Uplifting Counts

Friday, 7 June, 2024 - 8:04 am

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

We just started reading the fourth book of the Torah.
Also known as the ‘book of Numbers’.

Numbers are used to count.

They can be used to uplift. They can be used to utterly demoralize.
The most demeaning thing in the world is to treat people as mere
numbers. Indistinguishable from each other.

The Nazis ‘yimach shemam’ branded the Jews as cattle, each given a
number, when they entered the concentration – work and death –

On the other hand, there is something incredibly uplifting about being

When you count items, it means that each one of those items counts.
It depends on who is counting. And the reason that one is counting.
The instruction by Hashem to count the Jewish people was all about
imbuing each individual with an non-dilutable individual intrinsic self-

Today, more than ever we need to remind ourselves and our loved
ones that they count.

People need to keep on hearing from people who truly mean it, that
the world would not be the same without them.

In that sense, counting people individually means that every individual

Are some people bigger than others?

This week with the passing of Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, I lost a mentor,
advisor and friend.

It was Rabbi Kotlarsky who I approached in November of 1993 to
inquire about the position of rabbi in Thailand.

That first meeting led to our writing to the Rebbe to ask if we should go
to visit Thailand to meet the community.

After a brief visit to Thailand in December 1992, we merited to be sent
by the Rebbe as his Shluchim to Thailand. Rabbi Kotlarsky flew down
with us to settle us in and iron out the ‘wrinkles’ of the challenges
associated with beginning a new thing.

A subsequent lifelong connection of caring, guidance, mentorship and
love by Rabbi Kotlarsky to our family developed. My family and I will
miss him.

One of the elders of our community reached out to me upon hearing of
the passing and wrote:


So sad to hear of the passing of Rabbi Kotlarsky who was instrumental
to the community in Thailand

My condolences

Rabbi Kotlarsky was indeed a larger than life individual, sent by the
Rebbe from mission to mission, from country to country, building and
guiding Jewish life.

Click here for a snapshot of his life.

One of my greatest enjoyments was to hear Rabbi Kotlarsky share
nuggets of wisdom from the guidance and instructions that the Rebbe had given him during his many years of community building and outreach work.

Below read a fascinating story about a Jew in Curacao.

Kotlarsky went wherever he was needed, sometimes not even knowing
why he was being sent.

Like the time in January of 1984 that he got a phone call at home from
Rabbi Chaim Mordechai Aizik Hodakov, the Rebbe’s chief of staff, telling
him, “the Rebbe wants you to go to Curacao immediately.” Upon arrival
to the Caribbean Island with a friend, they promptly hailed a taxi to the
synagogue. However, instead of taking them to the
famed Mikveh Israel synagogue, the cab driver took them to another,
much smaller one, from which a man was exiting. “We were sent here
by the Lubavitcher Rebbe,” Kotlarsky told the man.

The man, named Chaim Groisman, nearly fainted. Groisman, it
emerged, was a local Jew who’s family was going through a crisis. Their
son, Eli, was being harassed in his Protestant school for not attending
mandatory religious services. It got so bad that they started keeping
him home from school, only to receive warning letters that by law they
had to send him to school. The Groismans did not know what to do.

One night Chaim Groisman had a dream in which his late grandmother
appeared and told him that if ever there was a time he was in trouble,
he should turn to the  Lubavitcher Rebbe. He’d never heard of the Rebbe
before. The next day Kotlarsky and his traveling companion showed up.
“Rabbi Kotlarsky invited me to go to New York and attend Camp Gan
Israel in the Catskills that summer, and later to  Yeshivah that started in September,”  Eli Groisman recalled. “This was the answer to our prayers,
and I accepted the offer immediately.”

Groisman later wrote a letter of thanks to the Rebbe for sending his
emissaries and caring for “a small Jew from Curacao.”

“I must … take exception to your referring to yourself as ‘a small Jew
from Curacao,’” the Rebbe wrote to him… [T]here is no such thing as a
‘small Jew,’ and a Jew must never underestimate his or her tremendous potential.”

For the rest of his life Kotlarsky would cite these words from the Rebbe
as a source of personal guidance and inspiration.
As we move forward in a world of AI and robotic technology that makes
many former human tasks obsolete, we must remember this crystal
clear teaching of the Rebbe.

Each of us COUNTS.

No one is ‘small’. If to measure our potential, we are all tremendous.
By bringing us into this world Hashem has stated that His world would
be incomplete with you.

Hashem loves you. Make your life meaningful and inspiring.
Study Torah. Perform Mitzvot. Acts of loving kindness and caring.
Most important of all, leave room for someone else.
Even better, feel yourself as one with all of your people.

Today, Rosh Chodesh Sivan, is the day that we the Jewish people
arrived at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah. A day of unity.

Through our unity against all odds, we will usher in the ultimate unity of
Mashiach’s coming.

Shabbat Shalom
Chodesh Tov

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

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