Showing posts from October, 2018

Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

Dear friend,  This morning at the class, I heard the horrifying news of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, but until after Shabbos when I turned on my phone it didn't really hit me.  Eleven of our beautiful brother's and sister's lives were cut short in the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of America.  I spent some good time in Pittsburgh, walking the streets of Squirrel Hill, just blocks away from this shooting, while visiting my uncle and his family there.  The attacker was a crazy anti-semite and we are shaken to our core and mourning the loss of these beautiful souls.  Unfortunately, shootings have become so common that sometimes we just accept this as a fact of life... until it happens in a synagogue.  Even in America, which is the most open and tolerant country that Jews have ever been welcomed to, anti-Semitism is still the oldest and newest brand of hate, and it reared it's ugly head in the very place that should feel holy and safe.  Wh

Are You Living Life Deliberately? A Lesson From the Rules of Blessings

Lately, Natanya and I have been working on living life more deliberately.  As life happens, it's so easy to enter autopilot and just go with the flow.  Thanks to a couple of our mentors, we've been so much more aware of everything that we do and are conscious of infusing it with purpose.  And then I realized that this dovetails with what we were talking about last week, blessings. I've wondered many a time about all the details & rules of blessings.  Many people joke about the "religious lifestyle" and its OCD tendencies.  Last week we spoke about how all the prayers and blessings throughout the day are literally an all day discussion with G-d.  There are so many rules around the blessings.  I'll give you some examples and please bear with me through them.  I know they're long and boring (at least until you see them in context): (1) We make a blessing before we eat anything.  There are separate blessings for bread, other glutenous foods, wine, fruit,

Am I sending too many emails? Why we bless G-d all day long.

How was your week?  Mine was great.  I visited my parents this week and spoke with my father almost every day.  I also went on two walks almost every day, one with Natanya and one with the whole family. Which brings to mind a question that someone once asked me.  This fellow believed in G-d, but couldn't imagine that this all powerful G-d needs my blessings and prayers all day.  "Leave Him alone and let Him be!  My philosophy is that I don't mess with His golf game, and He doesn't mess with mine."  This fellow didn't like the idea of praying three times a day, making a blessing before and after eating, going to the bathroom, and countless other brochas that we make each day on mitzvahs & experiences.  These kinds of questions, if asked from in a humble way (not like his question) are exactly what we're about at Chabad of Temecula.  We are a community of humans on the journey of working to have deeper and more meaningful relationships with our family,

The lawyer's Question: What does not pressing a button on a microwave have to do with resting on Shabbos?

I hope you had a great week. My week was fantastic. Natanya and I worked really hard and accomplished so many things, but what made the week so great is that we seemed to accomplish more than we usually do with the same amount of effort. You know what I mean; sometimes things just go and sometimes they don't. Which brings me to the point of Shabbos. While still in yeshiva, a very "reformed" lawyer asked me a tough question that I pondered for years: The Torah commands us to rest on Shabbos, but rest 3,000 years ago was different than it is today! To cook a soup then meant slaughtering and preparing a chicken, going to the garden and picking vegetables, cutting wood, building a fire and drawing water from the well. That's real work. Today however, putting an instant soup in the microwave and pressing a button is easy! G-d commanded us to rest, and you can still heat up a soup while resting!? I've asked the same question to myself in different ways too.

Jewish Giving Ethics

  It's such a good feeling to be writing to you again.  Last week I missed you because of the intermediate holiday, and had a beautiful end of the high holidays, culminating with a great Simchas Torah service.  On Shabbos and holidays, we're totally off the grid.  No phones, computers or cars.  On the intermediate holidays, we can use these tools if necessary, but it's better to refrain from "work".  I was hoping to draft a Sukkos email before the holiday but time didn't allow for it, and I decided to enjoy the week of no work and take a break.  I'll tell you more about this next week.   While reading the Torah portion (Bereishis- which is the first portion of the whole Torah), I was thinking about Kayin and Hevel (In English they write Kain and Abel), Adam & Eve's children.  As they grow up, they pursued different vocations, one becoming a shepherd and one becoming a farmer.  They both offered sacrifices from their livelihood to G-d, but while Hev