"Shabbat Shalom from Bangkok"

HighTech prayer! Shabbat Shalom From 10kM Altitude




By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,


When you think prayer, do you think low tech or high tech?

Let me phrase it a bit differently.

Who do you think prays more?

Old fashioned simpletons or newfangled technological geniuses?

I recently bumped into an Israeli technician who specializes in the most cutting-edge technology. The kind that armies install onto aircraft.

He mentioned something about the advanced system not working. Nobody could find where the bug was. Till he stopped to pray the Mincha afternoon prayers. After his prayer one of the team had a random idea. To check one of the externally linked systems. It didn’t seem relevant but upon double checking they found that this was the source of the bug. The faulty link was fixed, and the system began to work. To everyone’s relief.

The other members of the team, albeit not Jews who religiously pray three times a day, exclaimed their thanks to their colleague and are sure that the problem was solved because of his prayer.

I was left an exhilarating feeling after hearing the story.

As it reminds us that even those most intricate systems, devised and designed by geniuses, require G-d’s constant intervention.

Everyone agrees that the great intellectual prowess that stands behind science’s great advances, is a gift from G-d. But many tend to think that once G-d gave us intelligence, now it’s purely mathematical 1+1=2. If you put the wires together and set up the computer in a certain way, the results are guaranteed.

It’s as if one would mistakenly say, ‘thank you G-d for giving us humans the wisdom to create the systems, but no thanks G-d, no need to help me get them up and running’.

Its plain science. Joining wires and presto, it works.

That is not at all true. G-d’s presence and input is needed at all times and in all circumstances. Even advanced laser systems.

I am sure there is no need to convince you of this point. I have no question that you have seen in your life, as I have in mine, that the most dependable ‘predictable’ things are totally dependent on G-d.

This weeks parsha gives us uplifting insight into the power and the immediacy of prayer.

A classic Torah story set in the pastoral natural setting of the land of Canaan almost four thousand years ago.

Eliezer the trusted servant of Avraham has been dispatched to find a wife for Yitschak, his masters son.

How in the world is he meant to find the ‘needle in the haystack’ or in this case the ‘rose in the thornbushes?’. There may be scores of girls in Avrahams former homeland.

Eliezer prays to G-d.

“Allow me to be successful. When I see a girl from the right locale, I will ask her to give me to drink. If she gives me to drink and also offers to water my camels, then I know that this is the girl You have destined for Yitschak’.

Before Eliezer has a chance to even finish his prayer, as Eliezer neared his destination, Rivka was coming out. She not only gave Eliezer to drink, she also offered the camels water. She was from the right family tree and had said the exact words that Eliezer had established as a Divine sign.

Low tech prayer. No computers. No ‘waze’. No WhatsApp or Facebook. Just good ole fashioned belief in G-d and turning to Him for help.

And G-d helped!

Fast forward to 2021. Computers. Advanced systems of the highest precision.

When the system is stuck what do you do?


And G-d answers.

My dear friends,


No just for wisdom to make the right decisions. But also for the predictable to materialize in a blessed way. And of course to constantly thank Him for His beneficence and kindness.

Avraham taught his generation that when you eat food you must thank G-d.

G-d is not up there in Heaven relegated to the highest celestial spheres while he lets the world run randomly. That is the kind of belief that was prevalent before Avraham began his ‘wine and dine hospitality outreach center’.

When Avraham fed people, he taught them to thank not him the host, but the TRUE provider of all sustenance. The ALMIGHTY.

It is critical for us to remember that in every single aspect, every single microbe, every computer, every gene, every everything, is created, directed and supervised in every detail by G-d.

Hashem wants us to pray to Him. For the small things as well as for the big. For the mundane as for the holy.

Praying to Hashem for our needs highlights this and reminds us Who the true source of life is.

Try it!

Say after me: Hashem, Please help me……. (fill in the missing dots and insert whatever you need).

The results will astound you please G-d.

Whether you are a computer scientist and you can’t figure out the intricate electronic web you are working on. Or something ‘low tech’ like looking for the right match for yourself or a child.

Oh, and I must admit, I prayed that Thailand would open up without quarantine before the International Conference of Shluchim.

Of course, in this prayer I was joined by all of the scores of people whose lives have been painfully affected by the restriction. Whether families that cannot reunite, or incomes that are hinged on tourism and business travel. We pray that Thailand can open, SAFELY and that we can get back to living life the way it is meant to be. IN PERSON and not only virtual.

I am very excited to have the merit to be attending this conference of great and dedicated rabbis. Last year it was all virtual. This year its partially in-person, partially virtual. The organizers have made changes and restrictions to make it as safe as possible as per New York rules.  It will be much smaller no doubt, as many countries are still not open for travel.

How fortunate for me that Thailand is changing its rules on November 1. This means that please G-d I can get back to my post shortly after the conference finishes next week.

