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My Checks Were Forged

Check-signed.jpgWhen I checked my bank balance this week, I noticed a large withdrawal—a check for $2300. I opened it to view the check, and I saw my signature. The memo said it was for preschool, the date looked accurate and it seemed authentic overall. But I had no recollection of writing the check and I didn’t recognize the name it was made out to. Could it be fraud?

I checked with my wife but she didn’t recognize it either. I double checked the signature, and without doubt it was identical to mine. Something wasn’t adding up. So I called the bank manager and shared my concerns, and he placed a hold on the check.

The following day two more checks show up on my account, with my signature, but definitely not issued by me. I now knew it was definitely fraud.

It turned out that somebody had copied Chabad Israel Center checks and made them look identical, right down to my signature. It looked real, but it wasn’t. The only give away was that the thief had used check numbers that were out of sequence. This was not the real deal.

Thank G-d we were able to stop the theft and recover all the checks in time.

On Yom Kippur we sit in shul, dressed in white like angels, fasting and praying to G-d. We tell G-d, “This is the real me! The me that has been sinning all year is forged. That’s somebody else. It’s not the real me. It may look like my signature, it may look identical, it may be extremely difficult to tell the difference, but it’s not my signature. The real me is the one who is in shul now. The real me is the one who wants to do the right thing. The real me is the one who prays to G-d.”

During the year we may deviate from spirituality. We may have sinned. We may have done things that we are not proud of. But come Yom Kippur, we reveal our true selves—our good and holy selves.

May we all be inscribed in the book of life with health and happiness, and may we have the strength to keep our true selves revealed and in action year round.

Am I Old Fashioned?

hangouts-11-copy.jpgThis week my daughter accused me of being old fashioned and I was genuinely flabbergasted! You see, her bunk-mates from camp are keeping in touch via Google hangout and social media, which I do not allow my daughter to use. I strongly believe that a 10-year-old should not use electronic devices, have Snapchat, Instagram or even her own email address. So I told her she is welcome to pick up the phone to call her friends and actually speak to them. I also compromised by allowing her to text with them once a week from my phone for a specified amount of time.

This led to her calling me “old fashioned.” She told me I grew up in a different generation and I have to live with the times. It’s 2016 now!

When I heard that, I was shocked. I’m only 38 and I consider myself extremely young and “with the times.” But my daughter gave me a reality check, and in a way she’s right. When I grew up in the 80’s, we didn’t have cell phones or internet, let alone Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. Maybe I do come from a different generation.

I wonder what my children’s children will say about their parents. What kind of advances will the world have made by then?

It’s true, times are changing. Each year we make tremendous advances in science, medicine, and of course, technology. Just think about all the exciting things that have happened in 2016 so far:  Juno successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit, a British couple managed to clone their dead dog, and the world’s first baby with three biological parents was born. And that’s barely the tip of the iceberg.

We are about to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, when we go back in time and relive the creation of the first human. Times may be changing, but as Jews our Torah, our tradition, and our G-d does not. It does not matter if we are living in the 1500’s or the 1800’s or 1980's or 2016 or anytime in the future. It’s the same Torah, the same G-d and the same Rosh Hashanah. 

Rosh Hashanah is one thing that has never changed throughout the generations. No matter where a person may find himself, no matter what modern times may bring, we still sing the same tunes, pray the same prayers, and talk to the same G-d.

Rosh Hashanah is a time to come back home and do things the old fashioned way. So this year, as you prepare to celebrate the holiday, ask yourself, “Am I old fashioned?”

I know I am, and I’m proud of it!

How can I say no to my daughter?

Screenshot 2016-09-22 at 3.43.12 PM.pngA few weeks ago I went to a store with my two year old daughter Sara. I paid for the items that I needed and was heading out the store. As I was walking out my daughter noticed a tambourine. She picked it up and loved the sound that it made when she shook it. She asked me if she could have it and I said no. I told her to put it back on the shelf and she refused.

I asked her again to put the tambourine back and she just sat on the floor with her arms folded.  

She continued to insist that she really wanted it. I tried to reason with her but to no avail. She was adamant that she wanted that tambourine.

Finally, I told her there is nothing more to talk about and we are leaving. That is when she started to cry. 

When I saw those tears come down her cheeks there was absolutely no way I could resist my adorable daughter and so she got her way.


