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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

“Bottle It”

"Wouldn’t it be great if a fellow could put this stuff in a bottle and stop it up so the gas wouldn’t get away, and he could drink it whenever he wanted? – Benjamin Franklin Thomas, 1887

The sad truth is that nobody made money suggesting this to Coca Cola, but it was a smashingly sweet idea, found (of course) in the Torah.

Moshe said to the Jewish people: Right now you are on a high, you have never been closer to Hashem and the purpose of the mitzvos is clear to you. You think that the rest of your existence as Jews will be the same way. You think that you and all future generations will be able to maintain this constant connection to holiness. Let me tell you about reality. One day, you are going to have a son and he will have no idea what you are doing. He will ask “What is the big deal? Why are you doing all this hard work?” G-d will not always be as obvious as He is right now.”

How do we respond to this question? Moshe told the Jewish people: “You should say to him: This is my Korban Pesach for Hashem. We did this and Hashem punished all of the Egyptians but spared us and our homes.”

The Hagada tells us that the Torah spoke of Four Sons: Wise, Wicked, Simple, and Silent. Even a distant memory of the Hagada includes the stinging answer given to the Wicked son (“knock out his teeth and tell him “Hashem did this for me when I was in Egypt – for me and not for you. If you were there you would not have been saved”).

Why did Moshe give the wrong answer?

Perhaps Moshe’s reminder was not directed at the wicked son but at the parents themselves.

“Stop for a moment”, he told them, “and appreciate the feelings and emotions of what you are experiencing. Define them, bottle them and put them somewhere safe. One day when you are challenged you will be able to pull that memory out of your pocket and say “I remember that moment when I did the Mitzvah of Pesach. I felt closer to Hashem than you can ever imagine”.

We often experience spiritual highs. We need to save souvenirs, memories or commitments, from these highs to give us support at the times when we are low.

To paraphrase Perry Como: “Catch it, Put it in your Pocket, an’ Save it for a Rainy Day”.

Never let it fade away.

Sources: For God, Country and Coca-Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company that Makes it, Mark Pendergrast, Basic Books, 2000, pp 69-70; Kli Yakar, Shlomo Ephraim ben Aaron Luntschitz , Lublin, 1602, Shemos 12:26.


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Meet Rabbi Sender Haber

Rabbi Sender Haber is the Rabbi of the B'nai Israel Congregation in Norfolk, VA. He is well known throughout Hampton Roads, having arrived over twelve years ago as one of the original four members of the Norfolk Area Community Kollel. In that capacity, Rabbi Haber was involved in community wide programming, teaching, and outreach. He has inspired many Jews to expand their Jewish identity and increase their love of Torah and commitment to its observance. Everyone who knows Rabbi Haber is touched by his breadth of Torah knowledge and his ability to convey the wisdom of the ages in such a way as to make those esoteric writings accessible to persons of all levels of experience and a variety of backgrounds.

Rabbi Haber has served in a number of capacities during his years in Norfolk. Since 2003 Rabbi Haber has been a teacher of Jewish Studies at Toras Chaim Day School in Portsmouth, teaching boys and girls of all ages, with a focus on Gemara, Halacha, and Chumash. He has also taught at Yeshivas Aish Kodesh and Bina High School in Norfolk, and served as Assistant Rabbi of B’nai Israel for 6 years. He also serves as the Rabbi of the “Lost Tribe,” Tidewater’s Jewish Motorcycle group! While handling all of these responsibilities, he has continued to participate in numerous Chavrusos (one-on-one learning partnerships) covering a wide range of topics and writings.

Rabbi Haber and his wife Chamie have been married for thirteen years. They have four children, Minna (9), Moshe (6), Ely (4), and Akiva Meir, born in August of 2012. They both come from rabbinic families steeped in Torah, Kiruv and Chesed. Rabbi Haber received his Rabbinic Ordination (Yoreh Yoreh) from Rabbi Sender Rosenbloom and Rabbi Mordechai Freidlander of the Jerusalem Beth Din. He was awarded a Teaching Certificate by Torah Umesorah Association for Jewish Day Schools in 2004 and again in 2009. In addition, Rabbi Haber has spent over a decade studying Talmud, Jewish Law, and ethics in some of the world’s most prestigious Yeshivos including Beth Medrash Gavoha in Lakewood, NJ and Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Haber can be contacted through the Synagogue office at 757-627-7358, or through e-mail at