I pray that the inspiration of visiting the Rebbe’s Ohel and Chabad Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway, with those of my fellow Shluchim who were able to make it, and the networking and comradery of the conference will charge my spiritual batteries to their fullest.

And it is you, my dear friends with whom I hope to share and transmit that energy as we embark on the onwards and upwards of Jewish life in Thailand!!!!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS email me privately at [email protected] if there are specific prayer requests you would like me to make on your behalf as I visit the resting place Ohel of the Rebbe.

PPS The Shluchim conference ‘Banquet’ will be streamed live on Sunday 4:30 PM (EST) which is Monday November 1 3:30 AM Thailand time. It is available after that for viewing. Click here for link.


Extraordinarily ORDINARY

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Last Friday night as I was thinking about the upcoming week, I realized that there was nothing extraordinary about it.

It was the first full week after the High Holidays/Sukkot without even a ‘minor’ special day like Rosh Chodesh or 7th of Marcheshvan.

Just an ordinary week.

There are not so many weeks that are that ordinary.

Extraordinarily ordinary.

Which lead me to an obvious conclusion. On week that is ordinary, one should focus on finding the specialty in the ordinary.

You see, we tend to pay attention to the extraordinary moments of our life.

The births, bris, baby namings, bar/bat mitzvah, engagement, wedding, milestone birthdays and anniversaries and perhaps even unexpected financial windfalls. Those are the events and moments that stick out.

 Our calendar is dotted with memorable days that comes only once a year. Annual Festivals like Pesach, High Holiday, Purim Chanukah and a few more.  

Those are highlight moments.

They are exhilarating and uplifting. They inspire us and gladden our hearts.

But are they truly the ‘nuts and bolts’ of life. In terms of quantity and duration of time, it is the mundane daily grind that takes up most of your living time. Those ‘regular’ hours that are sometimes monotonous and often boringly predictable. There is no away around it, as not exciting as they are, these are the ‘meat and potatoes’ of life that occupies most of our life here on earth.

Think of food types. Desserts, even G-d’s natural sweets, like succulent fruit, are sweet and enjoyable. But you can’t be eating goodies all the time. Good nutrition is made up of things that are duller and more dependable, like grains and proteins.

True, joyous lifecycle events are enjoyable and warm. Most of our lives though, we are living ‘life as usual’. Working not partying.

It would be sad if one resigned oneself to life those many days of ‘life as usual’ without joy and warmth. If one kept his or her exuberance only for entertaining guests and ‘highlight’ moments.

The goal of our Jewish Festivals is not just to elevate the actual days that they fall out on. Rather they are tasked with the mission to change the mundane days that follow them as well. Not just to be holy on Rosh Hashana. Rather we are to bring that holiness into the rest of the year that follows. Even into the 9-5 of our working environment.

To be happy on Sukkot and Simchat Torah is not something that ends once the Chag finishes. Rather we are to take that joy and infuse it into our observance of G-d’s commandments for the duration of the year.

Our feeling of passionate devotion to G-d at the climax of Yom Kippur should be injected into our entire being. Impacting us in such a way that whatever we do, we do as passionate children of G-d.

Much as a marriage anniversary celebration should not just be about the moments that are spent reliving the great gift of their marriage. Rather the couple ought to inject the relationship with a depth that remains activated and alive even on a rainy Wednesday morning when one of the spouses wakes up feeling grumpy.

An ordinary week bring with it extraordinary opportunity. It allows us to inject our ordinary life with the extraordinariness of G-d’s mission to us here on earth.

The mission is:

Bringing Heaven down to Earth.

Creating a place, a dwelling, for G-d, here in the lower spheres. Not in Heaven. Heaven already knows about G-d. Here on earth, we need to swamp the universe with the awareness of G-d.

This is not just about lifetime cycles or annual cycles. In a way, it’s a daily pattern. If you look at your daily schedule, you will find that there are highlight moments and inspirational components, and conversely there are dull and very ordinary moments.

We pray to G-d and study His Torah first thing in the morning. This is intended to create a focus and chart the path for the day. To bring holiness that can then be infused into the continuation of the day. When we are instructed by G-d to go out from our Synagogues and Houses of Study and go to work. To do mundane things.

What do I mean by mundane things? In the olden days it would mean going out to the field to plough, plant, and harvest. Today its more about bargaining, buying, haggling, selling. Or pushing buttons on a computer. Food industry. Medical industry or whatever other conduit G-d has provided as a means to pay your bills. As well as the things we need to keep our body and soul united and healthy. Like eating and drinking. Spending quality time with family and friends. These are not ‘holy’ engagements perse like praying or studying Torah.

It is precisely during these ‘earthly’ experiences that we need to make sure we are ‘heavenly’ oriented. We do this by remembering the ‘why’ of our existence. We eat, because we need to have healthy bodies to carry out G-d’s mission here on earth. We work so that we can do the mitzvah of supporting our families and of giving Tzedaka and helping others. And so on.

