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  • Charlottesville, Tinshames and the Eclipse

    Hearing the news and seeing the rally marches from Charlottesville, was appalling and frightening. Could it be in the USA in 2017, these words, these actions?!   It’s easy to get caught up in one’s political leanings, to blame this party or the other. To blame one individual or the other. I’ll leave that to those that actually get paid to have an opinion on that.   For me as a Rabbi and a Chabad Chasid, I attempt to look to the deeper dimension and ask myself what can I......

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  • A Bit of Moses

    As Yom Kippur draws to an end, I find myself changing gears from being a spiritual leader to a coach as the players enter the final inning or the last round. People are tired, it’s been a couple of weeks of preparation for the High Holidays and then two days of Rosh Hashanah, a long evening of Kol Nidrai and now after a full day of fasting, everybody (me included) is wiped out.   So, as we enter Neilah, the finally prayer of the season, I find myself serving as coach.......

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  • I’m in love again!

    Before I got married, a family member told me that “marriage would be the most difficult thing I would work on in my life, but it would be the most rewarding”.   I thought about this, this week as we observed Tisha B’Av, the day which commemorates the destruction of the two Batay Mikdashos – Temples – in Jerusalem and the exile of the Jewish People. The destruction of Jerusalem is much more than a commemoration of an event of the past. It is really about all the suffering of......

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  • See, what you’re gonna see!

    It’s always a little humbling when the lights go on. Suddenly you see how you really appear. It’s humiliating, embarrassing and most of all humbling.   I’m talking about perspective, worldviews, paradigms, etc. We think a certain way based on our upbringing, other influences and our own choosing. Of course, we have only those tools to work from. So we engage with the world from that vantage point. Sometimes that vantage point and paradigm is helpful and sometimes it becomes a point of tension and contention between us and others.......

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  • Thank you G-d for afflicting me, please hit me again!

    Said no one ever! Or maybe they did. There is a sentiment among certain religious groups to preach the idea that suffering is good, should be welcomed and thanked for. To be fair these are fundamental Jewish values as well and can all be sourced to the Midrash, Talmud and other good sources. But to say thank you?   Let me put the subtle distinction in context.   We all face challenges in life. When we experience challenge in life the growing person looks at the challenge and finds lessons......

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  • Say What You’re Gonna Say, Do What You’re Gonna Do

    Talk is cheap, although it seems to come at a big price these days. But really, anyone with an opinion articulates it without fear. That is in part because today everyone feels that speaking your mind is ok no matter the context, language or opinion.   How about action? Doing? Society today has accepted pretty much any behavior as acceptable. However, those behaviors are generally behaviors of self expression. In other words, society has accepted that anything you do to express yourself is acceptable.   What about doing as it......

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  • Sensitivity and Today’s Media

    Wax on, wax off. Practice makes perfect.   Each year as we study the weekly Torah portion, we inevitably chance upon small or big nuggets that jump out and provide a transformative life lesson.   It’s also amazing how they seem to always present themselves right at the time that we as a society or as an individual need to hear that lesson.   Look at today’s headlines. Any headlines, any website, any news service. I challenge you to find a website that doesn’t have a list of insults and......

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  • A False World

    In this week’s Torah portion we read of the passing of Aaron the High Priest – Kohen Gadol. It says that all the People mourned him for 30 days. The reason for this our Sages say is that Aaron was lover of peace and a pursuer of peace.   The Kabbalah tells us that the world is a “false world”. What you see is almost never what you get. There is always something else beneath the surface.     This reality of our world makes the ideal of truth a hard one to......

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  • I choose

    I recently attended a funeral of a dear friend and young man. A real tragedy and sad day. One of the speakers, a good friend of the deceased shared his memories but he presented his comments in a unique fashion.   He framed all of his memories by saying “I choose to remember”. I choose to remember the deceased for this particular quality and proceeded to share an anecdote. He did this over and over again and it suddenly it hit me. He was not only saying these words but......

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  • Of Spies and Souls

    When we think of a spy we may think hero or villain – depending if your team is the one spying or being spied on. In this week’s Torah portion we read of the 12 spies going to spy on behalf of the Jewish People in and on the Land of Israel.   These spies (10 of them at least) who left as hero’s (Heads of the Children of Israel the Torah calls them) became villains, meeting their death in the desert.   A spy integrates him or herself into......

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  • Mazal Tov and Let them Rise Up

    Sarah Chana Radcliffe, a respected family therapist writes the following: Older kids as well as teens need more space to do things their own way. Parents, on the other hand, want to help their kids do things the best way, the safest way, the rightest way – THEIR way. They often suffer tremendous anxiety in letting go of the reigns. If you feel a strong need to give your older child lots of instructions, remember this: he learned everything you had to offer in his first decade. You did a......

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  • Indulgence or Abstention?

    In this week’s Torah portion we read about the Nazarite. This is an individual who has taken a vow of abstention. He is prohibited from cutting his hair, drinking wine and coming in contact with the dead.   Once his period of abstention comes to an end or if he mistakenly comes in contact with the dead, he must bring a “sin” offering.   Our Sages tell us that the reason for the sin offering is on account of his self imposed abstention from wine.   It would seem like......

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  • The Art of Gifting

    With the school year coming to a close, there is much ado about gifts: gifts for the teachers, gifts for the graduates and let’s hope at least a pat on the back for yourself as the parent.   I got my child safely through another nine months of schooling. Healthy lunches, clean clothes, homework and science projects. All done. For now. Yay me (times eight).   In the early years of the Intown Jewish Preschool, which I founded, the parents would ask me about arranging different end-of-year gifts for the......

