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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Chabad’

California Earthquake Wreaks Havoc at Chabad House

Monday, August 25th, 2014

The 6.1 earthquake that jolted northern California in the middle of the night Sunday upended furniture and scattered broken glass at the Napa Valley Chabad Jewish Center.

“It was very violent—not a gentle rolling quake, but more of a jolting traumatic experience that shocked us out of sleep at 3:20 a.m. and lasted for about half a minute, Rabbi Elchonon Tenenbaum told the Chabad website.

The rabbi, his wife and five children were not injured.

Tenenbaum said he waited outside with his neighbors until daybreak before going back into his home and Chabad center, where power had been lost, to survey the damage. Upended furniture and broken glass prevented him from accessing some rooms, including his office. A disaster recovery fund was quickly established for those wanting to help out.

“I went to check up on people in the area and found that they were in a similar situation,” he added. “Their houses are standing, but everything inside has been ruined. Thank God, this happened in the middle of the night when we were in our beds and not in other parts of our homes, where heavy bookcases fell over.”

The Chabad website reported, “Tenenbaum says that waking up in the middle of the night with his children screaming amid violent banging and shaking helped him picture what life must be like on a regular basis for people living in Israel, where Hamas has been firing rockets from Gaza for much of the summer.”

“It is really surreal,” he said. “There are some stores that are functioning as usual, and others have been completely destroyed for now. Some streets are buckled, and others are just fine. Some people have broken water mains or leaking gas pipes, and others do not.”

Many residents in the area, famous for its wineries, are crying over wine spilled from barrels that were broken from the earthquake.

The largest quake to hit the San Francisco area in 25 years, it caused several injuries, including three who are in critical condition, set off fires and knocked out power.

Napa’s downtown historical areas sustained irreparable damage.

TEFILLIN, TEHILIM AND TILIM (Phylacteries, Psalms, and Rockets)

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

In 1980, Russia was still under a tyrannical Soviet rule. In spite of all the persecution, a religious awakening began among the Jews of the Soviet Union. A special envoy of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson arrived in the Soviet Union. He was surprised by the extreme devotion of the younger generation, which, despite the persecutions, had ignited the ember of Judaism, and at the end of his visit he told Dr. Yitzhak Kogan, one of the Chabad underground activists, that he would report back to the Rebbe what he had witnessed and ask him to especially bless Rabbi Yitzhak Kogan.

He was surprised to hear Rabbi Yitzhak ask that, instead of this, Rabbi Menachem Mendel should bless Yosef Mendelevich, a Prisoner of Zion who had been in prison already for ten years. Yosef had been arrested in the Leningrad Airport together with his friends for attempting to hijack a Soviet plan and flee to Israel.

“He has currently been on a hunger strike for 55 days, demanding to give him back the Humash and Siddur they confiscated from him,” said Yitzhak Kogan – “his physical condition is very bad. The Rebbe must pray for his immediate release from the prison.”

And in fact the Rebbe’s prayer was answered, and within a few months Yosef was flown straight from the prison to Israel. On a stopover in Vienna they brought the redeemed prisoner to the Israel Embassy in Austria.

“What is your first request,” the ambassador asked him.

“I need a set of Tefillin to lay before sunset.”

The Ambassador looked at his embassy staff members – Which of them would still have Tefillin?

Suddenly there stepped forward Rabbi Israel Singer, the then Director of the World Jewish Congress.

“Very interesting,” said Singer. “After hearing about the release of Mendelevich I was supposed to fly out to welcome him.”

Before that, I contacted Rabbi Menacehm Mendel and asked him, what I should take for the freed Yosef?”

“Take him Tefillin,” said the Rebbe.

“And here are the Tefillin I have brought you on the orders of the Rebbe.” And so, for the first time in his life, Yosef put on the Tefillin.

After he arrived in Israel, the Tefillin disappeared. Yosef was heartbroken.

Avraham Yitzchak Rahamim Mendelevich – one of Yosef’s sons, a student at the Carmiel Hesder Yeshiva, had been called up to serve in the IDF a year and eight months previously in an Armored Corps battalion.. The commanders thought that he was ideal officer material, and pressed him to continue to serve. But Avraham Yitzchak – (named after Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook) refused.

“I am going back to the yeshiva.”

On the day he was due to be released from the IDF, Operation Protective Edge began, and he was sent from the Golan Heights to fight in Gaza. His battalion was stationed on the outskirts of the Zaitoun neighborhood, not far from the settlement of Netzarim.

Avraham Yitzhak very much regretted that he would not be able this year to go to the grave of his grandfather, Moshe Mendelevich, an Aliya activist in Riga in the 1970′s, on his Yahrzeit, 16 Tammuz, the eve of the Three Weeks.

He did not know that, precisely on that day, the Tefillin which Rabbi Menachem Mendel ha ordered to be given to his father Yosef, were found.

It turned out that the Tefillin were with a nephew, Ronen Lisitzin.