In just a few days Jews worldwide will celebrate the holiday of Rosh Hashanah. This is the day that G-d judges the entire universe. We recite in our prayers on Rosh Hashanah “Like a shepherd pasturing his flock, making sheep pass under his staff, so shall You cause to pass, count, calculate, and consider the soul of all the living; and You shall apportion the destinies of all Your creatures and inscribe their verdict.”

It is the day of our judgement. Who will live? Who will have health? Who will have wealth? In fact how much money a person will make is determined to the penny on this holy day.

G-d loves every single one of us more than I love my own daughter and so If I cannot say no to my daughter’s request, surely our Father in heaven cannot resist our supplications.

When we blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah it is a cry from the depths of our heart and G-d will surely bless us all with a good, happy and healthy new year./

It’s up to us! All we need to do is ask G-d

Shana Tova!

Release Your Medical Records!

medical-records-request3.jpgAmerica is 53 days away from electing the most powerful leader in the world, and people are demanding answers about the health status of the candidates.

In order to make decisions that impact the entire world, day after day, a person needs to be healthy. As voters, we need to be certain that the person we choose will be up to the task, both mentally and physically, for the next four years.

Both Hillary and Donald have promised to release certificates from their doctors detailing their health and confirming that they are healthy enough to become the next president.

What about us?

Are we healthy? Spiritually healthy? When was the last time we checked in on our spiritual wellbeing and relationship with G-d?

The same way we demand our presidential candidates complete a health check, we need to evaluate our own health.

What is the status of our observance? Are we finding time daily for Torah study? Can we increase the amount for improved health? Are we lighting Shabbat candles every Friday night? Where are we up to with kosher observance? 

We’re so concerned about Hillary and Donald, but can we produce a certificate from our Rabbi’s guaranteeing our own spiritual health?

The president of the United States is given the awesome responsibility of leading the free world. We too, have a pressing and monumental task—to be a light unto the nations. We are on a mission to make this world a better place by spreading goodness and kindness all around us.

Are we doing our job? Are we keeping ourselves healthy enough to maintain the spiritual stamina we need to complete the task?

We are currently in the month of Elul, which leads up to the holiday of Rosh Hashanah. We have 18 days to ensure that our spiritual records are up to par, so that when we pray, “Who will live and who will die?” we will surely be granted many long and healthy (physically and spiritually) years.

May you be written and inscribed for a good and sweet year!

Rabbi Uriel Vigler

Breaking News: The President is in Town!

Elul.pngHave you heard? The President is in town right now. You don't believe me? Hurry! Go and see for yourself!

Not only is he here, but he’s not surrounded by body guards and secret service personnel like he usually is. In fact, none of his staff are hovering around him at all, and there isn’t even a line to see him. You can simply walk up and chat. He’s calm and smiling and open and happy to see anyone. He wants to hear from the people—what’s working and what isn’t, what’s making us happy and what’s troubling us, our difficulties and our triumphs.

Of course, the President we’re talking about is the President of presidents, the King of kings, the Almighty G-d Himself.

The Alter Rebbe, author of the Tanya, revealed to us that during the Jewish month of Elul G-d is “in the field.”

When a king is in his palace, on his home turf, he’s much less accessible. One needs to make an appointment, wait months, and deal with the surrounding personnel—and that’s only if the person is lucky enough to get in at all! But when the king travels, he wants to meet his subjects and talk to them. There are fewer barriers, and people can approach him at will.

Likewise, year-round G-d is at “home.” He’s available but more distant. We have to work harder to reach Him. But during the month of Elul, he is “in the field” so to speak, waiting for us to approach Him.

Unlike the President, who, let’s be honest, cannot really help us with our problems, G-d can. He and He alone has the ability to relieve our stress, resolve our personal troubles, and help us with our livelihood. He can help when we’re feeling lonely or depressed. He can guide us with our health issues.

So, no, this is not a “bait and switch” title. The President really is in town.

Because we are naturally materialistic, you may think I fooled you. We can only relate to what our physical eyes can see, and they can only see a physical President.

But nothing could be further from the truth. The only thing real in our lives is spirituality and G-dliness. And in this month G-d is in the field waiting for us to talk to him. You cannot see Him? Well, stop chasing money and materialistic pursuits for five minutes a day this month and use that time to tune into G-d. Open your heart to Him. Talk to Him. He is listening. He is there. All it takes is five minutes a day. Stop what you’re doing, close your eyes and focus on the Source of all life.

Go ahead, start that conversation. He’s ready whenever you are.

