Printed from JewishOkanagan.com

The Rabbi's weekly E-Mail Message

Bat Mitzvah, the kids and WHY?

The Bat Mitzvah that we held last week was incredible. To watch a young girl, be so proud of her portion as a Jewess, and be inspired to carry on the traditions, was an uplifting experience to all in attendance.

Please make sure to check out the CKids missions for the High Holidays. Your children can be earning points and getting great prizes. Some children already earned points from the Passover missions. Sign up your child today and join over a dozen Jewish children across the Valley who are finding JOY, MEANING AND CELEBRATION in their experience of what it is to be a Jew. Sign up for CKids today by  clicking here.

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Why? Why? Why? That’s a very good question, and I’m so happy that you asked.

In school my teacher used to say, “I don’t care if you have an answer, I want you to know how to ask.”

Questions are extremely central to Judaism, we’re really not afraid of them. Everything has a reason and a purpose, and all holds a place in the greater Divine master plan.

Perhaps it’s been formulated in this way, because free stuff is often ignored or taken for granted. We all know that to really appreciate something, one needs to work very hard for it.

Who knows! The fact remains that a good question has always been the entranceway, to new intriguing and fascinating discoveries.

I know how you feel. You might be saying to yourself, “can we ever fully grasp the infinity of G-d’s wisdom, in any area of life? Could there really be contemporary meaning in the seemingly abstract and ancient wisdom of the Torah, and her timeless precepts, teachings and traditions?”

Others have felt the same way, and they have found that by actively questioning sincerely, we can very often unearth the most incredible secrets of our Heritage, such depths that will awaken your spirit and mesmerize your mind. We can reveal teachings that bring the ultimate healing, to all in need. If we ask, we’ll never stop saying things like “AHAAAAA” and “WOOOOOWWWW”, and we’ll develop an awesome appreciation for what is inherently ours.

Torah tziva lanu Moshe, morasha kehillat Yaakov”, the Torah that Moses taught us, is the inheritance of everyone in the congregation of Jacob. 

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Just a "silly custom" for example: Why Apples dipped in honey on Rosh HaShana? Why apples? Why bee honey? Why dipped? Why on Rosh HaShana? Is it just for kids? On our Facebook page, you’ll see a brilliant one minute video presentation, that addresses some of these questions. Watch it and you’ll be highly impressed, at how far your honey dripping fingers really goes.

Over the holidays, throughout the prayers (in between the humour) and primarily during the sermons, we’ll address some strange stories, episodes and traditions, without being afraid of the questions. The presentations are sure to spellbind the mind, and inspire the heart.

We look forward to spending the Holidays WITH YOU!

Why?

I'm so glad you asked. Mainly because it really won't be the same WITHOUT YOU!

Shana Tova!  

Please don't forget to make plans to join us for the High Holidays, it really won't be the same without you! 

Shabbat Service tomorrow from 11am -12pm followed by Kiddush! 

Please enjoy the article that went viral last week, about our journey to Nelson for Shabbat! There is a moving story in the story. 

http://www.chabad.org/news/article_cdo/aid/3438647/sc/fb_share/jewish/Year-of-Unity-Prompts-Shabbat-Gathering-in-Off-Beat-Canada.htm  

(Please see https://www.facebook.com/shmuly.hecht for many more ongoing stories, of the vital work that Chabad is doing here in Kelowna.) 

Wishing you a shabbat of intriguing discoveries,

 

Sincerely,

Rabbi Shmuly and Fraidy, Mushkah, Mendel, Yosef and Rochel

Viral News about Chabad Okanagan and Shabbat Shalom

What a wonderful week @ Chabad Okanagan! Starting with a grand Hakhel gathering in Penticton on Sunday afternoon with some 25 or so in attendance! It was followed by an awesome class on the High Holidays. Lots of good Kosher food, joy and unity!! Thank you all for joining us! Special thank you to Syril Victor for hosting at his Lorraine Cafe that we made Kosher for the day!! Special thanks to Gary Friedman for sponsoring the event.

All week long we were busy preparing for an extraordinary High Holidays! Some new Mezuzahs are up in the Valley, and some new people have joined the community! Lot's of one on one study sessions, outreach, visits and more. Plus the amazing HEBREW READING class on Tuesday. 

Wednesday we had an outpouring of love at the grand "Chanukat Habayit" (new home dedication) that we celebrated! So many people joined us! Fraidy and I hereby offer our sincere thanks and tremendous gratitude to all who came, to all who brought kind gifts and to each and every one of you for being a part of our cherished community!!! THANK YOU!

Tonight we're celebrating a special Bat Mitzvah!

We're looking forward to another busy week ahead. Please don't forget to make plans to join us for the High Holidays, it really won't be the same without you!

Shabbat Service tomorrow from 11am -12pm followed by Kiddush! 

Please enjoy the article that went viral this week, about our journey to Nelson for Shabbat! There is a moving story in the story. 

Year of Unity Prompts Shabbat Gathering in Off-Beat Canada

more...

 

 

 

Penticton pics!  

penticton 1.jpg penticton 2.jpg

 

(Please see https://www.facebook.com/shmuly.hecht for many more ongoing stories, of the vital work that Chabad is doing here in Kelowna.) 

We light Shabbat candles in Kelowna today, Sept 16th at 6:34pm 

Wishing you a shabbat of great joy,

Sincerely,

Rabbi Shmuly and Fraidy, Mushkah, Mendel, Yosef and Rochel

Volunteering for the Food Bank and More

It's been a long and successful week for us, and for many of you I presume as well. Meeting people all day, learning one -on-one, classes, fundraising, visiting the sick, prep for High Holidays, office work, planning Chanukah, working on our "half a decade celebration event", doing my own studies and on and on.

