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"Shabbat Shalom from Bangkok"

Self/ish/less. Healthier! Shabbat Shalom From Bangkok!

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

One day before Purim in 1961 the president of the United States of America gave the following speech:

I have today signed an Executive Order providing for the establishment of a Peace Corps … I'm hopeful that it will be a source of satisfaction to Americans and a contribution to world peace.

A day later came Purim. The Rebbe led his customary Farbrengen (Chassidic gathering) in honor of Purim and mentioned the founding of the Peace Corps, referring to it as a most admirable and noble idea.

The Rebbe saw this announcement as Heavenly sent assistance to his own efforts for a Jewish ‘Peace Corp’. The Rebbe had repeatedly requested of his students and Chassidim, to leave the comforts of Brooklyn New York and take up teaching positions in places that Judaism was not yet readily available. It was not easy to inspire an immediate post-Holocaust generation to leave the spiritual safety of the close-knit community to go out to the spiritual wilderness as pioneers. Having this similar ideal espoused by the president of the USA and touted in the media as being a noble and idealistic concept, would help implement this in the Jewish world as well.

In the Rebbe’s words on Purim (March 2) 1961:

For years now, I have been saying over and over: Don't convince yourself that you can live off the “fat of the land” and serve G-d in comfort here... Listen! There are spiritually “desolate lands” where fellow Jews are wallowing in spiritual poverty. The Mitzva to love your fellow Jew applies even to someone on the other side of the globe whom you have never met. Torah demands that you love him exactly as you love yourself! So give up your own comforts and devote yourself to helping your fellow Jew who is in need.

And with your love of G-d and your love of a fellow Jew, combined with love of Torah and Mitzvos, we will end the exile which was brought about by unfounded hatred, and bring the Redemption through unbounded love.

Click here for the original audio with English translation.

This topic jumped into my mind as I was preparing for the burial of the late Mr. Harvey (Chaim) Price.

I observed that this had been the smoothest, most immediate and most dignified burial process that I have encountered in Thailand to this date.

Harvey passed away on Shabbat which was the last day of Pesach. Day 8 of Pesach. In his 88th year (two days shy of his 88th birthday in the civil calendar) and was buried on Sunday the very next day – the day after Passover.  

Eight is a special number in Jewish tradition. Immediate burial in a Jewish cemetery is a special merit.

One of the things that Harvey was proud of, was that he had first come to Thailand in 1962 as the part of the first group of Peace Corps.

In other words, Harvey’s coming to Thailand was based on an idealistic desire to help others. Quite unique and special. Only years later, in 1969 he opened his law firm.

The lesson I want to highlight here, is the importance that the Almighty places on minimizing self-absorption and maximizing the efforts spent on helping others.

The underlying message of the Torah is about learning and training how not to put one’s own materialistic interests at the core of one’s mission statement for life. Rather we must put our soul-interests at the core of our aspirations.

Rather, than asking G-d what ‘He can do for you’, it is about asking G-d ‘what you can do for Him’.

And G-d tells us that what we can do for HIM is to ‘Love your fellow as yourself’. Put the welfare of others at the epicenter of your life. When you do that, you are more G-dly.

Counterintuitively and surprisingly, the true path to personal happiness is by providing happiness to others.

More fulfilling than eating a good meal and feeling satisfied, is feeding a hungry person and watching the glow of satisfaction shine on their face.

Hashem tells us in His Torah that giving, helping, and sharing with others does wonders not just for the recipient. It creates even more wondrous and blessed outcomes for the giver himself. In other words, Hashem’s recipe for self-happiness is to help others.

It is not surprising that modern medicine also recognizes this universal truth.

Mayo Clinics website says that:

Volunteering reduces stress and increases positive, relaxed feelings by releasing dopamine. By spending time in service to others, volunteers report feeling a sense of meaning and appreciation, both given and received, which can have a stress-reducing effect. Reduced stress further decreases risk of many physical and mental health problems, such has heart disease, stroke, depression, anxiety and general illness. In addition, a Longitudinal Study of Aging found that individuals who volunteer have lower mortality rates than those who do not, even when controlling for age, gender and physical health.

