"Shabbat Shalom from Bangkok"

hippie hopes

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friends

‘We are too busy mopping the floor to turn off the faucet’.

I got a lot of positive feedback about the life-wisdom that is contained in this proverbial saying.

I would like to further develop this vivid description to reframe the arduous (and ofttimes painful) journey of the ‘searchers’. To encourage, inject hope and inspiration to those who feel lost and helpless in their attempts to turn off the faucet. I hope this offers some them some strength to keep on trying.

Let’s imagine the scene in the kitchen. The floors are flooded, and the faucet in the kitchen sink is running.

The overflowing kitchen sink came to be because you have a blocked drain, and someone turned on the tap and forgot to turn it off before going to sleep.

By the next morning, you have a flooded kitchen.

You take out the pails and mops and clean up the flood.

And  yes, you turned off the faucet first, but then you discovered that the faucet was leaky.

You are so busy cleaning the mess that calling the plumber to fix the leaky faucet (and blocked sink) doesn’t concern you just yet. Your mind is telling you ‘what difference does a bit more water make, when you have so much flooding to deal with’.

You make good progress. You overcome the mega problem. You have generally cleaned up the flood. You are no longer in ankle deep water furiously emptying buckets and mopping. So, while the leak is still there, the water is now manageable, it’s not a few inches deep anymore. And because it’s not a fire hydrant sprouting forth water, it’s just a kitchen faucet, it’s not about to be flooded again within the next immediate future. You have a few hours or days to take care of the issue.

Now, once you generally have the matter under control, you are able to take the time to go to ‘Google’ (or the phone book for those who remember that ancient ‘tool’) to look for a plumber.

It turns out that finding a good plumber is not so easy. One plumber comes and wants to fix the leak but is unable. He is not a total failure though, as at least he is able to unstick the blockage. For now it works, but deep down you feel unsettled because you know that once in a while the pipes in your area back up. with blocked pipes, it is only a matter of time till the leaky faucet will cause flooding again.

You look for another plumber. And another.

On the one hand you have the luxury and time to look for a plumber. Because you no longer are tied up in mopping the floors.

On the other hand, you now have a stressful situation in finding and hiring the right plumber.

Hopefully, you will overcome your stress and pursue your search committedly. Hashem will hopefully bless your efforts and you will find a plumber who can fix your faulty faucet.

Then, you will have truly solved your problem.

What scenario would you prefer?

To be mopping the floors with vigor and dulling distraction?

Or to have a cleaned-up kitchen with a glaring problem that needs to be solved, to find the right skilled worker.

Simple you say. I would rather have the freedom and time to look for a proper solution.

It’s not so clear cut.

Remember, you may get anxiety attacks and stress from the frustration of finding the right plumber to fix the leak.

Mopping the floor may be easier.

When it comes to mopping the floors, you have no time or brain-space for anxiety. You have a defined problem and a measurable solution.

While caught up in mopping the floor your brain imagines that after you finish you will be happy. You conjure up images of the serenity of life after you, mopped the floors, and you are sitting on the couch sipping your drink of choice.

It’s really a mirage. Because once you have solved the pressing flood problem you will have the time and brain space to be bothered by the unsolved problem of the leaky faucet. This will cause you a new set of anxieties. You will realize you are not ‘problem-free’, you have a new problem on your hands.

But objectively, it is a healthier problem. As addressing the faulty faucet has the potential, if solved, to give you a long-term hiatus from a flooded kitchen.

Hashem has given our generation a unique position.

The ‘floods’ of the previous generations, which were about having the means for survival, are in many ways ‘mopped up’.

Children used to go out to work to help their parents pay the bills. Husbands worked arduous and long hours to have money for supporting the household. Wives toiled long and hard in keeping the home running. Just think about ‘laundry day’ before the advent of washing machines and dryers. Not to mention before there was running water in homes.

The prevalent feeling was that ‘if I were a rich man….’ everything would be fine dandy and we would live happily ever after.

Who had time and brain space to see if they were ‘happy’ or felt ‘meaning’ in their life.

You did what you had to do.

Not many people became ‘rich’ or ‘problem-free’ enough to actually find out that being rich is just like mopping the floor but not like fixing the leak.

