"Shabbat Shalom from Bangkok"


By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

I have received so many uplifting comments to my Israel report.

(Some people told me that it went to their promotion folders. Click here to read my ‘Personal regards from Israel’ email).

Just to share a few:

…. These are unusual times in many ways and the only thing we can do is help (we have given our apartment in Herzelyia to a Kibbutz family we don't even know, who lost their entire house)...

Someone else shared this morning:

After one more evening of rockets attacking the Tel Aviv area :-(

Yes, we are utilizing every capability to help the needy, our condo which is also a partial hotel is sheltering 10s of families from the south with support of food, clothing and more...

and yes … is helping with her mentoring/coaching abilities but also preparing food...

I know many Israelis who usually travel a lot either for business or leisure who have cancelled plans and are staying in Israel to be there with their families and with our people.

It is not ‘life as usual’ on the one hand.

Yet on the other hand it is important to be doing what you ought to be doing. Becoming an inactive ‘couch potato’ glued to the screen and the news is certainly not the way we should be living now. It is not helpful to anyone.

One of my dear friends, whose mother was a Holocaust survivor, responded to my email with a line that I think contains the message for our times.

Unity. We are finished without that.

Everyone has a job to do and everybody has to get their job right and comfort is not part of the equation.

Spot on to coincide with this week’s parsha which is ‘Lech Lecha’. Literally translated ‘go, you’.

The instruction to Avraham the first Jew was to go from your land, from your birthplace and from your father's house … to the land that I will show you (Israel).

Further on in this weeks parsha the ‘Abrahamic Covenant’ is described. This is where G-d gave as Israel as an eternal inheritance to the people of Israel

There are two parts to the Abrahamic covenant:

Abraham’s descendants (also known as the Hebrews, the Israelites or the Jewish people) would be enslaved and eventually redeemed.

They would forever inherit the Land of Canaan.

The first half of the promise was fulfilled when the children of Israel were subjugated in the land of Egypt. The second half was mostly fulfilled when Joshua conquered and settled most of the land promised to Abraham. Although the Jewish people were later exiled, it was promised to us as an eternal heritage. We hope and pray for that promise to be fulfilled in its entirety when we return to the land with its extended borders as promised to Abraham, with the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days.

Click here for the full article

The name of the parsha says it all.

GO .

Going requires effort.

Staying, is easier. More comfortable.

The very first communication that Hashem had with the very first Jew spelled out the eternal mission of the Jew.

GO .

Don’t stay in your comfort zone.

Put forth effort.

Avraham fulfilled the ‘go’ instruction to its extreme.

He stood up single-handedly against the idolatrous practices of his times.

The Midrash describes Avraham as being a lone voice of moral clarity against an entire world that sought to have him declared deranged and deluded.

The world was comfortably vested in the polytheistic approach to life.

Monotheism was a radical departure from societal norms.

Things haven’t changed much in the thousands of years since Avraham.

The G-dly instruction to ‘GO’ is still as relevant now as it was then.

This is the destiny of the Jew.

To constantly aim and strive for the next level.

If you follow the history of the Jewish people, you will see that this restless spirit within them always catapults them to the front of literary and scientific achievement as well as being outstanding in their charitableness.

‘Lech Lecha’!

This is who we are, and this is how we must live our lives if we wish to fulfil our mandate.

Putting forth effort is the Jewish mandate.

It is not always so easy to put forth effort. We are also endowed with a negative inclination that tries to steer us off course. It lures us away from exertion and convinces us that we should ‘take it easy’.

During some periods in history, we get the chance to take it a little easy.

(The heinous pogrom on Simchas Torah teaches us that when it comes to matters of security our guard can not be down for even one second.

I wish this weren’t true but tragically we have been brutally reminded ).

As Jews we sometimes have peaceful and prosperous eras when antisemitism seems like its dwindling, Israel is peaceful, and the world is busy with other crises and not spending all their time judging our nation with libelous double standards.

Then there are other times when the ‘Lech Lecha’ instruction becomes highlighted to the extreme.

Like in today’s day and age.

To be a Jew today means that you must put forth effort.

For some, it means the efforts they are making to stay in Israel, with all the stressful aspects and apparent danger (I say ‘apparent’, as in years past the Rebbe always reminded us that Israel is the safest place in the world for Jews).

For others it means not to cancel plans of visiting Israel.

For Jews in the Diaspora I would suggest that it means not giving in to the nervous thoughts that may be going through your mind and hiding in fear from engaging in Jewish life.

