"Shabbat Shalom from Bangkok"

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Samayach

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Pesach is about saying Thank you to G-d for redeeming our ancestors from Egypt. No, not just our forefathers were redeemed from Egypt.

WE TOO have been liberated. For if our forbearers wouldn’t have been redeemed, we would all have still been slaves.

Giving praise to the Almighty and saying thanks is really core message of the holiday of Pesach.

Our Sages taught:

G-d says, ‘mention me constantly, for whenever my people Israel mentions me in praise, my heart fills with longing for them’.

Continue our sages. G-d says, ‘It is for this reason that I redeem them and do wonders for them so that they should praise Me’.

It’s a delightfully delicious cycle!

Hashem does kind things to us. We thank Him. He adores hearing from us and His love to us gets aroused.

This is not limited to Pesach.

Anytime G-d does a kindness to us the intention is to create a reason for us to connect to Him, to acknowledge that gift and thank the Almighty.

And the Almighty waits to hear our praise because then he is filled with an outpouring of love to us.

This concept is mindboggling and uplifting beyond…

Hashem wants to always be in a loving relationship with us.

So He does things that cause us to call out to him in praise and thanksgiving.

May we always be mindful of the great opportunity and obligation we have to thank G-d for His kindnesses.

Just by remembering what last Pesach looked like… we have loads to be appreciative about.

For many many people, this years Pesach is quite different than last years thank G-d.

Let us eat our Matzah, drink our wine, recite the story of the going out of Egypt and say a HUGE thank you to the Almighty for Exodus from Egypt and for the myriads of wonder and miracles that Hashem gifts us with on an ongoing basis.


And may the Almighty liberate us from all the things that bother and disturb, physically and spiritually.

Even more importantly may the Almighty send us the FINAL redemption with the coming of Mashiach, NOW!!!

Shabbat Shalom

Chag Sameach

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

Matzah on 'wings of eagle'

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Let me connect the dots.

I met a young man over coffee.

We played “Jewish geography’, spoke about Jewish life in the East Coast of the USA where he is from, and had a good schmooze.   Of course, I asked him if I could share the mitzvah of laying Tefillin.

The answer he gave me left me speechless.

‘For my Bar-Mitzvah I put on my great grandfathers tefillin from Auschwitz’.

He explained. His great grandfather had been deported from Paris to Auschwitz in 1942 and was killed in the infamous concentration camp. As part of the processing of the incoming prisoners, all personal belongings were taken from them. After the war there were apparently still mounds of items that had not been destroyed. Among them, a pair of Tefillin that had his great grandfathers name inscribed on the back of the Tefillin straps. An organization contacted the members of the family that had survived and emigrated to the USA. The Tefillin were returned to the family. The young man I was meeting, had donned those tefillin, that were literally ‘from Auschwitz’, at his Bar Mitzvah.

No, I couldn’t offer him the actual Tefillin that had survived Auschwitz. But we could reenact that very same Mitzvah that had been done by his ancestor on his way to Auschwitz. With the blessed difference that we are doing it as free people thank G-d, living in times of plenty and safety. He rolled up his sleeve and laid Tefillin saying Shma Yisrael… Hashem Echad, and thus added his link the unbroken chain of Judaism in a tangible way.

The poignancy of the moment was unique and inspiring. Here was a great-grandson of a holocaust victim, whose ancestor was gassed and burned for the ‘crime’ of being a Jew, putting on Tefillin. Incredulously, almost eighty years later, in Bangkok, a city off the ‘beaten Jewish track’ a grandson continues the hallowed traditions of Judaism. This to me is a proud and loud statement of victory which reflects the eternity of the Jewish People.

In mulling over my emotional encounter, I reflected on another comment I had heard from a local Jew just a day before. Less dramatic but in some way even more cathartic.

A Jew who grew up on a Kibbutz in Israel told me that his childhood friends are incredulous when he tells them that he now takes his Tefillin with him in his hand luggage. They can’t imagine how he, a Jew who like them, grew up without much attachment to the mitzvot, has come to be so attached to his Tefillin that he even ‘shleps’ it with him on the plane.

That remarkable fact is, that myriads of Jews are performing G-d’s commandments in contemporary times.