In this way, the ordinary is transformed into extraordinary. The mundane is transformed to being a conduit of holiness. It is almost like we have an opportunity to be an ‘alchemist’. To transform the ‘lower spheres’ into a vehicle for hosting the ‘upper spheres’.

That’s called transforming the ‘ordinary’ into the ‘extraordinary’.

Those were my thoughts about this week, before the week started. That I was looking at a very ‘ordinary’ week. Perhaps even a bit dull.

However, G-d had other plans.

Immediately after Shabbat I got the horrendous news that a young person had passed away tragically, and we needed to repatriate them to their home community for Jewish burial.

On Sunday I had a trip to Phuket to meet M, an old friend and an avid supporter of our work.

It was an extraordinary meeting on many levels. It seemed as an afterthought. As we were finishing our meeting, M told me that he has a lifechanging piece of advice for me. ‘Reach out to people who have Bitcoin to support your work’ he told me. Interesting. I had not ever paid much attention to the cryptocurrency topic, but apparently it has turned into something quite profitable for those who had it from the beginning. M said that there are people out there who have the ability to give Tzedaka from their bitcoin accounts. I followed M’s instruction and opened an account for receiving bitcoin donations. Click here.

On Tuesday night I got an emergency call from a distraught NY mother who had a son backpacking in our part of the world and was very concerned about pains he had in his abdomen. During these Covid times it was not simple to find the nearest person on the ground. Through our regional Chabad network, thank G-d we located the closest contact and was able to reassure the mother that her son would be looked after. Thank G-d it turned out to be a false alarm and was a temporary gastro ailment.

On Wednesday O, an expat who has lived here for quite some while, asked if he could come over to have coffee with me and chat. (BTW feel free to reach out to schedule a time for coffee if you would like to catch up with me, I will try my best to accommodate please G-d). I was schmoozing with O and mentioned that my friend M suggested that I take bitcoin seriously. Would you believe it? O started to tell me that he had invested in the cryptocurrency platforms way back. Seems like he knows the field very well. I hadn’t heard of crypto till recently and in one week, twice.

During the week I got a WhatsApp from a dear friend who has relocated to the States due to Covid and was apprehensive about the move at first. It turns out that the move has done absolute wonders for his families deepening connection with Torah learning and Jewish observance. I was overcome with joy for this friend and for the progress he was making in his life.

I had some deep and meaningful conversations with some peers this week. In each of those conversations I got to see the hand of Divine Providence in the most obvious way. I was majorly uplifted by these Providential events.

Oh, at the beginning of the week, I went to sleep a bit grumpy one night. Something was bothering me. The next morning, I woke up and felt like a new person. The bothersome thing hadn’t gone away, but it now excited me rather than bothered me.

A while later, after prayers, I opened my ‘mobile data’ and allowed my WhatsApp and email in. I was delighted to find a new picture in my inbox. The picture is from two days before Yom Kippur in 1988. It is a picture of the Rebbe giving me honey cake (Lekach) and wishing me a sweet year (link to picture). I had never seen the picture before, it was recently uploaded in the Jewish Educational Media’s website as they digitalize their vast amount of still pictures.

I now understood the spiritual energy behind my uplifted mood. When the Rebbe, a Tzaddik, gives you sweet honey cake, it is not just for then, it is a gift for life. A gift that comes with a responsibility. To share that sweetness and holiness with others. When the picture was sent to me by my brother who discovered it, my spiritual subconscious, my soul, must have felt it. When your soul feels the sweetness of the Rebbe handing you sweet spiritual energy, you cannot be anything but an inspired joyous servant of G-d.

There is more to be said about my ‘ordinary’ week. But I will stop here.

Have I made my point?

Ordinary is not so ordinary.

Even when it is ordinary, we must remember that our mission is to inject the mundane with holiness.

G-d takes us ordinary people and empowers us to the extraordinary.

To bring Heaven down to Earth.

The full culmination of the wedding of Heaven and Earth will be the coming of Mashiach.

May it be speedily. AMEN

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

Price of Fish in China?


By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

When I was a kid and someone was trying to make a point that was totally irrelevant, there was a popular idiom that was used.

‘What does that have to do with the price of fish in China?’

It’s a rhetorical question. It means, ‘what does your comment have to do with the matter we are discussing’.

Our son Mendel just moved to Vegas with his family (his father-in-law Rabbi Harlig is the head of Chabad of Southern Nevada) and was looking around for a car. Mendel told me that there is a shortage of cars for sale in the USA because of Covid.

That saying came to my mind. ‘What does Covid have to do with the price of fish in China’.

Well, turns out that maybe the price of fish in China is not the culprit, but ‘chips’ coming out of China are to blame. Obviously I don’t mean potato chips. I haven’t heard of any shortage of those. (If there were less potato chips it may be good for our heath…). Rather ‘semiconductor chips’ that are used in modern cars. Little ‘wafers’ that have intricate components of electrical circuits and wiring. They are made in factories in China. There is a shortage of those very advanced chips.

