"Shabbat Shalom from Bangkok"

BLESSINGS: 2 for 1

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

I never cease to be inspired when I hear a story like this.

K. S. is a successful businessman with a fantastic reputation. He shared with me how he started his flourishing business.

He was a young man just starting off, working for his father in a modest business. His father asked him to accompany him to visit a philanthropic magnate in order to seek a job for a former salesman of theirs who was currently jobless.

The magnate engaged K. S. in discussion. By the end of the conversation, the magnate offered K. S. seed money to open a new company in which the magnate would invest significant funds. And the jobless former employee would also be a partner.

K.S. had not come to the meeting looking to help himself. His intention was to help a hapless friend. He got catapulted into an unexpected amazing opportunity.

That was more than forty years ago. The rest is history. Successful history.

What a special and inspiring story. One goes to help someone else and is helped themselves.

The Talmud teaches this rule.

‘He who prays for his friend for something they need, and he needs that very same thing, he will be answered first’.

To put it into simple language. Pray for someone else. Have no fear that your prayers will somehow get put on the back burner. G-d will not overlook you. On the contrary, when you pray on someone else’s behalf, your own prayers get answered more effectively.

Now that you know this rule it’s a no brainer. You should try it.

The day of Lag Baomer is a day of great blessing.

It is the day of passing of the great Sage and Tzadik Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai who asked that the Jewish community participate in his day of passing and treat it as a day of joy. Just as he rejoiced in his soul’s imminent reunion with  G‑d .

Rather than just praying for yourself, pray for someone else. Ask for blessings for a fellow rather than for yourself.

The result will be twofold. They will be blessed and so will you.

Even if you do it with the subconscious intention of helping yourself.

Do you know why?

Because praying for someone else or helping someone else, is always a great gift to that second person. Even if you didn’t do it totally altruistically.  It is nonetheless still a great gift to the one you are praying for.

G-d loves seeing us acting lovingly to others.

He therefore makes sure to bless those who bless others.

He answers the prayers of those who pray for others.

Try it. It’s a win win situation. Two blessings for the ‘price’ of one!!!

May we all be blessed with all things good.

May sickness be eradicated and good HEALTH pervade the world!!!


Happy Lag Ba’omer and Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

antibodies not apathy

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Thank G-d, this week I got my second shot of the Moderna vaccine in Brooklyn NY.

The nurse who administered the shot told me that it is not unusual to get adverse side effects after the second dose. I knew it was a standard line. She must have made that same comment hundreds of times that day.

I thought to myself why does she have to presume that there would be uncomfortable side effects? After all it is not as if everyone suffered those symptoms.

I was praying that I would be spared those symptoms.

Yet, by early afternoon the next day I was feeling horrible I was feverish and had aches all over. I now understood and was thankful to the nurse for repeating her quick disclaimer. For now, I was not worried about my feverish condition and and knew that it was simply the aftereffects of the vaccine.

It was an interesting discovery. Sometimes sharing a possible negative consequence is quite a positive thing. In this case is served to reassure me that all was going according to plan.

I did a quick google search and educated myself as to what was going on. Why was I getting a reaction like this.

The way I understood it was like this.

The vaccine had told my body that there was a virus attack and the body’s immune system was fighting off the attack. By building a force of response to the virus my cells were storing the knowhow and building antibodies to ward off any possible future attack, may G-d protect us.

This gave more meaning to my aches and pains. It made it much more bearable. I know understood that a strong adverse reaction was not a sign of weakness. On the contrary it showed on a healthy immune system that was kicking and fighting in the effort to fight off the attackers.

It got me thinking on how this concept applies to our lives.

Just like being passive in the face of attack is not the way to go when it comes to viruses. We expect our G-d given immune system to rile up the forces and fight the would-be marauders. Similarly, we need to be prepared to fight when it comes to things that are important and dear to us in all aspects of our lives.

Remaining apathetic when something is challenging your core, is a sign of weakness and unhealthiness.

When one is vigorous and strong, a threatening negative influence is confronted head-on with resistance and unyieldingness.

