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December 23, 2014 / 1 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Chabad’

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.

Arsonists Burn Down 2 Shuls Over Shabbat

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

A Chabad synagogue near Road 6, near Baka Al-Garbiya, was burned down over Shabbat, destroying everything inside the synagogue, according to a Kikar Shabbat report.

Police say there was a strong odor of benzene at the site, and it appears to have been an arson attack.

In Petach Tikva, an arsonist poured gas inside the shul and lit it up. The fire department managed to put out the fire before the Torahs were burnt.

Police are not ruling out that these were both terror attacks, and are checking to see if there is a connection between the two arson attacks.

Student’s Commencement Speech in D.C. Emphasizes Torah Values

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

A popular Jewish student at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.—known for proudly wearing his kippah  around campus—delivered the commencement speech on Sunday afternoon imparting to some 25,000 fellow graduates, faculty, family and friends the importance of utilizing each moment to its fullest.

Gabriel Felder, of Stamford, Conn., was selected for the prestigious honor of representing his graduating class at commencement, marking the second year in a row that a Jewish student leader has done so. Felder reflected on words his departed father, Louis Felder, told him before he went off to college, and cited timeless words of Torah as providing a life path.

Representing the graduating class of 2014 before the throng gathered outdoors at the National Mall, Felder—a political communication major in the Columbian College of Arts & Sciences’ School of Media and Public Affairs—emphasized that at every stage of life, especially during these formative years, a person must “live in the moment, and make the most of each and every opportunity.”

Felder served as president of GW’s Jewish Student Association, held multiple positions at GW Hillel and served on the board of GW’s Chabad Freshmen Jewish Club. He was also a regular at the campus Chabad run by Rabbi Yudi and Rivky Steiner, with whom he worked to improve Jewish life for students. Friends describe him as an inspiring person who created bridges between the Jewish community and the rest of the university, and represented the Jewish people well throughout his four years there.

Gabriel Felder
Gabriel Felder

Felder began his address recalling a conversation he and his father had over ice-cream after returning from freshman orientation. After asking his son whether he was excited to be going to GW—and getting a resoundingly positive reply back—Louis Felder replied: “Good! Just don’t waste it!”

“He passed away just a little over a month after that humid June night,” Felder told the audience, without sharing the fact that his father was killed, along with seven fellow workers, in a murderous rampage at his workplace, breaking the hearts of millions who sat riveted to their television screens.

Displaying some of the tenacity and optimism that carried him through his subsequent years in college, Felder stated that as a newly minted “Colonial,” as GW students are called, “it was in my blood” not to waste any G‑d-given time or opportunities.

Felder explained that he and his fellow students learned well the teaching of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, that “in each journey of our lives we must fully be where we are. We may only be passing through on our way to somewhere else seemingly more important. Nevertheless, there is purpose in where we are right now.”

“I can look today at this crowd and see proud parents beaming at the sight of their children in their caps and gowns,” Felder continued. “And I can look in my mother and my sisters’ faces and I can say wholeheartedly to my father that [I made] the most of my four years.”

The proud graduate went further to proclaim on behalf of all his fellow students “that none of us have wasted the amazing opportunity that it was to be given an education at The George Washington University.”

Grateful for Support

Felder also reminded his classmates that “commencement is a moment to take a step back and really think about all of the people who helped you get to this point,” urging them to “think back and be grateful for every professor who taught you to stand up and be heard; to every mentor that pushed you to lead and to not follow; and to every advisor you had, for his or her endless help in ensuring your education was the best it could be.”

Hundreds at Bangkok Chabad Passover Seder

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

More than 400 people sang their way through the Haggadah on the first night of Passover at the first seder held this year at the Chabad House of Bangkok, Thailand.

Dozens of children ascended special stage set up in the hall where the seder was held in order to sing the traditional “Ma Nishtana” – the Four Questions that launch the story explaining the reason for the celebration of Passover.

For those with slim budgets, the Chabad of Bangkok website stated clearly that everyone was welcome regardless of ability to pay. “Please contact the Rabbi in confidence if the charge is beyond your means,” the statement on Chabad’s “JewishThailand.com” site advised. “‘All who are hungry may come and eat’ is the theme of Passover and it will be our pleasure to host you regardless of financial ability.”

A seder for the second night was made available with the Kantor Family according to the announcement, sponsored by the Jewish Association of Thailand. “No charge but please RSVP,” the notice read.

Hebrew-language Passover seders were conducted in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Ko Samui and Phuket.

PM Netanyahu Visits Kfar Chabad Matza Bakery

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited the matza bakery in Kfar Chabad on Tuesday, two weeks before the beginning of Passover.

“At home, I have eaten this matza for years.” he said. “Today, for the first time, I am also preparing it myself. I am very excited. I wish the entire Jewish People a Happy Passover.”

Reciting a passage from the Haggadah read on the night of the Seder, (two nights outside Israel), the Prime Minister stated, “In every generation enemies rise up to destroy us, but God saves us from them. The Haggadah mentions four sons – wise, wicked, simple and the one who does not know how to ask – but each one has a Jewish spark and you watch over this Jewish spark.”

Local Chabad leaders and rabbis briefed Prime Minister Netanyahu on the preparations to hold Passover seders at the approximately 250 Chabad houses throughout Israel and the approximately 3,000 Chabad houses around the world.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/pm-netanyahu-visits-kfar-chabad-matza-bakery/2014/04/01/

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