Menachem Bluming’s Yom Kippur thought

Thought by Menachem Bluming… Yom Kippur had ended and the Chazzan, the cantor, was the last one out and about to lock the door so that he could go home to his family when an older man came rushing to the door. “Why are you locking the doors?” The man pleaded. “Let me in, I am here for Kol Nidrei!”

First the chazzan thought he was kidding but quickly realized how serious this man was. “Please let me in I have never missed a Kol Nidrei!” The chazzan patiently explained that the man must have mixed up the dates because Kol Nidrei was 25 hours earlier… The man looked away and broke into uncontrolled sobbing… “Woe is me… My father told me that as long as I hear the Kol Nidrei each year I will remain connected with the Jewish community and with being a Jew and what will I do now?…” he sobbed and cried.

The chazzan was touched deeply by this outpouring of Jewish connection and longing and so he told the man that he would not miss hearing the Kol Nidrei that year. “Come with me”, the Chazzan assured. In the large sanctuary sat this older man alone. The chazzan donned his tallit and chazzan hat and forgot his hunger. He gave that Kol Nidrei all that he had. The man listened and swayed and tears came to his eyes as this tune evoked memories and deep connection. When they finished, the man warmly embraced the chazzan so very grateful for this tremendous kindness and went on his way…

This is a true story that happened a few years ago… This is also the true story of so many of us…

Do you ever feel that you’ve missed the boat by a day? That it is too late for you to connect with your Judaism?

We must serve as the chazzan for each other… to assure each other that they are in! They have not missed the Kol Nidrei, never. They are so powerfully bonded and connected. We need them and they need us.

May you always remember that you have never missed it… you are in and we need you!

Menachem Mendel Bluming and Chabad.org

Musing by Menachem Bluming: Do You Relish Being in Control?

Don’t you love the feeling of being in control? You have your morning routine, your customized workout, you control every dial and setting and speed that you possibly can. Amazon delivers almost before you press the order now button. Texts are responded to instantly, calls are picked up before they ring and you expect that. You are in control of your life!

Don’t you enjoy and depend on order and predictability?

But control is an illusion. I may feel like I’m in control, but when it comes down to it, I am absolutely not. And if there’s any indication of that, it’s 9/11 or Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma and so many other natural disasters.

Weather forecasters can identify the storm. They can track it, measure its force, estimate its trajectory and predict its impact. But they, and we, are powerless to stop or redirect it, despite the tremendous technological and scientific advances we have seen in the last few decades.

In the Torah parshat Ki Tavo we read about the mitzvah of bikkurim. Every farmer in the land of Israel was obligated to bring the first fruits of his harvest to the Temple for the priests to consume. Imagine!

A farmer who tilled and prepared the soil, carefully planted, watered, pruned, and cared for his crop, was then required to give away his very first produce! Why should he? As a reminder that G-d, and G-d alone, controls our livelihood, and, in fact, every aspect of our lives.
Hurricane Irma and 9/11 reinforces this lesson. I am not in control of my life; G-d is.

Menachem M Bluming, Chabad.org and Rabbi Vigler

Question to Menachem Bluming this week: Who needs Religion?!

Q: I am an atheist. I dropped my faith a while ago. To be honest, I don’t feel I am missing anything with G-d out of my life. If anything I am more free. It has made me wonder, if I lose my religion, have I really lost anything worthwhile?
Here’s a thought:

People often make the mistake of thinking that if you take away religion, you just get rid of believing in G-d. This is not true. You lose much more than G-d when you drop religion. Something else you lose when you drop religion is the idea of family.

Family is a concept that cannot be taken for granted. The family is built and sustained on a belief system, a set of values, a worldview that sees marriage as a sacred covenant and parenthood as a moral responsibility. Without these supporting beliefs, the family is a baseless ideal that will erode with time. And these beliefs are religious.

Only religion can provide a meaning to life that is higher than me. I was created with a purpose that is beyond myself. I am here to serve. I was given the gift of life, and I should share it with others. Without these beliefs, there is no ideological base for the concept of family. No secular argument is strong enough to inspire you to give up your own freedom, get married and have children.

Look around at secular societies. The less religious the society, the weaker its families. Marriage is replaced with casual relationships, and having children is optional, as long as it doesn’t interfere with career and living my life my way. In a godless world the lonely, unattached individual is idealized. The disintegration of family life in the west is a direct result of its secularization.

Of course there are atheists and secularists who make devoted husbands and loving wives, dedicated mothers and attentive fathers. But this is in spite of their atheism, not because of it. People often do things that are not consistent with their beliefs. A secular family is one example. Having a family is an act of faith no less religious than attending prayer services.

Menachem Mendel Bluming, Rabbi Moss and Chabad.org