Nobody in their right mind remains passive when someone intrudes on their personal space with nefarious intentions.

Hashem expects even more of us. It is not enough to be active and vigorous in saving ourselves and our own interests. We need to learn to be just as motivated when it comes to saving someone else.

There is a mitzvah in this weeks Parsha that says ‘don’t stand by the blood of your brother’. When someone’s life is in danger and you have the ability to do something to save them, don’t just stand idly by.


Do something to try and save the other person.

And this rule can be extended to mean not just saving someone’s physical life. Saving someone’s spiritual life is equally important.

When you see a fellow Jew who is missing out on engaging in his Judaism and thus withholding the vital life sustaining energy that his Jewish soul thirsts for, help him or her do a mitzvah!

By doing even one mitzvah, the spiritual energy within the Jew will be activated and more will follow.

Hence the ‘Mitzvah campaign’ that the Rebbe prescribed as being the way to preserve and enhance Jewish continuity.

I am feeling better thank G-d. Back to my usual routine.

But I am happy that I had the experience of the side effects.

First of all, because I now have a deeper appreciation and thanks to Hashem for protecting me from the virus. The ‘taste’ of the virus was so horrible that I got a small little peek into what having the full-blown sickness may have felt like.

My feelings of thankfulness to Hashem are more complete after having a small peek into what could have been G-d forbid.

And the experience of observing and feeling the battle of my immune system left me wiser and more motivated about the need to put up a fight for things that are dear and important.

This coming week, on Monday we celebrate a ‘minor’ holiday called Pesach Sheni (literally ‘Second Pesach) that emphasizes this very point.

A year after the Exodus, G‑d instructed the people of Israel to bring the Passover offering on the afternoon of the fourteenth of Nissan, and to eat it that evening, roasted over the fire, together with matzah and bitter herbs, as they had done the previous year just before they left Egypt.

“There were, however, certain persons who had become ritually impure through contact with a dead body, and could not, therefore, prepare the Passover offering on that day. They approached Moses and Aaron . . . and they said: ‘. . . Why should we be deprived, and not be able to present G‑d’s offering in its time, amongst the children of Israel?’” (Numbers 9:6–7).

In response to their plea, G‑d established the 14th of Iyar as a day for the “Second Passover” (Pesach Sheni) for anyone who was unable to bring the offering on its appointed time in the previous month.

These Jews who were disqualified didn’t take their rejection without resistance. They deeply cared about being part of the Passover offering and they put up a ‘fight’. They asked, ‘why should we be deprived’?

This is a pivotal teaching.

Nothing is ever lost. There is always a second chance.

But this second chance was not taught initially as part of the Sinai revelation. It needed to be asked for by the Jewish people.

G-d was waiting for this kind of passionate indignance.

They needed to show how much they really cherished G-d’s commandments. I.e., that doing the Passover offering was not a burden in their eyes that they would like to be absolved of. On the contrary, they considered it a privilege to do a mitzvah of Hashem. Thus, when they heard that they wouldn’t be able to do it because of impurity (they had been involved in a mitzvah burial, so they were actually to be commended for their being impure) they complained.

And G-d listened. He gave them a second chance.

Let us be passionate about our relationship with Hashem!

And let us join our voices to the chorus of the many generations who have pleaded before G-d, ‘Why should we be deprived of the great G-dly light that will illuminate the world with the coming of Mashiach’.

(I will be giving the JLI course on the topic of Mashiach ‘This Can Happen’ starting on Sunday morning Thailand time. Details below.)

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS on this holiday of “Pesach Sheini’ Nechama and I celebrate our 28th arrival-in-Thailand anniversary. 28 in Hebrew is ‘KOACH’ which means ‘power’. We pray to G-d that we be blessed to be able to continue our shlichus mission with power!

And we pray to the Almighty that everyone in Thailand be blessed to have GOOD HEALTH and POSITIVE SPIRIT as well as the blessings of financial stability and all the other blessings needed to overcome the current medical challenges.


By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Please G-d on Monday I will get my second dose of the Moderna vaccine.

Yes, I am still in New York.

Talking about New York….