On Wednesday evening though, I had the joy of volunteering for a great cause, for the first time (of many more I'm sure). Namely, spending the evening with some friends running from door to door, delivering bags. These bags provide the opportunity for all who would like, to shower their blessings on people in greater need then themselves.

While I ran through bushes and trees, to reach every mailbox on my route, I couldn't help but sing. High Holiday's are coming up, a new year will soon be upon us. It's a great time to consider more ways, of how we too can fill our bags with endless blessings for others, making it a bright and sweet New Year for all.

Every year there's an annual Food Bank drive, and this year was no different. The only difference is, that this year they had at least one more volunteer. Me.

Every year G-d does an annual drive as well, and just like me and the Food bank, you too can make this year's High Holidays Divine drive for Torah and Mitzvohs different, by adding one more volunteer. You. It can be to join another class, to bring in a friend, participate in a service, attend a Holiday event, become a financial partner, start a new mitzvah, love another, and the list never ends.

Each new Mitzvah fills the world with new Divine energy and light, thereupon brining about showers of infinite blessings for all. 

(Please see https://www.facebook.com/shmuly.hecht for many more ongoing stories, of the vital work that Chabad is doing here in Kelowna.) 

We light Shabbat candles in Kelowna today, Sept 16th at 6:50pm

Wishing you a courages shabbat of making the decision to volunteer,

Sincerely,

Rabbi Shmuly and Fraidy, Mushkah, Mendel, Yosef and Rochel

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Tears of Joy at Bedtime This Week

I read this beautiful passage from the famous Rabbi Simon Jacobson, earlier this week. He writes that in Elul, G-d comes to console us. During this month, G-d is very close nearby—all we have to do is reach out to meet Him.

What does this mean though? It means that all year round there are many layers that shroud your own essence from yourself; there is a split between your inner self and your outer self—who you truly are and what you do, your spirit and your activities. In Elul many of these layers are stripped. You can access, if you wish, your true self, since it is part of the higher reality and the essence of all of existence called G-d.
 
In Elul, "the King is in the field," writes the Alter Rebbe. He uses the analogy of a king who is returning home from his travels as a way of explaining the phenomenon of Elul.
 
The king had been traveling; he had left his palace and gone to a far off land outside his kingdom. And now he is on his way home. He is about to enter his palace and he stands outside in the field greeting his people. Then he goes back into the palace and again mounts his throne.
 
When the king is in the field, writes the Alter Rebbe, every person has the opportunity, without petitioning for an audience, to go over to him, say hello and ask for whatever he or she needs. The king is smiling, he is happy to be home, he is in his informal mode, and he is predisposed to grant all requests.
 
That's Elul. On Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the King is back in his palace on his throne.
 
Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are holidays. Elul is amid workdays. We are in the field, we are still living our normal lives. Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur have a very powerful energy, because on those days we petition the King in his inner sanctum. But in Elul, we petition the King on our turf.
 
It is a profound message of hope that we don't have to wait for on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur to find our inner love of G-d. We can go out to meet Him now.

One simple appreciation of this, happened at bedtime this week. After a nice conversation with Mushka one evening, as I tucked her into bed, she looked up at me and said "Tatty, I love trusting in HaShem". With tears beginning to flow from my eyes, I gently responded "Ziskeit, Tatty loves trusting in HaShem too"! That's the warmth of Elul's closeness at work. 

Ask Yourself:

If you could literally go out to meet G-d in the field, how would you approach Him, what would you ask Him? 

Exercise for the day:

- Write a letter to G-d—say what you would if you were to meet Him in the field outside your home right now. 
- Sanctify one mundane ("field") item in your life, and use it for something that would make the "King" proud.

(Please see https://www.facebook.com/shmuly.hecht for many more ongoing stories, of the vital work that we're doing here in Kelowna.) 

We light Shabbat candles in Kelowna today, Sept 9th at 7:05pm

Wishing you graceful meeting with the King Shabbat,

Sincerely,

Rabbi Shmuly and Fraidy, Mushkah, Mendel, Yosef and Rochel

The Rabbi's Kugel Craze and the last New Moon of the year

Sitting at my desk studying, lost in my little world of thought, I suddenly feel this strong temptation stemming from the Kitchen. It can't be the kugel I thought, I don't love it that much. Not being able to contain myself, I rise and head towards the source. Behold, I find joyous Jewish music coming from the counter top in the kitchen. Gathered around are Fraidy, Mushka, Mendel, Yosef and Rochel.

"Ok, Yosef go ahead and pour the eggs into the bowl."

"I'll mix it for him and get the flour ready" said Mushka with a smile.

"Mendel, you can slice the mushrooms with a big boy knife today, right here next to mommy."

"Rocccchhhhel", wink, wink, wink! "Here are a few utensils for you to play with, K sweetie?”

Everybody's happy, cuddled around mommy, with the music in the background, anxiously preparing for our favourite day in the Hecht family; the Sacred day called "Shabbos”!

My heart skips a bit as I begin to have flashbacks from 25 years ago. Clasped in the embrace of our dear Mother zz"g, my siblings and I used to have her full attention, as we prepared together for the special day of Shabbos! Somehow I often got the job of peeling the potatoes. I miss those wonderful days of old, and yearn for the time when my siblings will all once again, be sitting around the table, laughing, singing, learning and having fun!

From time to time, during a phone call or at a short visit, when we're lucky enough to spend a Shabbat together or a bit longer than that, the love and joy is born again. It's energy is usually enough to sustain me, until we would rendezvous once again.

