Rabbi Fishel's Blog

Keep the change: only returns allowed this year

Keep the change:  only returns allowed this year



At the beginning of this holiday season my personal prayer is that all of us here and our brothers and sisters globally enjoy a healthy, safe,  and sweet New Year.  As we prepare ourselves spiritually for the High Holy Days, I wonder about the dynamic of change and transformation, especially when there is energy of ‘self-improvement’ in the air. The big buzz word is ‘Teshuvah’ , commonly translated to mean ‘Repentance’ and implies change, fixing, and ‘time to shape up’.

How realistic is this notion of transformation? Are we meant to reinvent ourselves annually?

I don’t think so.  Teshuvah properly defined  literally means ‘to return’ and ‘returning’. That’s what it’s all about -- not reinventing.

The High Holidays afford us incredible opportunities to return to our basic nature, our core, our truest selves. When we do that, reach  past life’s daily dramas and tune into our essence, the Neshama, something magical happens.

We realize that transformation isn’t necessary because all the answers and greatest potential are right there, at our core, fueled by the divine spark inside each of us!

None of us needs to change (phew), we just need to return to our essential selves and harness the greatness that is already there.

We should not even consider  past mistakes as  a reflection of our fundamental identity, but learn from them, change, and be empowered even further to return to our innate G-dliness.

So this year, keep the change - only returns allowed!

Bronnie Ware, a worker in palliative care noted that when faced with mortality, the most common regret of dying patients was,  “I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

We are born with strength, and although we might temporarily stray, it's not hard to return to that inner potential.  We don't want to live a life  of "What if...?" or "If only..."

The young Rabbi Weinreb, now a leading Rabbi in America, was advised to contact the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of blessed memory: he encountered a life crisis and was deeply disturbed by unresolved  questions about G-d, his career, family, and faith. Reluctant to identify himself to the Rebbe’s secretary, he said he was, “A Yid von Maryland. (A Jewish man from Maryland).” As the secretary relayed his problem to the Rebbe, he heard the Rebbe say, “Tell him that there is a Jew who lives in Maryland that he can speak to. His name is Weinreb.” 

Stunned, Weinreb replied, “But my name is Weinreb!”

The Rebbe said: “Oib azoi, if that’s the case, then he should know that sometimes, one needs to speak to himself.”

Weinreb understood. The Rebbe said, “You’re looking for answers outside yourself because you feel lost. But the best answer is already inside you. There is more wisdom in you than you realize. Believe in yourself, and you’ll be surprised by what you can accomplish. It’s time for Weinreb to have a talk with Weinreb. It’s time for Weinreb to believe in Weinreb.”

Weinreb learned to heed his inner voice.

We sometimes question ourselves  and occasionally feel lost, with nowhere to turn. On Rosh Hashanah, G-d says  He wants us to believe in ourselves, and trust ourselves -- start the New Year afresh.  We have a choice:  stand on the curb and watch traffic go by, or look both ways and within, cross the street safely, to a new beginning.  Let's give birth to ourselves, live fully,  and with a whole heart. When we strive to make this year a kinder year, a happier year, a more Jewish year, we won’t be struggling alone. 

G-d will be at our side.

Rabbi Fishel Zaklos

We take this opportunity to welcome you personally to the world famous Chabad Naples High Holiday services where you see and feel the energy.
It is warm, nonjudgmental...and everyone is welcome at the Alex & Carol Glassman Chabad Center.


"The Headstand Effect"

Dear Friends,

Everyone is looking to 'connect' these days, whether it's with one's inner self or by using social media or some other high tech application that will bring friends and relatives at a distance to the desktop or tablet. Look no further! All of us are already connected in one way or another.  Remember the old spiritual song Dry Bones? It affirms without question that each part of our body is connected to another part -- "The toe bone connected to the foot bone, the foot bone connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone connected to the leg bone," and on it goes. But it reaches out a lot further than that.  Scientist Edward Lorenz coined the term "The Butterfly Effect" to explain how seemingly inconsequential patterns in weather could multiply as they went along, and the gentle flapping of a butterfly's wings could turn into a hurricane or earthquake in another location. Impossible?  Think of a snowball or a landslide gathering momentum and magnitude as it moves forward.

Now think of our own actions which we may consider modestly, as having little importance on a grand scale. Wrong! Just as pennies add up to dollars, every small mitzvah we adopt helps someone else in a big way. We are Chabad Naples and as Partners we can create a wonderful hub in a wheel whose spokes reach out into the community. We are Israel and its people, and our unqualified support is needed now more than ever.

We can never underestimate the power and potential of any good intention, where size does not necessarily promise a bigger or better result. Good deeds come in every size and sometimes even with a headstand.

