"Shabbat Shalom from Bangkok"

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Samayach From Bangkok!

From the sublime and holy subtlety of Yom Kippur we dance into the joyous and noisily energetic holiday of Sukkot and Simchat Torah.

Emerging from a twenty-five hour fast where most of the waking hours are spent in self-introspective meditation and prayer, we leap directly into a hectic schedule of building sukkahs and procuring the four species of vegetation – Lulav, Etrog, myrtles and willows which together constitute the mitzvah of the holiday of Sukkot.

Incredibly, the day of Yom Kippur touches the widest range of Jews possible. It is a day that is indicative of the resilience and eternity of the Jewish soul. Jews that have spent decades uninvolved in anything Jewish throughout the year, will surface on Yom Kippur.

Here is a story from a few days ago of a Jewish soul that was awakened on Yom Kippur this year, by a purely Divine Providence encounter.

Nechama’s sister was blessed to give birth on the eve of Yom Kippur in the USA. The nurse who was helping in the delivery room was chatting with my sister-in-law about religion. She said ‘my son is only 25% Jewish but for some reason he doesn’t want to attend prayers at the church that our family attends’. My sister-in-law asked some more questions and learned that it was the nurse’s mother and maternal grandmother who were Jewish. This of course means that the nurse is Jewish, as well as her thirteen-year-old son. This came as quite a surprise to the nurse. Incredibly, G-d sent down a new soul to be born on Yom Kippur and along the way discover other Jewish souls who were unaware of their true identity.

Closer to home here in Bangkok, it inspired me beyond words to greet the hundreds who attended our prayers at Bet Elisheva.

There is a saying ‘put your money where your mouth is’.

The dictionary explains that idiom to mean: to give or spend money or take some action in order to do or support something that one has been talking about

This is precisely what the transition from Yom Kippur’s holy inwardness to Sukkot’s outgoing mundaneness is all about. Translating our devoutness at Synagogue into impactful good deeds in the outside world.

On Yom Kippur we recluse from the world. We abstain from food and drink and various other earthly engagements.

On Sukkot we feast on delicious food and toast on joyous beverages.

We engage with the mundane and earthly field, picking the four kinds of vegetation for prayer. And building the Sukka huts from wood and other materials.

And giving Tzedaka before Sukkot to help those in need, as well as inviting guests to dine with you in the Sukkah, these are outward deeds that create a powerful impact of kindness in the world.

On Yom Kippur we reveal our true, core identity as being one with G-d. The day of ‘At-one-ment’.

On Sukkot we actualize that identity by acting in a way that ‘walks the talk’.

One of the highlights of Yom Kippur is the feeling of unity that Jews feel with each other. The consensus that we all have around the lofty and inviolability nature of Yom Kippur.

That theme of unity is the thread that runs through Sukkot.

Sitting in a Sukka is like sitting in G-d’s embrace.

Together with tens, hundreds or thousands of fellow children of G-d.

The four species that comprise the mitzvah of Lulav and Etrog teach an even deeper level of unity. It addresses the differences that make us each unique, together with the realization that we complement each other rather than contradict each other.

‘Two right hands’ is just as dysfunctional as ‘two left hands’. The right hand and the left hand are opposites, but only by having those two distinctively different hands, can a human being function effectively.

Going outside, leaving the familiar and safe confines of one’s permanent home to sit in a temporary shaded hut is a leap of faith in G-d. It is quite different than having faith in G-d when enveloped in prayer in the Synagogue on the holy day of Yom Kippur.

Feeling protected by G-d while being exposed to the elements on the eve of Sukkot is quite a feat.

In retrospect it is much easier as looking back we often see G-d’s Hand at work.

Just before Yom Kippur I bumped into a (non-Jewish) retired USA army officer. Seeing that I was a rabbi he wanted to share that he believes in G-d.

The officer told me that He – pointing upwards – is clearly in charge. He explained. He was taken to hospital in Iraq where he was stationed with the USA army for a bleeding ulcer. He was evacuated to the States. A short while later, an explosive device was detonated at exactly the spot that he had been manning. His replacement was tragically killed. This officer told me choking with emotion, ‘I saw the Hand of G-d. What I thought was a big problem in my health, actually was sent to me to save my life’.

It is more challenging to believe and put absolute trust in G-d in the present and regarding the future.

Sukkot is the exercise of practicing our faith in G-d in the present.