Progressively, in the past decades, life has become easier physically. More gadgets. Shorter working hours and shorter work weeks. For many, there are no physical flooded floors that require their mopping.

Some can even say not ‘if I was a rich man’ but ‘now I am a rich man’. Yet, they now find out that the faucet is leaky, and the drain is blocked and it’s only a matter of time till the floors start getting flooded.

They have an existential problem to solve.

But they don’t have the distraction of focusing on mopping the floors.

(Some get pulled to the distraction of addiction. This is a lengthy topic not for now).

Let us try and see this in a positive light.

Because societal advances have provided more time and energy for ‘thinking’ about life, now we have the task that all generations have waited for.

Getting to the truth of life.

But admittedly, wealth has its own challenges.

Here is the nucleus of how we begin to repair the leaky faucet.

The faucet cannot be turned off unless we reach the source. To reach the source of our searching soul we need to embrace our deepest existential truth.

A human being can only be truly happy when embracing the purpose of their creation.

Ultimately, one can only be happy when they recognize that they have been tasked with a Divine mission.

We carry out our mission, by first and foremost affirming that there is a Creator and He has created us for a G-dly purpose. By recognizing that G-d is ‘relying’ on us to fulfill His aspirations for His universe.

By stepping up to the plate and embracing G-d’s purpose by studying Torah and observing Mitzvahs’ this is the only way that a Jew can truly turn off that annoying drip of that leaky faucet.

Click here to see a short video clip by R’ Manis Friedman on this topic

And click here (at 2:30 in) where Zevulun our own local Jewish rice farmer shares how he achieved all the material goals in life, like owning his own farm, combine and tractor, all the things he thought would lead to happiness, yet he was left feeling dissatisfied. This led him to discovering his own soul and committing to studying Torah and fulfilling Mitzvahs, which leads to the inner peace he was searching for.

If you are one of those who sometimes feels like a piece of driftwood in a sea of meaningless encounters called life, and you are searching for your inner peace, recognize the great gift you have, to be a sensitive attentive soul.

While there is too often pain involved in this self-discovery, try to recognize the blessings and luxury you have, to be able to work on true healing and not just physical survival. Embrace the Divine gift of the search and find the joy of having the luxury of time and energy to search for meaning.

The way to get to the bottom of it, is by embracing G-d’s Divine road map – Torah and Mitzvahs.

Perhaps even more important, if you are not a searcher yet, try to become one.

Once the floors are mopped, and you have solved your survival issues, don’t sit down with a coffee and a novel and lose sight of the greater goal of fixing the leaky faucet.

 All too many, once their immediate issues are taking care of, dive deep into enhancing their physical and sensual indulgences and don’t get to search for their purpose of existence. Get to the purpose you were created for. Delve deeper into the liberating experience of connecting to Hashem.

This ties right in with the Parsha of course. In this weeks Parsha we are told about the Jews leaving Egypt. Actually, not all the Jews left Egypt.

Why not? Because they didn’t all want to leave Egypt.

What? Who wouldn’t want to leave slavery?

Well, once Moshe had started the plagues, the forced labor stopped. The Jews were now living in Egypt without being forced to work. Some of them kind of liked the stability of staying where they were and were not prepared to venture into the unknown with Moshe.

The floors were mopped. The problems were solved. Temporarily.

Except that the faucet was still very leaky.

Ok. You are not slave laborers anymore. That is enjoyable for a while. But then the gnawing questions return. Why am I here. What am I supposed to do. What am I needed for.

This ‘leak’ was about to be fixed for them. The purpose and meaning of life was about to be bestowed upon the Jewish People and presented to them at Mount Sinai.

But for some it wasn’t to be. The ones that were lulled into the short term thinking of staying in Egypt, didn’t make it out of Egypt. Hashem didn’t force them into leaving. They passed away peacefully and without fanfare during the plague of darkness. The Egyptians remained ;in the dark’ figuratively and literally, while the Jews unwilling to be redeemed passed away and were buried.

That was then. In the liberation from Egypt three thousand three hundred plus years ago.

This time around it will be different. Hashem promised through the Prophets that when Mashiach comes speedily in our days, no Jew will be left behind.

