"Shabbat Shalom from Bangkok"

Seder Reflections

I looked around the beautifully crowded Seder tables which represented the entire gamut of the Jewish community. The proverbial ‘four sons’ (and daughters) were all there.

But there were some missing.

Quoting the Rebbe, I acknowledged the ‘fifth son’.

The son who was not at the Seder because of ignorance. Either ignorance about Pesach, or ignorance about the fact that there is a place that is awaiting him or her at the Seder. Or perhaps a ‘son’ who would attend a Seder if it was ‘available’ without him or her having to make a huge effort.

The Rebbe constantly urged us to reach out to the fifth son and invite him to the Seder so that by next year he would be at the table as one of ‘the four sons’.

Nechama and I have merited to lead the community Passover seders since 1994 when the guest count hovered just under one hundred guests.

This year our community Seder hosted more than five hundred. Divided into two adjacent banquet halls. An English led Seder, and a Hebrew language led Seder.

Additionally, another six plus thousand guests, from Israel and many other countries, sat around the Chabad Seders throughout Thailand.

Besides for the Sedarim in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai, Ko Samui, Ko Pangan, Phuket and Luan Prabang, our children, Efraim, Leibel, Miriam and her husband Yosef went to Krabi to run a ‘pop-up’ Seder. (It was announced at the last minute and catered to those who had not made plans to be at a Seder – proverbial ‘fifth sons’).

With Hashems help all the Pesach Seders, with all the myriad details involved in the logistics of putting on such Seder, went smoothly. And a meaningful and inspiring experience was had by all. See pictures below of the moments before the Chag of Pesach began.

This year, I acknowledged with deep pain that there were some other ‘sons’ absent.

The hostages who have been cruelly kidnapped and being held in impossible conditions since October 7th.

The soldiers of the IDF who are on the front lines of defending our people. They ate Matzah and did Seders out in the field, but they were absent from their families Pesach Seder.

And then my mind turned to those who are unable to attend Seders because of the hostile environment fomented by the demonstrations and riots against Israel and the Jewish people.

While it is shocking for me to see the ugly head of antisemitism rear its head in my hometown of New York, I cannot say that it is an absolute shock.

History repeats itself with different variations on the same theme.

In preparation for Pesach, I reviewed the laws of the Seder in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Concise Code of Jewish Law) .

You should do your best to obtain choice wine to perform the  mitzvah  of drinking the Four Cups. If red wine is available, that is, of the same quality as white wine, and its  kashrus  is as reliable as white wine, the red wine is preferred for the Four Cups, for it is said, "Look not after wine when it is red," ( Proverbs 23:31)  indicating that wine is most desirable, when it is red. In addition, because it reminds us of the blood, which flowed, when Pharaoh slaughtered innocent Jewish children. In backward and ignorant countries, where people, make slanderous accusations, Jews refrain from using red wine on  Pesach .

Do you get the twisted irony?

Upon the advice of his advisors, Pharaoh bathed in the blood of slaughtered Jewish children in an attempt to heal his leprosy.

Generations later, the Jewish people were murdered upon allegations that the Pesach ritual involved the blood of gentile children.

To the extent that it became dangerous in certain locales to drink red wine at the Seder.

Such a preposterous and outrageous claim.

The Torah forbids eating blood period.

These unfounded blood libels have hounded our people from 1144 till the last blood libel in Russia one hundred years ago, the famous Beilis trial. (Click here for an interesting lecture regarding the history of blood libels).

Before that, we were blamed only for ‘deicide’ killing the god of the Christians.

The blood libel was another twist which took off and became popular.

Anti Semitism has always relied on misinformation.

Today, twisting history and factual events becomes even more achievable.

The saying goes ‘seeing is believing’.

Another saying says ‘a picture is worth more a thousand words.’

We must seriously rethink that in our current Photoshop and AI world.

Today, photos and videos can be doctored and engineered to present a reality that is non-factual and totally false.

The anti-Semitic tropes have evolved from deicide and blood libels to their current mutation.

It is important for us Jews to know that a blood libel is simply that. A libelous twisted claim by our enemies intended to harm us physically and demoralize us so that we feel we have no choice but to cower and hide.

