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19: Rifky

10/25/2019 03:00:00 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


Now that I’m on the verge of completing 20 for 20, I can’t believe I’ve reached the 19th edition of this email project.

This exercise has been spiritual therapy for me. As I have written, so I have thought. It’s given me a chance for perspective. 

I think of all the times I let worry paralyze me instead of emboldening me. About all the times I let my ego get in the way of listening. 

I think about how I allowed “small people” to sabotage my mental health. I think of all the people I could have impacted had I stayed more focused. 

I wonder where the Forest Hill Jewish Centre would be today if I was always bringing my A-game.

Earlier this week, we celebrated the holidays that follow Sukkot. Among the highlights was the Hakafot for kids on Simchat Torah. But a few hours before the event, Rifky noticed that the dinner order wasn’t right.

Instead of four huge pans of food, we only had four small ones: 20 per cent of the full order.

Without missing a beat, I freaked out—and Rifky remained calm. 

She went home, took out what we had in the freezer, and cooked for a few hours. It all worked out. 

(A big thanks to Sara Isaacson, my Machatenesta—the mother of my son-in-law, Shimmy—for partnering on that emergency project.)

Perkei Avot asks: Who is strong? He who conquers his inclination. A strong person doesn’t freak out, a strong person doesn’t let small people bring them down, a small person surely doesn’t lose focus.  

A strong person brings their A-game every day of every week. Knowing that their role is to do their very best. And allowing G-d to do the rest.

Those who know me well can easily attest that these aren’t my greatest qualities. Baruch Hashem, I married Rifky.

Rabbi Akiva once told his students, about his wife: What is mine and yours is hers.

Although I’m showing some strength by sending this to over 1,500 people without her permission, I can honestly say that I’m only a Rabbi because I married the Rebbetzin, and not the other way around. 

Sure, I could’ve gone through all of 20 for 20 merely hinting at this fact. But then something would’ve been missing. 

So, while everything I said is true, know that there’s someone whose appearance really reflects her inner reality. And we’re all blessed to have her at the helm.

Fri, September 22 2023 7 Tishrei 5784