Just as the Jews in Egypt once times were good had trouble with wanting to exit Egypt, similarly now, awaiting and truly wanting Mashiach these days is challenging. Back in the day, it was quite easy to await Mashiach’s coming, when the life of a Jew was fraught with danger and suffering. During the crusades, inquisition and second world war, obviously everyone wanted Mashiach.

But when so many of the problems have thank G-d dissipated. When so many Jews are living in a ‘golden age’ in terms of material wherewithal and Jewish observance, this now becomes the challenge. To inspire the Jewish people not to be satisfied with ‘mopped floors’. Not to make peace with exile and say ‘Egypt is not so bad after all’ but rather to await Mashiach with true anticipation.

On Shevat 10 on the Jewish calendar (this coming Wednesday), upon the passing of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory, in 1950, leadership of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement passed on to his illustrious son-in-law, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory. In the decades that followed, the Rebbe revolutionized, inspired and guided the post-Holocaust transformation of the Jewish people that continues to this day.

It was a very challenging time to become the leader of world Jewry. Not only because of the physical state of Jews and Judaism. And during the many decades of the Rebbe’s leadership of the post-Holocaust generation, there was epic progress as the Jewish communities rapidly rebuilt themselves in their new homes in the Western world. Many of the existential post-Holocaust problems were overcome. Tranquility, financial stability and spiritual opportunities only became stronger with each additional year.

But that is precisely where there is a deeper and greater challenge.

It is way more challenging to generate a feeling of spiritual urgency and even anxiety, in a generation that is blessed with having solved most of its material (big) problems.

But the Rebbe identified and nurtured the inner sometimes imperceptible thirst of our generation. For example, the Rebbe saw the Hippy revolution as an inner cry to address the leaky faucet.

The Rebbe posited that what the Hippies were really expressing, if one could cut through the externals and get to the soul, was their burning search and desire to hear the truth of G-d’s message.

Click here to read more about the Rebbe’s approach to the ‘youthful rebellion’ of the hippies.

The Rebbe’s task, (as described in the last discourse that he distributed before his passing) is to teach a generation that has ‘mopped its floors’ to shut the faucet and fix the leak. To engage and address the crux of the issue, the real problem, the problem of WHY we are here.

And to guide, inspire and ignite the generation to seeking the ultimate ‘fix’ and ‘healing’ for this millennia old problem of G-d’s hiddenness, the bringing of Mashiach.

We are all partners in bringing this goal and task to fruition. We need to remember not to be lulled into complacency by the favorable conditions G-d blesses us with during this juncture of history, (may things only get better and better please G-d), rather we must recognize that so long as Hashems presence is not manifest on earth, so long as the ‘wolf doesn’t lie with the lamb’, so long as we still need an army to protect our existence in our ancestral land of Israel, we are still not at the final destination.

We are still in Egypt. We need to be liberated.

Thank G-d, many of us are comfortable in our proverbial ‘Egypt’, and so it should continue, but we must remain ready to be redeemed. We dare not lose our inner drive for liberation and exodus from this dark and long exile to usher in the perfection and peacefulness of the Messianic area.

On the contrary, we are now able to use the immensely upgraded tools-of-life at our disposable to catapult to greater and holier achievements int eh realm of doing acts of goodness and kindness.

This will bring Mashiach sooner, AMEN.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

Gushing Faucets

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Yesterday I heard the following pithy aphorism.

‘We are too busy mopping the floor to turn off the faucet’.

To be honest, I really like the quote.

There is so much truth to it.

We often deal with solving problems but neglect to deal with the root of the problem.

I am wondering how I never discovered the quote earlier.

Till it dawned on me, walking down the bustling, noisy Sukhumvit Soi 22, that Hashem sent this quote my way this week with typical Divine Providential precision.

The connection of this aphorism to the Parsha just jumps out.

Phaaroh is instructed by G-d, via Moshe, to send the Jewish people out of Egypt.

‘If you don’t send my people out, I will afflict you with…’ what turned out to be ten plagues.

Phaaroh followed what became a predictable pattern. When the plague was unbearable, he told Moshe he would let the Israelite people go.

Once the plague subsided, ‘floor was mopped’ of that particular plague, Phaaroh went back to his stubborn resistance. He didn’t solve the problem, ‘turn off the faucet’ and let the people go.

So, the next plague started.

Ten times this repeated itself.

