Printed from JewishThailand.com

Enjoy 'Kvetching'? Don't read this!!!

Friday, 31 July, 2020 - 10:03 am

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

On his first morning in Auschwitz extermination camp, Milan Bierenkrant, a young Jewish Slovakian, watched a hapless fellow Jew being given twenty-five lashes which he didn’t survive. That was his introduction to the barbaric regime of the concentration camps. A person would be beaten to death for the ‘crime’ of sleeping during the time of the ‘Appell’ roll-call. 

A while later, Milan was given the job to supervise the kitchen staff inmates. The German supervisor asked for a certain trough to be cleaned. Milan assigned a worker, but the fellow Jewish worker didn’t do the job. An hour later the German supervisor came back and saw the job unfinished. He asked Milan who he had assigned. Milan said he forgot. The German said I give you half an hour to remember or else you will be lashed. Milan knew what awaited him if he did not ‘remember’ to whom he had assigned the job. He had witnessed the brutality of lashes and the probably fatal outcome. Yet, a half hour later when the German came back Milan still ‘didn’t remember’. As the German started to administer the lashes, Milan thought about his brother and parents and about how they would cope with his death. 

Providentially, I bumped into Mr. Milan Bierenkrant on my last trip before lockdown. I was in Melbourne, Australia, I went to pray the Mincha afternoon service and we were entering the Synagogue at the same time. Mr. Bierenkrant remembered me from my childhood in Melbourne and we had a nice chat. At that time I didn't realize that I was speaking to a hero of epic proportion. That beneath his very happy looking congenial persona, there was a trove of memories that no human being should ever be exposed to. 

Mr. Bierenkrant shared his experiences a few days ago and you can see the full talk here. It is a tale of tragedy and resilience. A nightmare recounted, and a plea for the new dawn that we all pray for.

He, as all of those survivors who emerged from the crucible of destruction and death and went on to rebuild their lives as best as they could, are Tzadikim, holy and righteous people. 

That a Jew could emerge from such an experience and continue to cleave to G-d and live an observant Jewish life is unfathomable. To meet him at an ‘ordinary’ mid-week afternoon service says volumes about the depth and invincibility of the connection a Jew has with G-d.

****

The lover says to his beloved. 

I love you.

I really love you.

I really really love you.

I really really REALLY love you!

The beloved asks:

Why do you love me?

The lover answers:

Because you are my LIFE!!!!

Everything I have is only because of you.

Anything I have achieved is thanks to you.

You are the reason I get up in the morning.

Thinking about you is the way I fall asleep at night.

I adore you.

Being close to you is the most enjoyable delight I can imagine.

I can never get enough of you.

When I think about you enough, I feel lovesick for you.

The beloved asks:

To what extent are you prepared to go because of your love for me?

Are you prepared to forego your favorite food because the odor irritates me?

Are you prepared to allocate a few minutes each day to spend time with me?

Will you stick with me even in duress circumstances?

Can I ask you to not engage in deep and meaningful relationships with anyone beside me?

Is there a limit to how much money you are ready to spend to save our relationship?

Do you love me enough to even endanger your life to remain with me?

The lover responds.

YES. 

I love you. 

Unequivocally. 

With no limits.

****

SHMA YISRAEL AD margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:8pt;">Twice daily, every morning and every evening we call out our ‘pledge of allegiance’ to G-d. G-d is ONE. There are no other forces or energies that exist outside of His Oneness.

Then we continue with the second verses.

‘V’ahavta et Hashem’. 

‘You shall love G-d, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might’.

Reread the previous sentences with you as the lover and G-d as the beloved One.

Yep, LOVE means being prepared to really go out of your way and focus solely on your beloved. 

When you think about it, our beloved Hashem only asks us to give Him from what He has given us in the first place.

I saw a cute and inspiring story about honesty and integrity that happened last week in USA.

A western Wisconsin man will share his millions in lottery winnings with a longtime friend because of a promise they made to each other nearly three decades ago.

Friends Tom Cook and Joseph Feeney shook hands in 1992 and promised that if either one of them ever won the Powerball jackpot, they would split the money.

