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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Lubavitcher Rebbe’

Chaya Aydel Seminary Adds Chassidic Discourses

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

The Chaya Aydel Seminary has added the study of Hemshech Ayin Beis to its curriculum. Hemshech Ayin Beis is a lengthy series of discourses from the Rebbe Rashab. This past Shavuos marked 100th years since this series of maamorim began in the city of Lubavitch by the Rebbe Rashab, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom Ber Schneersohn (1860-1920).

Rabbi Yossy Lebovics, principal of the seminary since its inception in 2002, announced that “When it comes to pnimiyus haTorah (the inner teachings of Torah), girls and women have the same obligation as boys and men, to study subjects which pertain to the love and fear of Hashem.”

Rabbi Raphael Tennenhaus, Chaya Aydel dean and executive vice president of Chabad of South Broward, noted that at the end of the current school year the seminary “has had a taste” of this intriguing subject. In the upcoming seminary year, Ayin Beis will be studied for forty-five minutes each week as an additional class in the curriculum of chassidus.

Florida’s only Jewish teachers seminary, located in Hallandale, covers a wide range of subjects including Talmud, halacha, educational psychology and Tanya. Students, who come from around the world, are graduates of the finest Jewish high schools.

For more information on the Chaya Aydel Seminary, log on to Chayaaydelsem.com.

Jewish Press Radio with Yishai Fleisher: In the Eyes of the Rebbe

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai is joined by popular guest Baruch Widen (commentator on Arab society and Arab Jewish relations) to discuss a book by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe) on settling the Land of Israel. Yishai and Widen dig into the phenomenon of young American Jews moving to the Land of Israel and how programs such as Birthright (Taglit) are actually decreasing the intermarriage rate among young Jews.

To download, right-click, and “Save Target As” HERE.

Meeting The Lubavitcher Rebbe

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

It was a beautiful morning in May 1985 when I decided to take my tzedakah box to Lubavitch headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway. I did not know much about Chabad, and had to ask for directions.

Driving along Eastern Parkway, I encountered thousands of Lubavitcher chassidim. I finally managed to park my car on a side street.

As I started to walk, I asked a chassid, “Where is 770?”

He said, “four blocks ahead.”

I pushed my way through the crowd until I saw the building, and approached the three steps leading up to the front door of 770.

To my amazement, the Lubavitcher Rebbe was coming out of the building and facing me, looking directly into my eyes. I froze right there on the steps.

“What do I do now?” I wondered.

The Rebbe was walking toward me. I went backwards down the three steps. My left hand touched the gray Cadillac parked there, and I dropped my tzedakah box on the sidewalk. A young Lubavitcher chassid opened the front door of the car.

The Rebbe looked at me again and got into the car. I closed the car door, picked up my tzedakah box from the sidewalk, proceeded up the three steps again and ascended to the office on the second floor.

I could not believe what had just happened to me: meeting the Lubavitcher Rebbe face-to-face!

It must have been Divine Providence that I had come to 770 to drop off my tzedakah box.

Several years later, I told a fellow Lubavitcher chassid my story and he said, “You did not close the car door for the Rebbe. The Rebbe opened the door for you so that you could continue doing mitzvot and learning Torah until the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu.

May it be soon!

Mother Knows Best

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

I am just a small-town girl whose aspirations never included the notion of traveling to exotic places. I dreamed of getting married, raising a family, and living near my parents and in-laws.

Well, as the popular Yiddish saying goes, man plans and Hashem laughs. As a young married woman, my husband and I lived in England during his tour of duty as an Air Force chaplain. Not an exotic location to be sure, and the dialects were similar. However, I spent a lot of time writing letters to loved ones (no faxes or e-mails in those days). I needed to connect with those near and dear to me. The loneliness was acute.

Upon our return to civilian life, we settled in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, where I had the privilege of raising our children in the neighborhood of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Chabad is synonymous with kiruv, reaching out to unaffiliated Jews. I love that concept. We believe that regardless of one’s religious background, it is our Yiddishe neshamah that unites all Jews.