The moment Yosef Mendelevich received the Tefillin back, he began to think how to get them to Avraham Yitzhak and give him special protection. However, it turned out that it was not possible to send the Tefillin to the battle area. But, as it is known, Hashem turns good intentions into deeds, and Yosef hoped that, thanks to all these things, the Tefillin would begin to perform their mission.

 Contact with Avrhaam Yitzchak was very difficult. With the entry into the battle zone the phones were taken from the combatants. In brief sallies to the rear for equipping the tank with ammunition and for repairs, Avraham Yitzchak would contact his parents on the unit commander’s phone. Every such conversation was a gift from Heaven and caused great excitement in the family. His mother asked her son to observe all the safety regulations and his father asked him to read Psalms from the Book of Tehilim every day.

In the neighborhood where Battalion No. 7 was located, fierce battles were taking place. The terrorists were using anti-tank missiles as well as snipers and attacks from the tunnels. All of Am Israel prayed for the success of the soldiers and their safe return.

It happened on Rosh Hodesh Av…

There was a powerful flash of light in the tank, followed by the sound of a huge explosion. The tank filled with smoke. Over the intercom they announced “Tank No. 3 has been destroyed.” Avraham Yitzhak relates that his ears were deafened by the explosion. He didn’t know whether he had been wounded and what had happened to his companions. A minute later he heard the commander shouting: “Are you all alive?” They were all alive. At that moment they received the order to return fire and they scored a direct hit on the one who had fired the missile.

And this is how Avraham described the miracle that had occurred. “There was a ceasefire, and we retreated to a safe position to rest. The commander gave us permission to leave the tank. We had spent 48 hours inside it, it was very hot, we were exhausted. But I decided to remain in the tank. I had promised Father that I would read Tehilim every day and I had to read the Tehilim of Monday, Psalm 30… ” 1. A Psalm; a Song at the Dedication of the House; of David. 2. I will extol Thee, O Lord, for Thou hast raised me up, And hast not suffered mine enemies to rejoice over me.” And because I didn’t go out, my fellow crew members also remained with me inside the tank,

Even though we were hidden inside an olive grove, the Hamas lookouts spotted us. They shot at us apparently with a Sagger guided anti-tank missile. In fact, there was no chance of escaping from this missile. But the Hamasnik and the missile struck exactly the rear of the tank. So, at first, they thought that we had been hit.”

When the tank crew emerged from the tank, Avraham looked at the place in the tank turret where he was supposed to have stood during the rest period. All the equipment was burnt. The missile has passed one meter from the place.

At the thanksgiving meal which took place in his parents’ home in Jerusalem, Avraham Yitzhak told about the miracle that had happened to him thanks to the Guardian of Israel, and thanks to the Tehilim of King David. Then his father, Rabbi Yosef Mendelevich, stood up and told everyone about the Tefillin which the Rebbe had sent him 33 years previously, and which had turned up exactly during the current fighting.

The Injured Soldiers Prayer List

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Chabad has provided a list of all the soldiers injured so far in Operation Protective Edge, so you can add them to your prayers.

Chabad's list of injured soldiers for your prayers.

Chabad’s list of injured soldiers for your prayers.

Chabad Gives New Tefillin to Wounded Soldiers Who Lost Them in Battle

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Wounded IDF soldiers whose tefillin were destroyed in clashes with Hamas received a pleasant surprise in the hospital on Wednesday with a brand new set presented by Young Chabad, the Kikar Shabbat website reported.

Several troops told visitors in the hospital that they were without their tefillin, and the Lubavitch House in Paris responded quickly to help fulfill a request to replace them.

Members of Young Chabad visited the soldiers the same day with a visit and a gift of new tefillin.

One woman from Pisgat Ze’ev, in northern Jerusalem, said that her son, who suffered injuries that required the amputation of one leg, learned in Chabad while in Morocco.

“This is the most important gift for my son,” she said.

Gimmel Tammuz Dvar Torah

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Tonight is Gimmel Tammuz, the Yartzheit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (April 5, 1902 – June 12, 1994).

Here’s a Dvar Torah for the day.

‘Turning Judaism Outward’ for Gimmel Tamuz

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

A rabbi known for taking the ‘long, short way’ has written an exhaustive biography of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory, in time for Gimmel Tamuz. The Hebrew date of the passing of Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the third day of the Hebrew month of Tamuz is marked by Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidim around the world with special events; thousands fly to New York to visit the Rebbe’s gravesite.

The Rebbe was one of the most influential Jewish leaders of his generation, establishing a worldwide network of emissaries. To this very day, thousands are sent out with their families to remote places around the globe to reach out and help Jews across the spectrum, drawing many closer to their roots. His impact on history – Jewish or otherwise – has yet to be measured.

Numerous materials are published for the special day as well. This year, ‘Turning Judaism Outward’ written by Rabbi Chaim Miller, has joined them. It is an elegant tome in the Gutnick tradition that chronicles the Rebbe’s entire life from 1902 to 1994 and beyond in 590 pages — in short, a massive work. It is also an incredibly scholarly work, not one of simple slavish praise nor written in the style of compromised language one sometimes finds in texts focused primarily on a specific content area.

