"Shabbat Shalom from Bangkok"

Yosef-Chaim=ADD-LIFE: Shabbat Shalom From Bangkok!

 By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Last Friday I had written an article in which I came out very passionately about the mitzvah of burial for any Jew that passes away. I maintained that a Jew who studies the topic properly will come to the burial conclusion. I attached a link to what I consider to be a good lecture on the topic.

In my article, I proposed that we treat discussions about burial with more openness rather than shying away from the topic in fear. By the time people need to have the discussion it is very often too late. Maybe we need to create a ‘buzz’ about this issue.

I was thinking about it all of Shabbat.

As an emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe I take my inspiration and instruction about how to best inspire fellow Jews in their commitment to Judaism from the Rebbe. The Rebbe had initiated a ten-point mitzvah ‘campaign’. These are basic mitzvahs (out of the total of 613) that the Rebbe encouraged every Jew to fulfil even if they were not yet ready to embrace observance of every single mitzvah. (They invariably serve as a ‘gateway mitzvah’ that leads to many others).

I thought to myself. I don’t remember every hearing the Rebbe speak publicly exhorting Jews to make the right choice after their allotted time on earth.

Countless times I had heard the Rebbe promote and inspire men to don Tefilin and women to light Shabbat Candles.

Giving Tzedaka was something that featured in almost every public address of the Rebbe. Ahavat Yisrael, studying Torah, eating Kosher, Jewish education for children, having holy Jewish books in your home, a Mezuzah on your door and keeping the mitzvah of (mikvah) family purity. All of these were often spoken about with great passion.

Of course, the Rebbe was unequivocal about strict adherence to every detail of every single mitzvah of the Torah, whether biblical, rabbinic of custom. Burial is one of those mitzvahs. Proper treatment of the body after passing (no autopsies) is extremely important. It is simple and obvious that the Rebbe was unwavering about every nuance of Torah and Mitzvahs.

It is just that I never heard the Rebbe talking publicly or making a campaign about ensuring Jewish burial as far as I could recollect.

It came to me like a flash of lightning illuminating the entire surroundings.

The Rebbe’s mission is to uplift and inspire Jews to LIVE JEWISHLY.

Talk about burial is largely redundant once someone lives Jewishly.

Once you live as a Jew and do mitzvahs, automatically you will want to have your final statement in the world to be a Jewish one.

Earlier this week a Jew who lived here on and off for two decades passed away.

Mr. O. was diagnosed a few years ago with a terminal disease. Years ago he had stated emphatically that he never wanted to see a rabbi again. That changed one hundred and eighty degrees. For when faced with his mortality the important things of life became vivid to him.  He asked for Rabbi Yossi to visit him so that he could discuss how to live his final days on earth. He put on tefillin for the first time since his Bar Mitzvah. And he wrote a handwritten note that he wanted to have a Jewish burial. His funeral is in Israel today. May his memory be for a blessing.

I recently received a call from a successful young businessman in the USA. He has become observant of mitzvahs and lives a full Jewish life. The call was about a grandparent who lives in Thailand and is not very Jewishly observant. The grandson, realizing that Thailand’s default is cremation, realized that he needed to broach the topic with his grandpa. His grandfather gave his consent that if there was a Jewish cemetery in Thailand he could organize a Jewish burial for him after he passes. Hence his phone call to me. The motivation for this final wish is clearly the fact that the grandchild now LIVES passionately as an observant Jew.

Clearly, my job and mission is to get Jews to LIVE as Jews. To observe more mitzvahs. To study more Torah. To give more Tzedakah. (And – don’t laugh - to visit JCafe more often for Jewish ‘culinary’ items 😊 . I have seen many mitzvahs happen when Jews come to look for ‘Jewish food’).

This will solve the issues of assimilation and Jewish continuity.

For the more a Jew LIVES as a Jew, the more they become passionate about their relationship with G-d. The more they become mindful and desirous of a connection to G-d, the more they make decisions based on what is better according to the wishes of the Almighty.

And one (gateway) mitzvah pulls along another mitzvah which leads to yet another mitzvah and so on.

Earlier this week we celebrated the liberation of the first Chabad Rebbe , the author of the Tanya. R’ Shneor Zalman’s teachings were all about LIVING as a Jew in the best possible way. The Tanya explains clearly that regardless of a Jews conscious belief, every Jewish soul innately believes in G-d and doesn’t want to be disenfranchised from Him. The annual study cycle of Tanya has just begun click here to join in your favorite language with your choice of teacher.

