Rabbi's Blog: Thoughts and Conversations With Rabbi Levi Shemtov

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Rabbi Teitelbaum certainly does. 

The rabbi, who together with his wife, Tamar, directs the Chabad center of the medical community servicing The Albert Einstein College of Medicine, was unfortunately the victim last week of a drunken driver collision in Toronto. 

Rabbi Zalman sustained some minor injuries as a result of the crash, but is profoundly grateful to the Almighty for what was obviously an open miracle of enormous proportions. Such a collision could easily, G-d forbid, have ended with tragic consequences. We thank G-d that Rabbi Teitelbaum is miraculously healthy and back home, and wish him a speedy recovery.



Making Each Hour Count

 Often, I struggle. I spend so much of my time and energy responding to emergencies, crises, and the suffering of innocent people, it is easy to lose sight of the beauty and opportunities that surround me. It is on foggy days such as these, when sadness is rampant and all hope is lost, that I have to dig deep and hold on to the positivity of sun-kissed days. Chassidic thought encourages us to proactively take control of our time, and infuse each hour with purpose and joy.

 This last Sunday, I did not have to struggle to maintain perspective; each moment was filled with revealed goodness. The landscape was so beautiful, imbued with meaning, hope, and joy, that I could barely catch my breath. 

The day began with a spellbinding, remarkable presentation given in our shul at Chabad by Menachem Ross, a member of our shul, who only became observant in recent years. In front of a stunned crowd, he recited from memory major selections from the Mishna’s Tractate Kiddushin. The recital was accompanied by a Powerpoint presentation with simultaneous English translation. The joy and shared pride in this amazing accomplishment were palpable. May he and his wife, Jordana, and their precious family be blessed with good health, fortune, and even more tremendous feats in their near future.

Following the presentation and Sunday learning, we joined in Sorah Malka Daube’s Bat Mitzvah celebration. The Daubes, who are members of our shul and very close friends of ours, have celebrated many birthdays and happy occasions with us. Sorah Malka grew up and played side-by-side with our Chaya Mushka. At the Bat Mitzvah, as we listened to Sorah Malka’s speech, and listened to others speak about her wonderful attributes, it was abundantly obvious what a modest and amazing young lady she is.







Before we could catch our breaths, we zoomed over to Monsey for an engagement party of a girl whose family is incredibly important to Sorah and I. Just twenty-one years ago, when Sorah and I began our journey at Chabad of Riverdale, we occupied an office space in Marilyn Sopher’s building where Steve Romer, a Jewish realtor, worked in a real estate appraisal office. Upon meeting Steve for the first time, I asked him if he was interested in placing tefillin. In not so many words, the response was: “thanks, but no thanks.”

In fact, in a moving speech in Chabad of Riverdale’s first Annual Dinner, Steve described how he deemed it impossible for anyone to “break down his wall.” Over the years, however, our bond grew and so did Steve and his wife’s, Noga, connection to Judaism. Now, twenty-one years later, the family who is deeply observant is celebrating the engagement of their youngest daughter, Shelly, and take enormous pride in their growing Jewish family.

As our families joined to celebrate in this simcha, my friend proudly pointed to his Jewish children and grandchildren in the room, and turned to Sorah and said: “All these children – they belong to you.” 

The celebrations were not over. We returned to our Chabad House for yet another meaningful celebration: a wedding that took place in our very own library. Two members of our community joined together and got married while boys from our shul held up the canopy, acted as witnesses to this joyous event, and recited the blessings at the sheva berachot.

Just as I thought our Sunday day was winding to a close, and it was time for our feet to return to ground, after the dizzying joy of so many celebrations, I received a text: a person had lost his ketubah (formal contract in a Jewish religious marriage), and he needed my help. The opportunity for an act of goodness was a beautiful and fitting end to a perfect day.

Last Sunday was filled with effortless joy. My blessing to each and every one of you is that revealed goodness should infuse YOUR lives, and carry you through life’s challenges.












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