I Miss My Daughter!

Blog.jpgIt finally happened. 

After living in the US for 15 years, I finally did what Americans do in the summer: I sent my ten year old daughter daughter to overnight camp!

Now, I am still not a fan of the American three-month summer vacation, and I greatly prefer the South African system I grew up in, where the summer break is much shorter, but that's for another article. 

So, I sent my daughter to overnight camp for the very first time, and I had no idea how much I would miss her. It's not a very long camp, just two weeks, but boy do I miss her! I know she's having a wonderful, exciting time, but I've never been away from her for this long, ever!

A few days into camp she called, but could only speak for five minutes. As expected, she is playing hard, making new friends, and loving every minute. A week in we received a letter from her, and next week she already returns. I love her so much and I can't wait!

Now I have an inkling of how hard it is for our Father in Heaven when we are away "at camp."

You see, for 11 months of the year, most of us drift away from our Father. We are in "camp." We've been removed from spirituality, haven't interacted much with G-d, and haven't kept up with His commandments as well as we should have. 

G-d loves us so much - He misses us!

From time to time we may have made a quick "phone call" to G-d. We may have popped into shul, given a few token coins to tzeddakah or mumbled off some blessings by rote. We may have event "sent a letter," but for the most part we've been away. 

But come this Shabbat, we will be ushering in the new month of Elul with the blessing over the new moon. Elul signifies the end of "camp;" the time to return home. It's a month of repentance, and every day we listen the shofar being blown in order to awaken ourselves spiritually. 

And now I can imagine how excited G-d must be to greet us during this auspicious month. 

Let's go home. G-d misses us!

My Mother’s Accident

Blog.jpgWhen I think of dangerous activities which are likely to lead to injury, mountain climbing comes to mind. So do bungee jumping, paragliding and riding in a space shuttle.

What doesn’t come to mind is walking. In fact, I can think of few things safer!

My mother has been walking daily with her steady walking partner ever since I can remember. Probably at least 25 years. It’s the same route every single day, with the same walking partner, very close to her home. Without doubt, my mother knows every inch of her route by heart.

But this week my mother was hit by a car while walking.

She doesn’t carry her phone, so we cannot blame texting and walking. She was simply crossing a street where she had right of way, but the driver didn’t stop. It wasn’t deliberate and he wasn’t drunk. He wasn’t even driving fast! He simply wasn’t paying proper attention and so he knocked over my mother and her friend.

The driver (a family friend, in fact!) felt terrible and was deeply apologetic. But the damage was done. My mother fractured her foot and may need surgery to repair the damage. She will be on crutches or in a wheelchair for at least six weeks.

How could the least dangerous activity result in a broken leg? Only G-d knows that!

But here’s what I do know. If G-d wants to send us a message, it doesn’t matter where we are. We can be flying, driving, bungee jumping, paragliding or simply lying in bed. If G-d wants to, He will find us even when we’re doing something as innocuous as taking a morning walk.

In this week’s parsha we read the Shema—“Hear O Israel…G-d is one.”

What does it mean that G-d is one? G-d is present and prevalent in every part of our lives; not just the big events, but in every nook and cranny, every mundane and seemingly unimportant aspect. Nothing happens without G-d. He is active and manifested in our lives constantly.

What we need to do is open our eyes and ears, and watch closely to see what exactly G-d is trying to communicate.

What’s the message here? I can’t know for sure, but perhaps G-d wants my mother to slow down, take a short break from her hectic life, and relax for six weeks. 

She certainly deserves it (albeit without the broken leg)!

How Can I Trust You?

Blog.jpgA couple of weeks ago I flew to Israel with my family. As we waited to check in at JFK, juggling our five young children and multiple pieces of luggage, a stranger walked over and introduced himself. Being a Chabad rabbi, and very visible in my black hat and jacket, I am accustomed to being approached by strangers. But this man had something else on his mind.

Jack* was in JFK with his 12-year-old daughter who was flying alone to spend time with her cousins in Israel. The airlines considered her an unaccompanied minor, so Jack was looking for someone he could trust to take his daughter through security, onto the plane and through Ben Gurion at the other end. Of course we agreed to help him, and it turned out that his daughter was actually great help with our five kids. Win-win!

But we were some of the last few people to check in, so I asked Jack, "You must've waited here for a long time until you found someone you felt you could trust. Why did you pick us? Aren't we strangers just as much as the next person?"