Matzah production has never been higher.

Mezuzah writing and affixing is at an all-time high.

Jewish woman and girls kindle Shabbat candles on Friday before sunset in ever increasing numbers.

Tefillin stands are ubiquitous in all major mall in Israel, as well as in busy downtowns in Jewish metropolises around the world.

Torah is studied in all languages at every level.

This highlights beyond a shadow of doubt that Judaism has outlived Hitlers diabolical fiendish plans.

On the cultural side as well. The authenticity, holiness and centrality of the Torah to Judaism stands firmly and proudly in the face of the many who predicted the decline of Jewish observance in the era of modernity.

What a gargantuan journey this has been. To rise from the ashes of Auschwitz and continue to be faithful to the mitzvot. To emerge from the ‘isms’ and cultural revolutions that threatened to relegate Jewish traditional observance to history book. And not just to survive, but to reach todays unprecedented dedication to Mitzvahs by Jews of every level of ‘persuasion’.

The Rebbe was the visionary who saw that the Kibbutz Jew could be reached in South Australia. That the East Coast, Holocaust victim descendant would be inspired to put on Tefillin in Bangkok. That the Kansas origin Sakhon Nakhon rice farmer would eventually wake up and ask about his Jewishness that he was totally ignorant of.

The Rebbe spent his many decades of leadership to send emissaries around the world and to encourage the performance of Mitzvot one Mitzvah at a time, one Jew at a time.

How was the Rebbe so confident that this approach would succeed? Was he merely taking a gamble on the resurgence of Judaism that happened to pay off?

Not at all. He was sure about this path. And he brought anyone who was ready to listen ‘into the boardroom’ so they too could become a leader and join the inspiring journey.

Here is how he explained it.

G-d is Eternal and so are His people.

What guarantees our eternity?

The very thing that determines our unique and independent peoplehood. The Jewish people is a nation because of its G-dly mission of Torah and Mitzvahs. It is not merely a culture. Without being defined by Torah it could not have staying power. Judaism cannot survive the trials and threats from within and without as a culture alone. Read our history books and you will see how history repeats itself time and time again. Deviations from the unadulterated path of G-d’s word at Sinai as transmitted through our Sages. It is only the authenticity of Torah and Mitzvahs that has survived the three thousand three hundred and thirty-three years journey since Sinai.

The Rebbe saw in every Jew the ‘pintele Yid’ the spark of Jewishness that cannot be obliterated.

It was clear to him that even under the duress of Soviet oppression, and in the face of the temptations of Western secularism, the future of Judaism was guaranteed if we but kept to the Divine truths of Torah.

The Torah says clearly that the soul of the Jew will ‘wake up’ at some point. That is for sure. But would there be someone to provide the guidance and inspiration to the newly awakened soul?

What was needed was to provide the framework, all over the world, to ensure that wherever a Jew may be, in the most incongruous of places, an opportunity would be available to fulfil the soul-needs of the Jew upon its awakening.

This coming Wednesday, the 11th day of Nissan in the Jewish calendar marks the beginning of the 120th year since the Rebbe’s birth in Nikolayev, Ukraine.

The Rebbe’s message to you and me is straightforward and implementable.

Recognize that within every human there is a Divine mission. Click here for universal values.

Nobody is intrinsically bad. People sometimes make bad choices.

Within every Jew there is a uniquely Jewish spark of G-d.

Deep down, you want to give expression to your Jewish soul. You may just not be in tune yet with your truly deepest self.

By that same token, your fellow Jew also has that existential thirst for connection to G-d.

The way to connect to G-d is through His Mitzvahs.

Hence, the best and most natural thing you can do for yourself, is to do a Mitzvah.

The most selfless and benevolent thing you can do for a fellow, is to provide them with an opportunity for them to do a Mitzvah. Thus, you help them express their deepest existential desire.

You don’t see it this way?

Neither do the non-experts in bacteriology see germs in quite the same way as the scientific experts do. We defer to the experts and follow their recommendation because we know that they ‘see’ what we don’t.

The Rebbe, as a Tzadik, ‘saw’ things that the average person doesn’t see.