My suggestion to my dear readers is as follows:

Don’t quit your job and become a full-time volunteer for a charitable cause. Wherever you are, and whatever occupation you engage in, may be exactly where you need to be. But DO become a more selflessly oriented person.

Next time that you get a request for help, especially if it is something that will require patience, effort and even toil, don’t irritably reject it out of hand. Rather, close your eyes, take a deep breath and ask yourself, ‘is it possible that Hashem has brought this person to me for help, so that I will have the blessing of giving’?

Once you reframe things in this light, you will joyously engage in selflessly doing good for those who need it.

You won’t suffer because of it. On the contrary.

And you too, will be blessed with a deeper sense of happiness and satisfaction than you had previously experienced.

Try to make sure that at least once a day you do something that this not self-centered but altruistically done to benefit someone else.

It is not so difficult to do, but it requires being mindful and on the lookout for the G-d given opportunities to help others.

With a mindset of benevolence, giving and tolerance, the world will be a brighter place and Mashiach’s arrival will be hastened.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

 

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

 

follow the money

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

First of all, I want to share some positive news.

We merited to host 2513 people at the Pesach Seder’s on the first night of Pesach across Thailand.

While it’s not like pre-Covid numbers it is definitely an encouraging sign that life is resuming its vibrancy and people are beginning to travel.

May Hashem bless us with health and stability!

CLICK HERE FOR SHORT VIDEO CLIP

And for those who want to be a partner in this beautiful show of Jewish Traditions, Unity and Pride, we had more people than anticipated and the additional bills now need to be paid. YOUR generous gift can turn into holy Passover Mitzvah energy. Click here to donate for Passover

 

I got an unexpected but very welcome call from Phuket after the first days of Pesach that a dear friend of mine, a long time Jewish resident of Thailand, had attended the second night seder at Chabad of Phuket. What prompted him to come?

A CNN interview with a Rabbi in Ukraine, who explained how important it is to celebrate Passover during these challenging times. Amazing how G-dly inspiration can be spread through the most unlikely of ways.

In that spirit, I suggest that you consider celebrating these last days of Pesach, culminating in the ‘Seudat Mashiach’ the ‘Meal of Mashiach’ click here for more info. as the crises in the world should cause us not to be despondent and lethargic, but to be energetic, hopeful and full of yearning for better times. What we can do to hasten this, is add in awareness and good deeds to hasten the coming of Mashiach.

Click here for a mediation to help you ‘Live with Mashiach’.

 

 

 

Have you heard the term ‘follow the money’?

Or the other term ‘follow your gut/instinct’?

The second part of Pesach Holiday that begins this evening remind us that we need to follow G-d primarily.

The Jews left Egypt and followed Moshe out of Egypt upon G-d’s instructions.

By day seven, the heavily armed Egyptians were in hot pursuit of the Jewish people. The Jewish people were camped in front of the Reed Sea, with no good options. The angry Egyptians from behind, the sea in front, what were they to do? Facing this existential crisis, the first since the recent birth of the nation, there was variety of opinions about what to do.

The Midrash tells us that the Jewish people were divided into four camps. There were those who said, “Let us throw ourselves into the sea.” A second group said, “Let us return to Egypt.” A third faction argued, “Let us wage war upon the Egyptians.” Finally, a fourth camp advocated, “Let us pray to G‑d.”

Click here for a detailed explanation and practical application of this Midrash

So, what did they do?

Well, first of all, they were told that none of their opinions was the correct one.

Moshe rejected all four options, saying to the people, “Fear not; stand by and see the salvation of G‑d which He will show you today. For as you have seen Egypt this day, you shall not see them again, forever. G‑d shall fight for you, and you shall be silent” (Exodus 14:13). “Fear not, stand by and see the salvation of G‑d,” explains the Midrash, is Moses’ response to those who had despaired of overcoming the Egyptian threat and wanted to plunge into the sea. “As you have seen Egypt this day, you shall not see them again” is addressed to those who advocated surrender and return to Egypt. “G‑d shall fight for you” is the answer to those who wished to battle the Egyptians, “and you shall be silent” is Moses’ rejection of those who said, “This is all beyond us. All we can do is pray.”