"Yes, we arrived very early," he explained. "I've been standing here scanning passengers, trying to decide who I could trust with my precious child."

"What made you trust me?" I asked.

"Well, I see that you have five children, and I noticed the way you were holding and hugging your 2-year-old daughter. If that's how you take care of your daughter, especially in this harried situation, I know I can trust you."


This weekend we will make the saddest day on the Jewish calendar-Tisha B'Av. On Tisha B'Av we commemorate the destruction of the first and second holy Beit Hamikdash. Although it's been almost 2,000 years since the second Beit Hamikdash was destroyed, we yearn for it to be rebuilt.

The Midrash tells us that G-d is waiting and yearning to build the third Beit Hamikdash for us, and on Shabbat Chazon, the Shabbat before Tisha B'Av, our souls get a glimpse of it. So, if we are yearning for it, and G-d is yearning to give it to us, what is He waiting for?

He needs to know that He can trust us.

The last Beit Hamikdash was destroyed because of Sinat Chinam-baseless hatred. So before we can receive the third and final Beit Hamikdash, we need to prove that we can do better.

How do we show G-d that He can trust us?

Like Jack* who was watching me, G-d is waiting for us to "hug" one another. We need to demonstrate our care, concern, love and appreciation for all our fellow Jews, regardless of how well we know them, how much we have in common, or how much we agree on.

G-d is waiting and watching to see how we treat one another. When He sees us loving one another unconditionally, He will again entrust us with the holy Beit Hamikdash and the Final Redemption.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Uriel Vigler

*Name changed to protect the individuals privacy.

I Have Sinned!

Blog.jpgThis week I committed a terrible sin, and I still feel awful when I think about it.

It was a typical day at our Chabad camp. Halfway through, lunch arrived from Eighteen restaurant. Passing through the kitchen shortly after lunch, I noticed some leftovers, so I took a plate and ate what appeared to be two falafel balls.

A couple of hours later my beloved, caring wife brought me lunch—a delicious, oozy, toasted cheese sandwich. I devoured it, recited the blessing we say upon finishing a meal, and continued with my work.

An hour or so later, my wife popped into my office and happened to notice the plate of "falafel" I had eaten earlier. She asked me if I'd eaten any, and when I confirmed that I had, she said, "You know, those are meatballs..."

I was shocked.

According to Jewish law one may not mix dairy and meat, and this extends to a waiting period of six hours after eating meat before one may eat dairy. And here I am, having just eaten a cheese sandwich only two hours after eating meat balls!

I was devastated.

The following day I confided in a friend of mine. The first thing he asked me is, "Rabbi, is that really the biggest sin you've ever committed?"

Then he asked what many people wonder. "Rabbi, I don't understand. Do you really thing G-d cares what you ate for lunch, or how much time you waited between your meals? Just dealing with Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton must keep Him busy on a full time basis. Not to mention all the other world events and national news we've been dealing with this summer. Terrorist attacks, a near coup in Turkey and all the unrest right here in America. With all this going on, do you really think G-d cares about your toasted cheese sandwich?"

My friend certainly has a point. But I asked him to consider what makes a marriage thrive. How does one maintain a relationship for many years? By focusing on the little things. It's imperative to keep giving small gifts, sharing meaningful compliments, thoughtful comments and spending time together on a regular basis. The grand yearly vacations and the exquisite anniversary gifts are nice. But not enough. It's the ongoing tiny gestures that build true intimacy and love.

Likewise, in our relationship with G-d, it's those small, everyday matters that keep our connection strong. Of course G-d is just as involved in the big decisions, like who will be the most powerful person in the world, but He cares just as much about my lunch. In fact, this week's Torah portion outlines the laws of keeping a kosher home.

So, why am I publically sharing my sin with you? Because if there is even one Jew who reads this and eats even one kosher meal as a result, it will help me repair my relationship with G-d.

So please help me repent!

Plagiarized Speech!

blog.jpgThis week a speech was given, and it was no ordinary speech. 

The speech was long-anticipated, and watched around the globe.

It was a speech that was intended to shake up the world. 

The speaker was paid top dollar, for what was supposed to be completely original. “Original,” that was the key to the value of the speech.

When the moment arrived, the speaker spoke gracefully and with eloquence. But there was one big catch—the words were not original, and the person who hired the speaker was furious!

This was the largest case of plagiarism in the history of the world!

Who was the speaker? 

None other than the prophet Bila'am. 

