Printed from

Rabbi's Blog

The Key to the Heart

The mother wanted her son to go to Bar Mitzvah lessons, but he wasn't very enthusiastic about the idea, to say the least...  How do we get him on board? The answer was my remote, car key.

It started like a fairly common story.  A mother wants her child to take Bar Mitzvah lessons and make this event special in his life and the life of his family. However, the son gets nervous by the expectations, and is afraid by the thought of needing to learn a new language and being introduced to concepts that weren't part of his life up to this point. He refuses to cooperate.

As a last resort, I went for a home visit to try to break the ice through casual conversation... At the scheduled time, I arrived at the family home, parked my car, and started to walk to the door; but then the garage door opened. I turned around. I thought that they wanted me to come through there, but it didn't seem like anyone was greeting me there, so I turned back to the main door.

I spent at least 2 hours at the house. I had great conversations with the family and the boy; we connected pretty well, and I felt that it was a good beginning to assist the boy in reclaiming his heritage.

As I stood with the family by the doorway to the house, I got ready to leave and clicked remote to open the car doors  - the garage door opened instantly. I clicked the key again, and the garage door stopped.  Turns out... my car key opens and closes their garage door.

Standing there and watching it happen - the boy seemed to think that I have magic powers; the mother took it as a clear sign from heaven that this is the right path for her son... Without any doubt this incident closed the deal! When I got home and did my google research, I learned that indeed there is an extremely small chance that a random car key will match the code of a modern garage door.

 My thought was that the fact that my key happen to open that garage is perhaps a touch of magic; but the fact that it was able to open the heart of another - this is

Spam or great message?

We all often get very 'catchy' spam email; occasionally, we get emails that are questionable. I got one of these two weeks ago, and it turns out that it was very legitimate:

A message that came from an email that I didn't recognize and with no subject line, said the following: 

"I was thinking of you after my final cancer surgery. I am fine. Thanks for being there for Joe. You are the only Jew he admires. Thanks again".

I didn't remember any Joe that I was very close to, nor any Joe whose father had a surgery. But it does say, "Jew", which seemed to be more than random spam. I decided that it must have been sent to the wrong person. Perhaps, he meant to send it  to a different Rabbi… So, I replied  asking "to whom did you intent to send this email to?".

The moment I got the email back from the man, I realized who it was. Joe was a student at Uvic that came by a few times to eat with us, appeared occasionally in Shul on Shabbat, and with whom I spent time together a few times. I never thought that I had any influence on him beyond spending the few times together...

Don't worry, I understand that he didn't really mean that I'm the only Jew he admires...  I do assume it really means that I had some impact on this boy's life in a challenging time for him. I had no clue...

This was a powerful lesson for me. The effect that we have on other people is beyond what we can ever imagine. A little gesture from you - may mean a world to another!



A great Miracle happened on Salt Spring

 Every Chanukah, after we complete our Chanukah tour on the island, we get little notes of appreciation from Jews in these towns. The feedback has been heartwarming and encouraging, and this year was no different.  We received a very special email from Rancho Santa Fe, which brought smiles to our faces:

The local Chabad Rabbi forwarded  a message to me that he received from one of his congregants who was staying on Salt Spring Island for the duration of Chanukah:

"Unfortunately last night, we discovered that by accident my wife removed the dreidel from our bags, so today I went to all the possible stores looking for a replacement. With great disappointment, I reported to my wife that nobody sold a dreidels on our Island. At that point, I realized that in all the disappointment of the IMG_5513.JPGdreidel hunt, I forgot to do something, so I rushed back to the little town of Ganges to get something from a store. As I left the store, what did I hear but the blessing of the candles on the loud speaker by- you guessed it, a Chabad rabbi from Victoria who came to our Island to help bring Chanukah to us. And of course, he had dreidels to give away. Now we are eating latkes and playing with the dreidel that he gave me. 

When you think about it, it is a small miracle that I had to go back to town and that I came out of the store at the exact moment that Chanukiah was being lit. So, Nes Gadol Haya Sham" (= a great Miracle happened there)...

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.