But what should they do?

G-d gave his clear and concise instruction to Moshe.

“Speak to the children of Israel, that they should go forward.”

There is only one thing a Jew needs to follow as he exits his personal Egypt and journeys to receive the Torah and enter his personal ‘Promised Land’.

GO FORWARD.

Do another mitzvah, ignite another soul, take one more step toward your goal. Pharaoh’s charioteers are breathing down your neck? A cold and impregnable sea bars your path? Don’t look up; look forward. See that Sinai mountain upon which the Torah will be given? Move toward it.

And when you move forward, you will see that insurmountable barrier yield and that ominous threat fade away. You will see that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, you have it within your power to reach your goal. Even if you have to split some seas.

This leap of faith is a difficult one. But it is a liberating leap that changes everything else in your life.

Don’t blindly follow the money. Life is about much more than money. And the obsession with accumulating wealth has led many a good intentioned person astray.

Don’t blindly follow your instincts. Some of our instincts are good and have been instilled within us to protect us. Other instincts however are instilled within us to challenge us. In order to have us put forth an effort to overcome them.

FOLLOW G-D.

This is fulfilled by learning Torah, fulfilling Mitzvahs and generally being aware of G-d’s presence in every single aspect of creation.

The ‘move forward’ mode is truly the G-dly way.

So many times, in so many circumstances, I have seen the ‘splitting of the sea’ as a result of moving forward even when the situation looked insurmountable.

Here is an example of a ‘big’ thing.

Just before year 2000 we had an opportunity to rent a large facility for our then bursting at the seams Chabad House in Kasoarn Rd. The leap from renting a narrow Chinese shophouse, to leasing a three storied. hundreds of meters large, location was a great one. The financial ramifications were enormous.

I took a good friend to see the new suggested location with me. He was honest, and told me ‘Rabbi, this project is too big for you’ and advised me to go for something more modest. After rethinking and consulting with others,  it still seemed to me that expanding was the direction that G-d wanted us to take. For the scope of our work was being hindered by the smallness of our facility and we needed to take this leap to further the work of G-d. We took the leap and thank G-d were successful. Instead of having more financial struggle we actually had less. Counterintuitive but true.

Twenty years later in 2017, a property became available for purchase not far from the main backpacker area. This was an opportunity to get out of paying rent and pay a mortgage instead. But the financial cost of property purchase and subsequent Chabad House building, was staggering. After consulting and thinking, it seemed clear that the path of G-d was pointing towards going ahead with the ambitious project. At various points of this project there were overwhelming challenges. G-d helped and at each stop of the way, dear friends stepped forward to be the angels that helped us bring this project to completion.

MIRACULOUS NEWS. This year - PESACH 2022 - at Kaosarn Rd was celebrated in the NEW Chabad House – Ohr Menachem (official grand opening on June 21 please G-d).

Somehow, the sea split, and we are in the new building.

And there are multitudes of small things.

Times when things looked bleak and overwhelming. Days where it seemed like the ideal place would be to hide out in bed with the covers over the head.

But as the Rebbe once answered someone ‘taking action, even the smallest action, is better than sleeping, and certainly better than falling into a deep slumber’.

Wake up. Get out of bed. Take a step in the right direction. Do the next right thing.

Time after time, I have seen, as I am sure that you too have, that when I follow this instruction ‘go forward’ in the direction of G-d, by doing the next right thing, somehow the seas split. The insurmountable obstacles become manageable, and things start moving forward in the right path to Sinai and the Promised Land.

This Holiday that begins tonight, the Seventh day of Pesach, is about the MIRACULOUS splitting of the sea which was brought about after Nachshon of the tribe of Yehuda walked into the sea ready to give up his life in order to fulfil G-d’s command of ‘Go Forward’. At the last moment, before the waters engulfed him, the sea split. Click here for more on this

This holiday is thus the holiday of commitment to the point of Mesirat Nefesh – Self Sacrifice.