(In all of my above statements I am not giving instructions to you about what to do as an individual. That would be presumptuous and irresponsible. Every person must responsibly assess their situation and preferably discuss it with a trusted and sensible friend. I am sharing a perspective).

Step up to the plate and own your identity.

Being a Jew today is an undertaking.

It is a statement.

There are so many in world today who are misled by the propaganda of our enemies, and who don’t see the clarity of the situation and thus look at us Jews in an unfair and unethical way.

You can try to hide but you will likely not succeed.

The outside world looks at you and sees you as a Jew. In some places and during peaceful times that may earn you respect, in other places and during turbulent times you may be ridiculed or even worse, attacked.

At least, if you are being singled out for your Jewishness, you should know what it means to be a Jew.


Study some Torah. Observe a mitzvah. Upgrade your moral code to be in sync with Hashem.

(It would be helpful during these trying times when Israel is at the center of everyone’s attention, to read this article entitled ‘22 Facts about the land of Israel ever Jew should know’. It will provide you with some important background).

As an adult Jew, chances are that you grew up in a Jewish environment have had some kind of Jewish experience in your childhood.

Let us take a moment to focus on the kids that grows up in a place like Thailand where there is a smaller Jewish community. Can you imagine what it must be like for a kid who goes to an international school and gets taunted or cursed for being Jewish? The child many not even know what being Jewish means.

This is the time for investing in instilling Jewish identity into our children.

This kids-oriented website is a good repository of material.

(Here in Bangkok, we have a weekend Hebrew school for Jewish children. Contact me for more info).

My friend, this is not a time to stay in our comfort zones.

Our soldiers are away from their homes and risking their lives, may Hashem protect them.

The people living in Israel are living on edge and actively involved in helping each other make it through this catastrophe.

We, who live outside Israel need to make sure that we don’t remain in our comfort zone.

What should we do?

For the ‘longer answer’ Check out an article that I liked by R’ Greenbaum from Melbourne.

In short:

Be proudly and joyously Jewish.

Practice compassion with others.

Lay Tefilin for the security of us all.

Add light by lighting Shabbat candles this afternoon before sundown.

Make extra prayers.

Give extra Tzedaka.

Don’t ‘couch potato’ and sit by the sidelines.

You are a descendant of Avraham to whom G-d said ‘GO’ = Put forth effort.

This is a time for even extra effort.

More prayer. More Torah. More goodness and kindness. More Mitzvahs.


May Hashem bless us with secure peace, the coming home of our hostages, the safety or our soldiers, the healing of our wounded, and peace and serenity for all of the humane and good people of our world.

it is our fervent prayerful hope that Mashiach’s arrival which will herald in the end of war, sickness, greed and pain for eternity will happen imminently.

However, even if for some unknown reason the coming of Mashiach doesn’t come first, we pray for immediate blessedness as soon as possible.


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS the ‘Thailand Unity Torah’ is being written in Israel. It was started in Thailand and the final letters will be inscribed in Thailand. It is a very special protective mitzvah to buy a letter or a whole parsha in the Torah. Click here to be part of this special mitzvah. Sponsor a letter for yourself, for a loved one, for a soldier or someone who needs healing. Your participation will make it a reality please G-d.

outstanding light

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By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Let me share a most painfully touching and at the same time inspiring, email I received today from a member of our ‘global Thailand Jewish community’.

Hi Rabbi Kantor!

*Abigail recently turned 3 and I lit Shabbat candles with her for the first time last Shabbat.

She’s not able to hold a match on her own and cognitively really has no idea what’s going on with the candles, Mitzvah, or bracha. Does this kind of defeat the purpose since I’m essentially doing it for her?

I so desperately want her to partake in this mitzvah especially with everything going on but don’t know what the right thing to do is.

*Abigail was born with a rare genetic disorder.

Hearing the question is very emotional. And uplifting. Here is a sweet young Jewish mother who lights candles every Friday night to usher in the Shabbat and she would like to continue the tradition with her daughter as is customary once they turn three.

But her daughter is special. Outstanding.

Is there any point in her lighting the candle?

The timing of the question is perfect.

It is a question about adding light.

This is something that we all want to do now.

Lighting Shabbat candles adds physical light to the world.

It’s measurable. Every added candle contributes to the raising of the level of light in the room.

The Rebbe highlighted this mitzvah, that is primarily associated with women and girls, as one that unleashes incredible Divine power into the world.