Once upon a time, our Jewish Soul was asomatous. She spent all of her time under the wings of the Holy Shechina, the Divine feminine. She loved listening to the joyous music stemming form the deeds of the righteous. She’d carve out and create wonderful spiritual delicacies and universal blessings, along with her fellow Souls siblings, as her mother the Shechina guided them along.

These treats would be gifted to the world, and appreciated by those who yearned to receive them, whether it would be for the Holy Shabbos, in honour of the Holidays or at any other auspicious occasion.

Then one day.....

"Soul my Sweetie, you have been chosen to marry, and enter into a Divine Union with your Material counterpart, your body. You have been selected, to serve as an example and teach the world about these magnificent spiritual waves that emanate throughout the worlds, day in and day out. Encourage the people to turn on their receiver button, and to simply embrace it! There is so much good that can be done, with these infinite G-dly powers. There is so much wisdom and blessing in the Holy One’s teachings and directives."

A Soul's yearning for that warm and cuddly feeling, to be tucked under the wings of the Divine Feminine the Majestic Shechina, grows stronger and stronger each day.

Thankfully though, the great Kabbalists and Masters of Chassidus have revealed a helpful secret. Throughout the entire month before Rosh HaShana, the final lunar month of the year, called Elul in Hebrew, the Shechina completely dedicates Herself to us, down here in this world. The sole focus of all Her energy, is to radiate that cozy feeling, full of love and blessing to all those who yearn for it, thereby gently reminding us of our Sacred purpose and mission. All we need to do is to raise our antennas, and to simply whisper to her, “Yes, i'm in”.

Can you think of a better preparation, for our private audience with G-d on the High Holidays, then to say "Yes, I'm in"?

If you feel a burning temptation in the next thirty days, not being completely sure for what; I guarantee you, it’s not the kugel you’re looking for. 

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Please join us, and help make the minyan in honour of this special shabbat! From 11:30am -12:00pm is the most crucial time to be there. Respond to this email with a "Yes Rabbi, I'll be there". The Kiddush is in memory of Dr. Eric Ruby o.b.m.

Light Shabbat candles in Kelowna today, Sept 2nd at 7:20pm

Wishing you a antenna raised Shabbat,

Sincerely,

Rabbi Shmuly and Fraidy, Mushkah, Mendel, Yosef and Rochel

A Kidney donation and Meeting of Souls

Two of this weeks stories:

Wow! You know those mornings when you wake up and the whole world is talking about another hero.  Zalman Sandhaus , is a busy man, with a wife and children to care for and the executive director of an organization that depends on him. Yet, when he saw someone who needed life, he dropped everything and quite literally gave a piece of his own. He ignored all risks and questions, and is receiving nothing in return. Would I do this? Would you? I'm honoured and proud to call Zalmy from Chabad in Fishkill, NY, a colleague and personal friend. 

New York Father of Three Receives Kidney, Thanks to Rabbis

 

more...

 

Story two:

My second of four meetings on Thursday, was supposed to be 30 minutes, but turned into almost two hours. We spoke and connected in a such a genuine way.

I walked away, uplifted, moved, and inspired to seek a new area in which I too, can strengthen my loving bond with my Father in Heaven.

You know in Brooklyn, Torah study regularly is probably a given for many people, and I'm sure it's normal to find the streets full of people running, coming and going on Friday afternoon, in preparation for Kiddush Friday night. Many of them are used to enjoying the glory of Shabbat with family and friends. After all, they grew up that way.

Some of our brothers and sisters though, didn't have the blessed opportunity to experience this as children.

For some it can take a complete transformation, and a commitment to spend a lot of time studying the depth and experimenting the richness, of what it's all about.

Being in Kelowna has taught me to continuously look deep within and consider, to what extent would I sacrifice my comforts and routines, for the sake of enhancing my relationship with my Father in Heaven, King of all Kings, Creator of Heaven and Earth.

Today in Kelowna, there will be another person running the streets, coming and going in preparation for Shabbat.

As of today, my friend D. is not only going to be making the Shabbat dinner as usual, but he will be picking up enough Kosher wine, to last him until Chanukah! Because now, Kiddush will only be on KOSHER WINE!

We're also beginning a new ongoing one-on-one Torah study session together!

Light Shabbat candles in Kelowna today at 7:49pm

Wishing you a healthy Kidneys Shabbat,

Sincerely,

Rabbi Shmuly and Fraidy, Mushkah, Mendel, Yosef and Rochel

A fascinating tribute to Irmgard Reimer, the Soul that caught fire and never stopped dancing

While wandering about, through this magnificent orchard in which G-d placed us, I often yearn to deepen my understanding of the many mysteries we encounter on a regular basis. Although we can never know for sure, the Torah certainly contains many teachings, where we can derive much meaning from every experience in life.

About two weeks ago, Dr. Steven Finkleman notified me, that Irmgard Reimer was in the hospital and that she asked to see me. Eager to fulfill the great Mitzvah of visiting the sick, the next day with Mushka at my side, we walked through the corridors of KGH, towards her room on the 5th floor.

When we came in, we were greeted by her bright countenance, ever so happy to catch a schmooze and say hello. We conversed briefly about the Jewish community, but spent most of our time exchanging thoughts about her fascinating life story, including the moving account of her family in Germany back in the 30's, and how they ultimately came over to North America.

She was the youngest of a large family, and was the last of the siblings to find out, that they were Jewish. She was radiating with joy when she told me, that it was finally in the year 1994, when she first learned of her sacred Jewish background. When she found out, she called her brother and said "ddddddo you know that we're Jewish?" to which he lovingly replied "Yes, who told you?".

