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LIVE Inspiration from Bangkok

Murphy? who is he?

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

There was a novice rabbi who was about to give his maiden speech in the synagogue he had been hired to lead.

The newbie asked the retiring rabbi for a tip. The elderly rabbi told him, excuse yourself just before the speech, make kiddush and have a shot of lechayim, it will help take the edge off your nervousness.

After the speech the novice asked the seasoned rabbi how he did.

‘You were great, till you said that Samson beat the xxxx out of the Philistines’.

The language we use, the tone of voice, the gruffness or politeness, these are all indicative of who we are.

Some things may be commonly said by cussing sailors and it doesn’t raise any eyebrows, but they certainly don’t bel ong in a rabbi’s sermon.

This weeks parsha speaks about how Yitschak (whose eyes sight has dimmed) asked Esav to bring him some freshly prepared meat and come to receive a blessing from him. Yitschak’s wife Rivka realized that her husband had been duped by Esav’s outwardly righteous behavior and she quickly organized for Yaakov the truly righteous son, to bring the meat to his father Yitschak and receive the blessing.

When Yaakov arrived with the meat he said to his father:

Please arise and be seated at the table, and partake of my meat, so that you may grant me your soul's blessing.

Yitschak asked his son, "How did you find it so quickly, my son?" He replied, "Because God, your God, arranged it to happen this way for me."

Yitschak said to himself, "This seems out of character for Esau: he does not usually mention God, nor does he usually address me so politely."

He therefore said to Jacob, "Please come close and let me touch you, my son. Are you really my son Esau?"

Click here for the continuation of the story (scroll down to 27:1).

My dear friends,

I would like to zoom in and highlight Yaakov’s words. ‘Because G-d arranged it to happen this way for me’.

These words are not just a onetime statement by Yaakov. Rather they represent a perspective on life.

It behooves us to remember that it is Hashem who is the source and cause of everything we have.

Not just should we think that way in our minds, but we should verbalize this belief in the words that we speak, as this causes the message to resonate more deeply within us.

Thus, we look for ways to integrate the mentioning of Hashem in almost every spoken interaction.

Here are some examples of casual conversations where G-d’s presence can be noted:

How are you feeling?

Baruch (blessed be) Hashem, I am feeling fine!

Are you planning to attend the Torah study session tonight?

Be’ezrat (with the help of) Hashem I plan to be there!

Are you going to Miami during the winter?

Im Yitrzeh Hashem (if Hashem wants) I will go to the warmer climate for a few days during the winter!

I just spent several days with my Shluchim colleagues. All of us live very much with the recognition as Yaakov said, that ‘God arranged it to happen this way for me’.

The unique success associated with the work of Chabad is G-dly success. Neither I, nor any of my colleagues thinks that it is their prowess and talent that has granted them the astounding success that they are blessed with. The miracles, small and large are quite prominent and leave no room for doubt.

The Divine Providence that Hashem shows us makes it clear and obvious that it is Hashem who has arranged things to work out with success.

Here is one of my favorite stories.

The Shliach of one of the cities in Florida was really stressed out. He had deferred some very important payments to the very final date. He could no longer push off the payment. If he did not come up with a few hundred thousand dollars, the school he had founded would be in jeopardy. But he had no idea where he could raise that kind of money. Anyone he knew had already contributed and there was still this large amount missing. To whom could he even turn to talk about such a large sum? There was only person he could think of. A certain philanthropist who lived in his region and was generous with this Tzedaka. He had the ability to contribute such a large amount if he but wanted.

The problem was, that this particular person was not so easy to contact. How would he even get an appointment to see him? The Shliach had a brainwave. The philanthropist was making a celebration for his son’s bar mitzvah a few days later. The rabbi figured he would stop by to wish mazel tov and perhaps he could find an angle to be able to talk about supporting his school.

As ‘murphy’s law’* (see below) would have it, on the day of that bar mitzvah, the rabbi was called to officiate at a funeral of a woman who had passed away. It was someone who he knew only vaguely, but the funeral home said that there was no family and no other rabbi to whom she had any connection. The rabbi didn’t hesitate. He knew what the right thing was to do. The mitzvah of burying a dead, especially when there is no one else to do it (Met Mitzvah), is a mitzvah of the highest and holiest proportion.

But, to be truthful, with this major financial crisis breathing down his neck he was feeling quite disappointed about missing the opportunity to meet the philanthropist who seemed to be the possible solution to his crisis.

The funeral time was set and the rabbi figured out that he could still race straight from the funeral to the bar mitzvah. However there would be no time for a shower. Taking into account the Florida heat, he asked his wife to meet him at the bar mitzvah hall with a fresh change of clothing.  

