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Rabbi Fishel's Blog

Take Comfort, Take Comfort, My People

 STORMY WEATHER AHEAD 

 Dear Friends,  

Well dear Friends, it is Florida and in addition to that, do we have to remind ourselves that it is also hurricane season? Not likely! As we sit glued to our computer screens tracking Hurricane Isaias, we notice that it is beginning to pull eastward. Do you have the same inclination that I do, to take my finger and push it off even farther into the Atlantic where it cannot harm anyone?

It may be no coincidence that this weeks we read the Haftorah from Isaiah!  This Shabbat is called the ‘Shabbat of comfort’, based on Isaiah's prophecy: "Take comfort, take comfort, My people", following yesterday’s commemoration of the Temple's destruction on Tishah B'Av.

It may be safe to say that at no point in our adult lives have we felt so confused and vulnerable as we do today, with the virus, violence and political polarization that surrounds us. One of the many silver linings of Corona is our recognition that indeed we're not in control, which is a good first-step to the even more important realization: that someOne is!

The ‘Shabbat of Comfort’ comes right in time to remind us we're not alone. It reminds us someOne is in fact in charge, serving as Comforter in Chief for each of us individually, helping us deal with our individual challenges.

Lately when people express their feelings of utter despair at the current situation I find myself saying: just remember, G-d hasn't left the cockpit!

The first thing we want and pray for is for this pandemic to end, for people to have relief. Yet, our role is also to seek out the silver linings, the personal messages and opportunities the current situation presents to us.  If G-d asks it of us, it means we're up to the challenge.

Stay safe, stay home, and enjoy a beautiful and peaceful Shabbat!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

 

CELEBRATING 102 WITH SPIRIT AND SPUNK

As the World Famous Chabad of Naples, we are fortunate to have a few National Treasures. One of them is our beloved Ruth Anderson who celebrates (are you ready for this?) her 102nd birthday on July 26th!

Ruth: a huge, MEGA MAZEL TOV to you from the entire Chabad Naples Mishpachah - we love you and wish you incredible blessings and many more years of healthy life!

We often say one is never too young to learn, but at the same time, one is never too old to teach (and learn), and Ruth has taught me some amazing things.

In the early days of this pandemic, instead of wallowing in self-pity at being isolated at home, Ruth kept busy, putting her sewing machine to work and creating face masks which she donated to others.

This is but one small example of her generosity and philanthropy. With her glowing smile, she is a wonderful example of how a daily positive and optimistic attitude and a sense of humor keep one mentally alert.

At dinner a few years ago, I asked Ruth to share her longevity ’secret’. She then told me that she writes an e-mail to G-d every night, thanking him. I recently reminded her about that and she said she still does it.

Perhaps we can all send Ruth a gift by doing the same thing - thanking G-d for all that we do have and for all that He has done for us.

If you would care to send a personal message to this remarkable woman please send me an email, I would be happy to pass it along to her for you.

With love and blessings,

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

Visualize a greater tomorrow.

Dear Friends,

Ten brilliant scholars stood outside the Rebbe's study. They were waiting for Rabbi Schneur Zalman, Chabad's first Rebbe (1745-1813), to share a mystical discourse. When the door opened, they all entered the room except for Rabbi Isaac. He was much younger than the others and held back.

The Rebbe asked, "Who remains outside?" Someone responded, "A young man."

"A young man can become an older man," the Rebbe replied, and Rabbi Isaac rejoined the group.

Later on, Rabbi Isaac related that the Rebbe's comment energized him with a profound psycho-spiritual boost. In the Rebbe's words, he had heard, "Don't be limited by your present capacity. You have an older, wiser man inside of you. Unlock him. Live the future now."

From that day, Rabbi Isaac's deeper potential began to unfold. His firm self-awareness, and his profound confidence in the Rebbe's guidance, triggered an internal transformation. He walked away from the Rebbe's room, able to see past today's limitations and live tomorrow's potential.

Each of us has the opportunity to gift ourselves with the awareness of our own potential. Give yourself a frame of reference as to who you could be: "Identify someone who you feel is successful, experienced, accomplished. And remember, that is who YOU could be. 

Look around. See what's possible. Visualize a greater tomorrow.
Live it today.

Shabbat Shalom with Love & Light,

Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos

Our world is full of Mona Lisa’s

I'm sure you need no reminder that this is the July 4th weekend.

Things are different this year, but that doesn't mean we can't celebrate: just being alive and able to enjoy some of those magnificent sunrises and sunsets is a real bonus! Being able to start the day enjoying the glory of the morning and end it with a sky so rich in color it seems unreal, fills the heart with joy.  

In between those two spectacular events, let's sit --- socially-spaced with friends and family and discuss all the wonderful freedoms we enjoy in America and how we should never take them for granted. At the same time, thinking of all the hours of stress and distress we have endured recently - I am sure we can contrast every negative event with a thought of a random act of kindness performed for us or by us. 

In 1911, the Louvre Museum in Paris fell victim to one of the world’s all-time great art heists when Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” was stolen. It remained missing for two years and in that time, more people went to stare at the blank space where it had previously resided, than had viewed the masterpiece in the previous twelve years! 

Human nature reveals so much. All too often, we fail to appreciate precious realities in our midst. Yet when they are taken from us, we become painfully aware of the ‘blank space’ in our lives. 

The truth is that our world is full of Mona Lisa’s, countless blessings that grace us daily, yet all too often we are oblivious to them … 

The Midrash asks what the definition is of a non-spiritual person? Answer: someone who is not alive to the wonder of G-d’s creation. 

If you have the awareness to thank G-d for the ‘Mona Lisa’s’ in your life, you are going to be alive with spirituality, let’s endeavor to collectively do this rather than focus on the blank spaces. 

Prayer reminds us that there is an abundance of heaven here on earth. We should open our eyes and treasure the ‘works of art’ all around us.

We are surrounded by many good and giving people and in turn, have many opportunities to return the favor.  After all, America is a land of opportunity - let's make use of that!

Happy Fourth of July - and stay safe!

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