I have a friend who for many decades had a steady job as a salaried worker.  Circumstances changed and he had to make the change to be an independent contractor. This meant that he would now not have any ‘guaranteed’ salary at the end of the month. If people needed his services, he would issue an invoice. But nobody was ‘obligated’ to contract him for his services.

My friend told me that initially this caused him anxiety. How would he pay his bills at the end of the month? Till he adapted to the mode of ‘G-d will provide’ and came to the realization that he now had the blessing of feeling Hashems direct beneficence to him in a more palpable way.  

Feeling more secure when you rely on other humans than when you rely on G-d is quite common but admittedly immature.

Yet, it does take work, and requires ‘exercising the muscle of faith’ to feel totally comfortable while relying on Hashem.

One has to work on it. One of the ways to strengthen faith is by learning more about it. Click here for an exhaustive study.

On Sukkot we have Divine assistance in developing our faith in G-d.

Going out to eat, hang out and live life in the vulnerable space of the Sukkah which is covered with branches that provide shade from the sum, reminds us how G-d shielded us from the sun and heat when he took us out of Egypt.

He had enveloped us in His clouds of glory and we the Jewish nation emerged from the ravages of Egypt into the soft comforting atmosphere of G-d heavenly ‘clouds of glory’.

This is what we are to be reminded of when we sit in our Sukka’s on the holiday of Sukkot.

Hashem took care of us in the desert.

Hashem takes care of us now.

Hashem will take care of us in the future.

Let us take this one step further and discover a way to live healthier, smarter and more relaxedly by projecting your faith in a positive outcome and living as if that outcome is already here.

Let us say you are a contractor, and you haven’t received enough work this month to have sufficient income although you are already halfway through the month.

Obviously, you have to try and drum up business. Hashem instructs us to not rely on miracles. We have to try our hardest and best to make things work according to the rules of nature.

However, with regards to your general mood, two options are available to you.

You can either become very anxious and run around frantically trying to drum up business, or you can project in your mind the serenity of arriving at the end of the month with enough income, and now go out optimistically and calmly to try and generate new work.

Which way is better?

Let’s analyze it.

Please G-d you will arrive at the end of the month and discover that things worked out better than you feared.

If you acted stressfully, you will ask yourself ‘why did I stress out when after all it worked out’. You will now be further disappointed in yourself for having overreacted in the first place.

If you trusted in G-d and acted optimistically calm and even joyous in the anticipation of your hope for a good resolution, when things work you will be doubly happy. First of all, you are happy that it worked out. And you are further happy for not having succumbed to the natural reaction of feeling anxiety which would have been misplaced.

Try it.

If you are currently facing something challenging, use the Sukkah approach.

Do what you can to solve your problem. But do it from the perspective of entering into the enveloping embrace of Hashem and trusting in Him to bring things to a positive outcome.

It takes effort but it is the only true way to live and well worth the effort.

The switch from relying on the unreliability of mortals, to relying on the infallible G-d is liberational.

And very good for one’s health.

Tap into the Divine opportunities of this time of the year. Jumpstart the process of trust in Hashem, during this joyous chag of Sukkot with the mitzvah of eating a meal in the Sukkah.


Shabbat Shalom

Chag Sameach

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS if you are here in Bangkok please come and join us in the Sukkah during Sukkot at Bet Elisheva, or from Monday to Friday at JCafe (in the parking lot).

Or if you wish to be visited with the lulav and etrog to do the mitzvah, reach out to me and we will please G-d dispatch one of the Yeshiva Bachurim who have come back home for the Chagim, to visit you to perform the mitzvah.




Please accept my blessings and grant us your blessings

Dear Friend,

It was unmistakable and immediately recognizable. I am referring to the feeling I felt this morning – the day before Yom Kippur.

This is the first time I actually put a finger on it. Usually I just feel it but don’t recognize it.

It’s a feeling I get once a year, just as Yom Kippur comes but once a year.

I don’t think it’s simply nervousness about leading the services and hoping my words of explanation and speeches will be meaningful and fall on receptive ears and hearts as I don’t feel this feeling on day before Rosh Hashana which requires even more preparation being two days.

Fasting shouldn’t be the issue either as there are several fast days in the Jewish calendar.

I’m not sure I can fully describe the feeling but somehow I feel that you as a fellow Jew who is also just hours away from Yom Kippur, will instinctively understand what feeling I am trying to describe.

It is a feeling of raw emotion which feels somewhat foreign in the mundane surrounding of ‘business as usual’. Rather this feeling politely stays controlled and undercover, building up as the day proceeds and looking forward to the welcome outlet of tears with the face conveniently buried in the Machzor and under the safety of the enveloping Talit in a Synagogue filled with like-minded fellow Jews.