As the children grew, so did their wonder at where they would go on shlichus (outreach) once they finished Beis Medrash or Seminary.

Personally, I was too enthralled with the miracle of being blessed with children to even think about the day that my children would leave the nest to venture to some far- off place. Frankly, I firmly pushed the possibility out of my mind.

The years passed, and my son, Chaim Ozer, decided to become a shaliach (emissary). It was hard for me to accept the reality that he would leave for a far-off destination. I expressed my feelings to him for the whole year preceding his assignment.

At that time, my mother was quite ill. I was visiting her in the hospital when we received a call from our son. He instructed us to call a particular rabbi to find out where he was being sent on shlichus. I should have realized at the time that it was strange that he could not divulge his assignment to us, but I was too concerned about my mother’s condition to think clearly.

The rabbi was very excited to inform me that Chaim Ozer was going to be sent to a certain country, one I had expressly forbidden. I was adamant. He would not go! I knew that the Rebbe would not agree to any assignment if the parents did not give their consent.

I informed the rosh hayeshiva that I had every confidence that he would find a more suitable destination for Chaim Ozer.

A few days later we learned that he would be going to Hungary. That was fine with me.

Chaim Ozer’s year of shlichus was very successful and he was asked to return the following year. He was only 20 years old at the time, but he had made a good impression on the young rabbi and rebbetzin there.

In fact, although it was too early for our son to consider marriage, they were convinced that Chaim Ozer was the perfect match for the young rebbetzin’s sister.

We knew nothing about this scenario, as it was put on the back burner for several years until the appropriate time.

It turned out to be a wonderful idea.

For the past few years, Chaim Ozer and Racheli have been on shlichus in Las Vegas, Nevada, raising a lovely family that includes little Raizy, who is named for my beloved mother.

It would seem that Hashem concurred that “mother knows best” after all!

Life Filled With Miracles

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Something beautiful happened last summer while I was visiting my daughter and her family in Toronto.

I was shopping at Sears and did not realize that I had accidentally dropped my wallet on the floor. I only realized what had happened after returning home. It was upsetting when upon returning to the store to inquire, no one had turned it in. But I then had to return home to Montreal.

Two days later, someone called my daughter to say she had found my wallet. She explained that she had bent down to pick it up, and when she stood up, I was gone.

My daughter drove to the woman’s home, and was asked many questions. She finally handed my daughter the wallet after showing her that everything was in place. First and foremost in the wallet was a photo of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

I am a child survivor of Tarnopol, Poland – the only survivor of my family. I came to Montreal as an orphan, and have been living there since 1948.

Although I have suffered much in my life, I am grateful for my blessings. My life is filled with miracles, like the finding of my wallet after I had given it up for lost.

Thank you, Hashem.

‘We Desperately Need To Get Back To Theology’: An Interview with Rabbi Chaim Miller

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

“My particular passion was the teachings of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.” Born to an unobservant family in London, Rabbi Chaim Miller first encountered the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s teachings as a student at Leeds University. “His discourses impressed me in terms of their tremendous intellectual depth and brilliance,” he recalls.

Today, he is dedicated to disseminating these teachings to as wide an audience as possible. His Kol Menachem publishing house, which he founded in 2002 with philanthropist Meyer Gutnik, has already produced a number of popular works with extensive commentary culled from the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s public discourses and writings – the Gutnik Chumash, the Kol Menachem Haggadah and two books on the Rambam’s 13 principles of faith.

The Jewish Press recently spoke with Rabbi Miller about his background and Kol Menachem’s latest volume, The 13 Principles of Faith: Principles VI & VII.

The Jewish Press: What inspired you to become observant?

Rabbi Miller: I was searching. I was a spiritual seeker, philosophizing about life. It never struck me that Judaism really had it. Judaism to me was just dry ritual, attending this soul-destroying synagogue and standing up and down when the ark opened. It didn’t strike me that there was anything profound there.

