Printed from

Rabbi Fishel's Blog

CEO of Arthrex live like a pauper


Sow in tears and reap with songs of joy

 We all know the statement from King David,  “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy”.  How does that work?

Friday morning I was invited to hear Neapolitan Reinhold Schmieding, President and CEO of Arthrex, speak about the history of his company -- past, present, and future.  Arthrex now has 2,000 employees and is growing exponentially, producing devices used in arthroscopic surgery, like sutures designed to reattach torn Achilles tendons and specialized knives  to shave off human bone. As the son of a dentist Schmieding was expected to go to medical school but he abandoned those plans in favor of engineering and business. While working for an American medical device firm in Germany, he decided to make tools for the growing field of minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery. He bought a $50 drafting table and began sketching at night. His privately-held company now makes 94% of its products  in the United States.

One thing that struck me was a small table next to him on the podium. He said that for the first few years he lived like a pauper and this table was the first and only thing he had owned from his small lab where he conducted the original experiments. He now keeps it in his office to remind him of what his mission was and is. He said that if you really want to do something that you are passionate about,  be aware that it will take tremendous sacrifices. You will have to 'sow with tears' but at the end, and with luck and blessings, you will 'reap with joy'. Everything in life is like this:  it may seem limiting at the beginning but it is freeing at the end when you succeed.

This week's Torah portion's name is "seed" and  "sowing” -- if you sow it will grow.

Purim celebration & Mikvah Dedication

This past week, almost every day and evening, our beautiful Chabad Center looked and felt just the way it should: vibrant, enlightening, and full of people from the community enjoying and sharing educational and spiritual events.
On Sunday, following the second reading of the Megillah, sounds of Purim filled the air with joy and laughter as almost 200 people, many of them children, joined the fun and revelry. This was followed on Monday by our much-anticipated Mikvah dedication and ribbon-cutting. What a night! Team Sally Aaron, the Elias Brothers and Yitzchak families were out in full force -- even the rain held off as we met to honor this hard-working group and tour the stunning new state-of-the art facility made possible by their devoted efforts. Following the ceremony we enjoyed a social hour and an extremely interesting guest speaker, Shimona Tzukernik, who left us wishing for 'more'.
The Mikvah reminds us that water is such an important and essential part of our bodies and our lives. A great percentage of our bodies is composed of water, and we are constantly rehydrating and replacing it, using it to cleanse and purify and connect spiritually. In fact, water is so integral to our lives that we are barely conscious of how often we use it as we drink, wash our hands, and cleanse objects around us.
The Alex and Carol Glassman Chabad Community Center, just like rejuvenating and purifying water itself, is so much a part of our lives and is bringing us much-needed nourishment and replenishment for body and soul with its dynamic, enriching events. Let us all take a few moments consciously to appreciate this great blessing in our presence and to continue to plan to provide for its sustenance well into the future.

Be joyful in the face of unbearable sadness ----


Be joyful in the face of unbearable sadness ----


As we look to celebrate some really joyous occasions at Chabad of Naples, how ironic it is to regard them from a bitter and sweet stance:  but isn't that realistically what we Jews sometimes have had to face in our lives?  With heavy hearts, we often have faced joyous occasions. 

A tragedy of epic proportion took place late Tuesday night, when a young mother of eight, at the age of 37, passed away suddenly, leaving her family, her community in Alpharetta, GA and the Chabad world reeling in shock.
Read about the story
at this link.

Rashi Minkowicz and her husband Hirshy were warm, respected and hospitable role models in the community and for me personally, when as a rabbinical student I stayed in their home for one weekend one summer. We are at a loss for words -- there is just no explanation for such a tragedy. We are praying for her family.

About six months ago, Mrs. Rashi Minkowicz’s aunt Mrs. Shaindy Lieberman of blessed memory, a kind, sweet and precious Neshamah and Chabad Rebbitzin to Fort Lauderdale, FL, passed away at the age of 59. It happened a few days before the anniversary of the passing of Rashi’s grandmother and namesake, Mrs. Rashi Gansbourg, who also passed away at the young age of 37. 
Rashi wrote the e-mail  below to her siblings and cousins. The title of the email was “How to Stop Crying.” Rashi’s husband Hirshy requested that, in keeping with Rashi’s style of  ‘saying it as it is,’ we present the e-mail to our readers unedited and in full.


