“Your Money or Your Life?”


Chabad of Mid-Hudson Valley Newsletter

Friday, August 8, 2014
Av 12, 5773
Parshat Vaetchanan
Shabbat Nachamu
Pirkei Avot: Chapter 4

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A word from the Rabbi

hebrew school

chabad hebrew school

Many parents in the Mid Hudson Valley Jewish Community increasingly find themselves in a common predicament. Desiring to provide their children with a Jewish education, yet simultaneously, not wishing to expose their children to the same experience that they had when attending Hebrew School. For many parents, they remember learning prayers and words that they didn’t understand and were therefore meaningless.


Fortunately, Chabad Hebrew School offers a Jewish education that’s stimulating, hands-on and meaningful. Chabad, with its non-judgmental approach, embraces all children regardless of their affiliation or their level of observance. The focus is to instill Jewish pride and a strong Jewish identity in the children. The teachers are passionate about what they teach and are living role models.


A significant ingredient of our program is making Judaism exciting and fun for the children, because for many children this is their only connection to Judaism, and we would like that as adults these children will reflect positively on their experience and be eager to provide their children with the same opportunity. Thus, children love coming to Chabad Hebrew School.


Anonymous donor covers new Hebrew School applicants! Due to the generosity of an anonymous donor, all new applicants will receive a first time 50% discount on Hebrew School tuition and anyone bringing in a new applicant will receive a 20% discount on tuition.


No child will be turned away due to financial difficulties.


Shabbat Services: 10:00 AM followed by a delicious Kiddush.


Dear Friends, 

Judaism’s most famous prayer comes from this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Vaetchanan. Shma Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad. “Hear O Israel, G-d is our G-d, G-d is One” (Deuteronomy 6:4). “And you shall love the L-rd your G-d,” the verse continues, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your meod.”


Rashi, the great Biblical commentator, interprets this last phrase — “with all your meod” — to mean “with all your resources,” i.e. your money. This, of course begs the question: if we have already been commanded to love G-d “with all your soul” — which the commentaries understand to mean that we should be prepared to give our very life for G-d– then why the rather mundane command about money? Surely, if we are prepared to give our life for G-d, then sharing our money is a small thing to ask?


Rashi explains that in fact there are individuals who value their money more than their lives. Such people need to be told to love G-d with all their money.


Jack Benny, the well-known American entertainer from long ago, used to joke self- deprecatingly about his frugality. Once, he told of walking down a New York street late at night when he suddenly felt cold, hard metal pointing into his back and a gruff voice barked, “Your money or your life!” When he didn’t immediately respond, the gun at his back pressed deeper into his flesh and the voice from behind became more menacing, “Your money or your life!” Benny replied, “I’m thinking, I’m thinking.”


There are actually quite a few real life situations today which prove that this is no joke. There is no shortage of people, from private contractors in Iraq to white farmers in Zimbabwe, who pursue business opportunities and careers which place their lives in danger.


So the Torah insists that we must love G-d with all our heart, soul, life and resources — whatever it is that we value and cherish most, we should be prepared to dedicate in love to G-d.


I have spoken of this concept at Pidyon Haben (“Redemption of the First Born”) ceremonies, where one finds a very strange dialogue between the father and the Kohen. By Torah law, every first born belongs to G-d, or to G-d’s designated representative, the Kohen. The Kohen therefore asks the father of the newborn child, “Which do you prefer: your first born son, or the five silver shekels you are obligated to give me for his redemption?”


Now what kind of absurd question is that? Is this “The Money or the Box”? Which normal father is going to give away his son when he can keep him for the small price of five silver coins? No one is waiting in breathless suspense for the father’s answer.


In truth, however, it is a very serious question. The priestly minister of G-d asks of the father of this child: In your newborn son’s future life, what will be of primary significance? Will it be the child or the shekel? Will you place high importance on finance or on family time? Will you raise this child with an emphasis on materialism or on more meaningful things? This is really a very good question after all — one which parents need to consider soberly before responding to.


How many workaholics do we know who are so busy making a living that they forget to live. Remember, no one was ever heard lamenting on their deathbed, “Oy, if only I’d spent more time at the office!”


So the Shma reminds us that whatever our core values may be, they should be directed to G-d and His service.


Even for those who aren’t overly thrifty, money is an issue. The reality is that it’s not cheap to be Jewish, certainly not to live Jewishly. Whether it’s the higher price of kosher food and Jewish schooling, or the additional expenses of preparing for Passover, building a Sukkah, or acquiring tefillin and mezuzahs, all these things require a commitment from us financially. When we make that commitment with love and don’t complain about the high cost of being Jewish, then we are observing the mitzvah of loving G-d with all our “meod” — our money and resources.


But don’t worry. G-d loves us too.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yacov & Hindy Borenstein


Jewish Humor!


One day, a man went to an auction. While there, he bid on an exotic parrot.

He really wanted this bird, so he got caught up in the bidding. He kept on bidding, but kept getting outbid, so he bid higher and higher and higher.

Finally, after he bid way more than he intended, he won the bid. The price

was high but the fine bird was finally his!

As he was paying for the parrot, he said to the Auctioneer, “I sure hope this parrot can talk. I would hate to have paid this much for it, only to find out that he can’t talk!”

“Don’t worry,” said the Auctioneer, “He can talk. Who do you think kept bidding against you?”

The New Extension to the Chabad Center
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To view it in full scale, click on image.
If you wish to dedicate or contribute for the New Bais Chabad Center please call the Rabbi for an appointment.
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 Poughkeepsie, NY   
Shabbat Candles
Friday, August 8  

Light Candles at
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Shabbat ends at:
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Shabbat Services 

10:00 AM
followed by a delecious kiddush


Sunday morning services:
Bagels, Lox & Torah
 Service 9:30 AM
Breakfast 10:00 AM
at the Chabad Center
Women’s Torah class:
Torah and Tea
Wednesday’s 10:00 AM
at the Borenstein’s home
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