Hatch Match & Dispatch

It is always fascinating, how and when people reach out to me for my rabbinic services. Rarely, however, does it cross the gamut of the lifecycle in the space of one week. In the last seven days (written a week ago), I did a funeral, two brisim and a wedding. Even for me, that is a bit unusual.

I laughingly noted to myself, that this was the proverbial line my late uncle, Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz would often share. Something to the effect that regardless of how assimilated or secular a Jew views themselves, when it comes to the major lifecycle events, birth, marriage and death, people get deeply in touch with their Gdly soul essence, and they seek out an orthodox rabbi to make sure it is done right.

Obviously, this is not 100% true across the board, as often, people traverse these events, without a rabbi at all, and often not an orthodox rabbi. However, as a Chabad Rabbi, where the vast majority of those who I interact with, are not affiliated, and are assimilated, nine out of ten times, those who ask for my help with a bris/naming, a wedding or a funeral are not particularly religious, yet.

Which begs the the question, why are they seeking out spiritual guidance, and particularly from the toughest of the streams of Judaism? The one who is actually going to insist on a background check and demand a litany things at the highest religious level that they may be spared from if they went an easier route?

(An orthodox halachik bris, is more involved than others (not expanding on this one), as is the wedding, and associated rules, as is the funeral, and the demands of the performing orthodox rabbi. So why do that do that?)

There is a story I had heard many times as a yeshiva student and was recently printed with a source in the new book, Postivity bias, published by Chabad.org by Rabbi Mendel Kalmanson, a must read, and for which I recently wrote a book review), that I think answers this soul question. 

A chassid from another Chassid sect, visited the Rebbe and after discussing his person matters, he raised a Talmudic question. It states in the Talmud, “even the sinners of Israel are filled with a mitzvos like a pomegranate is full of seeds.” His question, if they are truly a sinner, how can the Talmud say they have so many mitzvos? 

The Rebbe in his classical way, turned the question on its head and said, “I have a question on that same quote, and wonder the opposite, “if the person is so full of mitzvos, how can he be called a sinner.”

The difference between the two approaches is a fundamental one. How do you view the essence of a Jew? Is he/she an essentially holy a soulful person who for whatever reason has lost their way a bit and has engaged in or adopted unholy behaviors or lifestyle, but their essence has not changed; They are holy and pure.

Or are they essentially bad, and they happen (like a broken clock hits the right time twice a day) to occasionally do good deeds, to the point that they (the unholy Jew) are full of good deeds like a pomegranate is full of seeds?

This distinction, I believe answers the question I raised above, as to why people will reach out for the highest level of Jewish practice and observance during the monumental life events. Hatch, match and dispatch.

At the core, every Jew is holy and pure. Some of us lose our way a bit and get side tracked and end up living and behaving in a manner that is not truly consistent with who we are at our essence. When a major lifecycle event comes their way, for reasons that they cannot necessarily explain, because they transcend logic, they hail from a place far deeper than the prefrontal cortex, they draw from the soul itself; A Jew is a Jew. 

A Yid, Nit Er Ken un nit er vil, zein upgerissen fun Getlichkeit… (The Alter Rebbe quoted in Hayom Yom) A Jew, (at his core) he doesn’t want to, and he is unable to separate himself from Gdliness.

When we distill it down to its basics, a Jew, particularly when pressed,  cannot separate themselves from who they truly are, that is, a fully connected Jew, connected to Gd. 

As such, it makes perfect sense that an unaffiliated Jew would call an orthodox rabbi. All they are doing is being in touch with who they are at their essence.

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Positivity Bias – A Book Review

Book Review: 
Title: Positivity Bias
Subtitle: Practical wisdom for positive living. Inspired by by the life and teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Author Mendel Kalmanson 
Publisher: Chabad.org and Ezra Press.
Level of impact: Extreme
Genre: Self help, inspiration, entertaining, educational, biographical and more.

A Story: If you are anything like me, you can often let your lizard brain lead you down a deep and dark hole. Recently, one of my children went off to camp, and called home a few hours after being dropped off, upset, wanting to come home. Normally, my brain goes into fight or flight mode, and goes and takes the circumstance to its worst possible outcome.

