Musings and Schmoozings


Admit it -- you also bought a lottery ticket.

If you are anything like me, you’d been dreaming what you’d do if you won; perhaps you also humbly calculated how much you really needed for yourself (say a few million), and donated the rest to Chabad.

The probability of winning the Lottery: 1 in 259 million. For you mathematicians out there, the chances of winning were 0.000000003863%.

Apparently that didn’t prevent you–or me–from spending a dollar of futility on an empty dream.

Rabbi Bunim of Peshischa, a Chassidic master of a previous generation asked a simple question on this week’s Torah Portion. We read how Batya, daughter of Pharaoh, bathes by the Nile River and observes a basket with Moses in it. She then sends forth “Amata” in Hebrew, which the Midrash interprets with a wondrous tale.  Batya stretched her arm to reach the basket, but alas, it was beyond her reach.  A miracle occurred, says the Midrash, and her arm miraculously extended ‘many amot’, or many arm’s lengths, and she was able to reach it.

Reb Bunim asks a ‘Klutz Kashe’ – a simple basic question. Why would she stretch her arm to reach a basket many arms-lengths away that was clearly out of reach? Was she anticipating a miracle?

Reb Bunim answered as follows. When it comes to the fate of a child, we don’t ask questions, we don’t launch feasibility studies. We act. We stretch our arms forth, despite our own doubts and our own limitations. A child’s wellbeing is at stake.

 We live in an age in which we look at the landscape around us, and we ponder about the future of Judaism. The pervasive narcissistic Nile culture seeps into the inner sanctum of our spiritual core. How can we stem the tide of assimilation? How can we navigate the strong currents presented by the swirling tides of apathy?

Stretch your arm forth. Do your best, and G-d will augment your efforts and crown them with success. A dollar and a dream.  

This is a time when we take stock and look forward. For everyone that has invested optimistically in a Jewish Tomorrow through the generous support of Chabad of Sunnyvale – thank you!

Please consider year-end donation in support of Chabad      

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yisroel Hecht 

Help! My Teffilin Don't Work


Help! My Tefillin Don't Work!


When you do a mitzvah, does it touch you deeply?
Does it make you cry?
Does it warm your soul?


A few weeks ago, I met a hero: a young man, who has been struggling with the demons of addiction, and who courageously admitted himself to a treatment center.

In the midst of his treatment, on the way to an appointment, he stopped off at my office for a bolt of spirituality. I wrapped tfillin with my young friend for the first time since his Bar Mitzva 17 years earlier. After he was ‘all strapped up’, I then turned back to my computer to continue my work, giving him a few minutes of privacy to recite the shma and to pray.

A half-hour later he returned my tefillin to me, saying words that I will never forget. Clearly emotionally moved, and with tears in his eyes, he said “I feel like my soul is warmed up inside me…”

The experience had a profound effect, not only on him, but on me. This young man, urgent in his desire to climb out of his pit, found the “soul-fuel” to energize his journey upwards.

Our sages tell us that Kinat Sofrim Tarbe Chochmah – Jealously among scribes increases wisdom. There is such a thing as a positive and good jealousy.

So I am not afraid to admit it – I’m jealous.

Are my tefillin broken, are they out of order? Why doesn’t my tefillin-laying affect me when I put them on each morning? Why don’t I cry?

I’m inspired by what this young man has – a soul aflame with a burning desire to grow.

Let us all seek and find ‘soul-fuel’ in each and every Mitzvah that we do. We can all be inspired from our courageous hero in recovery.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Yisroel Hecht
Chabad of Sunnyvale


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