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Rabbi Fishel's Blog

the most influential and modern rabbi

Jews have a rich and sometimes painful history to recall and commemorate, but we always try to rebound from disaster and gain strength and knowledge from our worst situations.  As we commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz, we are reminded yet again of how, with the ashes of the Holocaust still smoldering and the Jewish world in need of bold and visionary direction, one such man capable of lending guidance emerged.  We celebrate the 65th Anniversary of The Rebbe’s ascendancy to the mantle of leadership.  Thus began six and one-half decades during which the Rebbe orchestrated a global renaissance of Jewish life. Out of the ashes rose a pillar of wisdom and light.

On the anniversary of the time when my mentor accepted the position as head of Chabad, and subsequently became known as the most influential and modern rabbi, I would like to share this article which contains some of his incredible insights.  It is, after all, his life and his philosophy which have enabled us to accomplish everything we have here.  You may also read the full details of his life in the Joseph Telushkin book, The Rebbe.  We love you, our dear community, and most of all our Chabad of Naples family.

special people who contribute in such selfless ways

Dear Friends

We are very excited to announce some more details of our quickly-approaching Annual Fundraiser to benefit Chabad Center of Naples and the Preschool of the Arts. It will  be held on Wednesday, March 18 at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.     

     This will also be an evening to celebrate the very special people in Chabad of Naples life who contribute in such selfless ways to our Chabad family’s enjoyment. With great joy, excitement and anticipation, we're very proud to announce the Honorees of this year's upcoming Annual Event  This year’s Honoree Awards go to:  

     Leadership:  Ellen Goldman-Savage and Sam Savage 

        Benefactors:  Moriah and Ovadia Roni Elias

     Education Appreciation:  Kathy Abrahams

 Honorary Event Chairs: Tricia & Ed Staros  

Our guest speaker will be Dan Alon, who was a member of the Israeli Olympic Fencing Team in 1972.  Who can forget that terrible event known as the Munich Massacre, when 11 young athletes were mercilessly murdered by terrorists of Black September!  An eye-witness  survivor, Alon will recollect details and relate how he managed to carry on with his life courageously, following this traumatic incident. 

   Come and enjoy a wonderful opportunity to show your appreciation to these outstanding individuals, support Chabad and the Preschool, and simply enjoy a great evening with your family!  

With all this terror around the world

 For For help checking mezuzas, please email Rabbi Fishel


Question of the Week:

With all this terror around the world, my husband and I were discussing ways to keep our home safe. I lean more toward spirituality than he does, so I say we need to get our mezuzas checked, and make sure we have them on every door. He says we should get our alarm system checked and make sure we have sensors on every window. But you can have all the alarms in the world, in the end it just boils down to having faith. And if we have faith, aren't mezuzas enough? 


You are right. So is your husband. Installing an alarm system is as much an act of faith as installing mezuzas. 

I can think of no better example of a man of faith than the Rebbe. And the Rebbe always told people to check their mezuzas, because a kosher mezuzah correctly placed on every doorway of the house invokes divine protection on those who live there, when they are home and even when they are away. 

But here's a fascinating little piece of trivia. A close assistant to the Rebbe, who helped the Rebbe in his home, noticed that every single night before retiring upstairs, the Rebbe would personally check each downstairs window to see that it was locked. 

He was a man of faith. But he lived in Brooklyn. 

There is no contradiction here. True faith doesn't mean being irresponsible. It means looking after yourself in every way that is humanly possible, all the while recognizing that in truth, G-d is looking after us. You need to lock your windows, but it's the mezuzah that keeps you safe. We need alarms, we need security guards, and we need the Israeli army. But we need to pray to G-d that all these things should be effective. 

So you are right, it is all about faith. If you have faith, install an alarm. And if you want the alarm to work, check the mezuzas first. 

Rabbi Moss


The Naples community is our dear family

It might sound like a platitude to say, “We are not strangers. -- we are all brothers and sisters, we love and respect each other, we are one with you, we are here for you through thick and thin.” Or, “We may have different perspectives and levels of observance, we may have disagreements and in the process I may challenge you, and be challenged by you, but first and foremost we are internally linked forever.”  But there is actually great truth to these words. We are all children of G-d, our souls eternally interconnected like siblings in one family.

