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ב"ה

In G-d we TRUST

Friday, 1 July, 2022 - 5:15 am

 

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By the Grace of G-d,

Dear Friend,

I would say that I experienced an anti-Semitic incident as I waited to board a Thai Airways flight this week, but to be honest, I cannot be sure that the person who accosted me was anti-Semitic. He didn’t scream any hateful epithets about me being Jewish. Yet, clearly my appearance (beard, black fedora, dark suit) agitated him.

It happened in the Bangkok airport as I was waiting to board my flight to NY with a stop in Munich. Out of nowhere, a man in what seemed to be his 70's screamed at me: "take that off, you don't trust in anything! '. I gave him a questioning look as I was not sure if he was talking to me and walked on towards the passport-check at the boarding gate. The man got up and walked over to me, pulled at my jacket and repeated in a screaming voice 'take that off! You don't trust in anything!' 

The man who had accosted me looked Western and his accent didn’t give much else away. He was not wearing a mask even though in Thailand airport it's still mandated and everyone else was wearing a mask. I had initially thought he was ticked off by my mask, but when he pulled at my jacket and continued screaming it was clear to me that it was my obviously Jewish looking garb that was sparking his outburst.

By this time all the people around noticed this unprovoked incident. He went back to his seat and sat down but I pulled out of the line and told the Thai airways staff that I would not feel safe boarding a plane with him on board. The Thai Airways staff handled the matter very professionally. A senior supervisor came and reassured me that this person would not be boarding the flight. A passenger who had been sitting next to him at the gate area told me that he was drunk. 

Obviously, my rabbinic style clothing had set something off.

Could it be that he my appearance reminded him of something or someone?

Or perhaps he was just a deranged person with prejudice and bias spilling over when he had too much alcohol. 

Regardless of who that man was and what ticked him off, I was shaken up by the experience. It was a mixture of fear and indignance. This turned to thankfulness to Hashem that the person had been denied boarding and my flight passed without incident.

Yet, as I reflected on the incident, it hit me with intense clarity that G-d had sent me a powerful message. I felt incredibly inspired and grateful to Hashem for sending me that message exactly at the time that He did.

You see, during the few days before my flight, there were some matters that were causing me stress. Yes, Rabbi’s have many duties and some of them involve stressful situations. 

Of course, I was mindful of the fact that if one has true faith and TRUST in Hashem, one has the ability to remain calm and not feel stressed. There is an entire treatise called ‘Gates of Trust’ teaching about the centrality of trust in Hashem. And how when one truly relies on Hashem, one is able to live life in a calm near blissful way. ( Click here for articles and lectures on this topic). 

In reality though, I wasn’t exercising proper ‘trust’ mindset and my feelings were not matching my mental awareness. 

I ‘knew’ in my mind that Hashem is in charge and there is absolutely nothing to worry about. It was also clear to me that I need to be proactive and do what I am supposed to do, and Hashem will take care. However, in my heart and nerves I was ‘feeling’ pressured by various challenging situations I was facing.

Standing in Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok, I heard ‘a voice from Heaven’ through a drunken person. (The fact that he was drunk means he was not aware or in charge of what he was saying, merely a mouthpiece for a Higher Power) A voice reminding me to TRUST in Hashem.

And it came to me as I was about to board a flight to travel to the Rebbe’s yahrtzeit. Reminding me so clearly what the function of a Rebbe is and how critical it is for wholesome service of G-d.

I had a long flight to meditate on this.

What is the purpose of a Rebbe?

The word ‘Rebbi/Rebbe’ in Hebrew stands for an acronym of ‘Rosh Benei Yisrael’ = the Head of the Children of Israel.

Think of the great and holy foundational Jewish leaders. Moshe Rabeinu. Mordechai of the Purim story. The Baal Shem Tov who founded Chasidism. 

The Zohar calls Moshe the ‘faithful shepherd’. Just a shepherd tends to his sheep, Moshe, and subsequent Jewish leaders tend lovingly to the Jewish people. Caring for them and providing any form of help they can. In our generation it is so obvious how the Rebbe cares for all the generation. There is virtually no place in the globe where the the Rebbe’s emissaries are not standing by, willing and able to help others, in whatever way they can.