Its sad when someone doesn’t believe in ‘germs’ and then gets gravely ill with a microbe born disease. We have all seen the tragic news reports of people who wrote off the virus as being a harmless flu and then just before expiring said ‘I made a mistake’. It’s often too late by that time.

My friends, its too late to reach old age and then say, oy vey, I didn’t transmit the authenticity of Torah and Mitzvahs and thought that ‘bagels and lox’ could sustain Judaism to the next generation…

Don’t look back and fret if you haven’t done as well as you could have in the mitzvah aisle. Seize the moment now.

To learn from the past how to ensure the future.

Our circuitous path throughout history has consistently shown that only Torah and Mitzvahs pass the test of durability.

They are after all from an Eternal G-d.

Given to an eternal people.

To be studied, cherished and observed for eternity. Ultimately, the sooner the better to segue into the Messianic times of peace and tranquility AMEN.

Do a Mitzvah. TODAY. This creates a better tomorrow. A liberated tomorrow.

With blessings for a Shabbat Shalom

And Joyous preparations for Passover

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

Actionable item:

Passover is arriving next Saturday night.

Move Chametz out of your possession. An easy way of not needing to actually dispose of all your stocks of chametz is to authorize the sale of those items to a non-Jew for the eight days of Passover. Click here for the form.

Eat Matzah on Saturday evening and tell your loved ones about the going out of Egypt. It is especially significant to eat the hand made shmura matzah.

Here in Thailand, I am happy to send you complimentary shmura matzah.

Why is shmura matzah so important?

Do you take vitamins? I do.

Matzas says the Zohar, when eaten on the eve of Passover, is like eating a vitamin pill of FAITH. Spiritual vitamin F. The Zohar also says that Matzah on Passover eve is a food of healing. We could all use healing (preventive healing please G-d).

Drop me an email [email protected] if you don’t have matzah yet and please G-d I will send you some.

If you are outside of Thailand try the worldwide directory to find shmurah matzah near you.



By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

I owe you some good news. Some people complained to me that it wasn’t fair to end off my email last week like I did, whetting your appetite and piquing your curiosity without sharing anything substantial.

Here is what I wrote in my email last week:


This week many items of good news have been shared with me.


Things that are unfolding over weeks, months and even years.


Really important things take time.


Really really really important things may take even more time.


I heard a bunch of good news about really really really important things. Thank G-d for His kindness and benevolence!!!!

However, I didn’t share any details. Today I would like to rectify my omission of details and share some visuals as well.

But first I would like to tell some stories.

This week I had three major inspiration points from my very own community here in Thailand. People whom I have the privilege of inspiring by teaching them Torah and Jewish law and values. This week in three separate instances, I became their student, as they inspired me with their steadfastness in their Jewish observance and unswerving commitment to acting morally and ethically.

Let me share them with you to spread the inspiration.

A young man came to tell me that he had just signed a contract and put down a deposit for purchasing a home. He looked generally happy. But he didn’t look as happy as I expected after someone purchases a new home. He explained to me why he was a bit sad.

In his words: ‘I had seen the building project in advance. It looked good. However, when it came to actually choosing which home within the complex to buy, the day of opening was Shabbat. Now, I don’t yet keep Shabbat fully, but I definitely respect and honor the Shabbat to the best of my current ability. Buying a home on Shabbat was not okay for me as a Jew to do on Shabbat. I sent my non-Jewish partner. She made a choice of a home and put down the deposit. When I went to see her choice, I realized that if it were up to me, I would have chosen a different location within the compound but now it is too late. I am a little bit sad that for what may me the biggest purchase of my life, I didn’t really get to choose what I wanted’.

Listening to him telling the story I felt tears tricking out of my eyes. Tears of emotion. Tears of inspiration.

I told my friend ‘this is one of the most inspiring stories I have heard’. ‘Do you realize that for the rest of your time living in this home you will always remember that your identity as a Jew is the most pivotal thing in your life. While Shabbat only comes once a week, you will have a constant reminder of the Shabbat in the very home that you live in’.

Wow, I was inspired by the way he had been determined to keep the Shabbat holy, even though it involved such a great foregoing of his own tastes and habits.

