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Rabbi Fishel's Blog

Leave the door open -- it's our own dear Eliyahu!

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Dear Friends,

This week as we come together for Shabbat, we honor yet another one of our special people.  Without a doubt, everyone is special to us, and we wish more of you had known our dear Eliyahu, Alex, the man for whom the Glassman Center is now known. Eliyahu the prophet was a simple yet intense man - and that, in a few words, sums up Alex Glassman as well. 

He didn't know how to be devious and had the unique ability to discuss controversial ideas with others without putting down their ideas. He would say he dealt in facts, "like a scientist"  rather than getting emotional and hot under the collar as some of us do.  

Like the prophet for whom he was named, he led a long, rich life, yet he remained an extremely simple, modest man. He would be quite overwhelmed by having his name on a center and be the first to tell you he didn't deserve it. At the same time, he would be honored beyond words. 

When meeting Alex my first impression was that he was a towering figure - how special it is and what a comfort to be able to honor his neshamah and his name here in this building. Doing a mitzvah, a Kiddush or dedicating something is for the neshamah.

Alex was also a very social person, and I know his neshamah is happily watching over us and enjoying our coming together to celebrate Shabbat.

Yahrzeits bring back a lot of memories and it was never more true, that how one lives is how he will be remembered. Alex was very focused on actions rather than words and would be pleased to know that something positive and tangible will rise here, from the fruits of his labor. His heart and his soul are here with us. 

To know that his dear wife Carol is here with us on our journey since the beginning and participating in the nachas is a gift and a blessing. 

Eliyahu this Shabbat is for you in your special center.

The One Dollar I'll Never Spend

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  Sometimes the simplest messages pack the biggest punch --
You may have heard about the new book by the inredible Joseph Telushkin called “Rebbe”, which was sold out on Amazon and ranked #15 on both Amazon  and Barnes and Noble within days of publication. When I started reading the book I thought it was phenomenal, not because it told me anything I didn't know, but because it reminded me of the deepest parts of myself that I sometimes forget. The book reminded me of the best version of myself; it will remind you of the innocent place that all of us have deep under the cynicism that sometimes pervades us. The stories which are told are not miraculous in deed but miraculous in perspective. The book reminded me of why I should care about people near and distant, of the importance of my small being and the preciousness of my time here on this earth.
When I was very young and had the honor of seeing the Rebbe of Blessed Memory hand out his dollar bills at the traditional Sunday gatherings, I couldn't help but wonder where the money would finally go.  Of course it was meant "for charity" and although I'm sure many of the recipients did make charitable donations, I doubt that they used that exact dollar. I know I didn't, because the very fact that my mentor and teacher the Rebbe had touched it meant something very special to me, and I still carry it  with me constantly. My father would always tell us, "Here is another dollar to give to Tzedakah but the one from the Rebbe you keep --"  in other words, he made sure that we knew the purpose of the dollar we got was to help others.

Have you ever had some kind of token that you considered 'lucky'? I'm not talking about the rabbit's foot that some carry for luck, but rather some object that perhaps belonged to someone very important to you and just having it handy gives you  comfort and encouragement . Perhaps it brings the memory of that person alive and all the good things he represented . It is so uplifting and satisfying to know that something so seemingly small and insignificant  can bring so much consolation and inspiration, and perhaps help change lives for the better.
I just like to hold the Rebbe's dollar; it means so much to me. It represents everything about helping others and bringing good to other people. The point of the Rebbe's giving the dollars was so that something good would result for a third party. So this dollar I have kept is  a reminder to me of that special moment I had when I felt personally charged to think about what I could do for others.



I was surrounded by these incredible children

Shavuot is a special time and it became even more special when we had the pleasure of seeing so many friends join us for all the events. I must admit, the highlight for me and by far the most meaningful moment occurred when the children came in for the services.  I was reading from the Torah, surrounded by these incredible children.  

I then had the most significant opportunity to bless each one of them by name, holding the Torah.  To see their smiles and know that they understood the importance of the moment -- that's what it's all about.  They dressed the Torah and as they walked away, one of the children said to me, "Rabbi, can we do it again?" 

That was the best and made it most meaningful.

One of our goals at Chabad Naples is to educate our children about their heritage in a way that it's not just words, but part of their daily lives.  Responses like this indicate that we are succeeding. It begins with our high quality Preschool of the Arts, and as the time for voting is winding down, we hope that everyone has remembered to vote for the #1 Preschool of the Arts and if you haven't, please take the few minutes needed to help rate us #1 in Education and in Child Care. Thank you voters!  Click here to vote now!


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