Rabbi Fishel's Blog

Just Do It!

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It is hard to believe that we are already halfway through our Summer of the Arts! Three weeks have flown by, and what a fantastic summer experience it is! Our campers enjoy every action packed day to its fullest, meeting new friends and practicing new skills under the guidance of our incredible staff. There is never a dull moment at Summer of the Arts.

The world that we live in today, is going through some very challenging, trying and difficult times. This week’s Torah reading opens with the command to Aaron to light the lamps of the menorah, The Menorah is a shining symbol, reminding us that light ultimately outshines darkness; and that hope overcomes despair, as does freedom triumph over oppression. With each candle that we add, we are collectively encouraged to do even more today than we did yesterday!

If you're inspired to spread goodness, to visit the sick, encourage the lonely, help the needy, celebrate Jewish practice proudly, or any other step in the direction of goodness, don't wait for organizations to lead the effort.

Feel like doing good? Just do it! If we each acted  as "angels of love", we'd flood the world with goodness. We'd be an unstoppable force for good! Wishing you a beautiful Shabbat!

Think for Yourself

Our second week of Summer of the Arts fle

w by with another week of friendship, fun and excitement. The campus is bursting with happy, smiling faces and it is a joy to witness all the children having the time of their lives as they enjoy each busy day to its fullest.  
Coming from 3 days of experiencing inspiration, spirituality, community, being uplifted and connected with an incredible Shabbat & Shavuot to coming back "online" and hearing of intense senseless hate, pain suffering and destruction. No words. 

With all of the craziness, darkness and hate going on in our world today, the need for more and more light has never been greater. 

My heart and prayers go out to those who lost their lives, their families and for the wounded in Orlando. We continue to pray for the hundreds of lives shattered beyond repair. We continue to pray for the wounded in the horrible terrorist attacks in both Israel and Orlando.  May G-d comfort the loved ones of those who were murdered. Our love and prayers are with you!We all feel the need to do something. What exactly should you do? Think for yourself. But decide on something, and then do it.

With love and blessings.

Summertime, and the Living is Shliach-like

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Summer 1991, tetherball with my dear friend and colleague,
Rabbi Shmuly Nachlas. Pretty sure I won that Game:)

It’s summer, a time when we have opportunities to travel out of our comfort zones, or if we’re lucky, to visit exotic places. I remember something my father often said, something that had a great impact on me. 

He used one word that left a lasting message: “Fishel, remember you are a Shliach”.  My father reminded me of this before I went to summer camp, whenever we traveled, and before I went as a rabbinical intern to Nepal and Vietnam to lead Passover seders. Shliach literally means messenger, but his implication was that I should keep in mind where I come from and remember whom I  represent.

Even though I heard the word often, as a child I couldn’t really appreciate it. However, today as a father and Rabbi I want to share my understanding of this special word with you. I believe it is an empowering concept that we always should take to heart and mind.  From the time we wake up in the morning this word can inspire us throughout each day to lead our lives with joy and beauty.

There is a beautiful prayer we recite every morning immediately upon arising, called Modeh Ani. We thank G-d for restoring our soul and granting us another day.

The passage ends with the words, “Rabba Emunatecha” which literally means, “We have great faith in You”.  My father had his own interpretation: Your (G-d’s) faith in us is great. By granting us another day, by giving us life, He is telling each one of us how much He believes in us.

In a time that the rat race of life has us competing for clicks, likes, and comments, clamoring for our 15 seconds of fame, struggling to be noticed, the world tells us we are not good enough but G-d tells us, “You are my Shliach! You have my divinely-gifted powers. You are amazing!”

That’s the meaning of Shliach. Wherever we go, whatever situation life throws at us, we must be aware that we are empowered by G-d to be a beacon of light, to change our surroundings positively rather than be negatively affected by them.   

As an ambassador bringing light into the darkness as G-d’s agent, we possess His power, His freedom, His goodness, His light, and His infinity. Although it seems very difficult we are never stopped for we are Ambassadors in every situation, every moment, and every place.

Each of us has our own unique greatness and throughout our lives, we receive signals or prompts from heaven, calling upon us to rise to ‘our moment’ and embark on a certain mission specific to our abilities, talents, resources, and influence. The questions we ask ourselves when we wake up in the morning are,  “What can I do today to live up to G-d’s image of me? How can I become a better person? How can I have an impact on my family and my community?"

Especially now in the summertime which often offers us the scenic route, visiting exciting places, encountering different people and experiencing new environments,  this is not a time to withdraw and say, “I’m on vacation.” Rather, this creates opportunities for us and for our children who are always observing and learning, to utilize the powers and talents we have and share them with the world.

Whether you use my father’s term Shliach, or you prefer empowered, ambassador, courageous, self-assured the message is the same. Regardless of how we see ourselves, we must be aware of the treasure chest of potential we have been given by Hashem, and then we must wake up, and utilize it.  

the mountain in Naples called Chabad

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Shavuot commemorates a time when we communicated with G-d and received the Torah on Mount Sinai. Did you ever wonder why this site was chosen?

Here is a charming and illuminating Chassidic thought:  the mountain is a symbol of love.  Just as one who loves experiences an expansion of spirit and a broadening of self, so the mountain stands tall and protrudes from the landscape.

The opposite is fear:  on a physical level,  fear causes one's blood vessels to constrict, and fear is represented by a valley.

Happiness and love can result in physical growth and enlargement:  sadness and irritation can cause contraction and reduction.

Thus, according to the mystical view of a mountain, our brush with G-d at Sinai takes on new meaning.  G-d didn't scare us into a relationship, He loved us into one by overwhelming our senses with an abundance of affection, thus compelling us to accept  the Torah out of love, in a way we could not resist. At that delicate moment, when we were about to accept our mission in the world, we found ourselves embraced by a virtual cocoon of unconditional warmth and acceptance, vacuum packed with tenderness and devotion. So it was at Sinai that G-d injected us with an extra dose of love.

That extra dose of love is exactly what we try to accomplish here at Chabad Naples and at our Preschool.  

We want to share, that the greatest nachas is when we hear repeatedly how this place called Chabad of Naples is a Sinai experience, where regardless of background people always point out how special Chabad is to them.  

People say that when they come to shul  it is like receiving an extra dose of love. When they  send their children to Hebrew school, they are overjoyed that their first experience of Jewish education is in such  a joyous and love-filled environment — they will always associate Jewish education and the Jewish community with love.  

As Chabad Naples  continues to grow, we will continue to practice this same love, joy, and happiness. Judaism is a rich and powerful heritage meant to be shared, so come and experience this treasure with the beautiful symbol of love, the mountain in Naples called Chabad.  It is our prayer and our hope that this attitude of love permeates our entire community and country, allowing us to move forward to a world filled with lovingkindness.  This is the legacy of Shavuot.  

On Shavuot, as we recommit ourselves on Sunday, come and experience this love and joy with your family for the Ten Commandments, and a party with a dairy buffet and ice cream. 



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