It symbolizes the additional positivity and kindness that each and every one of us, can and must add to their immediate environment and by extension to the world at large.

Lighting Shabbat candles is a statement that one is fully committed to bringing light to the world.

This concept of adding light, said the Rebbe, is important to impress upon our young children from the age of three (or even younger if they are more mature).

From the earliest age possible, our children must know that they too can be part of adding light to the world. That their good deeds make a difference.

By lighting their own candle alongside their mother, they are making the most powerful statement that their ‘kleine lichteleh’, their very own small candle, can make a contribution and banish the darkness of the world around them.

The Torah teaches us to inculcate and implant within our children, via their formal education and even more so via behavioral instruction, kindness and charitableness.

Is it meaningful for a girl who is not cognitively developed to light a candle?

If you ask me, I think it is meaningful on the highest level as it is pure, pristine and unadulteratedly goodness.

In a sense it may even symbolize something more powerful than the standard candle lighting of ‘ordinary’ people.

Why do we need to remind ourselves every week to bring light into the world?

Do you know someone would someone choose to bring darkness to the world?

Aren’t people innately good? The Torah teaches in our weekly parsha that ‘G-d made man in the image of G-d’. How could one then become an agent of evil?  

The answer is also to be found in this week’s parsha of Noach.

God said to Himself, "  ">will never again curse the soil because of humanity, for the inclination of a person's heart is  evil  from his  youth .

Hashem tells us in the Torah that he has instilled within each of us an inclination to do the wrong thing.

We are innately good, but we do not remain statically in the good state we are born into.

We are challenged by an evil inclination from very early on.

So tells us the Torah.

Within each and every one of us rages a battle.

Between doing the right thing and doing the wrong thing.

Between bringing light into the world through selfless altruistic acts of sharing.

Or bringing darkness into the world by selfish, uncaring or even cruel, treatment of others.

It can happen that G-d forbid someone has lost the internal battle and is dominated by his evil side. Either by misguided education, or even more tragically by being a victim of evil indoctrination. Or more germanely, by slowly and consistently making bad choices. Those misguided actions that these people perform are portals of darkness into the world.

This means that we to constantly remind ourselves and recommit ourselves to continue the struggle, the fight, and sometimes even the war, against evil.

Before we usher in the Shabbat, the day of light and peace, we make this declaration.

When we light the Shabbat candles, we overcome our negativity and demonstrate by a physical deed, our deep-seated commitment to creating a deluge of light in the world.

I know Abigail. A sweet pure soul. She has nothing but good in her personality.

Her light is above the fray. There is no internal battle. Within her is an unchallenged source of light. Her light beams forth with Divine brightness.

I told Abigails mother that yes, she should definitely light the candle with Abigail, and then she should light her own candles and make the blessing for kindling the lights of Shabbat Kodesh – the holy Shabbat.

May Abigails parents be blessed by G-d with the all that is needed to raise her and her other siblings in the most blessed way possible.

For all of us ‘ordinary’ ones, who do need to constantly reinforce the good within ourselves and carry on the battle against the negativity within us, may we be successful in our individual battles.

And in the collective battle of Am Yisrael.

In the critical battle that Israel is fighting now, we the nation of Yisrael, must be resolute and steadfast.

We must not become tired.

As Jews we must not give up.

There is no reason to give up.

Hashem is with us.

We have been here for thousands of years, and ‘we have a secret weapon’, (to quote from the president of the United States of America’s quote of Golda Meir). ‘We have no place else to go’.

When I heard that story, twice in the last two weeks, recounted by Joe Biden, I thought to myself that what Golda’s Jewish soul was really saying was:

Our secret weapon is the knowledge and belief that G-d gave us Israel.

Click here for many video clips of the Rebbe about Israel.


Clearly the world is on the brink. We are on the cusp of a changed world.

Let us do all that we can so that the change will be for the good and the positive.

Both the ultimate goal of bringing Mashiach and the interim goal, of good vanquishing evil even before Mashiach comes.

Everyone must do whatever they can do to help win this war of good against evil.

None of us may shy away or hide.

What can we do from anywhere in the world that we are?

Rejoice in the fact that you are a Jew. Embrace it. Don’t run away in fear and hide.

Engage more with your Judaism.

Doing mitzvahs, laying tefillin, lighting candles, helping the needy and generating love to others all impact our people, our country and the entire world, with the Divine energy of positivity that they elicit and invite down into our environs.

