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The Chabad.org Blog

Six Things You Can Do About Coronavirus

March 12, 2020 5:26 PM

No matter where we live in this ever-shrinking world, it seems like everyone is thinking about the coronavirus, or COVID-19. At the Costco near my home, I was greeted by empty shelves, with most everyone cautiously stocking up on essentials. I am told that the local ShopRite and Target are experiencing similar shortages.

As the days go by, the number of people around the world impacted by this virus is increasing at an alarming rate with some entire cities under quarantine.

Is there something we can do about it?

The Jewish answer is: Yes, there is always something for us to do!

Let me share a few thoughts and practical suggestions as we weather this storm together.

1. Follow Health Guidelines

As much as it’s common sense, guarding your health is a mitzvah we should take very seriously.

So follow the instructions of the CDC and your local health officials. Wash your hands with soap. If you suspect that you or a loved one has been affected, contact your doctor.

And if you do find yourself under quarantine, get yourself a good laptop and charger (and get ready to watch hours of Torah classes on Chabad.org video).

Read: Obey the Doctor

2. Know Someone in Quarantine? Reach Out!

With all of the talk about the problems with technology, perhaps this is its time to shine.

If you know of anyone who is under quarantine, reach out! Isolation for a long period of time is tough for anyone. Call, email, or send a loving text message.

So if it’s a friend, a relative or a co-worker that needs to stay home, reach out to them. Tell them that you are thinking of them and praying for them.

3. Check Your Mezuzahs

The Torah guarantees that when a Jewish home bears a mezuzah on its door, the Guardian of Israel ensures that the home and all who live in it are protected. Whether at home or at the other end of the world, in the merit of that mezuzah, you’ve got the best safety net around you.

Rolled up inside a mezuzah case rests a parchment with the Shema Yisrael inscribed by an expert scribe. With time and weather, that parchment can fade or crack. That’s why it’s a Jewish custom to check the mezuzahs of your home every few years, and especially at a time when protection is needed.

If you don’t have a mezuzah, your local Chabad rabbi can help you get one written by a qualified scribe now. If you have a mezuzah, but haven’t had it checked recently, contact your local Chabad rabbi and have it checked right away.

How many mezuzahs does a home require? Basically, one for every entranceway. Your local Chabad rabbi can also help you determine which doorposts require a mezuzah and where that mezuzah should be placed.

Read: A Guide to Checking Your Mezuzahs

4. Have Faith, Not Fear

Yes, the concern is real. But the truth is, there is only One who decides what will happen to us, and that is the one Director of heaven and earth. Trust that He is good and think only good thoughts, and things will be good.

Spend some time pondering and verbalizing your faith in G‑d. Pray. Ask Him to protect you and your loved ones. Ask Him to send healing to the entire world. Then have complete confidence that He listens to every prayer that comes from the heart, and yours will be answered as well.

A little trust in G‑d can have some great side benefits too! Check this out, from the Mayo Clinic:

“Most studies have shown that religious involvement and spirituality are associated with better health outcomes, including greater longevity, coping skills, and health-related quality of life.”

As in most situations, fear doesn’t do anyone much good. Even a teaspoon of faith, on the other hand, has amazing healing power.

Read: What Is Bitachon?

5. Give Charity

Isaiah, the great prophet of peace, compared giving charity to donning a suit of armor. Each contribution you make, no matter how small, provides another shield of protection against any affliction. So, too, the book of Proverbs tells us that “charity saves from death.”

The main thing is not how much you give, but how often. So get two charity boxes—one for your home and one for your place of work. In a pinch, you can simply designate any box as a charity box.

Put a coin in the box every weekday as well as before the Shabbat candle-lighting on Friday afternoons. At your place of work, encourage others to contribute their spare change as well.

Don’t carry cash? Today, most charities collect online. There are even apps for giving, including apps that direct funds to Jewish charities. You can make a habit of giving through an app on a daily basis.

Read: 16 Charity Facts Everyone Should Know

6. Be Infectious!

Finally, let’s take a page from the playbook of this nasty virus. It’s infectious, it’s spreading, it’s separating people and even causing us to be suspicious of each other.

So be an antivirus! Just by adding a little goodness and kindness to the world, you can be infectious in a positive way.

Use your social network to spread kind words, helpful actions, and a little more love and caring to the planet. And may our collective good stop the spread of anything negative!

Read: 8 Ways to Use Social Media for Good

From all of us @ Chabad, we hope and pray for the safety and health of you and your loved ones. May the Almighty protect us all and send complete healing to those who need healing. And may our world very soon find the ultimate cure to all diseases with the coming of Moshiach, sooner than we can imagine.

Introducing a New Audio Series

February 20, 2020 9:18 PM

Dear Reader,

This week we welcome the Jewish month of Adar. Every month possesses a distinct spiritual essence, and Adar contains the quality of transformative joy, as the Talmud teaches, “When the month of Adar enters, we increase in joy” (Taanit 29a).

