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Rabbi Fishel's Blog

"Only the car ran out of gas ----"

Investments can occasionally be risky business and not for the faint of heart, but there are other investments in life itself that require our totally dedicated hearts and souls. They are our strongest convictions and we carry them with us at all times.
Some years ago (August 2004), my brother Mendy who was a rabbinical student at the time, and a friend of his were visiting Naples when their car ran out of gas on 41. As they pushed the vehicle into a nearby Pure gas station, they were joined by a young man who ran to assist them. As his mother Lois Kelley tells it, her son Adam noticed and advised his mother that there were "Two fellows who looked Jewish pushing a car."
"In Naples?" she later confessed was her first thought.
Within the 3 - 4 minutes it took them to push the car into the gas station, Mendy and his friend had found out that Adam was Jewish, had celebrated his bar mitzvah, and asked if he had ever put on tefillin.
He hadn't, but he agreed to do it as Lois said, right then and there -- in 95-degree heat on a Friday afternoon in a gas station.
Not only did this exemplify commitment and dedication on all sides, but it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship and bond between the two families.
This anecdote relates to last week's comments as well, about living in and appreciating the moment. Having the ability to be fully invested in what you believe allows you the freedom to reach out, adapt naturally and participate in many opportunities that you might otherwise have missed.
Our Naples Chabad is like that too: just by being here with our doors and hearts open, we constantly attract and welcome new members to our extended family. They come to pray, and often stay for the fellowship and everything else that Chabad Naples offers. 

"How do you explain two Jews pushing a car?  Listen to Lois!" SHE SAYS IT BEST!






his father told him not to waste time

Seize the Moment!

 "...But he who kisses the joy as it flies
    Lives in eternity's sun rise."

With these words, the English poet (and artist) William Blake, seemed to understand one's appreciation for being able to both seize and live in the moment.  

Young Gabriel Felder, in his 2014 George Washington University commencement speech, somewhat immortalized The Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson yet again, by quoting him to emphasize how in each journey of life we should be aware of where we are.  True, we may be just passing through current events on our way to something else, but where we are is important and we should never take the present for granted; life doesn't begin when we say it does. Gabe studied Torah with my dear friend Yudi Steiner, Rabbi at GWU, every week for the last four years.

Gabe's father had entreated him, as he began his years at college, not to waste his time; unfortunately, Gabe reported, he passed away, missing the chance to see him graduate.

Seize the moment, or as a Starbucks fan might say, "Wake up and smell the cappuchino!"

So how is it that a poet and artist from the 19th century and a coffee vendor have so many ideas in common with a beloved Rebbe?

Perhaps, going through life some of us miss out on the real joy of life by anticipating what comes next.  Where are we? We are unable to focus on and appreciate what is around us, because our minds are moving on to the next event -- we are too busy anticipating. We have all done it:  we are so engrossed not only by the words of a heated discussion but also in planning a clever retort to the current speaker that we miss the point of what he is saying. Where did we lose the ability to allow ourselves to be totally engrossed with the present, so anxious are we to make it the past? And at what cost?

During this Memorial Day weekend, we have an opportunity to invest our quality time with family, and what better way is there to honor all the brave men and women and their sacrifices, who have given us this gift of time?

Reach out, grab it, kiss the joy as it flies -- and stop long enough to smell that cappuchino!  Seizing the moment and living fully within it is the best way to acknowledge all that is good about the past and build a solid foundation for a great, happy and prosperous future. 


We send you CHOCOLATE-COVERED thanks

The Power of Words

We can try to communicate with others by connecting with them through eye contact or through physical contact, but sometimes we are left with words to express ourselves completely. As hard as we may try, we can only hope that our sincerity, when we express our thanks and our appreciation for your being our partners with simple words, rings true with you:  we mean it with all our hearts. As often as we try to transmit to others just how grateful we are to the members of the Partners Project, we wonder if we are successful in explaining just how important it is to have everyone on board sharing similar goals and ideas that will open the doors of Chabad of Naples even wider.  The Partners Event always leaves us with such a good feeling, seeing everyone together enjoying a purely social evening. Yes, it's all about giving, but at the same time, even more, it's about the energy, the dynamics, and good feelings we share when we see some of the fruits, (or should we say 'chocolates') of our labor being realized. Through its programs and deeds of kindness  Chabad of Naples is making an indelible mark on the community on a daily basis. This alone is reason enough for many of you to wish to be associated with us.

Positive feedback about the Partners event has been fast and furious, and we can only hope it might encourage some to step up and join us as new partners, some to continue their generosity, and others to find the means to increase their levels of partnership.  The level of involvement is your choice.

Most people have the opportunity merely to sugar-coat their words, but here at Chabad we aim for the very best.  So we now send you CHOCOLATE-COVERED thanks for your continued support with the hope that we enjoy many more events such as this together as we watch Chabad grow.

My Mother the real MVP

Here's to the Moms!

 Mothers’ Day --  and typically we wonder what we would do without mothers and why we have only one special day a year to recognize them and make them feel special.  Where would be be without mothers?  Obviously -- nowhere! What makes a mother so special? She is the person who loves you unconditionally all your life, rejoicing in your successes and feeling your pain.  She has no agenda other than wanting to see her child be the best he can be, and be happy doing it. She has an undying belief in her child and his potential, and is happy with being loved in return. 

Now with the basketball playoffs, one of the professional players named Kevin Durant just won the MVP (most valuable player) award. When he accepted, he said how his mom sacrificed everything for her children. When they didn’t have food she managed to find it even if it meant she did without. When they needed a roof over their heads, she was able to find it. She made her children believe. He said she was the real MVP. 

When I was very young, I returned from a party with a strong desire to master juggling. Feeling my excitement and noticing the sparkle in my eyes, my mom made a purchase: the next day, waiting for me when I got home, were  three perfect bean bag juggling balls and a unicycle. I went to a parking lot accompanied by my mom where, without a clue about what I was doing, I repeatedly fell and got up and tried again while she cried out, “That was amazing!”

That’s where I honed my juggling skills -- (not my number one talent, mind you, but juggling Rabbis are pretty rare!).

My mom made me feel that there was nothing I couldn't do, if I put my mind to it.

My mother believed in me, wanted the best and I felt it. I am just so at peace knowing that my children have that same love and selflessness from my dear wife Ettie.

Moms are there for us through the good times and during those that can be more trying -- let’s try to set aside more than just one isolated day a year to think about those powerful women who sacrificed so much in so many ways, to make us the people we are today.

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