In my schooling I was taught, that every Jew at his or her essence is naturally connected to G-d beyond any rationale or reasoning. It is simply who they are. A soul which is a piece of G-d enclothed in a body.

In other words. I believe that YOU believe.

Let’s get topical.

Chanuka is coming!!!!!

Which Jew doesn’t want to light Chanuka candles?

The Chanuka lights are a symbol of the eternal flame of Yiddishkeit that burns brightly in the heart and soul of every Jewish man woman and child.

We are a people who are enjoined by the Almighty to CHOOSE LIFE!!!!

Lately I have been talking a lot about burial but really I am talking about ETERNAL LIFE. You see, the best place for a Jew to be positioned when the Mashiach comes and the deceased with be resurrected and come back to life, is having been buried in a Jewish burial ground. While waiting for Mashiach, the souls are hosted rapturously in the Garden of Eden. In Eden, souls are most comfortable when buried on earth as Jews. So you see, even when I talk about Jewish burial I am really advocating the best ETERNAL LIFE CHOICE possible for a Jew. I am not talking about ‘death’ per se.

But admittedly, not everyone sees it that way 😊

Case in point:

This morning I bumped into Jeffrey, a Jewish resident of Bangkok who had come to buy a Menorah and candles from JCafe. Upon seeing me he said that he had brought along a donation for the new cemetery land as he saw I was ‘very into burial’.

If I wasn’t sure whether I should write this above article, this clinched it for me. If it seems like I am ‘very into burial’ it is time to clarify. I needed to qualify and explain my recent highlighting of the topic of Jewish burial.

It is not because I have adopted a new agenda to promote. I am not in the ‘funeral home business’.

Like all of my peers spread throughout the globe, I am in the JEWISH LIVING AND LIFE field of work.

My passion is teaching Torah and sharing mitzvahs with people. Putting on tefillin with people, giving out matzah, organizing Chanuka celebrations and the list goes on.

Why my recent emphasis on burial?

Simply, in most Jewish communities, the previous generations have forethought the future burial needs of the community and purchased tracts of land for that purpose.

In Thailand this was not the case. Jewish life in Thailand unfolded more spontaneously than in the neighboring colonized countries (Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Burma etc) which all have old and established burial grounds. When I first arrived to Thailand, I was told there was no way to provide for Jewish burials. People told me that the window of opportunity had passed and it was not possible to provide land for this purpose.

Thank G-d they were not right. Almost immediately we found a short-term solution. A small tract of land adjacent to the existing cemetery on Charoenkrung Rd. that was zoned for burial. That was sufficient for nearly three decades. Now we have thank G-d been able to buy enough land to provide for the future generation needs in this regard.

As our sages taught ‘In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man’ i.e. if no one else is available to do it, be sure to do it.

Thus this is the ‘hat’ I have been wearing lately in directly promoting this important mitzvah of burial.

However, it is time for me to remind myself and my readers that it is Jewish LIFE that is at the forefront of our mission.

As in the field of medicine, the truly forward-thinking method is to practice preventive medicine.

Get people to LIVE healthy, so that they don’t require doctors.

Encouraging and inspiring Jews to LIVE Jewishly is the absolutely BEST WAY to keep our Jewish people healthy in mind, body and soul.

And as a result, all aspects of Jewish life will become more valued. Including the great mitzvah of Jewish burial.

People have asked me what to wish me upon the occasion of consecrating a new cemetery.

‘May you never need to use it’. Seems like a good wish.

At the end of the ceremony at Bangkok’s new (Chachoengsao) burial grounds, we read the following verses from the Prophet Yeshayahu (Isaiah).

“He will swallow up death forever; G‑d, the L‑rd, will wipe tears away from all faces.”

This verse is the wish we wish for. THE DEATH OF DEATH.

This will happen when Mashiach comes speedily in our days AMEN!!!

Shabbat Shalom,

Chanuka Sameach

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS Jeffrey had bought a menorah and candles for himself to light on Chanuka. I asked him if he would please join me in being a ‘shliach’ and bringing Chanuka to someone who may not have been planning to observe Chanuka. He gladly toon on the mission and I handed him and extra menorah and candles.

