Shabbat Shalom from Bangkok

Friday, 29 March, 2024 - 4:30 am

Purim is not yet ‘over’.

For six days a week we work, and on the seventh day we rest. This means that the food that we eat on Shabbat is paid for by the efforts of our ‘six-day’ work week.  

As the six days of the week prepare for the physical needs of Shabbat, so too are the spiritual ‘energies’ of the Shabbat generated by the ‘energies’ that are prevalent during the week.

Purim was celebrated on Sunday, and Its ‘energy’ and ‘power’ continue all the way to Shabbat and becomes ‘uplifted’ and infused with the special holiness of Shabbat.

So let us continue the incredibly empowering, JOYOUS and energetic spirit of Purim for as long as we can. Enjoy the super-elevated-holy version of Purim that the Shabbat after Purim provides.

What would have happened if not for the miracle of Purim?

A young, intelligent Polish born Jew joined us for the Purim feast. In hearing his story on Purim day, I was giving a vivid insight into the epic nature of the Purim miracle.

P. told me that his mother was Jewish, born in Poland to parents who were Holocaust survivors.

P’s grandmother joined the partisans during the war and was one of those who smuggled weapons to her brethren in the Warsaw Ghetto to be used in the ‘Warsaw Ghetto uprising’.  His grandfather spent almost the entire war in the concentration camp Dachau and had an identification number tattooed on his arm.

P was raised totally secular, not even having a Bar Mitzvah yet something stirred within his Jewish soul and when studying in the USA he searched out Jewish community and visited Israel on a birthright trip. On Purim I had the merit to lay Tefilin with P for the second time in his life. The first time had been at the Kotel – Western Wall – in Jerusalem.

P’s grandparents were anomalies. They were of the ten percent who survived the holocaust.

According to Yad Vashem, ‘Jews lived in Poland for 800 years before the Nazi occupation. On the eve of the occupation 3.3 million Jews lived in Poland… At the end of the war, approximately 380,000 Polish Jews were still alive in Poland, the Soviet Union, or in the concentration camps in Germany, Austria and the Czech territories.

In the story of Purim, if the miracle would not have happened, the result would have been a more complete Holocaust than the German one of recent history may Hashem protect us.

Haman had permission from Achashverosh to kill every single Jew in his dominion, which covered the entire civilized world at the time. This international pogrom was slated to take place on one day.

On Purm we celebrate the miraculous turnaround that Hashem made.

Instead of our enemies killing us, there was a reversal and we the Yehudim (Jews) ruled over our enemies.

Our lives were miraculously saved, and the intended Holocaust of Persia never happened.

For this miracle we give celebratory thanks and praise to G-d. We rejoice and bring happiness to every single fellow Jew by the gifts of food (Mishloach Manot) and money (Matanot La’evyonim) that we are instructed to give on Purim.

My dear friend, Hashem made miracles at the time of Purim, Hashem makes miracles now too.

The soldiers who are visiting the Chabad Houses throughout Thailand are sharing stories of heroism. Tragically, there are too many soldiers who have sacrificed their lives on behalf of Am Yisrael. We hear about those in the news reports and they are excruciatingly painful.

The chayalim are sharing countless stories of G-d’s Divine Providence. They tell of their experiences where the ‘near misses’ ended miraculously. Most of these stories are not reported in the press, as thank G-d they ended in a non-newsworthy story as far as the reporters are concerned. As far as you and I are concerned these incidences are precious and attest to Hashems individual Divine Providence..

This is why I want to stretch the Purim ‘energy’ for as long as I can. For in our challenging times, we too need a reversal.

Our hostages must come home. Our enemy must be vanquished. Peace must be restored to Israel ina secure and sustainable way. By extension, we pray and hope for peace and stability in the entire world.  

Purim miracles are sorely in demand in this year of 2024.

At the same time that we draw inspiration from the Purim we just celebrated we begin to prepare for the upcoming Pesach.

Around elegantly bedecked tables, with cups brimming with wine we declare:

This is what has stood by our fathers and us! For not just one alone has risen against us to destroy us, but in every generation they rise against us to destroy us; and the Holy One, blessed be He, saves us from their hand!

We beseech the Almighty for miracles. Both overt and hidden.

This year, as we feel the ‘bondage’ and ‘exile’ more acutely, we ought to put forth more effort in feeling the ‘freedom’ and ‘liberation’ more fully.

Eating Matzah on the first night of Pesach (this year Monday night April 22) is the most important component of the Pesach Seder. It invites G-dliness into one’s material self.

My dear fellow Jew.

The Matza reminds us of our faith in following G-d ‘blindly’ into the desert at very short notice, not even allowing our bread to rise.

By eating the matza, we are recreating that experience of ingesting ‘bread of faith’. This is why we make a point to eat the ‘old fashioned authentic’ handmade matzas (made of wheat that has been guarded from moisture from the time of harvest) at the Seder.

(We will be serving handmade shmura matzah at all of our communal seders across Thailand and will be happy to provide this matzah anywhere in Thailand, to those making their own seder, or unable to attend a seder. Please contact me with your mailing/delivery info to send you the matza – food of faith and healing).

The message of Purim and Pesach is one of liberty.

Stand tall, proud and free.

Embrace the role that Hashem has given our people to be his treasured nation. Spread light, morality and clarity in the world around you with healthy self-esteem about who you are as a Jew.

May we merit the liberation from this exile that we so yearn for. Just like it happened during the miracle of Pesach.

May the darkness be transformed into light just as Hashem transformed the darkness into light in the times of Purim.

May you have a Shabbat Shalom,

Injected with the joy of the Purim culmination and the taste of liberation from the approaching Pesach.

With blessing,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

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