Bila'am, who we read about in this week's Torah portion, was the most sought after speaker in the world at that time. He was hired and paid an exorbitant sum of money to give a monumental speech, cursing out the Jews. Balak, the anti-Semitic king, hired the prophet Bila'am—whose words usually came to fruition—to curse the Jews and wipe them off the earth. 

But his plans were thwarted. G-d rewrote the speech, and Bila'am found himself speaking about the beauty of the Jewish nation. He was forced to stick to the text that G-d provided him. 

He praised them: "How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!" He spoke glowingly of their modesty, humility, strength and virtue. He spoke about the future Redemption and the coming of Moshiach at the end of days. 

As Jews, our strength lies with our words. This is the message we need to internalize in 2016.

It's so easy to get into negative speech patterns. To find fault with others and to discuss their shortcomings among ourselves. It's tempting to criticize and poke fun and argue. Of course, there are so many things we disagree about and people we disagree with, but let's make an effort to use our mouths to highlight the things that unite us. Let's focus on finding the good in others and speaking only positively about one another. The power of speech is inestimable. 

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Uriel Vigler

I've Been Playing Pokémon Go Since I was 13

Screenshot 2016-07-14 at 5.13.13 PM.pngUnless you've been on an internet cleanse this week, you must have heard all about the new game, Pokémon Go, which has taken the world by storm. It's been downloaded more than 10 million times since its launch on July 7, which means that in just one week, it has almost as many users as Uber!

The game is based on augmented reality, but unlike other games which are usually played while sedentary, Pokémon Go requires the player to physically move around, exploring different locations in an attempt to find and capture virtual creatures called Pokémon. The hunt is on!

To me, the game is nothing new. As Jews, we have been playing a version of Pokémon Go for thousands of years.

According to Kabbalah, the world that we live in is "augmented." The world that we see is not the real world. There is a deeper spiritual reality hidden in the world, which will only be revealed with the coming of Moshiach.

For example, we see a delicious steak sitting on a plate, just waiting for us to bite into and enjoy. But in that steak is a spark of G-dliness for us to "capture”. How can we do that? By making a blessing before we eat it, and then using the energy the steak gives us to do something holy.

Likewise, when we see a $100 bill, what we don't see is the powerful spark of G-dliness hidden within that will be "captured" as soon as we give 10% to charity.

The same way virtual Pokémon are all around you, so are these Divine sparks. And just like Pokémon Go requires the player to go outside and visit different locations, our job is to go outside, find and capture these Divine sparks wherever they may be.

Pokémon Go brings people together—it directs people to communal "Pokéstops" and makes strangers team up and talk to each other. So does Torah. Our "Pokéstops" are shuls, Chabad houses, and learning centers where we gather to study and better ourselves.

In Pokémon Go, players can climb the ranks and become trainers by catching more Pokémons. Likewise, we are all trainers. The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught, "If you know an aleph, teach an aleph." It's our job to teach others any Torah we study, or mitzvos we know, even if we don't feel like experts.

Pokémon Go continues to play as long as your battery is running. It's constant. Likewise, from the moment a girl turns 12 and a boy turns 13, we are on the go, searching out Divine sparks to capture and elevate. And like the game's slogan, our goal is to "Catch 'em all!"

The game only ends when the player "dies" and that's when the score card is revealed. When we die, and our souls return to Heaven, we will finally be able to see how many Divine sparks we caught during our lifetime. As long as we're here, in the physical world, our job is to go out and accumulate as many as possible.

A large part of the Pokémon Go thrill is the social media sharing and competitiveness. It's something to post about, tweet about, share and compare with others. Players feed off one another, trying to outdo each other.

While we are not in competition with each other, by posting and sharing when we do a mitzvah, perhaps we can inspire and motivate others to spread Torah, do more mitzvos and help one another. By working together, we can collect more sparks and hasten the coming of Moshiach.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Uriel Vigler

Lessons from the Star of David

trumpstar8e-1-web.jpgWhat’s on America’s mind this week? The Star of David of course!

Donald Trump set off a firestorm when he tweeted a graphic criticizing Hillary Clinton which featured a six-pointed star, a pile of cash and the words "most corrupt candidate ever."

Critics complained that the graphic evoked anti-Semitic imagery because it was a Star of David, and Trump responded that it was intended to represent a sheriff’s badge. 

Meanwhile, the argument continues all over social media, with millions of people talking about the six-pointed star. Which was it? The Star of David or the sherrif’s badge?