Let us not fall prey to this hideous plan.

We must stand firm and proud and committed to G-d, His Torah and stand ironclad as AM YISRAEL – one people with one common destiny.

My colleague R’ Yuda Drizin in Columbia University made the following statement in light of the unconscionable riots on that campus:

“We refuse to yield to the forces of hate. Instead, we’ll raise our voices in song and dance throughout the nights of Passover 2024,” the rabbi said of the resolve to continue celebrating as Jews and not letting evil win. “They want us to back down, to cower and hide. Instead, we will continue as proud Jews.”

They hosted Seders on campus and pragmatically – without misplaced bravado - hired security guards to escort the student’s home in safety.

Millions of Jews around the world proclaimed at their Seders on Monday and Tuesday evenings the ‘Vehi She’amda’ prayer:

And this ( Hashem ’s blessings and the  Torah ) is what kept our fathers and what keeps us surviving. For, not only one arose and tried to destroy us, rather in every generation they try to destroy us, and  Hashem  saves us from their hands

(click here for a Chasidic melody on this passage)

Click here to hear the ‘golden oldie’ tune for ‘Vehi Sheamda’ .

It is quite ironic that we sing the Vehi She’amda quite heartily, (granted it’s after the first full cup of wine). It doesn’t seem to be a singing matter ‘that in every generation they want to finish us…’ yet we recite this prayer in a loud and joyous voice.

I recently heard this parable that gives a wonderful context to this prayer.

There was a young newlywed couple, living with the bride's parents, because of their limited finances. Their elderly grandmother, who lived independently, passed away and bestowed upon the newlywed couple her modest dwelling tucked away in a lesser-known neighborhood.

They loved their new home. Save for one problem. Their home was soon disturbed by a series of burglaries. Upon hearing a peculiar noise, the vigilant groom armed himself and successfully scared off the intruder. However, these break-ins persisted, puzzling the couple, who possessed no valuables or wealth to speak of.

Despite their meager possessions, their home remained a target for thieves. Intrigued by the repeated attempts, the young man resolved not to chase away the next attempted burglar, but to apprehend him and discover his motives.

The truth behind the burglaries was unveiled. It had become common knowledge among criminal circles that a great treasure lay hidden beneath the couple's residence. Thus, the impoverished young man began to dig, eventually unearthing a substantial chest brimming with gold and silver. Suddenly, the once struggling newlyweds found themselves abundantly wealthy!

We, the Jewish people, are likewise in possession of a vast fortune.

Hashem has chosen us as his treasured nation.

Though at times unbeknownst to us, our wealth lies far beyond our immediate perception.

Yet, our adversaries, it seems, are well aware of this treasure and seek to dismantle us in order to seize it.

This treasure that we are now even more aware of, is something to sing loudly, heartily and joyously about!

We must always remember that we are custodians of a priceless inheritance – the Torah and traditions that safeguard our existence, a wealth of immeasurable value.

There is something else that should be said.

And that is, that there is a win/win scenario that should be implemented.

If the nations of the world will protect us and support us in our mission of being the Divine Ambassadors on earth, they too will be blessed by Hashem.

Hashem has promised ‘I will bless those who bless you’.


The way forward is clear. We, Am Yisrael need to continue and strengthen our embrace of our Divine mission. All of our fellow citizens of the world should treat us with respect and protection.

This is the holistic way our world is meant to function and will lead to a healthy situation for all of humankind.

May we be blessed with the coming of Mashiach NOW.

Shabbat Shalom

Moadim Lesimcha

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

Singing and believing - Pesach

I am resending as the second day holiday timing was omitted by oversight.

I figured that I may share something else that was shared with me. I asked a ninety year old Jewish person living near Bangkok if he would share his earliest Pesach memory with me. Here is what he shared:

I remember being at my Grandparent’s apartment in London because of the German bombing raids on London.  All children were evacuated to the countryside in fear of a German invasion.

I was 9 years old when we were all evacuated.  My mother said we were nearer to the Germans than she was!