With blessings,

Rabbi Fishel Zaklos 

There is an expression, "Stand on your head and spit nickels".....The phrases including spitting nickels generally mean to be able to do something impossible or astonishing. Even the impossible can be overcome by good deeds,  and we hope and pray this good deed  should lead to a cure for these special people see…our little actions make a difference…




Dear Friends,

In his own inimitable way, Moses proposes a challenge to us, and not just any 24-hour challenge, but one for a lifetime: "See, I have given before you blessing and the opposite of blessing." 

The way I understand this challenge is that every day we need to wake up and be grateful, to look and be uplifted and see the blessings.

This week was the beginning of a new year at our beloved Preschool and to see all the children and six classrooms with one a beautiful prefab because of maxed out space, all I see before me is an enormous blessing. To see a family called Chabad Naples growing is a blessing. We can always be nonchalant about it and say “it just happens" or “no big deal”, but the truth is that when you start “seeing” it becomes contagious and it leads to beauty and blessings.

So let’s make sure we truly see the blessing of Chabad Naples. We encourage you at this time to commit, recommit,  join for the first time, increase your commitment and simply stand up and be counted. We thank you for your partnership and support -- we see you and we acknowledge your support. Join many other happy partners who say they are so happy to write a check and support Chabad of Naples because you see the results. If you would like to talk with me about your partner project feel free to let me know. Each partner is guaranteed rewards, the huge mitzvos.

By now some of you may have received the packet in the mail-- we ask you accept this challenge and become a partner or continue your partnership.  Are you up to the challenge? Of course you are!

Thank you!

 Wishing you a beautiful Shabbat!

partner image gJnq8417019.jpg

"My goodness, isn't it hot!"

What's the difference between ignorance and apathy?  If the reply comes up,  "I don't know and I don't care" -- you may have a problem and I don't think there's an app for that!

Dear Friends,

"My goodness, isn't it hot!" 

How can we argue Florida's daily 90-degree temperatures?

It surely is hot -- wait, put down that fan -- don't cool off so fast! 

In fact, why don't we find a way to use all that warmth  for good.

Just look around you and I'll bet you can find someone who can use a little of that heat in the way of welcoming warmth, support,  and good vibrations.

It has been a difficult week:  immediately after Shabbat we heard of the murder of Rabbi Raksin on his way to a North Miami Beach synagogue - his daughter through marriage is a relative to Ettie. We don’t understand G-d's ways, we just cry with the family and try to offer as much comfort as possible at times like this, while authorities seek and find those who performed the evil and senseless act. Then the news from Israel and other places in the world  seems to be pretty hot as well, so before you chill out, do something cool. I challenge you to be a better human being. Take note of people around you and ask yourself,  is anyone in pain? Does anyone need a kind word or two?  

A mitzvah need not be a gargantuan event-- it's the little things that mean a lot. Let's all try to challenge ourselves and perform small acts of kindness, just add a little more to what we already do to make sure we are counted and  help spread a lot of positive warmth throughout the world. It's a beginning, so let it begin with us.

Wishing you a beautiful Shabbat,

Rabbi Fishel Zaklos


Show Your Solidarity - Stand With Israel/Naples

Show Your Solidarity - Stand With Israel/Naples

As familiar as the messages "United we stand, divided we fall" or "Strength in numbers" may be to you, it has never been more relevant. A tree is stronger than a twig, a rope is stronger than one of its strands. In these troubled times, a wave of solidarity sweeps over the Jewish people like never before. We reach out for each other, seeking solace and comfort, and even reassurance that tomorrow will bring an end to fighting and terror for our family in Israel.  As we pray, we add the name of the missing soldier, Hadar ben Chedvah Leah, that he be returned quickly, alive and well to his family. 

This coming Tuesday, the Ninth of Av, we remember the destruction of the two Temples, which occurred as result of in-fighting. Here we sit, miles away from Israel, at times, feeling helpless, but is there really no way that we can make a difference? Is there something we can do for Israel right here and right now?

Yes, there is something we can do.

Our mitzvahs, no matter how small they may seem, perpetuate the legacies of those who have fallen, and ensure the continued safety of our brothers and sisters under attack. 

 There is more, but it may not be easy and you must be open-minded to suggestion:  there may be someone to whom you don't speak, for reasons known only to yourself.  They may seem like good reasons to you, but right now we cannot afford divisiveness, so pick up that phone, reach out, and make Shalom.  Bring unity where there is division -- this is what Israel needs from you now.  The timing is perfect as this week we commemorate the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem some two thousand years ago. The cause of that downfall was the in-fighting and factionalism among the Jews themselves. When we stand united, as a people and as a family, we are invincible.

Stand with Israel -- show your support -- join with the Jewish Professionals of SW Florida in their Israel Solidarity Rally on Sunday, August 3 at 5 PM at the foot of the Naples Pier.

Wishing you a peaceful Shabbat,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie  

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