"Shabbat Shalom from Bangkok"

incredulously Divinely providential

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

There are times that the Hand of Hashem is just so obvious that it is sheerly and exquisitely breathtaking.

This week I had an experience of that nature.

The story started several years ago. In 2018. I am going to share what I wrote back then.

During the last few weeks, I have been privy to two heart wrenching instances of fatherly devotion. Devotion that defies all boundaries.

Fathers are special.

Mothers, obviously so.

It is parents who are ultimately the only ones that stand by their offspring through thick and thin. They give everything they can for their children. A parent finds it difficult to be happy when they have a child who is not happy. It is not untrue to say that ‘you are as only as happy as your most unhappy child’.

Yet there are some situations when this observation becomes crystal (and painfully) clear.

An urgent call came in this week from an overseas Rabbi. ‘one of my congregants T.H. has a son who got into trouble and was arrested in Phuket’.

I contacted a lawyer that we use. The lawyer said that the issue was solvable. The police were suggesting that a fine be paid and the modest medical expenses that were in question, should be reimbursed and that would settle the matter. I gave the lawyer the ok to go ahead and guaranteed to him that I would pay. The lawyer told the police that it would be taken care of. The police trusted the lawyer. A few minutes later the boy was out. T.H. the devoted father that he is, got on a plane and came to Thailand to take him home. It seems that this child has caused his parents some angst in the past.  Yet, notwithstanding any past history, the father, upon hearing of his sons need, dropped everything and came here to escort him back home safely.

How did we solve this problem in minutes? How was our lawyer able to get the police to trust him so implicitly? Why did the police release the boy immediately based on our lawyer’s word? Usually, the transaction needs to happen first.

It was incredible Divine Providence.

This story comes on the heels of another one.

We had flown this lawyer down three times to that very city to handle another case just two weeks ago.

It involved a boy who tragically was not mentally stable. The father F.T. was semiretired in Thailand and had brought his unstable adult son to spend some time with him in Phuket. His son is a harmless young man. The father let him wander around town on his own as he is peaceful and usually doesn’t get into any trouble. As it turns out, he loves airports. No harm thought the father. It seemed pretty safe to to let him wander around the local airport. And indeed all seemed to be going fine. Till the son found a passport that somebody had dropped in the bathroom. Thinking that now he could fly (his father always kept his own passport locked away from him), he took the passport and went to the domestic boarding area. The staff monitoring the boarding area asked him for his boarding pass. He obviously didn’t have one. Upon looking at the passport they said ‘this is not your passport’. To which he responded, ‘yes it is’. The police were called, and this poor mentally limited man was jailed. I am not sure why it was so complicated to extricate him. But it took our lawyer three trips to sort things out. Finally, on the day of Purim the son was able to fly out of Thailand accompanied by his father.

This explains why our lawyer knew the police of that town so well. He had been dealing with the exact same police station in an extensive way. This is why the next case was solved within minutes by Divine Providence.

I was relieved and gratified that we had the merit to solve both of these unfortunate cases successfully.

But oy vey. Oy vey. Oy vey. And many more times Oy Vey is all I can say.

Such heartbreak for the parents.

Yet they stand by their children. With love and with patience and with total dedication.

They are truly giants! May no one every have to face the kind of anguish that they undergo.

This kind of story puts many other things in perspective. It makes other challenges shrink to their proper size. It reminds us to stop grumbling about the ‘small stuff’ and to be happy and thankful to Hashem for all the good, happy and healthy things He gives us.

Moreover, it gives us faith and brings us hope. Almighty G-d calls us HIS CHILDREN. The love and mercy of a father to a child is unlimited. We must but remember, that no matter our circumstance, G-d loves us and cares for us to no end. This is an empowering and uplifting realization.

Fast forward to January 26, 2022.

I visited Phuket for the day to meet T.H. that father of that second boy we had helped out of prison four years ago. We had become good friends after that episode and since he was visiting Phuket for a short holiday, I took the opportunity to catch up with him.

As I was eating lunch with him at Phuket’s Chabad house, an elderly gentleman walked over and peered into my face as if trying to recall who I was.

He wasn’t sure who I was, but I immediately recognized who HE was. It was F.T. He no longer lives in Thailand, but had just arrived for a short holiday to Phuket.

I was incredulous.