In a conversation with a local businessman this week I was dismayed to hear of a rather substantial financial loss that he had sustained. I recalled that he has asked me an unrelated question a few months ago regarding an unclaimed, possibly ownerless sum of money that had come to his attention. I asked him how he had resolved that matter.


What he responded, left me speechless. He said, ‘I saw this potential financial windfall right after my great loss. In a Providential way, the amount I could possibly gain, was almost identical to the amount I had lost. I thought, perhaps it is from Heaven. To replenish my loss. Nobody would ever trace back the unclaimed fund to me. Then I thought, on the contrary, perhaps Hashem is testing me. If He wants to send money, He knows how to send it in a ‘kosher’ and ‘clean’ way. I will not touch this other money even if it’s only a far-off chance that it will be claimed by a former owner. I am firm in my resolve and while the money is still there for the taking, I will not do something that may be not moral according to the laws of G-d’.

Wow. I heard this statement, and I was impressed and inspired. It’s one think to talk about being honest and ethical. It is awesome to see it actually be carried out even in the face of temptation.


In a third conversation, someone told me about a long-awaited job opportunity that they had just signed for. He shared the news with me, but it was accompanied by a sigh of hardship. He told me that the Jewish holidays came out just at the beginning of the employment. ‘But Rabbi, I am not going to compromise my observance of Judaism. I will simply explain that it is my Festival and I am not coming in to work on those days and I will hope for the best, although I know I am walking on ‘thin ice’.

 Once again, I was uplifted by the sincere faith and trust in Hashem implicit in this attitude. Our sustenance and everything else come from G-d. it is up to us to adhere as closely as possible to G-d’s instructions. G-d will see to it that we be granted our sustenance without working on Shabbat or compromising on the values of ethics and morality. Its easy to ‘say’ but quite a different level to actually ‘act’ on ones beliefs.

I am a teacher and a student at the same time. I learned things from my students this week as I just described. I also got the nachas and joy to see the long term achievements of my students.

My dear friends, one of the major items of good news that I had last week was the engagement to be married of my dear student Benjamin Brewer. The ‘shidduch’ was already well in progress by last Friday, but it still needed to be formalized and was only announced a few days later. I was hopeful but it was still not confirmed and not shareable.

Benyomin, the son of Zevulun the Jewish rice farmer in Sakhon Nakhon is a source of great inspiration to all who know of his story. Born to a non-Jewish mother from Sakhon Nakhon and a Jewish father from Kansas, USA, Benyomin grew up on the rice farm. After his father Zevulun started observing Torah and Mitzvot, Benyomin, by this time a teenager, chose to convert to Judaism. Under the auspices of the Sydney Beth Din, Benyomin underwent a Halachic conversion and went off to Yeshiva in Israel and then NY to study Torah.

As a student of mine, I was praying fervently that Benyomin meet his ‘bashert’ his ‘soulmate’ a nice Jewish girl with whom he could build the next link in the golden chain of his family. The traditional process of ‘matchmaking’ was put into motion until a Shadchan from Toronto came up with what turned out to be the ‘right’ one. Elisheva Schwartz from Toronto. Benyomin and Elisheva met, dated and subsequently decided that they were ‘bashert’ (meant/intended) for each other in G-d’s global plan.

On Sunday night just after coming out of the Rebbe’s Ohel (resting place) Elisheva and Benyomin announced their plans to marry each other please G-d in the near future.

Another thing that got me excited. On Purim, one of my dear students, Avraham Benyomin Soicher (son of Harry and Rachel), went on a mission to read the Megilah for the Jews in Udon Thani. I had the privilege of teaching Benny since he was a toddler. The nachas of having Benny (stranded here from his Yeshiva in Israel due to Covid) as one of our Chabad team out in the ‘fields’ spreading Judaism was deliciously sweet.

Another sweetness. Earlier this week, I had the distinct pleasure of spending the actual day of Bar Mitzvah, the day of thirteenth birthday (according to the Jewish calendar) with Lucas (Rafael) Frankel and guiding him in putting on Tefilin, the art of which he had mastered in but a few lessons with me. (Due to Covid, the more public celebration will follow at a later date please G-d). It is always extremely moving and meaningful for me to watch a boy turn into a Bar Mitzvah, a full fledged ‘young Jewish man’ responsible for Mitzvah observance.