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  • Lessons on Management

    Most of us are in management. For starters we manage ourselves – or should be managing ourselves. Then, we manage our children. We manage around our spouses :-). Then perhaps there are those who manage others at work. Even if you are not at the top of the management chain but manage someone immediately at the next tier, you are still managing.   This week we read two Torah portions, Behar and Bechukosai. Behar means The Mountain. The Mountain we speak of here is the famous mountain of Sinai fame.......

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  • Forbes Richest to Enriched

    I chanced upon the ‘Forbes Richest Under 40’ wondering for a moment why I wasn’t gifted with ideas for Facebook, Uber, SnapChat, etc. and then realized I’m not under 40! Born a few years early.(What would I do with all those billions?)   A few hours later I listened to Shahar Azani speak about not pursuing a tech career path with the other tech Israeli’s and choosing to be a representative of the State of Israel “until the day I die”. He spoke about his passion to share with the......

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  • Free to Pray

    Good prayer has three ingredients; time, place and person.   Time – there is a time for certain prayers and there is a time to not pray certain prayers. For example, when the Jewish People stood at the sea, they were instructed not to pray but to move forward. Or, would it make sense to pray for rain in the summer season?   Place – the environment should be conducive to prayer. Clean, holy, and prayer is often times more powerful in locations that have a more direct channel eg;......

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  • If I Were a Rich Man

    Although there is a disproportionate number of wealthy people vs. those in poverty, the world overall and the Jewish People in particular are in a better material state then we were a century or two ago.   Various religions have varying opinions on the virtue of wealth.   It seems at first glance from the Mishna in Pirkey Avos – Ethics of our Fathers, which we study these weeks between Passover and Shavous (1 chapter per week) that perhaps wealth is not such a virtuous pursuit. The Mishna 2:7 first......

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  • Now what?!

    There are of course varying levels of Passover observance. If you observe even some basics such as two Passover Seders and not eating bread or leaven for eight days you may be breathing a sigh of relief at this time.   Like everything in life however, the sigh of relief carries a loss with it. There is something nice about the discipline of not eating bread and the commitment to a specific behavior or action for the eight days. So with the loss of that specific discipline you may be......

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  • The Messiah is Coming, Sunday!

    You have heard the statement Think Globally Act Locally. The cynic in me says yeah right. I’ve been thinking globally and acting locally since I was a child but have I changed the world? I like to believe that I am contributing to some level of positive change in the world, but will I ever really change the global picture? And even if my efforts will change the world in three generations time, do I want to be dedicating my life to changing the world for my grandchildren? And finally,......

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  • Are you free yet?

    Each year the Passover Seder brings new insights and inspiration. (One of the perks of leading a communal or group Seder :-)).   This year I heard a beautiful insight that really resonated with me.   At the point in the Seder when we make the blessing on the Matzah we hold the top of the three Matzahs and the broken middle Matzah. The Matzah we eat at this point in the Seder is the Matzah of liberation; for there wasn’t enough time for the dough to rise when our......

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  • P.R.I.D.E.

    Passover has taken the world by storm. Every retailer is getting into the business. Costco and others now sell Shmura Matzah (the handmade round matzah guarded from the time of harvesting from possible moisture – in short the best most kosher Matzah)!   Jews now observe Passover more than any other holiday on the Jewish calendar.   But it wasn’t always that way. The comfort threshold for this Jewish observance has been moved or possibly re-moved. But it isn’t that way necessarily with other Mitzvos and observances. And for good......

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  • Stressed Out?

    Are you stressed out? Do you work too hard? You might be using your brain too much!   In this week’s Torah portion, the Torah tells us “six days work shall be done”. Passively.   King David tells us that work should be the toil of our hands (palms to be exact) not the toil of our heads. Our heads ought to be focused on life’s purpose. When we are overly invested in our work we use up vital brain energy and it stresses us out and exhausts us.  ......

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  • Golden Calf – Golden Opportunity

    One of the great mystery’s of Jewish history is the sin of the Golden Calf. How is it possible for a People who just experienced the greatest Divine revelation of all time were able to deny the existence of the very G-d who revealed Himself to them by creating and worshiping another G-d?   This question has been discussed by the commentators who explain the events from a different perspective and we have addressed in this column in the past.   I’d like to focus on a different question that......

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  • Empowerment

    Do you feel empowered? Do you feel like you can do anything, achieve any goal, have the rights and ability to climb the highest heights?   Not everybody is so fortunate to feel that kind of empowerment and the history of the world has shown that society often doesn’t lend itself to that kind of empowerment.   3329 years ago, Moses empowered the Jewish people for all time. He empowered them through the instruction to build the Mishkan (the portable Temple) and in doing so to make a home for......

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  • Tzedakah from the Soul

    People have so many layers. Our physical layers are complex enough. For example our skin alone has three layers, epidermis, dermis and hypodermis (I cheated, I googled that). From there we navigate all the other layers until we hit the bone and beyond.   When we get into the psychological makeup it becomes even more complex. It’s so complex they have a book dedicated to it. It’s called the DSM and has 297 entries!   Once we venture into the spiritual realm and Jewish spiritual personal development we enter into......