My invitation to you reading these lines is, join me in the mission of SPREADING LIGHT and Jewish LIFE by giving a menorah and candles to a fellow Jew who may not yet have. (Chabad of Thailand is happy to provide the menorah and candles at no charge. Reach out to me, or to R’ Yossi Goldberg at JCafe +6681 753 5071

PPS JCafe can also help you out with dreidels, chocolate coins DONUTS and more!!!!


happy NOT satisfied...Shabbat Shalom From Bangkok!

By the Grace of G-d
Dear Friend,
I hope the other nine, who are probably as hungry and thirsty as me, are not annoyed with me.
Surely, they are not. As they know that it’s not my innovation. Its an ancient Jewish tradition that the ‘minyan’ of ‘Chevra Kadisha’ (lit Holy Society) fasts from dawn to nightfall on a designated day every year. We have chosen today – the 15th day of Kislev – as our designated fast day.
This year is the first year that we are fulfilling this custom here in Bangkok. In conjunction with the consecration and dedication of the new Jewish cemetery grounds near Bangkok, it is appropriate that we adopt this custom. It is a sign of a mature and developing community.
It is a voluntary fast. Ten men of our community, who are sensitive and always ready to help with matters pertaining to burial, are currently in midst of a daylong fast that will end with Kiddush tonight.
Why the fast?
To pray to G-d for forgiveness.
Forgiveness for what? For doing the mitzvah of helping fellow Jews reaching their final resting place in the Jewish tradition of burial?
For that we should be patted on the back. Not asking forgiveness.
This is so counterintuitively uplifting.
The Torah instructs Jews to bury their loved ones after their life here on earth concludes.
The Torah praises the mitzvah of tending to the dead as being benevolence of the highest order.
Admittedly, it is not pleasant work that people would usually seek to engage in. Certainly not to volunteer for. We do it because it’s a mitzvah. It’s the way G-d has told us to conduct ourselves. It’s what G-d Himself did for Moshe after he went up on the mountain of Nevo. We are emulating G-d when we engage in acts of kindness to those who have passed.
There is a delicate balance though between celebrating accomplishment and feeling humble and undeserving.
First of all, kudo and compliments to those that roll up their sleeves and do what needs to be done.
They should be praised to the heavens!
But how do those valiant men and women, who overcome distaste and dedicate time and energy to do this holy work feel?
Maybe sometimes.
But they also take one day every year to refrain from food and drink and be introspective about their role in tending to those who have passed on to the next world. The World of Truth, aka ‘Gan Eden’ - Paradise.
This ‘timeout’ of sorts is undertaken to mediate on the fact that maybe with their best of intentions, and has hard as they have tried, they have inadvertently not treated every ‘body’ with the fullest levels of dignity. They are human after all. And humans have imperfections.
This morning we gathered for prayer. Special ‘selichot’ were recited emphasizing our remorseful mood as we ask G-d to forgive us if we have been lacking in some way in our conduct. This is followed by a visit to the cemetery where forgiveness is also asked from those who are buried there. In case somehow they were not treated perfectly.
Think about it. This is totally ‘against the flow’ behavior.
Conventional wisdom would say that you should feel like a trillion bucks for engaging in this tedious work in the first place. And I can tell you that such care and gentleness is used when preparing the body that it is truly inspiring. We put forth our best effort. If it so happened that we didn’t get it 100% right so what? Say thanks that its being done at all.
This is not the Torah way though. The Torah tells us that when it comes to analyzing OURSELVES, we should be feeling less than perfect. (We should not be judgmental of others; it is self-introspection we I am talking about). We should stay away from the smug attitudes that can all too easily creep in, when we engage in something heroic.
We need to train ourselves to harbor two conflicting emotions at the same time. On the one hand we should feel privileged and uplifted to have been given the merit to engage in this holy work, and on the other hand, feel insignificant as we have not been perfect in our performance.
It’s a balance that Yaakov taught us in this weeks Parsha when he is about to meet Esav his vengeful brother.
Yaakov has been promised by G-d some twenty years earlier that Hashem will protect him. Yet he is scared because he feels he may not be worthy of the blessing. Perhaps he has not lived up to the full potential that Hashem has provided for him. In that case he will be considered ‘off target’ and not worthy of Hashems miracles.
We know that Yaakov was a saintly person. Yaakov surely knew about his own piety. Yet, he viewed himself as not being worthy. Because maybe he could have done even better.
This is the same notion that is implicit in the fast of the ‘Chevra Kadisha’.
A Chevra Kadisha does their hard, sometimes grueling, noble work. Unsung and uncelebrated.
Kudos to them!
But they don’t stop with being happy about their great kindness. They take time for introspection. To reflect on the fact that they may have been imperfect in an unintentional way. To ask forgiveness from their fellow departed Jew and to ask forgiveness from G-d for possibly not living up to His expectations of us.
This is truly a mark of a ‘HOLY society.
Happy (with their accomplishment) but not satisfied (with it).
My dear friend. The Jewish way in death and mourning is so holy and so pure. Why is it that Jewish people are becoming less sensitive to this important tradition? I get so heartbroken when I encounter people who choose to cremate their Jewish relatives. Or when I hear of people who leave final instructions for their own cremation.
The Torah clearly tells us how to treat the bodies of our loved ones and brethren after the soul has left. It needs to be laid gently to rest in earth. The body is still somewhat alive. It needs to be treated with deference, dignity and respect.
I believe firmly that a Jew who chooses cremation is solely a result of misinformation.
I don’t want to draw any parallels… but use your imagination and think about topics that exist in our society today where rumors, conspiracy theories, lack of information and peer pressure cause the behavior of people to be misguided.
There is no rational or sensible reason I have ever heard for cremation to be chosen over burial.
The only thing that may be argued is that in some places cremation is cheaper than burial.
But we are talking about a choice that has eternal implications. Being buried as a Jew is a final statement to the world that I AM A JEW.
Will we let money get in the way of choices that are infinitely more valuable than money?
We need to spread more Jewish knowledge about this topic.
I ask you to educate yourself on the topic. And then you and I can join forces in dispelling the untruths that are rife about cremation having some merit over burial. Look into it and you will learn how ‘right’ burial is.