I was appalled when I heard the governor of NY make a statement reminiscent of Pharaoh in Egypt.

“Moses and Aaron came and said to Pharaoh, "So said the Lord God of Israel, 'Send out My people, and let them sacrifice to Me in the desert.' "

And Pharaoh said, "Who is the Lord that I should heed His voice to let Israel out? I do not know the Lord, neither will I let Israel out."

That was 3,333 years ago.

A few months ago the governor of NY referred to the Covid numbers going down and gave a contemporary version of Pharaohs statement. He said:

The number is down because we brought the number down. God did not do that. 

What an arrogant blasphemous statement.

But I didn’t write this article to decry pompous and untruthful statements.

Rather I would like to share what the Torah tell us about viruses and vaccines.

One of the cardinal beliefs of Judaism is “detailed Divine Providence’. This means that every leaf that falls from a tree is a purposeful part of G-d’s plan for the world.

Just as G-d directs the ‘big stuff’ similarly He is involved in every small detail of the ‘small stuff’.

Yep, every microbe and every germ is directed by G-d.

When germs don’t spread it is by His will. When they do spread it is also by His design.

It is not just by chance that somehow, ‘supernaturally’, the 43 flights from Wuhan to Bangkok in January of 2020 that brought 6,982 passengers to vacation in Thailand, did not create a massive spread of Covid in Thailand.

There have been several articles lately that point out how difficult it is to give any logical explanation about the very low infection numbers in Thailand.

Neither is it by chance that after having such low numbers of infection for so long, the numbers have suddenly jumped up. There are now more than 1000 infected people daily in Thailand. (We pray that these numbers go down, down and away very soon).

We, as humans cannot fathom WHY G-d does what He does. A G-d that a human mind can wrap their mind around is not G-d. Yet we know with perfect clarity that it is He who directs and guides every single microbe.

It is comforting and empowering to know that our Sages taught us that G-d provides the cure before he unleashes the illness.

Together with the virus that G-d has brought into the world, G-d has also provided us humans with the wisdom, intellect and fighting spirit to develop a vaccine that fights the spread of the virus.

Thank G-d for the vaccines!

The numbers go down because G-d blesses our human efforts. We need to work hard, lets be very clear about that. Medical advancement doesn’t just happen effortlessly. But the power for our work, and more importantly the success of our work, is all from G-d.

This concept goes much deeper and broader than Covid 19 and the battle to contain it.

The vaccines are but a small look at the overall mission of humanity.

From the very beginning of creation G-d created Adam and Chava (Eve) and placed them in the Garden of Eden with a clear mandate. To work it and guard it.

The mission of humanity and more particularly, the mission of the Jewish people is to uncover, reveal and publicize the presence of G-d in this earthly existence.

It requires effort. For G-d created our world in way that it should conceal Him. He designed it in a way that the inhabitants of this planet can choose to deny Him if they so wish.

Yet He desires that they find Him and uncover the truth of His presence.

Illness is an aberration. We are not meant to accept it without putting up a fight. In a world of open G-dly revelation everything is perfect. Imperfect health is not possible.

It this flawed world, G-d introduces illness. The flaw is intentional.

It is something G-d wants us to battle and overcome. By praying to G-d and investing our best efforts into the fight, we reveal G-ds presence in the world.

There is entire gamut of internal challenges we face. Laziness, selfishness and our desire for indulgence. The challenges are intentionally planted into us by G-d. So are the energies and faculties needed to overcome them.

Our natural tendency to laziness is in order for us to dig deeper into our reservoir of strength and energize ourselves.

Our selfish natures are not intended to have remain self-centered. Rather our negative personality traits are challenges that G-d wants us to overcome.

Covid 19 is not meant to remain unvanquished. It is part of G-d’s instruction to us as humans to work hard to stamp it out using vaccines and any other effective methods.

The fight against the virus reminds us that we must be constantly overcoming the scourges of human nature.

The phrase that sums this up is what we say in our daily prayers ‘Letaken Olam Bemalchut Sha-Dai’ ‘to perfect the world to accept the sovereignty of G-d’.