May G-d bless us to never need to exercise this in actuality like our ancestors needed to, but rather may Hashem bless us to show our commitment to Him by  sacrificing our wants, desires and egos.

From this holiday we take the power and energy, courage, strength and conviction to move forward and follow G-d and LIVE the life of a believing Jew .

May the Almighty bring us Mashiach speedily in our days! NOW!!!!

Chag Sameach, Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

 

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

 

Chag HaPesach Kasher Vesameach

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Hashem sent me a few lessons about freedom and liberation during my trip to USA via Israel.

I must admit that I felt quite foolish.

After standing for 90 minutes in a line that inched along to the El Al ticket counter I hurriedly proceeded to the boarding gate. I glanced down at my boarding pass and saw the letters ‘GL’ followed by my El Al mileage number.

I sent a WhatsApp to my travel agent asking him whether I understood correctly that this meant I was a gold member of the El Al Matmid mileage program. He confirmed to me that yes, I was.

It dawned on me. Almost three years ago, before covid began, I had a few back-to-back trips to Israel that earned me the ‘gold’ status on El Al. It’s been so long since I traveled that it never dawned on me that I had this status. Apparently however, the status was preserved.

This means that I could have checked in at the business class check-in counter and avoided the long lines. Not to mention the access to the King David lounge which is well stocked with kosher food and drink.

The oversight on my part was so ridiculous that I chuckled to myself. But I was wondering, what lesson could I learn from the experience.

I had a flashback. To the summer of 1991 one of the highlights of my life. I was the head counselor of the main Chabad Gan Yisrael boy’s camp. It was the last day of camp and the entire camp had traveled from the Catskill mountains to 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. The Rebbe would address the children after praying Mincha with them. After that they would be dismissed and go home with their parents who would pick them up. Before the Rebbe would enter the Shul for prayers, the head counselor – in this case yours truly – would give a short inspirational speech.

This is the story I told:*

Around the turn of the twentieth century, Vladimir, an illiterate and unworldly Siberian peasant, struck it rich. One day he was offered a very lucrative business proposition. Closing the deal, however, required his presence in Moscow.

Moscow. He was pretty sure that a horse—even the sturdiest his village had to offer—would not be able to make the trip of several thousand kilometers . . . Some of the more sophisticated residents of the town came to his rescue, advising him about the existence of a new mode of transportation, a “train.” If he were to travel to Novosibirsk, the closest large city, he would be able to catch a train to Moscow.

Thus, one fine day found Vladimir in the central train station of Novosibirsk. When he informed the lady behind the ticket counter of his intended destination, she asked him what sort of ticket he wished to purchase. Observing his confusion, she told him that he could purchase a first-, second- or third-class ticket. A third-class ticket, she explained, offered absolutely no amenities, and didn’t even guarantee a spot on the train. If the arriving train was already filled to capacity, he would have to wait for the next one. A second-class ticket offered a greater chance of a spot on the train, along with more comfortable accommodations. A first-class ticket came with a guaranteed seat, and all amenities necessary to ensure a luxurious and comfortable journey.

Money was hardly an issue, so first class it would be. The ticket lady explained to her consumer that the ticket was non-refundable, and should be guarded carefully. Vladimir heeded her advice, and tucked his ticket beneath the many layers of clothing he was wearing.

As it turned out, the train would not arrive for another few days. Vladimir noted the date and time of its anticipated arrival, arranged for lodgings in the interim, and arrived back at the station two hours early, since this was his first time attempting such a journey. He decided to just follow the flow, assuming that he would be fine as long as he copied exactly what his fellow travelers were doing.

