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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.

Tue, June 18 2024 12 Sivan 5784