Many use the two words excerpted from the above statement, ‘Tikun Olam’ meaning to perfect and rectify the world (to accept the dominion of G-d).

It is up to us to do our best to turn on the light of G-d’s revelation here on earth.

When the time is right, and the Rebbe taught that the time is NOW, G-d will do His part by pulling aside the veil and curtain that hide Him from being revealed in this world.

When that revelation happens, i.e. when the Mashiach comes, the challenges will disappear.

The sicknesses will be non-existent.

Human nature will be benevolent and kind.

No jealousy. No strife. Not even competition.

We await this day eagerly and expectantly.

Until that day arrives, we carry on energetically and busily adding in acts of goodness and kindness. Providing vaccines. Studying more Torah and doing more Mitzvahs and keeping up our yearning and praying for that special day, when we can greet Mashiach.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

Click here for the 'moments of wisdom' on this weeks parsha which touches on the 'quarantine'.

PPE from the Sages

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

The Torah starts off with G-d’s benevolence to Adam and Eve in providing them clothes.

The five books of the Torah also finish with G-d’s kindness and benevolence to Moshe by burying him after his soul departed his body.

Our Sages derive from this that the message of the entire Torah is about ‘Gemilut Chasadim’ acts of benevolence and kindness.

Helping the poor with monetary gifts of Tzedaka is one form of kindness.

Another very powerful mitzvah is the providing of interest free ‘bridge loans’ to those who need some help with their ‘cash flow. It is traditionally called ‘gemilut chasadim’ (Gemach in acronym form) a benevolent act of kindness. The advantage of the mitzvah of giving benevolent loans is that it can be provided to well to do people as well. Even wealthy people sometimes need bridge loans to help them through cash flow shortages. 

The reward for acts of kindness is immense. Our Sages taught that ‘tzedaka saves from death’ and tell the following story:

Rabbi Akiba’s daughter once went to the market to buy things for the home. As she passed a group of star-gazers and fortune–tellers, one of them said to the other: “see that lovely girl? What a dreadful calamity is awaiting her! She is going to die on the very day of her wedding. Mark my word!”

Rabbi Akiba’s daughter overheard the words of the star-gazer, but paid no attention to him. She had often heard it from her great father that he who observes the Mitzvoth of the holy Torah need fear no evil.

As the happy day of her wedding approached, she had forgotten all about that star-gazer. On the day before her wedding, there was much to do, and at night she retired to bed, tired but happy. Before going to bed, she removed her golden hair-pin and stuck it in the wall, as she had done before.

The following morning, she pulled her pin from the wall, and in doing so dragged a small but very poisonous snake with it. Horrified, she realized that she had killed the snake that was lurking in the wall's crevice when she stuck the pin into the wall the night before. What a wonderful miracle!

Then she remembered the words of the star-gazer, and shuddered.

She heard a knock on the door. “Are you alright, daughter? I heard you shriek,” her father said. Then he saw the dead snake still dangling from the pin. She told her father what happened.

“This is indeed a miracle,” Rabbi Akiba said. “Tell me, daughter, what did you do yesterday? There must have been some special Mitzvah that you performed yesterday to have been saved from this.”

“Well, the only thing that I can remember was this. Last night, when everybody was busy with the preparations for my wedding, a poor man came in, but nobody seemed to notice him, so busy everybody was. I saw that the poor man was very hungry, so I took my portion of the wedding-feast and gave it to him.”

Rabbi Akiba had always known that his daughter was very devoted to the poor, but this was something special, and he was very happy indeed. “Tzedoko (charity) delivereth from death,” he exclaimed.

This story is recorded in the Talmud. It happened a very long time ago.

I would like to share an incredible story that happened to me this week.

Times are challenging. Chabad of Thailand has just suffered the great loss of Mrs. Miriam Segal of Phuket after many months of immense suffering. I found that I needed to get a bridge loan to make sure that bills were paid.