But then at Leeds University I attended a series of lectures on the theological elements of Judaism run by Ohr Sameach. Then, through some Chabad shluchim, I discovered Lubavitch and the chassidic idea, which I found very compelling. It was really this strange discovery that there could be this philosophical depth in Judaism.

Why are you currently writing a series on the Rambam’s 13 principles?

Well, this is getting back to my original passion. You see, I embraced Orthodoxy because of the brilliance of its theology. The first thing all kiruv organizations teach you is theology – the meaning of life, G-d, theodicy, revelation, etc. They get to the essence of Yiddishkeit. But then, after you’re done with those introductory courses, they say, “Now you’ve graduated, go learn Gemara.”

The mainstream Orthodox community is not particularly theologically orientated and [beliefs are] largely retained by social consensus and social pressure, and there was an element of disillusionment when I discovered that. So there’s two things you can do. You can sit and grumble, or you can try to redress the balance.

How would you characterize your contribution? In what way, for instance, is your book different than other books on the Rambam’s principles?

There are two strands of theology. There’s the medieval philosophical tradition – Rambam, Saadia Gaon, Kuzari, etc. – and then you have the kabbalistic, chassidic tradition. I’m interested in both, but they’ve never really been presented together in one whole unit. So half the book is just little passages of classic texts from both the philosophical and the kabbalistic traditions. The other half is lessons, or shiurim, based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

One of the Rebbe’s passions was theology; most of his discourses veer off at some point into a theological discussion. But there’s almost 200 volumes of his teachings, and his theological discussions are scattered all over the place. They were never organized, systematically analyzed, or laid down before.

Professor Marc Shapiro wrote a popular book on the Rambam’s 13 principles, in which he demonstrates that many great rabbis throughout the generations rejected various elements of the Rambam’s principles. Have you read that work, and, if so, what’s your opinion of it?

I think he’s incorrect. In one of his footnotes he quotes the Chasam Sofer, who writes that there is an idea of consensus regarding matters of faith. [Shapiro dismisses the Chasam Sofer as a lone opinion], but I think the Chasam Sofer was essentially presenting the traditional Orthodox view.

There is a process of consensus. Obviously you can’t just decide what the truth is by a vote. But what actually happens is that the arguments get refined over the years. There’s a debate, various viewpoints are put out there, and then it’s thrashed out. So you actually get a consensus through discussion. It becomes clear what the truth is.

So although there are rishonim who held that God has a body, I think it’s universally accepted today that God doesn’t have a body.

Tzviki

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

I love to sing, but venues for frum women who sing are few and far between. I have to settle for kvelling when I listen to the men in my family lead the prayers in shul.

Then again, I can always go to a concert, and that is what I recently did. I attended a Shwekey concert.

There were several developmentally disabled young adults and children in the audience. I couldn’t help but noticing a particular young man, whom I will call Tzviki. When the ushers instructed each guest to hand in his ticket, Tzviki dutifully handed his in.

Tzviki stood for most of the performance, swaying to the music. At times, he walked up to the front of the stage and waved to the percussionist, who was happy to return his greeting.

Tzviki’s rhythm was perfect, and he sang along with the performers, who encouraged several of their “special guests” to participate.

My eyes filled with tears as I watched Tzviki and the other special folk. For a few moments, the joy on their faces mirrored the soaring of their neshamos. For those few minutes, they forgot their daily existence, which is a struggle both for them and for their families.

There is not one family that does not have, or does not know of a family that is experiencing these special challenges. We struggle to understand Hashem’s ways.

Sometimes, we are able to accept that each neshama was sent to earth to fulfill some special mission that needs to be completed. Yes, we know that. But we are only human, and we cry as we watch our “special” children struggle to do the everyday things that most can do without missing a beat.

Imagine a baby too weak to cry. How we beg Hashem to make the baby strong enough to cry and to keep his parents up at night! Oh, the things we sometimes take for granted!

