Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Seeking Ride from Brooklyn to Monsey

Seeking a ride for a woman from Brooklyn to Monsey in time for Sukkos. Please contact pohlock613@yahoo.com.

Sukkos Letter from R' Simcha Werner

A Sukkos Thought

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman, Dean, Cheder Chabad of Monsey (excerpted from Chabad.org) 

Did Anything Actually Happen on Sukkot?

Rabbi Mendel Futterfas was imprisoned in a Siberian labor camp for the crime of assisting his coreligionists in escaping the USSR in the dark post-World War II days. Many of his fellow inmates were professionals and intellectuals from the upper-crust of society, imprisoned because of the ostensible "threat" they constituted to Soviet ideology. This group often wondered how Reb Mendel maintained his cheerful demeanor despite the sub-human conditions which pervaded the camp.

When they posed the question to him, he instantly replied: "You are all dejected because your incarceration prevents you from materializing your life's goals. My goal in life is to serve G‑d. And that—I can do wherever I may be!" More than anything else, we seek happiness in life. "Eternal youth" is nice, but what is it worth if it isn't accompanied by happiness…?

Yet, no matter how much we accomplish in life – materially or spiritually – for many of us happiness seems to be an elusive quality. There always seems to be one more thing we need to accomplish before we can be truly happy. In truth, however, trying to achieve happiness via personal accomplishments or successes is akin to trying to gain wealth through frequenting casinos—you're always "oh so close" to winning the jackpot! Let us examine the nature of the holiday of Sukkot, and thus solve the mystery of happiness. On its surface, the holiday of Sukkot is quite bizarre. Every other holiday on the Jewish calendar commemorates an event which occurred on that particular date; but nothing happened on the 15th of Tishrei which would explain the establishment of a holiday on this date. Every other holiday celebrates a major event which saved the Jewish people from grave danger (such as Passover, Chanukah, or Purim), or changed the course of Jewish history (such as the forgiveness G‑d granted the Israelites on Yom Kippur or the giving of the Torah on Shavuot), but Sukkot celebrates a relatively "minor" miracle—the Clouds of Glory which miraculously surrounded the Jews for the forty years they spent in the desert. During this same period, the Jews were also the beneficiaries of another two miracles, the Manna and the waters which were produced by the rock—the "Well of Miriam."

Yet these two miracles, which seem to be of vastly greater import than the Heavenly Clouds – the Jews could not survive without food and water, but they certainly had the means to erect tents to protect themselves from the elements – did not spawn any holidays. And Sukkot isn't "just another holiday"; it is the most joyous of the three Biblically mandated festivals. In the holiday prayers, each festival is given a short description: Passover is the "Season of our Liberation," Shavuot is the "Season of the Giving of our Torah," but Sukkot is simply described as the "Season of our Rejoicing"! Indeed, the Talmud states that "one who has not witnessed the Festival of the Water Drawing (held on the nights of Sukkot in the Holy Temple) has not seen joy in his lifetime!" Today, too, it is customary to assemble on the nights of Sukkot; to sing, dance, say "l'chaim," and be merry (be sure to find the celebration in your area). But why? What is the reason for the tremendous joy on this holiday?

Incredibly, the secret of Sukkot seems to be its lack of any great miracle. All miracles (or personal achievements) are limited in some way, causing the resulting joy to also be limited. The joy is limited by the scope of the benefit which the miracle or achievement produced; and when the effects of the miracle or accomplishment wear off, the joy becomes passé. Furthermore, there is a Mishnaic dictum: "He who has one hundred desires two hundred, and he who possesses two hundred craves four hundred." It is impossible for one to be ecstatic about a certain achievement when there is always so much more that can be accomplished. For example: On Pesach (Passover) we celebrate our liberty. Yes we were liberated, but so many of us are still horribly enslaved—to our jobs, to peer pressure, and (most importantly) to our impulses and whims. Shavuot is about Torah, but have we taken full advantage of this magnificent gift which G‑d gave us? True happiness comes from that which each and every Jew intrinsically has; a personal relationship with G‑d. This relationship derives from the Divine Soul which every Jew possesses and which was hopefully uncovered during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The awareness that no matter what a Jew's personal spiritual state may be, this relationship is always there – after all, a son or daughter continues to be a son and daughter even if they do not exactly follow the parents' wishes – triggers incredible joy. No matter what, you are connected to G‑d, and He really cares about you!

So on Sukkot we leave the security and comfort of our homes, recognizing that true happiness does not come from our beautifully decorated homes, our designer furniture, or any of our other belongings or achievements. —and all other imaginary sources of happiness—and go out into a flimsy non-weatherproof hut. We sing, rejoice and say l'chaim; we're happy because we finally focus on what's really important in life—our own selves! We venture out into the Sukkah, which the Zohar dubs "The Shade of Faith," and focus on our most important asset—our G‑dly soul and our special relationship with G‑d. Our connection to G‑d is who we are! And because this is our very identity, absolutely nothing can alter it—attempting to disconnect a Jew from G‑d would be akin to attempting to transform a cow into a horse! "Fortunate are we! How good is our portion, how pleasant is our lot, and how beautiful our heritage!"

Reb Mendel Futerfas experienced this joy even in a Siberian prison. And for us, G-d gave the holiday of Succos to realize and internalize this.

Mazel Tov Webbs!

Mazel tov to R' Zvi and Chaya Webb on the birth of a grandson born to Asher and Doba Webb of Crown Heights!

Justice for Sholom Launches 'Fortune 500' Campaign

The Rubashkin Petition, now in it's third week, has launched a massive new campaign entitled “Fortune 500,” with the goal to become number one in petitions gathered in a 30 day span.

The plan is to get 500 people who really care to commit themselves to getting 25 signatures each.

The petition has gathered close to 35,000 signatures in about two weeks time, and would need to gather another 25,000 in the next 2 weeks. Danny Finkelman, who is heading this new campaign, said, “The rate of signatures that we are getting is truly amazing especially during this hectic holiday season.”

Yet Finkelman is not satisfied, so he furthered this grassroots effort and began “Fortune 500”.

With Sukkos quickly approaching, and the deadline for the petition being October 22, there are just two short weeks to go. This makes the “Fortune 500” campaign all the more crucial. “Can you imagine when at 30 days since the launch we have put R' Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin as the number one issue of the White House Petition site?” Finkelman asked.

To become a member of this group simply email SMRpetition@aol.com, state your willingness to become a member and then gather the signatures. Since every person over 13 years with a valid email address could vote, by engaging 10 heads of a household you can quickly have 30 votes or more. The campaign has already gotten over a 100 volunteers who are actively involved appealing to the general public. They have taken this issue very personally and are quickly taking this issue to the top.

“I've never seen such a broad involvement of so many people in such a short period of time,” said Yossi Gestetner, a leading PR expert.“Having over 30,000 people sign up in the two weeks from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur is a worthy accomplishment to congratulate. But to make the Rubashkin Petition the number one petition in the country - that would be truly amazing!”

Email: SMRpetition@aol.com

 Click on the link to sign now: http://wh.gov/gWM

Vote for Mrs. Leah Rubashkin

Mrs. Leah Rubashkin has been nominated as a "Jewish Community Hero" as part of the Jewish Federations of North America Jewish Community Hero's campaign.

Leah is currently ranked number 1 in the Volunteer Heroes category with almost 4,000 votes.

To vote for Leah, click here and click on "Vote Now".