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Friday, September 25, 2009

Never Start Again

Imagine working on a project for decades only to see it voted down by a show of hands.

This week, after twenty years and fifty-five million dollars, the City of Newport News, VA decided to terminate the 13 billion gallon King William Reservoir project.

The Cohoke Mill Creek will not be dammed.

I am sure that this is a real bummer for the engineers, scientists and tractor drivers involved. Nobody likes to be put out of business by the desalinization plant down the block. It is hard to watch twenty years of work float off down the river. In just two more years it would have been completed.

Hashem taught Yona that the anger of the Army Corp of Engineers is legitimate. Yona was deeply upset because he lost a Kikayon tree that had sprouted over night and Hashem was not willing to see the great (and evil) city of Nineveh destroyed.

Hashem puts a lot into each one of us. It is fair and non-heretical to say that it is within Hashem’s best interest to see us succeed. He creates us to see us thrive. Hashem created a system of rules and rewards, but the ultimate goal is our spiritual success. It’s not over until we win.

Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz used to tell his discouraged students: “Never start again”! Often a person begins a tractate of Gemara or a project and loses interest for a few days. If he is constantly starting again from the beginning he will eventually find himself too discouraged to carry on.

We need to build on our small successes and move forward. Step by step we will prevail, because Hashem wants us to succeed.

Hashem might not bring storms and large fish and prophets together to help us succeed, but he did design the world around us with our best interests in mind. We are built to last.

As for the reservoir, it was just a blip on the landscape of 5770 years of history.  The Mattoponi River will continue to flood its banks for many happy and healthy years to come, 430 acres of wetlands will not be destroyed and everyone will still have plenty of water to drink.

Nature found its way and so can we.


Disclaimer: I am not an environmentalist or politician. I actually know very little about rivers, reservoirs, dams, and wetlands. The point is that it (the reservoir) was a big project which was canceled in favor of an even bigger project (nature). Our Neshamos are Hashem’s biggest project.

Posted on 09/25 at 06:04 AM • Permalink
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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