I can also identify trepidation and slight anxiety as the holy day of Yom Kippur nears, but it’s certainly not a feeling of fear as if there was an impending danger, rather a feeling of wanting to be adequately prepared as I stand merely a few hours before something of immense proportion.

The deep emotional feelings of love become accentuated and overflow into tears, when speaking to my father and mother and receiving their traditional blessings before Yom  Kippur or when similarly blessing our children and grandchildren who are overseas. They usually rise to a crescendo when blessing our children who are at home one by one just moments before Kol Nidrei.

It is a feeling of anticipation tinged with an excitement of coming before G-d and expressing my love to Him and recognizing His unlimited love for me resulting in His forgiving of my misdeeds and shortcoming.

Again, I am sure you can relate to what I am saying because you have a Neshama (Jewish soul) just as I do, and the nature of this Jewish soul is that it gets especially aroused on Yom Kippur.

I don’t think I have done the special feeling of Erev Yom Kippur or Yom Kippur justice, but hopefully I have given some words for you to recognize the feelings that you are undoubtedly having.

How do you utilize this feeling to the maximum? Sometimes I think it may be nice to nurture and savor this special feeling by meditating all day in prayer and study. Yet the day before Yom Kippur is coupled with the constant ring of the phone and the buzz of the blackberry as fellow Jews scramble to find a service, a Synagogue, a nearby hotel and a pre fast kosher meal. Should I ever dream of being the slightest bit agitated by having the pre Yom Kippur rapture disturbed by other responsibilities, I have but to recall my revered spiritual master, the Lubavitcher Rebbe ztl who spend most of the day before Yom Kippur distributing sweet honey cake and blessings of ‘Good, Sweet Year’ (click for explanation of this custom) (and here for video)to the thousands who came to seek his blessings on this holy day. I was one of those young men who were privileged to get that special gift of ‘lekach’ and blessings many times and the message should be very clear and deeply ingrained in my psyche.

Yom Kippur is about G-d loving each and every Jew so deeply that He is prepared to overlook their inconsistencies and even their intentional sins because of his existential love. We must certainly emulate him and find every way possible to act lovingly to all of G-d’s children. What better way to prepare for Yom Kippur than to interact with fellow children of G-d. Click here for an inspiring story of love that took place ON Yom Kippur itself. This is why before Yom Kippur its especially powerful and meaningful to reach out to your loved ones, to your friends and even more importantly to your ‘enemies’ and ask them for forgiveness while you too forgive them. For after all, Yom Kippur is about G-d forgiving us for sins committed against Him, for wrongdoings against a fellow person there is no other way but obtaining forgiveness from them.

May I suggest that you take a few moments to learn more about Yom Kippur by visiting our Yom Kippur site.

And lastly may I take this opportunity during these most special movements to ask you for forgiveness should I have wronged you in any way, or not been as attentive to your needs as I could and should have been. If there is anything specific that I may be overlooking you wish to bring to my attention please feel free to reach out to me by email or phone.

May this year bring for you and your loved ones, Goodness and Sweetness of unimaginable proportion in every single aspect of your physical and spiritual life. And may Am Yisrael merit the coming of Mashiach which will herald in a period of peace and tranquility for the entire world, AMEN

Rabbi Yosef & Nechama Kantor

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By the Grace of G-d

THANK YOU, to the 2313 (and counting) donors who have participated in the JewishThailand Giving Days

All donations until Yom Kippur are doubled.

Please join – with any amount that you feel comfortable – in sustaining and growing Jewish life in Thailand.

Dear Friend,

This week we read about Moshe calling the Heavens and the Earth as witnesses to the pact between G-d and His people.

Moshe did so as he was about to pass away, and wanted to appoint witnesses who would continue to exist beyond his lifetime. These same ‘witnesses’ would thereafter be responsible for distributing reward and administering punishment based on the upholding of the covenant.

How do heaven and earth manage reward and punishment?

The ‘Heavens’ refers to the sun, rain and weather patterns. These are the ingredients that make a huge difference to the quality of life.

Earth refers to fertile soil and all the other details that lead to bumper crops vs slim pickings and famine G-d forbid.

Heavens and Earth are thus both the witnesses and the implementers of reward and punishment.

When it comes to the introspective stock-taking and good-resolution-taking of these High Holidays, we focus both on heaven and on earth.