And there are thank G-d many more good, healthy, nachas and positive things I have heard about, of a more private nature.

I truly believe that happy things need to be shared. They help bring light and joy to those around us.

Today is the 28th day of the month of Adar, tomorrow (Shabbat) is the 29th day, the FINAL day of the month of Adar for this year. The CLIMAX and GRAND FINALE of the month of JOY.

May you all have amazingly joyous and good news!!!!

Don’t forget to share your good news with others, so that the spirit of joy and light can dispel the proclivity we have to hear other kinds of news.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS Below find the information about Passover. More to follow during the week.

Please help spread the JOY of Pesach to those who can use your help.

Click here to HELP and BRING JOY to those who rely on YOU.




A minute of wisdom on the weekly portion of the week.  👇👇👇




By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,


Ahoy is ship language.

It comes to mind because our shipment of Passover goods is on a ship at sea. Just a few days away from Thailand. We are praying that all goes with G-d’s blessings of success and that the eagerly awaited goods have a smooth arrival and clearance so that we can soon put the Passover items out for sale as soon as possible in JCafe.

We are also awaiting confirmation at one of the local Sukhumvit area hotels for use of their ballroom for SEDER night.

Yes, please G-d, on Saturday night March 27, a Seder will be held. Once we have confirmation, I will send out a reservation link as it will be filling up rapidly (halls cannot operate at full capacity due to Covid restrictions).

We will also be offering take away seders to accommodate all levels of caution during these still unresolved health-challenged times.

Of course, the most important item, Shmura Matzah for your Seder will be readily available.


Once in the ship lexicon, I may as well continue with ship lingo. Purim is behind us.

About ships, here is a wonderful lesson.

Rising waters are dangerous. To people on dry land that is. Flooding can G-d forbid be lethal. Sadly, we all remember the Tsunami when peoples lives were tragically snuffed out through rising water.

If however you are in a boat, waters don’t bother you.

On the contrary, they are elevating. The higher the waters, the more uplifted the boat is.

It’s that way in life too.

The same things that can threaten to engulf you, if you are in the safety of a proverbial ship, they elevate you.

It gets even more confusing and inspiring (yes, both at the same time).

Even if you were the one that caused the flood, and the imminent results of your ill-chosen path seem catastrophic. Even then, if you are determined enough, the waters can turn into a transformative and uplifting addition to your life.

I will never forget the Jew who was jailed in the ‘Bangkok Hilton’ (code word for one of the prisons here…) for more then two decades. He would tell me that the best thing that happened to him is that he was imprisoned. His life was on the fast track to nowhere. Prison time enabled him to totally turn around his life. He has since been released thank G-d and shares his experience with at-risk youth, to inspire them to aim for a better life. I felt humbled every time I met him. He was in shackles, yet his spirit was truly unfettered.

Sometimes the road to a great place goes through a very narrow and constricted unpleasant and smelly path.

Purim is a great example.

The entire people of Israel were slated for execution by Haman and our enemies. It was darker than dark for our people during that time.

In the end a miracle was wrought by G-d.

Things got flipped. Not just did we not suffer a tragic defeat, we gained a victorious success over all of our enemies. Joy instead of gloom. Light instead of darkness. Not just any light. Dazzling light.

The transformational effect this had on the Jewish people, remains an uplifting inspiration for us till this day. More than two and a half millennia later.

We wouldn’t have the epic celebration of Purim without the troubled anxiety ridden saga before that.

This week’s Parsha is an a great example as well.

The Jews engaged in the ultimate mess-up. They worshiped the golden calf. Merely forty days after the greatest moment of G-dly revelation in human history. The Ten Commandments were communicated to every Jew by G-d Almighty personally. Yet forty days later they violated the second commandment prohibiting idols.

Like raging waters. The anger in Heaven caused by this blatant sin, threatened to unleash the wrath of G-d against our nation.

Till Moshe took up our cause and prayed for us. And we, the Jewish people, joined in, with intense and complete feeling of remorse and return to G-d.