Talk more about your burial plans with your loved ones and with your friends.

Talking about ‘after life’ used to be taboo. Parents didn’t speak about ‘scary things’ like that with their teenage children.
Times have changed. Today’s teenagers are exposed to many things that it would be better they wouldn’t be exposed to. They are not scared off by talking about death as long as it’s done in a matter-of-factly, healthy and positive way.
The worldwide Jewish community needs to be more proactive about teaching the topic of the mitzvah of burial.
A Jew who takes the time to educate themselves about the virtues of burial over cremation, will certainly opt for burial. They may however be left with one small hurdle to overcome.
This, in Thailand, we are alleviating please G-d by our new cemetery ground purchase.
Truth be told, money has never been an issue for a Jew to be buried in Thailand. I have merited to bring many Jews to their final rest, who didn’t have any funds at all. Our community are heroes. Charitable and benevolent heroes. They have always opened their hearts and pockets to ensure that every Jew receives his dignified rest.
With the new grounds, this affordability is even more guaranteed and possible.
Let me make it very clear.
Any Jewish person who passes away anywhere in Thailand need only leave instructions that they wish to be buried as a Jew and we will see to it that this will happen please G-d.
Please be an ambassador of this great mitzvah and encourage your friends and loved ones to leave instructions (a note in your own handwriting is a great start, don’t delay in waiting for a lawyer, write a note immediately).

I would like to share, that this first time in my life that I am fasting the ‘Chevra Kadisha’ fast. It is deeply meaningful and emotional to me.

(My grandfather Reb Moshe Kantor led the Chevra Kadisha of Melbourne Australia for many decades).
It shows me how sensitive we are meant to be as Jews taking care of one another.
Can you imagine, if this is the way we take care of our deceased, how sensitive and detail oriented we need to be in tending to the living?
Not just they way we ACT towards each other. Even the way we THINK about each other.
The Alter Rebbe – founder of Chabad – whose day of redemption (19th of Kislev) we celebrate this coming week, made the following comment in Tanya (Iggeret Hakodesh Epistle 22).
T he Alter Rebbe resumes his plea to his Chasidim:  
Therefore, my beloved and dear ones, I beg again and again that each of you exert himself with all his heart and soul to firmly implant in his heart a love for his fellow Jew, and, in the words of Scripture, “let none of you consider in your heart what is evil for his fellow.
Moreover, [such a consideration] should never arise in one’s heart [in the first place]; and if it does arise, one should push it away from his heart “as smoke is driven away,” as if it were an actual idolatrous thought. For to speak evil [of another] is as grave as idolatry and incest and bloodshed. And if this be so with speech, [then surely thinking evil about another is even worse,] for all the wise of heart are aware of the greater impact [on the soul] of thought over speech,
This is one of the things we need to strive for.
Not just to ACT nicely to each other. We need to THINK nicely of each other as well. Entertaining negative thoughts about others is UNACCEPTABLE says the Alter Rebbe, just as is idolatry.
May the Almighty grant us the great privilege of thinking good about each other, and how much more so, helping each other, with acts of kindness during good, health, joyous and uplifting times.
And as the prayers we recited at the cemetery this morning concluded, (we went there to ask for forgiveness from those buried there, and to see what needed tending to) may the prophecy that ‘DEATH WILL BE SWALLOWED UP FOREVER, G-D WILL WIPE AWAY TEARS FROM ALL FACES’ become a reality, with MASHIACH NOW!!!
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Yosef Kantor
PS on SUNDAY we are dedicating the new Cemetery Land. click here for more details.