Until finally, there was no choice, and Phaaroh had to look the problem in the face. He needed to get to the source of the issue, and ‘turn off the faucet’ and let the people go.

What a life-changing lesson there is to be learned from this.

Stop and think.

What challenges are you struggling with in your life.

What ‘floods’ are you ‘mopping up’ time after time.

What unhealthy attachment or addiction do you battle.

What problem do you solve only to meet an ensuing one.

Does it seem that the pursuit of happiness is dangling in front of you yet forever elusive?

That after you solve one issue that has been causing you unhappiness, another one crops up?

Perhaps it’s time to reach for the faucet and turn off the never-ending stream of disturbances to our equanimity.

I daresay that inner peace and happiness is more within our reach than we think.

And it may not take all that much fixing of things outside of us.

For if we turn off the faucet, and do a bit of mopping up, the flood will subside.

Why don’t all of us do it if it’s so simple?

Because it takes vulnerability, courage, and honesty.

We prefer to follow our habitual ways. The templates of our upbringing. The temptation to take the ‘short (but longer) way’.

Like when the kids are irritating you. It’s easier to turn on the screen and seat them in from of the drivel that entertains but hardly educates, than look for the reason that they are not settled. Its more effort to find a healthy way to channel their energies. The screen works for a while and then after you try to pry them from the screen they are edgy and discombobulated.

When you feel down in the dumps, a ‘pick me up’ of the substance or mediation of choice seems easier than getting to the root of your dissatisfaction.

On the religious front, it seems easier and more exciting to try eastern mediation than immerse into the traditional and time-tested path of mitzvah observant Judaism.

We often look for short-term solutions.

It is like mopping up the floor without getting to the source of the gushing water.

Those stopgaps help for some time, but they usually won’t work for long.

We are a nation of searchers and seekers. We cannot help but look for answers. The faucet cannot be turned off unless we reach the source. To reach the source of our searching soul we need to embrace our deepest existential truth.

Ironically, we don’t have far to go. We don’t need to travel to the far-flung corners of the earth. We don’t even have to get a one-on-one hours long appointment with a mystic and saint.

We have the deepest truths and spiritual reservoir inside of us.

We need not look beyond our own souls.

And tune in to the whisperings (or clamoring) of our ‘neshama’.

The truth that our Torah teaches us, is that our Jewish souls are yearning for attachment with G-d.

It’s a universal message that needs to shared with all of our fellow humans, all being created in the image of G-d.

A human being can only be truly happy when embracing the purpose of their creation.

The divinely transmitted mitzvahs are the true expression of the human spirit.

The Seven Universal Laws of moral living for all children of Noach.

And the six hundred and thirteen mitzvahs of the Torah for all Jewish people.

It is not enough for a Jew to be a ‘mentsch’ and a do-gooder. We have been tasked with more.

Ultimately, a Jew can only be happy when they recognize that they have been tasked with a Divine mission.

We carry out our mission, by first and foremost affirming that there is a Creator and He has created us for a G-dly purpose. By recognizing that G-d is ‘relying’ on us to fulfill His aspirations for His universe.

We implement this mission by performing mitzvahs and by studying Torah.

The inner peace and happiness that this brings is liberating.

It’s incredibly empowering to be entrusted with a mission by the Almighty.

Once you reframe life in the context of being ‘needed’ by G-d for His mission, everything else falls into place.

You will be able to stop ‘mopping floors’ and get to the business of fulfilling your potential of transforming light into darkness and materiality into spirituality.

Try it.

Open up your mind to this reality and your life has the potential of turning from a drudge to an inspiring journey.

Once you have made peace in your mind and heart that you are G-d’s agent here on earth you are attached to something much larger than yourself. You become sublimely submerged in the Oneness of G-d..

This way of thinking about life is called liberation. It’s an ‘exodus’ from the microcosmic Phaaroh who holds us hostage and wants us to stay alienated from G-d and dealing with ‘mopping the floors’.

True, it’s not easy, for our inner pharaoh prefers to have us so busy with solving problems and creating material creature comforts for ourselves that we don’t have the ability to journey to our rendezvous with G-d at Mount Sinai.