Turning to T.H. I said, do you remember the story we were just reminiscing about? And the explanation I gave you about how it was that we got your son so incredibly quickly out of prison?

Meet F.T. who was the first part of the story.

All three of us were speechless.

What are the odds of both fathers, coming for a short visit. At the exact same time that I came for a few hours. If the three of us wouldn’t have been there at exactly the same time, the connection wouldn’t have been made.

It was such a powerful feeling of Hashems presence. For all of us.

And as I listened to the fathers’ sharing tales, I realized I was in the presence of two heroes. Parents of sons who are challenged, yet heroically fulfilling their parental duties, well beyond what one could imagine.

Unconditional love is easy to preach and talk about.

Implementing it, requires real work.

Sometimes parents are so accepting of the children of others, yet to their own children, they find it hard to be so accepting. They may even come across judgmental.

Other people believe about themselves that they are unconditionally accepting, but they are blinded to their own inconsistencies. It’s not an uncommon phenomenon. In some instances, the most liberal of people are unconditionally accepting of people who are doing ‘outlandishly permissive’ things.

Yet, somehow they are not as accepting of those who they perceive as being ‘closed minded’.

I am not talking about these varieties of ‘conditional’ ‘unconditional love’.

For unconditional love to be true, it needs to be truly unconditional.

I look at parents who implement this, with great admiration and respect.

The Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement, used this relationship model to explain Hashems’ love to us.

Hashem loves us unconditionally.

Do you know what happens when a child realizes that you love them unconditionally?

In many instances the realization that their parents love them unconditionally, allows the child to blossom and grow. (Barring mental illness which is tragically a field that is overwhelmingly difficult to cope with. This is its own vast and painful topic).

The Baal Shem Tov traveled the Jewish villages revealing to every Jew he met that Hashem loves them without conditions.

The results were epic.

The Rebbe continued this approach in our generation.

He instructed his followers to reach out to every Jew and let them know that Hashem loves them without stipulations.

The result? When a Jew realizes that Hashem loves him, no matter who he or she may be, and no matter what one may have done or not done, the reaction is epic.

The natural reaction of a Jew who feels loved by Hashem is to reciprocate that love.

Dear Jew, Hashem loves you. You can make a difference to Him by trying to create more connection with Hashem. Doing more mitzvahs. Studying more Torah. Being more selfless.


For the biggest nachas for a parent is when their kids get along with each other.

On Tuesday of next week is the first day of Rosh Chodesh Adar. This year is a Jewish leap year so we have two Adars. Purim is the 14th day of the second Adar. Nonetheless, from next week an onwards, the JOY and HEALTHY ENERGY of Adar, begins. It’s a great time to implement happy things and to catapult to greater success in every which way.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

Google. Dr/Prof/Rabbi

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

These days everyone is a medical expert.

Even more relevant for our times, everyone is an epidemiologist.

Everyone is an expert on Judaism.

Following this pattern, everyone is a potential ‘expert’ on any field of knowledge or expertise.


Professor Google.

Even Rabbi Google.

All it takes is an internet connection and a gadget, and a universe full of information is there for the taking. Primed and ready to be studied and absorbed.

It wasn’t always that way.

Information used to be held very tightly by the ruling class.

Keeping the masses ignorant was a tactic that countless rulers and monarchs employed.

G-d clearly doesn’t agree with that methodology.

Unlike the prevailing culture at the time where the masses were kept away from knowledge, G-d revolutionized things.

The Almighty came down to Sinai to communicate the holy Torah, in a desert.

Nobody owns the desert; it belongs to all who wish to reside in it.

Similarly, nobody owns the Torah.

The Torah was given to the entire body of the Jewish nation. Approximately 2-3 million sons and daughters of Israel were present at the giving of the Torah at Sinai.

The Torah is a body of G-dly information that is available to each and every student who wishes to partake of it.

And G-d intends it to be freely available.

The Talmud states that one should imitate G-d’s approach to teaching Torah. ‘Just like I taught Torah for free, so you should teach Torah for free’. Torah teaching should be carried out without getting paid for it.

Hashem’s granting of the Torah went much further than just making it available to all and for free.

G-d actually invested ‘effort’ (so to speak) in facilitating the Jews receiving of Torah.

To use very mundane language, Hashem didn’t ‘play hard to get’.

In the description of Hashem giving the Torah the language used shows that Hashem showed His eagerness to transmit the Torah. In a way, Hashem appeared even more ‘excited’ about giving it, than those who were to receive it.