Eighty days of remorseful prayer and recommitment to G-d later, we were blessed that G-d said ‘I FORGIVE YOU’.

This became the day of Yom Kippur for ever after. A day of forgiveness.

How could we ever have imagined life without Yom Kippur?

We got Yom Kippur via the travails of the sinfulness of the golden calf.

It sounds incongruous but it’s the simple reading of the Torah’s narrative.

And it was not just a one-time pattern. This is the recurring pattern of our collective and individual destinies.

In a soul-penetrating teaching, the Chassidic masters point to the name of our Parsha. ‘Ki Tisa et Rosh’ literally means ‘when you uplift the head’. The portion speaks about the gravest sin of the golden calf. Yet, the destination that was arrived to after that sin is one of the greatest ‘uplifting of head’.

That’s the way G-d has embedded things in life.

‘Uplifted-ness’ follows ‘fallen-ness’.

Oh no, you can’t plan this stuff.

Just like you don’t plan to jump off a cliff without being sure you have been attached to a bungee rope. You don’t plan to sin because you can rebound higher. You may get stuck in the morass of sin.

But if you do find yourself taking an unplanned misstep and you have fallen or still falling… recognize that all is not lost. G-d has placed you on a bungee style rope and if you take the proper steps to grab onto that rope, you will bounce back and up, to an even higher place than you started.

It’s a paradox I know. On the one hand we say ‘be careful not to fall!’ Falling is dangerous and disastrous. On the other hand if you did fall? We say, ‘don’t give up’. Aim for that opportunity of elevation that G-d has embedded into the fall for those who grab onto the bungee rope.

The flood waters are rising? Disaster. Unless you get into the boat.

If you immerse yourself into the protective walls of G-ds Torah, Mitzvahs and Prayers, the waters will lift you up.

Those ‘words’ of light and holiness of Torah and Tefilah represent the ‘boat’ that can protect us from the raging waters.

Try it.

Next time you are anxious, try reading Psalm 20 in King David’s Tehilim (Psalms). Read the entire chapter first. Then repeat the verse ‘May Hashem answer you on a day of distress, may the name of the G-d of Jacob fortify you’ with emphasis.

You will feel the aura of protective light and holiness that it creates around you.

You will feel the intensity of G-d’s loving embrace more than you felt Him before you felt the anxiety.

How is that?

Have you ever experienced a fight with a loved one? And then made up?

You definitely know what I am talking about then. The intensity of the relationship after making up from a fight is much more powerful.

Here is a little secret that I can only share at the end of a long article. Because it means you are a serious reader and will not take me out of context.

Not every mistake we make could have been avoided. Sometimes it was just sprung upon us. Our Sages teach that sometimes G-d implants falls and personal failures into our lives so that we should be granted the opportunity to dig into even deeper recesses of our soul and come back to Him with an unprecedented fiery passion.

Purim has passed. The gift of life was handed to us.

Passover is upon us. The gift of liberation was gifted to us for ever.

Let us use these gifts of life and liberation wisely.

To serve G-d. By fulfilling the relationship builders with Him = Mitzvahs, as well as the Mitzvah’s he has instructed us regarding our treatment of others. With benevolent forbearing and kindness.

I thank the Almighty for all His miracles.

This week many items of good news have been shared with me.

Things that are unfolding over weeks, months and even years.

Really important things take time.

Really really really important things may take even more time.

I heard a bunch of good news about really really really important things. Thank G-d for His kindness and benevolence!!!!

Thank you to those who have shared their good news with me.

It’s a great time to have JOYOUS and HEALTHY news. The month of Adar is an incredibly blessed month. And we still have NINE FULL DAYS of Adar. Let loose with some joy my dear friends. Hum a joyous melody. Tap your feet to a rhythm. Hey, if you are not scared of people thinking you are a little ‘weird’ break out into a full-blown dance!!!! Its still the month of Adar after all.

May all of you who are reading this (and if you have read this far you deserve extra credit and blessing) and all of us, be blessed with the blessing of Purim and Pesach to be taken from darkness to light, from slavery to redemption with Mashiach’s coming, AMEN.

Rabbi Yosef Kantor


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