With blessings for a safe and secure and peaceful Holy Land of Israel

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS I found this article by Tzvi Freeman to be very powerful. Rather than sharing a link, since we are in times that require more light, I am quoting the entire article.


You Are Not Powerless. You Never Are.

By Tzvi Freeman

There are those who say there is a war in a faraway land called Israel. They are mistaken.

There is a war against every Jewish woman, man, and child wherever in the world they may be.

The peddlers of terror do not hate Israel because they wish to liberate humanity.

They do not murder children in their mother’s arms because they wish to make commerce over their borders. They have a border with Egypt, closed for decades, yet not a missile fires in that direction.

They hate Jews because they have been taught to hate Jews. That hatred is their oppressor as much as it is ours.

Hatred is not a bullet. It is not a meme. Hatred is a spiritual illness.

A War of the Soul

Which means that this is a spiritual war as much as it is a physical one.

Our bodies have been slain and maimed, but this war is fought principally with our souls.

And with the Jewish people, our bodies may be separate, but the souls are all one. Like a single being.

If someone attacks your right arm, your head, your heart, your feet, your hands—every cell within you is mobilized.

That’s crucial to know. Because it means that none of us is powerless. All of us today are soldiers in this war.

The War Against Hatred

How do you win a war against hatred? Not by scrolling through images of horror. Not by succumbing to sadness and despair. Terror is not vanquished by your horror. Neither can you win against it by despair. Those are its prime tools of mass destruction.

Instead, you’ll need to implement some paradoxical intervention. Because there is nothing hatred hates more than love, and there is nothing more potent against darkness than light.

Hatred attacks when it perceives weakness in its host. It flees when there is unity and togetherness.

Here is your plan of action:

Love Every Jew

Yes, I know you must love everyone. But if you can’t love your brother and sister, how can you love the whole world?

Love all Jews and the world will learn to love all people, indeed, all of G‑d’s creatures.

If you see a Jew you don’t like, do that Jew a favor. Find out what they need, how you can be of assistance. Go out of your way to provide them some help.

Look at every Jew you meet and see only two things: What can I learn from this amazing, holy Jew? And what can I do to contribute to the life of this wondrous member of my tribe?

We are one, many cells of a single organism with a single soul. When you help another Jew, you help all of us, and you help yourself.

Connect to Your People With a Mitzvah

There are many ways that human beings connect. The Jewish People have their unique, mysterious connections. They are called mitzvahs. For three and a half millennia, they have kept us alive and vibrant through every onslaught. They have illuminated the world with our values. They are our lifeline as a people.

We need to strengthen our lifeline.

We connect by lighting Shabbat candles in our homes before the sun sets on Friday, so that the darkness shines.

We connect by all our men wrapping tefillin, connecting their minds, hearts, and arms to the G‑d of Israel and to all other Jewish men.

We connect by affixing mezuzahs to our doors. We connect by studying the wisdom of our Torah together.

And in so many other ways, many explained here.

Enlist the Children

You gotta love those kids. Not just for who they will become, but for who they are right now.

They are the innocent voice of our people in its utmost purity. Their words of prayer reach to the highest places, where ours could never reach.

Tell them that. Empower them.

One of the greatest gifts you can give any child is the knowledge that at any time, in any place, no matter the situation, if you will simply speak to G‑d from your heart, He will listen. And He cares.

Teach them to say words of Torah. Teach them the twelve verses that the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, asked all children to say.

And there are other things the Rebbe recommended for kids:

Get them their own little charity box and a pile of coins so they can drop one in each day. They will learn to have a giving hand.

And give them a shelf in their room with their own Torah books, like a prayer book, Psalms, The Five Books of Moses.

Listen to their voices. Celebrate them. Empower them. They will never feel helpless again.

Be Upbeat. Stay Positive.

I know it’s hard at times. I know it can feel callous to smile in the face of tragedy. I know about that little voice inside that tells you that if you don’t look at the horrible images, that means you don’t care.

Tell that voice to make an appointment for another day. Right now is not the time for guilt and insecurity. Right now, you are a soldier.

A soldier who goes to battle in tears is better off staying home. After the war is won, then you can cry as you dance. Now is the time to uplift the spirits of all those around you, to mobilize our people, to get things done.

Now is the time for us to hold hands, not in tears, but in love, joy, and harmony.

The world needs your light

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By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

This is the first Shabbat of the year when we read the first portion of the Torah.

