Friday, August 31, 2007

Uncle Shmuel wants YOU!

... to come to Shul on Shabbat!

See you there :-)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Speeding Ticket Story

Many people have gotten out of receiving a traffic ticket using all sorts of excuses. But no one ever had a better excuse than the woman from Crown Heights who was pulled over by a N.Y.C. traffic cop. Standing outside her open car window and watching her fumble for her license, the police officer caught sight of a picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, R' Menachem Mendel Schneerson, in her open purse.

"Excuse me, Ma'am," he asked, "are you one of the followers of this Rabbi?" She replied that she was.

"Let me tell you a story about that Rabbi," said the cop. "It's my favorite story, but I haven't told it to many Jewish people, in fact, I think that you are the first." He raised his voice over the din of passing cars.

"I used to be in the police escort that once a week escorted the Rabbi to the Montefiore Cemetery (where he would pray at the gravesite of his saintly predecessor, R' Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn). I got to know some of the young men who accompanied the Rabbi, and I learned a thing or two about Hasidim. They are very friendly people and we talked alot while the Rabbi was inside praying.

"They used to tell us all about the greatness of the Rabbi and how he tries to help people all the time. I was standing there with some of my buddies and I half-jokingly asked if the Rabbi helps non-Jews also.

"'Sure,' they said, 'The Rebbe helps anyone who asks. Why? Do you need something?'

"Later, in private, I told one of the young men, that my wife and I had been married for nine years with no children, and one week ago the doctors told us that we had no chance. We had spent a lot of money on treatments, seen all sorts of big professors, we were running around like crazy for the last six or seven years, and now they told us that they tried everything and there is no more hope. You can't imagine how broken we were. My wife cried all the time and I started crying myself.

"So this young man tells me, 'Listen, the next time that you escort the Rebbe to the cemetery, stand near the door of his car and when he gets out, ask him for a blessing.' And you know, that's just what I did! The next time I was in the escort, I stood by his door and when he got out I said to him, 'Excuse me, Rabbi, do you only bless Jewish people or non-Jews too?'

"I'll never forget how the Rabbi looked at me - like I was a good friend! He said that if he can, he tries to help anyone who asks. So I told him what the doctors said, and he told me to write down on a piece of paper my name and my father's name together with my wife's name and her father's name, so he can pray for us. I did it, although I did think it was funny writing down my father and father-in-law's names - real heavy-duty Irish names. But I did it and you know what? In a short time, my wife was expecting and nine months later she gave birth to a baby boy! The doctors went crazy, they couldn't figure it out, and when I told them that the only difference was a Rabbi's blessing, they just scratched their heads. Wow! It was unbelievable!"

The cop's face was truly glowing at this point. "But here comes the best part. Do you know what we called him? What name we gave our baby boy? We called him 'Mendel' after the Rabbi. Can you imagine? The only Irish 'Mendel' in the neighborhood - probably in the world! At first my wife didn't like the name because it didn't sound American. Hey, it doesn't even sound Irish! But I said, No! We're calling him Mendel!

"Of course, our parents objected when they heard the name. They said, 'With a name like that, all the kids will be cruel to him. Why make the kid suffer for no reason?' But they're missing the point. When he comes home and says that the other kids called him names and beat him up because he has a Jewish name, I'll tell him that I want him to learn from those other kids how not to behave. They hate the Jews for no reason, but you should love the Jews, you should help the Jews. You just tell them that without that Jewish Rabbi called Mendel you wouldn't be here at all, and then maybe they'll start thinking differently too!"

Needless to say, he did not give her a ticket.
(Adapted from an email received from Rabbi Michoel Seligson. I believe it was originally written by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Torah -- Old-Fashioned?

In every time and every generation, critics and pundits deemed the Torah old-fashioned. This is, and always has been, a factual error. “Old-fashioned” implies that it was once in fashion, and only later became old fashioned. The Torah, on the other hand, has never been in fashion. Its teachings have always been radically out-of-the-box and revolutionary, never conforming with the prevalent attitudes of every society and every age.

Indeed, for most of recorded history, the Torah’s very core principles of Monotheism and the Sinaitic Revelation pitted its practitioners at odds with most of the world’s inhabitants.

It was never fashionable to believe in the Torah’s eternal truths, to assert that G-d is One, infinite and all-transcendent, yet inseparably pervasive and intimately mindful of the most finite detail of our daily existence. No, it was never fashionable to abstain from all creative labors on the Sabbath, to observe the kosher dietary laws, and to observe the Torah’s supra-rational Mitzvot with the same devotion as its rational ones.

The Torah has always been far ahead of its time, so much so that the “times” still haven’t caught up with the Torah yet.

To be continued...