Here is what I am getting at.

The Mitzvahs are generally divided into two sectors.

Mitzvahs that are between man and G-d ‘in Heaven’.

Mitzvahs that are interpersonal, between man to man ‘on Earth’.

One always must be looking to better oneself in both aspects of mitzvah observance.

This week is called Shabbat Shuva or Teshuva, which means it is the Shabbat of ‘return’. This is the shabbat that is positioned in the ‘ten days of Teshuva’ when our entire focus is about creating the firm resolve to discontinue anything we have been doing wrong, and to do the right thing from now onwards.

I just heard two stories from the young Chabad Shluchim couple, recently arrived to Luan Prabang, Laos pertaining to Teshuva – making a change for the better.

It was a Friday night a few weeks ago. A young good looking Israeli backpacker disappeared at the beginning of the Shabbat dinner. It was a bit strange, said the rabbi, as though the backpacker was not Shabbat observant (yet), he had seemed very interested in participating in the Shabbat dinner. He returned a while later looking quite emotional. He later shared with the rabbi that earlier that day he had met someone who was impressed with his looks and tried to arrange a rendezvous with a local girl in a crude way. One telephone conversation from the girl was enough to kindle his interest and it was regarding this demeaning and unholy meeting that he had left the Shabbat dinner.

While walking to the appointed meeting spot he had a flashback to the words that the rabbi had told them about the days preceding Rosh Hashana. ‘The King is in the field’ during the month prior to the High Holidays. How would it look in the eyes of G-d to do something as base and immoral as what he was about to engage in.

He made a firm decision that he would choose right over wrong and made an immediate U-turn to return to the Shabbat dinner where the topic was about choosing the right path and having the courage to turn away from what is wrong and live a more moral G-dly life.

The Laos rabbi and rebbetzin continued to share their experiences over Rosh Hashana.

‘We had ninety people at our Rosh Hashana dinner but didn’t anticipate having a minyan at the two-day services of Rosh Hashana. How gratified and floored we were when thirty of the evening participants changed their touring plans and chose to spend the two days of Rosh Hashana with us in prayer, study and festive meals. They were so inspired and uplifted by the message of Rosh Hashana that they desired to get the full experience of being enveloped in the luminous aura, energy and holiness of the day.

 These stories symbolized to me the theme of Teshuva in both realms, heaven and earth.

Heaven – staying and observing Rosh Hashana properly. Earth – not taking advantage of a fellow human for selfish hedonistic purposes.

My friend, when I heard those stories, I was inspired. And humbled. It takes strength, conviction and dedication to make changes of this nature.

How do I measure up to making those kinds of changes?

It definitely reminds me and motivates me to have that inner soul-searching discussion with myself, so that this coming year is better than the previous one.

We all ought to self-examine and find ways to better ourselves. Both in our relationship with G-d, and in our relationship with man. We can’t follow our instinct when it comes to how we treat others, rather our interpersonal relationships need to be aligned with the ultra-ethical code that G-d has laid down.

And the consequential reward ought to be both heavenly and earthly.

There is a radical difference between ‘heavenly reward’ and ‘earthly reward’.

The Heavenly reward that awaits those who do good, is not tangible and comes once the soul is unfettered by the body.

The earthly reward on the other hand, is tangible and quantifiable.

How inspiring it was to hear a businessman share a story where a sacrifice he made for the sake of his relationship with G-d, resulted in the most down to earth reward. Measurable in the bank, in hard currency.

M. is a kosher restaurant owner who closes his restaurant on Shabbat and Jewish holiday. I had the opportunity to hear this most incredible story from him firsthand. M. closes his restaurant on Shabbat and while obviously he doesn’t have any revenue on Shabbat, he is very gratified that his Saturday night revenue in the few hours he is open, is about three times his usual weekday nightly revenue.

This year, with the chagim occurring on Shabbat and Sunday three times during the month, (Rosh Hashana, Sukkot, Simchat Torah), he was concerned how that would impact his overall revenue. He would lose the Saturday night revenue as well.

In the most unexpected turn of events, his restaurant received reservations to host three different very large midweek events. The revenue is anticipated to be the equivalent of eight Saturday nights.

He gave up three important nights of revenue for G-d.

Hashem rewarded him with more than double the revenue.

It is true that not always do we get to see the immediate reward here in this world. Sometimes the reward is kept for us for Gan Eden – after life.

Within the mitzvot themselves, the interpersonal ones are marked for being more eligible to reward here on earth (in addition to the reward in the ‘next world’).