I ended up at a farm for safety and all of this did not do that much for any Jewish studies although I have to be thankful to Hashem that me and my family survived at all!

Another weird fact is that I ended up in the British Army as a Lieutenant in British Armed Forces in Egypt at the Suez Canal!

Thank you for your interest in all this Rabbi!

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Are you a ‘lamenter’ who sings?

Or a ‘singer’ who laments?

Unusual question?

Isn’t this the time period to ask questions?

I have managed to ask four questions within the first few lines of my article, make sure to ask THE Four Questions this Monday night at your Passover Seder.

Yep, it’s that season of liberation. I can almost taste the crunchy matzah, imagine the feelings of giddiness after four cups of wine. And of course, the traditional melodies that accompany Pesach ring in my ears.

Click here to hear the ‘golden oldie’ tune for ‘Vehi Sheamda’.

וְהִיא שֶׁעָמְדָה לַאֲבוֹתֵיֽנוּ וְלָנֽוּ. שֶׁלֹא אֶחָד בִּלְבָד, עָמַד עָלֵיֽנוּ לְכַלּוֹתֵנֽוּ. אֶלָּא שֶׁבְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר, עוֹמְדִים עָלֵיֽנוּ לְכַלּוֹתֵנֽוּ. וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַצִּילֵנוּ מִיָּדָם

Vehi She’amda, La’avotainu Velanu Shelo  Echad Bilvad, Amad  Aleinu Lechaloteinu Ela Sheb’chol Dor VaDor Omdim Aleinu Lechaloteinu V’HaKadosh Baruch Hu Matzilenu Miyadam.

And this ( Hashem’s blessings and the  Torah) is what kept our fathers and what keeps us surviving. For, not only one arose and tried to destroy us, rather in every generation they try to destroy us, and Hashem saves us from their hands

Or join Mala from Chabad of Bangkok as he gets us ready to sing it at the Seder

I never really understood the depth and strength and immortality of this prayer in the way that I do now.

Lots of stuff going on.

The magnitude is immense.

The pace is dizzying.

I refer to events in Israel.

This week we witnessed epic miracles.

And on the other hand, we are quite unsettled.

(Below I am going to ‘copy paste’ a very poignant article from my colleague Rabbi Lazer Gurgow’s titled ‘Miracle of Miracles’. It calls our attention to the revealed miracles that we witnessed at the beginning of the week as our enemies rained major firepower down on the Jewish People in Israel).

A combination of opposites.

Jubilation and thanksgiving for the miracles.

Concern and prayers for the ongoing and future protection.

We sit at the Seder, thanking and praising Hashem for His miracles of Exodus. We drink four cups of wine with the intention of allowing ourselves to glide into a feeling of freedom, wealth and liberation.

And at the same time, we acknowledge that in every generation we have those who want to exterminate us.

I have said this part of the Haggadah for more than five decades thank G-d, yet never have I seen so vividly the enemies who stand by to finish us off if they only could.

But we don’t let the ‘realistic’ view hamper us or demoralize us. We are a people of miracles. Israel is a country which the Torah says has ‘Hashem’s Eyes on it from the beginning of the year till the end of the year’.

‘They’ – those who thought they could defeat us, are long gone.

‘We’ – the people of Israel whom Hashem chose, are still here.

We are a SINGING and BELIEVING nation.

Hundreds of thousands (or millions) of the Jewish people will gather around Seder tables on Monday night and sing and declare their thanks with true joy and jubilation. (Some seven thousand in Thailand alone please G-d).

At the very same time that they recognize the reality of our contemporary geopolitical situation.  

King David in his book of Tehillim Psalms seems to anticipate this dichotomy by placing chapter 122 and 123 adjacent to each other.

The heading to chapter 122 reads:

‘the (Psalmist) ‘Singer’ relates about the praiseworthiness of Jerusalem and the miracles that were wrought in Jerusalem’.

The heading to chapter 123 reads:

the (Psalmist) ‘Singer’ laments the long and protracted period that they have been in exile’

(I noticed this contrast as I have recited Psalm 122 for the last year, and today moved over to reciting Psalm 123 for the upcoming year.