When I was growing up, I had a neighbor named Angel. She had Downs Syndrome. Her parents kept her locked up in a basement apartment. They were elderly and left specific instructions that Angel should always have a home. She was an “angel,” yet she was kept caged, like an animal!

We, as a society, have come a long way since the 1950′s when Angel was born, but we still have a long way to go.

Yes, there are many wonderful fundraisers today for special folks. In fact, the Lubavitcher Rebbe taught us that “Raising up many students” (Pirkei Avos) means that every Jewish neshama should have a proper Jewish education. The Rebbe continued that running a school for only the best and the brightest was unacceptable. Not only must we teach our children the concept that “Moshe commanded us the Torah” from the cradle, but it is incumbent upon us to bring all of Hashem’s children to Torah and to mitzvos.

I return to the lovely music, the excitement, the clapping. Music is the expression of the soul. Music frees the neshama from bodily limitations.

We are ready Hashem … we are ready to make that final trek to the Beis HaMikdash with each and every one of Your precious kinderlach walking upright, whole, and healthy, to serve You with unimpeded joy.

Dedicated with love to Ahuva Esther bas Rivka.

From Funeral To Gala Dinner: ‘V’nahapoch Hu’ In The Five Towns

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Twenty-four hours of tragedy turned to joy. A true v’nahapoch hu story for the month of Adar.

On motzei Shabbos, my daughter received a phone call. “Could you please come to babysit so we can go be with Chani? Levi never woke up.”

That’s how I first heard of the tragic sudden passing of nine-year-old Levi Yitzchok Wolowik, son of the Chabad shluchim of the Five Towns.

Levi’s mother Chani made my oldest son’s shidduch. His grandparents, Rabbi and Mrs. Moshe Kotlarsky, have been my family’s lifeline since my husband passed away almost five years ago.

After dropping off my daughter in Crown Heights I sped to Woodmere.

The house was buzzing with incredulous family and community members. Some had been living in a kind of twilight zone since the morning, when Chani found her still angelic son in bed when she went to wake him up for shul. 

“Things like that just don’t happen, right?” she asked quietly as I made eye contact with her when I entered the dining room. Her composure was so soothing. She was the one comforting every devastated person who arrived. “We just don’t understand and questions don’t help,” she kept repeating.

 

 

Hundreds gathered for the funeral procession

of Levy Yitzchok Wolowik (insert),

who went to bed Friday night and never woke up.

(Photo credit: Levi Teitlebaum, CrownHeights.info)

 

And then I heard this: “The dinner must go on.” She was referring to their annual community dinner scheduled for that Sunday evening. Four important families were being honored. Over five hundred people had made reservations. The dinner journal had just gone to print on Friday. Every detail had been meticulously planned by this phenomenal shlucha and her crew.  She was a soldier in the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s army and she was well trained.

Concerned comforters were weighing the pros and cons of holding the dinner. But for Chani and her husband Rabbi Zalman Wolowik there was no question. The event had to go on. That was what the Rebbe would have wanted.

Her mother was conversing with some educators. “We need to tell our children the Torah truth the way we were raised Hashem gives and Hashem takes away Hashem be blessed .aren’t we aiming to raise strong children?”

I am always in awe when I see Torah in action, when I see halacha at work. I remember in my previous secular life thinking that the gauge of caring was the depth of inconsolable sorrow one expressed.

As I continued to witness and be a part of this surreal tragedy, Levi’s older brother, Mendel, age 14, was on a flight from Detroit, where he goes to yeshiva, being escorted by an elder bochur. It wasn’t until he got home that he was told the entire story by his loving, anxious parents.

With tears still in his eyes he came downstairs, took out a sefer, and started learning the laws of mourning. Soon I heard his father instructing him, “Even if a mourner’s hair is long, he must still wait 30 days until cutting it . Chicken cannot be part of the menu tonight. We’re in a state of aninus now.”

Until I met the Lubavitcher Rebbe and his shluchim and chassidim I had never seen or experienced such reactions to tragedy.