Because Rabbi Miller is a Chossid with a secular, academic background — his texts are among those used at New York University and Yeshiva University — he is uniquely qualified to attempt what many would call an impossible task.

This year marks the 20th since the Rebbe passed away, leaving his office in “770″ – the affectionate name and address of the building in which Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters is located — 770 Eastern Parkway in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.

Spiritually it often seems as though the Rebbe never left. The Chassidic-Carribean-African-American neighborhood is still a swarm of Chabad-Lubavitch activity around the clock. The Rebbe’s shluchim (emissaries) and their families are in and out of the neighborhood for various reasons throughout the year and they continue  to carry out their activities around the world. Regional and international conventions are held annually, with the number of attendees and new Chabad Houses growing more with each passing year.

Likewise, new books and materials are churned out each month from headquarters – including new items in all kinds of languages about the Rebbe and his life. So why another one?

“Everyone who has written about the Rebbe’s life picks and chooses the bits they personally feel are impressive. That’s the ‘short, long way,’” explains Rabbi Miller, compiler of the Gutnick Chumash (Pentateuch). “You get some nice information but in the end you lack a really substantial picture. It’s a bit like eating the dessert before the main course – it tastes good to start with, but then you don’t feel satisfied.”

Meyer Gutnick, director of Kol Menachem, which published the biography, added the organization felt it was important to “address the Rebbe’s life in its entirety, with all of its paradoxes and mysteries,” impossible a task though it might be.

Rabbi Miller candidly discusses in the foreword the difficulty he faced in gathering primary sources for his work: “By the time interest in the field began to gain momentum around a decade ago, there was almost no one alive who personally remembered the Rebbe from this period, except for a few individuals who were small children at the time.” Instead, he was forced to track down the Rebbe’s movements and activities much as would any other historian, or ‘private eye’ – using the Rebbe’s personal notebooks, his personal correspondence, academic records, his mother’s diaries, memoirs from Chassidim with whom he was closely associated and his Russian passport, among other items.

In meticulous language similar to that of a post-doctoral researcher, Rabbi Miller notes that he “sought to render the narrative with as much scrupulous objectivity as possible. While it is almost inevitable that personal bias will influence an author in some way or another, my goal has been to offer a detached and dispassionate account of events as they transpired…

Ump Says Boy Can’t Play Ball With Tzitzit; Team Walks Off Field

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

For most nine-year-olds, a choice between playing Little League baseball and honoring a religious commandment would be an easy one to make: Mitzvot might be nice, and all, but when there’s a game on the line… well, you know. Not for Yossi, of Fountain Hills, Ariz. When an umpire told him he couldn’t take his turn at bat recently, he calmly tried to explain that the “illegal uniform” was a religious garment mandated by the Torah called tzitzit. The umpire, however, was unmoved, and ordered Yossi to remove the tzitzit for fear that “it could produce some type of interference or unfair advantage.” According to COL Live, Yossi –the only Jewish boy, not just on the team, but in the entire league– respectfully but assuredly walked off the field. In addition, Yossi’s team also volunteered to forfeit the game in solidarity with Yossi. Eventually, following a lengthy on-field meeting between the coaches and the umpire, Yossi was allowed to play, “double uniforms” and all. COL Live offered four lessons to be gleaned from Yossi:

  1. Tzitzit is a sign of Jewish pride.
  2. Religious tolerance means to refrain from discriminating against others who follow a different religious path.
  3. The freedom of individuals to believe in, practice, and promote their religion of choice without interference, harassment, or other repercussions shall always prevail.
  4. Ignorance and religious intolerance is still prevalent. The correct way to combat it is to wear “Jewish uniforms” – kippot, tzitzit – with pride.

The website also said that “self-assertion often demands a lot of humility. Doing something out of the ordinary requires putting our image on the line. It means that I care more about my truth than what other people think about me. This is self-esteem that is rooted in soul-consciousness.” It also cited a lesson from The Lubavitcher Rebbe about the relationship between the Torah and the value of humility.

“The Midrash tells us that God chose Mt. Sinai, and not a more impressive mountain, to teach us the value of humility. The question, of course, is this: If humility is paramount, why did G-d give us the Torah on a mountain at all? Why not a plain, or even a valley? The mere term “Mt. Sinai” is an oxymoron. It’s a mountain, towering and majestic. And it’s Sinai, meager compared to her sister mountains, humble. If humility is paramount, why did G-d give us the Torah on a mountain at all?

“When G-d gave us the Torah and inaugurated us into Jew-hood, He said, “You are going to need to be real strong to be a Jew.” Be a mountain. Have a backbone. Be a charismatic light unto the nations, and don’t give a hoot if people laugh at you. “But be a humble mountain. Humble in your recognition that your strength comes from G-d. Your life’s value is not about your image, it’s about your higher calling. Don’t measure yourself against the standards set by your neighbors; measure yourself against your soul’s potential,” said COL Live.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/178886/2014/06/01/

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