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Rabbi Fishel's Blog

don't ever forget, you are a 'royal baby too'

 Dear Friends, 

Usually one month before they actually begin, marks the date when people really start talking about the High Holidays (so please look out for an e-mail next week about all the exciting information of the upcoming High Holidays at Chabad Naples).  One nice part of the holidays  is the  prayers.  You know that with prayers at Chabad Naples there is running commentary to bring the messages to life, and to really inspire you regardless of where you stand or whatever your level.

There is a feeling of family and the services are uplifting, punctuated  by relevant examples that relate to your life today. For thousands of years, we always knew the power and meaning and relevance of prayer. For any issue in life, big or small - -  a toothache or an existential crisis, a dilemma or struggle of any sort, we had our cosmic therapist always waiting and ready to listen, and for free too. Today we would say, "There's an App for that!"

A Jew always opens his or her heart and talks to G-d as you talk to your best, most trusted friend in the world. It’s a powerful feeling.

But, there is an old question: Why do we pray? Do you really think you can change G-d’s mind? If G-d decided something for you, will you really tweak His infinite psyche during prayer and have him alter His position? That would seem brazen, ridiculous, and even a form of heresy. Did G-d not know your position on the matter? Yet He still made a decision about what to do. So who do you think you are to pray?And if He is really G-d, He probably knows on His own what you want. Does He need you to pray? What really happens when we pray?

There are a few explanations for this enigma called prayer. One of them is simple and profound: prayer is not to change G-d, it is to change ourselves. Through prayer we become different people, we are not the same people we were before our prayers. Hence, the decree that G-d has in store for us might change not because G-d changed, but because we changed. We are not the same people on whom He decreed that specific decree. We become more grateful, we become kinder: it's like a reset, allowing our brains, body and soul to reboot.

Less than prayer changes G-d, it changes us.

There has been so much excitement surrounding the birth of a future king, that sometimes each and every one of us forgets our own 'royal status': don't ever forget, you are a 'royal baby too' -- when prayer allows you to step back and re-boot, you become more grateful and recognize that if G-D did indeed create you then he needs you, and you matter.  We are all his 'princes'.  Remember the Lion King:  Mufasa tells his son, "Remember who you are...."

Warm regards,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

P.S.Watch for next week's  e-mail with details on the High Holidays and let's all join together to give ourselves this powerful gift.

Ten years since we drove down 5th Ave.

Dear Friends,

Next week will mark ten years since Ettie and I arrived in Naples for the first time as a couple. We came, we drove around, we hit 5th Avenue (not sure if we grabbed a coffee or not, it was a long time ago) and we looked around the area. Not knowing a soul, nevertheless we hoped very soon to establish a home, a center of goodness and kindness  - Chabad of Naples. We were planning to hold High Holiday services as our first event and we eventually held services in The Hilton on Marco Island, probably because no one told us there was a Hilton in Naples. I don't believe it was before Internet-- perhaps just before we became so Internet-dependent! Definitely before iPhones!  Those of you who have been along for the ride, will recall all the names and locations, trials and errors, from the rental on Park Shore to stopping at all the hotels along 41 from Vanderbilt Beach Road as far south as Golden Gate Parkway.  We pretty much covered all of Naples until we found a  home next to the bicycle shop.  We had an awesome time there on Seagate, and now----today we have this unbelievable beautiful center with an even more incredible thriving, growing, and amazing community.  

We just want to say thank you to G-d and thank you to all the wonderful people of Naples & Marco Island. Thank you to you - our extended family. It has been an amazing ten years with indescribable emotions, so let’s just be content with a genuine and simple 'thank you'. Naples is the most amazing place to live, hands down! We truly look forward to another incredible decade with you – our dear extended Chabad Naples family. 

In honor of this milestone, and since the Torah portion begins with Moses’ determination and persistence to get into his promised land, and because our last decade has been an amazing journey to get into our promised land/building (Chabad of Naples), I want to share with you this old saying:

Aspire to inspire before you expire. Happiness keeps you sweet. Trials keep you strong. Sorrows keep you human. Failures keep you humble. Success keeps you glowing. But only G-d keeps you going.