If you examine the Star of David closely, you will see one of the most beautiful messages for both Presidential candidates and for all humanity.

The Star of David comprises two triangles—one pointing up and the other pointing down.

The triangle pointing upwards symbolizes our mission to elevate ourselves. It is our job to refine and uplift ourselves, becoming better, holier, and gentler, more loving people.  Not to lie, not to be corrupt or greedy.

Then we have the second triangle, the one facing downwards.  This signifies our quest to draw G-d down into this world. G-d wants to feel comfortable here. He wants to call it His home, His garden, and it’s up to us to create that environment for Him.

Treating every human being with dignity and respect helps make G-d comfortable down here. Making sure there is no trace of anti-Semitism around is greatly appreciated by G-d. Setting aside our ego and arrogance, and embracing humility instead, invites G-d into the world. When we pray or study or give charity, we help draw G-d into our world.

The foundering fathers of this country understood the meaning of the Star of David. They founded the greatest, most benevolent, generous, kind, humane, and free country in the history of the world (that’s the triangle pointing up).

Later leaders wrote on the dollar bill, "in G-d we trust," and adopted "G-d bless America" as one of the country’s best-known songs. This is the triangle facing down.

I have no doubt that both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton love this great country, as we all should.

Take a step back and absorb the lessons of the Star of David!

Dear Rebbe, I Miss You

Rebbe1.jpgDear Rebbe

I miss you. We all miss you.

It's been 22 long, dark years since we last saw you.

Twenty-two years is a long time. Too long.

More than two decades have passed since we had the privilege of hearing you bless, inspire and teach us.

Rebbe, the world has changed tremendously over the last 22 years.

In 1994 we were using VHS, cassette tape recorders, transistor radios, walkmans, calculator watches, dial-up modems, floppy discs and VCR's.

Now our children don’t even know what any of those technologies are. Instead we use email, smartphones, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, tablets and wifi.

Not only has the world changed, but at times it seems that humanity itself is deteriorating rapidly. Terrorism is growing, the stability of long-time Western super-powers is in question, and the world seems ever more dangerous. Concerning, too, are people’s reactions to terror. People care more about a gorilla being shot to save a toddler’s life than they do about a 13-year-old girl who was brutally murdered in her bed.

After 22 years of darkness, it’s hard to stay optimistic, Rebbe. I struggle to convey to my children the fire you lit within us and how connected we were to you. I struggle with my own cynicism and doubt. I struggle to keep your vision and mission in the forefront of my mind.

There was once another child torn away from his father for 22 tortuous years. Joseph. He was separated from his beloved father Jacob, sold into slavery, and exiled to Egypt with absolutely no glimmer of pending salvation.

What kept Joseph strong during those 22 years? The Torah that his father had conveyed to him when he last studied with him.

Like Joseph, we have not forgotten what you taught us. Although the world has changed drastically, one thing that has not changed since 1994 are your words of hope and inspiration which we continue to cherish.

Rebbe, you taught us to believe in humanity. You taught us to believe in the power of goodness, hope, and the ultimate triumph of light over dark. You promised that we will ultimately prevail and that we will see the arrival of Moshiach in our generation. And that has not changed. That promise is what has kept us going for the last painful 22 years.

Elie Wiesel, who just passed away this week, came to see you after the Holocaust. The victim of unfathomable suffering and atrocities, he expressed his refusal to bring children into this dark and bitter world. But you taught him to believe. You taught him to continue, to have children, and that doing so would be the best revenge against those who had tried to obliterate the Jewish people.

Rebbe, you promised us that the darkness will end soon. We’re still waiting.

Wouldn't now be a good time to reunite?

Rabbi Uriel Vigler

A Call To Arms

Bare arms.jpgDear America,

We have been attacked, and we are still reeling from the shock. Outrage, fury and devastation are just some of the emotions we are all experiencing.

When Japan attacked us at Pearl Harbor in 1941, we were also outraged. But then, we knew who the enemy was and we weren’t going to sit around and do nothing. So we sent in our military and we obliterated our enemy.

Now, after Omar Mateen murdered 49 people in Orlando, in the largest mass shooting in American history, we are also enraged. We would love to unleash our military might against the enemy, but where do we send our F16’s? To which country do we send our B52 bombers?

And so, we look for somebody or something to blame.

Democrats want to blame the lack of gun control, Republicans claim that if more citizens were armed, they could have prevented the attacks. Trump calls for a temporary ban on Muslims, while Obama and Clinton say that is outrageous.

