It’s birthday fever! By Divine (non)coincidence, The House has celebrated a few special staff birthdays within mere weeks! (A Happy Belated to Bonnie Oppenheimer whose birthday was on November 17th, and Happy Birthday to Marni Gelkopf, who turns 23 today!)
To round it all off, Rabbi Rafi’s 42nd Birthday is just around the corner.
While we’re blowing up balloons, the Rabbi is reflecting on the people and things that play a major role in a person’s life journey.
In Jewish tradition, a birthday is the perfect opportunity to connect to your life goals and purpose for existence. It’s a chance to contemplate your most valued personal traits and how you can apply them to your own unique life mission, in order to achieve even greater spiritual success for yourself and the others around you.
Naturally, the Rabbi seized this moment to do what he does best – which is educate and inspire the Jewish community. In addition to speaking at his own birthday at Rabbi Rafi’s Guide to the Galaxy, we somehow roped him into discussing the purpose of birthdays, the number 42, and some of the things that make life’s most important hit list…
Basically, we’ve tasked him with contemplating “Life, the Universe and Everything.” No biggie.
Judging by the panic that flooded his face, we began to understand just how big of an undertaking this theme might be. So in the meantime, while he’s off trying to sort it all out, we decided to ask for a (significantly simpler) list of things that makes his life that much sweeter.
…A list of 18 things, to be exact!
So cue the “Sound of Music” soundtrack, break out the Manischewitz, and let’s get this countdown started! Because…
These are a Few of His Favourite Things
- Favourite Quote: “If you are no better tomorrow than you were today, what need have you for tommorow?” – Rebbe Nachmun
- Favourite Book: A Letter in the Scroll, by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
- Favourite Movie: Pay It Forward. After all, we are here to take what we are blessed with and find a way to use it to serve and benefit others.
- Favourite Tefillah (Jewish Prayer): Modeh Ani, a Tefillah that emphasizes not our belief in the Almighty, but His belief in YOU!
- Favourite Wife: Shira (Editor’s Note: We didn’t prep him for these questions, we swear!)
- Favourite Holiday: Chanukah, because the way to fight darkness is just by shining a little light!
- Favourite Hebrew Letter: Aleph. It all comes back to Aleph, which means “one.” If you look at it carefully, it’s form is made up of two “yuds” and a “vav” that connects them. There are many deep meanings that we can draw from this, such as the numerical value of 2 yuds and a vav, which equals 26, the numerical value of one of G-d’s names…
- Favourite Moment in History: The one that is about to be created…
- Favourite Coffee: Chalav Yisrael Skinny Caramel Correta from Ezra Feintuch’s Kosher Second Cup in the Sobey’s Plaza. …Especially since it is “North of the border,” it is a rare and special treat.
- Favourite Sushi Roll: The House has been a fan of Umami Sushi for years, so naturally, it’s “The Bathurst Street” roll. Although, I must say, I do like a dish that I’ve dubbed, “The Salmon Noodle Thingy.” Not sure what it’s actually called, but if you order it the way I do, then they generally understand. …Otherwise, try saying, “the Salmon Noodle thingy that Lipner likes.” (Editor’s Note: Challenge accepted! Anyone willing to test-drive this theory?)
- Favourite Diet Tip: Being that I just started a diet/healthy eating plan one month ago, and that I’ve already lost 20 pounds, I think the most helpful tip is to understand why you need to eat what you do. In many ways, it is just like one’s Judaism. In fact, so much of the strategy to a healthy physical lifestyle can correlate to a healthy spiritual Jewish lifestyle. (Thanks to Michael Diamond, I may just write a blog post or even a book on that one day!)
- Favourite Hebrew Word: Hmm, possibly “Ahavah” – not just because it means love, but because it defines love as “one’s desire to give to others” rather than to take. If you recall that we mentioned the numerical value of G-d’s name is “26,” then it is interesting to analyse the numerical value of Ahava: aleph (1) + hey (5) + beit (2) + hey (5) = 13. 13 is exactly half of 26, because love means realizing that you are one half of a greater whole.
- Favourite Toy: The dreidle! How can you not love the dreidle?
- Favourite Wine: I’m not a dry or semi-dry wine guy. Many of you might know by now, it is that blue bottle, Mosacato Bartenura. L’chaim!
- Favourite Place to Shop for My Kids’ Clothes: …In the older kids’ closet. Hey, look, with 8 kids? Hand-me-downs are awesome! There’s no better form of “recycling” than transforming what’s “outgrown” for one into “brand new” for the other.
- Favourite Shul: Shaarei Tefillah, of course! 🙂 I love the mission statement: “The destination for families from diverse Jewish backgrounds who share a common desire for relevant inspiration, strong Jewish values, personal growth, and a warm welcoming environment.” …I’m also pretty ‘close’ to their Rabbi, and the Rebbetzin is awesome!
- Favourite Smart Phone: I am a blackberry guy. Sorry! I just like the QWERTY keyboard, it’s easier to make quick emails while on the run!
- Favourite Day of the Week: Today. Actually, ask me that question any day of the year and the answer will be the same! Shouldn’t it be?