Posts

Antisemitism

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It was nice to shut the news off for Pesach, because a lot of negative things have been getting a lot of attention.  Indeed, antisemitism is dominating headlines again. I have been working through my personal feelings as well as  trying to get clarity on the Rebbe’s response. Indeed, the Rebbe’s approach was novel. He didn’t put much into fighting anti-Semitism, and when asked about it, would not take the bait and instead spoke about how all of humanity is really one, saying things like, “All mankind came from Adam so that no one should be able to say I am better than you.” The few times the Rebbe did speak about it, he framed it more as a reality than a virus.   On the one hand he believed that we can’t educate people out of it, that until Moshiach comes and the “wolf lies with the lamb”- metaphorically symbolizing that the nations will dwell with Israel in peace, anti-Semitism will not be rooted out. On the other hand, rooting out the anti-Semites and cancelling them is not really an

A Happy & Kosher Pesach

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Tonight we’ll eat matzah, read the Hagaddah and tell the story of the slavery & exodus from Egypt. We will read, “In every single generation they rise up to destroy us, but G-d saves us from their hands.” I grew up in generation that said “never again”.  It was peaceful, and while I heard stories from my friends parents and grandparents of antisemitism & the Holocaust, I never experienced it myself. It was as if antisemitism was a thing of the past and people became sophisticated enough to move on.   For the past seven months, this line in the Hagaddah has kept popping into my head.  No amounts of marches, monuments, lectures and rallies will rid the world of antisemitism until Moshiach comes.  I’ve come to trust in G-d & the Torah, not the promises of politicians and secularism. On other hand, just because antisemitism isn’t disappearing so fast, it’s not a reason to worry. The second half of the sentence clarifies that while in every generation until Moshiach comes, they

Miracle Alert

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As you know, over forty volunteers have delivered shmurah matzah to over 700 people in 400 homes so every Temecula Jew can celebrate Passover. For years, Michael Brenner has been a star volunteer.  Every holiday, he is the first to sign up to make deliveries.  He has his set route, saved their addresses in his GPS everyone on his route knows him by name. On Tuesday, while en route from delivery three to four, he was hit by a van.  His car rolled over 450 degrees (complete rollover and landed on the drivers side).  It was super scary and unbelievably dangerous. But Michael walked out without a scratch (actually pulled out, because he was trapped inside with the deployed, smoking airbags). This was a miracle. All night we were both thinking about what happened and how it could happen.  Is the sarcastic saying  “no good deed goes unpunished” really true?  Doesn’t the Talmud (Pesachim 8A) teach that “a mitzvah messenger never gets harmed”? The next morning, I brought over a muffin and coff

Pesach, Seder & My Reflections

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve come to a new realization:  I love my job as a shliach. Property development has been (and still is) very exciting.  I really enjoy the adventure of it, and the satisfaction of seeing a vision come true. But it is very consuming from many angles.   And I know that all this construction has taken away from my ability to serve the community (hopefully we’re still keeping up, if not being as proactive as I’d like). This past week it’s become very clear to me that this construction project is a means to an end, and the end is a home for the Jewish community of Temecula.  This campus will give the community the infrastructure to grow, and serve everyone with the right tools. I can’t wait to reach the finish line, so we can get back to putting all our focus where it should be, namely on the community. (It’s interesting to note that a few weeks ago I heard a story about Rabbi Rubin, the shliach to Albany, NY.  In his first years on the job, he would send detailed

Pesach Preparations

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Pesach is less than 3 weeks away!  As I mentioned a couple weeks ago in my email, Purim is a “partial redemption” (even after the plot of Haman was foiled and the anti-Semites were dealt a blow, we still remained in the Persian exile).   Pesach, however, is a complete redemption.  G-d send Moses to tell the Pharaoh to let us go. The Torah records the “hostage negotiation” between G-d and Moses.  At first Pharaoh didn’t want to let anyone go.  After G-d smote Egypt with a few plagues, Pharaohs hardline position started cracking.  He said, “I’ll let the men go, but not the women.  I’ll let the women go, but not the children.  I’ll let the children go, but not the animals.”   Moses responded, “With our young, with our old, with our sheep and with our cattle.”  Pesach is a complete redemption.  No one will be left behind.  We will go to Mr. Sinai to receive the Torah, and from there continue to Israel & build a temple for G-d. Complete redemptions take more preparation.  Indeed, we’re

Destroying Amalek

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Amalek was the first nation to attack the Jews after G-d took us out from Egypt.  King Saul was supposed to destroy Amalek, but he left the king and some sheep alive and they regrouped.   Just a few generations later, Haman, the Amalekean bad guy of the Purim story was behind a plot to “destroy, kill and annihilate every Jewish man, woman and child”.   G-d commands us in the Torah to “remember what Amalek did and completely erase the name Amalek“.  The way we fulfill this commandment is by reading the Torah portion about it. This Shabbos is called Parshas Zachor (portion of remembering). This mitzvah hits home extra this year as we are literally fighting the modern day “haters of Israel”.  Just like in the days of Purim, we overcame our haters in the most miraculous way, and turned Haman into a cookie and gragger (noisemaker), may we merit to save the Jewish people and keep them all safe in the most miraculous way.

Purim

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At first glance, Purim is a confusing holiday:  On the one hand, it is an amazing holiday.  The Talmud says that all other holidays will become “obsolete” besides for Purim.  Purim is the celebration of salvation from genocide, 2,500 years ago in a temporary Persian exile. On the other hand, the Megilla (Purim scroll) doesn’t mention G-d’s name even once. If you examine the entire story, it could be written off as a coincidence, and even after the happy ending, the Jews were still in exile (it was another decade until they moved from Persia back to Israel to build the second temple). To me, the story of Purim is a reminder that while I have my own exile, as I’m sure you do, and I’m waiting for Moshiach to set the world straight, it doesn’t mean we can’t have a major salvation resulting in a major celebration. I may have to wait for Moshiach until all of my problems will be solved, but that doesn’t mean that until then, none of them can be solved.  May this Purim celebration indeed lead