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  • Laws for healthy living

    Dieting, exercising, meditation, yoga and other forms of care for the body are all the rage these days. Imagine if you were independently wealthy and spent your entire life every waking moment engaged in these activities. Is that a life?   Of course not!   These activities while very important for the health of ones body are good when they create a healthy environment within which one can live a life of purpose. A life of purpose is being a good spouse, parenting and raising wonderful children and engaging each......

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  • Honor Thy Parents

    In a discussion last week with some Young Adults regarding the critical components to a happy marriage we identified honor, love and admiration.   How does one honor another? For this we have the commandment from this week’s Torah portion; Honor they father and mother.   The Talmud asks what is honor? To clothe, bathe and feed. Actions!   Love, while it is important and the spice of any relationship, since however it is an emotion, it is not always present and is not a constant. Honor on the other......

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  • Upside Down World

    Have you ever gone scuba diving or snorkeling? More on this in a minute. But first…   Times are tense and people are having intense polarizing reactions to politics and sports.   For starters we need to bring some breathing into the world. So, stop now and breathe. It makes it all better, whether you are upset at the politics or excited about it, upset at the winner/loser of the Superbowl or excited about it. Whichever side of the aisle you are on your strong reactions are having an effect......

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  • Enlightenment

    To be en-light-ened is to have light in your life where others have darkness.   In this week’s Torah portion the Jews were enlightened during the plague of darkness. The verse states “and to all the Children of Israel there was light in their abodes”.   King David tells us that there are those that have eyes but don’t see, ears that don’t hear, etc. We may think the world is filled with light but in reality there are those that live in darkness.   The distinction between living in......

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  • Lost in a Cemetery

    A clearly protective mechanism for the discomfort of loss is black humor. So when leaving a funeral this week and finding myself lost a number of thoughts came to mind.   Why did I just hit three dead ends?! You really don’t want to get lost in a cemetery until you are really lost for good. The only way out of here is up.   Anyway, it’s been a busy week and I haven’t found anything that resonated with me from this week’s portion or this weeks escapades until I......

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  • Moving Forward

    Recently I had a run in with a friend. I suggested that we sit down and talk it out. His response was, “nah, let it sit for some time and it will blow over for both of us”. Turns out he was correct. It did blow over.   But it doesn’t always. Sometimes, issues from the past linger and the can become consuming, eating us up from within, until it gets resolved.   How does one resolve the issues from the past? There are two approaches: A. face the demons......

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  • Apology Therapy

    Not sure if such a thing exists, but we find an amazing example of apology and sensitivity in this week’s Torah portion.   Jacob is on his death bed. He asks his son Joseph for a kindness. The kindness is that when he passes, he wants Joseph to bury him in Israel in Hebron in the Cave of Machpelah.   He says to him, (I’m paraphrasing), although I didn’t do this for your mother, I’m still asking you to do this. The commentators explain that Jacob was saying, “I know......

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  • Happily Ever After

    We stand under a Chuppah to indicate that the marriage takes place under the Heavenly Eye of G-d.   We place a ring on the finger to demonstrate the Infinite One’s involvement in our union.   We circle the groom 7 times to establish a Divine Protective Wall around the couple.   Why all this G-d Involvement in what should be a simple ceremony to demonstrate the committment of two lovers to each other?   Marriage is the union between two finite people. By definition the finiteness of the two......

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  • Marthe Cohn Behind Enemy Lines

    The True Story of a Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany

    Ninety-six-year-old Holocaust survivor Marthe Cohn became a member of the intelligence service of the French First Army and was able to retrieve inside information about Nazi troop movements by slipping behind enemy lines.   Before Marthe Cohn became a spy, she was a devoutly religious 19-year-old French Jewish girl. Her life took an extraordinary turn when the Nazis invaded France in 1939.   While the rest of her family fled south, Marthe decided to fight back. After graduating from nursing school she joined the French resistance and, on account of......

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  • Avoid the Guilt and Give the Gelt

    Chanukah is just around the corner, and it is the most wonderful time of the year.   I intentionally borrowed that phrase because I do know how difficult it is to manage both our Jewish festivities and the ubiquitous twinkly lights, trees, tinsel and glitziness of the season. It is so inviting, and our kids want a piece of it.   There was recently a first in my family in which my 5-year-old twin daughters asked us if we could “pleeeease” put up decorations outside our house. They were very......

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  • Chanukah: Who Needs to Justify its Utter Delight?

    Chanukah is utter delight. Why, then, examine the origin of the delight? Why tempt joy with analysis, especially when the analysis may cause some folks to bristle by philosophizing about the nature of miracles and faith. Regardless, let me take a chance of looking more analytically at Chanukah’ delight in light of spiritual integrity and the Torah’s truth eternal truth.   Some years ago there was an article presented locally that mocked the childish belief of educated adults in the possibility of miracles?   It asserted that faith ought not......

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  • The Tire of Perspective

    Imagine yourself driving down the highway. Suddenly a tractor trailer starts veering into your lane. So you do the natural thing and begin to move over to the next lane, but lo and behold there is a car right there. What do you do? You stop imagining! Seriously, this happened to me last night. I instinctively reacted by slowing down thinking that the truck and car will pass me and I’ll be fine. Just when I thought I was safe, the truck that just passed me kicked up a tire......

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  • Brute Force

    Spousal Manipulation.  Sounds like a bad idea if you want to have a happy marriage.  Yet we see in this weeks Parsha that Rivka seems to be doing just that in dressing Jacob up in Esau’s clothing, preparing animals from the back yard and pretending that they were hunted and teaching her son Jacob to deceive his father.   It opens up an uncomfortable question of, do the ends justify the means? Often times in Judaism and in the Torah, the answer is yes.  But then it begs the question......