It goes far deeper than that. That same kabalistic term can also be translated as ‘shepherd of faith’. Just like shepherd makes sure that the sheep graze, Moshe makes sure that the Jewish people ‘ingest’ and internalize their faith.

You see, faith can remain dismembered from the persons behavior. How many people have professed to be believers in G-d, yet use that belief to act in a way that is not consistent with that belief. 

I know it sounds ludicrous, but it is not uncommon for someone to pray to G-d to help them succeed in a swindling endeavor. 

The Rebbe’s job is to be a nurturer and shepherd of faith. To ensure that the persons natural, deeply rooted faith, become the reality of their existence. That they breath, eat, live and act in a way that is consistent with their deeply rooted connection to the Almighty. 

Now, that unity and consistency between beliefs, feelings and actions, is not so simple. It requires help from the Moshe who is empowered and tasked by Hashem to shepherd and nurture the B’nei Yisrael so that their faith be real and implemented. 

R' Tzvi Freeman of Chabad.org summed it up nicely

In every generation, the Zohar says, the soul of Moses extends itself into the teachers and leaders of the Jewish people. 

What is the job of Moses? 

To be a shepherd of faith. To nurture his flock with faith. 

But the Jewish people are a people of innate faith, heirs to great men and women of faith all the way back to Abraham. 

So the job of Moses in every generation is not to feed them faith, but to ensure they digest the faith they already have.

To bring the wisdom of their souls into their minds, their hearts, and their everyday actions. 

Until every cell of a Jew is saturated with the deepest wisdom of the soul. 

It is this consistency that is one of the most important goals and outcomes of a trip to the Rebbe. 

How fortunate I am that Hashem sent me this ‘mission statement’ just as I was about to board my flight.

I share this you my friend, because it’s not just a story relevant to me. The day of passing of the Rebbe presents a special opportunity to Jews world over. 

Connection to the Rebbe allow for your already existent faith, to be nurtured and deepened. 

To ensure that the deepest connection to G-d that exists in your soul, becomes the way that you actually live your life.

The way to do this, to live in a way that is consistent with your deepest self, is to do deeds that are instructed by G-d our Creator. These are called Mitzvahs.

You may encounter external or internal resistance to heightening your Mitzvah observance. Voices, outer and inner, may scream out to you ‘take that off’ stop acting religious. 

Don’t listen. 

The true YOU of a Jew is his or her connection with G-d. Anything that detracts from that is ‘drunken’ irrational negative chatter.

The rest of the flight went smoothly thank G-d. I enjoyed the quiet time which I used to study, rest and study some more. I arrived in New York safely thank G-d, and headed straight over to Queens where the Rebbe’s Ohel is located. 

As I was reading the notes of blessing request, I opened a note that someone had given me just before my trip. It was from a couple I had visited in hospital who had been going through medical challenges. In this note, the wife asked for blessings for health for her husband and herself and then added a line asking for a blessing for our family. The language they used was not the usual language one would have used in Hebrew. The word ‘lehagen’ jumped out at me. She had written ‘Please beseech the Almighty to ‘protect’ the Kantor family….’. 

Providentially, she had asked for a blessing for ‘protection’. She couldn’t have known that protection was the blessing I was in immediate need of. Her prayer was indeed, thank G-d, fulfilled. The possible threat to my safety was removed just in the right time. (I don’t want to think of what may have happened if this had unfolded on the plane).

Over the next few days, I will be visiting the Rebbe’s Ohel to pray to the Almighty for myself, my family, my community and beyond. If you would like to send a note to be the read by the Ohel you may do so either by visiting www.ohelchabad.org or by clicking here and emailing me with your Hebrew name, your mothers Hebrew name (if you don’t know Hebrew names just use the names you know) and the nature of your request.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS On the anniversary of a tzadik’s passing, all the light that he planted in this world—his teachings, good deeds, and everything in which he invested his life and being—all this shines brightly, so that anyone connected to him can receive blessings of life, happiness, and wisdom.

How should we spend such a day? How do we make that connection? CLICK HERE to find out:

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