Chessed News

Thank You

The recent art auction to raise funds for Hearts Cry Orphanage in Panama was a great success. We at Chessed Alaska are so grateful and want to thank all of you who participated in the auction. Whether you donated a painting or money for the auction, helped with the many different tasks to facilitate the event, or purchased a painting, please know you made a difference in many people’s lives.

As the pandemic continues to impede donations throughout the world the proceeds from your generosity will go a long way for the orphanage in Panama. Please keep the children in your prayers as well.

B’ezrat HaShem

The Twelve Prophets

Spring is in full motion here in Alaska. The swans, geese and cranes are nearly done passing through on their way to their nesting grounds. The buds are just starting to pop, casting a slight hue of green through the treetops. Our songbirds are returning, and we even heard some frogs croaking this weekend. With all the sights, sounds, and smells, there is no greater season for revealing HaShem’s greatest glory, abundant life.

Our Ezra Nehemiah class has concluded and Chaplain Crosby has started a new series. She is going through the twelve prophets. There is much written in them that pertains to the current affairs of the world. As Chaplain Crosby goes through the books she will be doing it in chronological order instead of the way they appear in the Tanach.  Please join us on Sunday and Tuesday evenings as we explore what these great men revealed to the world many centuries ago.

Chessed

          Who is the man who desires life, who loves days to see goodness?  Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceitfully.
          Once again, during a recent class, Chaplain Crosby took a moment to teach about the power of speech. When she taught a concept from Chofetz Chaim, a student related how she had been studying some of his teachings. This statement can be a little confusing so let me explain what is happening here. Chofetz Chaim is a body of writings (book) that deals with Jewish ethics and laws of speech and is considered the authoritative source on the subject. It was written in the 1870’s by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, who later became known simply as the Chofetz Chaim. So the man and his writings are referred to by the same name.
       Chofetz Chaim means “desirer of life” and was taken from Psalm 34:12-15. “Come, children, hearken to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the man who desires life, who loves days to see goodness? Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceitfully. Shun evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.”
          One of Rabbi Meir’s famous quotes is, “We must always hold the reins of the animal within us.” Considering that the body of Rabbi Meir’s work covers the ethics of speech, this quote refers to controlling what we say. The Torah teaches that by taking hold of our power of speech, we take hold of life itself. So here is a scenario: You are sitting with a group of people and they begin speaking loshon hora, (damaging speech about others, TRUE or FALSE). Then one of those people looks to you and asks; “What do you think?” Well, now you have a decision to make. Will you try to change the subject or will you add your piece of loshon hora to the conversation?  How about giving some thought to the following advice from the Chofetz Chaim.
          Carefully consider what you are about to do. If you refuse to speak loshon hora, there may be people who will consider you self-righteous and that is something we all want to avoid. On the other hand, if you falter and speak loshon hora, you will have much more to deal with, for you will face embarrassment in the World of Truth, before the King of all Kings, Hashem. Then the Chofetz Chaim quotes the teaching of Jewish Sages: “Better to be considered a fool your entire life than to have Hashem think of you as a rasha (wicked person) for even a moment. Every moment that a person closes his mouth (refraining from speaking loshon hora) he merits a hidden light that no angel or earthly creature can fathom.”
          In today’s world there are many who judge acts as evil and attribute those evil agendas to certain parties or cultures. There may be some truth in what is said but something is lacking from all of this judgement. Social media worldwide is rampant with denigrating speech and slanderous remarks. It would seem the world has forgotten that maligning someone else is evil! That is why it is such a breath of fresh air to hear Chaplain Crosby reminding us that we are all nefesh chayah (speaking spirits). As such, our spirit is clothed by our speech revealing who we are aligning ourselves with.
          Is it possible to be a student of Chessed (loving kindness) and speak evil of others? Can we lift others in dignity and build bridges of unity between the different cultures of this world with loshon hora? I will be the first to admit, this has been a great challenge in my life. Yet I don’t want HaShem to think of me as an evil person. What I do want is to speak well of others and “merit a hidden light that no angel or earthly creature can fathom.”  How about you?

Contributed by Jeff Hewitt

                                Thank You, Happy Chanukah

            Chessed Alaska wishes to express its gratitude to all who have supported us in these past few months, even through this worldwide pandemic. We are humbled and grateful for each of you who have given during this difficult time.  As you celebrate Channukah and this holiday season, we pray you stay healthy and enjoy your family and friends.  B'zrat HaShem  (May you be blessed with all Hashem has in store for you.)

Chessed Alaska Staff

Sukkot

          It has been a busy High Holidays in Alaska. Outdoor services have been held at the synagogues because of COVID. This has created extra challenges for us as we help the Rabbis set up for holiday. When outside threats are factored in, security becomes a bigger undertaking, as well. With the start of this new year, we have entered into the season of miracles.  As the world continues to battle a pandemic, civil unrest, and outbreaks of war, it is easy to become overwhelmed from all the chaos taking place globally.  

          With that worldwide perspective, we are entering into Sukkot. What a backdrop to highlight the importance of this season! This is the one holiday that teaches us how dependent we are on HaShem. He rescued the nation of Israel from bondage to Egypt and sustained them for forty years in the desert. G-d supplied them with the food they ate. Their clothes did not wear out and he protected them from the elements of nature.

          Sukkot is a holiday of joy in which we celebrate HaShem’s miraculous provision for us. We can take solace in His protection over us. Let us be grateful for His kindness to us. As the chaotic turbulence of this world swirls through our life, let's be thankful to our G-d.  He will finish what He started in our lives and carry us through to complete His purpose.

Chaplain Ruthann Crosby

Yesod Translated Is Foundations

          It has been more than five years since the students at Chessed Alaska helped the local Chabad Center open their doors here in the Valley.   Since then, we have helped in many different ways including a new facility to house the center.  Thanks again to all that joined us in this great undertaking.

Chessed Alaska Students