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  • A Jewish Thanksgiving

    Thanksgiving is not a Jewish holiday but it is quite the Jewish holiday.  In fact gratitude and thanks is fundamental to Jewish thought.  Additionally, Jews have always had an obligation to give thanks and appreciation to our host country.  This is true in particular for this country, the USA which has been a country of kindness to our People.   Gratitude and thanks has many faces and many dimensions.  It starts with a recognition of those that have done kindness to you. This includes of course G-d and then all......

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  • You Can Help Our Country!

    It pains me to see the discord that has evolved in this country throughout the election process and in many ways more visceral this past week since the election.   Republicans blame the Democrats, the Democrats blame the Republicans and the bottom line is friendships are broken, vulgarity is spewed and society as a whole is breaking down. Everybody blames the other one for being immoral or not caring about the values and principles that this country was built on.   Why can’t we be more like Israel?! People argue......

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  • I Predicted It!

    I predicted it!   No, I didn’t predict who would be voted as our new president! I did predict that we would all wake up Wednesday morning and the world would go on. And I was right.   You want to know how I was able to predict this with such certainty?   The answer is in this weeks Torah portion. G-d blesses Abraham and tells him that his children will be as the stars in the sky. Practically speaking, we are far from the number of the stars in......

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  • The Grind

    And just like that, real life started…   The month of Tishrei comes to a close and with it the High Holidays and the joyous festival of Sukkos and Simchas Torah seem like a distant memory. We’re quickly thrown into the month of Cheshvan – a month without any holidays. So much so that the month has earned a prefix – Mar = Bitter, because of its holiday deficiency.   At the same time the Portion of the first week of Cheshvan is Noach which is quite the dreary story.......

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  • Living the Marathon

    The Marathon is over. 48 hours of Rosh Hashanah solemness, 25 hours of Yom Kippur praying and fasting, 7 Days of Sukkos joy and unity and the grand finale 48 hours of Simchas Torah dancing and L’chaim!   I’ve never run a marathon, but I suspect that when the body cools down after that run it’s a little too quiet. Kind of begs for some action. Maybe you need to go for a small run?!   With the high of the high holidays cooling down maybe it’s time for a......

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  • Dance The Night Away!

    48 hours of Rosh Hashanah = 48 hours of Simchas Torah (and Shmini Atzeres)!   Love and Awe (or fear) of G-d are fundamentals of Jewish faith and observance. They are called wings through which all of our good deeds soar heavenward.   Love and Awe (or fear) of G-d are fundamentals of Jewish faith and observance. They are called wings through which all of our good deeds soar heavenward.   On Rosh Hashanah, “days of Awe”, the energy while critical is one of distance. On Simchas Torah the energy......

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  • The Way I Think #52

    How was the sermon? Was it passionate? Was it on the money? Did it make its mark?   How inspired were you these past few weeks? What kind of good resolutions did you make?   Now that the HH days have passed and we are up to the fun stuff Sukkos and Simchas Torah, what happens to those sermons or the inspiration of the services?   Hence, The Way I Think #52   #52 is the number of weeks until the next Rosh Hashanah. So my question for you and......

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  • The Angel at Starbucks

    Do you ever stop and wonder about the tens if not hundreds of people you bump into or interact with on a given day? The bagger at the supermarket, the mailman, a customer service representative, the email spammer and the many more human beings we interact with consciously or subconsciously every day.   According to the teachings of the Ba’al Shem Tov, each of these interactions are divinely orchestrated. There is a reason and purpose for each of these interactions. No we are not always fortunate to see or know......

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  • Don’t Judge Me!

    No one likes to be judged! In fact the Mishna says, don’t judge another because there is only one True judge. So why the New Year’s celebration?! Indeed it is a day of awe but when the service is over we are instructed to go eat and feast and celebrate.   Let’s break it down. Why don’t we like to be judged? Here are a couple of reasons: 1. We don’t think the other person has our best interests at heart 2. We don’t think the other person really understands......

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  • Groundhog Day

    Imagine you woke up each morning and the world was brand new. No baggage. Everything was fresh. Imagine if each day was your wedding day. Imagine if each day was your first day at your new dream job.   (Ever notice how kids wake up in the morning? For them each day is exactly like that. They don’t carry yesterday’s burdens, it’s all new and fresh.)   We crave novelty and newness. What a gift that each year we are given the opportunity to renew ourselves as G-d renews the......

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  • The Fallen Dollar

    Ever lose a dollar or five or a twenty? You realize it must have fallen out of your pocket at the grocery store when you pulled out your wallet or when you needed to show your license.  It’s frustrating but manageable (as long as it is not $100 or maybe more). Wouldn’t it be nice to know that the five or twenty was picked up by someone who really needed the money and it helped them buy a loaf of bread that they might have otherwise not been able to......

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  • Too blessed to be stressed

    Last week some workers in our house had some music playing. The lyrics caught my ear. Too blessed to be stressed. I now know that this is a pretty popular line and meme out there. The specific lyrics of this particular group were a little too funky and hipster for me to fully comprehend but the punch line – too blessed to be stressed got me thinking.   In this month of Elul we focus on our relationship with G-d. As in any relationship it is a two way street. There is what we do......