Yet, as Pesach is the celebration of the national Exodus thousands of years ago, contemporary ‘Exodus from Egypt’ in our own lives, means being liberated from the pointlessness and randomness which so many people feel about life. Liberation in this allegory means to leap up from the pits of aimlessness and disillusionment to the heights of inspiration and mindfulness.

Let us embrace our Divine prerogative to exit from our personal Egypt, and journey to Sinai, to receive the Torah and accept upon ourselves the exquisite Divine mission of making this world a place where G-d feels at home.

It’s got to be done joyfully.

Liberation needs to be celebrated.

So let’s party as we revel in our roles as Divine agents (all expenses paid) here on earth.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor


By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

It is not uncommon for younger people to place more emphasis on their relationship with their friends and peers, than with their parents and siblings.

There are various psychological reasons for this. Not for here and now.

What I want to share is what I have recently observed in the ‘university of life’.

This morning, someone called me at 5am.

(Note: my phone is on virtually all the time (barring Shabbat. For emergencies on Shabbat call Paew at +66 84 728 8494. She will know how to contact me). The ‘data’ is sometimes turned off which means one has to place a ‘real’ call not a WhatsApp call. May we only speak to each other for happy news please G-d).

That puts me in immediate ‘urgent’ mode. I mentioned that it was 5am and he immediately offered to stay up for two more hours and call me back at seven am my time. That would be 2am his time. I told him that once I was already awake, he should go ahead and tell me how I could help him. As it turns out it was a devoutly religious father of two post IDF travelers from Israel. He wanted to ask about hosting his children for Shabbat as they have gone a bit astray and could greatly benefit from being reinspired in their observance of Judaism by a Shabbat at Chabad House. I gave him the phone number of Rabbi Wilhelm who runs the Chabad House at Kaosarn Rd for travelers.

I then advised him to go to sleep and call Rabbi Wilhelm when it was morning in Israel. At a more conventional hour in Bangkok. When you deal with the quantities of guests that we are blessed to host (this week guests list in Phuket tops one thousand may Hashem bless them all) it’s always possible to accommodate another few guests.

I saw that there was still an hour till my alarm was going to ring, so I went back to sleep. Or tried to go back to sleep. But I couldn’t really sleep as I was already wide awake from the call.

I thought to myself, there must be a message here for me. It’s Friday morning, I am about to write a message to the many friends who read my weekly emails, this must be connected to the Parsha.

I began to think about the love that this father had for his children. I later learned from his communication with R’ Nechemya that the children have disappointed him in certain ways. But he still loves them obviously. Staying up till 2am to benefit his kids would be no issue for him.

Illustrations of how parents care for kids even when the relationship has not always been rosy, abound.

I am sure each of you can think of situations where parents stepped in to help their children at great expense, even when the children had been less than respectful to them (to use mild language).

Tossing and turning in my bed, I contrasted this with a recent situation where I was thoroughly disillusioned.

It was when I discovered that someone who I thought was demonstrating true friendship to his friend, was really acting for (partially) selfish reasons.

I am a big fan of the concept of true friendship. The Torah teaches us ‘acquire for yourself a friend’. In the Chassidic tradition the fellowship of friends and their mutual dedication is legendary.

I don’t want to be making sweeping statements here downplaying the immense benefit of developing friendships with others.

I remain hopeful and optimistic that it is possible to have friends who truly care for each other.

However, it needs to be viewed in perspective.

The connection between two friends is the coming together of two separate beings, brought together by commonalities of sorts. That bond can be undone if the commonality dissipates.

This cannot compare to the intrinsic filial bond that a child has with their parents. One quite literally comes from the other. Genetically, and via the ‘nurturing’ that the parents give during the early years of infancy and childhood.

Even if they are or were estranged at some point.

The Torah teaches us this very clearly. One need only study the laws of mourning, may G-d protect us, and you will see that for parents, siblings and children there is the sitting of shiva and mourning. For friends, as close as they may be, there are no halachic mourning requirements.

As I was attending Shacharit at Beth Elisheva at our daily 7:30 am minyan (Sundays at 8:30) I got a flash.

The connection to this weeks parsha is so obvious.

In this weeks Parsha the first of the book of Shemot we read about the enslavement of the Jewish people in Egypt.

It is here (Shemot 4:22) that we first see Hashem calling the Jewish people his son.

