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We’re about to conclude the best decade in human history.

best decade ever.jpgIt’s hard to see in the moment, when we’re consumed by the constant churning of events. But now that it’s over, we can step out, look back, and analyze what really happened in the past 10 years.

There are two ways to look at it: From our own perspective, and through G-d’s lens.

From our view, a lot has gone on. There have been massive milestones and terrible catastrophes. Technology has accelerated beyond what we could have imagined. In 2010 Uber and Instagram launched, and it’s now hard to remember a time before they existed. Islamic State leaders Osama Bin Laden and Abu Bakr el Baghdadi were killed. The World population reached 7 billion people.

We’ve also struggled through devastating earthquakes and hurricanes, and the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. There have been far too many devastating mass shootings and terror attacks, including Sandy Hook elementary, Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida, Charlie Hedbo in Paris, the Boston Marathon, Orlando, Las Vegas, Chabad of Poway, the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, and the shooting in Jersey City last week.

Although it seems terrible and chaotic to us, from G-d’s perspective things look very different. There is a plan, a Boss, and reason for every event.

Of course, there were times that we clearly saw G-d’s intervention. Like when 12 young boys and their soccer coach were rescued from the cave in Thailand after being stuck for two weeks, or when two 16-year old students went missing in thick forest terrain in Florida, and were found safely the next day. Or for me personally, when my triplets were born, or when the entire Jewish world celebrated the bar mitzvah of Moishy Holzberg who survived the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

But from G-d’s perspective, all the other happenings—the ones we can’t understand—are connected, deliberate, and ultimately good.  

We don’t see it, but to G-d there are clear connections between Occupy Wall Street and the Pokemon Go craze; the murder of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali who were kidnapped in Israel in 2014, and the Arab Spring that sprung up across the Middle East; the election of Donald Trump and the ALS Ice Bucket challenge; the royal wedding and the world’s obsession with the gorilla Harambe…

So, when will we see the connection? When will we finally have the clarity to connect the dots and understand these events for what they really are? When will we look back at the dark and confusing moments and recognize G-d’s presence and purpose?

When the Baal Shem Tov asked Moshiach, “When are you coming?” he replied, “When your well springs shall be disseminated.” Over the past decade we have created unprecedented levels of access to Jewish learning. Chabad.org, WhatsApp, TorahCafe, and so many other sites are replete with free Jewich classes on virtually every subject.

So we are getting closer.

And when that time comes, we will be able to connect the dots and see how this was truly the Master Plan, even though it may not seem that way now.

This decade has brought us so much closer to the coming of Moshiach; without doubt, it has been the greatest 10 years in human history. 

Jersey City – Let’s All Target Kosher Supermarkets!

Leah Mindel Ferencz. Moshe Deutsch. Douglas Miguel Rodriguez. Detective Joseph Seals. Don’t just read their names; stop and say them out loud. Think about them. Their lives brutally ended far too early. Think about their families—their parents, children, friends, extended family… the number of people affected extends far beyond the four victims.

The Jersey City attack this week is one of the deadliest against Jews in U.S. history. Had the perpetrators succeeded in detonating the pipe bomb found in their truck, the carnage would have been even worse.

My dear brother-in-law Rabbi Moshe Z Schapiro runs the Chabad center in Hoboken and Jersey City with his wife, Shaindel. He often frequents the J.C. Grocery store where the attack took place, and regularly prays at the synagogue next door. He knew the victims and told me they were the loveliest individuals, full of life, who enjoyed providing kosher food to the locals—a vital service for any burgeoning Jewish community.

Surveillance footage shows undeniably that this was a targeted attack. The perpetrators can be seen driving through the city without stopping or shooting indiscriminately. Even when they jump out of the truck, they bypass everyone on the street and head straight for the store, where they sent out a hail of bullets, killing three and seriously injuring a fourth.

How do we respond to such devastation? To being clearly targeted by cold-blooded, anti-Semitic murderers?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught us to transform our pain and tears into action.

Although the temptation may be to avoid Jewish places - like shuls and kosher stores - we should do the opposite. Jews all over the world should make a point to patronize their local Jewish businesses and institutions.

Yes, there are challenges in keeping kosher, but if anti-Semites targeted kosher supermarkets, so can we—with love and support and our pocketbooks.

They went out of their way to find the kosher grocery; we can do the same. Wherever you live, seek out that store. And if you can’t find one, contact your local Chabad center and they’ll be happy to connect you with their suppliers.

This is how we can avenge the blood of our brothers and sisters, and fight the evil monstrosity that allowed this to happen. We pray for healing and comfort for all the families who have lost their loved ones.

Together with the Greenville Jewish community, Chabad of Jersey City has set up an emergency fund to help support the families of the victims. Please donate generously at www.JerseyCityVictims.com. May G-d avenge their blood.

Help! Triplets Locked in the Bathroom!

It was Shabbat morning and my one-year-old triplets were messing about—playing, laughing, giggling… nothing out of the norm. Their favorite hangout these days seems to be the bathroom, and two of them disappeared inside. Before we knew it, we heard the door slam. We jumped up and ran over, but just as we got there, they locked themselves inside.

To get them out, we tried talking through the door, coaxing the one who had turned the lock to do it now in the opposite direction. Alas, although he had managed to figure out how to lock himself (and his sister!) inside, he was unable to extricate himself. In the meantime, his sister started to cry. 

This was a classic case of pikuach nefesh, when one is not only allowed but actually obligated to violate the Shabbat. So I called the building super who dashed over and broke the lock and the door, enabling us to get the kids out. Whew!

After we calmed the kids (and ourselves!), I started to think, isn’t this the story of our lives? We get ourselves stuck in bad habits but struggle to extricate ourselves. Sometimes it seems like we really cannot get out at all. 

It’s easy to get into the habit of waking up late, but it’s a lot harder to get back on track. It’s easy to get used to running late; it’s far harder to become punctual. We can complain and complain, but how do we actually fix it? It’s no secret most of us make endless resolutions to improve our behavior and break bad habits, but how often do we succeed in following through? It’s a lot harder than it seems!  

In this week’s parshah, Yaakov is 63 years old when he is forced to begin a new life, away from everyone he knows and loves, away from his mother and father, and everything that is familiar to him. He has to break his familiar cycle and start new habits elsewhere, in a foreign environment, among people he doesn’t know.

To make such changes after 63 years would require immense effort, he knew. So what did he do? He lifted his eyes Heavenward and says, “G-d, I will do this with your help.” And that’s what we can and should do, too. We need to put forth our best effort, but also acknowledge that we can’t do it without His help. When we humble ourselves, recognize that we are not really in charge, and ask for His help, we can start to make strides in the right direction. Try it; you’ll see it works. 

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