In the beginning G‑d created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep; and the spirit of G‑d hovered above the surface of the waters. G‑d said: “Let there be light,” and there was light. G‑d saw the light, that it was good; and G‑d divided the light from the darkness. G‑d called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night; and there was evening and there was morning, one day

Usually , the theme I would address on this Shabbat is the fact that the first item Hashem created was ‘LIGHT’.

This is an indication to us that we need to try and be like G-d and add light to our lives and to the world around us.

Currently , is that the theme that I should address?

How would I even introduce that conversation?

Is it realistic to talk about ‘let there be light’?

When there is so much darkness.

Perhaps this week I should focus SOLEY on the second verse of the Torah about the darkness.

This week we have been exposed to darkness that the human mind cannot begin to comprehend.

Emotions and tensions are running high.

Fear and hopelessness are the default right now.

The darkness is so obvious that you don’t need me to tell you about the darkness in the world.

Every news report and every description of the unspeakable barbarism that unfolded is confirming and testifying to the darkness.

I am struggling. Possibly you too are struggling.

In this time when unimaginable atrocities have occurred to the Jewish people, we are all groping, grappling, rethinking, regrouping and reframing.

I go back to the birth of our nation at Mount Sinai where we received the Torah.

What does the Torah say we need to do?

‘Hashem said, let there be LIGHT’. ‘And there was LIGHT’.

We need to add light.

This verse will be read tomorrow by Am Yisrael all around the world from the Torah scrolls which each contain the exact same words and letters.

The same words that have been read for thousands of years.

During the times of the Romans murderous conquest of Judea, during the Spanish Inquisition, during the Crusades, amidst the bloodletting pogroms and in the throes and abyss of The Holocaust.

In the darkest, most dismal, and hopelessness of times, we, the Jewish people have never given up. We try as hard as possible to bring light to the world. Even when the struggle seems impossible.  

We have read the words of the Torah ‘let there be light’ under all circumstances and we continue to read and more importantly listen to those words.

The darkness is all too real and close to home.

My Melbourne-born cousin Yonadav Kaploun lost his daughter in law Adi and soon-to-be daughter in law Tehilla, when the terrorists attacked Kibbut Holit.

Below is an excerpt from the Australian Jewish News:

Adi and her boys, three-year-old Negev and four-month-old Eshel, were taken at gunpoint to be marched across the border to Gaza, along with a neighbour Avital Aladjem.

Avital had been hiding in a wardrobe with another neighbour, Chaim, who was shot dead before she was captured. Negev was shot in the leg.

Shortly before reaching the border, the terrorists released Avital, and also Adi’s children, without explanation. But there was no news of Adi’s release and the family initially believed she had been taken into Gaza. Avital managed to take the children back to a nearby town and phoned their father, Anani.

Speaking to CNN earlier, Avital said of her friend Adi, “She’s brave and she has such a good heart. She wouldn’t hurt a soul. She’s always smiling and always giving. She’s so kind and gentle and such a good mother.”

The children have been reunited with their father and have been given medical attention in Jerusalem.

The family’s worst fears were confirmed on Tuesday (Israel time) with the discovery that Adi had been found murdered. Yonadav, who lives in Israel, is now mourning for Adi and Tehilla.

My family, colleagues, and friends in Israel, those who have been called up to reserves, as well as my daughter and her kids who have been in and out of shelters all week, tell me about the intense and palpable fears and anxieties.

They also tell me that there is a spirit of resilience, a spirit of mutual responsibility and a feeling of hope.

They try to find things that are positive, like the miraculous saving of Yonadav’s two grandchildren, to focus on.

They a turning on their lights, mustering up their inner reserves of energy, that they never knew they had, trying valiantly to outshine the darkness.

People are sharing stories of incredible heroism and miraculous incidents.

My friend,

We, and I specifically address those of us who are living outside of Israel, need to participate in the herculean effort and add our light to the collective effort.

The Torah’s message is for every time and every place and every person.


The world needs YOUR light!

Use YOUR creativity and individuality to tailor the message of adding light to fit your personality. It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ exercise.

Let us engage with our own selves. In the most private aspects of our humanity.

Our minds. Our hearts. Our thoughts. Our feelings.

Let us engage in modes of ‘light’ in ways that impact those directly around us.

Our words. Our deeds.

We can bring light to each of those aspects of our life.

I have intentionally spoken a bit abstractly as YOU know better than me what YOUR contribution of light ought to be.

Let me make it a bit more practical for myself and those who wish to listen in to me as I speak to myself.

Let us start with the mind.

