"Shabbat Shalom from Bangkok"

homeless not G-dless



By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

At the beginning of the week, I heard an inspiring story.

(Sadly, I heard many painful stories as well. Like the suffering going on in Ukraine (click her to help relief efforts) as well as a violent terrorist attack in Israel and some close very dear friends going through unimaginable personal tragedy. This week’s Parsha has its painful aspects as it describes Aaron’s great suffering and his response of ‘silence’ click here for more.

The second Torah we read this week is about the mitzvah of the ‘Parah Adumah’ that even the wise King Solomon couldn’t understand. Yes, there are things that happen that we cannot (and dare not) understand or come to terms with. Like bad things happening to good people. Click here for more.

For now, though, I want to share something uplifting, to bring you into the sweet, joyous holy spirit of Shabbat).

Back to the story.

My father-in-law gives Torah lessons to a Los Angeles dentist name Eliyahu. Last week, after visiting his parents, Eliyahu was driving near Sunset Blvd, as he has done hundreds of times before. While driving, he noticed a homeless person sitting there on the sidewalk with a collection cup. He didn’t make anything of it. Somehow, inexplicably, although he is very familiar with the area, he made a wrong turn. He got his bearings and set off once more the party at a friend’s house that he was headed too. Once again, he noticed that same homeless person.

Eliyahu is a sensitive and spiritual person. He said to himself, if Hashem orchestrated my route to make this unusual mistake and notice this unfortunate person, let me embrace the mission that G-d has sent me on and stop and help him.

Eliyahu parked his car and went to speak to the homeless man and said ‘G-d sent me to you’ and gave him some money.

The man started crying. Eliyahu asked him why he was crying. When he heard his answer, he too started crying from emotion.

‘I have been sitting here for more than an hour and a half and no one has yet paid attention or noticed me. I felt abandoned and uncared for. In my hopelessness I turned to G-d. I prayed to G-d and said ‘G-d, it seems like you don’t care for me. I feel like I am worthless in your eyes and you don’t even notice me’.

‘As I finished my discussion with G-d, all of sudden an angel came to me from G-d. I shouldn’t cry’?

Such a powerful, stirring story from the streets of Los Angeles. The predicament of the homeless person was not permanently solved, but he no longer felt abandoned by G-d. Right there in his sleeping bag on Sunset Ave he had a conversation with Hashem, and he was answered in a way that makes it clear to him that G-d is with him.

Prayer is powerful.

And prayer is accessible. To each and every one of us.

Personal prayer, praying when you need something, is a mitzvah. It is simply a conversation with G-d, asking Him to help you with whatever you need.

It doesn’t require any special language. Nor does it require any particular location. There is no charge, nor is there any affiliation requirement.

It is a simple as ‘when you need something, turn to G-d’.

G-d wants us to turn to Him.

No, you won’t be an irritating nudge. Your prayers are ‘music to His ear’ so to speak.

G-d desires our prayers. Our Sages tell us, that sometimes G-d doesn’t give us things till we ask for them. Because He wants our prayers.

May G-d answer all our prayers favorably and bring Mashiach, who will herald in the utopian era of peace and revelation of G-d, AMEN

Rabbi Yosef Kantor


Watch a moment of wisdom for this week's Torah portion👇👇👇




Happy Purim!



By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

If you are anything like me, you are celebrating Purim and at the same time you have your eyes on the worsening situation in Ukraine and the millions of refugees.

How can we celebrate Purim to its fullest when there is so much suffering?

First of all, before addressing the question, its important to state the following:

You are a Jew. I am a Jew. We both know that our ‘slogan’ of commitment that we coined at the giving of the Torah at Sinai is ‘Na’aseh Venishma’. We will DO and then we will UNDERSTAND’.

The secret of our existence is that we stick ‘religiously’ to the OBSERVANCE of G-d’s instructions even when they may not be fully understood by our mortal minds. And even when we may not ‘feel like it’.

Obviously, the bottom line for us Jewish people is that we observe Purim during good times and during better times. Unfailingly. Unquestionably.

Now to address the feelings many of us are having regarding what the suffering and how to view it in the context of Purim.

There are  four Mitzvahs on Purim (Megillah reading by day and night, food gifts to at least one friend, feasting, and gifts of money to at least two poor people). Of these four mitzvahs, the mitzvah we are instructed to MOST EMPHASIZE is the mitzvah of giving gifts to HELP THE POOR!!!

