On Race & Riots

After the holiday was over last night, we opened our tech devices to the disturbing reality of violent riots which have been erupting all over the nation.  George Floyd clearly was abused and murdered by a rotten cop, and we all feel it's right that he's being tried for murder.

Chabad knows the pain of this racial divide well.  You may have heard of the Crown Heights riots, in which a Jewish car driver got into a collision, and a young black boy was killed.  For the next three days, rioters wreaked havoc, destroying, looting, and stabbing a yeshiva student to death (with a couple cold blooded murders in the following weeks). 

I would like you to watch two videos of the Rebbe with then Mayor David Dinkins (the only black NYC mayor to date), and you might want to watch them a few times, to catch the Rebbe's subtle but strong point.  Here's video one, which was taken just two days after the Crown Heights Riots in which the yeshiva boy was stabbed to death, and here's vi…

Parenting Advice from 9 Commandments

If you count the 10 commandments, you'll find that there are only 9.  The first commandment, "I am Hashem your G-d who took you out of Egypt", there is nothing being commanded.  It's really more of a statement.  Maybe that's why a more correct translation of עשרת הדברות might be "The Ten Statements".

There's an amazing parenting (and general relationships) lesson in this, however, which makes a huge difference in conversations.  Many times, parents find themselves saying things like "You must do this", "Because I said so" or "You're not allowed to do this".

The first commandment is not, "You must believe in one G-d".  It is a statement:  "I am Hashem your G-d".  It's a fact, and it's so true, that I don't even have to command you to do anything.

Try "We don't do this" instead of "You're not allowed.  Try "This is how we do things in our house" instead of …

Men Are Becoming Obsolete

So, why are men becoming obsolete?  It starts with Adam and Eve.  After they ate from the tree of knowledge, Eve was cursed that "your husband will rule over you."  Like it or not, this has been the reality for millennia.  The messianic prophecy however is that נקבה תסובב גבר, women will become "more important" than men. 

Indeed, in the past few decades, the women's lib movement has helped women become very powerful, and women have proven that they can achieve in business and finance.

However, "man jobs" are becoming obsolete.  Traditionally, the job of men has been to run the business, make a living, and support the family.  I'm not sure if you know, but I'm very involved in a software to help rabbis serve their communities, and specifically individuals better, and I can see where software is headed!  In another few years, software will be doing all the work for us!  It will do the marketing, sales, fundraising, HR, bookkeeping, clerical and l…

Is G-d in Control?

Is G-d in control?  The short answer is yes.

Let me share four levels of belief in G-d:
G-d created the world a long time agoG-d continues to create/control the world, especially the big things (like coronavirus)  Not only does G-d control the big things, but He even controls the smallest details (like a leaf falling off a tree, or each individual blade of grass growing, or who I bumped into in the store).  The one and only thing out of G-d's control is fear of G-d itself (Pirkei Avos).G-d even choreographs our mistakes
Belief that G-d created the world is pretty basic.  To say that G-d is involved with the big things is also relatively easy to swallow.  Even though it hurts, when we go through hard times (like now), we turn to G-d and ask for his kindness, and can find comfort in the knowledge that He knows what's going on.

However, believing that an infinite G-d could care about small things like a blade of grass growing, littering, or doing a a little mitzvah, is difficult for …

My Birthday Resolution: Habit of Kindness

Tomorrow is my birthday and on this occasion, I want to bless you with health, safety, peace of mind, wealth, and deep satisfaction (nachas) in your important relationships including yourself, your family and Hashem.

A birthday is like a personal Yom Kippur, and a time for reflection and good resolutions.  My birthday is on the 9th day of the omer which is the day of "severity of severity"  (click here to learn more about sefiras haomer and how you can fulfill this easy mitzvah). 

Like everyone else I know, I have character flaws that keep popping up again and again.  My character flaws seem to revolve around "severity" and I've been reflecting on how I can incorporate a little bit more "kindness" into my life.

It really got me thinking about the Rebbe's mitzvah campaign of tzedakah.  Obviously, tzedakah was a mitzvah before his campaign, but the Rebbe had a unique angle:  Everyone should have a pushka (charity box) in their home and officeIt shouldn…

Why is this Passover different from all other Passovers?

Why is this Passover different from all other Passovers?

On all other years, you could be tempted to buy pasta on the holiday.  But on this year, the pasta shelves are empty.

On all other years, people host big seders and small seders.  But on this year, everyone will celebrate Passover with their family alone.

On all other years, some Jews celebrate, but others go to work.  But on this year, everyone will be home.

On all other years, Passover is defined by our experience, but on this year, Passover is according to G-d’s plan.

Please let me explain the last one.  

Many people are worrying how they can celebrate without the regular guests and extended family.  Celebrating Passover alone just doesn't seem like a real Passover.  Maybe we should just skip this one and pick up next year? 

There's a story of a rabbi & his brother in a Russian prison for teaching Torah.  One morning, the brother was crying bitterly.  When asked why the saddnes, he responded, "every day I pray, but …

The Gift of Coronavirus

The million dollar question is when things will get back to normal.  I hope never.

Here's what I mean.  Last week, I posted in a Temecula facebook group the following:  "Can you share one positive thing the current situation has brought into your life?"

The post currently has 521 comments and counting.  Don't get me wrong.  Coronavirus is terrible and I personally know people who have gotten it (and by extension, some who have passed away).  However, Hashem runs the world in a way that blessings and the opposite of blessings usually come in an inseparable way.

There's an amazing book called "The Power of Habit" which I recommend you buy and read.  Commercial research has shown that people are more likely to change the brand of orange juice they drink after a birth, move, divorce etc. because when big change happens, habits are interrupted, and create room for new ones.  In our conversation, coronavirus has disrupted our routines and made the room for new o…