As we approach the anniversary of the day that the Rebbe, of blessed memory, the most influential Rabbi in modern history, assumed leadership of Chabad, it is fitting to remember this special man whose inspiration and teaching  guided us on what makes a community and how it should function like a family.

Jacob our father was the first to establish a Jewish community, a haven for Judaism, in a remote location.  On his journey, he encountered a group of shepherds, and addressed them, though they were yet strangers, "My brothers, from where do you come?"  With these words, everything changed. Barriers between groups vanished as an honest feeling of friendship and brotherhood evolved to where everyone gained respect for the other. They were no longer mere acquaintances; they understood they were all children of G-d. 

A simple question: what is the difference between a surgeon and a pilot? When someone needs surgery, G-d forbid, he is very cautious, searching for the best possible surgeon.  His life is at risk, and he wants to ensure he has the most qualified expert. When the same person books an airline flight, with all its risks, why doesn't he search for the best pilot? Why doesn’t he ask for the pilot’s resume and call 10 people for references?

If the pilot is inept, the plane will go down. A flight in midair is as dangerous as a knife going into one’s body. Why are we not more discriminating with pilots before we board an airplane?

When it comes to choosing our pilot, in whom we entrust our lives during a flight 30,000 feet over an ocean, we don’t know anything about him, and for all we know, he could be completely incompetent. 

The answer is obvious: the pilot, flying with you, is exposed to the same risks as the passengers. The surgeon, on the other hand, is not lying on the slab with the patient. If the surgery doesn't go well, G-d forbid, as pained as he might be, the surgeon can return to his home and continue with his life. The pilot, however, goes where we go and if he doesn’t know what he is doing, he would never sit in that driver seat.

The Rebbe of blessed memory would tell us to be like pilots for our community: their problem is our problem; their celebration is our celebration.

A man wandered through a forest for several days, lost at nightfall, enveloped in darkness. Alone and frightened, he suddenly saw a glimmer of light in and caught sight of a traveler carrying a lantern. When the two travelers met, he asked the man with the lantern, “Tell me the right way out of the woods. I’ve been roaming in this forest for several days.”  

The man said, “My friend, I do not know the way out, for I too have been wandering for many days.  But one thing I can tell you, the way I came will lead you astray.” He said to his fellow traveler, “Brother! Let us look for a new way together.”  

In many ways all of us are searching and confused, and must declare: Achai! My brothers & sisters, we must hold hands and seek together for the way out of the woods.

On a personal note, The Naples community is our dear family and together we can find new ways and fresh solutions.

Thanks to our extended family that includes Federation, for giving us the platform to share our words, and to David Willens for his incredible years of building the community.  Welcome to Jeffrey Feld who has, in a very short time, continued the practice. I thank G-d Almighty for the amazing opportunity to be a part such a special community, with its wonderful spirit of brotherhood and generosity!

Rabbi Fishel Zaklos

the mystery of life

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How sad it feels once again to be sympathizing with our brethren in Israel over yet another senseless attack in Tel Aviv. Our hearts and prayers go out to those who have been wounded, for their quick and complete recovery. 

When we rise each day, so thankful to G-d for once again restoring our souls to life, we have no idea of what we are about to face, or of how we may end the day. That indeed is the mystery of life.

 We can dig and delve to try to unearth negative reasons and motivation  behind terrible acts, or we can move ahead with life and consider the courage of those who step forward in times of fear and terror to help others while continuing to be vigilant and aware of possible  threats.

This is the spirit of Am Yisroel Chai.

