From behind the desk of...


            Growing up as a religious kid, it is almost expected of you to become a Rabbi. Of course most do go into business in the end, but it is always taken into consideration before they do. The world is vast and the communities are many. Do you take the guaranteed life of a paycheck or commit to a life of community service?

            Naturally I was faced with the same decision before coming down to open Chabad of Pembroke Pines. I had a friend who was a life insurance salesperson at the time. I approached him to inquire about maybe becoming a salesperson as well. He told me,” Mordy, this has to be the hardest job in the world. You have to convince people to purchase a product they do not want”.

            He went on to explain that because people do not perceive death as a reality, it is extremely hard for them to purchase something based on that perception. Being that my interest was already inclined in that direction, I went into a profession that is similar.

            Before you turn over the page, allow me to explain. The issue I have is (this is the outlook from the Rabbi’s desk) trying to convince people to “buy” a product they do not see as a reality. No matter which form of supernal power you believe in, we can all agree that the higher power is not tangible.

            Generally, people don’t like it when you speak of God. After all, life would be much easier just going about our daily chores. It is hard enough to understand why our teenage children are interested in the things that they are these days. Why try to figure out something which you are telling me cannot be fully understood anyway?

            What I have come to learn and in the end by answering my questions is, is encapsulated in two words – “true identity”. Jewish mysticism teaches that every person is made of two parts. These two parts are complete opposites and therefore have different interests. The two sides are the Divine soul and the Material soul. You might have seen them depicted in the movies as the angel holding a harp over the right shoulder and the devil holding his pitchfork over the left shoulder.

            The names of these two voices spell out exactly what they are. The Divine soul yearns for a life of Godliness and good deeds. His only goal is to make the environment around him a better place. A place, God would feel comfortable calling home.

            The Material soul cares only for the body which it is in. Not so much in a selfish way, but rather in “me first” attitude. Whatever it takes to satisfy its every whim and desire, it will do. Every single person has these two voices inside of him fighting for control. Even the good guys have it. Only they are in control of themselves while the self-centered person is a total slave to – well to himself.

            The first Chabad master, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi explained that there are times we are so deeply involved in our own material world, that our Divine soul is buried deep and cannot be felt or heard. However, even the worst of the worst still are in possession of this Godly soul. It is compared to a small spark waiting to be ignited. In old Yiddish this small spark is called “di pintele yid”.

            This is a lesson we can take out of the upcoming holiday of Passover. Before the exodus, the Jewish people were so seeped in Egyptian culture that preached material interests and immorality, that they had no identity of their own. Only when God took them out and turned that spark into a flame, did the Jewish people become a nation in control of their own destiny. No longer were they subject to pressure from the environment around them. Now that little white guy with a halo and harp, had a voice.

            Now, let us not fool ourselves. We do live in a world that we have to take care of ourselves. Our body needs food, clothing, shelter and nourishment. The important thing is to remember is not to forget to nourish our Godly soul as well.

            Now every investment that paid large dividends comes with some risk and a leap of faith. To nourish your Godly soul and reignite your spark, make the time to listen to voice inside you that says you can make a difference. In the end you will live a better life knowing your “true identity”.