The first thing one can do when celebrating Purim while being more aware and mindful of the dire suffering, is to give tzedakah to help those in need (Purim monies through this link will be distributed those in need locally, in Israel and in Ukraine)

or to direct your tzedaka specifically to the needy in Ukraine

This is my first point. Purim is about doing things to create joy. For OTHERS and for yourself. Providing joy to others is the G-dly path to becoming more joyous oneself.

Stay away from the urge to walk around with a sad face and sighing. Having a melancholy temperament as tempting as it is when times are tough, doesn’t help the people who need your energetic help.  Sighing is also not enough. It doesn’t create any positive result.

Action is what is needed.

Physical. And spiritual.

Let’s talk about the most powerful tools we have, to change negative reality.

By doing Mitzvahs, all and any Mitzvahs, and as today is Purim, especially the timely mitzvahs of Purim, we create awesome spiritual blessings for everything good, healthy and peaceful.

And by adding in JOY. Yes. Anytime you are joyous, you are drawing down G-d’s Divine positive ‘energies’ down into this world.

On Purim its infinitely more potent.

By being joyous today, you are fulfilling the mitzvah of Purim and inviting the blessings of POSITIVE TRANSFORMATION into the world.

When its challenging to be joyous, it is even more potent!!!

Hashem sent me a special Purim inspiration this morning.

At the 11:00 AM reading of the Megillah at JCafe I met someone who told me that since as far back as he can remember, he has not missed hearing the Megillah.

And he remembers quite far back… He is seventy-two years old and remembers his parents taking him to the Megillah reading since he was a small boy.

This year, after just returning to Thailand after sheltering from Covid in the USA, and seeing that our big party was called off, he thought that maybe the tradition of hearing Megillah would be broken.

Then he saw that we were having Megillah readings EVERY HOUR ON THE HOUR at JCafe (last reading at 6pm today) and he got to hear the Megillah to his great joy!!!

The Purim Story in Miniature

This small encounter inspired me. for this is the classic Jewish story.

We have been doing this for thousands of years.

We go through ups and downs. Difficult times, easier times. Richer periods, poorer periods. Yet, we know, that as the story of the Megillah so richly tells us, it is G-d who is pulling the strings.

And when G-d is in charge, we are all in good hands.

May Hashem bless our world with PEACE, HEALTH and REDEMPTION!!!!

Happy Purim

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS this is going to be a long PS. I am attaching below an article I wrote two years ago. As we were beginning to ‘mask up’ for Covid. Then, I wrote it about the dangers lurking in microbes from the inside. Today it is as applicable to the dangers in the forms of missiles from the outside.

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Do your best to fight the virus!


It’s Purim after all.

The reasons we wear masks on Purim?

Here is a smorgasbord of reasons:

Why do we get dressed up on Purim?

Let me focus on one of the reasons that I think is pertinent to us now.

A mask conceals and covers.

The constant Providence of G-d, the guiding Hand that is always on the ‘steering wheel’ is also concealed and covered.

The miracle of Purim is a miracle that took place under wraps. It was guised as a natural event guided by political intrigues.

Only from the perspective of hindsight can we see the miraculous in the events that took more than a decade to unfold.

On Purim we celebrate the miracle that wasn’t overtly ‘miraculous’ like the splitting of the sea. It was a miracle that could have been interpreted as being a series of lucky coincidences.

Wearing a mask reminds us that things aren’t always the way they look.

Behind the mask lies something different.

It’s not nature that runs its haphazard course and creates ‘coincidences’.

G-d is in charge.

G-d makes the constant miracles that we call nature.

He masks His presence so that we don’t see Him unless we choose to look beyond the masks.

My dear friends, now more than ever we have the chance to WAKE UP and realize that it is G-d who is the Master of the Universe.

How big is a virus?

Virus particles are about one-millionth of an inch (17 to 300 nanometers) long. Viruses are about a thousand times smaller than bacteria, and bacteria are much smaller than most human cells. Viruses are so small that most cannot be seen with a light microscope, but must be observed with an electron microscope.

Yet, this miniscule, creature called a virus, has the entire world at its knees.

Click to read this story from the Talmud about Titus the Emperor of Rome

Our lives have all been affected by this little nothing. By this speck of viral matter.

Superpowers. Space-age countries. All have been brought to their knees by this teeny-weeny brat.

It seemingly has no boundaries and doesn’t recognize different religions or political affiliations. All are equally at risk. The contagion is universal. We struggle mightily with being able to contain it. Every once in a while, someone gets it and we can’t even find out how he picked it up.

This all points to one thing.

It is time to peel away the veneer of our belief in haphazard evolution.

It is time to wake up and identify the sophisticated denial of a Supreme Creator as being a subtle and genteel variation of idolatry.

It’s time to put on our Purim masks and recognize that G-d is the Master of the Universe!!!!