The rationale is simple.

Doing a nice thing to someone else, tzedakah, returning a lost item, visiting the sick, encouraging and supporting the downtrodden, all these mitzvahs are generating goodness and blessing to people here on earth.

Commensurate with that, those mitzvahs engender reward that is felt here on earth as well, not just in the next world.

Tzedaka is one of the most central mitzvahs of all.

It generates palpable and tangible good for people here on earth.

It is a G-dly mitzvah as well, as it is the modus operandi of G-d in creating and sustaining His creation.

We, all of creation, are not entitled to what we receive from G-d. The way the Torah presents it, we are undeserving.

What Hashem gives us, is considered tzedakah from His full, open, holy and bountiful hand.

During the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur prayers we turn to Hashem and ask Him for Tzedaka.

And we too mirror G-d and give tzedakah to others in the most meaningful way possible.

Shabbat Shalom

Chatima Ugmar Chatima Tova

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS talking about Tzedaka, I am humbled by the 2313 (and counting) donors who have participated in JewishThailand Giving Days.

All donations until Yom Kippur are doubled.

Please join – with any amount that you feel comfortable – in sustaining and growing Jewish life in Thailand.

HEADLINE NEWS | Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova!

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By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

First things first.

Nechama and I wish you a Ketiva Vechatima Tova – to be written and sealed for a Shana Tova, a good and sweet year.

What does that include?

It’s a blank check.

Only you know what you are hoping and praying for.

Perhaps that is why traditionally we leave the new year blessings simple. This way they are all inclusive. Even the most comprehensive blessing in the world may leave something out that is important to you.

So we will make it simple and extremely broad.

May Hashem bless you with everything you need to make your year good and sweet.

כתיבה וחתימה טובה – לשנה טובה ומתוקה


Dear Friend,

Two news headlines jumped out at me. One from way up in ‘heaven’ and one from deep down in ‘earth’.

On September 11 2023, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio broke the record for the longest journey in space by an American, at 355 consecutive days.

When Frank Rubio left for the space station aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule on Sept. 21, 2022, he and his crewmates believed they were carrying out a six-month mission…. While their capsule was docked at the ISS, it developed a coolant leak. In January, NASA announced that the compromised spacecraft would not be used for a normal crew return and would only carry people from the space station in the case of an emergency. It returned to Earth with no passengers on March 28 .

When Rubio returns to Earth with his crewmates on September 27, the length of his journey will have stretched to 371 days.

For us Jews those dates jump out, as they are quite significant. Frank went up to space on the 25th Elul corresponding to the day that the world was created. The sixth day of creation is Rosh Hashana – the day of creation of man.

He will come down, please G-d may all go well and safely for him and his mates, two days after Yom Kippur.

He gets to spend two Rosh Hashana’s and Yom Kippur’s up in space.

And we are told about it in the news. Gotta be a High Holiday message there for us.

That was the ‘heavenly’ news. Now listen to this ‘earthly’ news.

Headline news from deep down in the tunnels of the earth.

On Monday evening—nine days after the call for help was issued—American caver Mark Dickey, who fell seriously ill 3,400 feet deep inside a cave in Turkey, was successfully rescued. It was one of the most difficult and complex cave rescue missions ever executed, according to veteran rescuers involved in the effort.

Dickey suffered sudden gastrointestinal bleeding, and his condition appeared life-threatening. It took an international team of 200 rescuers—volunteers from nine different countries—eight days to pull off the entire mission. Transporting Dickey to the surface, the most complex part of the rescue, was executed by 90 people and took just over two days.

A story that came to a blessedly safe ending on September 11, 2023, corresponding to the 25th of Elul the day of the creation of the world.

The Rebbe would repeatedly quote the saying of the Ba’al Shemtov that ‘from everything a person hears and sees, he is to derive a message which enhances the way he serves Hashem’. When wearing those ‘glasses’ one knows that there must be a timely message here.

The message is so refreshingly obvious.

But first the elephant in the room that nobody would think of asking vocally.

How much money did the cave rescue cost? How many man hours? How much was the cost of the resources used? Can you even imagine how much it would add up to?

What about supporting an astronaut for a year in space? What kind of budget are we talking about?

For the astronaut there are some figures online. Google gives me this:

According to a 2022 report, it costs NASA an average of $58.7 million to send one astronaut into space for a year. 

Is it ‘worth’ spending so much money on saving one person?

How much is a person worth?

Let us start with the first man on earth, Adam and figure things out from there.