In reviewing my options of who could help me with the interest free loan I was seeking, I thought of a particular colleague N.H. I reached out to him. He told me times were tough for him and seemed resistant to extending the loan. I sensed that he did have the ability to give me the loan, but it was not easy for him emotionally due to the uncertain conditions in the world. Usually I would have wished him well and turned to another friend for help. This time I decided to persist. To be honest, I am not sure what drove me to urge him to do this gemilut chasadim of giving me the loan despite his reluctance. I just had this internal feeling that it would be a favor for N.H. if he would do this mitzva and act of benevolence.

N.H. finally acquiesced and said that he would give me the interest free loan. He asked me to please pray for him when I next visited the Rebbe’s Ohel. I told him that I was about to set out from Brooklyn to visit the Rebbe’s Ohel and asked him to send me his names and mothers name for prayer purposes. He sent me the names, asked me to arrange a guarantor for the loan and said he would do it a bit later. In the meantime I headed out to the Ohel.

As I was in the car heading to the Ohel, I got a WhatsApp from my above friend. 

He wrote: ‘I have the merit that now I have to make a big feast of thanksgiving.’ 

I asked him what for?

He said just a few minutes ago ‘I saw a Jewish person getting accosted in front of my Chabad center by two people and I ran out to help him. Before I knew it, we both had guns put to our heads’. 

And? I asked him by return WhatsApp.

He responded: ‘And thank G-d I am here to tell the story… Police came and they went running, I think they arrested them’.

My dear friends, this miracle happened in front of my eyes a mere three days ago on April 6 2021. 

The sequence of events is surreal. 

N.H. went beyond his comfort zone to do and act of chessed. Hashem saved his life from the threat of death. 

We don’t always see the results of our good deeds.

Most of the times, the miracles that G-d makes for us we are not aware of. They happen in the background. Once in a while we get a chance to see Hashems miracles openly.

This week, I got to see the causality between Tzedaka and saving from death. Just like the story of Rabbi Akiva.

THANK YOU HASHEM for allowing me to see with my very own eyes, how giving to someone else is really the most potent form of receiving. Receiving Hashems unlimited blessings that he bestows upon those who do good.

I am sure this story was given to me not to keep for myself. Thus I share it with you. In the hope that it inspires you as it inspired me!

And perhaps to also provide the opportunity to give a suggestion for personal protection.

Unfortunately, after things were going so well for quite some time, Bangkok is now experiencing a resurgence of Covid cases. This calls on us to be prudent and exercise care based on the recommendations of the virology experts. 

I wanted to add the spiritual protection angle.

Consider upping your G-dly protective gear by doing acts of kindness to others.

There are myriad ways to do Gemilut Chasadim. Through the care and love we show others. Through helping the needy with Tzedaka, through providing interest free loans for those who need help with cash flow, and generally through thinking more about how to gladden the hearts of the downtrodden.

As we deal with this uptick and surge, we beseech the Almighty to bless us with life and health, to be able to continue to serve Him with love.

May G-d send us the Mashiach now and wipe away the tears of sadness from all faces!!!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

With the fifteen-day quarantine making it not feasible for the kids to come home for Pesach, Nechama and I (and our youngest son Leibel) made the leap and went to spend Pesach in NY. This way we get to see our parents and children thank G-d. Vaccines are available here. And of course, it has been too long since we had the chance to visit the Rebbe’s Ohel. We did visit the Ohel which is located not far from JFK airport immediately after our arrival and prayed for our loved ones and friends (you).

The trip, one I have done many tens of times over the several decades of living in Thailand, was different than any other trip I have taken.

The airport in Bangkok was depressingly empty. Though I must also admit that it was much easier to traverse.

The plane was pitifully empty. However, I cannot deny that having a full row of seats for each of us made for a more comfortable flight.

Masks seems to be the major issue in many societies today.

Obviously, masks are required on the planes.

But I noticed that different flight crews had different attitudes.

The flight crew on the overnight flight from Bangkok to Korea, literally prowled the aisle to make sure that no one’s mask fell slightly off even if they fell asleep.

The crew from Korea to New York was not at all invasive. Everybody wore masks, but they didn’t go around with flashlights to make sure that while sleeping the mask hadn’t been dislodged.