The train arrived. After his initial shock at seeing such a monstrously large caravan of cars, Vladimir regained his composure and scanned the terminal to see what to do. As it was early, most of the passengers had not yet arrived, but he noticed three passengers boarding the very last car on the train. He followed them into the car, and when each one climbed beneath one of the benches in the car, he did the same. Unfortunately, he wasn’t fully familiar with proper stowaway protocol, and his feet jutted out across the aisle of the third-class car.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t fully familiar with proper stowaway protocol

It was dark and lonely beneath the bench, and Vladimir quickly dozed off. He didn’t feel the train start to move, and didn’t hear the conductor entering the car. He did, however, feel a sharp kick to his shins, and the startled peasant was expertly hoisted out by the burly conductor.

“You moron, you think this is a free ride?” he bellowed. “You need a ticket to ride this train!”

“What’s the problem, sir,” Vladimir meekly responded. “I have a ticket.”

The other travelers on the train car burst out laughing at this ludicrous claim. Their laughter only intensified when he started peeling off layer after layer of clothing, starting with his expensive fur coat and ending with his undergarments. But, much to their astonishment, he pulled out a ticket—a first-class ticket, no less!

After verifying that the ticket was indeed authentic, the conductor, in a distinctly humbled tone of voice, asked the obvious: “Sir, you have an expensive first-class ticket; pray tell me why you are lying under a bench in the third-class car?!”

“Because that’s what the others were doing . . .” was the embarrassed response.

Boys, I concluded, you have spent eight weeks in camp, and you recognize how at Mount Sinai we were given a first class ticket. One day, the Conductor will want to know whether we used it or not. Certainly, it does not behoove us to just follow what ‘others are doing’. Rather we have the blessing to conduct ourselves as befitting ‘first class’ passengers.

Standing there about to board my flight, with a forgotten GL status in hand, after standing for nearly two hours in a queue, I realized that Hashem was reminding me of this story.

Liberation is available to us. We have the ‘Liberated status’. But we need to remember that we are liberated. On Pessach Hashem gives us the gift of Liberation. This is why we have a seder talking about the miraculous Exodus from Egypt, we eat matzah and drink four cups of wine and thus we remember and become aware that we are liberated and free ever since then. This liberation and freedom can never be taken from us.

Click here for an essay on how you can be free even when you are technically imprisoned.

The second lesson I got was when earlier this week I grazed my car with a NYPD school safety department car coming of the Belt Parkway. It was a minor dent to my car and barely a scratch on the NYPD car.

I knew that it was a blessing from Heaven, as I was coming from dropping my parents off at the airport which is a Mitzvah that is very special and I was on my way to the Ohel of the Rebbe to pray. If I had an accident between this great mitzvah and visiting this holy place, it must be a blessed accident. And indeed, thank G-d, no one was hurt. But it did take about 90 minutes till Seargent Pellegrino came and wrote the appropriate report. I asked if we couldn’t just agree that it was nothing and was told that since it was a government vehicle, a report needed to be written and it was forbidden for me to leave the site of the accident till that time.

I was imprisoned in some sense. I couldn’t carry on with my schedule as planned. And I had a minute-to-minute schedule of important meetings for that last day in New York. That was now not to be.

But I felt wonderfully liberated. I used my phone to make calls to the people I wanted to visit but now would not have time to visit. They were wonderful calls as I was at ease and without the pressure of time constraints. I could even dance. Although I chose not to do a jovial noisy dance (see the below humor section) I certainly hummed a joyous melody and tapped my feet in the brisk sunny spring air. Liberation is a state of being, I reminded myself.

The third instance took place earlier this morning.

I landed in Bangkok and was taken by the hotel for the rapid Covid test on the way to checking in to the hotel. After about three hours, my son Mendel came over to pick up our luggage. They let him up to the room. I thought that this was a concession that he had managed to negotiate from the hotel staff. A half hour later, after calling down to the reception to find out if our test results had come back yet, I was told that about half an hour ago they had received the results but forgotten to tell me.

I was free to go but I didn’t know. (that even rhymes 😊 )

An example of how you can be essentially and existentially liberated but because of distractions and desensitizing decadent practices, be totally unaware of it.