no couch potatoes please. Shabbat Shalom From Bangkok!

By the Grace of G-d
Dear Friend,
This week’s portion says it all.
Yaakov left his father’s home.
He went on to spend 21 years with his conniving and devious uncle Lavan.
Yaakov remained pure and holy even in that environment. Didn’t just survive but thrived. For it was there that Yaakov got married and established the twelve tribes of Israel of whom we, the Jewish people are all descendants.
It all started by GOING OUT.
Leaving home. Exiting his comfort zone.
My dear friends, we are all in that state already.
We have ‘gone out’ of our previous comfort zones more times that we realize.
It starts even before birth.
Our souls were very comfortable ensconced and enraptured in G-d’s Holy presence.
G-d in His ultimate Benevolence, plucked our souls from their supernal perch in heaven, and thrust them down into a corporeal body to live in a material and sometimes jungle-like world.
And that is when the real action starts.
G-d’s plan is to have physical beings, endowed with spiritual souls, traversing this material world, bringing together heaven and earth.
All real action starts when you are ready to LEAVE YOUR COMFORT ZONE.
The fetus prefers the womb. But fully independent life starts only after birth.
Staying at home is easier than being taken to kindergarten.
Going to first grade can be traumatic.
Middle school. High school. Yeshiva. Acquiring skills to make a living.
And the big one. MARRIAGE.
And then please G-d the even bigger one. The epically transformational departure from self-centeredness to the zone of altruistically caring for another creature whether you feel like it or not. (Babies don’t take excuses when they want to be fed, burped, diapered or coddled).
All of these stages and steps are DEPARTURES from one state of being.
Leaving your place, is the first step in arriving at a new place.
New beginnings require leaving a previous state.
That is the way we ought to continue living our lives. Every day for the rest of our life.
Not being satisfied with our achievements in the realm of serving the Almighty and being selflessly benevolent to others. Rather to constantly yearn and aim higher.
I had an itinerary for my return home from New York.
Something came into my brain space that told me if you are in the USA already, how can you leave without seeing your son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in Las Vegas. The Torah teaches that family comes first. Arriving a day later in Thailand would still bring me home before Shabbos so it was a no-brainer. Within a few hours I was able to change my schedule.
I almost didn’t change my plans. It was a departure of sorts from my plans that had been carefully formulated. Change is not always so easy.
I am so happy I did. It brought me to a totally new place.
I will let you judge.
Spending time with my kids, albeit just a few hours, was thank G-d enjoyable beyond description. That was worth everything.

Embedded message here…. Hug your kids when you can… tell them you love them. Be there for them. Same goes for kids to their parents. Take the opportunities that come your way to express your love to your loved ones. It’s not enough that you feel it I your heart. You have to invest in spending time and showing your love in real life.