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  • The Love of My Life

    It seems like love is in the air.  Someone posted on facebook just today, “Did I really count 37 engagements this month?”.   Not surprising considering that we are entering into the month of Elul – the final month of the Jewish calendar, whose Hebrew name is an acronym for the word Ani Lidodi Vidodi Li – I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.   Our relationship with G-d is like our human love relationships and vice versa and we can learn from each relationship to......

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  • Don’t procrastinate

    Are you the kind of person that waits until crunch time to get the job done? Do you work best under pressure? Most of the time it is arguably alright to wait until the last minute, provided that you are actually good at getting the job done even with so little time.   Sometime though waiting until the end (even if you get the job done) is detrimental to the very essence of the job. Let me explain. This Shabbos blesses the month of Elul. Elul is a month of......

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  • The Comforting Father

    Do you ever want something from someone else? Something only they can give you? You have two choices when it comes to this request. A. You can rationalize why they should grant your request or B. beg or plead. I don’t really mean beg, more like calling on some inner part of your relationship with them that would evoke a response to respond to your request.   Which approach makes more sense? Well if you were Moses and had been nominated for a job you didn’t ask for or want......

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  • Google’s Temple

    It’s well known that Google is data driven. When the brains at Google sit down to discuss new products they have rules of engagement. Essentially, there are no opinions only facts supported by data. If you can bring proof from data you can move forward with your product development, if not then it’s out. There are no heated passionate discussions of personal opinions because it’s all about the facts.   A breath of fresh air. No politics. No defensiveness.   Wouldn’t it be nice if the facts spoke for themselves?......

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  • How much do you sacrifice?

    Where do you draw the line? Logic says that we are to sacrifice for the things that are important to us in life. To provide a living for our families we work hard, giving up on potentially enjoyable vacations. We study late into the night to achieve our intellectual goals. We put aside our personal needs for our children. For in the sacrifice we uncover potentials we never knew we had. But, how much sacrifice is enough?   In this weeks portion G-d tells Moses to avenge Him through battling......

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  • Zealous rhymes with Honest?

    Ok, this is an article a bit out of my character.  It is not that I am not straightforward always, it’s more that I generally try to package my comments in a more subtle manner.  But, something happened this week that just struck a chord.  So, here it is.   I was reading this book called “The Portable Jewish Mother; a hearty serving of OY VEY!”, a cute little book that talks about all the stereotypical stuff your read about the Jewish mother.  But there is other stuff about the......

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  • Where do you want to go?

    A basic tenet of Chabad philosophy is that G-d is ever present and it is the Divine concealment (Tzimtzum) that causes our inability to see Him at work that prevents us from experience G-dliness in a revealed fashion.   This is a necessity because it allows us to experience free choice which is the ultimate purpose of our existence on this earth – to make good choices, to choose good over evil and to make the world a more G-dly place.   One of the side effects of this reality......

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  • The Rebbe

    During the last farbrengen of Pesach, 5726/1965, in between the Rebbe’s talks, as the Chasidim engaged in song, the Rebbe pointed towards a small 11 year old boy sitting at the end of a table at the other end of the hall. The Rebbe gestured towards him with four fingers, as if to ask if he had drunk four cups of wine. At first, no one understood who the Rebbe was gesturing towards until they realized that he meant this particular boy. The next talk, then continued.   During the......

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  • The Shadow

    Ever feel overwhelmed by a situation, feeling powerless to overcome it? What gives power to anything to negatively or positively affect another?   In this weeks Torah portion the leaders of the Tribes spy out the Land of Israel and bring back a negative report saying that it will be too difficult to conquer the land. Caleb silences the Jewish People and ensures them with G-d’s help they will succeed. He says; “they are our bread, remove the shadow from upon them and G-d is with us, do not be......

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  • The Cloud

    It’s been said “everybody backs up sooner or later”. And today the responsible thing to do is to back up to the Cloud.   Is all your stuff backed up to the Cloud? And is backing up to the Cloud really all that new?   Advantages of backing up to the Cloud:   You always have your files in case your computer’s hard drive or external hard drive crashes and burns You can access the files from wherever you are You don’t have to worry about saving your files in......

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  • Run to the hills!

    I suspect many a young lovers couple dreamed the same dream, fantasized the same fantasy – to run to the hills and live in nature, away from the distractions of the world, lost in drunk love.   Alas, for most of us, neither finances nor practicality would allow that for any extended period of time, so we have to suffice with a honeymoon or honeymoon period.   When the world gets crazy like it did Sunday in Orlando, when the world seems to be declining and all semblance of normalcy......

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  • Tiny giant

    – Hayom Yom   In just a few days we’ll celebrate, commemorate and reenact the Revelation at Sinai and the giving of the Torah. This was a once in history event that carried with it eternal power.   It was a powerful event that demonstrated how great G-d is and in turn how small man is. But it also empowered us to realize that G-d in His greatness created space for us to serve Him.   Visiting a Dr. the other day and asking him to explain a particular medicine he......

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  • Man thinks and G-d laughs

    This old Yiddish saying (it’s translated from Mentsch Tracht uhn Gut Lacht) is a safe comeback from a rough day, perhaps a cynical escape of a small and faithless mind or a light’ish statement on a fundamental of Jewish faith.   How often do we plan out the outcome of a business endeavor, a human interaction or even the very realities of day to day life; good health, raising fine children or something as simple as your daily schedule, only to have things turn out completely different then we expected?......