So, what can we do?

It’s 2016, and we are fighting a very different type of war: homegrown terror and lone wolf attacks.

But whether it is San Bernardino, Orlando, Brussels, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or Paris, there seems to be one common denominator:

The internet.

The current violence is being perpetrated by individuals who are being riled up from watching a YouTube channel or reading a Facebook post.

When a person posts something negative and hateful on the internet, it travels around the world within seconds, contaminating the mind of somebody in California or Orlando. Some crazy, deranged, guy may read it and be influenced to go on a mass shooting spree.

Of course, the ultimate responsibility and blame lies with the shooter. But, is there something we can do to help prevent the next attack?

There are 300 million of us living here in America. Ancient battles were fought by soldiers but today we are all warriors on the front lines.It is up to each and every one of us to counter this evil.

So, what do we do?

Start flooding your social media accounts with messages of love, hope and inspiration. Talk about how much you love your life and those in it. Every day post something inspirational, your Mitzvah and act of kindness. Let’s flood the internet with goodness and kindness. It will spread, filling people’s minds with hope and happiness.

This is the way to counter homegrown terror. We can influence the crazy few by flooding their news feed with messages of love, instead of animosity and hatred.

Together, we can do this.

Yours truly

Rabbi Uriel Vigler

Lies, Lies, and More Lies About Israel

Blog.jpgTwenty two years ago, I first studied the Mishna (Sotah 49B) which discusses the status of the world in the time leading up to the coming of Moshiach. Back then, when I read that “truth will be hidden,” I didn’t understand. Will there be no truth at all? The entire world will be full of lies? How could that be?

Likewise, when I read, “There will be tremendous chutspah in the world,” I had trouble comprehending. Maybe a little, I can understand. But a lot? And in the whole world? How is it possible?

But now, 22 years later, I’m starting to understand.

Last night, I was shocked by the terrible terrorist attack in Tel Aviv. Two Palestinian terrorists murdered four Israelis in cold blood, wounding six others.

When terrorists attack in any other first-world country, what happens? The entire world condemns it. Just look at Paris and Brussels! But when it happens in Israel, where is the condemnation? The outrage? Israel must fight to even have their terrorism acknowledged!

How was last night’s terrorist attack reported by the mainstream media?

“2 Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Gunmen Kill 3 in Central Tel Aviv” (RT News) 

“Tel Aviv Shooting: Three Killed in Shopping Center Attack” (BBC). 

“Two ‘Terrorists’ Arrested” (CNN).

“Three Killed In Mass Shooting in Tel Aviv” (Sky News) 

“Palestinian Gunmen Open Fire in Tel Aviv” (NY Times).

No mention of terrorism at all, except for CNN who mockingly put it in quotes. Baffling.

It’s fascinating that the Mishna, written by Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi over 2000 years ago, predicts so accurately the state of the world in 2016. Our world is, indeed, filled with falsehood and lies. If you need proof, look no further than these headlines describing the murder of innocent Jews at the hands of bloodthirsty Palestinian terrorists.

Today, the Washington Post’s headlines included, “Israel sends more troops to West Bank, freezes Palestinian entry permits after attack.”

Really? Is that the headline? Shouldn’t the headline be about the monstrous act of terror which necessitated Israel taking those steps to protect its citizens? Think what America would do if an act of terror, like this, happened. Surely, they would not be satisfied to call it a shooting and allow life to go on as usual.

Here are six truths the world needs to hear loudly and clearly:

1.      There is not, nor has there ever been, a Palestinian nation.

2.      Israel belongs to the Jewish people. G-d gave the land of Israel to the Jews over 4000 years ago, and we have had a continuous presence there for the past 3300 years.

3.      There are no “Israeli settlements.” There are Jewish people living in Jewish homes and Jewish towns. 

4.      Israel is the victim, not the aggressor.

5.      These terrorist attacks are not the work of a few Palestinian extremists. Polls show that well over half of them support the cold-blooded butchering of innocent Jews.

6.      The Arab objective is not to establish the 22nd Arab state, but to destroy the only Jewish state. 

The Mishna which addresses the state we currently find ourselves in—a world of lies—prophetically ends, “On whom can we rely? On our Father in Heaven.” We see this now, more than ever. He is our only hope. Let’s get together this week, for the holiday of Shavuot, and re-declare our love for Him, and commitment to His Torah.

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