Child will cry. Won’t be able to fall asleep. Will be miserable and sad. Won’t make any friends because of how this child feels. Will then feel further socially ostracized, and will fight with friends. Things will spiral downward, to the point where said child will be forced to leave camp, either by choice or by being thrown out. Upon returning, led by feelings of intense failure and boredom, will continue down a path of negative behavior and will further self destruct. So on and so forth, you get the point.

That is one possibility.

There is a second (more likely) possibility. Said child will be sad for the night. Will cautiously reach out to new friends. Said child’s great personality will shine forth, and child will shine and become a star in camp, with tons of friends and feelings of great accomplishment and a real boost to their confidence. And of course, a third and most likely possibility, which is some combination in the middle.

Which result will I get? Can I control that? The answer is only Gd knows, but you can influence the outcome. How so? Let me introduce you to the Positivity Bias.

Typically, as we approach the Yahrzeit of the Rebbe, of Righteous Memory, I reflect on what the Rebbe means to me, how he inspires my life. How I recollect my experiences with him and more. This year, however, in the lead up to the Rebbe’s yahrzeit, I got my hands on a new book, that has impacted me in a way, far beyond anything I have read in a long time.

Typically, I read a book for a particular reason. I like the author. I like the title. I like the subject. I need to pass some time and will read anything that will inform me a bit as I read.

Rarely however can you find a book that does all the above in one.

This book, inspires, and educates while entertaining you with myriad of stories to buttress the points being made. It is filled with Torah wisdom, but it is not complex academics where you can often get bored and lose focus. It is a book of teachings of the Rebbe in an organized manner, that takes you through the central theme of the book, positivity bias, that not only captures your attention, and lets you glimpse into the essence of this holy and great man, arguably the greatest leader in modern times. Most importantly, it inspires the reader to make actual and tangible changes in the way they act, speak, and most importantly, think.

It is the first Jewish “self-help” book that is also, inspirational, biographical, funny and entertaining all in one. It is peppered with a smattering of modern day statistics and studies which the author often uses to affirm a point, or point out the Rebbe’s bravery at bucking the science, and watch as the Rebbe trail blazed a new path, often validated by time and society, only decades later.

When addressing those in the special needs community, the Rebbe was one of, (if not the) earliest adopter of not calling people with physical, emotional and developmental challenges by the “old name” retarded or handicapped, rather special and unique. The author shares a story of an injured Israeli Soldier, depressed by his injuries and inspires him, by clarifying that he is not “less than” but in fact, better than others. If Gd gave him this challenge, it means Gd believes he can transcend his physical limitations in a way that others could not.

He covers the entire gamut of life. From how we think, how we speak, how we act, as being an indicator of the results we will find. Meaning, if we speak positively or negatively about job interview that we are worried about, the outcome will depend on what our bias is. We can influence the result with our thoughts, speech and action on the matter.

He addresses moral struggles, and spiritual struggles, in the Rebbe’s characteristic way. Seeing the ray of sunlight, not the gray clouds through which that ray is coming through. He explores the harnessing of life’s vicissitude, whether they be financial, emotional, academic, and using that same apparently negative experience to fuel further growth.

An example of the above is, when in 1982 on the yarhtzeit of his father, a day usually filled with solemnity, often sadness and bitterness, the Rebbe makes a dramatic parsing of the two. Bitterness is motivational. It can move you to fight back and pick yourself and and work harder, better, smarter to not allow yourself to fall into despair. Sadness or depression is the opposite. It can derail you and bring you to a very dark place where you don’t get motivated to do more, but rather you devolve to self pity and loathing that has no inherent value. You get to choose which path to go down. The results will follow your bias.

In short, this book was a real uplifting and inspiring page turner that can, and will change your bias, to a positive one that will reshape your approach to everything and will really improve your life for good.


So how is my child doing? It is too soon to know, but I know that I choose the latter option above. I will use my positivity bias to help control how things will turn out. If they don’t turn out as I want, I know that will be GDs way of giving an opportunity for different but better outcome. That’s my Positivity Bias


Local people, private message me if you want to buy a copy for about $15. I am going to make a bulk order ($ave). I don’t want to do any shipping though so I would people who are nearby. – I do not get any kickback 😁

You can also buy the book on Amazon

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