If you are Jewish, you have a very timely opportunity during the next few hours.

The gift of being able to help the world out of its great time of need.



In connection with Purim, we give the Machatzit Hashekel half shekel about which the Torah uses the words ‘there will not be a plague’, and we pray to the Almighty for His constant benevolence to us.

This year, the entire world needs our prayers.

First of all, let us pray for Israel. The situation there is very tense. The economy is facing unprecedented challenges from the huge numbers of people in quarantine as well as the severe limitations on its borders and subsequent tourism fallout. 

As well the entire world is in distress.

We need to pray on behalf of all of the inhabitants of the world, to send a Purim miracle to the world.

REVSERSAL of the sickness.

Eradication of the fear, panic and terror that grips us and threatens and disrupts our lives.

As there was for the Jewish People in Persia of yore, so may there be for us here and now ‘light and joy’!!!

Dear Friends,

There is something else I want to share.

I want to invoke the memory of a more modern-day miracle and perhaps tap into that miraculous energy of contemporary times and thus ‘draw down’ the G-dly miracles that we are so desperately in need of now.

Twenty-nine years ago in the weeks and months before Purim, Israel was gripped with uncertainty and fear.

Not from a virus. From missiles.

Sadaam Hussein did not just threaten to rain down missiles on Israel. He actually sent barrages of missiles that landed on Israel.

However, MIRACLES happened. There were no direct fatalities.

On February 28 1991 – PURIM DAY 14 Adar 5751 the Gulf War ended the miracle reached its crescendo. The regional conflagration that had the potential to get unimaginably worse, ended with a ceasefire. On PURIM DAY.

The Rebbe had spoken about this beforehand, encouraging us to believe in G-d and anticipate miracles.

Here is an article from ‘kabala online’ about the unfolding of these events from the Rebbe’s perspective.

The Rebbe wrote several letters just after these events, directing us to look at these event at the Divine G-dly miracles that they were.

Not content with simply pointing out our responsibility to thank G‑d for these miracles, the Rebbe encourages all of us to become "even more strongly aware that this is the time of urgent preparedness for the fulfillment of the prophecy 'and the kingdom shall be G‑d's,' when all nations will recognize that... '(the world) has a Master' — a recognition that will lead 'all of them to call upon the Name of G‑d, to worship Him with one consent.'"

Furthermore, in his signature manner, the Rebbe urges everyone to reciprocate to G‑d by elevating our own "daily Jewish conduct to the level of the supra-natural... everyone, man and woman, elevated above their natural tendencies and habits, in the area of Torah study and doing Mitzvos with hiddur (excellence) in a manner of "multiple miracles," striving ever higher and still higher..."

Purim is about remembering the miracles and by wearing masks we remind ourselves that the miracles are still here with us. Constantly. We need but peel away the exterior and reveal the every steady guiding Hand of G-d in every single iota of existence.

Happy Purim!!!!

Do your bit for the world’s health.


Rabbi Yosef Kantor


Watch a moment of wisdom in honor of Purim👇👇👇



Smile in Shule

By the Grace of G-d

Before I begin sharing from ‘my little corner of the world’, let me share these links that address the dire situation in the world.

How to help the situation:

Spiritually, click here for prayers and behavioral changes recommended by the Rebbe during the crises in USA – Soviet relations in the early 1980’s

Financially click here for the Ukraine Jewish Relief Fund


Dear Friend,

Beryl (Bernie) is eighty-five years old and ill with pneumonia. May G-d send him a speedy recovery.

When I visited him this week in Roi Et to say some prayers, he was thrilled to see me.

Speaking is very difficult for him. Yet, he exerted himself and whispered a few sentences. I had to work hard and do some lip reading to understand him. I was very glad that I did.

Bernie spoke about my having smiled to him twenty years ago when he lived temporarily in Bangkok and came to shul on Friday nights.

He further recounted – although speaking required quite some effort - that the Rabbi who had ‘bar-mitzvah’d’ him in New York, had hit him for speaking too much.

Can you imagine? We are talking seven decades later. What remains indelibly ingrained in his consciousness, what appears to be a defining experience in his relationship to Judaism, is the smile or lack or thereof that he received at the Synagogue.

The life lesson that I got from this trip to central northeastern Thailand is confirmation of what the Rebbe has made the cornerstone of Chabad’s outreach-oriented mission.

Accepting everyone with LOVE.

A frown, scowl or angry face doesn’t express love.

It is critical to SMILE SMILE SMILE.

It made crystal clear to me where the emphasis needs to be when welcoming people to Synagogue.

