gates of heaven to you and give you all your hearts desires.

 

Thank you. and understandably I wish you blessings of unlimited success in Thailand.


May the rest of the year bring you only JOY and HAPPINESS, and may it be your best year ever!


May the rest of the year be even better than last year. MUCH MUCH better. and in every way possible.


And the main thing is that all the good and happiness should be in a revealed way.


AND REMEMBER, IT'S STILL:  Tehay Shnas Pla'os...!!! (Hebrew acronym of the year ‘may it be a year of WONDERS’)    May it indeed be so.


All the best

I shared this with B.N. and he responded 

Rabbi, I feel like this belongs to all of us. A chance encounter with a relative of yours in New York, encourages me to reach out to you a Rabbi in Thailand to give regards and offer help, you share the information of someone who needs desperate help back in the USA. 

We could not write that story if we tried (How I ended up in Thailand to get on your list a little over a year and a half ago is another story of it's own). 

Thank you for forwarding our friend's message and may all his wishes come true. Thank you for your help facilitating this anonymously!!! 

What an amazing week this has been. Thank you for the inspiration. 

May we all continue to do good, be good and see good in every moment of every day. 

Good Shabbos, 

B.N.

My dear friends, I am sharing this with you as it inspired and uplifted me.

And as we are approaching Rosh Hashana (Friday September 18-20) it’s also time to start blessing each other with a Shana Tova and I wanted to share these beautifully articulated blessings with you as well.

Action is the main thing. Let’s get to actionable items.

There are several key aspects here that lead to action.

They are all contained in the oft used statement that people say without thinking much. ‘I give up’. 

  1. Remember to give yourself UP to He Who is the ultimate UP, G-d. 


  1. Make sure to Up your GIVE. GIVE and give even more than you have given in the past. 


  1. (optional, for maximum effect) try to reduce and make your ‘i’ smaller.

It’s ironic and somewhat counter intuitive. To really get maximum happiness in life, you have to focus a little less on the I. A little less focus on yourself is a very helpful first step to getting out of the self-defeating cycle of feelings of entitlement and self-pity. 

The I is important, as low self-esteem is a not a healthy state of being. But you can use the simpler i without a capital. Or even with a capital if you like using proper English but without a bold font. 

GIVE. 

Focus on giving to OTHERS. You will be so much completer. 

This is the path to focus on G-d and trust fully in Him. 

UP

Try it. 

It works. 

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

 

I gave UP!

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

It finally got to me.

I mean the situation with the virus.

I was feeling ‘down’ earlier this week.

And I wasn’t sure why. 

Why now? 

Six months into the plague and now I feel a bit ‘down’?

For no apparent reason.

Thank G-d myself, my loved ones, my community and most people I know, are safe and healthy (virus-wise). 

Intellectually I couldn’t see any reason to be low energy.

But I did feel emotionally weakened.

Why?

Was it the craziness of it all finally affecting me?

Perhaps being in the month of August and not hosting two thousand guests for Shabbat dinners at our currently empty Chabad Houses?

It did feel eerie to in the ‘high season’ of the tourism cycle and have a seat available at JCafe without having to wait for several groups of people to vacate their place.

Or maybe the onslaught of information was demoralizing. 

Perusing the headlines every day to see if there was a miracle cure yet and in the meantime learning how many deaths and sicknesses were taking place at every spot on the globe.

Could it be that not knowing when the kid’s respective schools would open was causing me angst?

Or perhaps it was from consternation about how to proceed regarding the communal High Holiday celebrations. In person? Outside? Inside? Reduced duration? Food? No food? (will be in touch soon regarding High Holidays please G-d).

It could be that it was stress from listening to the multitude of opinions ‘out there’ from all kinds of experts. From trying to synthesize the voices advising caution with those suggesting pragmatism, coupled with the awareness of the impossible-to-please-all reality. 

And the list of things that could cause stress goes on and on.

Admittedly, living in a world fixated on an invisible enemy that has spread from one person to eighteen MILLION people in about nine months is bound to be taxing.

Till now, I thought I was handling it ok. Thank G-d I felt fine.

But… sometime earlier this week it just got to me.

It seemed overwhelming.

And unpredictable.

Out of my control.

It got so bad that I blurted out some words that I didn’t plan to say.

Actually, I didn’t believe my own ears when I said those words. 

I heard myself say 

I GIVE UP!!!

Surprisingly, the words didn’t seem so bad once I said them. It seemed relieving in some ironic way. Therapeutic even. 

I said the words again.

I GIVE UP.

And again. 

And then, as I listened to myself say those words, I heard something I had never noticed before.

The word UP. Where does that term come from in the colloquialism ‘I give UP’?