The Lord said to Moses, "When you go to return to Egypt, see all the signs that I have placed in your hand and perform them before Pharaoh, but I will strengthen his heart, and he will not send out the people.

And you shall say to Pharaoh, 'So said the Lord, "My firstborn son is Israel." '

So I say to you, 'Send out My son so that he will worship Me, but if you refuse to send him out, behold, I am going to slay your firstborn son.' "

Hashem tells Moshe that His relationship with the Jewish people is like that of a father to a son.

Unbreakable and non-negotiable.

And therefore Pharaoh should yield and send the Jewish people out to their freedom.

We ought to treat our relationship with G-d that way, like a child to a parent. But this takes maturity which does not always come naturally.

With regard to our relationship with our parents, maturing comes more easily. Especially if one is blessed to become a parent themselves. From the vantage point of being a parent, one often begins to understand their own parents and how much they truly loved and love them. Even if they didn’t always know how to express it.

With our relationship with G-d, it may not happen naturally. Our physical (and in a way animalistic) body, does not naturally develop a sensitivity to G-d.

Which is why, when it comes to our relationship with G-d we sometimes make that ‘youthful’ mistake of placing more emphasis on ‘friends’ rather than ‘parents’.

This can lead to decision making that puts materialistic benefits ahead of heeding G-d’s instruction. Like disregarding G-d’s instruction ‘you shall not steal’ in order to line your pockets with dishonest gains.

We should not remain in our natural disposition though. We are not meant to stay spiritually immature. G-d wants us to work on becoming more mature. And we cannot delay it till our soul becomes unfettered from our body and seeks only spirituality. By then we are in the next stage of the journey in the ‘next world’. Too late to make this world into the place that G-d has envisioned and entrusted us to make it.

We need to come to this realization while we live here in an ‘earthly’ and mundane world.

On a practical note.

Let us appreciate our parents more. It’s one of G-d’s Ten Commandments. Honor your father and mother.

And this will spill over to the way we treat our siblings. And our children.

By doing things that cause them pleasure.

When it comes to your loved ones who are alive, there are various ways to please them. A visit. A phone call. A gift. Sharing things that you have done that you know will make them proud, and so on.

If G-d forbid they have passed, the way to send ‘nachat’ to their ‘neshama’ soul in Gan Eden is by doing mitzvahs and studying Torah in their memory.

And let us remember how much G-d loves us.

Like a parent loves a child but infinitely more, as G-d is infinite.

Let us express that love by doing what G-d instructs us to do.

Its an incredible privilege to have the Almighty, King of the king  of kings, tell us how to connect to Him.

And G-d will and always does, reciprocate our love to Him, by showering us with His love.

May that be visible to us all with good health, nachas, prosperity and peace, the real peace, with the coming of Mashiach.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

Holy-daying on vacation

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Yaakov was in Egypt.

The Torah uses the word ‘Vayechi’ which means ‘he lived’, in Egypt.

Let me jump in here with a joke.

(Thank you to Dr. Yitschok Shimshon aka Sandy Schwartz., my ‘Jewish humor provider’ who keeps me stocked with the jokes I provide in this weekly email. In this instance he was so kind as to find me the complete joke after I gave him the punch line, which was all I remembered. I think every rabbi needs a humor provider. Sermons are all that more relatable when they are infused with a sprinkling of humor. Humor that helps inspire, becomes infused with holiness. Holy humor. 😊 ).

The census taker comes to the Goldman house.

“Does Louis Goldman live here?” he asks.

“No,” replies Goldman.

“Well, then, what is your name?”

“Louis Goldman.”

“Wait a minute–didn’t you just tell me that Goldman doesn’t live here?”

“Aha,” says Goldman. “You call this living?”

Yaakov lived in Egypt says the Torah.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel when he was a young boy asked his grandfather the Alter Rebbe, ‘how can you call living in Egypt ‘living’?

The Rebbe explained.

Living is not just about your geographical location. It is about the atmosphere and environment that you live in.

The Midrash relates that before Yaakov descended to Egypt, he first dispatched Yehuda to open a Yeshiva there. This means that Yaakov’s children and grandchildren and great grandchildren were being schooled in the Jewish tradition.

