spirituality in the 'air'(plane)

Friday, 16 September, 2022 - 4:25 am

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

The Torah teaches us about gratitude in this week’s Parsha.

Once the Jewish people had entered into Israel and settled in the land, they were to bring ‘first fruits’ up to the Bet Hamikdash and proclaim their gratefulness to G-d for the gift of the land and its yield.

(That produce were then given to the Kohanim and their families).

The technical fulfillment of this precept requires the coming of Mashiach, and the building of a Bet Hamikdash in Jerusalem.

The soul of the mitzvah applies now more than ever.

Gratitude is a cornerstone of the Torah’s teachings. As a matter of fact the first thing we do in the morning upon awakening is giving thanks to G-d for returning our souls.

The mitzvah of ‘honor your father and mother’ is another mitzvah that emphasizes the lifelong gratitude we must have for those who have given us the gift of life.

Living your life in the ‘gratitude lane’ is transformational.

Thing of things that you can be grateful to G-d for and verbalize your thanks.

Try it. Say: Thank you Hashem for…..

And pay attention to the opportunities that present themselves to be appreciative of those around you.

(It should go without saying that spouses, parents, children and cousins are also included. Ironically, we all know that it is sometimes the people closest to us that never hear how deeply we appreciate them. Seize the opportunities while they are available. Don’t wait till it’s too late. It’s a mitzvah, its being a ‘mentsch’ and it will make your life more pleasant. Guaranteed).

To quote the actual verse regarding the first fruit offering:

You must place   "> go to the place on which God, your God, will choose to rest His Name

The Baal Shem Tov – founder of the Chassidic movement three hundred years ago – gave a powerful and practical interpretation on these words.

"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.

How does one "make G‑d known"? With a b'racha and a verse of Tehillim.

This teaching is saying that wherever you are however you got there and for whatever reason you think you chose to go there, it was Hashem who chose for you to go there.

Therefore, where you are, is exactly where G-d wants you to be.


For what reason?

To make G-d known there.

How does on do that? Do I need to carry around a megaphone and scream in the streets G-d is here?

Not exactly. The Ba’al Shem Tov told us how to make G-d known in your place.

How does one "make G‑d known"? With a b'racha and a verse of Tehillim.

In other words, when you eat in that place and you make a blessing before eating thus recognizing that the world and all that is therein belongs to Him, this is making G-d known.

By saying a verse of Psalms – i.e. praying. In this way you proclaim G-d as being present.

Enjoy the two following stories that I think illustrate the above point.

My brother-in-law recently met a Jew at 2:00 am who had come to visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Ohel (resting place) to pray. It is not unusual for people to be there at any hours of day or night, but this individual did not look like he was familiar with the Ohel. My brother-in-law asked him if he would like some help.

The visitor related the following.

I was on the plane a few months ago from NY to LAX and there was a rabbi sitting next to me on the plane. We chatted for a long time. The Rabbi spoke to me about G-d about Yiddishkeit, and the rabbi asked me several times if I would be interested to put on Tefilin with him. I didn’t really know what Tefilin were or how important they are to Judaism. I resisted and politely declined. Before getting off the plane I asked the rabbi for his name and he told me it was Shlomo Cunin. I found myself curious as to who this rabbi was and why he was so keen and eager to the point of repetitively asking regarding tefillin.

After searching it on Google I found out that Tefilin is a very important and meaningful mitzvah. It is actually one of most fundamental mitzvahs. I also found out that Rabbi Shlomo Cunin was sent to LA by the Lubavitcher Rebbe in the 1960’s and is the head of Chabad of the West Coast.

I went to a Judaica store to buy tefillin and learned how to put them on. I now wear Tefillin daily.

Now I came, for my very first time, to visit and pray at the Ohel as I have witnessed firsthand the effect that the Rebbe is still having in this world. I wanted to come and pray at the resting place of this great leader-Tzaddik.

In hearing this story what comes to my mind is that Rabbi Cunin had no idea of these developments. He thought that he tried to do a mitzvah with and fellow Jew and didn’t succeed.

Little does he know (by know my brother-in-law has certainly told him), that his efforts gave birth not just to a one-time mitzvah of Tefillin but to a daily Tefilin mitzvah.

I have another story that happened to me recently that is even more incredible.

Someone told me that there is an elderly Jew visiting Thailand, a Holocaust survivor, who needs to supplement his diet with calorie laden foods. In particular he wanted potato latkes. Nechama made him latkes, and I went to deliver them. I offered him the mitzvah of putting on Tefilin to which he readily agreed and told me that he had never done this mitzvah before in his life. I felt so blessed to be able to provide someone who had gone through so much, with this exquisite opportunity of putting on Tefillin at least once during his life.

The next time, my wife brought him the latkes and our son went along to offer him the Tefillin laying to which he again agreed.

He asked, ‘do you know why I feel comfortable putting on Tefilin?’ and he responded to his own question.

Because I have seen people laying Tefillin on the airplane!

Imagine that. A Jewish person was on a flight. He donned his Tefillin and prayed with them.

Unbeknownst to him, a fellow Jew saw his putting on Tefillin. They were not in a Synagogue; they were on a plane. But now, this not-yet-practicing Jew became familiar with the concept of Teffilin. Having seen it performed before his eyes.  

Years later, as an elderly person, he agrees to perform this mitzvah for the first time. Because someone else had performed the mitzvah in a public setting.

I found this so touching and inspiring.

Truly, wherever and whenever you are in a place you are creating an environment of G-dliness around you.

Whether you know it or not.

By making a blessing. By saying a prayer. You are creating awareness of the Divine Creator of the Universe.

Once the world recognizes the Omnipresence of G-d and commits to His system of moral values, the world becomes more peaceful.

And then, sooner than we anticipate, Mashiach comes to usher in the epoch of Shalom, world-peace and an unfiltered revelation of G-d in the universe.

Shabbat Shalom

Shana Tova

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

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