The internet is full of theories about why there is a shortage.

For my purposes in this article, it makes no difference as to what the cause is. The point I wish to bring to your attention is the fact that when a little ‘wafer-chip’ is not as readily available as it was, the big hunks of tin known as cars, are less available.

This can be summed up by one concept that is very much heard about these days.


When it comes to procuring all the ingredients required by factories to produce an object, we are all dependent on the supply chain.

We are also dependent on the availability of shipping those ingredients from their origin to the producing factory.

I have heard from my friends who are importers and exporters that the price of shipping containers is through the roof.

Turns out that we are indeed a global village. When a semiconductor factory in China’s output gets reduced, or when shipping is backed up, people in far off Vegas get hit with ‘price adjustments’ in the car market that push up prices to unreasonable amounts.

So yes, what is going on in China has everything to do with car sales in the USA.

Why am I sharing this?

Because now I better understand another story that I heard as a child.

A rabbi once chided his devout disciple about becoming a bit lax in one of his intense Torah study commitments. The student didn’t seem to think it that his very minor slacking off was something to criticize him about. After all, it was a very small infraction, and he was still doing way more than most others. The rabbi told him that his performance or lack thereof was very impactful:

‘The Jewish People is like one living organism. If you reduce your intense study commitment, the ‘barely hanging on Jew’ at the ‘edge of the village’ may neglect his observance of Judaism entirely’.

It dawned on me that through my newfound appreciation for the importance of the ‘supply chain’, I can now relate to this ‘community chain’ much more vividly.

Yes, the semiconductor chip may be very small and for someone unaware, very insignificant. But if there is a hiccup in that small chip, vehicles cannot roll off the production line to consumers in an uninterrupted way.

You may think that avoiding putting forth that extra effort won’t make a big difference to anyone but you. That is not the truth. For it may be that your exertions are exactly what the Jewish collective needs right now to keep things humming and balanced.

What part of the supply chain are you?

Are you the computer? The brake pads? The shipping company? The finance company?

That is a question that only you (perhaps in consultation with your spiritual coach) can truly answer.

But whatever your role in the Jewish People is, be mindful that it is not just you who is affected by it. It is critical to all of us.

Let me start off with what you definitely should not do.

You should not dismiss yourself as being inconsequential to Am Yisrael.

Even if your role in the supply chain doesn’t seem particularly significant, without you playing your role, the chain will be defunct.

This week’s Parsha tells us that Avraham was offered gifts by the king of Sodom whom he had saved by going to war with the opposition kings who had conquered Sodom. Avraham personally refused to take anything for himself, but he agreed for his servants to be rewarded.

Avraham divided the gifts offered to him by the Sodomite king between his two groups of faithful servants. Half went to the servants that had gone to battle at his side. The other half went to the servants who had remained behind to guard the vessels. Why the soldiers get a reward is obvious. They worked hard and fought valiantly. But Avraham did what is not so obvious and also gave half the of the gift to those who had stayed behind to guard the home front.  For they too had played a vital role in the successful outcome of the battle. Without knowing that the families back home were safe, the warriors couldn’t effectively fight.

The reward was divided equally, creating a precedent for the future in terms of equitable distribution of war spoils.

The lesson therein is critical to understanding collaborative undertakings.

The positions may be quite different and diverse from each other. The front lines of the army is a different scenario than the civilian duties on the home front. But they are both critical and indispensable.  

In life we all have different roles and duties. Maybe your G-d given mission is to be a mover and shaker. On the other hand, you may be assigned by G-d the role to be a behind the scenes facilitator.

One thing is for certain.

YOU have a role to play in the world.

And YOUR role is critical.

Maybe more significant than you can imagine.

(This week on the 7th of Marcheshvan the Jews in Israel began to pray for rain, (outside Israel we wait till the eve of December 5th). The collective request for rain was delayed for two weeks after the Sukkot holiday so that the ‘last Jew’ who lived near the Euphrates river could arrive home from the pilgrimage to Jerusalem before the community asked for rain. Rainy conditions are not conducive for travel. We are instructed to wait for the ‘last Jew’ who lives on the periphery of Israel, to arrive home first.

That is an amazing application of the concept of Ahavat Yisrael – love of fellow Jew. Even if 99% of the community needs rain, we feel for our friends who are still traveling and hold back our prayers for rain till they get home.

There is an allegoric meaning to this as well:

the “last Jew” is the most distant Jew in the spiritual sense—the one whose occupation is the most material of all. Yet all Jews, including those whose missions in life have placed them but a stone’s throw from Jerusalem, cannot pray for rain until the lowliest of pilgrims has reached home. For without this last Jew, their work is incomplete; it is he, more than any other, who represents what life is all about. (click here for full article).)

