Rabbi Eli Hecht
Rabbi Eli HechtCourtesy

Dear Friends

We have just celebrated the wonderful holidays and we are ready for a successful new year. We have opportunities to make our lives meaningful and rewarding. However, with the Corona Virus running its course, and not coming to an end, I wonder what this year will bring. I ask, can we really make things work? The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught us that we have the power to change a bad situation into good opportunities. All we have to do is try our best and Hashem will do His part.

Looking at the current political situation I realize that the world is a mess. Even in our holy land of Israel the political strife is awful. Tens of thousands of people gather weekly to protest againstt democratically elected Binyamin Netanyahu . The country is under medical lockdown and the vicious Virus is causing terrible tragedies. Young and old are sick and dying. Yet the people find time to protest, egregiously exposing themselves and police to the Virus.

Here in our great country of America, the land of freedom, we have the government running its affairs like a chicken without a head. It is like the wise rabbi of Nitra said on elections that were being held for positions of leadership in his community, when those elected were not at all to the Rabbi’s taste. He remarked: “From these elections I have learnt the difference between a paper factory and a polling booth. In the paper factory you put in rags and paper comes out; whereas in a polling booth the opposite process occurs.”

Instead of the best coming out from the candidates we see the worst. Accusations of lying, misrepresentation of facts and intimidation of voters have destroyed the voters’ trust. What can we do?

I would like to share a story that happened to me on Succot. Every year I visit people and take the Lulav and Esrog with me so they can make a blessing. This year I decided to visit a shopping area where I knew there were Jewish people who would enjoy making the blessing. I also wanted to go to the park to find a specific Jewish woman I had met there previously. Since it was a sure bet that the storekeepers were there and the woman in the park was a long shot, I decided to go to the store.

I made the blessing with a storekeeper and then with his brother-in-law. Then, lo and behold, someone banged on the window of the store shouting “Rabbi Hecht, Rabbi Hecht.” It was none other than the woman from the park. The chances of meeting her at the store were quite unbelievable. But hassidim say that accidents don’t happen, nothing is coincidental..

The moral of the story is that if we do our part, then Hashem, the Almighty G-d, does His part and the partnership is complete.

With the New Year starting, I know we have done our part and Hashem will surely keep His part and bless us all with good health, harmony and happiness.

And may I add, tha as the saying goes, ‘a smile goes a mile’. So smile for your friends and neighbors and make life easier and happier even in these difficult times (they can tell you are smiling from the twinkle in your eyes even if a mask hides the bottom half of your face!)

Rav Eli Hecht is Director and Founder of Chabad of South Bay, Lomita California, former President Rabbinical Council of California, and Vice President of the Rabbinical Alliance of America.