This is according to the tradition taught by the Ba’al Shem Tov, that one should recite daily the chapter of Tehillim that corresponds to the number of years one has been alive. At the age of 18 one would recite chapter 19 and so on.

It is a great custom to include your personal Tehillim chapter into your daily prayers.

Many say the chapter for their children as well. Some do so for their parents.

As a chassid, I also say the chapter of the Rebbe, corresponding to the years since his birth.

Today is the Rebbe’s birthday 122 years ago. Hence, we began to recite chapter 123. Click here for more on this topic).

I feel that these two chapters sum up the kaleidoscope of emotions that fill my heart and mind.

We sing and yet we ‘ lament ’.

There is such a feeling of solidarity and unity within the Jewish community all over the world.

We are a people who are alone.

If you are in the mood to ‘lament’ there is what to ‘moan’ about. It’s not easy to be and feel alone. To be singled out and targeted in the overt antisemitism that has reared its ugly head.

However, from the perspective of the ‘singer’ and the believer it is uplifting and inspiring to recognize that we are indeed a people who is alone. This is by design. It is because we have been singularly and uniquely chosen by G-d for the mission of spreading His Glory throughout the world.

We refer to this paradox in our Pesach Seder.

We drink four cups of wine and sing the Halel praises of G-d.

We sing the praises of the miracles in Jerusalem and Israel.

Yet we declare that if not for G-d’s protection, our enemies would totally finish us off.

How do we live and thrive while harboring both sets of emotions?

This is part of the impossibility and miraculousness of being a Jew.

Impossible that we are still here, from a ‘nature’ standpoint. And inconceivable that we are able to celebrate.

Eminently achievable when we embrace our identity as the nation whom Hashem has chosen for His treasured task of creating a space for Him in this lowly world.

The Jewish trademark is JOY. Chapter 122 with its miracles comes before 123 with its lament.

The statement in the Haggada about our enemies’ murderous intents is recited from the context of a super celebration around festive and wine filled Seder tables.

Optimistic Jewish life must continue under all conditions.

(See a very heart stirring clip of a bar mitzvah celebration at the Kotel for war orphans).

We can and do rejoice because we are all ‘believers the children of believers’.

The three thousand plus years since Hashem took us out of Egypt has not tired us from singing His praises and eating Matzah ever Pesach.

Neither have the nearly two thousand years of exile disillusioned us for dreaming, yearning, anticipating and even celebrating the imminent coming of Mashiach.

Remember, at our core, we are SINGER’S, who lament a bit here and there.

We are optimists who know that Hashem loves us and wants our best.

The Rebbe whose birthday is today was a consistent source of positivity. Click here for ‘practical tips for positive living’.

Dear fellow Jew, embrace your role as a ‘singer’ and claim your Jewish ‘birthright’ of being a perennial optimist.

Continue the golden and joyous chain of Am Yisrael. In your own home, with your own family, around your own table, sing the praises of Hashem for the blessings of liberation from Egypt, and the blessings of freedom now.

Before this Monday 11 am sell whatever chametz that you have not disposed of by clicking here.

On Monday night eat Matzah to remember the great gift of Exodus and to strengthen and bolster your faith in the eternity and omnipotence of G-d.

To get Matzah contact JCafe or click here to contact me or head to your nearest rabbi/synagogue and or Pesach shop.

And my dear friend, let us pray, hope and celebrate that -


Rabbi Yosef Kantor

Hair in the parsha + Divine Providence stories from US trip

This week’s parsha of Tazria, references hair.

The Midrash tells the following story.

There was a man who was not able to support his family and he was planning to leave Israel to search for ‘parnassa’, avenues of support.

This man was a Torah scholar and in one of his Torah lessons, he was expounding on the greatness of Hashem. He taught that even from our hair, we can learn about Hashem’s greatness.

With all of the myriads of hairs on our body, every hair has its own ‘hole’ in the skin (today we call it a hair follicle) from which it grows and is sustained. This means that two hairs are not being nurtured by the same energy source. They each have their own follicle from where they grow.