We see this from the fact that G-d came to the appointment at Sinai BEFORE the Jewish people showed up. When the Israelites woke up in the morning Hashem was already waiting for them.

Imagine going to interview for a dream position with the ‘trillionaire CEO’ and arriving at the interview with that super powerful chief, waiting expectantly for your arrival and greeting you personally when you arrived. You realize that he came earlier to the meeting than you.

Furthermore, the Torah describes Hashem going out to welcome the Jews to Sinai as groom goes out to welcome his bride under the Chupa-wedding canopy. Whatever may happen later on in the marriage, at the time of betrothal, a groom is very keen on having his bride join him. That is how the Torah describes G-d’s desire to have us Jewish people receive His Torah.

That is incredibly inspiring. Hashem not only allows us free access to Torah, but He also even ‘cajoles’ and woos us into being mature enough to appreciate its greatness and ‘receive’ it.

Allow me to ask a question. But first let me preface, G-d knows best. Of course. I don’t even need to state that. But I do want to investigate this ‘eagerness’ that G-d exhibited at Sinai a bit. From a contemporary down to earth ‘marketing’ perspective.

If you asked a top marketing firm how to best ‘market’ Torah and make the people eager to receive it? For marketing purposes, they may suggest playing ‘hard to get’.

Something that seems readily available is not always appreciated.

It is not just when you are marketing consumer products that scarcity creates more desire.

Even when it comes to Judaism it is not all that uncommon for Jews to seek something that is more elusive.

We know that Jews have a penchant for going and seeking the truth, in the most exotic of places.

During a visit to Calcutta many years ago, I met a top lecturer for one of the Eastern religions. We were both waiting for a flight in the Indian airport lounge. He was wrapped in saffron robes and his disciples were bowing and kissing his feet. I mean this literally. He looked Western to me. I asked him where he was from. He said he was from the USA. He told me that he ‘used to be Jewish’ i.e. he was born to Jewish parents. Of course, I told him that a Jew is always Jewish. We engaged in a deep discussion about the depth within Judaism and particularly the esoteric teachings of ‘Kabbala’. He enjoyed the discussion and recognized the depth of what I was sharing from Torah. He declined my offer to put on Tefilin and admitted that he had never had a ‘Bar Mitzvah’.

When I asked him how he had chosen this particular path of worship he responded with a story that astounded me. He confided to me that ‘when I grew up and was interested in spirituality, I visited the local library in New York and searched the spirituality section, arriving at the Eastern philosophies section. I didn’t know anything at all about my own Jewish heritage’. He was apologetic because he now obviously knew that Judaism had the depth he had been searching for. But he had embarked on a different journey and was deeply entrenched.

Being the pre-email times, I was in touch with him via mail once or twice, (He agreed that I would send him a copy of the Tanya which I did) but to my regret, the contact didn’t continue. I pray that his ‘Neshama’ – Jewish soul has awakened and brought him back to his true essence where his soul will find the true depth and inspiration that his Neshama truly seeks.

One of the great opportunities we provide here in Thailand is showing the beauty of Torah to Israeli young travelers. This is rather ironic. They leave the Holy Land of Israel in which Judaism is prevalent and available and in the exotic incongruous environment of the Far East, the Torah becomes something they are more open to exploring.

Avi had grown up in Israel but discovered Eastern religions when searching for spiritual depth. His multiyear search for ‘the truth’, brought him to the Far East and eventually he became a master of Eastern meditation, residing in the pristine environment of one of the islands in the south of Thailand.

A visit to Chabad House to touch base with some Israeli friends led to an invitation to participate in an inspiring evening ‘farbrengen’ (song and mutual sharing, with light refreshments) with Rabbi Nechemya. This comradely group experience, during which Torah thoughts were shared and good resolutions undertaken, touched his soul deeply. He agreed to begin one Jewish observance. Rabbi Nechemya gave him a pair of Tefilin. Doing one mitzvah, always leads to another. And another. It’s almost two decades later now. Avi lives in Israel and teaches Torah to seekers of spirituality while being a dedicated husband and father of a lively Jewish family.