After an uplifting conversation, we bid each other farewell, and I headed off to my next appointment. I later met with Steven and told him about my visit, to which he responded by sharing with me all about her tremendous involvement in the Jewish community, over the last two decades.

Upon learning of her surprise discovery just 22 short years ago, and then hearing about her passionate embracement of her Jewishness from Steven, I began to wonder. "This is a truly unique tale, and the energy of it feels really special. It's amazing how her Jewish Soul just couldn't tolerate being away, and even more is how intense her Soul shined, when the wick finally caught on fire. "What is the mystery of Irmgard's special Soul", I wondered?

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It didn't take long, when a day or two later I got on the phone with one of my regular morning study partners, and we began to study a deep meditative Chassidic discourse expounding on the verse "Serve the Lord with Joy, come before Him with dance" (Psalms 100:2). It was delivered by the Rebbe on the mini (Shushan) Purim in the winter of 1957, and is based on a discourse from the famed Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber, which was delivered in 1919.

It expounds on the idea often quoted in Kabbalah, of the two basic levels of love for G-d, from which stem the two basic types of Joy in His service.

The first is a hard earned love. Born from a deep intellectual meditation, it brings forth a very rooted and connected,logical joy. (The second, transcends the mind, and is really only attainable as a gift from above, after accomplishing part one).

He explains that grammatically, the word 'Mitzvah' doesn't really mean commandment, rather the more accurate translation would be 'connect' or 'cleave', (which is what happens when we fulfill His Mitzvah).

This then is the implication of the well known idea, that "the reward of a Mitzvah is the Mitzvah itself".  Meaning, that when one realizes the immense opportunity, to be truly intimate with G-d through the performance of a Mitzvah, to touch the Divine, to live beyond, to transcend the chaos of self and be enveloped by the energy of an infinite purposeful existence, and then to internalize this appreciation, it would surely bring them to rejoice, and even to dance. Hence, the reward for the Mitzvah is the connectedness (Mitzvah) itself.

In other words, he continues, when one lacks joy in doing a Mitzvah, this is a sign that the person lacks the real appreciation of the preciousness and magnitude of a Mitzvah opportunity. If we were to really grasp and mindfully connect, with the incredible gift that we've been graciously given, of being our Jewish Soul in a body with the unique purpose and form of service that it entails, we would live with colossal joy, every moment of our life.

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After I finished reviewing the discourse for the third time, I remembered Irmgard's story, and I understood it. It was then that I reached for my Tallis and Tefillin, and began the most exuberant morning prayers ever, which continued late into the day, as I danced myself around the Bimah before the Holy of Holies, in our little Temple here in Kelowna.

That's what her story was really all about. Her soul was always ready, but when her conscious self discovered who she really was, it wasn't only a discovery of her nationality or a realization of the colour of her soul (a mere 22 years ago), but rather much more than that. She was blessed to realize a full 22 years ago, the preciousness and sanctity of the uniquely Jewish form of serving G-d, that makes us so lucky to be who we are as Jewish people; something we should embrace and in which we should rejoice, not to mention never to be ashamed of.

From that moment on, she never stopped rejoicing in her infinite opportunities as a Jewess. She never missed a service at the OJCC, her beloved Shul and Community Centre. She always jumped to volunteer for the many Jewish events that they held, and was eager to be involved with everything Jewish that was going on in the Okanagan. She studied her Parsha each week, in her personal Torah book that was found full of bookmarks and notes. She knew, that to share your treasure with the world, you need to share it with yourself first. As soon as she got it, she never stopped dancing.

It's no wonder then, that her Jewish birthday is on the first day of the festival of Sukkot (feast of the tabernacles on the 15th (full moon) of Tishrei). Every holiday we are commanded (have the Mitzvah) to rejoice, but only one Holiday is named in the Torah "The Holiday of Our Rejoicing" and that is Sukkot. On this Holiday we sit under the stars in our make shift huts (Sukkah), basking in the glory of being completely surrounded by the Shechina (Divine presence), represented by the four walls of the Sukkah.

It's no wonder as well, that she passed away on the 15th (full moon) of Adar One, known as the mini (Shushan)Purimthe most joyous day on the Jewish calendar.

So in the final analysis, as her Soul was completely encircled with the Joy of who she was, so was her sacred 85 year journey on this planet.

The original discourse, was recited exactly twenty two and a half years before, what would have been Irmgard's Bat Mitzvah. After her discovery of her Jewishness (her belated Bat Mitzvah), she enjoyed a full twenty two and half years, living its teaching and breathing its energy.

I pray, that my soul too, along with the Souls of our entire community, attains this discovery, and in turn never stops dancing forever. Selah!

Wishing you an exuberant Shabbat on the dance floor!

Sincerely,

Rabbi Shmuly and Fraidy, Mushkah, Mendel, Yosef and Rochel

At 14 years old she did what?

Dear friends,

What a full week! We reached out to four new people, serviced many existing members, and brought revival and encouragement to yet even more. Please see Facebook for regular updates.

Fraidy, after a full day with the children, house responsibilities, Chabad matters, Cheder with the Kids, and on and on, Somehow has the strength to meet ladies in our community, one by one, night after night! Building friendships, emotionally supporting, bringing meaning or even just a listening ear. And with Joy. How does she do it?

Two new people signed up for JLI this week, so now THIRTY FIVE PEOPLE ARE REGISTERED for the newest of the Jewish Learning Institute courses, entitled: "The Jewish Course of Why". We had an incredible class again this week, and look forward to seeing you all on Sunday for lesson three. There'll be breakfast at every class and lots of fun! (See below for details on the course.) It's not too late to join. Sign up here!

