Accepting the Unacceptable

Yom Kippur is known as the "Day of Unconditional Acceptance," when G-d forgives & accepts us, but what do that actually mean?  Aren't there limits to how much we (or G-d) can accept?  Everything has limits, including acceptance!

Every once in a while, we read stories about someone who was in the dumps, and was uplifted by a teacher, friend, boss or "angel".  Many times, these are people who have failed, ended up in prison, or made other serious mistakes in life.  They recall being ignored because of their past failures, until some special person saw in them what no one else saw.  "It was that belief in me and unconditional acceptance that gave me the strength to achieve" is what they'll recall.  
Indeed, the nonbelievers had good reason to not believe and reject.  This person was a failure!  Judging by their actions, this person was "undeserving" of attention, a second chance, or a helping hand.  

This doesn't even have to be a pris…

Poem about Torah

Here is a story that happened to me,While I was still swimming in my mother’s tummy.An angel, a malach, came over to me,And taught me the Torah from Aleph to Z.But then he tapped me so hard on my nose,And I felt it all leave from my head through my toes.I forgot all the Torah that he had taught to me,And just then I popped out of mommy’s tummy.
For years, it bothered me.  Why did all that Torah flee?
Then one day while walking I saw an old man.Can I ask you a question, and he said, yes you can.So I asked the old man who seemed so soft and kind,Why did the Torah disappear from my mind?And if all that Torah I had to forget,Why did they teach me from the onset?
The old man looked down at me with a smile,To explain this one, he said, will take quite a while.
Because of your parents love and care.Most things that they have they will certainly share,But some things they won’t, like a diamond or a gem,They won’t let anyone get close to them.Our father, Hashem, is the King of the Kings,His treasu…

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…