So what should you do?

First of all, DO.

Do what your Jewish soul pulls you to do.

Do what your study of Jewish History and the burning desire that Judaism continue to exist, motivates you to do.

Jewish continuity is hinged on YOU stepping up to the plate.

Learn more Torah.

Perform more Mitzvahs.

The ritual mitzvahs between you and the Almighty alongside the social mitzvahs between you and your fellow.

Support more Jewish institutions and leave a legacy gift to Jewish continuity in your will alongside your request for a Jewish burial. (See below, we have thank G-d completed the transfer of land for a new Jewish cemetery in Chachoengsao)

When you feel lethargic and your mind starts creating excuses for why you can’t or don’t want or need to do your bit, remind yourself of the supply chain.

I am sure you wouldn’t want others to suffer or be deprived because of your short-lived self-gratifying indulgence.

Do the right thing!

Not just for yourself.


When you do the right thing, and I do the right thing, we get a healthy supply chain and the G-dly blessings flow uninterrupted and in a great abundance!!!!

Hastening the arrival of Mashiach. AMEN

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS We are about to announce details regarding our new Sefer Torah campaign. Every Jew in Thailand will be invited to ‘purchase’ their own letter in the Torah. Any amount will be accepted as payment for that letter. This campaign is about recognizing that every Jew is deeply rooted and connected in the Torah. Stay tuned….

Oy vey? Pray!


By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

If you live in Thailand, you may know that there is severe flooding in parts of the country. In certain parts of Bangkok there has been flooding as well.

I didn’t hear all that much about it till yesterday. Yesterday a community member who brought his son for our Bar Mitzvah lessons, shared a video with me, of one of the upcountry reservoirs that is overflowing. As they say ‘a picture is a thousand words’ and I got to see a drone’s view of the water levels.

Oy Vey! I pray that Hashem saves Thailand from this dangerous situation.

Interestingly, just before that, another friend came in to share some new information about his family that he never knew. He had found the ketubah marriage document of his parents and in it he found that his father’s name was Yona (Moshe). It was exciting news, as that name had not been remembered by the family till the uncovering of this document.

Two random tidbits that I didn’t pay particular attention to.

Till this morning.

This morning, I studied the ‘Hayom Yom’ entry for today’s Hebrew date (Cheshvan 2) and read the following:

In the early years of his leadership the Alter Rebbe (founder of Chabad 1745-1812) declared publicly, "One must live with the time." From his brother, R. Yehuda Leib, the elder chassidim discovered that the Rebbe meant one must live with the Torah portion of the week and the particular parsha of the day. One should not only learn the weekly parsha every day, but live with it.

After reading this I realized, (I don’t know why it hadn’t dawned on me before) what I hadn’t realized before. That this week’s portion of Noach speaks about floods. Also, the word Yona gets a prominent mention. Yonah means ‘dove’. It was a ‘Yonah’ bird that was sent by Noach to see if the waters had receded.

How inspiring it is to get Providential signs like this. As we start the cycle of the Torah reading again, I am reminded in the most poignant way that the weekly parsha is not ‘old news’ G-d forbid, rather it is as relevant and pertinent as ever.

There is a ‘parsha of the week’ and then there is also ‘the particular parsha of the day’. This refers to the fact that the weekly parsha is subdivided into seven portions. There is a custom to learn one portion on every one of the seven days of the week.

The Rebbe taught that it is not just the weekly portion, but more particularly, the daily portion, that we ought to look into, to get daily inspiration and direction.

So, lets take a look at the sixth portion of the weekly parsha of Noach.

Sixth Aliyah

Noah planted a vineyard, made wine, became drunk and fell into a deep drunken slumber — while naked. Noah's son, Ham, saw his father naked, assaulted him, and informed his two brothers of their father's state. The brothers, Shem and Japeth, modestly approached their father and covered him. When Noah awakened, he cursed Ham's son, Canaan, and blessed Shem and Japeth. This section then names Noah's seventy grandsons and great-grandsons, the antecedents of the "seventy nations," and their adopted homelands.

(If you would like to get the daily ‘aliyah’ in this format to your inbox please email me)

What message is there in the above ‘daily parsha’ for us today, day six of the parsha of Noach in 2021?

Truthfully, there is no end to the commentary and lessons that can be learned. Torah is G-d’s Wisdom and is thus infinite.

But one has to start somewhere. So I will share some of the lessons that come to my mind when reading this portion. So that you can get a whiff of what I mean by ‘living with the parsha’.

Noach planted. That is great. Planting is being industrious and having a good worth ethic.

Hmm. Planting a vineyard? Our Sages point out that this demeaned him. He should have planted something more vital first.

Got drunk. That’s not pretty and should have been avoided. But that gives us the opportunity to get a look at two perspectives on how to treat someone who has disgraced himself and is down and out.

Ham, saw his shamed and defenseless father and used it as an opportunity to further debase him. Even assaulting him.