But then I got some extra bonus experiences that further uplifted me and showed me how Divine Providence had led me to change my plans.
Flights to BKK are from LAX. Mendel drove me to L.A. Great bonding time.
I had three experiences in LA that were spontaneous. They inspired me in their absolute Divine Providence nature and no doubt G-d entrusted me with the experience to share with others.
First stop in LA were the offices of a successful business to say hi to the founder.
The founder of the business is almost ten years younger than me. He spent a few months volunteering at Chabad here in Bangkok more than twenty-five years ago. At the time he was just post Yeshiva high school with his future plans still in flex. He decided that since he had some time to spare, he wanted to dedicate a few months to helping us in our work in Thailand. Fast forward two decades. This religious young man founded a business. No business school or college can claim ownership on his success. He started his business straight out of Yeshiva. It was a direct result of G-d blessing his toil and effort. Today he employs hundreds of employees thank G-d.
He told me that while he had come to HELP me in my work, the time with us was actually a great help to him as well. It constituted a major inspirational point in his life. He decided to pay the gift forward and sponsor the ‘Yeshiva bachur volunteer suite’ in the new Chabad House at Kasoarn Rd in Banglamphu (slated for completion in under two months please G-d. stay tuned for grand opening date).
The offices were beautiful, and very welcoming and user friendly to the employees (it is a wonderful thing to see employers invest in the wellbeing of their employees. Many employers now realize that it is the right thing to do, to make a holistic investment into the physical, emotional and spiritual wellness of their employees. In the end it benefits the employer as well as the output is much greater). It was inspirational to see the success of my younger friend that had come from G-d’s blessings, and I was delighted to be able to thank him for his great gift in person.
As I was driving into LA I heard of the tragic passing of the daughter of my childhood friend from Australia who now lives in LA. It was the first day of Shiva. I calculated that I had exactly enough time to pay a visit and still make my flight. I walked into the shiva house and my friend who hadn’t seen me in many years almost fell off his seat with delight and surprise. The warmth that the meeting generated was truly extraordinary. It was one of those moments that will remain etched in my memory. May G-d send my friend comfort and healing from this indescribably painful loss.
Headed off to the airport. Upon checking in to my flight with Singapore Airlines at LAX I noticed a successful but agitated looking man standing at the check-in counter. When I got to the counter, he looked at me and said ‘make a brocha for me to get on the flight’. That was his way of telling me that he was Jewish. I gave him my blessing, together with 2 Singapore dollars and asked him to give it to Tzedaka in Singapore. He gave me 2 US dollars (he doesn’t carry THB :) ) to put into Tzedaka in Thailand. But when I asked him if he knows my colleague in Singapore, he said that he doesn’t. Turns out that while he and his wife are Jewish, they have not yet visited the Shul in Singapore although they have lived there for several years. He promised that if he gets on the flight, he will visit the Synagogue.
His permit came through at the last minute and HE IS ON THE FLIGHT Baruch Hashem. And he told me he will keep his word and visit the Synagogue in Singapore.
To seal the deal, I have also sent my colleague Rabbi Abergel in Singapore his contact. I have no doubt that this will be the reigniting of a good Jewish connection. A new beginning of sorts.
I share this with you just as a little sample of how we sometimes need to leave our plans as G-d has something waiting for us at a different location.
Remember, staying on the couch at home won’t get you to the next stage of your life.
Be prepared to leave your comfort zone and reach higher.
A friend of mine whom I visited in NY before leaving home gave me a nice donation. Upon leaving his home and getting into the car he called me to come back. He gave me a second check of the same size and told me:

I am leaving my comfort zone and giving you double, and I ask you to pray to Hashem that He leave His ‘comfort zone’ so to speak, and grant me blessings that are beyond what was planned or expected.

Indeed, Hashem created his world with a system of ‘quid pro quo’. Our actions here in this world, beget and create a corresponding (albeit infinitely more powerful and elevated) result in the upper worlds, which then radiates back down into this world. This means that we have the chance to change our destiny by leaving our static state and acting in a way that generates G-d’s blessings.
Which is why for example we give Tzedaka before praying. Prayer is about asking G-d for life.
Before we as Hashem to give us life, first GIVE life to someone in need. (Money that can buy life preserving needs, or give someone an emotional lift etc.. Click here for more). This is what Tzedaka is about, giving life to others. Then you can indeed pray to G-d much more effectively to give you life. For you will have already created the corresponding ‘G-dly energies’ of life that will be bestowed upon you.
Here is my message to myself, and you can listen in.
As I wing my way back from the international ‘Kinus (conference of) Shluchim which serves me as a ‘station identification’ and moral compass. I am reflecting on the time I spent, quality spiritual time at the Rebbe’s Shul at 770 Eastern Parkway in study. Time spent praying for the wellbeing of my family and community at the Ohel of the Rebbe. I turn my focus to the main agenda of our conference which is the recommitment that my colleagues and I took to the Rebbe’s constant encouragement and exhortation to bring Mashiach into reality.
How does one do that? By learning about what a ‘liberated’ G-dly world will look like, and acting in the way that one should act in a world that is itching to be holier. The implementation of these goals are by being inspired to go out of our comfort zones in all matters of goodness and kindness and holiness.