It also reinforced what I believe needs to be the attitude  when it comes to Bar-Mitzvah celebrations.

The main objective of Bar Mitzvah ceremonies needs to be setting the stage for the young man to have a positive and comfortable relationship with their Judaism.

Bar Mitzvah needs to be the BEGINNING OF A NEW STAGE of Jewish engagement. Not as it all too often works out, the end of religious instruction and involvement.

Sometimes so much emphasis is placed on the ‘performance’ of the young man, that the excitement and positivity is sucked out of it. Tragically in too many instances, the pressure exerted on the child to ‘practice’ and ‘perform’ ends up leaving a sour taste that doesn’t encourage the child to have a healthy continued relationship with his religion G-d forbid.

This doesn’t mean to say that a child shouldn’t be taught to persevere and even perspire in putting forth real effort. But only if that can be achieved while maintaining the positivity and joy of the experience.

It is critical to ensure that Bar Mitzvah’s, or for that matter children of any ages who attend Synagogue walk away with a positive and uplifted feeling.

(All of the above applies equally to ‘Bat Mitzvah’ for a girl).

This weeks Parsha of Vayikra teaches us that Hashem Himself reached out to Moshe with love. And Hashem instructed Moshe to teach the Torah in a way that the Jewish people would accept it with love.

(Vayikra 1:1 interpolated translation) As we have seen, the Tabernacle was erected and left standing for the first time on the 1st of Nisan, 2449. From that time on, whenever God wished to transmit any of the Torah’s laws to Moses, He first called out to Moses to meet Him in the Tabernacle. … Each time God called out him, He did so affectionately, repeating Moses’ name (“Moses, Moses!”) as He had done at the burning bush, thus preparing him for the address that followed. …

God instructed Moses to address the people in a manner that would inspire them to value His commandments and to inform them that He was giving them His commandments for their sake and in their interest, out of His love for them.

These last two years have been daunting.

One of the things Covid has made very challenging is the face masks. Smiles can shine through masks, but you cannot compare a smile that is concealed to a smile that is revealed.

I know it seems petty to speak about missing smiles, compared to the loss of life and health that Covid wrought.

But if you research the topic (do a ‘covid masks hide smiles’ google search and you will get plenty of material) you will find that hiding smiles is not a small matter.

Visible smiles are critical to proper human interaction.

Ironically, it is on Purim, the day of joy and celebration, that we get ‘masked’ and ‘dressed up’. The masquerade of Purim is to show how the hand of G-d was concealed in the (seemingly) natural unfolding of events that comprise the Purim miracle. It was as if G-d was ‘masked’ and hiding His management of the sequence of events.

The masking up on Purim is to add fun and bring more smiles. Especially to the children.

Conversely, the Covid masking up is not at all fun and especially not for children.

We thought that here in Bangkok, by this Purim, we could have a ‘classic’ party with celebration and fun, the way it was Pre-Covid.

Sadly, the numbers here in Thailand don’t allow for us to responsibly put on the large community Purim extravaganza in the hotel as planned.

But PURIM WILL BE CELEBRATED WITH EXCITEMENT. Albeit we will need to a bit more creative.

Stay tuned for our revised Purim activity schedule.

And in addition to that, take a few moments to plan some fun Purim celebration in your very own home. It is one of the HAPPIEST DAYS OF THE YEAR and we are instructed to FEAST and REJOICE.

Click here for the FOUR mitzvahs of Purim in a one minute youtube

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS Click here for a Purim website with a wealth of information

(We are optimistically looking forward to holding our communal Passover Seders as usual, please G-d).

Holy Bowly

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

First of all,

The war in Ukraine is shocking. Click here, for stories of its 350,000 Jewish men, women and children, who, together with Ukraine's entire population, have been in harm's way as residents and as refugees.

With prayers for the safety of all those who find themselves in danger and that we see the day when “nations will beat their swords into plowshares … and not learn war anymore.”

Many have asked me how they can help?

Spiritually, help can be sent through prayer and mitzvahs.

Today as the sun sets, Shabbat will be ushered in. Jewish women and girls worldwide, light Shabbat candles on time and add light to the world. Shabbat candles are an especially powerful mitzvah that ushers peace and light into the world.

Click here for instructions

 Financially, you can help via The Ukraine Jewish Relief Fund has been established to help provide assistance to the Jewish communities in Ukraine impacted by the war.

These fund will go to directly to the relief efforts, to provide food, shelter, transportation for escape, and other vital provisions to those who are in need.

Oseh Shalom Bimromov Hu Yaaseh Shalom Aleinu Ve’al Kol Yisrael VEIMRU AMEN!!!

