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ב"ה

the 'secret'

Friday, 6 May, 2022 - 9:42 am

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

An elderly Jew living in Prachuap Khiri Khan sent me an email a few days ago that warmed my heart.

Dear Rabbi Kantor, 

For the first time since I was a child I ate only matzah during Pesach, this was due to your provision of Matzah, also the fact that I felt unconnected. Therefore, I made a decision to eat only matzah as a way to feel connected. 

Thanks again for all that you do.

He obviously knows the ‘secret’. Probably his parents instilled it into him during his early childhood.

I met a young Jewish man earlier this week who wasn’t raised with much of a Jewish upbringing but somehow his ‘neshama’ intuitively knew the ‘secret’.

B. was in Bangkok visiting his sister who lives here. His sister has become Torah observant after she left home. Her brother had never yet put on Tefilin in his life. Now that she knows the value and preciousness of performing Mitzvah’s she really wanted to gift her brother the opportunity to put on Tefilin during his visit to Bangkok. She asked me if I would be able to facilitate this. Understandably, I was overjoyed to be handed this special mitzvah on a ‘golden plate’.

I hopped over to the house with my Tefilin just before B. was going to leave to the airport. After introducing the Tefilin and explaining that I was going to ‘wrap’ him with Tefilin, B asked me if I was in a rush or did he have a few minutes for a shower before Tefilin. I said that I needed to get back to the services in the Synagogue, but I assured him that the Tefilin prayers would take just a few minutes and he would have time for a shower before needing to head out to airport.

I was though a little puzzled why he thought about the shower only after I had introduced the Tefilin.

My question was answered when B’s sister sent me this note

‘My brother said he thought you were going to wrap him in something permanent. That’s why he was asking if he should shower first. :-)’

Wow. Now I was totally inspired. A Jewish young man, never put on Tefilin before in his life, was ready to agree to be wrapped with something permanent if that is what the Torah said should be done.

This is a Jew who intuitively knows the ‘secret’.

The ‘secret’ I am referring too, never really loses its ‘secretive’ quality.

Even once we discover it, it remains elusive. The ‘secret’ is so counterintuitive, that our ‘rational side’ resists it. We need to keep reminding ourselves about the powers of the ‘secret’.

The Jewish people discovered the ‘secret’ after leaving Egypt.

The Talmud ( Shabbat 88a ) When they assembled at the mountain of Sinai and G-d asked them if they wanted to accept upon themselves the Torah and its commandments. The Jewish people responded, ‘We will DO (what you instruct) and we will ‘hear’ (i.e. endeavor to understand what the meaning of it is)’.

G-d was very happy with their response and said ‘who revealed to my children this ‘ secret’ that the angels employ’.

Why is this a secret?

Well, conventional wisdom dictates that before one acts, one should first understand what it is they are being asked to do, and become motivated and inspired. Only then should they act.

If so, the Jews at Sinai should have responded to G-d’s offer of the Torah, ‘we will understand and consider, and then once sufficiently convinced and motivated, we will act and do’.

However, they responded in a way that seemed impulsive and even a bit irresponsible. How do you agree to do whatever you will instructed without first hearing and studying the ‘find print’ and details of the instruction?

In Heaven they know the ‘secret’.

The ‘secret’, that the heavenly celestial being know, is that when it is G-d Who is the One to instruct, one should commit and fulfill first and ask about the details second.

Following that, will come epic and immensely powerful inspiration and meaningfulness.

It is not a robotic obedience that creates mindless devotees.

Not at all.

It is a leap of faith that then elicits and ushers-in to the one who has committed, a depth and intellectual appreciation. The level of understanding that follows this commitment is one that mere human efforts could not produce, they can only be achieved through G-d’s benevolent and infinite blessings.

Innately, our souls are privy to this secret.

This is why when one sends matzah to a Jew, he eats it on Pesach and refrains from eating bread.

Another elderly Jewish friend told me that this year he kept nine days of Passover as he miscalculated when Passover ended. He refrained from bread and ate matzah for nine full days.

We know it in ever fiber of our existence that when G-d instructs we act accordingly.

One of the greatest inspirations of my life is when I meet a Jew who is not raised with mitzvah observance and yet is willing and ready to do a mitzvah when offered the opportunity.

Every time a Jewish man rolls up his sleeve to lay Tefilin with me, I sense the power of the soul and depth of its spiritual intuition.

This is a tribute to the Jewish soul – the Neshama.

Our eyes are constantly on Israel and right now it’s very tense. The antisemitic winds around the world, which we hoped were a thing of the past, are most unsettling.

I hate to sound pessimistic. And I am not advocating walking around being scared G-d forbid.

I am conveying a message, a call to action.

A reminder to myself and to those who are listening to me speak to myself, that it is up to us to ADD LIGHT with greater intensity and with more energy.

LIGHT is added by you and I doing more good deeds. Mitzvahs that proclaim our connection to G-d and Mitzvahs that show our selflessness on behalf of others.

Oseh Shalom Bimromov… Hu Yaaseh Shalom Aleinu… Ve’al Kol Yisrael Ve’imru AMEN

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS on the topic of bar mitzvah and tefillin my brother in law Rabbi Alter Korf of S. Petersburg, Florida shared a very meaningful double ‘barmitzvah’ that took place in the most unexpected of circumstances. Click here to read .


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