We need to commit to GROWING in all matter of Torah and Mitzvahs. As the Rebbe would always say, it is human nature, if you have 100 aim for 200. If you have 200 aim for 400.


Not for a bigger car and larger bank account. Being satisfied with what you have materially is the way it should be. To be unsatisfied in our spiritual growth is a great blessing. To commit to more Torah study. Additional mitzvah observance. More benevolent deeds to other. More self-control from empty indulgence.
Please G-d I look forward to a revitalization of Jewish life in Thailand as we emerge from the lockdowns and quarantines.

(A great piece of news as Thailand opens up is that the kosher meat restaurant at Chabad House has reopened this week. Daily 12 noon to 8:00 PM. Call 02 629 2755 to order. Or Rabbi Wilhelm at 081 869 5164)

All changes start from our own selves. Please G-d I aim to personally redouble my efforts in all of the above.
If you who is listening, is motivated to also add, this will be the greatest domino effect possible. If I change. And you change. The world changes. For the better.
(We have seen how quickly the entire world can be affected over the last two years. If disease is contagious, how much more so GOOD ENERGY and SYNERGY can spread faster than a virus. For Hashem has created His world with an imbalance in the favor of good. Good will always ultimately prevail. Good energy is thus more contagious than negative vibes).
And Mashiach comes. NOW!!!
Shabbat Shalom
PS lots of exciting programs and projects in the works. New cemetery dedication, New Torah writing, New Bet Elisheva building to commence soon (reformulating plans takes time…). CHANUKA celebrations. New JLI course. New Chabad House building at Kaosarn Rd to be opened. May Hashem bless us all with HEALTH and success to each do our bit, AMEN!!!!


Siberian Thugs? Shabbat Shalom From Bangkok!