As it turns out, Avi is a very effective and convincing teacher. Droves of people come to his lectures. He comes with the credibility of experience. Like Yitro of today’s Parsha, who tried out every religion of his time, and arrives to his son in law Moshe and says ‘now I know that G-d is greater than all other deities, and I know them all’. Avi, also, comes with the convincing strength of that same statement. He experienced a personal experience of having searched for spirituality in other pastures. He came to the ultimate realization that for a Jew, the only true spiritual journey that is TRUE to his or her Jewish essence, is the Torah path. He now is inspired in the orchards of Torah and shares this experience and inspiration with others.

Back to marketing.

Do you think it is good ‘marketing’ on G-d’s side to show His eagerness for us to accept His Torah offering?

I would beg to say that it may not be a good marketing tool in the way we view marketing in our material world. But the experience of Mattan Torah – the giving of the Torah is not about methods and tools.

Hashem is TRUTH - EMMET.

The Hebrew word אמת is comprised of the first middle and last letters of the Hebrew Alphabet.

The word EMMET means that it is absolutely true from beginning to end. And for all of eternity.

The Torah is TRUTH.

When Hashem gave us the Torah he gave it in the holiest, truest and most genuine way possible.

Marketing is a tool. It is used to elicit a certain response. It covers over on the truth though, this in itself can be part of a path to discover truth.  

From the perspective of absolute truth, the greatest and most precious gift Hashem has at His disposal – so to speak – is the Torah. It’s the crown jewel that He kept in His treasury. Something that He takes pleasure and delight in.

Hashem wanted to give the dearest thing He has, to his children, the Jewish people.

When Hashem decided to give this gift to the Jewish people, He also chose to show us just how precious it is.

It would be as if the deeply loving and caring parent you trust in implicitly, shows you how excited and eager they are to give you a particular gift. This expression of enthusiasm surrounding the gift allows you to realize just how special this gift is. Showing just how precious the gift is, is a sign of very deep love. For by revealing just how great the gift is, the depth of the love expressed by the giving of the gift is magnified.

Our Sages taught in Pirkei Avot : Beloved are Israel, for they were given a precious article; it is a sign of even greater love that it has been made known to them that they were given a precious article, as it is stated: "I have given you a good purchase; My Torah, do not forsake it”.

Yet, sometimes Hashem does hide from us.

That concealment is not Emmet. It is not for ‘real’. Hashem is still very much with us, even as he pretends to us ‘as if’ He is obscured. The reason for this exercise is to engender withing us a deeper love. It is a tool so that we should search and persevere in our search for Him. He hides, so that we should invest effort in seeking Him out.

This is for our own benefit. It is used as a method to make the Torah even more dear to us. What is earned through perspiration and exertion, is appreciated and beloved all the more.

In truth however, Hashem searches US out. He is EAGER for us to engage with him.

So what are we waiting for?

Never has Torah been more available than now.

In every language. At ever level. In print. Audio. Video.

Just plug in your gadget and download Torah. amongst myriads of other wonderful sources for Torah on the web.

(Remember to print it out before Shabbat as on Shabbat we must rest from work. Using electronics is prohibited on Shabbat).

As Jewish mothers would sing to their babies when they rocked them to sleep ‘Torah is the ‘besteh schoyreh’ the best merchandise. If you appreciate ‘Ashkenazic Yiddish chazzanut click here’.

We need to learn from G-d.

To express our deepest truths to our loved ones.

We pass on our Jewish heritage when we show how deeply we appreciate and love our Torah and traditions.

Nothing is more important for Jewish continuity than showing your children that you have a set time to study Torah – the holy, priceless gift that G-d gave with enthusiasm and excitement to His people.

And by showing your excitement and eagerness when your child studies Torah, you are instilling within them, the love of Torah, which they please G-d will transmit to their children. And they to theirs….

Don’t delay. Set up a schedule for Torah study. Even a few minutes a day. It will make all the difference in the world for you, your loved ones, and all those who are part of your ‘world’.

You may find it interesting that one of the Prophecies regarding the Messianic times, is the widespread universal knowledge.

As it says in the book of Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) 31, 33 ‘a nd no longer shall one teach his neighbor or [shall] one [teach] his brother, saying, "Know the Lord," for they shall all know Me from their smallest to their greatest, says the Lord,

It sure seems like we are progressing rapidly and blessedly in the availability of the knowledge of G-d to the point that ‘all shall know me’. Albeit, the literal and absolute fulfillment of which, will be a product of the coming of Mashiach, may it be speedily, AMEN.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

Better later than sooner. Shabbat Shalom From Bangkok!

