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The Rabbi's Blog

A Message from Rabbi Spalter

Thank You

We find ourselves in the period between the holidays of Pesach and Shavuot when we observe the commandment to count the Omer every day for forty nine days. This counting is meant to help us prepare ourselves spiritually and in every other way for the holiday of Shavuot when we received the Torah from G-d on Mount Sinai.

During this period, we also mourn and refrain from celebrating happy occasions such as weddings and so forth. The reason we mourn during this time, is because, according to tradition, it was during these weeks that a terrible plague broke out and 24,000 students of the great Rabbi Akiva all died. The sages tell us that the reason this happened was because they did not honor each other properly and being that they were such holy people this was considered a great offense for which they were severely punished. This tragedy was so traumatic and such a blow to the Jewish people that it was instituted that this time would be observed forever as a national time of mourning.

What made their offense even more emphasized was the fact that it was Rabbi Akiva, their teacher, who said that ‘love of a fellow Jew was the cardinal rule of the Torah’. For them to show a lack of respect for each other was consequently an even greater failing on their part.

These seven weeks are therefore a time when we pay more attention to and we emphasize the importance of the Mitzvah to love our fellow Jews and greater care is given to make sure that we respect and honor each other. This is a time to reach out to someone you may have neglected and show a little extra love and care. This is a time to mend strained relationships between people and to let go of the past. It’s a time to turn the page and begin anew.

On Shavuot, we celebrate the giving of the Torah at Sinai and according to the Chassidic masters, we actually experience the revelation at Sinai all over again. It is not a celebration of the past, but a celebration of something that reoccurs every year on the holiday of Shavuot. If so, we need to relive the same experience as the Jews of the desert did. The Torah tells us that in order for the Jews to receive the Torah they had to become one unit, one nation, one people. And indeed they rose to the occasion. We are told that when the Jews arrived at Mount Sinai they were like one singular people. They were united, they were one and their hearts were full of love for each other, and the truth is that Jewish Unity is the prerequisite to receiving G-d’s blessings - the biggest being the revelation at Mount Sinai. Today as well, when the Jewish people are in such need for heavenly blessings, we need to create an environment in which those blessings can flow: love and respect for each other. 

This past week, the Weston Jewish Community came together and helped Chabad reach our goal of raising $100,000 in our Double your Dollar campaign. I want to express my deepest gratitude to each of you who contributed with such love and excitement which helped us reach even beyond our goal. I also want to thank the matchers who made the campaign possible. This past Sunday and Monday, many Weston Jews became students of Rabbi Akiva and lived up to his ideal of ‘love your fellow Jew as yourself’ and I thank you for that. May Hashem repay each and every one of you with an abundance of blessings for health, happiness and success in all your endeavors. 

Shabbat Shalom. 

 

Never Again?

In Israel and the world over, Jews commemorated a day of remembrance for the 6,000,000 Jews who perished at the hands of Hitler and his Nazi regime. Survivors told their horrific stories to young and old, thousands marched from Auschwitz to Birkenau in the March of the Living (we salute Dr. Jessica Sternthal who is in Poland representing our community at the march), memorial candles were lit in homes and synagogues around the world and thousands upon thousands flocked to hundreds of Holocaust museums and memorial events to reflect and proclaim “Never Again” and unite with the memories of millions of our people whose only “sin” was that they were Jewish.

Yes, that famous slogan “Never Again”. I wonder if while we said that slogan this year, a thought has not sneaked into our minds asking ourselves if there is really much substance behind those words. It is becoming more and more obvious that the world we thought we can rely on to make certain that such atrocities never happen again, cannot really be trusted at all. This past two months has made it crystal clear that the international community is morally bankrupt. Instead of saying “Never Again”, Iran and its leaders have been saying for the past decades that it “Never Happened”. But that’s not it, at the same time they have also been saying that they want to “Make it Happen”. They say in simple language and unabashedly that they want Israel with its six million Jews wiped off the earth. I believe them. I take them very seriously and at their word. Why Obama, Markel, Hollande, Ban Ki-moon and other world leaders think that it’s hyperbole is beyond me. I cannot understand how the lessons of the Holocaust are so lost on them.  As for us Jews, we know that when despots say and write that they want to exterminate Jews, they should be believed. In the case of Iran, they’re not only saying it, they are racing ahead with plans to actually have the capability to do it. And the world? Fast asleep. With fancy diplomatic words, they brush it under the rug while drinking cocktails and having themselves a good time around negotiating tables as if it was a debate about raising taxes or what have you. Iran is the greatest sponsor of worldwide terrorism, but Israel’s Prime Minister is the stubborn one? Iran threatens to destroy a nation and as part of an agreement they are not asked to give up on that threat? It really boggles the mind that while there are still thousands of men and women among us with tattooed numbers on their arms, who are living witnesses to horrors of the Nazis, Hitler’s heirs are about to get the deal of their dreams which will allow them to have nuclear capabilities and the ability to bring another holocaust to the world in just one decade from now.

I STILL BELIEVE IN “NEVER AGAIN”. I believe that while we may not have too many friends here on earth, we do have one really good friend in heaven. He will protect us. Israel will live and thrive in spite of all of the threats. I believe that Moshiach is very close and G-d almighty will protect us. But that does not mean that we should be complacent. We need to keep up the pressure on world leaders and especially our closest ally, the United States. They must be reminded that “Never Again” means “Never Again”. We must remind them that “evil triumphs when good people are silent” and 70 years ago too many people were silent, including the United States. This is their time to repent. This is their time to speak up. This is the time that the good people of the world should say loud and clear that Iran and its global terror campaign will not be tolerated; that Anti-Semites and Anti-Semitism will not be allowed to continue unchecked, and it makes no difference if it comes from ISIS, Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas or it comes from professors on college campuses and other slick Jew haters out there who talk about “Human Rights” of Palestinians only when they live in Gaza or the West Bank, but not when they live, or rather get killed, in Syria and other Arab states.

May the memories of the six million be a blessing to us and the entire world and may we be reunited with them now with the coming of Moshiach. Am Yisrael Chai.

Good Shabbos

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