His wife was listening to his speech, and she commented ‘you perceive the greatness of Hashem and His immaculate design even of a hair, and yet you are planning to leave the holy land of Israel to find ‘parnassa’ a livelihood for our family’?

If Hashem provides an energy source for every individual hair, certainly He can provide you with the support you need for our family without having to leave the holy land of Israel.

The Midrash concludes, the man listened to his wife’s inspirational insight and stayed home. Hashem indeed provided a source of sustenance for their family.

The Talmud states something very similar:

No person may touch that which is prepared for another by G-d; everyone receives what is designated for him. 

If every hair has its own follicle, this means that there are no two hairs that are competing for the same source of nurturing.

This inspired way of thinking and believing in G-d’s Providence is a way to living more calmly and being more scrupulously honest.

A lot of angst comes from being uncertain about where one’s livelihood and subsistence will come from.

Dishonesty is making the mistake to think that you can deceitfully take that which rightfully belongs to someone else.

Fear of competition is the mistaken notion that someone can take something from you that is rightfully yours.

By reflecting on how G-d is running of every single aspect of the universe, down to every hair having its own ‘source’, one can live a more inspired and balanced life.

One could ask the question, according to the teaching I quoted above, why are there so many devout people who travel to support themselves and their families?

(The topic of travel for earning one’s livelihood is discussed in ‘Gates of Trust’ – ‘Sha’ar Habitachon, click here for further discussion ).

The simple understanding is that Hashem wants us to do what is needed according to the laws of nature and then He blesses our efforts with success. Which means that since in today’s global environment it is quite common that one needs to travel for work, this is then the way Hashem chooses to send you the blessings of parnassa and support.

The Baal Shem Tov added a deeper dimension.

The Baal Shem Tov taught that it is Divine Providence that leads a person to a certain place. G‑d orchestrates that you end up in a specific place. The person may think that he has traveled there in order to generate his livelihood but really the Divine plan has him travel there in order to spread the light of G‑d in that very place

He explains the verse ‘And you will go to the place that the L-rd, your G‑d, will choose to make His name dwell there; ( Deuteronomy 26:2)  as follows: You must know that you go from one place to another because G‑d has chosen this path, so that His name will dwell there. ( Hayom Yom 18 Elul ).

Sometimes we can see the deeper mission inherent in our travels, sometimes it may remain more obscured. It is a blessing when Hashem gives you glimpses of deeper meaning at play during one’s travels.

I have just landed back in Bangkok after a trip to the USA to raise funds for our extensive Pesach Seder hosting. We are preparing for the upward of ten thousand Pesach meals being served at our Chabad Houses throughout Thailand.

Let me share a few stories from my trip which showed me so poignantly the inner purpose of the journey ‘to spread the light of G-d in that very place’.

My dear friend Abtin (Yitschak ben Aharon) Etessami passed away a day before Purim. Abtin who was a jeweler and precious-stone merchant visited Thailand many times and we became close friends. As one of the most popular men in his community (the Mashadi community of Great Neck NY), Abtin introduced me to many philanthropic members of his community who became supporters of the work of Chabad of Thailand. Every year before Pesach, Abtin would dedicate a few days to take me around and raise funds for our Pesach hospitality and Seders.

Sadly, after battling illness for a few years, Abtin passed away. I arrived in NY on my scheduled trip just in time to speak at the last Shiva gathering in the main community synagogue. The family and friends were inspired by my words in which I shared some of the unique qualities that Abtin possessed in terms of his unyielding devotion to G-d coupled with his incredible love and acts of kindness to others.

A group of friends made an evening in Abtins memory and invited me to share stories from Thailand. In one of the stories, I shared a ‘chance’ meeting with a Jew, on Charoenkrung Rd who I was able to bring to the Even Chen synagogue to complete the minyan on the Shabbat before Yom Kippur in the late 1990’s. I mentioned that I had lost contact with this person and mused that it would be nice to perhaps send him some shmura matzah for Pesach. Someone at the small gathering said that he recognizes the name of this person as he works in the same area. I asked him to follow up and deliver some shmura matzah. A few days later he sent me a note that the mission was accomplished, the matzah was delivered.