 By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Wouldn’t you have liked to be there?

At the Exodus from Egypt.

Ten plagues that rendered the superpower Egypt harmless.

Watching the powerful ‘Sea of Reeds’ open up and two wall of water standing firm, creating a path of dry land.

It would be incredulous to personally experience the miraculous experience of walking through a sea that has split.

And the miracle bread or forty years would have been a spectacularly liberating experience. After finishing their provisions, thirty days into the dessert journey, Hashem rained down food in the form of Manna. Literally ‘Heavenly Bread’.

Well, in a sense we were all there. We remember these events daily and repetitively thank the Almighty for His benevolent kindness. Or daily prayers remind us to be gratitude filled for all the steps of our history that led us to where we are.

But now I am talking about actually being there.

What do you think it would feel like?

Let me ask you about something contemporary.

About something that you did experience.

Like Covid.

In some time from now, this virus will please G-d disappear, or as some medical opinions say, it will continue to exist but as a ‘regular’ seasonal virus that needs to be lived with and not feared to the point of panic.

At that time, the children that don’t have any memories of it, will look to us to recount our experiences.

Anyone who lived through these past two years will have an angle to share. Whether or not they got infected by Covid, every single person has been affected.

But there will be those who actually experienced the sickness and those who Hashem protected and didn’t actually get sick but suffered the side effects of the virus on the economy and other domino affected infrastructures.

Let us talk about those who did experience Covid. There will be many different experiences depending on who you ask.

Take my family for example.

I am thankful to the Almighty that I didn’t contract Covid till last Friday at the onset of Shabbat.

With Covid, the later the better.

Our daughter had it in March 2020 in NY. She is young but felt horribly sick for almost two weeks.

My father had it in April 2020. He was hospitalized in a usually effectively run NY medical institution. His experience was horrifying. In terms of the medical aspect, there were a flurry of deaths from the virus at that early stage. Being hospitalized with Covid was a very scary notion. And in terms of the inability of the hospital to be adequately on top of the nursing care for the inpatients. Remember, families were not allowed in. Patients were vulnerable and alone. The medical providers are heroes, but the system couldn’t cope or keep up.

Thank G-d my father came home after ten days in hospital just in time for the Passover Seder and still quite unwell.

Getting Covid in January of 2022 is a different story thank G-d for the vast majority of cases. (Sadly there is also a minority who have gotten seriously ill, may Hashem send healing to all those who are acutely ill and hospitalized)

Yes, I did get two days of fever and was feeling quite ill. I would not wish it on others and certainly we need to make every effort to curtail the spread of this, and any disease, to the best of our ability.

But by all accounts, thank G-d the virus seems to have developed into something closer to a bad cold or a flu, in terms of symptoms, without the attack on the lungs that had us all in a state of high alert.

After two days I started feeling better thank G-d.

A few of our fellow community members have reported to me that they tested positive but thank G-d did not suffer anything more than a sniffle.

It seems that there are varied experiences ranging from very serious to remarkably mild.

In several decades from now, we will recount stories to the youngsters.

Many of us will furrow our brows, lean back with a sagely inward gaze as we share stories recalling the pandemic of 2020/1 and regaling the kids with episodes from how life was ‘back then’.

I will be one of those who ‘had Covid’.

You may be one of those who ‘had Covid’.

Millions have had Covid. Fifty million in the USA alone.

Yet, the individual experiences may be totally different.

‘Having Covid’ can be as harrowing as lying in a hospital bed attached to oxygen thinking the only way out of hospital is in a hearse.

‘Having Covid’ can be as benign as testing positive and having a sniffle and a cold-like feeling.

Applying this back to Exodus, splitting the sea and eating Manna.

The experience was not a one size fits all. There were also varied experiences within those who benefited from this miracle.

For example, when it came to the manna.

The manna was a pure white food and tasted like the finest and most delicious foods imaginable: Whatever taste one desired, the manna tasted like that food.

Yet, not everyone received it in the same way.

The manna would fall in such a way that the righteous would find it at the doors of their tents; the average people had to go out of the camp to gather what fell there; and the wicked had to go far out to find their portions.

Additionally, for the righteous it fell ready-to-eat, similar to baked bread; for the average person, it fell as unbaked cakes, requiring minimal preparation; and for the wicked it came in an unprocessed form, and consequently they had to grind it in a mill.