This Passover, make sure to ingest the ‘Food of Faith’ = Matzah Shmurah. Drink four cups of wine = the taste of liberation and spend time listening to the questions of your child and explaining to him the gift that G-d gave us of redemption from Egypt and gifting us the Torah of Truth and Life.

Celebrate your liberation. Be aware of it. Delight in it. Savor it. And LIVE A LIBERATED LIFE. There is no freedom, like living a life consistent with G-d’s Torah and Mitzvahs.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach

A KOSHER AND HAPPY PESACH

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

*story as written on Chabad.org

 

Watch a moment of wisdom about Pesach 👇👇👇

 

 

 

 

 

Chai from Thai

Dear Friend,

We are meant to be happy. All the time. It’s a Mitzvah.

Especially now.

Passover is a joyous and celebratory time.

But how can we be happy?

The world seems so scary.

I won’t go into details of world news because that is the job of the news reporters. Suffice it to say the world is covered with darkness in many ways.

It’s even more scary when you realize that what we know is just a tip of the iceberg about what is really going on.

Be happy?

How?

This year we have another reason for special celebration.

In our generation, we were blessed with the great gift of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s leadership.

The day of birth of a leader is cause for celebration. The Rebbe of righteous memory was born four days before Pesach in 1902. This year is thus the 120th year. A most significant and joyous milestone.

But, against the backdrop of our current world predicament how can one be in the state of mind to be joyous?

There is an ancient Jewish tradition to say the chapter in Tehillim – Psalms corresponding to the year of ones life. i.e. when one is born it is year one. When one turns twenty it is year twenty-one etc. Thus as we enter the 121st year since the Rebbe’s birth, we begin to say Psalm 121.

Psalm 121 spells out very clearly how a Jew is able to live his life with joy even while facing adversity.

King David speaks on behalf of all of the people of Israel in his book of Tehillim – Psalms.

I shall raise my eyes to the mountains, from where will my help come?

My help is from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth

When things look bleak, rather than hiding in a corner and pretending that nothing is wrong and all is fine and dandy, you should look reality in the eye.

Look up to G-d and be mindful that our lives, our strength, our help and salvation, come from G-d.

And nothing is beyond G-d’s realm of possibility.

As trying and challenging as things may seem, G-d is in charge and can change the course of the world to one of peace and tranquility in no time.

Liberation does not mean living in denial and ignoring the challenges.

True freedom is about recognizing the challenges and transcending them by connecting to the Higher Authority and being enwrapped in His infinite embrace.

On Pesach, each and every year, we are gifted the spirit of liberation and freedom once more.

It is up to us to ‘plug in’ and activate the incredible opportunity of liberation that Pesach brings.

As Moshe shared with the Jewish people on the day that he turned 120

(Devarim 29:33)

Fortunate are you, O Israel! Who is like you, O people whose salvation is through God, the shield who helps you, your majestic sword!

When we but realize that G-d is with us, we truly feel fortunate and JOYOUS.

***

In our post Holocaust generation, inspired by the Rebbe’s leadership, we are witness to the catapulting of Jewish life and experience to the most diverse and widespread locales.

The adaptation of Jewish life to so many varied environments is a source of inspiration and colorful anecdotes.

One of the exciting and incongruous places that Judaism has proliferated, is Thailand.

Nechama and I are blessed to have been sent by the Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1993 to provide spiritual leadership to the Jews of Thailand. Over the years, we have engaged in many incredibly inspiring Jewish experiences.

It has been my privilege to share some of these stories in my weekly emails.

These emails began after the horrendous terrorist attack on the twin towers, knows as 9/11. The Rebbe would often repeat the aphorism that ‘a little light dispels a lot of darkness’. This weekly communique was my way of adding a bit of light.

A dear friend Bennet Hymer of Hawaii was so inspired by these anecdotes that he set out to publish a book of these stories.

These are not really my stories. Rather they are a testament to the vision and empowering leadership of the Rebbe. My stories are not unique. Thousands of my colleagues around the world experience similarly miraculous and inspiring encounters as they go around their holy and vital work. The Rebbe propelled and empowered all of us and continues to do so as the soul becomes more radiant after physically passing.

