Hey folks, this is Rabbi Chanan Maister, and I'm writing to you from beautiful Crown Heights, Brooklyn, preparing to travel to Northwest Connecticut with my friend and co-RovingRabbi Yossi Beenstock. We're looking forward to finding Jews and bringing them closer to their father in heaven. This is an awesome responsibility, and we certainly hope that we can come through with shining colors.

As we approach the three weeks and the anniversary of the destruction of the Holy Temple, we're reminded that the reason for this time of sadness is the lack of love among Jews. The only way to remedy the problem of our continued exile is with added love, and hopefully Yossi and I can bring our redemption a little closer.

Sometimes it seems that in life we're always preparing. Preparation is undoubtedly a wonderful thing, and I would probably accomplish a lot more if I ever had time to do it. Since my last summer's trip, I've learned and matured in many ways. At least once a week I'd think, "Hey, if I had only done X or Y when I was in Kansas...."

But that year of preparation is over. Now it's the real deal. Am I excited? As we say in Minnesota, you betcha!

A year ago I really didn't know what to expect when I went out. This year, of course, I know what to expect. In fact, when I discussed blogging about this with a friend, he said, "Why bother going out at all? You can just make it up from the comfort of your home. It's all pretty standardized anyway, right?" I laughed, but I had to tell him that this wasn't quite true. Who would ever think to meet a guy dressed like the High Priest standing in a parking lot in Sedalia, Missouri? That's the only example I can think of at this moment, but it just goes to show you that truth is several times stranger than fiction could ever possibly imagine.

Is this really about having cool stories to tell my friends? Of course not. It's about bringing Jews closer to their traditions, which is where all that preparation comes into play. The only way you can give to other people is if you have something yourself. Preparation doesn't only involve buying books, maps, and food. Preparation means changing yourself, making yourself a vessel for the wisdom of the ages.

After writing the above, I'm feeling rather pretentious and snotty. The truth is that I'm just a student, just a guy, hoping to make a difference in someone's life.

What I can say is that I hope that my trip will in some way make the world just a little bit better. Every Mitzva we do, every Mitzva we try and help others do brings us closer to the final Redemption. Who knows, maybe I won't even have to go out?