Even when it came to crossing the sea it would seem that not everyone had the same distance to walk.

The Jews crossed the sea following a semi-circular path. They didn’t go in on one side and come out on the other side of the sea. Rather they entered the sea and exited the sea on the same side, further along the coast. In that semi-circle, each of the tribes had its own path. In other words there were twelve paths that comprised the semi-circular path that the Jews traveled.

Close your eyes and imagine a semi-circular highway divided into twelve. The innermost track will be a shorter distance in length than the outer track.

This would mean that the tribe that was walking on the outside track had a longer walk than the tribe on the innermost track.


Can it be perhaps like two people who come off a fifteen-hour flight. One comes off from a cramped economy class while the other comes out of a fully equipped first class. Same journey. They took off from airport A and landed in airport B. They did not necessarily have the same experience though.

I have had time to ruminate this week.

Staying at home waiting for Covid to clear is a fine time to meditate and think about life.

And realize, that although now I have joined the ranks of those who have ‘had Covid’, I needed to realize that I still couldn’t consider myself fully understanding of what others have gone through or are going through.

Thank G-d I had a mild case, and I am back to myself please G-d and just finishing up the requisite isolation days before ‘reentering’ society.

I realize that I cannot truly comprehend or feel empathetically what others have gone through. They may have had a more difficult case. More painful symptoms. The aloneness may have been very difficult for them alongside a host of other differentiations.

This leads me to the point that really hit home.

Our Sages tell us ‘don’t judge your friend until your reach their place’.

Why not?

I see someone else do something wrong. Why shouldn’t I be judgmental?

Because life is not easy?

I am also a human living in that same life as him.

If I don’t stumble and mess up with acting improperly, why shouldn’t I expect the same thing from him? We both walk the same earth and live under the same life conditions. We may even be neighbors and live on the same block.

The Tanya deflects this question.

You don’t live the same life as your fellow, says the Tanya.

Yes, you are a fellow human living here on earth.

But the circumstances of your life are totally different.

And that changes the experience totally.

His life circumstances may bring him into positions of temptation that you have no idea about. You don’t ever feel that urge to do that improper thing because you haven’t been required to earn your livelihood in that environment.

Let us learn how not to be judgmental.

Judgementalism comes when we think we understand. We have experienced what our fellow is going through and reacted better. We feel happy about our behavior in the face of challenge and temptation. Sometimes even smug. And we look down wish disdain at the fellow who didn’t come out as positive.

But we may have it totally wrong.

We THINK we understand.

But we don’t TRULY understand. Because the circumstances were different.

Just like the person who tests positive to covid and has a sniffle.

The sniffler cannot truly understand the one who suffered the loss of a loved one to Covid, or was sick to the point of being in fear of losing their own life.

Throw out the judgmentalism.

Let us be accepting of our fellows. Laudatory. Complimentary.

This will help them raise themselves to be better and live up to the complimentary way they feel others perceive them.

The Rebbe taught by example how to look at others.   In Rabbi Jonathan Sacks z”l words, “You saw your reflection in the Rebbe’s eyes, and you were suddenly much bigger than you thought you were.”

We are all on our individual journey.

In the same world. Perhaps even living in the same city and on the same block. But markedly different experiences. Each of us having their life tailored by the Almighty.

On the one hand, when it comes to being self-introspective, we need to hold ourselves accountable. We dare not create short cuts for ourselves. We should not stop trying harder as we utilize the gifts G-d has endowed us with to their maximum.

And at the same time, when it come to the way we view others, we need to be totally non-judgmental, giving them our love and empowerment to do the best that they can do.

This Shabbat is called the Shabbat of Song.

Too often, great things happen to us, which we may say “thank you’ to Hashem for, but we don’t sing enough.

Singing to Hashem, means letting your emotion spill over into melody. Sing, clap, dance, and raise your voice in jubilance to G-d.

Above all we must sing together. In praise to Hashem for all the goodness and kindness that comes our way.

We all have voices that are different.

Sopranos, tenors, baritones and everything in between.

When we sing together, we create a harmonious melody that uplifts and inspires.

The ultimate song will be sung when Mashiach comes speedily in our days AMEN.

But even now, when we eagerly await Mashiach, we need to SING MORE!!!!

We ought to sing for EVERY BREATH that the Almighty gives us.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

Monetizing exodus? Shabbat Shalom From Bangkok!