              This Friday is bubby Rashis Yahrtzeit and I keep thinking today of the story of how Zaidy Gansbourg was dancing on simchas Torah with such intense joy just a few days after  bubby Rashi died. I keep asking myself what am I taking from today’s tragedy and the Yahrtzeit of bubby Bubbu Rashi… As my bitter tears fall into my mixing bowl I can’t help but wonder if Zaidy Gansbourg would be proud of my falling apart. Would he be looking down and seeing that we are truly living his message or are we falling apart which is the easy way out. 

Obviously we know what we need to do.  Somehow we need to transform the energy of our crying into joy because joy is as productive as sadness is destructive . Both require energy… To be joyful in face of unbearable sadness is the hardest challenge of all. But Zaidy did it as a true Chassid and an entirely godly man. We need to take his lead and triumph over our natural reactions to this crazy world of pain and darkness. If G-d could be crazy so can we. Crazy enough to accept His challenge and forge ahead. 

Just rambling but I need to keep saying this so I don’t completely destruct. May Zaidy Gansbourg and Bubby Rashi and Shaya Gansbourg look down at their family and offspring and know that while they are gone we continue to keep their spirit alive by smiling while we are weeping and by continuing to climb the arduous mountains that are put in our way. 

And may the Neshoma of Shaina Chaya bas Rochel Leah be begging Hashem along with all the other special Neshomos that were taken way too soon that Moshiach come NOW!!!

Wishing u all a good yomtov!
Rashi Minkowicz

This is what Purim is and I am facing Shabbat and Purim with both sides of my heart exposed -- both joy and sadness -- and I will try somehow to respond with light. 

Purim, which begins Saturday night is a rich story with many valuable themes. We celebrate the miracle of the survival of the Jews. We recognize that as much as things looked bleak for the Jews, in an instant, things switched from darkness, to light. "V'nahapochu" - "And it was turned/flipped over" is the term the Megillah uses. Join me in bringing light with the Shabbat candles, and celebrating the holiday of Purim which is the triumph of light over darkness good over evil by hearing the Megillah and coming to the celebration on Sunday.

I can't make any sense out of this tragedy. I can't fathom being happy when something so sad and dark has happened, but it's still Purim. Purim reminds us that when all seems lost, "V'nahpochu"! It can all be turned around and flipped over to goodness in an instant. 

And so, I am going to challenge myself and you as well, to find the inner strength and march forward and be happy.  

As our fellow Israelis take to the streets to celebrate Purim, we pray for their safety from the recent missile offensive, may G-d protect them and us.

Rabbi Fishel Zaklos

quiet time with a spouse

Dear Friends,

On many different occasions, the People of Israel are occupied with numbers and counting, either their livestock and possessions, counting the Omer, or themselves as they do a census. What is this preoccupation with inventory, you might wonder?

We could all benefit from a little inventory on occasion as we assess and reassess our place in this confusing world and how we relate to others. 

When small children first encounter a new acquaintance, they will usually try to figure out that person's place in their lives by all the physical attributes: sex, size, age, and friendliness. They also in typical childlike manner like to know how many things they have and how old people are. They are fascinated by numbers before they really grasp the concept.

Adults, on the other hand, may be attracted by human physical attributes at first, but generally wish to go a step further before admitting a stranger to their circle, by considering his character: honesty, reliability, ethics, generosity. Before we put others under our moral microscope, perhaps it's time to look in the moral mirror.

Most of us, if we took a household inventory, would find closets full of clothes and shoes we rarely if ever wear, and shelves full of knicknacks, books, and other long-forgotten treasures for which we have no use. What do you think we might find if we took a personal inventory? A smile getting dusty on the shelf? A kind word or compliment we forgot to use? A few extra hours we tucked away to spend with the elderly, but forgot we had saved them? What about the games with the children, or the quiet time with a spouse?

As we take stock of the ten wonderfully successful years we have spent building Chabad of Naples, we like to think of all the exciting things we have on our shelves, and none of them is collecting dust! An award-winning Preschool of the Arts, a Hebrew school, Women s Circle, summer camp programs, a Men's Club, Flying Challahs, loyal Shabbat attendees year-round, and one of the most supportive groups of caring partners one could ever imagine. With your continued help, we look forward to adding many more years of useful, loving inventory to Chabad of Naples shelves.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.