Shem and Yefet saw a poor person in need of their compassion and help. They respectfully did what they could, to protect their father. They covered him.

Ham invoked Noach’s curse.

Both Shem and Yefet got Noach’s blessing.

Shem, having initiated the respectful move, was blessed more than Yefet. Shem was blessed that the presence of G-d would rest among his offspring. The Jewish people descend from Shem and many generations later this blessing came to its fulfillment when G-d’s presence rested in the Bet Hamkidash built by King Solomon.

Yefet, who was a fantastic partner to Shem was also blessed to have G-d’s commitment for expansive success. As a partner who had joined in but not initiated the respectful deed, he didn’t get the full version of blessing that Shem did.

From these three sons, the entire population of the world was replenished.

So many lessons here.

Be industrious. But remember to invest thought and assess wisely where to channel your industriousness.

See someone ‘down and out’? don’t be a Ham type and take advantage. Be a Shem type of person and see how you can initiate to help.

You are not in a position to initiate? At least participate. Become a partner with someone who does have the wherewithal to initiate. Jump in and give a hand. Don’t just hang out and watch from the sidelines.

Not sure how worthwhile it is to invest in doing good?

It may have a global effect.

Your proactivity can change not just you, but the entire world!

Moreover, it may even change the entire course of humanity.

We are still impacted by the actions of Noach and his family more than four thousand years later.

From these three individuals, come the billions of people who are in the world today in 2021.

Are you able to relate to any of these messages in your contemporary life?

Let me end with something even deeper. From the Baal Shemtov’s mystical approach.

The Baal Shem Tov taught that the wording used in the story about Noach being uncovered and his two sons not even seeing their father’s shame, teaches us that:

When a person sees negativity in another person, he is really being shown the negativity in himself.

If you don’t have that negativity in your own persona, you won’t see the other persons negativity. You would simply see a situation which requires your help. And you would help with a totally non-judgmental attitude.

Seeing negative in someone else is a warning sign to yourself. That you have something in your own self that needs to be repaired.

Now that is something that is really relevant…

How easy it is for us to notice unsavory things about other people. And to feel condescendingly superior to our fellow because of their failing.

Hang on a second. Not so fast. Don’t feel so pompous. It is very sobering and humbling to listen to the parsha’s message and realize that these negative issues that jump out glaringly at us when we view someone else, are really reflections of that same negativity that resides within us.

Click here for an essay all about this.

Most importantly this parsha shares with us the lifesaving secret of our spiritual survival in an often morally hostile world.

This parsha reminds us that before flooding our world, G‑d told Noah to build a teva, an ark, to shelter and protect his family and animals.

Teva doesn’t just mean ‘ark’, it also means “word.” By saying holy words and immersing ourselves in the ideas and words of Torah or prayers, taught the Baal Shem Tov, we create a protective shelter from the deluge of negativity and materialism all around us. Moreover, holy words spill over and purify the atmosphere around us.

Save your ‘life’. Get out of the ‘floodwaters’.

Don’t drown in the deluge of immoral and improper attitudes and peer influences.

Get into the ‘teva’ the ‘words’ and ideas of Torah and prayer.

Learn more Torah and pray more.

This is the way to ensure that you don’t ‘drown’ or get ‘washed away’ from your ironclad Torah-based moral values.

Let me end off with a blessing as we embark on our journey into the new year.

(New year? Wasn’t that a few weeks ago on Rosh Hashana. Well, till now we were ‘holidaying’ with Chagim ever few days 😊 but now we are back to hard work, with no holidays till Chanuka..)

May our Torah learning be with success and may our prayers for ourselves, our families, our communities, our people and the respective countries we live in, be accepted on High and may G-d respond to all of our prayers with a resounding YES.

The most significant and important prayer, the one that will solve ALL problems, may Mashiach come NOW!!!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

Chag Samayach

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Sukkot is every bit as joyous as I was hoping.

Perhaps this year I am attuned to it more than ever because it comes against the backdrop of an unusually challenging era.

The glowing feeling of being securely ensconced in G-d’s embrace is uplifting, serene, liberating, and transformational.

Even as the world around us continues to be disrupted and uncertain, Hashem remains an eternal constant, upon Whom we can and do rely.

Sitting in the Sukkah is a poignant and audio-visual sensory reminder of Hashem’s protection and care. We need but to ‘recharge’ our ‘faith-batteries’ and we are good-to-go, to dance our way back into the world fully ‘charged’.

Why do I mention disruption and certainty? What happened now?

Two things, affecting people and objects very close to me, shook me up over Sukkot.

My hometown of Melbourne, Australia. A dependable, usually not overly unpredictable place. A bit boring at times, in a good way.