By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Money shmoney. Who cares about money. Conventional wisdom would suggest that holy people should stay far away from it. It only causes trouble.

That’s actually what the Jewish people suggested before they left Egypt.

Someone came by the Rebbe (click here to see the video) and asked, it says in the Torah that the Jews didn’t listen to Moshe’s announcement when he told them that great news that they were going out of Egypt. They were apathetic to it. This person asked the Rebbe, why didn’t Moshe try to entice the Jewish People to listen to his good news about redemption by telling them about the great wealth that would accompany the Exodus. Surely if he would have told them that they would get money, they would have listened with more eagerness.

The Rebbe explained. The Midrash tells us that when Moshe told the Jewish People that they would be going out, but not just yet. They would need to wait a bit till the ‘wealth’ component that had been promised to them would be set up. Upon hearing about the reason for delaying the departure from Egypt to wait for money, the Jews said to Moshe,


In other words, the challenge was to get out of their slavery mindset and dare to dream about redemption. For that change of mindset, money played no role. It was meaningless to them as an objective during their oppressed state of being.

The moment that they understood what Moshe was saying, that they are being promised a bright future, they embraced freedom, but rejected the importance of wealth.

All they wanted was freedom. Money was the last thing on their mind.

When a person is going through excruciating suffering, the only thing on their mind is their life and their health and their freedom. Money pales away.

I have heard people who are in the throes of deep suffering with health issues, express themselves, that they wish that their troubles would be ‘merely about money’.

(Now I know, many people for whom money struggles are hugely challenging, and I truly pray and hope that Hashem free all of us from any struggles that overwhelm us. But I think you know what I mean regarding the difference between life and death, health and sickness issues vs financial struggles).

So why didn’t they leave Egypt a bit earlier without the wealth as they had wanted.

Because HASHEM insisted that they needed to come out with wealth.

From the very beginning, when Hashem had told Avraham that his descendants would be slaves in a foreign land, and they would go out with a great wealth.


The Jewish people were pleading to just leave. Without money.

Hashem insisted they need to leave with money.

It gets even more interesting.

The Jews were leaving. They asked the Egyptians for items and money as Moshe had instructed them in the name of Hashem. The wealth was given voluntarily by the Egyptians.

Not just did they hand over what was asked for them. The Torah says that the Egyptians forced more items upon them than they had asked for.

The Israelite asked for one item, the Egyptians said, ‘take two of the item’ but just get out of here already. They were fed up. After ten plagues they just wanted the Jews out. They couldn’t care less about money during that panic.

‘Take more money than you asked’ for they said. But just exit our country.

Indeed, the Jews emerged from Egypt with great wealth.

From these details, you see clearly who was behind this amassing of Jewish wealth.

Not as our detractors would make it sound, that it stemmed from greed.

Not at all.

It was Hashems intention that the Jews walk out of Egypt with money and valuables.

Hashem rejected the plea of the Jewish people to forego the money as long as they get an earlier exit.

Even once the Jews did adjust their vision and follow orders to ask the Egyptians for money upon exiting, Hashem orchestrated that they would get more than they asked for. Even though the Jews were modest in their financial requests from the Egyptians before leaving, the Egyptians came and plied them with much more wealth than they asked for.

No question here.

As the Jewish people emerged from slavery to become an independent nation, they were instructed and empowered to be wealthy. G-d literally deposited wealth on their laps.

Hashem wanted the Jewish people to be wealthy.


Let’s understand what wealth is.

Abundant livestock. Precious metals. Fine fabrics. Quality wood. Precious stones.

All of these things, (the rarer they are the more valuable they are), can be used for multiple purposes.

Precious stones for example. They can be used to stud the uniform of a despotic barbaric ruler. Or they can be used to adorn the vestments of the Kohen Gadol in G-d’s Temple.

Wealth can be used greedily.

Riches can be used altruistically and philanthropically.

Tzedakah giving to those who need help. Food. Clothing. Shelter. Paying for the education of those who can’t afford to school their children. Providing heat in the winter. Taking care of the elderly who can no longer take care of themselves.

Obviously Hashem wants us to use our wealth to further His objectives.

The Jewish people are called the ‘chosen people’, as they are the nation who is entrusted with implementing G-d’s plan here on earth. And sharing G-ds’ mission for humanity with all of the inhabitants of the earth.