By the Grace of G-d
Dear Friends,
I spent the last weekend in New York in the company of scores of bearded, black-hatted, motivated and highly accomplished ‘Shluchim’.
What are Shluchim? They are a team. Husband and wife. Shliach and shlucha. They are the emissaries of the Rebbe, the representatives of Lubavitch, the messengers of Chabad.
They are the shluchim.
During the Shluchim conference that I was privileged to attend over the weekend, I heard many inspiring stories. One of the best is how one rabbi explained that ‘it was the thugs that convinced me to join them in Siberia’. Watch the clip and I think you too will be inspired.
One of the takeaways of the conference was the power of reframing challenge as being an accelerator rather than a damper. Disruption is something no one asks for. However, what we do with it, how we react to it, can make the difference between depression or leaping to higher peaks.
The world has been through a major upheaval (which we hope will be behind us sooner than the way it seems). We need to try not to get pulled down by all of this, but rather to utilize that for doing things we didn’t think possible before.
The atmosphere as the rabbi’s shared experiences, challenges, motivational stories and miracles was absolutely uplifting and transformational.
We all left with renewed vigor and optimism. With a ‘can do’ attitude, to add more and more acts of goodness and kindness. To launch more programs and broaden the reach to touch every Jew with light and positivity anywhere they may be in the world.
The climax was the joint prayers we made at the Rebbe’s resting place. Each rabbi prayed for his own locale and community. Together, collectively we prayed for the Jewish community the world over, and in a broader sense, for all of the inhabitants of our planet.
The common thread running through everything we discussed, was how to implement the mission that the Rebbe entrusted to us at the last address that the Rebbe gave to the Shluchim in 1991. The Rebbe stated with passion and clarity, that we were embarking on the final stretch of the mission, the culmination of thousands of years of the Jewish journey, BRINGING MASHIACH NOW.
Once the conference was over, I began my work of meeting up with benefactors and supporters of our work. To say thanks for the past and to enlist their partnership and support for the future.
This is what brought me to the streets of Manhattan. There, on the mundane streets of the ‘Big Apple’ an inspiring story happened to me. I share it here with you, as it shows the detailed Divine Providence of Hashem down here on earth. It gives us a chance to see the presence of G-d in the smallest details of our lives.
It was a nice brisk day. Perfect for walking in the streets of Manhattan. When my appointment on 39th street and 6th Ave told me that I was welcome to visit him if I came in the next thirty minutes, I started to walk energetically. I needed to get to my appointment from my previous meeting on 60th St and Madison.
Google maps says its 26 minutes walk. This meant I needed to walk as quickly as possible.
At one street, I made it to the other side just before the light turned. A young man walking next to me exclaimed ‘great, we made the light’. I continued walking, he continued walking. I was in a rush. He seemed to be in a rush too. After a few more blocks of both of us keeping approximately the same pace he commented ‘you have a good pace’. I said thanks. A few blocks later he said, ‘with all of its problems, New York is still a great city’. I agreed with him and told him I had been born in NY. He told me his grandparents came from Russia. I asked him if he was Jewish. He said his mother was. I told him that means that he too is Jewish.
We got to 39th St. and 5th Ave. I turned down 39th. My walking mate said, ‘I also need to turn here’. 
Walking down 39th St I asked him, ‘Did you have a Bar Mitzvah’? 
‘No’, he said.
I knew that my friends who I was going to visit on 39th St would be very happy if I brought my new friend up to put on Tefilin in their office. 
I invited Denis to come up with me to the office. Alan and Steve were overjoyed to hear why I had someone else accompanying me. They exuberantly congratulated Denis as we put on Tefilin together for the very first time in his life. 
We said a Lechayim and thus celebrated the Jewish initiation of a soul that had been thirsting (albeit without consciously knowing it) for reuniting with his Jewish roots and performing Mitzvahs.
It doesn’t happen often that people initiate conversation with me in the streets of New York.
Denis told me that he was motivated to speak to me for two reasons.
First of all, he was impressed with my walking pace.  
Secondly, he is supervising a construction project at Sloan Ketering Hospital. He said that the people being treated there who look like me are always very nice to him. They greet him warmly and he has a good feeling around them.
This came on the heels of another Tefilin story.
A few days ago, my brother-in-law from Long Island told me the following.
He said that he conducted a funeral for a community member and when they got back to the shiva house, he helped the men lay Tefilin.
One of the relatives commented as he was putting on the Tefilin that the only other time he had put on Tefilin was twenty years ago in Thailand.
He had been traveling. Lost his wallet and was stuck. He had called Chabad and met a rabbi who brought him into his house, gave him a bowl of soup and laid Tefilin with him. After he put on the Tefilin everything seemed better and started to work out. It felt so right to have the Tefilin on. 
My brother-in-law pulled out his phone and found a picture of me and asked is this the rabbi you met? The relative said YES, that’s the guy…..
A small world…
I share these stories precisely because they are not miraculous or other worldly. They are reminders that Hashem embeds opportunities along our paths to do Mitzvot and good deeds. 
One of the good deeds we can do is to give someone a bowl of physical soup. Another even more critical need we can provide, is spiritual sustenance for the soul. To introduce others to the wonderful world of doing Mitzvahs’.
If you saw something starving and shivering, would you give them a warm bowl of soup?
When you see someone pining and yearning for direction and spiritual motivation, shouldn’t you at least endeavor to provide them with spiritual nourishment and inspiration?
No, don’t be pompous and sanctimonious and approach the other person with a ‘holier than thou’ attitude. That is counterproductive. It pushes people away G-d forbid.
Be genuinely caring for someone else. Empathize, when you see someone who is stuck in the rut of the mindless and endless pursuit of wealth amassment. See if you can introduce them to something of higher value. To something eternal. Bring him close to the Almighty, to His Torah and Mitzvahs.
Above all, try to add LIGHT, POSITIVITY and JOY to yourself and all of those around you. 
This is a mission that is possible for each and every one of us to do.
Chodesh Tov!!! Today is the first day of the month of Kislev. A month of miracles and light. A month of victory and thanksgiving!!!
May we merit to experience the greatest victory and blessing of all. The coming of Mashiach speedily!!!!
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Yosef Kantor
PS Please G-d I plan to be back in Bangkok before the end of next week. Indeed Thailand opened its borders on November 1, but it is not all that straightforward to get the ‘Thailand Pass’ as there is still a ‘learning curve’ it seems for those administering the system. I am reachable as usual via email or WhatsApp.
PPS I will be visiting the Rebbe’s Ohel resting place before heading back home so if there is a prayer you would like me to make at that special prayer location, please let me know. 


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