What could one application of bringing light into your mind, heart and feelings look like?

Think as much as possible (even if just for a few minutes) about positive things.

Ready to take positive thinking to the next level? Meditate on the ultimate source of life. Hashem. And try to bolster your faith. Click here for ‘Gate of Trust’.

At the very least, carve away some time to ‘come up for air’ from the constant immersion in the overwhelming harshness of the current situation. It is not about being an ostrich and escapism. It is about staying strong.

Taking time to focus your mind on positivity allows you to bolster yourself to be powerful enough to make your unique contribution to helping out the situation.  

Make it a point to notice and appreciate the incredible oneness of our people at this time of deep crisis as we band together as one unified family.

And most importantly, bring light into your speech and deeds.

Speak positively about your faith in G-d.

Speak positively about your fellow Jews.

Try to find the spark of good in those you may not have been friendly with before.

Reach out to those you sense may be struggling. Even the usually strong people, the bedrocks of society, have found their equilibrium challenged.

And above all. Remember that yes, YOUR DEEDS COUNT.

And keep praying for the safety and success of our soldiers.

And for peace.

The Torah is a book of peace. Our agenda is one of peace. We are fighting only in order to achieve peace.

We are a nation that lives with the knowledge that we must do everything within our power militarily to bring to a total victory, and at the same time we must pray fervently for Mashiach when Hashem will remove evil from this world for eternity.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS As we are several hours away from Shabbat, at 5:42 this late afternoon (time is accurate for Bangkok) light Shabbat candles and thus bring light into the world.

(No special candles are required. The easiest candles to set up for Shabbat are ‘tea lights’ that are readily available in most places).

Before Shabbat or after Shabbat on any of the six days of the week, put on Tefilin. The mitzvah of Tefilin has a special power when it comes to the deterrence and strength of the soldiers of Israel. Tefilin are a mitzvah that has the G-dly blessing of adding life.

Israel | what can we do?

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

The news from Israel is ever more devastating as more gruesome unspeakable details begin to unfold. 

The pain is unbearable. It will become even more unbearable as the awareness of the enormity of the tragedy starts to be realized.

Scenes that have not been seen since the Holocaust awaken the global Jewish consciousness to the existence of antisemitism that we thought had been relegated to ‘Never Again’.

Many people are asking ‘what will be’? 

Upon the conclusion of the Yom Kippur war, Rabbi Yisroel M. Lau (who later became chief Rabbi of Israel) visited the Rebbe and said that people are asking “What is going to be?” The Rebbe answered, ‘One shouldn’t ask, ‘What will be?’ We should ask, ‘What are we going to do?’

In that vein, I would like to share a call to action. 

As this is not a time to be paralyzed with pain or fear. 

This is time for action.

There are various concentric levels of action needed.

The leadership, the army and the citizens of Israel.

And then there the many Jewish people like me (and most of those to whom my email is written), who live outside of Israel.

Each of us must be active in the appropriate way as needed.

May G-d bless the leadership of Israel in their excruciatingly difficult decisions so that they make the correct moral and holy choices for the betterment of our people and humanity. 

May G-d bless the heroic army of Israel to be successful, safe and victorious as they implement what needs to be done to bring peace to the region.

Blessings to the emergency response teams in Israel and to the burial teams. May G-d give them the inner fortitude and all other resources to carry out their critical angelic work.

And let us take a moment to recognize the ongoing crisis mode into which the civilian citizens of Israel have been thrust.  

Many have lost loved ones, sent their breadwinners to the front lines, and are related either by blood or friendship to someone taken hostage. 

To all of these are all circles of people, living in the holy land of Israel, who are all engaged in concrete action, each one at their level of responsibility, we say CHIZKU V’EIMTZU ‘be strong and courageous for Hashem is with you’

But what can we – those of us living outside of Israel - do now for Israel? 

Staying glued to our phones in solidarity to glean any piece of positive news possible is an understandable reaction. 

But staying updated is not enough. We must not let it usurp all our time and energy as we ought to direct our main efforts to our vital responsibility to engage and help.

(Be especially careful not to watch everything that is being posted. Watching clips that the enemy has produced is intended to sow panic, fear and paralyze us and fellow humans of the civilized world from taking concrete actions against the diabolical agents of evil terror. Experts are all warning strongly against contributing to the enemies’ efforts by watching their fearmongering inhumane videos).

Help we can. And must. In the ways available to us.

