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The First Bible On The Moon!

If all goes well, Israel will soon become the fourth country to land on the moon. It will also be the first full version of the Bible to arrive on the moon. The Beresheet lunar lander is scheduled to take off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 8:45pm EST, February 21, from Cape Canaveral, with an anticipated landing date of April 11. If successful, this will be the first private moon landing, as well as the smallest and least expensive—only 100 million dollars and 8 years of work - real history in the making! 

There’s something about space exploration that grips us. Millions of people around the world will be tuning in to watch the takeoff and eagerly keeping abreast of developments until the landing 4 million miles later, is successful. What is it that’s so compelling? Why do we care so much? Why do we invest so much time, effort, money, and research into discovering what’s on the moon and beyond?

We have an innate yearning to explore and discover the unknown, to find out what lies beyond that which we can see. And we will go to great lengths to obtain even the smallest sliver of information. It’s human nature; we strive to push beyond ourselves.

This, in fact, is the essence of Judaism. To be Jewish means to go beyond, to step out of our comfort zones. If we stop pushing ourselves, we stop growing spiritually, which inevitably leads to regression. Being Jewish means making an active effort to pursue more than we are comfortable with.

It’s uncomfortable to get up early each morning to have time to pray and put on tefillin before work? We do it anyway!

It’s hard to make that phone call to the sister with whom you’re not on talking terms? It’s frightening? Scary? You don’t know how it will go? Jump right in and start making amends.

You’re dating a guy and it feels right but you’re apprehensive about the future? You just can’t quite commit? At some point, it’s time to take the leap, dive right in, and commit.

It’s scary and uncomfortable to give a portion of your monthly earnings to charity? Push beyond that resistance and give generously.

We’ll all be watching Israel’s space expedition closely, but don’t forget your own exploration—go out there and pursue your Judaism with vigor and excitement and curiosity. You’ll be surprised how much you learn.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Uriel Vigler 

Thank you, Congresswoman Ihlan Omar!

Blog-anti-semitism.jpgSadly, anti-Semitism is nothing new, and it reared its head once more this week with an outrageous tweet from Congresswoman Ihlan Omar, “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.”

Next month we read the Purim megilla where Haman clearly articulates his desire to kill the Jews. He didn’t differentiate between the religious and non-religious Jews. It was classic anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism doesn’t discriminate, which is part of what makes it so shocking and horrifying every time it happens.  

David Ben Gurion said, “It doesn’t matter what the goyim say, it matters what the Jews do.” So, how will we respond? 

Yes, we need to demand apologies, sign petitions and organize protests. These are all important, but they fall short of the true method of combatting anti-Semitisim 

They hate us? They hate Judaism? Well, where’s our love for it? Do we feel it with a fiery passion? How can we reignite that? Find it in ourselves, instill it in our children, awaken it in our friends and acquaintances? By increasing our Jewish engagement.  

Commit to putting on tefillin daily. And when you say the Shema, remind yourself of your eternal and everlasting link to your ancestors, all the way up to the unbroken chain of Abraham.

Commit to lighting Shabbat candles every single week, and when you do, picture the light dispelling evil and hatred from the world. 

Log onto Chabad.org and study Torah–educate yourself and your children and reignite that passion and love for G-d and His Torah.

Ms. Omar, as a rabbi, my job is to reach out and inspire my fellow Jews. But it’s hard. You, with your one hateful tweet succeeded in doing what I cannot—you united us. Jews from the left and Jews from the right, all were equally targeted and equally outraged. You reminded us who we are. This week I’ve heard from Jews I haven’t seen or heard from in years. Jews who don’t attend services and are annoyed when I invite them to events. But in the face of hatred, we are reminded who we are and we unite. 

May we only unite for good purposes from now on.

Rabbi Uriel Vigler

How Can I Grab Your Attention?

whatsapp.jpgDear Friend,

I have an important message for you, but I’m struggling to reach you.

I know your inbox is flooded with hundreds of messages daily. When I send you an email, the open rate is extremely low. Sure, when I use a catchy subject line you’re slightly more likely to click, but the numbers are still disappointing.

When I want to tell you about our incredible Purim in Hawaii party, what do I do? I can text you, and that is probably the most effective way to catch your attention, but each text has to be created individually which is extremely time consuming.

When I have a JLI Torah class that I think will interest you, I have started using snail mail. I spend thousands of dollars a year designing, printing, and mailing out that info, and yes, you respond to snail mail, but compared to the effort and money I invest… the response rate is low.

I also post on Facebook and other social media, but there I’m competing with politics, sports, and all kinds of other drama, so unless I’m posting something particularly sensational, it goes largely unseen.

Enter WhatsApp—fast, quick, and a pleasure to use. And I’ve been using it for a while now.

If I want to tell you about the Sunday morning minyan, or a singles party, or a wounded soldier event, I forward the message to 20 people, and then another 20, until I’ve covered all the relevant parties. Alas, last week WhatsApp changed its rules and now only allows forwarding to five people at a time, which is again, too time consuming and inefficient. And broadcasting is too impersonal.

And this week, of all weeks, I have a vital message to share. In this week’s Torah portion G-d give us our mission statement: It’s like His big speech! “And they shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst.” Every minute of every hour of every day, this should be our focus. Creating a dwelling place in this physical world for G-d by spreading goodness and kindness and doing His mitzvot.

Make a blessing and truly mean it. Read a verse of Tehillim with real wholeheartedness. Pray with intention. Learn a verse from the Torah with the knowledge that is the word of G-d. Do a favor for another person because that is why G-d put you on this earth.

That is the vital message I need to relay to you this week. So tell me, dear friend, how do I best reach you?

Yours truly,

Rabbi Uriel Vigler

P.S. If you hit reply, you have my attention!

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