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Are you waitlisted?

Friday, 21 December, 2018 - 2:04 am

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

I have heard the saying ‘the most important thing in life is showing up’.

Think about it this way: ‘If you are on the waiting list for a flight, you will certainly not board the flight if you don’t even go to the airport’.

In other words, don’t give up and decide you won’t succeed without even going to where you are supposed to go.

But how does one know where to go?

Ah. About this King David said in Psalms ‘man’s footsteps are planned from Hashem’.

Or as our Sages wrote in the Talmud: ‘the feet of a person are responsible to take him to exactly where he needs to go’.

Once your feet take you to where you are supposed to be, the rest will work out too. Hashem runs His world, we have to do our bit, allow our feet to go where they need to go and not hide passively under the bed.

When I got the notice that Dan R. was recovering from a major heart surgery in Manilla, I asked my colleague Rabbi Eliezer Ashkenazi to go visit him. He showed up at the hospital and started asking for Dan. The staff were not really understanding who he was looking for.

Jesse R, Dan’s son, concluded the story. ‘I spent twelve hours at my father’s bedside and finally I was going to go home for some respite. I was getting my parking card stamped at the front desk when I heard someone asking for my father Dan R. I looked and saw it was a rabbi….’

Divine Providence. The minute that the rabbi arrived Hashem organized to have the son at the front desk to ensure that the visit was carried out. And an important visit it was. Rabbi Ashkenazi put on Tefilin and said Shma with Dan. Five days later, after Dan contracted a lung infection in the hospital, he passed away.

Jesse now knew a rabbi, so he called him immediately after Dan’s passing to discuss his father’s wishes to have a Jewish burial by Rabbi Yosef Kantor in Thailand. Instinctively, the family thought to bring ashes back to Thailand to have a burial ceremony. Gently, Rabbi Ashkenazi advised him that Jewish burial absolutely prohibited cremation. The Jewish burial took place a few days later in the traditional way.

Rabbi Ashkenazi felt uplifted to have been the right person, at the right time, in the right place, to help facilitate a fellow Jew’s final journey according to our hallowed traditions.

Last week saw me take a very brief trip to New York. One of my stops was to pray morning services at a synagogue in Manhattan to see O.T. who is a generous supporter of our work in Thailand. I rarely get to meet him as he doesn’t ever visit Thailand. But since he does business in Thailand he feels it is proper to support Jewish life there as well. Actually, all I wanted to do was give sincere thanks for his unwavering support over the year. I hadn’t coordinated an official meeting with O but figured I would see him at morning services which he attends daily.

‘My luck’, he didn’t come to that particular minyan that morning.

Hey, no such thing as ‘luck’. I mean Divine Providence.

Ok Divine Providence. But the bottom line is that I had planned to see him, and out of all days, the day that I came, he didn’t come. I was feeling mystified.

The rabbi of the congregation told me to wait a few minutes as he may come to a Brit scheduled a short while later. In the meantime I opened a book of Torah thoughts written by great Sephardic rabbis.

I couldn’t believe my eyes….

I had opened to an erudite Torah essay written by Rabbi Shalom Mashash the chief Sephardic rabbi of Jerusalem who had passed away in 2003. His essay was in honor of the fiftieth year of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s leadership. It was written several years after the Rebbe’s passing.

One of the thoughts written there, relates to our Parsha.

Usually, the new parsha of the week starts after a break of at least a few spaces. Click here for the beginning of last weeks parsha to see an example.

This weeks portion, Vayechi, starts without any break. The text just runs on. To the extent, that it is hard for the Torah reader to see where to start. Click here to see what I mean.

A question that is addressed by several commentaries is, why is there no break at the beginning of this weeks parsha?

Rabbi Mashash shared the following explanation:

Last weeks parsha speaks about Yaakov’s life!

This weeks parsha speaks about Yaakov’s passing…

For the vast majority of people, end of life is the end of a chapter.

The end of the earthly, physical life that they lived here on earth.

It heralds the beginning of a new chapter of life.

Spiritual life.

For Yaakov, and saintly tzadikim, end of life here on earth is not the end of a chapter.  Neither is entry into the next life a new chapter.

For even when a tzadik is alive in this physical world, he is living in a sublime spiritual reality. Yes, he needs to eat and drink, but his life is not about the sensory enjoyments of life. Belief in Hashem, awe of G-d and love of G-d, these are the realities that occupy and motivate him.

That life continues even after the physical life here on earth finishes.

The Torah illustrated this by not showing a chapter break between Yaakov’s physical life and his spiritual one after passing.

The timing of the message was impeccable. It happened last week, when we were reading Veyigash, the very portion that ends without a break. This week we are reading Vayechi, the portion that starts without a break.

I didn’t get to meet the gentleman I had wanted to meet… but I got far more than that.

I got a Heavenly sign that my feet had taken me where I needed to be. From all the thousands of books in the library, I had happened upon a book that contained a scholarly tribute to my beloved Rebbe. An article that was related to the very portion of Torah read this week. The content of the article was directly related to a chasidic gathering I was going to be chairing the next day.

I felt euphoric. I left that synagogue with a bounce in my walk. Inspired to keep ‘showing up’ even if I am not always sure that I will succeed. It is up to me to do my part.

As the Rebbe once wrote to someone. When you are not sure what to do, ‘sleeping is never the right response’. Don’t run away and try to hide. Do something. Even if you don’t see how your action will solve the matter.

When a Rebbe speaks we listen.

Because while a Rebbe lives in the physical world, they are spiritual lighthouses. Their lives here in this world are all about spirituality. It’s not that they live ascetically. It is a mitzvah to eat, to marry, to handle money for benevolent purposes. Honor doesn’t tempt them. Their material lives are a ladder to the Divine. For true tzadikim, money doesn’t sway them. In a simple analogy, just like most of us will never be tempted to murder someone else G-d forbid, a true Tzadik is never tempted to do anything that is not Divinely mandated.

Most of us cannot reach that level. But we can be inspired to climb up the ladder of personal growth. To be a bit more mindful of the ‘true’ values of life. Goodness and kindness. Belief in G-d and integrity in interpersonal relationships. More mitzvah performance, less selfish indulgence.

Now that’s called a real ‘life’.

Not life ‘Coke adds life’ which was a branding slogan in the late 70’s.

‘REAL life’ is being more connected to the ‘life of life’, Almighty G-d the Creator of the Universe and all therein.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS following on the above, by Divine Providence an urgent case has reached me. And through me it is now reaching you….

M.C., who lost his wife, leaving him with four children without a mother, heroically married a young widow who was left to fend for her four children. M.C. works hard to support the large combined family as his wife provides the home environment so needed for these suffering children. They barely makes ends meet but manage to survive. Till they were hit with unexpected and unwanted expenses. Two of the children urgently need several months of emotional therapy at $120 per session. The suffering of these poor children is already so great… at least we can try to help them weather the storm and overcome their challenges so they can become upright and self-respecting young men and women.

Please help these poor orphans! Click here for our humanitarian fund and give tzedaka to pay for a therapy session and thus give hope and a brighter future to these suffering children.

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