Let’s fast forward to our contemporary lives.

We all know that money is a big trial. It is a big temptation. Too often we see that wealth corrupts. People do immoral things to follow after the all-mighty dollar. Not just immoral things. People even do stupid things. Dangerous things. Things that cause them shame and deep regret. So many of our contemporary news headlines are about people who succumbed to the glitter of money and did corruptive and shameful things.

Just because it is so often abused, does not mean that it is inherently negative.

The story of Exodus opens our eyes to the true, healthy and uplifting perspective about money.

And we are all wealthy in some way.

Even if you don’t look at yourself as wealthy, consider that if you have indoor plumbing, you are wealthier than the richest magnate of two centuries ago. If you have air conditioning you have more luxury than the kings of yore. Thank G-d most of those reading this article subsist on more than dry bread and water (if you are reading this and need help for food, contact me please). I think you get what I mean.

In our generally wealthy generation, it would behoove us to get our minds wrapped around what the purpose of wealth is.

It is not bad.

It is good.

But it must be used for the right reasons.

G-d wants us to be filled with blessings. Health, long life, wealth and all the other good things of life.

And G-d wants us to work on using it for creating a dwelling place for the Almighty in this lower world.

Click here for a deeper look at this.

 Wealth becomes a distraction when it becomes the REASON for living.

Just like food, or any other physical pursuit.

Do you live to eat? Or eat to live.

Living to eat can lead to very unhealthy eating behaviors.

Eating to live, would mean that you make your choices based on nutritional value, sugar and fat content etc.

Do you live to earn money? Or do you earn money to live.

If you live to earn money, you may find yourself doing something that is detrimental to your life in order to make money.

Whereas if you make money to live, it would be foolish to endanger your life in order to make that money.

What message are you giving to those around you about the main agenda of your life.

In what direction are you steering your children and students?

Do you educate your kids only to be able to ‘make a living’ and provide themselves with a comfortable material life?

Or is it more important to you, to educate your kids about the meaning and purpose of life?

I met a depressed soul who had money, had hobbies, but didn’t have a ‘career’. In his words ‘I am in my fifties and don’t even have a career yet’.

When I asked him ‘why do you need a career’ he was shocked. After all everyone knows you need a career. I persisted and explained. A career is needed to have money to live. You already have money that you inherited. Enough to live for the rest of your life. Careers are important to give you a sense of meaning and purpose. Your hobby, taking care of needy creatures, is filling you with a sense of purpose and meaning as you yourself have told me.

As we analyzed this together he came to the conclusion that the lack of career that he was talking about was just because of the ‘peer pressure’ of having a career. When he meets people and they ask ‘what do you do’, he feels bereft. As he doesn’t have a career.

This is how confusing our contemporary lives can be.

Once you understand that life is about creating a space for G-d here on earth, you understand that all the resources of life, wisdom, health, children and yes even money, are instruments and vehicles to promoting G-d’s agenda in the world.

Peace. Kindness. Goodness. All with the selfless spirit of dedication to others, just as G-d expects of us.

Love your fellow as yourself. This is the main point of the Torah.

May you be blessed with and abundance and healthy wealth.

To my friend in his fifties without a career? Embrace your mission. Keep on volunteering at places that need your help. But don’t feel like a loser. Recognize that you are a WINNER.

Hashem has given you the ultimate blessing. You have your physical needs met.

Time to EXODUS from the pervading culture that teaches us to value ourselves based on our ‘jobs’ and ‘careers’.

Recognize that you are a child of G-d. YOU have the mission to do what only YOU can do, to make your surroundings into a Garden of G-d.

Click here for the uplifting and liberation analogy of our world as (not a jungle but) a Garden of G-d.

A word of advice. Don’t chase wealth. Making ‘channels’ to allow for wealth or facilitate blessing, is ok. But keep your values and morals and inner compass pointing straight to G-d and His Torah and Mitzvahs.

Its quite simple. If you are not destined to get the wealth that you are chasing, you can huff and puff till you are red in the face, it will remain elusive.

Conversely, if G-d so desires, then you don’t have to ‘run’ or exert. The ‘Egyptian’ whom you thought was your ‘captor’ will come and ‘push’ wealth on to you.

When that happens, embrace the blessing with thankfulness to the Almighty and do the right thing. It will be good for you, for others, and you will thus create a dwelling place for G-d here on earth.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

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