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Mazal Tov - It's A Royal Prince

It was impossible to miss the global fanfare as Britain welcome a new prince into the royal family this week. Monuments in and around London were quick to celebrate his arrival with Union Jack flags and neon lights. But the celebration was certainly not limited to London. A host of other landmarks around the world, including Niagara Falls, Canada’s Peace Tower and the Sky Tower in New Zealand were also lit up with blue and red lights.

Clearly, being born into royalty is fabulous and exciting!

Oh, the many privileges that await little George Alexander Louis. He will have four palaces to choose from. And when he graduates from his stroller, he can look forward to being transported by royal horse and carriage and Aston Martins!

The Prince of Cambridge will have access to almost every luxury, but at the same time, his position (by dint of his very birth) comes with enormous responsibility. Members of the royal family, unlike politicians, don’t serve a term (or two, or three). They serve for life.

From the moment of his birth, the little prince is being scrutinized by the entire world. He is expected to lead a very distinct kind of life. It is his duty to represent his country appropriately. He will be the face of the nation. 

But little George Alexander Louis was not the only royal prince born this week. Oh no. In next week’s Torah portion, we read, “You are the sons of the Almighty G-d.” In other words—every single one of us is a royal prince or princess. Only, our Father is not the king of one nation, He is the supreme King of Kings. The King of all nations and all peoples.

And just like the royal family, we don’t serve a term, we serve for life. Just as the Prince of Cambridge will be the face of Britain, each of us represents worldwide Jewry. And like the Prince, we are constantly on display.

But most importantly, just like the Prince, from the moment we are born, we are royalty, with all the privileges and responsibility that entails. What are those privileges and responsibilities? In this week’s Torah portion we find out: “…because you will keep My commandments, the Lord, your God, will keep for you the covenant and the kindness that He swore to your forefathers. He will love you, bless you and multiply you; He will bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your soil, your grain, your wine, and your oil, the offspring of your cattle and the choice of your flocks, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples.”

When we commit to keeping the Torah’s commandments, G-d commits to providing us with a lifetime of royal living.

So, yes, a royal prince was born this week, but so were many other princes and princesses. Let’s keep in mind that when we keep our part of the bargain—and act like princes and princesses—G-d will come through on his end of the bargain and treat us like royalty.

I Was Hacked!

hacked_message.jpgI heard about a new app this week - a video chat which enables the user to chat live with another person. In my line of work as a rabbi I’m always looking for new and innovative methods of connecting with people, I decided to download it. I figured I could put it to good use and use it to spread Torah. Sounds good, eh?

Unfortunately, somewhere in the fine print (which most of us just skim) the app requested permission to connect with all my friends, which I inadvertently gave. So, within minutes of downloading the app it hacked my entire contact list and sent them a message:

Rabbi Uriel Vigler has something to show you…http://i.glide.me/agi3gj

How did I find out? Hundreds of people immediately texted back with all sorts of questions. Some people thought it was a virus and were sure I’d been hacked. Others wanted to know more before checking on the link. What could the rabbi possibly want to show them? It sounds suspicious! Others wanted to know about glide, and a few even downloaded the app. I quickly followed up, explaining that the new app “hacked me” and sent the text message without my knowledge.   

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Our Chassidic masters teach us that this coming Shabbat each one of us is “hacked.”

This week, the Shabbat before Tisha B’Av, is called Shabbat Chazon—Shabbat of Vision. On this Shabbat, G-d shows each of us a vision of the 3rd and final Holy Temple.

Tisha B’Av marks the day of the destruction of the first two Temples; it’s the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. Still now, 2000 years later, we are in exile, awaiting the coming of Moshiach when we will be able to rebuild the Temple and return our Land to its glory.

Once a year our souls are hacked—by G-d Himself! G-d accesses our souls and gives us a vision of the 3rd Temple. The soul sees an era of peace and tranquility, an era with no pain and suffering, an era of eternal bliss and peace.

Every night when I put my children to sleep we say the “Twelve Pesukim” (12 verses of Torah) Then we say “We want Moshiach now!” and they go to sleep. The vision we see is a reminder that as comfortable as we may sometimes feel in this exile, something so much better awaits us. So this Tisha B’Av, let’s pray with all our hearts and souls that we need not be “hacked” by G-d ever again. We want the real thing… we want Moshiach now!

A Fight Over a Swing

I took my kids to the park last week, hoping to give them a couple of hours of fun. We got off to a good start, but about halfway into the first hour a huge fight erupted. My seven-year-old daughter, Rosie, wanted the swing my four-year-old son, Mendel, was using. Before I could intervene, she had pushed him hard and he hurt himself. Mendel, of course, retaliated by pulling her hair—hard. I was able to separate them, but by now a crowd had gathered, and everyone was trying to give me advice on what to do and how to prevent fights like this in the future.

My daughter was still fuming mad and ready to attack, so I held her down for a few minutes, and told them we’d be going home immediately. I took my daughter back to the car but my son refused to get inside. He wanted to stay and play.

So I turned on the ignition and told him he can stay but we are leaving. As soon as I said that, my daughter shouted, “Tatty, please don’t leave Mendel behind!” I couldn’t believe it. A few seconds ago she was ready to pounce on her brother and rip him to pieces, now she’s feeling protective and loving towards him? Not five minutes ago she threw his water bottle away and scratched him violently!

It hit me, then, that this is a perfect analogy for the three weeks. We are in the annual three week mourning period commemorating the destruction of our two holy Temples. In just over a week we will mark Tisha B’Av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. Since the destruction of the second Temple 2000 years ago we have been in exile—an extended period of darkness, a time when G-d is hidden. We’ve suffered through pogroms, persecution, pain, suffering, murder, torture, Stalin, Hilter, Arafat… On the surface, it would seem as though G-d hates us. But in truth, his love is always there. Sometimes it’s more hidden, sometimes it’s more apparent. But even when things seem terrible, G-d will never truly abandon us.

In fact, on top the Ark, were two keruvim—human-like forms carved from gold. When the Jewish people followed G-d’s directives, the keruvim faced each other. When the Jewish people sinned, they turned away from each other. But strangely, while the temple burned, the keruvim hugged each other. This illustrates that despite the persecution we see so clearly, G-d really and truly loves us.

Oh how we yearn for the time when we will see, clearly and openly, how everything we’ve gone through as a nation was actually a display of the greatest love and affection possible.

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