Sweating profusely from performing the Jewish funeral including the tradition of shoveling the earth to cover the casket, he arrived at the bar mitzvah hall predictably hot and exhausted. His wife gave him the change of clothing and he went into the men’s room to change. In emptying his pants pocket, he took a peek at the envelope handed him by the funeral director just after the funeral as he was racing out.

Presumably it was a few dollars for his officiating fee.

Except that it wasn’t a few dollars.

It was a check for a few hundred thousand dollars. The precise amount that he needed to pay his outstanding obligations.

The funeral director later explained that the woman had left instructions to give this money to the rabbi who would perform the funeral. But only if he did the service without knowing about the donation in advance.

The rabbi, in his fresh change of clothing, and in an exalted state of mind, went into the philanthropist’s bar mitzvah with a bounce in his step. Albeit he was not an invited guest, but that just made it more spontaneous and real.

He turned to the philanthropist and told him ‘I admire you so much for your philanthropy that I could not resist coming to wish you mazel tov on this special day’.

It was truer than true. He currently had no other reason to come to this bar mitzva other than to wish a heartfelt mazel tov to this benevolent philanthropist.

Hashem had taken care of alleviating his financial crisis.

He had no other agenda anymore for attending the bar mitzvah other than genuinely wishing mazel tov.

The philanthropist was so touched that the rabbi came to wish him a heartfelt mazel tov even without being invited, that he struck up a friendship with him and went on to become a supporter of that Jewish educational initiative.

This is a story that is quite similar to the stories that my colleagues and I all have. Perhaps not quite as dramatic but with the same Divine Providential theme.

We are blessed that as emissaries of the great tzaddik, the Rebbe, we have the blessings of Hashem showering down upon us in an unusually and extraordinarily visible and potent way.

The results of these miracles are the Chabad shuls, schools, community centers and Jewish activity that are thank G-d flourishing on all four corners of the globe.

The Rebbe taught, there is a saying among Chasidim that goes as follows:

‘A Jew should behave with Hashem as a goat behaves with its owner.

The goat ‘knows’ that it must produce milk.

It also ‘knows’ that it has no reason to be concerned about what it will eat and drink. Nor does it need to be concerned about having a stable to sleep in.

All of those concerns  are all up to the owner’.

The lesson for our lives is so crystal clear.

Always focus on doing what you know to be the right thing to do from Hashems perspective.

Our job is to ‘produce milk’ for Him.

Don’t worry about the things that are His responsibility to us.

You may be facing a problem that seems pressing, you may be tempted to put aside what you ought to be doing in favor of doing something that would seem to be solving your problems, but that is not the correct path to take.

Hashem is in charge of everything.

Which means in a very practical way. At all times there is but one question.

What does Hashem want me to do right now.

All the rest is on His responsibility. It will somehow fall into place. (And if He doesn’t want it to fall ‘into place’, whatever you will do won’t make it happen…).

Sometimes you will get the great gift and merit to see the guiding Hand of G-d in its sheer brilliance. You will see how through doing the right thing, your original problem is solved in a way you never could have imagined.

Sometimes things will remain shrouded in Divine mystery, but ultimately following the path of Hashem leads us to exactly where we need to be.

When we are blessed to experience ‘small miracles’ of this nature we should make sure to share them with our loved ones as well. So that we actively look out for the Hand of Hashem in our lives.

Do the right thing for Hashem!

Hashem will show you how it was the right thing for your own benefit as well!

With blessings for a Shabbat Shalom

And a Chodesh Tov (today is the first day of the Hebrew month of Kislev which means that Chanuka is around the corner…).

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

*

Ah, I said I wanted to tell you something about Murphy.

Who was Murphy of Murphy’s law?

I really don’t know. And I certainly don’t believe in that ‘law. We just finished talking about how G-d is in charge of every small details. Not murphy. If you have never even heard of that preposterous ‘law’ called ‘murphy’s law’, good for you. Don’t bother looking it up.

But I do want to share something about a different Murphy.

The late Ron Fleitman who passed away in Thailand earlier this year, and was buried in our local Jewish cemetery, was proud to tell me that he had his bar mitzvah in Murphy’s Shul across the street from 770 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn NY, in the 1940’s.

On Monday night of this week I remembered Ron (Yehuda ben Hershel z”l) as I gave a talk to a group of Yeshiva boys who study in Yeshiva Chovevei Torah housed in Murphy’s Shul.

Why is it called Murphy’s Shul?

Because the Irishman Mr. Murphy, whose bar ‘Murphy’s Bar’ stood at that very location, deeded his property to a group of Jews to build a shul.

In tribute to Murphy, who had given his very prominent Eastern Parkway location to build a Shul, the Shul was fondly referred to as Murhphy’s Shul.

Now that is a Murphy with a good lesson for all of us.

Money comes. Money goes. Material pleasures are fleeting.

Our good deeds live on for eternity.

Do a mitzvah and it is ‘yours’ for eternity. It’s the best investment possible!

 

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