Rosh Hashana is the day of creation of man. The details surrounding his creation thus become one of the main themes of Rosh Hashana.

One of the major differences between the way Adam was created and the way all the other creatures were created is this:

All of the other creatures were created in multitudes. When HaShem created bees, he created thousands, perhaps millions, of bees. When HaShem created trees, it wasn’t just one little tree; immediately there were forests. Everything was created in big numbers. Like the stars: Hundreds of thousands… perhaps millions — we don’t even know how many.

However, there was one creation that was created alone — man. He wasn’t even created as a couple, just one. Why did HaShem create man as only one? He could have created a nation, thousands — let Adam have some company, some friends; it’s lonely being the only one. However, he was created all alone. Solitary. Why?

This is something that is vital for us to know. The fact the HaShem created man alone, means that every man and every woman is extremely important to Him. We should never suffer from feelings of inferiority nor feel, “Oh, I’m just one more cog in the wheel, one more flower on the wall; of what importance am I? I’m just one of several billion, or, as a Jew, one of several million.” We should not, G‑d forbid, think that; it is an incorrect attitude. We should know that the world started with one man. 

HaShem made this entire universe for one person!

The same thing applies today to each and every single Jew. Our Sages declare that a person should say, “The world was created for me!” Of course, this does not mean that the Sages encourage egocentricity. On the contrary, a Jew is the purpose of creation because he brings a revelation of G‑d into the world through his Torah and mitzvos — which is the purpose of creation. Thus, when a Jew says, “The world was created for me,” he means that he recognizes his obligation to reveal G‑dliness in the world — “The world was created for me to reveal G‑dliness in it.” Accordingly, each person has infinite importance to HaShem, for all of creation is there for his sake!

From this we see that we should never play ourselves down. We are important, very important, in HaShem ’s scheme of things, for we have a great mission to live up to. We should have great self-esteem as a result.

Psychologists say that the most important thing parents can do for young children, is to instill in them a feeling of self-worth and self-esteem. If a person does not have a feeling of importance, he cannot go through life productively; he has to know he is great and he is important, and has tremendous potential. That is the reason that man was created alone.

On Rosh HaShanah, when we stand before HaShem in judgment, we must realize that we were created for a specific reason — each of us has our own individual mission. And it isn’t important what’s going on with everybody else. They could be living the wrong way; we have to live the right way, because every single one of us is unique and important.

Click here for full article

How much is a person worth?

Starting from the creation of Adam the first human, every person is like a complete world.

Now that is a very big price tag. None of us would want to squander away such an unimaginable amount.

It gives a very empowering push for all of us to utilize our lives in the best way possible. And to try our best and hardest to help others who need our help. For they too are a complete world.

Of course, these two stories fits this week’s Parsha as well. (Albeit we won’t read it till next Shabbat, this week we will read the Rosh Hashana readings) the verse states:  

Listen, O heaven, and I will speak. Hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.

Incredibly, this week Hashem injected the message about the centrality and absolute importance of each and every one of us into the news headlines of Heaven and Earth. Perfect ‘coordination’ with the weekly Parsha.

Two news headlines.

On from heaven. One from earth.

When you ‘listen’ and ‘hear’ them you get a very powerful reminder that is so pertinent on Rosh Hashana.

You are important to G-d. G-d created you and chose to ‘need you’, and ‘is relying on you’ to fulfil something unique that only you can carry out.

You are no less important than that astronaut, nor that caver.

You are the irreplaceable you.

To do that which only you can do.

With blessings of

Shana Tova, Shabbat Shalom, Chag Sameach

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

More Divine Providence: When Yosef meets Yosef

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Visiting Jewish exhibitors at the Thailand Gems & Jewelry Trade Fair

Yosef Ashkenazi bringing Tefilin to Yosef Askenazy


By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

I love stories of Hashgacha Pratit – Divine Providence.

It’s great when the outcome is an obviously blessed one.

So let me start with a story about that.

Before Pesach I was in New York and was introduced to an American Jewish gems dealer who visits Thailand every so often. He gave me a generous donation for providing Pesach Seder’s in Thailand. We made up that he would come to visit me in Bangkok when he comes to Bangkok in September.

Two days ago, I reached out to him to see if he was coming to town. He told me that he was coming just for a few days. When we were trying to coordinate a meeting, he told me that his time was very limited as he had to go to the trade show in Impact Exhibition center which is 45 minutes (without traffic, with traffic can be several hours) from town.