 And who would understand this better, than our guest speaker Dan Alon, on Wednesday, March 18, at the Ritz-Carlton.
Mark your cvalendars NOW - you won't want to miss this unique story of courage in the face of disaster, when Alon, a member of the 1972 Israeli Olympic team survived the Munich Massacre. This special evening is for the benefit of Chabad Naples & Preschool of the Arts.

never lose the spirit

Dear Friends,

It has been a week where our hearts and minds felt as if they were in France. The photos of the funerals of these slain people and the four coffins of the Jewish victims in Jerusalem were chilling…. to say the least. (One of the men was the son of the Chabad Rabbi in Tunis.) Sunday’s Paris march of millions was very impressive and even emotional to watch. Sometimes, possibly too often in this age of instant media and information, we become almost immune to and blasé about such horrific news scenes. People are inclined to become so set in their mediocrity that they never seem to come to terms and achieve the breakthrough that I have often quoted in a wise proverb heard in the name of the legendary Chasid, Reb Mendel Futerfas: “If you lose your money, you’ve lost nothing. Money comes and money goes. If you lose your health, you’ve lost half. You are not the person you were before. But if you lose your resolve, you’ve lost it all.”

Moses brought new hope to a depressed, dreamless nation. He gave them back the spirit they had lost and eventually, through the miracles of G-d, the promise was fulfilled and the dream became destiny.

To be out of breath is normal. To be out of spirit is something we can never afford. Let us meet as a family, and let us join together in unity to pray we never lose the spirit.

a familiar face

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Barney Edelkind is a familiar face to all of us.

For those of us who have been lucky enough to attend the Shabbat luncheons he has sponsored, we know he is a great chef who labors in the kitchen for days to create a tasty and loving luncheon. 

What you may not know about Barney, is that he is a direct descendant, of the first Chabad Rebbe, Schneer Zalman. Schneer Zalman, whose name meant 'two lights', was a great luminary who inspired the philosophy of synthesizing the intellect to synchronize with one's emotions. Barney's father, who was also named Schneer Zalman also passed away the same date as CHOF DALED TEVET, which has become a day that represents his legacy of goodness. How fitting that we have his descendent with us and what an honor it is to have been friends with him for the past 11 years. He is making his grandfather and father proud. Barney gives his all to everything that he does, as evidenced by his preparing the Kiddush  himself, with such love and enthusiasm.

A few months ago he turned 90 years young! As grateful as he says he is to G-d for all his blessings, we, his Naples Chabad family are as grateful to have him among us! 

May G-d bless him to continue and may G-d bless the Chabad family to be able to celebrate many more years together. We love you Barney.


It's tempting to make excuses!

I don’t know about you, but I find it some times tempting to procrastinate and make excuses. Even Moses, in our weekly Torah portion, when asked by G-d to confront Pharaoh or deliver hope in Egypt finds all the excuses for why he is not up for the job.
He says, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh? Who am I that I should redeem the Jews?”
On our vocabulary, this is the response of insecurity. But G-d does not accept our shying away from responsibility, for feelings of inadequacy are not an act of humility but one of insecurity. They avoid accountability, and most importantly allow you to remain mediocre. Like Moses, who was minding his own business when suddenly, he experienced a “burning bush,” we have what modern man likes to call a “light bulb moment.”. Our G-d within speaks to us about a larger mission in life. You, and only you, are equipped with your unique mission to help people, to save a soul, kindle a heart, to touch a community, to inspire a nation, to spread goodness and kindness, to share the light of Torah and Mitzvos with people around you. Let’s not make excuses - let’s answer the call.

Thank you

Dear Friends,

Thank you to all who participated in the MATCH GRANT CAMPAIGN!

Together we reached and exceeded the goal!

The Rebbe of blessed memory would often point out that two people working together can lift a weight heavier than the sum of what each could lift on their own.

Lesson learned: We're not alone. We have each other; our families, friends and community. We must remember to extend a helping hand when those around us are in need. Equally important, we shouldn't be afraid to reach out for help when we are in need of help.

My thanks to the MATCH CAMPAIGN MATCHERS for their generosity and for making this campaign possible:

- Nancy Cheser in loving memory of Chemdah Bat Mendel
- Mitch & Sheila Spaiser Herb Mayer

Thank you to each of you who partnered with us to reach this goal. 

I thank Hashem for the opportunity to be a part such a special community, with it wonderful spirit of brotherhood and generosity!

Happy 2015 & Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

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