That promise came to fruition last month when Cook bought the winning ticket for a $22 million jackpot at Synergy Coop in Menomonie.

The men chose the cash option of about $16.7 million, leaving each with nearly $5.7 million after taxes are paid.

What Mr. Cook did was the correct and ethical thing. Good on him.

Imagine if Mr. Feeney said, I appreciate your sentiment, but I don’t want 50%, all I would like is for you to show your appreciation by giving 10% to a charitable cause. I am sure Mr. Cook would be quite happy.

That is what Hashem is asking of us.

The Almighty asks us to give 10% of our earnings to do acts of Tzedaka and kindness. But FIRST he gives us the 100% and then He asks for us to give some back for Tzedaka.

(During this very challenging period of time, I know many who need help, if you would welcome a call or email from me with more details on how you could help alleviate suffering, hunger and homelessness please let me know. Or simply visit our ‘humanitarian fund’ www.jewishthailand.com/tzedaka and share your blessings with others).

Yes, we are instructed to put up a Mezuzah on our doors.

But first G-d gives us the abode in which to put up the Mezuzah. 

And He doesn’t ask for much ‘space’ in your abode. The space that a Mezuzah takes up is tiny and inconsequential compared to the total space of a room. Only a room bigger than 39.6 sq Feet – 3.67 requires a Mezuzah. Mezuzahs are not very big. A non-negligibly small percentage of an average room. 

The awareness of G-d when we walk in and walk out, and the protection that G-d provides us with as a result of the Mezuzah is immeasurable. 

Click here for more info on Mezuzah and contact me to arrange a Mezuzah for your door. 

Same goes with prayers. Out of the 1440 minutes of life that G-d gives us every day, saying the basic prayers of thanks and Shma need not take more than 2% of your day. 

The point here is the same. FIRST he gives us 1440 minutes without conditions. Only then does He ask us to acknowledge Him.

I would like to share a not so well known fact. 

One of the greatest things you can do for G-d as a Jew, is love your fellow Jew as yourself. Treat your fellow as you would like to be treated.

This is the greatest way to express your love of G-d.

Here is how that works.

The Torah commands us to "Love your fellow as yourself." The Torah also tells us to "Love the L-rd your G-d." This prompted the disciples of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812) to ask their master: "Which is the greater virtue, love of G-d or love of one's fellow?"

Rabbi Schneur Zalman replied: The two are one and the same. He then explained: G-d loves every one of His children. So ultimately, love of one's fellow is a greater show of love for G-d than simply loving G-d. Because true love means that you love what your loved one loves.

When you love someone, you want to do things that make them happy. Things that they really care about!

What does G-d love? What does He care about most?

That we should love EACH OTHER.

‘Love your fellow like yourself’, this is what HE loves most.

If we would each focus a little more on loving each other, and thus expressing our love of G-d, because He loves when we love each other, we would have a world of love and peace. 

Let’s not think ‘who can I forward this article to’…. Someone who really needs to learn to practice love…. Don’t wait for someone else to start the process, start it yourself. 

Find it in your heart to put away the gripes and hatred, start by acting loving. 

Action is a great way to start!!!!

Do acts of kindness to others. You will find that your heart follows your deeds. 

This is the surest way to bring Mashiach and usher in a world of Peace.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

Last Shabbat a beloved and special person Dr. Carmel Goldwater passed away in London. Dr. Carmel Goldwater had been part of our community for decades. She was a do-gooder par excellence. A paradigm of ‘love your fellow as yourself’. (Actually, ‘love your fellow more than yourself’). She didn’t need anything for herself. She lived a very modest life in terms of materialism and used any and all resources at her disposal, to help others in the kindest and most gentle way. Dr. Carmel was a friend and mentor to countless people all over the region. It was quite common to get a handwritten note with words of poetry, wisdom, gentle rebuke and uplifting encouragement all in one. 

Dr. Carmel was brought to her eternal rest in the Jewish burial grounds in London at a ceremony that was attended from all sides of the ocean via Zoom. 

May her memory be for a blessing!


Comments on: Enjoy 'Kvetching'? Don't read this!!!
There are no comments.