Telling this story, had seemed so coincidental, yet clearly it turned out to be part of the Divine mission of my journey.

Fast forward to the end of my trip. I attended a wedding in Dallas, Texas on my way home and found that the most convenient flight back to Thailand was on the following day from Houston. I decided to use the opportunity to visit very dear friends that I have there and we made a lunch appointment.

While I was there I also planned to pay a spontaneous visit Mr. S whom I had ‘randomly’ met in NY the year before.

Last year, while I was in one of the NY gem dealers’ offices on 47th St. before Pesach, I met a Jew Mr. S. from Houston who is a jeweler. I offered him the opportunity to put on tefillin which he gladly did. Afterwards he gave me a modest donation for tzedakah.

This year when I visited the same office in NY, I mentioned that I am going home through Houston and remembered that last year I had met Mr. S. from Houston. The NY gem dealer gladly gave me the address of the Houston Jew.

After having lunch with my dear Houston friends, I set off to find the jeweler and provide him with some shmura matza for the seder. I pulled up to the address given and asked for Mr. S. When they asked me which Mr. S. I was stymied. I really didn’t know the person that well and didn’t remember his first name. Apparently, there were a few Mr. S's at that business. I said I think he is in his sixties. To which the staff responded, look outside the store, the Mr. S. you are looking for just pulled up in his car in front of the store. Mr. S. walked in and remembered who I was. I presented him with matzah, we put on tefillin, and he once again kindly gave me a modest donation.

It was a meaningful encounter, spreading the light of Yiddishkeit, albeit one that was definitely not part of my conscious reason for traveling to Houston.

Earlier that day as I was driving from Dallas to Houston, I was talking to my wife and she suggested that I should consider visiting G and his wife, a couple who had lived in Thailand for two years about twenty years ago. An hour later I received a voice note from one of the Chabad rabbis in Houston who knew of my friendship with G. ‘I heard that you were in Dallas for a wedding, I think if you had the opportunity to visit G it would be very meaningful as his disease has come back…’. I reached out to G and he told me he was leaving the next day to NY to participate in an exploratory treatment regimen but could see me that afternoon. I visited G and his wife, brought them shmura matza and had a very meaningful conversation in which I both shared and received inspiration.

With the few hours available between my meetings and my flight I was invited to give a class for the Israeli Chabad House in Houston and share Torah inspiration flavored with ‘Jewish Life in Thailand’ stories. How gratifying it was to be greeted be S. who I had helped repatriate back to Israel twenty some years ago after he had a mind-altering substance experience that went awry. Thank G-d he is recovered and is fully functional.

Similarly, I had the opportunity in NY to share inspiration with college students when my brother who is Chabad at Temple University brought a group to visit the Chabad neighborhood of Crown Heights.

These ‘side’ activities were not the ‘main’ conscious reasons for my travels, but certainly they are part of Hashem’s plan and who knows, perhaps they were the ‘real’ reason, and the fundraising was just a ‘cover’.

There were so many other stories, connections and incredible ‘Divine Providence’ encounters during my trip, but for now I will simply say Thank You Hashem for showing me Your Guidance in every single detail.

We are a bit more than a week away from Pesach the festival of our liberation. Pesach is the holiday of our personal liberation. It is not just a historical liberation of our ancestors, rather it is Hashems gift of personal freedom for each one of us.

Faith and trust in the Almighty are the surest way to freedom and liberation from angst, worry, anxiety and fear.

May Hashem bless each and every one of us with liberation from all worries and anxieties. May we be blessed with all that we need.

May Hashem bless us with the release of our captives, success of our soldiers, healing of our wounded, secure peace in our holy land of Israel and security for Jews world over.

And most importantly ‘Leshana Habaah BeYerushalayim’ may we celebrate Pesach with Mashiach in Jerusalem.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

Two Kinds of Miracles: Nature Defying and Nature Friendly

Some miracles are nature defying.

While other miracles are quite natural. The miracle is that the natural components have lined up and are working with exact balance and precision.

