Printed from ChabadRT.org

Weekly Newsletter Message

Stop Feeding Antisemitism

Please think twice before publicly criticizing Israel, "ultra orthodox" Jews, or any other Jews, whether on social media or any other public forum.

Not to say that they are above criticism. But there are unintended and dangerous consequences that we must take into account.

Our criticism gives fodder to, fires up, and lays the groundwork for the anti-Semite. 

What begins as (perhaps) legitimate criticism by well meaning Jews often ends as dangerous hatred by anti Semites.

I'm sure Judge Goldstone, the author of the now infamous Goldstone report condemning Israel, meant well. After all, he was bringing to light certain wrongs that he felt needed to be addressed. But it didn’t stop there. It never does. The anti Israel movements today, such as the BDS movement, are purely anti-Semitic movements dedicated to the complete destruction of Israel.

Recently, there was a negative story in the media pertaining to a so-called “ultra-orthodox” community. Some well meaning Jews shared the article on social media. After all, if the allegations are true, it is a shanda and the community or individuals involved should be exposed and held accountable. The problem is that such posts unfortunately feed the anti-Semites. I was horrified by some of the comments that were posted in response, comments like “All 50,000 of them should be rounded up”!

Obviously I‘m not suggesting that Antisemitism is our fault, the anti-Semite will hate regardless of what we say or do, but in times likes this, when Antisemitism is on the rise around the world, we don’t need to fuel the fire and fan the flames of hatred.

We don’t need to be the ones leading the charge to expose all the skeletons. Our enemies will do a good enough job without our help.  (and by the way, the anti Semite doesn’t differentiate between the Jew living in the West Bank and the Jew in America, or between the Jew living in Monsey and the Jew in Dobbs Ferry)

I’m sure there’s plenty to criticize, but there’s also plenty to praise. Instead of digging up and exposing all the dirt, why not focus and extol the positive, whether at our dinner tables, on Facebook or in the media. 

(And if one feels strongly that there is an issue that must be addressed that will not be addressed without him and there is something practical that he can do about it, deal with directly and privately so as not to cause more harm than good.)

We live in scary times and we need to respond with a unified and strong Jewish community not a fragmented one that points fingers.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Benjy Silverman

PS. Please join us for First Fridays next Friday (April 1st) 6:30 pm. Upbeat services followed by a gourmet Kiddush. 

 

Acting Presidential

The presidential candidates are acting like they have forgotten that they are running for President of the United States, the most important and dignified office in the world.

I’m not knocking or endorsing any specific candidate so here’s my advice to all of them: If you want to be the President, act like one.

But rather than just kvetching about the tone of the presidential campaign, in the spirit of Chasidism to learn a lesson from all that we encounter in life, let’s use it as a personal learning experience to bring more positive in to the world.

Which brings me to my point today.

The Haftorah that is usually read this Shabbat begins with the words “I formed this nation for myself. They declare my praise”

A Jew is G-d’s masterpiece and we bring glory to Hashem (this is especially true after the holocaust, when every Jew is a living miracle).

Just as a president, or presidential candidate, should live up to the office he or she represents, or would like to represent; so too we, as Jews, must strive to live up to the office we represent.

Every word that leaves our mouths, every decision and every action, ought to be carefully weighed; is this befitting of someone who is G-d ‘s masterpiece?

Act presidential. Don’t degrade the office you are representing!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Benjy Silverman 

PS. I recently started sending out a 60 second inspirational video each day via text message. If you would like to receive the daily clip please reply to this email.

 

 

How Ironic

We have more conveniences than ever, yet we have less time. We have more “toys”, but less happiness; more communication but less connection; more wealth but less well-being; fancier houses, but broken homes.

We have so many blessings, yet are so cursed.

The Jews traveling in the desert were also blessed. They were blessed, we are told, with tremendous wealth. However, after the golden calf debacle it became clear that this wealth was the source of their undoing; their blessing had become their curse.

What happens next is a great lesson for our generation.

G-d doesn’t remove their wealth, instead G-d instructs the Jews to build a Mishkan, a tabernacle, out of gold.

The Torah dedicates four full portions to the building of the tabernacle culminating in this weeks’ portion, Pekudei, in order to teach us this crucial lesson: Use your wealth for a higher purpose and it will remain a blessing. See it as a means to an end, not an end unto itself.

Perhaps we can draw a lesson from the oldest man alive, after all he has plenty of life experience J Holocaust survivor, Yisrael Kristal, was recently formally recognized as the world’s oldest man. When asked in an interview if perhaps he had reached an advanced age due to a special diet, he said, “In the camps there wasn’t always anything to eat. What they gave me, I ate. I eat to live; I don’t live to eat.”

To live in order to eat is to confuse the means with the end. One becomes a slave to food. The same is true with all our blessings. When we confuse the means with the end we become slaves to the means.

Don’t live to make money, make money to live. You are master, money the slave.

With all the blessings of today we have the potential to be the happiest generation ever, as long as we don't become a slave to the blessings, as long as we see them as tools and as a means to a higher end.

Shabbat Shalom 

Rabbi Benjy Silverman

Learn from toddlers

“Blessed are You, G‑d, our G‑d, Master of the world, for allowing us to live, sustaining us, and allowing us to reach this time” – The shehechiyanu blessing.

It’s amazing how quickly kids adapt to change.

A few months ago our one year old fractured his leg. He came home with a heavy cast all the way up his leg. Completely immobilized he was visibly frustrated…… for approximately two minutes. In no time at all he came to terms with his new reality and figured out how to scoot around happily.

Kids are amazing; no matter what you throw their way they seem to adjust to and deal with happily.

As adults we tend to react to change and challenge by worrying about the future or comparing to the past and kvetching. We have expectations of what we think life should be like and are disappointed with our reality. Not exactly a recipe for happiness. 

Young children, on the other hand, embrace the present. There’s no worry about the future for the whole concept of future is too abstract for them to grasp and yesterday no longer exists so there are no expectations, just what is. Their present reality is the only life they know and they make sure to enjoy it.

Learn from the young. The past and future are meant to guide and direct the present, not destroy it. Stop the could have, should have and what if’s and embrace your present reality.

Shabbat Shalom 

Rabbi Benjy Silverman

P.S. Join us at First Friday tonight at 6:30 pm. Upbeat services followed by a  gourmet Kiddush.

 

 

 

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