In physical ways 

Chabad of Thailand’s Rabbi Nechemya Wilhelm has been busy coordinating and facilitating the return of young travelers who have been called up to their army units.

There are multiple organizations that need funds for the soldiers, the emergency workers, and for the families that have their lives disrupted.

And we can help in spiritual ways, based on our holy traditions.

Firstly, we need to be strong in our faith and optimistic about the blessed outcome of this war.  

We are an eternal people. We will continue to exist and will continue to flourish, because we have Hashem on our side. We will continue to be connected to our Torah and our faith, and we will continue to be connected to each other! 

Our enemies want us to give up.

Every Jew who lives in Israel is a giant and a hero simply for living there.

Those of us who live outside of Israel (for the myriad legitimate personal reasons that exist), need to understand in our minds and feel in our hearts the Divine promise that Israel belong to Am Yisrael – to each and every one of us. 

G-d has created heaven and earth and chosen to give Israel to the people of Israel thousands of years ago.  

Our being positive is critical.

The books of Kabala point out that our positivity down here creates a Divine mirroring of positive energy from Heaven.

Secondly, we need to deploy our spiritual ‘weapons’. 

Torah teaches us (and history has repeatedly demonstrated to us) that the physical protection of each one of us — and, indeed, our very collective destiny! — is intrinsically connected to our spiritual activism.

When we pray or dedicate a good deed to our brothers and sisters in Israel, we create a spiritual defense shield for them that will help them through difficult and dangerous times.

In that vein, we have gathered below some of the directives that the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, shared with the Jewish people worldwide during times of crisis in Israel; positive action we can each take for Israel and its people.

The true essence of the Jewish people is in full view as around the world Jews come together in unity to pray, do mitzvahs, send Tzedakah and show solidarity with the Jews in Israel.

Beneath our superficial differences, we are all united. 

We are ONE people. 


May Hashem protect our soldiers who are putting their lives on the line to protect our people and our land.

May Hashem bless and protect our hostages wherever they are and may they swiftly be reunited with their families safe and sound.

May the wounded be healed completely and swiftly.

May all our brothers and sisters in our Holy Land be able to live together in safety, security and Shalom.

And may all Jews world over be able to live openly and proudly Jewish lives in safety and security.


Am Yisrael Chai!

We Want Mashiach Now!

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

P.S. As always, please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions or just to chat.

Shabbat Shalom & Chag Samayach from Bangkok

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

After a joyous week of feasting in the Sukkah, blessing on the Lulav and Etrog, and dancing energetically, we are now about to enter the climax of this High Holiday season.

The grand finale of this holiday month is the Yom Tov – Chag - Holiday of SIMCHAT TORAH.

I will admit. I have a ‘desirability bias’ when it comes to Simchas Torah.

Since I am a little child, the words ‘Simchas Torah’ bring joy to my entire being.

To the extent that it colored my entire experience of Judaism. In my mind from early childhood on, Judaism is associated with joyousness.

There were lollies for the kids.

(Growing up as I did in Australia the ‘candies’ were called ‘lollies’. Have no fear the sugar content in each is exactly the same).

The atmosphere at Shul and at home was happy.

The usually serious and staid adults were jolly and laid back and not very strict with us.

Only when I great up a bit and read about Pavlov’s experiment, did I realize why my endorphins rise just by daydreaming about Simchas Torah.

I thank G-d for being born and raised in an environment where Simchas Torah was a very important holiday and was treated very seriously. I mean the joy was not something that was left to spontaneity, there was really serious planning in creating an atmosphere of joy.

If you were planning the wedding of your daughter, would you just leave it to chance that people will join you in joy? Or would you plan to bring a band and have a bar and good food.

You get what I mean. Simchas Torah is a wedding of sorts. Between G-d and the Jewish people.

It’s a wedding that comes after a period of difficulty in the relationship.

Remember, we just had Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur we admitted that we had not been entirely faithful to G-d. The day of Yom Kippur was the day that G-d forgave us and renewed the absoluteness of our oneness.

It is this reunion that we are celebrating on Simchas Torah. Not just a first-time wedding, rather a makeup and a reconciliation. The joy when one reunites with someone who had been distant is a much greater joy than when there was never any distance in the first place. Thus Simchat Torah is an incredibly joyous day.

The universally adopted ‘schedule’ for Simchas Torah involves dancing with the Torahs. Seven dances at minimum. They are referred to as the ‘7 Hakafot’.