I took an internal flight in the USA and boy did they keep on insisting on masks. They blared it through the loudspeakers, and they repeated it again and again. I even saw with my own eyes how a family was banned from future flying on the airline. To me it seemed excessive and unfair. It centered around an eleven-year-old boy whose eyes started to swell towards the end of the flight. In pain, he lowered his mask off his nose. The stewardess got belligerent. Maybe the boy’s family reacted a bit disrespectfully. It was quite unpleasant to experience.

It made me think about rules.

And about how different societies handle rules in different ways.

We are now in the midst of Pesach. A Holiday which has its fair share of ‘rules’.

I was reminded of this story from a few hundred years ago.

It was the afternoon before Passover, and Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was wandering through the streets of the city seeking out local smugglers. From one he quietly asked for a quote on contraband tobacco, from another he inquired about the availability of smuggled brocades and embroideries. No matter the merchandise he sought, everything was available for the right price.

When he started looking around for some Jewish businessman to supply him with some kosher bread or whiskey, the businessmen who were usually very accommodating balked. “Rabbi,” said one, “are you trying to insult me? The Seder will be starting in just a few hours, and no Jew would have even a speck of chametz left in his home or business.”

No matter the price offered, not one merchant was willing or able to come up with even a crumb of bread or a dram of alcohol. The town had converted into a chametz-free zone.

Thrilled with the results of his failed quest, the rabbi looked up to heaven and declared: “G‑d Almighty, look down with pride at Your people! The czar has border guards and tax commissioners dedicated to his commands. The police and the courts are devoted to tracking down and punishing smugglers and black marketeers, and yet anything one could possibly want is available. Contrast this with the faith and fidelity of Your Jews. It has been over 3,000 years since you commanded us to observe Passover. No police, no guards, no courts and jails enforce this edict—and yet every Jew keeps Your laws to the utmost!

“Mi k’amcha Yisrael—Who is like Your nation, Israel?!”

Masks. There is so much stress around masks these days.

In Asia they are much more obedient. In the USA? It seems like without screaming and insisting and threatening to ban passengers from future travel, many may not comply.

My dear friends, I will be honest, it was not only masks that made me think about rules that are difficult to enforce. I also thought of this story, because I am now in New York and the big news here is about legalizing marijuana.

One of the reasons the advocates for legalization use is the fact that prohibition has not worked. Marijuana use is mainstream and widespread.

Basically, what the governing leaders are now saying is that if no one is listening to the rule, we may as well just change the rule…

We definitely don’t look at mitzvahs that way. If we would change mitzvahs to make them palatable to changes in society Judaism would G-d forbid be unrecognizable as the mandate G-d gave us at Sinai.

Clearly, there is a fundamental difference between man made laws and G-d given laws.

Man-made rules can be changed based on circumstance. G-d’s instructions, the Mitzvah’s are eternal and unchangeable.

The Rebbe summed it up in the following entry in Hayom Yom :

There are two sorts of statutes: a) statutes that create life, and b) statutes created by life. Human laws are created by life so they vary from land to land according to circumstances. The A-lmighty's Torah is a G‑dly law that creates life. G‑d's Torah is the Torah of truth, the same in all places, at all times. Torah is eternal.

I am so proud to belong to AM YISRAEL, a people who keeps to the rules of the Torah with such devotion love and joy.  

Pesach was celebrated in Thailand this year with more enthusiasm than I have ever seen before.

Even during Covid times, with no tourists coming in, the communal Seders across Thailand hosted more than six hundred guests. And many people held small private Seders with a few guests.

Matzah distribution reached many more people this year thank G-d!!!

We are about to enter the last two days of Pesach. No chametz till Sunday night April 4 7:02 PM.

See below about the special energies of these last two days related to Mashiach.

If you have two minutes, watch my clip about how Covid is an intro to understanding how the world can change when Mashiach comes.

Do another mitzvah to bring this era ever closer, and see below how to eat the ‘Mashiach Seudah’ the ‘meal of Mashiach’ on the last day of Pesach.

Shabbat Shalom, Chag Sameach!!!

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

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