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  • How to make a day shine

    One day you wake up and the sun is shining in a way that it has never shined before!   You see the world not just somewhat differently than before, but entirely different.  You always thought of the world in one particular way and now it is illuminated in a way that shows you that the world  you were always living in was a dark world.  The lights have come on!  You are humbled!   What you do with the inspiration will determine whether the inspiration is real or yet......

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  • Celebrating Death

    Next Thursday we will celebrate the passing of a great man, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Why is it that a People who celebrate life and value it so greatly would celebrate the passing of this individual.   What is even more profound is that RASHBI (Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai) was the author of the Zohar, the Bible of the mystical teachings of the Torah. Furthermore, the instruction to celebrate his passing was his very own instruction delivered on his death bed.   The answer reveals to us the real purpose......

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  • Priorities

    Love thy neighbor as thyself. This Biblical commandment comes from this weeks Torah portion. Perhaps the hardest of all the commandments, hence Hillel’s statement, “this is the entire Torah and the rest is commentary”.   But how indeed does one achieve this very difficult Mitzvah?   Like all other Mitzvos and like life itself it’s a journey with the journey itself the purpose not necessarily the destination.   Loving another can only happen when one appreciates the essential and eternal dimensions of the other person. The external things that generally......

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  • My Matzah Hangover

    You’ve got to feel bad for the Matzah. After all it’s the only food we eat that is actually a Biblical Mitzvah we can fulfill today and yet we kvetch and complain about it starting about a month before Purim and it last for about as long as the Matzah Hangover lasts.   Which brings me to my current situation – my Matzah Hangover. I actually think I gained back my entire loss of 15 post Israel – pre-Pesach pounds and I believe about all of it came from Matzah.......

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  • Chabad’s obsession with Moshiach (Messiah)

    We want Moshiach now! May it be speedily in our days, amen!   If you’ve spent a few minutes with a Chabad’nik, listened to a class, sermon or lecture from a Chabad Rabbi or spent a few minutes in a Chabad home you surely encountered some expression associated with Moshiach. A prayer, a wish, a hope.   The final days of Pesach are upon us and this holiday has a particular association with Moshiach. The verse states, “as it was in the days that you left Egypt, I will show......

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  • Passover Safety Information Card

    In honor of Passover I produced this wonderful video on my very own website https://www.schusterman.org/passover2016.  Ok. Totally kidding, that’s not our Schusterman and we’re not even related, although maybe one day we will be (or at least they’ll support the Chabad efforts of this Atlanta Schusterman :-).  It’s a cute video though, and I did write this Safety card to accompany the video (although I wrote it a few years ago, it’s message is timeless or at least still relevant).   Enjoy! And Please read Dena and my blessings to you......

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  • Escape from Egypt

      It’s amazing what capitalism will produce! The newest franchise is called “Escape Games”. Each Escape Game is a real‑life escape room adventure for a small group. You solve puzzles, crack codes, find clues, and more in order to escape. You have one goal: escape the room.   The Baal Shem Tov taught us that everything that occurs around us is to serve as lesson in our service of Hashem. Surely, this novel idea has profound insight for us and in particular now prior to the holiday of Pesach which......

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  • Hasidic Exodus

    The Seder and Passover is around the corner.  So, here are some unleavened food for thought.   We all carry around packages of the past.  A rough childhood, a traumatic relationship, a chance negative encounter, an illness that took away a portion of our youth, or perhaps just a bad teacher who gave us a negative way to look at the world.   How does one relieve themselves of this burden? How does one prevent that event from tethering them to the past and hindering their real potential for future......

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  • Bring down the fire!

    The moment has arrived! Months of construction, the walls, the Ark, the Menorah, the garments of the Kohen have come and gone. The seven days of consecration have passed with Moses having served as High Priest. Aaron is waiting for the Divine Presence to descend on the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and nothing happens. He wonders whether the Divine Presence is not descending because of his part in sin of the Golden Calf .   So Moses joins Aaron in prayer; Vayehi Noam Hashem Elokeinu Alaynu – may it be pleasing before......

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  • Up is not up and down is not down

    Today is Purim! And that means that today everything is upside down. Haman’s desire to destroy the Jews was turned on its head and the Jews were victorious. The very gallows that Mordechai was to be hanged, became the hanging place of Haman. Mordechai who was to be shamed parading Haman through the streets became the the paraded. Esther became exalted and the people were all taxed but the Jews were not. And the Jews celebrated. The Megillah captures this with the words – Vnahapach Hu – and it was......

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  • The Hardest Word

    There is a cute book that often surfaces around the High Holiday season called the Hardest Word. It’s a kids book although it might as well be a book for adults as well and the hardest word is; Sorry.In this weeks Torah portion we open the third book of the Torah, the book of Leviticus, Vayikra. In it we read about the sacrifices that were offered in the Mishkan and later in the Bais Hamikdash (the Temple in Jerusalem).   Although, the Bais Hamikdash no longer stands, we still have......

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  • Stand up and be counted

    There are those that make things happen, there are those who watch things happen and there are those who ask – what happened!   In this weeks Torah portion – Pekuday, the Torah recounts the values of the materials used in the construction of the Mishkan. This despite the fact that we had discussed at length all the details of the construction of the vessels of the Mishkan and the garments of the Kohanim (the Priests). Why are the specific values or weights of the materials so important?   Have......

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  • How much is too much?