Every single Synagogue that is self-respecting, has an eating component a ‘kiddush’ where good food, lechayim and social interaction creates an atmosphere of a joyous party.

(Here at Bet Elisheva, I have observed the incredible spreads of delectable dishes that have been prepared for the next two days of Chag. Dieting will have to be put on pause… 😊 ).

The Synagogue, for someone who has celebrated Simchas Torah and seen the joyous side of it, becomes a place associated with serious prayer as well as spirited joyous dancing.

I feel so sad when I meet some Jews whose experience with Judaism awakens not such positive associations. It may have been a parent who was going through their own difficulties and chose to blame G-d and create a sour feeling about religion in the home. Sometimes it was a Sunday school teacher who was irritated and meted out punishments irately.

All too often, Jewish kids never get to see the joyous side of the Synagogue.

We need to plan for Jewish continuity by celebrating our Judaism with JOY.

Jewish continuity AM YISRAEL CHAI is a reality.

G-d does His part and incredibly, Jews wake up to reembrace their Judaism even when they seem so torn away. The soul hangs on by a ‘thread’ but that is enough for the subsequent revival that obstinately shows up when least expected.

But we need to do our part in planning for the future of our people.

This is why we ought to spend time, thought and energy in creating fun and enjoyable Jewish experiences.

Children oriented Synagogue interactions are so important.

In our shul, as we reach the most climactic part of the Neilah prayer, with the ark opened, we call up all children to stand near the chazzan and the rabbi and participate in the saying of Shma Yisrael. In order to leave them with a sweet taste, I personally distribute candy bags just after the Shofar sounding at the end of Yom Kippur.

It is possibly one of the most important items of the Yom Kippur service in terms of Jewish continuity. If we have Jewish kids experiencing Judaism in a positive and enjoyable way, there is a much higher chance that they will choose to continue the golden chain of Am Yisrael to the next generation and beyond.

Mitzvahs and Torah are the only future for our people.

Culinary aspects of Judaism play an important role in creating positive memories.

Just today my daughter bumped into a Jew in the street. He identified himself away by saying “Gut Shabbes’. He is visiting Thailand from Europe and hasn’t been to shul in his home country for years. My daughter invited him to join us here at Sukhumvit 22. He politely declined saying that he was busy. Then as if as an afterthought he mused wistfully ‘I haven’t had cholent since I was a child. We used to eat it every Shabbat and it was a favorite of mine’. My daughter confirmed that indeed we serve cholent for Shabbat lunch.

He said that he will consider joining.

The Rebbe sent out his personal Shluchim emissaries to go and live in every corner of the world.

The mission he gave them was first and foremost to live a Jewish life in their respective locations that is wholesome and happy. There is no greater ‘poster’ for encouraging Jewish life than showing how wonderful a life it is when it is full of the meaning and mindfulness that one has when following in the path of Hashem.

This is the experience that Nechama and I try to share with others. It is a cornerstone of our Shlichus mission.

My own experience with Simchas Torah reinforces to me the power of positive Jewish experiences.

(G-d blessed me to spend seven glorious Simchas Torah’s with the Rebbe at 770 Eastern ParkwayClick here is a writeup describing some of what is indescribable. I try to close my eyes during the dancing and relive the inspirational moments of participating in the heavenly experience).

My pitch to you is, celebrate Simchas Torah. Open yourself up to the joy of the next 48 hours.

Let us utilize the ‘energies’ and blessings of the upcoming days in the fullest of ways.

Let us each make a resolution to partake of the Simchas Torah holiday.

You have likely participated in the Holidays till now in some way.

Even if you didn’t go to shul, you likely fasted and prayed on Yom Kippur.

If you are in Bangkok, please join us for the festivities of the next two days. I have provided quite a detailed schedule here so you can pick and select which slot you most connect to (or come to everything, even better).

If you are elsewhere and in proximity to synagogue, consider attending the Simchas Torah programs. In every corner of the world this is a time that joy reaches a very special crescendo.

Or, if you are not able to go to Shul and join your brothers and sisters in celebration, celebrate with the Almighty Himself.

Pour yourself a drink (if its ok for your health), sing a song, and do a dance. Click here for a perspective on rejoicing alone.

It’s Simchas Torah!

Looking forward to rejoicing together, either in person, or in spirit.

Nechama and I bless you with a wonderfully happy year, and personally invite you to join us in the celebration of the Torah.

YOUR presence will bring even more joy to us and we are appreciative to you for that.

Shabbat Shalom

Chag Sameach

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

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