In honor of the decade since Ettie and I came together to this beautiful paradise, share this with a friend and LIKE Chabad Naples so we can continue bringing love and warmth and good deeds in an even more “LIKEABLE” way!

 Have a great Shabbat,

 Rabbi Fishel & Ettie

I'm more into the Purim Holiday mode!

Dear Friends,

There are days when you wake up and  are really happy, and then there are days where you seem to wake up feeling just a bit gloomy (A Kosher Mocha with whipped cream is needed ASAP). Ever feel that way? On the Jewish calendar there are some days like Purim ( the most joyous holiday) that are happy days and then there is a day like 9th of Av, the day we mourn the destruction of both Holy Temples, which this year falls on Tuesday, that are sad days.  To be quite honest, let’s just say I am usually more into the Purim Holiday mode!

But there is also a time for reflection and introspection, especially when some days like Tisha B'Av simply call for it.  There are many insights and themes to discuss about this day:  to learn more click here. But I will go for one which I think is pretty powerful. 

Briefly stated, this sad day came about because the Jews complained and kvetched when there was no need. And G-d said, “Because you are crying when there is no reason to, I will give you a reason to cry.”

Pretty harsh. But I don’t want to dwell on the harsh side of it, so I will go with the opposite:  it says that if G-d deals any way with the negative then he acts accordingly with the positive and even more. So this is how it goes with the positive:  “If you are happy and thankful, even when there is no reason to be, I will find a good reason to make you happy.”

Practically speaking, sometimes when we look at ourselves and our lives we tend to focus on what we don’t have and we start kvetching. The result is that one kvetch leads to another and the boomerang effect kicks in. So this date on the Jewish calendar reminds us: “Hey, take one aspect of your life to be thankful for and you will see that happiness and goodness will bounce back -- it's contagious." 

This is the meaning of the famous statement that one good deed LEADS to another. When you do it, you get into the groove of being healthy; being thankful and happy and those good things in life find you. And the reverse -- but I don’t want to talk about that -- because by now you know I'm more into the Purim Holiday mode.


After hearing it from her today I was inspired to write this message. Thank you Chaya!

 Wishing you all a good Shabbas,

 Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos



A Kvetch 

An elderly Jewish man was riding on a train. He begins to kvetch, to complain, "Oy, am I thirsty; Oy, am I thirsty."    

Finally, the person sitting next to him can't stand it anymore, and goes to get the man a bottle of water. The traveler drinks it all in a few gulps and wipes his lips with satisfaction. Everything is fine, until a few minutes later he begins to kvetch again:

 "Oy, vas I thirsty. Oy, vas I thirsty." 

Did you promise your child a slurpee

Dear Friends,

Moms and Dads:  you can all relate to this -- "You said you were going to take us to Rita's ......"  (followed by a woebegone look).  Or, "Please know that my door is always open and you are more than welcome to come over any time..."  How about, "If there is anything at all I can ever do for you -- don't hesitate to ask!"  You know, we all get invitations like this, that sound so sincere and sociably acceptable, but what happens when you take these people up on their offers?

Here is the bottom line:  we say and promise so many things throughout the day that perhaps we forget how many people listen to our words. How many people actually digest those words and what effect does their meaning have on them?   The recipient may have heard the words and absorbed them... and then, nothing happened. It can be a huge, disappointing blow. 

In this week's Torah portion, before his death Moses cautions the leaders, because they make many promises.  Even as parents, when we say that we are going to take our kids to Rita’s, they remember and wait for it to happen. To you, some comments may have been unimportant and you didn’t put much weight on them, but others did. As parents and as business associates, a word is a word; if you tell a vendor the check is in the mail when it isn't, you stand to lose not only a business deal but trust.

When the Ethics of Our Fathers discusses three great qualities it says among the Crown of Torah, the Crown of Priesthood, and the Crown of Kingship, "....but the crown of good name surpasses them all."  A good name and a good reputation is all we have!

When I saw the smiles and the children’s faces at camp today, I was reminded that we said we were going to give all 130 children a fantastic, awesome and safe time at Summer of the Arts. We meant it! Another 2 weeks to go…

And now, I have to run -- my daughter just said I promised the kids Slurpees -- did I?  Trust me, I will fulfill this promise or else.

wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,

 Rabbi Fishel





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