Something totally unpredictable happened in Melbourne. On the second day of Sukkot, Wednesday Sep 22, they had an earthquake of almost 6 on the Richter scale. It was short, but long enough to be scary. Our daughter Mushka who lives in Melbourne, told me that she huddled with her children under the doorposts. One of my friends told me that he was so rattled that he said the ‘Shema Yisrael’ as is the custom when one thinks that their time has come, and they are passing away from this world.

Thank G-d there were no injuries to anyone!!! A real miracle!!!

It happened on the second day of Sukkot.

(One rabbi in Melbourne shared that he was shaking his lulav at that exact time… and the walls of his home started shaking with him… that must have felt very other-worldly…)

Sukkot reminds us that we are all vulnerable. So does an earthquake. How much more so when an earthquake comes on Sukkot. But Sukkot also provides the response to our feelings of helplessness.

By sitting in the small ‘Sukkah’s’ we construct, we remind ourselves of G-d protecting our ancestors in the ‘clouds of glory’ as they left Egypt. And He continues, for more than three thousand years now, to be the only ultimate provider and protector of us and of all that we hold dear. Even the usually unflappably dependable stability of ‘mother earth’ is only because G-d wishes it to be so.

The gift of Sukkot is the invitation to tap-in to the source of all stability. Once you ‘plug’ into a solid connection with G-d, you are able to live a serene, or at least a less stressful, life.

Actionable item: We have a Sukkah in JCafe, in Beth Elisheva, and mobile Sukkah’s. Feel free to reach out by email or phone to schedule to make a blessing in the Sukkah and wave the Lulav and Etrog in all directions as well. By doing so you will be taking concrete steps to invite Hashem’s protective aura from all directions and in every aspect of your life.

Here in Bangkok at Beth Elisheva something happened that was very close to home, and even more so, close to heart and soul.

Due to a crack in the building, the rain started leaking in from the roof on top of the Aron Kodesh – Holy Ark.

Initially, when we first discovered it, rain was dripping inside the Ark on the Torah, and it seemed like G-d forbid a tragedy had befallen us and the Torah’s were ruined.

Upon further inspection, once we took out the Torah’s and inspected them, it turned out that we had experience a miracle of sorts.

First of all, the fact that the leak started on Monday evening this week is a miracle. Because this Monday evening was the first night of Sukkot. Only because of Sukkot, were we downstairs at the Synagogue on a Monday night. Because the next day was the first day of Sukkot we opened the Aron Kodesh to prepare the Torah’s for the reading next day.

Because we discovered the leakage so soon after it started, the Torah’s were slightly damaged but not ruined.

Actually, all the Torah’s besides for one, seem to be fine. One scroll did get quite soaked at certain parts. But, after opening the scroll and leaving it overnight it seems like the parchment has some wrinkles at some areas, but the Torah letters are all intact. Which means that it remains a kosher Torah to be used for many years to come. This too is a miracle, as the damage could easily have been worse. (In order to be absolutely sure, we will send it for a full check-up by an expert scribe in Israel).

The initial shock that registered on the faces of everyone who saw the possibly ruined Torah, spoke volumes about how deeply and inextricably Jews are bound up with the Torah. It was as if someone they loved dearly had gone through an accident where the worst was feared. The relief on everyone’s faces upon learning that the situation was far better than imagined, was like getting a positive prognosis from a doctor that the injuries were not life threatening G-d forbid.

Indeed, the Torah teaches that ‘Israel, Torah and the ‘Holy one blessed be He’ are all one’. This threesome, the Jews, G-d and His Torah are inseparably intertwined with each other. It is thus of no surprise that everyone was so deeply touched by the possible loss of this Torah.

When one thinks about what could have happened, and how we were saved from that possible outcome, one realized that we experienced a miracle and for that we are joyously thankful to G-d.

Being thankful is great. Acting on that gratitude and showing just how much the Torah’s being saved means to us is even more impactful.

Perhaps there is an actionable message here.

The actual Torah that was affected, was the ‘community Torah’. This was a Torah scroll that was written especially for our Jewish community in Thailand. It was commissioned and paid for by the contribution of many tens of members of our community. It was initiated at the time after our long standing Sefer Torah had become invalidated.

Maybe it is time for a new unity Torah?

Truth be told, by amazing Divine Providence, this idea was already germinating in my head without me even knowing it.

Just two nights earlier, I had been listening to a talk that the Rebbe gave forty years ago (1981) the night before Sukkot. The Rebbe had initiated a campaign to unite as many Jews together as possible by having them ‘purchase letters’ in the Torah and ‘writing them into a Torah scroll’. When a Jew pays for a letter to be written into the Torah in his or her merit, it becomes so to speak ‘their letter’. Each letter of the Torah is irreplaceable. Thus, by having your own letter in the Torah, you become united with the other hundreds and thousands of Jews who have also partaken of this Torah.

Every Torah has 304,805 letters.

That is a lot of opportunity for unity.