I grabbed onto the ray of light inherent in the word UP.

I walked into my office with the ‘I give up’ idiom still on my lips. I told Micha our Israeli financial controller, ‘I give up’. He looked at me in shock. He said, ‘Rabbi, people are relying on you to keep your mood resilient and strong. How can you give up?’

But he didn’t ask me in English. He asked me in Hebrew.

‘Harav, eich atah meirim yadayim’ which literally translates as ‘Rabbi, how are you raising your hands’? 

‘Raising hands’ is a Hebrew term for ‘giving up’.

A further flash of light went off in my brain. 

Even more uplifting.

It all started coming together.

Giving UP is indeed the BEST way to go!

Raising hands reminded me of the battle of the Jewish people against the Amalekites described in the portion of Beshalach just after the Jews were redeemed from Egypt (Exodus, 17:11 see Rashi’s commentary)

Joshua did as Moses had told him, to fight against Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and their nephew Hur went up to the top of the hill and stood in prayer… 

Whenever Moses raised his hand and the people were inspired to submit themselves to God, God came to their aid and Israel prevailed. But whenever he lowered his hand, and they were not inspired this way, Amalek prevailed.

‘Raising your hands’ in the context of praying to G-d is not a sign of defeat. It is not capitulation to your enemy. Rather it is a submission to the Source of all strength thus availing yourself of the greatest strength possible. 

Raising your hands means being mindful that you are truly in G-d’s hands. 

Giving UP in its deepest meaning should not be confused with forfeiting and abandoning one’s drive and zest for life. 

Giving UP can be very positive. If it is used in the context of submitting to the Almighty!!! The ultimate ‘UP’.

Did I feel like giving up? Yes. I did. 

My feelings of not being in any sort of control of the situation caused me a decrease in energy.

Providentially, in my daily study of the correspondence of the Rebbe I happened upon a letter written to this very circumstance. A woman who was feeling a bit ‘down’ because of her diminishing achievements. The Rebbe advised her that it is ‘normal’ to have ‘ups and downs’ and she must make sure to discuss it with a peer as it will help dispel the matter. Definitely she should not follow the negative tendency to think that she is ill and doomed to failure. It is probably but a temporary setback and then she will resume her usual unflagging success please G-d.

After speaking to some peers, I discovered it was very normal to feel under pressure during our current crisis.

(A word of caution and advice. A peer should be someone who would be able to notice if the situation was acute and professional help was required. I am talking about mild and reasonable cases of low energy that do not require professional intervention. If in doubt, please make sure to reach out for professional help).

And then, thank G-d, a very positive healing and rebuilding process began. 

I was uplifted.

I realized that I could use this humbling moment to truly give UP, to submit to G-d and be carried on His wings. I didn’t need to be in any sort of control because He has never left the cockpit. Its G-d’s plane and we are all passengers. The Almighty is in full control.

No. Not to be fatalistic and passive waiting for G-d to do everything for me. I need to put forth my best effort. But I don’t need to be in control, actually I can not be in control of the results even if I wanted to.

My role as main actor in my individual tailor-written ‘movie’  of life is to ask G-d ‘what is it you would like me to do’ and do it!

G-d’s blessing can be compared to ‘blessed rains’. He sends the rains. To benefit from the blessings of rain, one needs to plough, plant and reap. G-d wants our input as well. It is for this reason that He put us here on earth. To partner with Him.

(The doing part is critical. In the previously quoted verses, ‘Raising your hands’ can also be understood allegorically as concentrating on DEEDS and ACTIONS. Even when you don’t feel like doing a good deed, simply DO it).

Joy enveloped me as this concept sunk into my awareness. 

It was exhilarating to feel so not-in-control. What a relief to realize Who’s hands I am in!

And G-d has helped me in my quest to be joyous by giving me external reasons to be happy. Good news started to come my way. Things I hadn’t expected. Long term predicaments that showed signs of moving along in the right way. 

It was incredible. Once I did my part, G-d shone His holy countenance on to me and unanticipated blessings started to materialize.

Most of all, I have been blessed to feel fully ensconced in G-d’s loving care. May He help me to reciprocate that love by doing what He expects of me.

Join me. 

Try it out.

Give UP

Place yourself in the caring embrace of the Almighty.

(For some textual study regarding faith and trust in G-d click here for a newly launched website on the topic).

May you and your loved ones be blessed with EVERYTHING GOOD!!!!!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS if you are in need of speaking to someone else about what you are going through, please reach out to me via my direct email rabbi@jewishthailand.com or direct WhatsApp +6681 837 7618 and I will try to help please G-d.

 

 

 

 




I said the words.

I GIVE UP!


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