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The Success of Blessings

Friday, 9 November, 2018 - 1:34 pm

Thousands of Rabbis posing for a group photo isn’t your average photo op. Nor, was it the highlight of my recent attendance at the International Kinus HaShluchim. A grand banquet with 5500 guests (the largest kosher sit-down dinner in New York!) is inspiring. But, it was not the high point. Even if my son, Ari, was invited on stage to announce the roll call (see here at minute 2:57:18).

Last Thursday night I got together with an intimate group of my colleagues and classmates. Some of them live in Massachusetts, China and California.

Hearing their personal stories and reconnecting with old yeshiva classmates was the real inspiration. I sat with my colleague from Thousand Oaks, California, Rabbi Chaim Bryski. We spent five years together in yeshiva – first in New Jersey and then in South Africa.

Two days ago his world was turned upside down. The horrific attack at a bar in Thousand Oaks deeply affected his community. Less than 24 hours later, after participating in the procession for Sgt. Ron Helus, he was forced to evacuate his own home due to wildfires.

After safely relocating his family to nearby friends, Rabbi Bryski got back in his car and drove to Thousand Oaks. This is the message he just sent out:

I am on my way back to Thousand Oaks to check on neighbors, and give out Challahs to those who will remain in the shelters for Shabbos and others in our community.

Here he is at the procession yesterday:


This the spirit that inspires me every time I go to the Kinus HaShluchim.

I was inspired by a Rabbi in Pennsylvania who – together with a medical expert in his community – arranged for fertility treatment for a fellow Shliach in Colorado, miraculously expanding his family.

I was inspired hearing a Dvar Torah from Miriam Golick, a graduate of our Hebrew School, who is thriving as a full-time student at the Machon L’Yahadus Institute in Brooklyn.

I was inspired by a Rabbi in Bangalore, India, who decided to move there at the funeral of Rabbi Gabi and Rebbetzin Rivky Holtzberg הי"ד – to continue their holy work.

We Shluchim are spread over so many countries and are blessed to be carrying out our holy work in so many different ways.

I found myself asking myself: Is it their inspiration that leads to success, or is it Chabad’s success that inspires them?

An argument can be made for both sides of the coin. A look at this week’s parsha Toldos may offer some perspective.


The Torah tells that Yitzchak (Isaac) was a wildly successful businessman: And Yitzchak sowed in that land, and he found in that year a hundred fold, and G-d blessed him.

There’s something strange about this verse.

Isn’t Yitzchak’s success the result of G-d’s blessings? Why does the Torah say he succeeded and – only afterwards – that Hashem blessed him?


Many successful people curse the day they found success. Though they have everything they need, they no longer find purpose in life. Of course, many others are successful and happy. What’s the difference?

If the things we have in life – be it money, positions or even communal success – define who we are, we will always be seeking more. But, if we are defined by our values and spiritual mission, we can always find meaning in life.

Yitzchak was successful. But, his material wealth did not define him. He used his wealth to be charitable – his real mission in life.

And, that’s when he was worthy of Divine blessing. After he succeeded – but did not allow that financial achievement to define him – G-d showered true blessings upon him.

May we all merit to G-d’s blessings – in matter and spirit!

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