    Well with Purim around the corner you might think that question would simply be answered; “until one can’t tell the different between blessed is Mordechai and cursed is Haman”. But actually my question is; how much is too much?   The Megillah tells us the details of the great feast that the King Achashvairosh made to celebrate his kingdom; …the king made a seven-day feast in the courtyard of the king’s palace garden, for all the people in Shushan the capital, nobleman and commoner alike. There were hangings of white,......

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  • Moses on the line

    Three bonds are tied one to the other; Israel, Torah and The Holy One Blessed Be He. The Zohar In this weeks Torah portion we read of the Big sin – the making and the worshipping the Golden Calf. After having revealed Himself and having given the Torah only 40 days earlier at Mt. Sinai G-d chooses a drastic punishment for the Jewish People – Destruction! Moses steps forward and tells G-d, if You choose to forgive them great, if not take me out of the Book which You have written......

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  • Living Jewish out of the Foxhole

    I had the good fortune of spending a few days last week including last Shabbat in Moscow, Russia. I was there to celebrate the wedding of Moshe Lerman son on Rabbi Yossi and Esther Lerman fellow Chabad Shluchim here in Georgia (in Gwinett County) to Frady Lazar, daughter of Rabbi Berel Lazal Chief Rabbi of Russia and director of Chabad activities in the former Soviet Union.   During the year 1991 – 1995 I spent summers, some high holidays, some Passovers and an entire year in that country. I remember......

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  • Getting a leg up

    These days everybody is looking to find a way to get a leg up on the competition, an edge over the competitor, something that makes you stand out.   This weeks Torah portion tells us about building a home for Hashem – the Mishkan.   The theory; if the Mishkan is the microcosm of how we create a perfect home for G-d in the entire world (make for a Mishkan and I will dwell within them – within each and every one of Israel {who make for me a home})......

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  • Meat and Milk – let’s not lose focus

    It’s too easy to discount the bulk of Jewish tradition and throw it to the wind in the name of progress and intellectual prowess.   The truth is, that if we dig deep we often find that the surface reasons for many traditions and customs that seem to be merely a product of the times or a product of rabbinic interpretation, in fact contain within them profound insights that would boggle the mind of the greatest professors and scientists. (I invite anybody reading this to spend an afternoon together to......

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  • A Miraculous Challenge

    Different temperaments deal with the challenges of life in different ways.  Some are crushed by it.  Others get angry at G-d for giving them the challenge.  Others go with the flow.   In Hebrew a challenge or test is called a Nisayon.  In Hebrew a miracle is called Nes.  Both have the same root word which means to lift up.   A miracle lifts us up because it allows us to realize that there is an active G-d involved in our world and our life.  It lifts us up above......

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  • The Chuckler

    Have you ever had this experience? You are engaged in a discussion with some friends, and you make what you think to be a really good point. But, instead of arguing the point, one of the conversationalists chuckles. The kind of chuckle that discounts what you just said and casts a doubt in all the other conversation participants as to whether you have anything further to contribute to the discussion.   Do you ever have a voice inside of you that chuckles at you? A chuckle that discounts your seriousness......

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  • The Courage of Sacrifice

    Inevitably in our lives we are faced with an opportunity to show courage. It could be courage at work, at home, in a relationship or in some quiet place that only you and G-d Almighty are aware of. When we have courage, real courage we are ready to achieve Freedom.   Freedom is a state of being where only the things you choose to put upon yourself hold you captive. The Jewish People at Sinai accepted G-d and the Torah when they said Naseh Vinishma – we will do and......

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  • How do you know G-d?

    What kind of relationship do you have with the Almighty? Relationship, you might ask? How do I, Mr. or Mrs. Human Being have a relationship with G-D?  He is Almighty and Infinite!   For starters let me assure you that you do have a relationship.  When something is not going right or when you see something amazing don’t you naturally exclaim “oh, my G-d”? Chasidic thought tell us that this natural reaction is an expression of the inherent relationship we have with Gd.  On a deeper level, inside each of......

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  • Don’t stand by

    I have always marveled at Judaism’s compassion for the pain and suffering experienced by people.  The laws surrounding death, burial, shiva and the mourning period are sensitive to the phases of mourning and the laws surrounding it reflect that sensitivity.  Jewish philosophy and mysticism analyze suffering without giving Gd a pass but also not being overbearing on the sufferer.  One needs to delve into the teachings in order not to embrace the stereotypical perspective that the secular world has on “fundamentalist” religion.   One such example of this compassion is demonstrated by our......

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  • Like water reflects a face

    What do you do when you have made a New Years Resolution to be really nice to people around you, but there is this one person who really gets to you? Like for example what happens if the guy is a king and he has just taken your brother (that you have pledged to your father that you would guard him with your life) as a slave.  Even more problematic is that this viceroy is one of the most powerful people in the world.  And finally, he seems to be......

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  • Living Miraculously

    The Talmud states that the “air of Israel makes one wise”. As many things in life, this is most felt when one returns from Israel and contrasts life in the Diaspora that one appreciates the greatness of Israel.   Granted, the material life in these United States is hard to come by anywhere in the world. But the holiness of Israel and the miraculous life can’t be experience anywhere else like it can be in Israel.   We celebrated the first two days of Chanukah just 2-3 miles from the......

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  • Postcard from Israel II

    I just returned from one of the most powerful places on the earth for me! It’s the end of an amazing week spent here in Israel the holy land. Besides the sheer enjoyment of spending this many days with my family away from real life (or is this real life?), this land always brings together the highest of the high and the most physical. Not with sending all of that, the city of Chevron, Hebron has a certain powerful energy that I have not felt anywhere in the land of......