While the book was published more than half a year ago, I hadn’t yet spoken about it in my weekly email. Bennett Hymer, my dear friend, the publisher of the book, asked me last week when would I announce it?

I wasn’t sure. But listen to what happened earlier today, and you will see how Hashem provided me with clear guidance.

Thank G-d I have the merit to be able to be represent the community of Thailand, in New York for the Monday night celebration of the Rebbe’s 120th birthday after which I head back home to Bangkok for the final preparation of our Pesach activities that are being ably handed by my dear wife and our Chabad staff.

One of my missions for my NY trip is raising funds for providing Pesach food, joy and welfare to Jews residing and visiting Thailand via our communal seders and food distribution.

I was visiting some philanthropic supporters in Long Island and prayed the Mincha afternoon service together with them in the buildings conference room. Just before the prayers, a thought went through my mind that perhaps this week I would announce the book in honor of the Rebbe’s birthday. For it was the Rebbe’s fervent wish that every person inspire others to reach beyond their comfort zone. To do another mitzvah, to study more Torah. The purpose of the book is to inspire this kind of growth. But I still wasn’t sure if I would announce it this week.

The payers were over. People filed out of the room, till there was just one person left who was waiting to tell me something. He introduced himself and then said ‘I have regards from Bennet Hymer in Hawaii. He even gave me a copy of your book that he published’.

My dear friends, I am blessed to see many instances of Divine Providence. Somehow this one simply astounded me.

So, in heeding the message from Heaven, I am sharing the details of the book ‘Chai from Thai – Jewish experiences from Thailand’ . (In Thailand this will be available locally via our office).

***

With blessings for a Shabbat Shalom and success in selling your chametz, acquiring Matzah and generally preparing for Pesach – the Festival of our Liberation.

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

 

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

 

Chockablock full of activity

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Pesach is around the corner.

The inebriating spirit of liberation is in the air.

In preparation for the upcoming Pesach, three Torah’s are read from in the Synagogue this week. Busy. In a good and powerful way.

Just like the way the week was for Jewish life in Thailand. Chockablock full of activity.

During this past seven days, we celebrated a birth, a bar mitzvah and (to separate between one form of life and the other form of life) we are about to perform a burial at the Jewish cemetery.

Maybe for New York, London or Melbourne that doesn’t sound so unusual, but for a ‘remote’ Jewish community the size of Thailand’s it was an eventful week.

It showed how deeply rooted Jewish life has become in Thailand.

The Bar-Mitzvah that was held at Beth Elisheva this past Shabbat was joyous and meaningful. It was also highly symbolic. The grandparents of Lucas Rafael Frankel, the Bar-Mitzvah boy, were active and foundational members of the Jewish community since the 1960’s. The Bar-Mitzvah boy’s parents grew up in Thailand. One of the first weddings I officiated at after arriving to Thailand was that of the parents of the Bar-Mitvzah boy.

To see this third generation living in Thailand Jew be called to the Torah at Bangkok’s local Synagogue and to hear him declare how proud he is to be a link in the unbroken 3,334 year golden chain of Judaism was very inspiring.

The words ‘Am Yisrael Chai’ – the People of Israel is Alive – summed it up most fittingly.

Just a few days later, Rabbi & Mrs. Mendy Zayantz who run the Chabad House in Pai, gave birth to a healthy baby girl in Bangkok. This baby too, is third generation Thailand. Her mother is Chanie Wilhelm who grew up in Thailand. She is the daughter of Rabbi & Mrs. Nechemya Wilhelm of Kaoard Rd’s Chabad House.

Sadly a few hours later, we got a call from Roi-Et that Berel (Bernie) Sandow had returned his soul to his creator just shy of his 86th birthday. Berel left instructions that he wanted to have a Jewish burial and please G-d this will take place on Friday. (See below, if you can help with the minyan). Berel was born in NY but spent the last two decades of his life here in Thailand.

