I am Rabbi Mendy Goldshmid, I am the Rabbi at Chabad of Koh Samui in Thailand. My wife Sarahleh and I run the shul and the mikveh here. Last Shabbat we had 700 people join us for Shabbat dinner. It sounds like a lot of work – and it is – but it’s a great blessing as well. You asked me about prayer and it reminded me about the Shabbat we spent together. There were all kinds of troubles for the Jews in France and in Israel. One of the songs in our bencher is the 121st Psalm; Shir Ha Ma’alot – A Song of Ascents. When 700 of us sang it on Shabbat, it was a particularly meaningful time and it was very moving. You are asking me about prayer and that’s what comes to mind to me right now. Here are the words:
1. A song for ascents. I shall raise my eyes to the mountains, from where will my help come?
2. My help is from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3. He will not allow your foot to falter; Your Guardian will not slumber.
4. Behold the Guardian of Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5. The Lord is your Guardian; the Lord is your shadow; [He is] by your right hand.
6. By day, the sun will not smite you, nor will the moon at night.
7. The Lord will guard you from all evil; He will guard your soul.
8. The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from now and to eternity.
Saraleh, the kids and I have been here for 6 years and it’s not always easy. But thank God, there are some moments that are just perfect. The sincerity of the prayer that Shabbat when we sang this song… the sincerity and the unity, it was beautiful. It’s something you have to experience in person, on Shabbat. It’s a popular tune in Israel and several singers use it in their repertoire. My favorite is this version by Gad Elbaz:
If you are ever in Koh Samui, please do come visit us – all our contact information is on the Internet at JewishThailand.com.1 Amen