I told him that the Gem show had changed locations from Impact to Queen Sirikit Convention Center which is exactly two blocks from the Synagogue on Soi 22 and the JCafe on Soi 20.

To which he replied thankfully:

I've always gone to the impact Center for the show and now it looks like you just saved me a big headache of going to the wrong place and staying at the hotel in the wrong location.

It’s a great story. His tzedakah which provided help to others, brought about a chain of events that brought blessing back to him.

Divine Providence at work. With a ‘happily ever after’ result.

But not every story has such an obviously blessed continuum.

Last night in the middle of the night we started receiving a flurry of calls.

An El Al flight spent a few hours on the tarmac before asking all the passengers to disembark and they rescheduled the flight for after Shabbat.

You can only imagine what kind of a logistical challenge it is when a few hundred people need to be put up in hotels.

The El Al staff worked valiantly to get it all sorted out as best as possible.

At our end we were asked by the El Al staff to prepare kosher food and provide arrangements for Shabbat services and meals. What we thought would be a small Shabbat will turn out to be a joyous and well attended Shabbat with many unexpected but most welcome guests. If you are in Bangkok, do hop over to join in the Shabbat festivities.

It is incredibly inspiring that we the Jewish people combine the greatest innovations of our times, airplanes that can transport people from one end of the world to the other, with the 5783-year-old tradition of Shabbat.

It’s a symbiosis of Heaven and Earth.

El Al as the national carrier of the Jewish state keeps Shabbat and the Divine blessings of Shabbat keeps El Al safe and sound.

At the JCafe earlier today, I bumped into a family that was on that flight. They had their plans changed abruptly from being at home in Israel for Shabbat, to being in Bangkok. I asked the 9-11 year old children what they felt about this delay.

They said that they weren’t very excited about this hiccup. When I quizzed them a bit further, they said that they vacillated between acceptance and anger about their unexpected travel disruption.

I can relate very much to what they are saying.

It can be very difficult to adjust to carefully made plans being waylaid like that.

Unquestionably it too is Divine Providence. Although we don’t know why.

But it takes an effort to take a deep breath and remind oneself that even when things don’t work out the way you thought they ought too, this too is for the best. Except that for now only G-d knows how its for the best.

My blessing to the delayed family was, ‘may Hashem give you the gift of being able to see how this unexpected Bangkok Shabbat will be something very positive about which you will be grateful to Hashem for providing you with’.

Dear friend, as we near the end of this current year of 5783 and are about to enter the year of 5784 from creation, I want to share a similar blessing with you.

May the Almighty bless you that the difficulties, anxieties, traumas and dysfunctions be cleansed from your life.

Let them just be wiped out and disappear. Or even better, let them transform into a blessing.

And may the good times that are waiting for you with the advent of the new year, begin.

May Hashem bless you with light-filled blessings that occupy every fiber of your being.

Shana Tova, a good sweet, healthy and liberational year.

May this be the year that Mashiach comes and ushers the world into an eternal epoch of Shalom, peace and tranquility basking in the light of G-d’s Divine Presence, AMEN.

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS I guess Hashem didn’t want me to finish off with a story that is not yet with a happy ending... and therefore he sent me the following fresh story to end with.

As I was writing these lines at 2:20 Friday afternoon I got an urgent WhatsApp from Yoel D an exhibitor at the show.

[2:13 PM, 9/8/2023]: Rabbi, is anyone at the show who has a pair of Teffilin?

[2:14 PM, 9/8/2023]: For someone here who forgot.

I walked out of my office to see who was around so that I could send him over with Tefilin.

I saw R’ Yossi Ashkenazi who was visiting her from Israel to help us with our Kosher certification work. I asked him if he could jump over to the exhibition center with Tefilin. He agreed with pleasure.

I told Yoel I was sending someone over. He said it’s for my friend Josef Askenazy.

Wow, I told Yoel, I am sending over Yosef Ashkenazi to bring Tefilin to Yosef Askenazy.

Actually they both share the same two first names. Yosef Yitschak.

What an incredible show of Hashem’s Divine Providence.


Story of Divine Providence

Derek Halpern.jpeg 





By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

One of my colleagues in northern California had a pair of Yeshiva bachurim sent to him by Chabad’s head office to help him out during the summer. As part of their ‘Roving Rabbi’s’ mission he had them visit the homes of Jewish people in his area that he had not yet had the opportunity to meet.