Additionally, there are already FIFTEEN JEWISH CHILDREN signed up for our ALL NEW "CKids", Jewish Enrichment program! A classy, modern, hip and cool initiative, all from the comfort of your own home! See below for details. Sign 'em up here.

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How does she do it at just 14 yrs old?

How does she do it? Her name is Estee Ackerman and she's 14 years old. I mean, if I was ranked number 14 in the country for Table tennis, I would certainly grab an additional opportunity for the U.S. Olympic trials, if I got one. But she somehow had the courage, to choose Shabbat observance over Olympic fame. (See the story in the NEWS section below.)

(By Divine Providence, "How can we encourage our teens to be excited about Judaism?" was one of the questions, that were posed to me, during one of my meetings this week.)

They say "a ship in the harbour is safe.... but that's not what ships are made for."

In the inner most recesses of our psyches, we all KNOW and FEEL the infinite value and preciousness, of our rich and sacred Jewish heritage.

Every now and then, we experience a heavenly voice, reaching out to us in love. Whether it be a family Simcha (occasion), a tragedy r"l, a random moment of truth, or at any other given time, our little inner voice urges us, to leave the comfort of the harbour, and embark on a most meaningful journey, towards an eternal G-dly Destiny.

Even one Mitzvah, one educational opportunity, or one transcendence of self, can be a full cruise! And in this sense, all of us equally, have to continuously be embarking on new trips.

Within moments though, our minds and hearts quickly begin to envision, the emotional, practical and social challenges, that we might endure while at sea. And with this, the living seed of inspiration that entered our hearts, withers away and dies.

It's girls like Estee, that remind me, and can remind us all, not to "limit our challenges, but to challenge our limits", thereby being able to experience the ultimate cruise of a lifetime!

Wishing you a Shabbat on the Cruise!

Sincerely,

Rabbi Shmuly and Fraidy, Mushkah, Mendel, Yosef and Rochel

P.s. The article below, which was published this week, about Beethoven, Anthony Trollope, Immanuel Kant and others, is certainly my pick for the week. I found it so fascinating and enlightening. Please read it, and share your thoughts with me!

http://www.jewishokanagan.com/parshah/article_cdo/aid/3222775/jewish/Inspiration-and-Perspiration.htm

A Buddhist Jewess? Intrigue....

Dear friends,

Wow! THIRTY THREE PEOPLE ARE REGISTERED to join us for the newest of the Jewish Learning Institute courses, entitled: "The Jewish Course of Why". We had an incredible class this week, and look forward to seeing you all on Sunday for lesson two. There'll be breakfast at every class and lots of fun! (See below for details on the course.) It's not too late to join. Sign up here!

Additionally, there are already FIFTEEN JEWISH CHILDREN signed up for our ALL NEW "CKids", Jewish Enrichment program! A classy, modern, hip and cool initiative, all from the comfort of your own home! See below for details. Sign 'em up here.

JLI Jewish course of why.jpg

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I'm a Buddhist type of Jew, what can Torah teach me?

So, I received an email from a friend this morning. Her name is Anat. She is in her 70's, and carries a very intriguing history, of how she finally found her true purpose and faith. After spending many years in Buddhism, as well as many other paths, she ultimately discovered that as a Jew, for her, her greatest gift was indeed Judaism.

Many, many questions bothered her over the years, but in the following excerpt from her email, you'll see a glimpse into what brought an educated woman, to reconsider the Torah's value for her life, and why it was worthwhile for her, to set her Jewish Soul on fire! (In this email, she shares with her friends some of the infinite truth in this week's Torah portion, that she was blessed to finally find.)

"As a secular, contemporary Jewess schooled in both sciences and fine arts, and being a compassionate person, with lots of love for aesthetics, I have had difficulty with passages in the Torah that deal with subjects totally removed from my reality, like some of the mitzvot, construction of a tabernacle, the seemingly trivial and irrelevant detail accompanying this section and animal sacrifices.

However, incrementally, through the willingness to explore, learn, open to new experiences and challenge my preconceived notions, all this is changing. 

The Torah portion of this week deals with precise detail of building a portable sanctuary, called in Hebrew by different names Mishkan, Mikdash, Ohel Moed. One might ask what is the relevance of this subject to us in our times? What is it truly about?

The Parshah also deals with animal sacrifices. What is the deep symbolic meaning of these ancient rituals that seem so out-dated and in some ways repulsive,  and why learning about them is part of understanding core values of Judaism?

Why do we need a dwelling for G-d, if everything is imbued with Divine presence and comes from the ONE Source?

Please read the "Gift of giving".

http://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/3211550/jewish/The-Gift-of-Giving.htm

Also, open the following link to have a glimpse of the plethora and richness of teachings encapsulated in this Torah portion... www.JewishOkanagan.com/Parsha

Also, please read the insights below coming from the Jewish luminary of the 20th century, Rabbi Menachem M.Schneerson.

Chabad teachings include additional," fifth layer" of understanding of the Torah, called Chassidus , that both elucidates the shamanic/ energetic aspect of Judaism and integrates all aspects into one expansive and splendid reality.

There is no better medicine to heal an apologetic, fearful and "kvetching" Jew syndromes, and embrace one's own full soul potential, than simply making a weekly dive (spirit Mikve immersion) into the Torah, surrendering own ego to the ancestral wisdom, opening the mind to new horizons and drinking a glassful of the living waters flowing from the Source.

Have a blessed Shabbat learning how to build your inner sanctuary and make it a blessing to All! Shabbat Shalom"

She then went on to share the following three short teachings, that she found very meaningful, from this week's Torah portion.