The purpose of this campaign, explained the Rebbe, was not to increase the numbers of Torah in the world, which is in itself a holy mission but not the purpose of this particular campaign. It was a campaign to generate unity.

We had done this before in Thailand. And it was this unity Torah that had now been damaged.

I looked back at my records to see when exactly the former Thailand unity Torah had been written.

Twenty years ago exactly. At the end of Sukkot.

A lot has changed in twenty years. Many have been born. Some have passed. Our community has grown. Not just in Bangkok but in many other provinces and cities.

Join the dots.

Do you think it may be time to write a unity Torah again?

Let it sink in…

Let us think about it over Shabbat…

And then, if you like I think that it may be a Heaven-sent opportunity, let’s work on the details.

Shabbat Shalom,

Chag Sukkot Sameach,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

Positive start?

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

A new beginning.

After the High Holidays, followed by Sukkot and Simchat Torah, we begin to read the Torah from BERESHIT – In the Beginning…

We all like to start things off on the right foot.

Thinking back to my school years, the first pages of my notebooks were far neater and invested then the subsequent pages.

The Torah begins on a fantastically optimistic, bright and positive note.

The first item that Hashem created on day one of creation was LIGHT.

In describing the creation, G-d uses the word ‘TOV’ – good, six times, for the six days of creation.

On day six, just before the informing about the seventh day in which G-d rested, the Torah sums up creation as being TOV M’EOD – VERY good.

There is an email that sticks in my memory. It was many years ago. It was a challenge to an article I had written.

I had written an article describing how man is innately good and positive.

Someone sent me an email hotly contesting what I had written about man’s intrinsic goodness. The person quoted an explicit verse in the portion of Noach, where after the flood Hashem promises not to destroy the world again because man is evil from the get-go. "I will no longer curse the earth because of man, for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth, and I will no longer smite all living things as I have done’ .

This year, I was reading a talk from the Rebbe delivered on this Shabbat in 1964 and this very topic jumped out at me from the text on the page.

The Rebbe commented on his own pre-Rosh Hashana letter that year, (click here for full letter) where he had stated:

There were times when the said idea, namely, the ability of a single individual to ‘transform’ the world, met with skepticism, and demanded proof etc.

However, precisely in our generation, unfortunately, we do not have far to seek to be convinced of this. We have seen how one individual had brought the world to the brink of destruction, but for the mercies of the King of the Universe Who ordained that ‘the Earth shall stand firm; shall not fall’.

If such is the case in the realm of evil, surely one’s potential is much greater in the realm of the good. For, in truth, creation is essentially good, and therefore more inclined towards the good than the opposite.

The Rebbe asked a question on his own above premise that ‘creation is essentially good’ quoting the verse from Noach about the heart of man being ‘evil from his youth’. Based on that verse, asked the Rebbe ‘how could I have written that creation is essentially good’?

I was so excited to see the question spelled out. Because it has been mulling in my mind since that person asked me the question.

The Rebbe answered, that based on the verses quoted above about creation being good, the true essence of creation and of man is good.

The Torah says that unequivocally. And even after Adam sinned, Hashem still summed up creation by saying ‘it was very good’.

However, the innate goodness is only the true essence, at its deepest core.

Once you proceed outward, to the less essential and deep levels, there indeed man has negative tendencies from his very youth.

On the surface, the world is not good. There are many aspects that are just downright bad.

But, Hashem calls the creation ‘good’ because at its core, it is GOOD.

‘How does that help?’ further asked the Rebbe. We don’t live at our ‘core’. We live with the reality of what is evident at face value. And the negativity that we encounter around us, flies in the face of the Torah’s description of humankind and the world being essentially good.

The fact that the world is good at its core, is extremely helpful, answered the Rebbe.

There is an intrinsic and gargantuan difference between the task of transforming a bad world into good to the work required in merely uncovering the negative layers of externality and revealing the innate good from within.

To sum it up.

We, you and I, as well the entire world created by G-d, are innately good.

The negativity that we have in ourselves, and in the world is only an outside addition.

We need but to dig deep and shovel away the dirt, to hit GOLD.  The gold that is deeply embedded within us and is actually the truest level of ourself.

Let’s get to work and discover our true selves.

This is achieved by studying Torah.

Simchas Torah and Shabbat Breishit is the time to make good resolutions about studying Torah! Sign up to a daily study program at or if you would like something that emanates from Thailand, one of our local community has a ‘weekly nutshell’ or the ‘daily aliyah’ that he sends out weekly and daily respectively. If you would like to be on that list please click

By doing mitzvahs.

Mitzvahs between ourselves and G-d.

Mitzvahs between ourselves and our fellow.

And let us work very hard, to always see that innate good in others.

And may G-d bring our essential good to the fore!

This is what will happen when Mashiach comes. The inside, essential goodness of humanity and the entire creation, will be revealed!

Can’t wait for that day.

Gotta do more deeds of goodness and kindness to hurry it up and hasten his coming NOW.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

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