Our ‘tzedakah fund’ was very active this week. In a process that took several years, this week we repatriated an elderly man back home to the UK after he had come to the end of his money and was left penniless and homeless. We sent food packages to those who need nutritional assistance. As well, the ‘chessed shel emmet’ tzedakah fund will cover the Jewish burial expenses.

We have launched our Passover appeal so that we can actualize our Passover commitment that ‘all who are hungry should come and eat’.

Pesach supplies will be sold from Sunday.

Many will remember that years ago, when we announced that we would be selling Passover supplies, it meant matzah and matzah meal and a few other items.

Today thank G-d, the choices are many. See the below picture or visit JCafe Pesach Store’s website JCafe Pesach Store’s website to see the range of kosher for Passover products.

Yes, we are an active community thank G-d. It is possible to live a Jewish life in Thailand.

Passover Seders will be held please G-d for our local community with instruction in either English or Hebrew.

As well, we are a hub for Jewish travelers. Thousands of travelers have meaningful and transformational Jewish experiences in Thailand. The Chabad Houses that span Thailand from North to South are welcoming hubs that provide a feeling of home, both physically and spiritually.

And of course, now that tourism has resumed, Chabad House across Thailand will be hosting myriads of travelers at eight different locations. 

My dear friends, the one who foresaw this incredible growth opportunity even in a community as far away as Thailand, was the Lubavitcher Rebbe who believed in the future of vibrant Jewish observance wherever Jews may live. The Rebbe acted on this belief and sent his students as emissaries – Shluchim – to spread Judaism in a meaningful and joyful way.

Jewish life in Thailand of the early 1990’s, when Nechama and I merited that the Rebbe sent us as his Shluchim, was quite challenging to say the least. Fast forward to 2022 and thank G-d one can see the tremendous change and growth. And this narrative is being repeated in hundreds of locations around the globe as the Rebbe’s vision of Jewish outreach is yielding fruits of previously unimaginable proportions.

The Rebbe was born four days before Pesach in 1902. That means that this year on April 12th it will be the 120th year since his birth. This represents a full lifetime. It is a significant date and world Jewry is marking this milestone birthday by giving ‘gifts’ to the Rebbe who gave the world so much. Click here for more.

How do you give a gift to a Rebbe?

How do you give a gift to anyone?

It’s simple.

You do something that is meaningful to him.

If your friend likes cookies, you give them cookies.

The Rebbe’s lifetime was devoted to Torah and Mitzvahs. To illuminating the world. To helping every person by doing acts of tzedakah, goodness and kindness. To selflessly shepherding others, one person at a time. Pushing and uplifting anyone and everyone, to go for the ‘gold’ and bring Mashiach to end suffering and welcome in the utopian peaceful Messianic era.

That is then what the gift should be.

You study some extra Torah in his honor.

You do a Mitzvah in his honor.

Even more, you adopt his ideals, values and ambitions as your own. Join in the mission of filling the world with acts of tzedakah, goodness and kindness. Be imbued with the passion to end the strife, pain and suffering, to yearn for Mashiach.

That would give him real ‘nachas’ satisfaction.

Click here for a video regarding the USA govt proclamation of Education Day in honor of the Rebbe’s birthday.

And since we are in proximity to Pesach it should all be done in the “Pesach mode’.

Pesach means to JUMP OVER.

Applying that to our lives, it means not just not to be satisfied with working at anything less than full capacity.

But that even when reaching full capacity, not stopping to rest but JUMPING ever higher.

The Rebbe would constantly quote the saying of our Sages, ‘If you achieved 100, you should now aim for 200’.

Practically speaking: If you know about Passover and are going to eat Matzah and have a Seder, you should spread the wealth and reach out to another, to make sure that they have matzah and a seder.

It will be our pleasure to partner up with you in reaching Jews who don’t have matzah and provide you with matzah and help in any other way we can help.

If each of us tries a little harder, the unleashing of positive energy and light will be incredibly powerful.

And the world needs positive, powerful and peaceful vibes and energy now more than ever.

Shabbat Shalom

Chodesh Tov

And an early Chag Pesach Kasher VeSameach

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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