Being enveloped in that aura of holiness causes one to live a spiritually uplifting life. Even if the geographic location happens to be Egypt. see more details here

This is a lesson for our lives as well.

Wherever we live, we can create a holy environment.

Not just where we live permanently, but wherever we find ourselves, even during ‘vacation’, there are opportunities to engage in acts of holiness, goodness and kindness.

Like the following story.

I had dinner last Wednesday night at JCafe, with Martin and Karen, a couple who are longtime friends and supporters of Chabad of Thailand. They come to Thailand from UK and Israel to vacation during the winter period. Being observant, they make sure to have challah’s and wine for Shabbat delivered to their hotel every week.

I thought they would be back in Phuket for Shabbat, so I asked the Chabad House in Phuket to deliver Challas to their hotel in Phuket.

Martin called me on Thursday for something technical and quite trivial. From the conversation I learned that he was still in Bangkok for Shabbat. I set up a challah delivery to his hotel in Bangkok.

But I forgot to cancel the delivery in Phuket.

On Friday, when I checked up if he received the Bangkok delivery he responded

Yes thanks, they also sent to Phuket by mistake , but we have friends next door who are  normally totally disinterested and they were thrilled to receive and will be making Hamoetze blessing tonight- G-d moves in strange ways

I asked Martin to keep me posted on the ‘mistake’.

I was hoping that Hashem would show us the purposefulness in the ‘mistake’.

Martin sent me this note that he received from the recipients of the Challa.

Saying Hamoetze tonight

May be a blessing from G-d to relieve Y….’s pain - nothing to lose everything to gain 🙏🙏

The recipient had fallen and was in pain. Unexpectedly challah showed upon on their doorstep. It was received as a message of healing that had arrived from Hashem in the form of fresh challahs for Shabbat.

Indeed, it was directly from Hashem.

Talking about mistakes… that turn out to be non-mistakes. This week I also had an inspiring experience involving once again what I thought was a mistake on my part.

I left my house to go to my office behind JCafe. My bag felt a drop lighter than usual. I checked to make sure I had my Tefilin with me (I always want them available in case I get the sweet opportunity to share the mitzvah with a fellow Jew), and my computer. When I saw that I had those two items, and yet my bag was a drop lighter, I figured it must be my imagination, and walked to the office.

Only after arriving and setting up my computer for my two important scheduled zoom meetings did I realize that it was the power cord that I had left at home. Since I usually recharge my computer at night, I figured that I had enough juice to comfortably have my two zoom meetings before I needed to recharge.

I discovered that on this night, I had not recharged my computer. I now had only 14% left on my computer.

And the miracle of Chanuka did not kick in to keep my computer running for the required two hours. I started my zooms on the computer which I must prefer, and when my computer ran out of battery I moved over to my phone.

A while later, I left my room to ask my secretary to send a messenger to pick up my cord. I was still on the zoom. Once I was walking around with the phone on zoom, I figured let me show my friend on the other side of the zoom, the way the JCafe looks.

I walked into JCafe with my camera facing outwards.

It was still early and besides the waiter staff there was no one there.

But there was one person in the outdoor seating area. I noticed him from the corner of my eye and I heard him say in English ‘finally a good morning’.

I realized that Chaim the chef had passed him by and said good morning.

He was obviously gratified to get this greeting.

My antennae went up.

Here is why.

The below article by Rabbi Yossi Goldman will give the background. click here for full article.

Would you think that “how are you today?” can be a religious question? And that it plays an important role in a major Biblical narrative?

In Parshat Vayeishev (Genesis 37–40), we read the dramatic story of Joseph—the technicolor dream coat, the sibling rivalry in Jacob’s family, and Joseph’s descent to Egypt, sold into slavery. After being framed by his master’s wife for scorning her attempts at seduction, young Joseph finds himself incarcerated in an Egyptian jail. There he meets the Pharaoh’s butler and baker, and correctly interprets their respective dreams. Later, when Pharaoh himself will be perturbed by his own dreams, the butler will remember Joseph, and Joseph will be brought from the dungeon to the royal court. His dream analysis will satisfy the monarch, and the young Hebrew slave boy will be catapulted to prominence and named viceroy of Egypt.