A friend of mine told me about his brother who was cheated out of a million dollars’ worth of merchandise. When he tried to recoup his losses, he was threatened by some bad people. He didn’t take the threat seriously. A few days later when he pulled up to a meeting with a customer, he noticed a box-like contraption attached to the bottom of his car. Naively, he removed it from the car chassis and took it into his customer’s office. The customer took one look, noticed some wires protruding and called for an evacuation of the entire office while the bomb squad was called. The bomb squad confirmed that this was an explosive device, intended to detonate when he turned the ignition.

For no obvious reason, one of the wires came loose and the bomb never went off.

A nature altering miracle.

The young man was shaken to the core and consulted his rabbi about how to gives thanksgiving to Hashem. He suggested that he start to keep Shabbat properly and distribute Tzedaka money to the needy. The young man took his rabbi’s advice seriously. The keeping of Shabbat was such a blessing in his life that many of his relatives also followed his example and became fully engaged in Torah and Mitzvot.

Someone else told me a story about the dollar he had received from the Lubavitcher Rebbe when he was a young man. He described the incredible feeling of being in the presence of a Tzadik whose gentle eyes seemed to read him like an x-ray. He took the dollar and kept it under the cash in the cash register for mazal and blessing.

One day a robber came in and pointed a gun at his head. ‘Give me all the money in the till’ said the thief. My friend handed over the contents of the cash register.

Once the thief had the money, my friend asked him if he would mind giving him back the bottom dollar which was a ‘lucky’ dollar. Much to his surprise the thief agreed immediately and handed him back the dollar of blessing that he had received from the Rebbe.

Miraculous outcome. In the fact that he wasn’t shot at close range. And in the fact that the criminal agreed to give him back the dollar of blessing. Not necessarily nature defying but rather a ‘nature friendly’ miracle.

This Shabbat represents an incredible fusion of miraculous energy.

On the one hand Purim is still ‘in the air’. We are about to celebrate the ninth and ‘grand finale’ shabbat of the sixty days of the two joyous months of Adar.

And Pesach is also around the corner. On this Shabbat we announce and bless the Head of the month of Nissan that begins on Tuesday.

Thus, the Shabbat combines the highest level of Purim energy with the ‘head’ and ‘nerve-center’ of Pesach energy.

Miracles are the common theme of Purim and Pesach.

Pesach represents nature shattering miracles. Wearing down Pharoh’s resistance by bringing the ten plagues and forcing him to release the Israelites. Splitting the sea. Raining down the miracle food called ‘manna’.

While Purim represents gradual miracles disguised as coincidences. It took ten years for the Purim miracle to unfold. It seemed much like a political intrigue. With Queen Vashti being deposed, Queen Esther the Jewess becoming the new queen. Mordechai saving the king’s life. Haman overstepping his boundaries of arrogance. The Jewish people being given permission to bear arms and fight their intended killers. The Jews being victorious in battle.

We need both kinds of miracles in Israel. On the battlefield. For the hostages. To heal the wounded.

We need all kinds of miracles for the protection and success of the Jewish Nation world over.

And of course we need the ultimate miracle of PEACE IN THE WORLD with the coming of Mashiach.

This is a Shabbat where both kinds of miracles are ‘in the air’.

Let us begin to usher in this miraculous atmosphere by resolving to leave our usual and habitual ‘nature’.

Let us kick start the flow of supernatural energy by jumping a bit higher than usual and exiting our comfort zone.

Study a bit more Torah. Help out your fellow a bit more generously than you usually would. Be a bit more patient and forgiving with things that usually irritate you and set you off.

And resolve to celebrate Passover the holiday of liberation by eating matzah and ridding your home from chametz.

And watch how Hashem provides you the energy and wherewithal to fulfil your holy desire to better yourself, your society, and the entire world.

With blessings for a Shabbat Shalom and a Chodesh Tov (Tuesday is Rosh Chodesh).

And early wishes of Chag Hapesach Kasher Vesameach – Happy and Kosher Passover!

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS below are links for seder reservations in Thailand.

And here is a link to help sponsor the thousands of visitors expected a the thirteen seders spread throughout Thailand.

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.