“By rebuilding you will be consoled” was the message the Rebbe sent the devastated Israeli city Kfar Chabad in 1950 after an Arab terrorist snuffed five precious souls. After his wife’s passing in 1988, the Rebbe quoted Koheles 7:2, “The living should take to heart,” and directed his chassidim to derive inspiration and guidance from her life. He refused to allow previously scheduled events to be canceled.

Sunday morning the funeral hall was overflowing. Watching four of Levi’s siblings, Mendel, 14, Goldie, 11, Binyamin, 7, and Yerachmiel, 5, do kriah tore everyone’s heart. Hundreds of blinking cars joined the procession past 770 Eastern Parkway, Lubavitch’s world headquarters, and Chabad of the Five Towns, where thousands waited to pay their loving respects.

At the gravesite in Old Montefiore Cemetery (where the Rebbe is also buried), the sounds of crying seemed to be accompanying the heart-wrenching thuds of sand being shoveled on to the coffin. Recitation of a few psalms followed. (No eulogies were said as per Chabad custom.) The mood was heavy, the air was cold; only the predicted snow storm held off.

And then with the emergence of the stars in the sky the “v’nahapoch hu” happened. The spacious, elegant dinner hall of the Sephardic Temple was glimmering with lights and a beautifully-clad audience. From the luscious smorgasbord, to the majestic centerpieces, everything was just right. Those same people who had just been bathed in sorrow and tears three hours ago were now regal and joyous. The energy in the room was contagious. The dancing floor was overflowing.

 

 

Only a few hours after Levi’s funeral, over 500 people attended

Chabad of the Five Towns’ annual dinner.

They were all lovingly following Rabbi and Mrs. Wolowik’s “Personal Message,” printed on a dainty card placed next to each wine glass: ” we were taught by our beloved Rebbe, ZY”A that the only way to confront tragedy is to persist with even more energy and more joy. There could be no greater way to honor Levi a”h. He is no doubt looking on and having Nachas from this gathering tonight.”

“In my life I have never seen such an outpouring of love,” Levi’s grandfather, Rabbi Kotlarsky, told the dinner crowd. “You’ll never know what this means to us because there are no words . I was Levi’s sandak . This is not an easy day.”

He recalled that the Lubavitcher Rebbe once said, “Where does it say that you have a contract with God to have an easy life?”

Rabbi Kotlarsky, who is development director of Chabad’s international emissary network, continued, “We are being tested.” First, the murder of the Holtzberg shluchim in the terror attack in Mumbai, then the Wonderland accident during the Chabad of the Five Towns’ Chanukah celebration, now this – all in midst of an economic crisis plaguing America. “I’m making a declaration,” Rabbi Kotlarsky said, “we will not be deterred . In the face of tragedy we will persevere, the Rebbe never let us take a step back . We will build the largest building our programs will flourish.

“Tonight’s program should be full of happiness, the opposite of what we endured today. The honorees should be b’simcha. Simcha poretz geder [joy breaks all boundaries].”

Mrs. Tamar Pevsner, one of the honorees, encapsulated the evening’s mood perfectly: “When we first came to the dinner we all felt it was so wrong. What are we doing here? But as the evening progressed we saw that Chani and Rabbi Zalman were so right. This is where we had to be and this is what we had to do. The focus has to be on the joy of the soul, not the heaviness of the body.”

By the end of the evening, another honoree, Dr. Michelle Fox-Slesinger, had also transformed her initial discomfort into hope for the future: “We will do more for Chabad of the Five Towns.”

The entire day was just an incredible, extraordinary mix of tragedy, faith, inspiration and joy. But the Wolowik family is still without their Levi Yitzchok.

Oh God Almighty, look down at your wonderful people who with their unwavering bitachon refuse to be deterred by any challenge you hurl their way, and please transform this month of Adar into a time of permanent eternal joy. Let us soon hear the song (Isaiah 26:19), “Hakitzu veranenu shochnei afar – Awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust.”

(Postscript: A children’s library in Levi Yitzhok’s memory is being planned.)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community//2009/03/04/

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