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Sweating before Shabbat

Dear Friends,

Every Friday is busy; it seems to be a way to appreciate the peacefulness on Shabbat. Last Friday was busier than ever, trying to get all we needed from the house and shul for the Shabbaton.

Thank G-d everything went very well. To be honest, it was Chani's detailed list, which wasn't missing a thing, that saved us! We arrived at the Kiwi cove Lodge with enough time before Shabbat to set up the eiruv. 30 minutes before Shabbat, I realized that the only thing that was my sole responsibility to prepare wasn't there! I had intended to give a class from a book of Torah Or, written by the first Chabbad Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady, in the 18th century. I forgot to bring the book and I didn’t have even one copy for myself.

It was at that moment when I remembered, a site that has no less than 50,000 books on Judaism. I ran to the office to work on the computer. Everything seemed to be going wrong. The browser wasn't working with that site, there were no Hebrew characters on the computer, and the printer was getting stuck. Finally, 5 minutes before candle lighting, I had 15 copies of the Torah Or on the Parshah in my hand.

On the one hand, it felt very good. There I was in a little village in the middle of Vancouver Island, able to print out this book of Chasidism that was printed some two hundred years ago on the other side of the world. On the other hand, I felt like a fool. Why had I wasted the precious minutes before Shabbat fighting with the computer rather than better using my time and teaching something else in the morning?!

On Motzei Shabbat, one of the participants of the Shabbaton told me, "It was worth it to come to the Shabbaton just for the morning lecture. It was exactly what I needed to hear.”

The effort was well worth it, and maybe just because I worked hard at getting it - it was so well received. King David says in Tehilim (psalms), "Do not place your trust in munificent benefactors.” What comes with no effort will never be as valuable as does that which comes with sweat...

Chani joins me in wishing you Shabbat Shalom, 

Rabbi Meir Kaplan 


Shopping with responsebility

Dear Friends,


I do my weekly and Shabbat shopping on Thursday evenings, usually at the Wholesale Club (which carries many kosher items, and at a good price too...).  Last Thursday, after I finished unloading my cart, I took out my debit card to pay. Just then, I realized that after getting my insurance for my car that day, and some other large shopping, I had exceeded my daily allowance on the card. As you may know, Wholesale Club doesn't take credit cards... The store was closing in less than one hour and I wasn't sure that I'd be able to go back home and get an alternative payment method...

While I was thinking of what to do, a couple from the community, with whom we celebrated holidays and events together, came close to see what the issue was. "I don't have my bank card with me but I live closer. Let me go home. I'll be back in a few minutes," says R. Before I had a chance to thank him properly, he was on his way...

The cashier at the register was amazed. She realized that we didn't come shopping together. She turned to me and said, "We don't see these kinds of things any more..." Usually it would be no more than plain empathy....

I was very thankful to this couple who saved my shopping for that day and I thought to myself that maybe this sense of responsibility that we have for each other: "Love your fellow as yourself," which is the foundation of Judaism, is something that we still need to share with the world.

Maybe this is the same drive of over 200 volunteers from a little country in the Middle East to travel to open the first field hospital and save hundreds of lives, 10,000 KM away from their homes...

Chani joins me in wishing you Shabbat Shalom, 

Rabbi Meir Kaplan 

ICU story

Dear Friends,

It was last week, Wednesday, when Rabbi Wineberg, director of Chabad in BC, asked me to go to the helicopter port to pick up a family who came on an emergency call. Their father, who came for a minor procedure in the hospital, was taken to the ICU after a great complication and was in a life-threatening situation. 

Sitting in the car with the family was obviously very difficult. The son, Josef, was crying in the back, and everyone was speechless. Then I remembered another story which happened to me visiting the ICU at Jubilee Hospital.

It was about four years ago when Rabbi Lipa B. called me right before Shabbat to ask me to visit his uncle, Dr. Michael B., who was in the hospital in critical condition. "Michael told me," the Rabbi said, "that although he doesn't lead a Jewish lifestyle, he would like to be buried as a Jew. Please go to meet the family and give them your contact information so they can contact you if needed."

A short while later, I visited the family at their father's bed side. They were totally devastated and felt extremely hopeless. Their father did not wake up from a failed heart surgery. I advised them to continue thinking positively and pray, and may Hashem send him a fast recovery. Before I left the room, I held Michael's hand, wished him a "Gut Shabbas!" and rushed home for candle lighting.

About a week went by and I didn't hear from the family. I made my way to the hospital to find out what happened. To my surprise, I was told that Michael was no longer there. They were not allowed to share any more information with me .

A few days later, this mystery was solved when I received a letter in the mail: "Dear Rabbi, My family joins me in thanking you for your kind and helpful visit during my recent serious illness. They were greatly reassured and helped by your visit, prayers, and comments, and I have no doubt that your intervention assisted greatly in my recovery."

I shared this story with the family in the car and asked them to keep thinking positively, and praying for his full recovery.

Three days ago, Josef called me to let me know that his father is going back on the five o'clock ferry to Vancouver. "Everything turned out to be good," he said. "He is very weak and needs some rest, but he's coming along..."

Our sages tell us that "even if a sharp sword is placed on the neck of a man, he should not withhold himself from G-d's Mercy." With prayer to the Al-mighty and the positive energy that he grants us, we could transform many difficulties and bring blessings and life. 


Two phone calls from Toronto

Dear Friends,

On Wednesday this week, I received a phone call from a Jew in Toronto whose mother recently past away. He is going to be in Victoria this Tuesday. He really tries to not miss any opportunity to say Kaddish, so he was wondering if we have a minyan for Mincha and Ma'ariv (afternoon and evening services), to which I replied that we don't have "at this time," but he is welcome to pray in our shul. And so we planned to meet in shul on Tuesday at 3:30 PM.

Two hours later, the phone rings again. A woman from Toronto is on the phone. Her daughter, who lives in Nanaimo, had a baby boy, and they requested if they can have the brit in our shul. "Could it be at 3:30PM?" she asked, "and one last thing - will you be able to get a Minyan?"... 


So here I'm inviting you to participate this Tuesday, January 12, 3:30 PM, in Mincha service followed by a brit and Ma'ariv...and we need a Minyan....!


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