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Monday, October 06, 2008

The Door

Calvin Bakov supplies liqueur to the military. He owns thousands of dollars in alcohol which he keeps in his warehouse. He is not allowed to touch it.

Because the liqueur is exempt from certain taxes, the government keeps Mr. Bakov’s property under lock and key. It is his liquor but he is not allowed into the room.
While Mr. Bakov is a personal friend and a very honorable man, the Talmud likens his situation to one who has much Torah but no fear of G-d. He has all of the keys to the inner chambers but he has no access to the main entrance.

This is a situation in which so many of us find ourselves in the days before Yom Kippur. We know what Hashem wants, we know about the treasures and the joys that are in the Torah, but we can’t seem to get in the front door.

The Gemara tells the story of Nikanor. Nikanor was a special man who was determined to create something special for Hashem. He undertook to craft the worlds finest copper doors and transport them from Egypt to Yerushalayim. The doors were his project, his contribution to history and his way of coming close to Hashem. After months of work he loaded the finished doors onto a ship and headed through the Mediterranean. As he was traveling the ship encountered a storm and was in danger of sinking. In an effort to save the tanking ship the panicked seamen threw one of Nikanors beloved doors overboard.
Nikanor took solace in his one remaining door, but before long that door too was slated to be thrown overboard. In an act of desperation, Nikanor clung to the remaining door. Life did not seem worth living if his dreams were to be dashed to the sea. Finally, Hashem had mercy and the storm subsided. When Nikanor reached the port in Akko he was pleased to find that his lost door had miraculously remained in the undertow of the boat and followed him to the port. Both doors made the journey across the sea.

Reb Shalom Schwadron points out that this story happens more often than we might think. We all have ambitions, goals, and grand plans. Often, we are successful in seeing our goals through to accomplishment. But sometimes a storm breaks out, turbulent times strike and we have no choice but to surrender our dreams to the winds and the waves. We struggle just to survive. Nikanor worked hard but his plan became unfeasible. After weeks of work and months of dreaming he was forced to throw his precious doors out to sea.

Lofty goals are hard to attain and easy to lose. Like Nikanor, we need to show determination and a willingness to sacrifice for even just one part of our dream. If we can do that, Hashem will open the storehouses for us and allow us to access all of our aspirations in the coming year.

Bose claims that if you haven’t used a Bose Sounddock, you haven’t truly heard your ipod. Let’s hook up our sounddocks, amplify our dreams and give our Neshamos a chance to shine.


Posted on 10/06 at 03:55 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