How did Joseph’s salvation begin? It began with the imprisoned Joseph noticing that the butler and baker were looking somewhat depressed. “And Joseph came to them in the morning and he saw them, and behold, they were troubled. He asked Pharaoh’s officials . . . ‘Why do you look so bad today?’” (Genesis 40:6–7). They tell him about their disturbing dreams, he interprets the dreams correctly, and the rest is history.

But why did Joseph have to ask them anything at all? Why was it so strange to see people in prison looking sad? Surely depression is quite the norm in dungeons. Wouldn’t we expect most people in jail to look miserable?

According to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the answer is that Joseph was exhibiting a higher sense of care and concern for his fellow human beings. Torn away from his father and home life, imprisoned in a foreign land, he could have been forgiven for wallowing in his own miseries. Yet, upon seeing his fellow prisoners looking particularly unsettled, he was sensitive enough to take the time to inquire about their well-being. In the end, not only did he help them, but his own salvation came about through that fateful encounter. Had he thought to himself, “Hey, I’ve got my own problems, why worry about them?” he might have languished in prison indefinitely.

Sometimes, says the Rebbe, a simple “how are you today?” can prove historic.

It’s a lesson to all of us to be a little friendlier. To greet people, perhaps even to smile more often.

Because of the above teaching of the Rebbe’, this comment ‘finally a good morning’ triggered an immediate reaction in my brain. I went over, zoom meeting still in progress, to the man who was just finishing his breakfast and said a hearty ‘good morning’, ‘How are you’?

He was a Jewish man visiting from New York and was happy to talk. Actually, he looked hungry to talk. I asked him if he was in a rush as I would love to converse more fully with him, but I wanted to wrap up my zoom meeting first. He said he had time.

We met. And enjoyed each other’s company. M. shared some of his colorful life experiences. Then he said, ‘you know, I really needed a ‘good morning’ this morning. And you came out and gave me that ‘pick me up’ that I was starving for’.

I told him that G-d had Divinely orchestrated our meeting. How so, he asked? I shared with him the series of things that had taken place which led me to ‘bump into him’ at the JCafe at 9:45 am.

It all started from a mistake. Forgetting my wire. Without that, I wouldn’t have left my zoom meeting to walk into the JCafe and meet him.

It turns out that we know people in common. After speaking little bit more, I discovered that his late father was an erudite author and I have read some of his books. We struck up an instant chemistry and after sharing the mitzvah of Tefilin with him we hugged and wished each other well.

It never ceases to amaze me when I see the hand of G-d in His Divine providence over every detail.

I felt hugged by Hashem’s Divine Embrace with the palpable and visual Divine Providence that Hashem showed me.

Back to the topic I opened with, regarding living spiritually minded even in Egypt.

Martin called me excitedly a few days ago.

‘I met a Jewish person in my hotel who I think will really benefit from meeting you and getting closer to his roots. He was a little bit distanced from Jewish observance, but I have convinced him to come meet with you and get inspired. Please do your best to connect with him’.

Who said vacation isn’t holy?

It all depends on what you do there.

If you do mitzvahs and uplift and inspire others to do mitzvahs, you are engaging in something higher than just materialism. You are injecting your life with holiness. Making a dwelling place for G-d in the mundane world.

Yaakov’s life reminds us that notwithstanding being in ‘Egypt’ which symbolically means ‘unholiness’, we can do holy things and create a G-dly environment wherever we may be.

And if we can, then we must.

Wherever you are, take a moment to think about the Parsha and Yaakov’s life.

Learn from Yaakov how you can create a bubble of holiness and G-dliness wherever you may be.

Yaakov did not just have a ‘so so’ or ‘okay’ life in Egypt.

The best years of his life were in Egypt.

We have to aim high.

And try to make wherever we are, a wholesome place.

Good air quality is critical to physical wellness.

A wholesome spiritual environment is the key to spiritual wellness.

Click here to find out how the words of Torah purify the ‘air’ and atmosphere around you.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS I am sharing this link to an emotional, heartbreaking, and movingly inspiring letter written by Moussia, the eldest of the Federmans’ 13 children, Chabad emissaries to the Virgin Islands, whose mother is fighting for her life after the family’s tragic water accident on S. Thomas just over a month ago. May the Almighty send a miraculous recovery to Henya Rivkah bat Brachah Devorah Leah.





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