The young rabbis came back from one of their visits and reported that the family they had visited that day was a nice family from Israel. It was a brief visit as the husband was away on a business trip. ‘We just had a short introductory conversation with the wife at the front door’. ‘

Little did they know how impactful that short visit at the front door was.

For a short while later my colleague got a picture of the two young rabbis (from the front door camera) with a note from the husband:

Hi, my name is M and I live in …

I have a visit from these two lovely boys (this is from our door cam) and I wanted to know if you know them?

I have a good story to tell them.

 My colleague confirmed that he had sent them and then M followed up with the below note:

Hi Rabbi,

Anyway, last week I had a very important meeting in NY - the kind of meeting you are not sleeping for a few weeks before.

The meeting was on Friday, and I Landed in NY on Thursday AM. I have a few hours in the morning, so I decided to Visit the Rebbe.  It’s the first time that I went to the Ohel.

(Referring to the Ohel at the Rebbe’s resting place. YK)

A few hours later I was talking to my wife back home, and she told me that we had a very random visit from 2 Chabad Boys ......

Very nice timing Rabbi. I would love to know what made you send them exactly on the date I visited the Ohel :)

Needless to say that my meeting in NY went very well.

I love it when these things happen. It is not that I need to know to believe more, but it is always good to get an extra certainty.

Why did I hear about this story?

Because M used to live in Thailand and my colleague wanted to give regards. I was delighted to get this awesome regards and the timing is also precise to fit with our Parsha.

The portion of Ki Tavo starts off with the mitzvah of ‘Bikkurim’ bringing the first fruits to the Temple and giving thanks to Hashem for His blessings. ‘You shall go to the place that Hashem has chosen to rest His name there’. This is a reference to Jerusalem, the place that Hashem has chosen.

The Ba’al Shem Tov gave an allegorical interpretation to this verse:

"You shall go to the place the Eternal your G‑d will choose - a Jew must know that when he goes from one place to another, he is not going on his own, but is being directed from Above. And the intention and purpose in this is...

" cause His Name to dwell there - that is, to make G‑d known in his (that Jew's) locale.

It is always so powerful to get a vivid reminder of the preciseness and the Divine Providence of our geographical movements and the timing of our actions.

Talking about timing.

Yesterday we had a funeral in our local Jewish cemetery of a Jew by the name of Yonatan ben Moshe (John Richard) White.

After Pesach 2022 John sent me this note:

For the first time since I was a child I ate only matzah during Pesach, this was due to your provision of Matzah.

Also due to the fact that I felt unconnected. Therefore, I made a decision to only eat matzah as a way to feel connected.

A while before Pesach 2023 John came to visit Bangkok. He had recovered somewhat from a stroke but was not in the best of health. Before he left to go back to Hua Hin I asked him what I could provide him with to make him more comfortable.

He asked for a Siddur, tallit and tefillin. He shared with me that in his youth he had put on tefillin daily and he now wanted to reinstate his connection to this mitzvah.

We ordered them for him and then before Pesach we sent him our own ‘roving rabbi’s’ to deliver him matzah the pair of tefillin that he had requested. (pictures below)

May his memory be a blessing and more importantly an inspiration. I was personally inspired to see how although decades had passed since he had donned Tefillin regularly, at age eighty he was inspired to renew this commitment.

Another quick snippet of Divine Providence. Yesterday, Dov Halpern - a local young Jew - who is on a visit to NY for his nephews Brit, sent me a beautiful picture of a visit he paid with his father to pray at the Rebbe’s Ohel. By Divine Providence he bumped into our son in law Mendel Lerman from Atlanta who had come to NY for one day to bring a group of Atlanta Jews to visit the Ohel to pray for a Shana Tova. Naturally, his father Yona Moshe wanted to put on Tefillin, and I got the pleasure of receiving the picture which I share below.

If you are here in Thailand, please join us at one of our local Synagogues.

You are invited to join me at Beth Elisheva/Jewish Association of Thailand’s Rosh Hashana services and meals which will be held at the Rembrandt hotel. Yom Kippur will be held there as well. More details here.

I hope that wherever you are reading this, you are making plans to observe the upcoming High Holidays with a local Jewish community. If you need assistance in locating a service click here.

Dear friend, if there is something that I can do to help guide you in your observance of these uplifting spiritual days please feel free to reach out and connect.

Shabbat Shalom

Shana Tova

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS If you are living in Thailand and are somewhat more remote and would appreciate a visit during this High Holiday period, please reach out to me to schedule a ‘roving rabbi’ visit by one of our Yeshiva bachur volunteers.


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