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  • Postcard from Israel

    If you are my Facebook friend you know that I am in Israel with my family.  After dreaming about this trip for years, saving miles for a long time and planning this trip for a few years, it actually took about 8 hours longer to get here. But indeed that is the story of Israel. It all started after we settled in to the Atlanta airport, on time, well prepared and with 2 hours to go until the flight.  The announcement came over the speaker system that the boarding would......

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  • What’s your name?

    Hi my name is Josh, Mark, Rachel, Rebecca! Actually my name is Yehoshua, Moshe, Rochel and Rivkah!  And those are the easy ones.  Sometimes the names can be more dramatic; Dylan is Dovid, and Cindy is Shoshana.   The Torah goes to great lengths in this weeks Torah portion to tell us about the names of the leaders of the Tribes.  Reuven for G-d has seen “Reu” me in my suffering “en”-ee.  Or Gad for Gad – Mazal has come.  Or Asher for G-d has made me fortunate “Ashri”. What’s......

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  • Like father like son

    Every generation thinks that theirs is the most difficult one in which to raise good upstanding children. With the exposure today to all kinds of media, with access to substances of all kinds at the ready, it’s no wonder that we are more consumed than ever with concern about the next generation. Part of what taints are concern is our own life experience and our own character and genetic make up.  We want our kids to be like the best of us.  When they don’t seem to be going down......

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  • Do you have a window into the future?

    Note: I wrote this article in 2007.  I chanced upon it this week while looking for an old document and thought that it’s message was as relevant as ever.  So here it is.   What will the world look like in six years?   Do you have a window into the future?   Recently I celebrated my 34th birthday. To celebrate I came home early from work and went to the park with Dena and the kids.  We had dinner and cupcakes.  Later that night some friends came over for some......

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  • Get out of the way and let G-d in!

    Has G-d ever spoken to you? Have you ever seen G-d? Phew. I was going to have to be more careful around you.   Seriously though, have you ever seen the how G-d helped you out of a situation? Isn’t that a form of G-d speaking to you?   Have you ever driven up to the GA mountains this time of year and seen the beauty of the Fall? The endless colors of leaves? Isn’t that a form of seeing G-d?   The opening of this weeks Portion we see......

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  • Shluchim

      The Rebbe my father told someone at yechidus: Ever since G-d told our father Avraham, “Go from your land etc.” and it is then written “Avram kept travelling southward,” we have the beginning of the mystery of birurim. By decree of Divine Providence man goes about his travels to the place where the “sparks” that he must purify await their redemption.   Tzadikim, who have vision, see where their birurim await them and go there deliberately. As for ordinary folk, The Cause of all causes and the Prime Mover......

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  • Do you want to climb into the ark?

    So how does this play out? Israel will flex its muscles, get the situation under control, the UN will condemn Israel, the US will play politics, the families who have murdered children or spouses will be left to their pain and longing for years to come, many of those wounded will suffer from their wounds for months, years and others for the rest of their lives, and where will you and I be?   It is tempting to say a prayer and hope this all blows over quickly. It is......

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  • Love Sukkot in Atlanta

    Get a Free Lulav and Etrog, Part of a Year-Long Celebration Chabad center spearheads a campaign of Jewish learning and living for 18th anniversary By Mindy Rubenstein   As the saying goes, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Maybe so, but this year in Atlanta, there are such things as free lulavim and etrogim.   Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman, co-director of Chabad Intown with his wife, Dena, is spearheading a new campaign this Sukkot to offer these holiday necessities to the community without a charge.   “It’s been......

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  • Get out of your head

    In a recent interview with Rabbi David Eliezrie, author of “The Secret of Chabad, Inside the world’s most successful Jewish movement”, talk-show host Dennis Prager offered the following; “I believe that one of your secrets to success is that all of your rabbi’s around the world radiate a joy. and I believe that happy religious people are the greatest argument for religion.”   We are entering into the tail end of the holiday season, Shmini Atzeret and the grand finale – SIMCHAT TORAH!   I have a cousin who’s grandfather......

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  • Sukkos Joy

    We prayed we fasted let’s party!   Sukkot joy is quite profound. Yes it surely has the human dimension of the rebound after the intense Days of Awe. But it’s more than that.   The other night one of the twins was not feeling well and after expressing herself (pun intended) went running to her mother for an embrace. It was that embrace that brought her comfort in her pain.   Why is it that when we hug or get hugged we provide or are provided comfort and security?  ......

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  • Are you sorry? or Are you sorry?

    I am sorry that that I hurt you. I am sorry that I hurt you.   During this season we focus on our relationship with G-d. We focus on contemplating how great G-d is, how small we are and how unbelievable fortuante we are that G-d chose to put us on this earth and give us an opportunity to serve Him. How unbelievably humbling!   With this thought in mind we can turn our attention to our shortcomings. If G-d is so great, and He chose to put us on......

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  • Just Do It

    You’ve seen the ad everywhere.  Just Do It! But what is the “it” that you are supposed to “Just Do!”?   This was one of those existential questions that troubled me until I saw this ad and I knew the answer.   Too often we see the High Holidays as a big drag.  When we are “doing” the High Holidays that way  it is so unpleasant, it’s something we have to do either because we live with Jewish guilt or some fear of punishment or some other phobia that we......

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