Now for something local. Here in Bangkok.

On Monday 4:43 AM a fire broke out in the fourth floor of Major Cineplex at Soi Ekamai (you can see pictures of the flames in this report) and quickly spread to the third and fifth floor.

Why am I writing about a fire in Bangkok?

Because about twelve hours earlier, Nechama and I had taken our local chapter of CTeen to a bowling activity at the bowling alley in the fourth floor of Major Cineplex at Soi Ekamai.

Thank G-d the electrical circuit that is suspected as having caused the fire, did not ignite while we were there.

Who knows how close the fire may have been to breaking out when we were there and hence what big a miracle we experienced?

Before bowling, the five teenage boys put on Tefilin and said the prayers of Shema Yisrael. I am sure that those prayers, pure holiness made in such an incongruous setting, to the blaring music of non-Synagogue-style music, had a great effect.

There is something very special when holy deeds are performed where you would least expect them. The analogy given is that when a bird speaks, it causes much excitement. Not so when a person speaks. The more unexpected and absurd something is, the more excitement it generates. I am therefore quite convinced that the prayers in the bowling alley caused a joy up in Heaven.

(If you think Tefilin in a Bangkok bowling alley is cool... click on this link that shows the CTeen event last Saturday night at TIMES SQUARE in NY. What an epic Jewish Pride event!!!)

I use this forum to say Thank you Hashem, for keeping us safe.

And thank you Hashem that the fire didn’t break out when the building was full of people but happened at a time when the building was empty, and no one was harmed.

During our bowling game, I asked the teens if they could think of a life lesson to be learned from bowling.

The lesson we came up with was:


When you get a spare or a strike, the next ball you bowl has the power to not just be worth the number of pins you knock down during that frame, it also impacts the amount of points you will get on your previous frame.

The opportunities and gifts that we are endowed with, didn’t start with us. We are blessed to be a link in a glorious chain of history that came before us.

Our parents, grandparents and ancestors toiled, preserved, and sacrificed to bring us to the place that we are in life.

It behooves us to MAKE IT COUNT.

To ensure that their sacrifices are not wasted like a bowling ball thrown mindlessly that goes off into the gutter of the bowling lane.

If we think about our lives as being a continuation and culmination of all of the years of sweat and toil of those who preceded us, we will invest the proper thought and ‘kavana’ in living meaningful and inspiring lives.

We will not just squander our life away without investing it with spirituality and meaning.

A day after the bowling outing I was invited to address Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz’s 50th birthday celebration via Zoom.

This is a person who has chosen to be a beacon of light and positivity while being challenged to the highest degree.

I was humbled to be called upon to share greetings with a hero like R’ Yitzi.

For his first four decades, the life of Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz followed the typical contours of a Chassid. He was raised in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., the epicenter of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, where he observed and learned from the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.

He studied in yeshivah, enjoyed singing, strumming his guitar and dancing, and otherwise threw himself into Chassidic life.

Following their marriage, he and his wife, Dina, established a Chabad center in Temecula, Calif., where they raised their seven children.

Then the improbable happened, and the rabbi was diagnosed with a disease that robbed him of his movement but not his optimism and faith.

In the years since his diagnosis, the father of seven became a bastion of inspiration to millions worldwide through his uplifting, transformative (and always optimistic) writings on, his musical compositions and through the bright smiles he shared with the yeshivah students.

The students had the idea ofsurprising him on his 46th birthday with 4,600 mitzvahs, and shepherded the campaign into an organized global effort that gains more and more traction every year.

This year, they are aiming for 30,000 tefillin donnings and thousands of other mitzvahs besides—an ambitious increase over last year’s goal of 20,000 mitzvahs, each one documented and shared with the rabbi.

Visit and submit your mitzvah gift for Rabbi Yitzi to become part of the world’s largest birthday mitzvahthon in history!

This is a music video of a song R’ Yitzi wrote before being diagnosed with ALS. Shine a Little Light

R’ Yitzi is a source of inspiration for everyone who gets to know of him.

It adds a new meaning to the words MAKE IT COUNT!!!

My dear friends, let us give thanks to Hashem for all the myriads of blessings that we have.

For our mobility, our abilities to speak, laugh, dance and communicate.

Let us get rid of OY vey and replace it with JOY vey, or Oh YEAH as we recognize just how blessed we truly are!!!

Today is the first day of the month of Adar – the most JOYOUS month of the year.

Let us REJOICE with all the blessings that we have. And let us PRAY for peace in the world, for health for all and for the ultimate ending of this exile and its travails with the coming of Mashiach AMEN

Chodesh Tov, Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

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