Short teaching one:

The inside of the Tabernacle was divided by a curtain into an outer chamber (which is described as being “holy”) and an inner chamber (or “Holy of Holies”).

Transcending the Intellect 

(וְהִבְדִּילָה הַפָּרֹכֶת לָכֶם בֵּין הַקֹּדֶשׁ וּבֵין קֹדֶשׁ הַקֳּדָשִׁים: (שמות כו:לג

The Curtain will separate for you between the Holy and the Holy of Holies. (Exodus 26:33)

The outer chamber of the Tabernacle contained three furnishings: the Candelabrum, the Table of twelve loaves (both of which are discussed in this section of the Torah), and the incense Altar (which is discussed in the next section). The Holy of Holies, in contrast, contained only one furnishing: the Ark of the Covenant.

The two chambers of the Tabernacle signify the two stages of achieving Divine consciousness. In the Tabernacle’s outer chamber, we begin to orient our consciousness toward Divinity by focusing our intellect on G‑d. This is why there were three furnishings in the outer chamber; they signify the three components of the intellect: the ability to gain insight (chochmah, in Hebrew), the ability to comprehend (binah) the meaning of that insight, and the ability to make what we comprehend relevant to our own lives (da’at).

Once we arrive at an intellectual consciousness of G‑d, we can proceed to the next level, supra-rational consciousness of Him. This is the consciousness of the inner chamber and the Ark contained within it. At this level, not only our intellect but our entire being is engulfed in Divine consciousness.

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Short teaching two:

G-d then gave the instructions for constructing the Altar used for sacrifices. This Altar was situated in the Courtyard, outside the Tabernacle itself.

Consecrating our Inner Animal

(וְעָשִׂיתָ אֶת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וגו': (שמות כז:א

You must make the [Outer] Altar. (Exodus 27:1)

The Outer Altar was used for offering three types of animals: cattle, sheep, and goats. The animal sacrifices we offer up in our personal, inner sanctuaries are the various facets of the “animal” side of our personalities. Our inner “cattle” are our impulses to be confrontational, to oppose the directives of the Divine side of our personalities. Our inner “sheep” are our impulses to conform, to follow the crowd in pursuit of creature comforts because we are too weak to assert our Divine nature. Our inner “goats” are our impulses to be stubborn, brazenly refusing to budge from our preconceived notions.

We “slaughter” our inner animal by renouncing our animalistic orientation toward life. We “sprinkle its blood” and “place its fat” on the Altar by re-orienting our enthusiasm (warm blood) and sense of delight (fat) toward G‑dliness. We “burn up” our inner animal on the Altar by allowing the Divine side of our personality to consume our animal drives.

The fact that the sacrificial Altar was situated outside the Tabernacle, in the Courtyard, teaches us that refining the animal side of our personalities is prerequisite to entering the realm of holiness and Divine consciousness, represented by the Tabernacle itself.

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Short teaching three:

G-d then gave the instructions for demarcating the Courtyard with netted hangings suspended from copper-plated wooden pillars. The hangings were anchored to the ground by copper stakes.

Infusing Divinity

(וְכָל יִתְדֹת הֶחָצֵר נְחֹשֶׁת: (שמות כז:יט

All the stakes of the Courtyard must be made of copper. Exodus 27:19

The stakes were hammered into the earth, indicating that the holiness of the Tabernacle actually penetrated the ground. By building the Tabernacle in the desert, and by “building” our personal, inner Tabernacles, we infuse Divinity even into those places that appear to be, like the ground, inanimate and lifeless.

In Anat's words, wishing you a blessed Shabbat, learning how to build your inner Sanctuary and making it a blessing to all!

Sincerely,

Rabbi Shmuly and Fraidy, Mushkah, Mendel, Yosef and Rochel

A picture you probably didn't see before

Dear friends,

It's been another work week. We've expanded the company by three new share-holders. We serviced over ONE HUNDRED COMMUNITY MEMBERS this week, through classes and individual meetings, both at the office and at home, over the phone and through the internet. This week we also made over 40 personal phone calls urging people to join us for the newest of the Jewish Learning Institute courses, entitled: "The Jewish Course of Why". There'll be lots of people, breakfast at every class and lots of fun! (See below for details on the course.) It's not too late to join.Sign up here!

Additionally, there are already THIRTEEN JEWISH CHILDREN signed up for our ALL NEW "CKids", Jewish Enrichment program! A classy, modern, hip and cool initiative, all from the comfort of your own home! See below for details. Sign 'em up here.

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Our prayers continue to be with the wounded, and all of Israel, as we strive to bring an end to the malevolent and hateful terror activity.

We continue to fight darkness with light, with "the candle of the Mitzvot and the light of Torah" (proverbs 6:23). AND IT WINS EVERY TIME! That's why you'll see things like Rabbi Moshe Rapoport's Facebook post (attached below.)

tefillin Holocaust.jpg

 

This is also what the month of Adar, which we usher in this week (with a ceremonial prayer at Shul), teaches us.

Haman, vowed to annihilate every single Jew from the face of this earth, but through G-d's divine protection, we miraculously turned him into a delicious cookie called "hamatahin"that we festively enjoy each year on the great holiday of Purim! As far as the Jewish people, we live on and continue our sacred task, of bringing the world to her perfection, and each person, to their fullest infinite potential.

In a recent report, over 192,000 Jewish Children participated in Chabad educational activities around the world. This weekend will be the annual "Chabad Teen Shabbaton" in NYC, with over 1500 Jewish teens in attendance, representing the over 74,000 that participated in the CTeen Network this year. Of course thehundreds of thousands of Campus students, coming through the doors of Chabad on Campus this year across the globe, and all the millions of the rest of us.AM YISROEL CHAI! AM YISROEL CHAI!

Light and Right ARE STRONGER than ever and will prevail, while evil and hate will meet their fate once again, I'm sure! Don't be down. One more good thought, speech or action, and the world will reach it's perfection. It's happening. Let it happen through you too.

Wishing you a Shabbat of Jewish Pride!

Sincerely,

Rabbi Shmuly and Fraidy, Mushkah, Mendel, Yosef and Rochel

We miss Fraidy this week....

Here’s a lesser known fact about Chabad: This weekend, me and thousands of my colleagues around the world, are home alone. Well, not exactly alone, my kids are here too. Alone, because Fraidy is in New York attending the annual International Conference of Chabad Women Emissaries.

The Rebbe , the inspiration behind the work that Chabad does locally and across the globe, continuously emphasized the central role of the Jewish woman. The annual conference, in addition to the insightful workshops and inspiring speeches, serves to celebrate their invaluable contribution. It is always scheduled to coincide with the Yahrtzeit of  Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson  (wife of the Rebbe), whose life continues to be an inspiration to so many Chabad women.

Somehow on a regular day, Fraidy manages to ensure that everyone is well fed and dressed, the house clean and organized and fresh dinner ready - all while keeping up with her Chabad Rebbetzin responsibilities. She runs the Cheder, the office and Jewish Women’s Circle; teaches regular classes, tutors Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and counsels many - all while running the house.

I can do one or the other, I can’t do both, (in fact I was barely able to get this email out).

This is one of those occasions that I’m reminded of the clear differences between men and women. Men and women are different in so many ways, it follows therefore that their roles are different too.

But unlike what some seem to think, different does not mean secondary or inferior. The Chabad attitude is that men and women are different but equal. In fact, the contribution of women is often greater than that of men; it is up to the women to ensure Jewish continuity and as such, the Jewish education of the entire house is under her jurisdiction. Click below to learn more about the unique Jewish feminine contribution on our extensive  Jewish Woman’s site.

Wishing you a feminine Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuly Hecht  

Kelowna and Prague....Buckwheat and Birds

Gabe Cipes is a Certified Permaculture designer, Beekeeper, Viticulturist and Biodynamicist at Summerhill Pyramid Winery.

He works closely with the Traditional Ecological Knowledge Representatives (TEK) on the Syilx Ethical Agriculture project. He is an International representative for Demeter Canada and sits on Boards of Directors for a number of organizations that include Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Certified Organic Associations of British Columbia (COABC), Biodynamic Agriculture Society of British Columbia (BDASBC), Demeter Canada, and the Food Policy Council.

Last night, he gave a talk on “Beecology: Organic / Biodynamic Food Gardens for People and Pollinators.” There were about 100 people in attendance. It was amazing!

Here's what is also so Divine about all of this. This week is NATURE WEEK, in the Torah! We have a special custom to feed the birds today, erev Shabbat of the Torah portion Beshalach.

The Maharal of Prague (maker of the Golem), would instruct the teachers of young children to gather their students in the shul yard on Shabbat Shira and relate to them the story of Kriat Yam Suf — the splitting of the sea.

They were also to tell the children that at that time, Hashem performed a great miracle, that trees with beautiful fruit grew in the sea (see   Midrash Rabbah 22:1). When the Jews sang the Shirah (the song at the sea), the birds sang and danced along with them. The Jewish children picked fruits from the trees and fed them to the birds.

To commemorate this event, we put out food for the birds Erev Shabbat Shirah.

The teachers would give them kasha (buckwheat) to feed to the birds as well. Afterward the Maharal would bless the children. He also blessed the parents that they should merit to see their children embark on Torah, marriage and good deeds.

Some have the custom to feed wheat to the birds on Shabbat Shirah.

It is the custom of  Chabad to eat kasha on Shabbat Shirah.

Interestingly, the name of this weeks parsha, “beshalach” ,(בשלח) is an acronym for the words " בשבת  שירה  לאכל  חטים" — “On Shabbat Shirah to eat wheat (buckwheat)."

Furthermore, this Parsha always coincides with the NEW YEAR FOR TREES, known as Tu B'Shvat, which begins on Sunday night. We sanctify the day by eating special fruits, and learning life lessons, from the trees, seeds, planting and everything in between.

One lesson I always loved learning was this. We're brought to this world a mere seed, and often in life we approach situations, where we find ourselves sunken deep down, at times to the point of rotting away.

To live Tu B'shvat is to realize, that those moments in life, are the turning points, from being a mere seed, to blossoming into a magnificent fruit bearing tree! L'chaim! Join us Sunday night for our Tu B'shvat Farbrengen to take place in a friends home. Message me for details.

Wishing you a Shabbat of learning from nature!

Sincerely,

Rabbi Shmuly and Fraidy, Mushkah, Mendel, Yosef and Rochel

Where I Was Last Night at 2am

Dear friends,

Sadie, an elderly woman, goes up to a man at a bus stop in Boro Park. She tugs on the sleeve of his coat and asks, "Farshtayn Yiddish?" The man answers, "Yes, Ich Farshtay." Sadie then says, "Vot Time Is It?"

Last night, I had the great privilege of watching a 6 hour Farbrengen with the Rebbe, from 1975. The talk was in Yiddish. In between the talks, some had the opportunity to go up and have a word with the Rebbe. At this Farbrengen, the crowed also included dignitaries such as: Senators, Mayors, Governors and their representative, as well as from the President himself. Each one presented greetings, proclamations, keys to their states and cities, congratulating the Rebbe on his 25 years of leadership, and thanking him for his immeasurable contribution to their country, and of course to the world.

(It is noteworthy how I noticed, that the Rebbe made sure to say to each rep, as they presented their gift. "This is not for me, this is for the movement". "It's for the movement." Over and over again I heard this. Why was this so necessary?)

Every 10 minutes, I wanted to stop the tape and write down the message, to share with you all in the email today.  There was simply a universe full of inspiration and empowerment, I can't begin to explain. Moments of tears. moments of dancing, moved to the core I finally left the house at 6:30am for morning Tefillin and Prayer at Shul. 

One small thought though, (because I'm getting a bit tired). The third talk was all about kings and leadership. It was a lengthy sicha, full of mystical and practical guidance, especially for the dignitaries that were present. The Rebbe also spoke about the urgent call, for everyone to be a king and queen. To become leaders. Leaders first and foremost, in ourselves!

Combating the selfish and material inclinations, is no easy task. In Kabbalahs words, the evil inclination is "an old and foolish king", but a king nonetheless. To take control, one needs to be king, a HOLY king. The primary attribute of a king in Kabbalah is Malchut, which is the epitome of selflessness. She has nothing of her own. Her nothingness then becomes the perfect fuel to be a conduit, thus the power of her royalty.

The power of your kingly leadership can then come into the home, to make your home a dwelling place for G-d. Following which, we can then go out and change the world.

Wishing you a Shabbat of Kingship!

Sincerely,

Rabbi Shmuly and Fraidy, Mushkah, Mendel, Yosef and Rochel

What was the first surgery in history and CHAOS

Dear friends,

A Surgeon, an engineer, and a politician were arguing as to which profession was older. "Well," argued the Surgeon, "Gd created Eve from Adam by form of surgery, so I am sure that mine is the oldest profession." "No," said the engineer, "before life began there was complete chaos, and it took an engineer to create some semblance of order from all the chaos. So engineering is older."

"Yes," chirped the triumphant politician, "But, who do you think created the chaos?"

Many might say that "Chaos" is a perfect description, for the global scene in our times. This week though, a friend showed me a motivating line, attributed to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, as follows.

"If you see what needs to be repaired and how to repair it, than you have found a piece of the world that G-d has left for you to complete. But if you only see what is wrong and what is ugly in the world, than it is you yourself that needs repair.

The world is beautiful! It's G-d's world, of course it is. The global inner workings of mother nature, and our universal destiny, are beyond the control of our minds and decisions. As King Solomon says "Many are the thoughts in the heart of man, but the counsel of G-d is what endures" (Proverbs 19:31). Or as we say in Yiddish "Ah mentch tracht un Gu-t lacht".

It's not OUR job to get THE job done. Rather, it's OUR job to get OUR job done. We each have a purpose, for which our Souls journeyed, where our unique qualities are needed. When we do our job, G-d comes in to do the trimmings, and completes the bigger project for us.

We also learn this from Moses and Aaron, in this week's Torah portion. All they had to do was just hit the water with their staff. G-d stepped in, to do the rest of the work.  Their small acts one by one, ultimately steered the world, towards the miraculous redemption of a "chaotic" world, from a vicious empire.

#EveryoneCanBeAKing

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A bit of the action this week.... (find some pics on facebook)

I had the great privilege this week, of studying Torah with over a dozen individuals, in four different classes. I also met one-on-one with a dozen more, some of whom I met for the first time. We motivated each other, shared smiles and love, drew encouragement and ignited our Souls. Also Fraidy's Cheder with the kids, which is an incredible light for this city, ran as usual from MondayThursday.

Please see below the new Hakhel initiative of "everyone can be a king", as well as the all new CKids Jewish childrens enrichment program. Please visit us on facebook for regular updates.

Wishing you a Shabbat of healthy vision!

Sincerely,

Rabbi Shmuly and Fraidy, Mushkah, Mendel, Yosef and Rochel

What happened on the way to Shul

What happened on the way to Shul!

Dear friends,

Happy New Year to one and all!

Last Shabbos morning, the most amazing thing happened. It was around 9:45am, when I was walking to Shul with Mushka and Mendel. We were telling stories, laughing and learning, as we plowed our way through the half hour walk. Then we noticed a woman walking up behind us. Knowing our pace, we moved over to the side and made way for her to pass us up. As she's passing by she says "Shalom"! Hmmm, I thought to myself, "well Shalom, enjoy your day" I said, and we kept on walking. That happens quite often here in Kelowna. 

But then she turned to us and said, "Are you with Chabad?". "Yes of course" I said. 

We got talking, and as it turns out Sharon is Jewish, and has been living here for sometime now. She was very happy to finally meet us, and G-d willing next week we'll be sitting together, to schmooze and inspire each other.

I can't reach out to everyone alone, but through you, we CAN re-ignite the Jewish spark in EVERY SINGLE BROTHER AND SISTER, here in the Okanagan. Friends, now is the time! Now is the time to reach out to your Jewish friends and neighbors, to encourage them, support them, and welcome them to our loving inspiring community. Over the last 2 weeks, I've met more than a dozen new families, all of whom were extremely excited and uplifted, to reconnect with their true deepest self, their Jewish Soul. Deep down, we're all thirsty for it, and absolutely love it, so why withhold this joy from anyone?

It's the year of Hakhel, there's no better time than now! Let's all unite as one!

Wishing you a Shabbat of outreach! 

Sincerely,  

Rabbi Shmuly and Fraidy, Mushkah, Mendel, Yosef and Rochel

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