On the 14th day of this month of Adar, we celebrate the holiday of Purim, the day established by Mordechai and Esther as a day of “feasting and rejoicing” in commemoration of the Jews’ salvation from Haman’s evil decree in the year 3,405 from creation (356 BCE).

Adar transforms sorrow into joy, a fearful and disunified people into a unified nation, committed and devoted to G‑d and His Torah, as we read in the Megillah, “The month that was reversed for them from grief to joy” (Esther 9:22).

We live in times that can often feel so dark and challenging. While sadness, despair or depression can hold us back and stagnate our progress towards change, happiness breaks through barriers, and helps us transform ourselves and our circumstances in ways we never thought possible.

So how can we access joy? By realizing that through our challenges, throughout our successes and our failures, our essential identity, our G‑dly soul—that piece of G‑d within us—is never affected, and remains completely pure and connected to G‑d.

Our relationship with the Master of the Universe is so deep, it rests at the very core of our being and can never be broken. In fact, even when we mess up and think we are walking away from G‑d, He anxiously awaits our return. No love could be deeper, no joy could be greater. This makes, really, every moment a moment for celebration.

In that vein, I think it is an appropriate week to introduce to you a new audio series that I’m very excited about. Women’s Tanya Classes by Rochel Shmukler is an interactive spiritual journey where you can study, discuss and apply the revolutionary ideas presented in the Tanya, a foremost work of Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism by the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi.

The Tanya describes how we’ve been provided unlimited opportunities for our soul to connect with G‑d. Some of the topics in this series include: “The True Definition of Reality,” “Align Your Everyday Awareness with Your Core Self” and “Becoming the Embodiment of the Divine Will.”

Learning and meditating on these ideas can help us achieve true joy. When we feel sad, we feel heavy and defeated. But when we feel joyful, we become empowered to reach upwards and onwards and to become even better, more connected individuals.

Wishing you a Chodesh Tov, a happy and joyous month of Adar!

Chana Weisberg
Editor, TJW

New Section on Mental Health

February 5, 2020 9:24 AM


Mental health is a major issue, which virtually every individual, family, and community must face at some time or another.

For decades, Chabad.org has been right there alongside the brave folks contending with mental illness, and their loved ones. We’ve published dozens of personal accounts, advice columns and expert recommendations, as well as spiritual guidance from the Rebbe.

To make it easier to find these resources, we’ve aggregated them from across the width and depth of Chabad.org into a single section: www.chabad.org/mentalhealth

Please have a look, read a couple of articles, be inspired and informed, and make sure to share them with your friends and relatives.

With love,

Your friends @ Chabad.org

Classic Treatise on the Essence of Chassidism Published Online

Landmark release coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Rebbe’s assumption of leadership

February 3, 2020 5:40 PM
On the Essence of Chasidus, part of the acclaimed Chassidic Heritage Series.
On the Essence of Chasidus, part of the acclaimed Chassidic Heritage Series.

Many people can spot a Chassidic Jew when they see one, and many can even cite several facts about the Chassidic movement and its leaders.

But what exactly is Chassidism, the philosophical underpinnings of the movement which began in mid-18th century Eastern Europe?

This was the question the Rebbe set out to answer in a landmark talk he delivered in Yiddish on 19 Kislev, 5726 (1965). This talk was later published in Hebrew in 1970 under the title Inyanah Shel Toras Hachasidus. During the course of the talk, the Rebbe elucidates many concepts including defining what the actual contribution Chassidic thought has on Torah study, the relationship Chassidism has with Kabbalah and how it offers a deeper and expanded understanding of Torah.

In 1978, the work was translated into English by Rabbi Heschel Greenberg and Dr. Susan Handelman and edited by Rabbis Zalman I. Posner and Aaron Dov Sufrin and published by Kehot Publication Society as On the Essence of Chasidus (a title chosen by the Rebbe).

Now part of Kehot’s acclaimed Chassidic Heritage Series, it has become a staple in libraries of English-speaking students of Chassidism.

In honor of 10 Shevat, which this year commemorates seventy years of the Rebbe's leadership, Chabad.org and Kehot Publication Society are delighted to release this classic work online.

To aid the student, the Hebrew original and English translation are presented side by side, for easy cross-referencing. It also contains extensive footnotes, which render even the kabbalistic and Talmudic terminology accessible to readers and students of all backgrounds.

The publication is the latest result of the longstanding partnership and synergy between Kehot and Chabad.org. Since the early 1990s, Chabad.org has carried many Kehot texts, and Kehot has published several books produced by Chabad.org. Another notable product of this partnership are the popular Smart Siddur apps, which were developed by the Chabad.org technology team in collaboration with Kehot.

“On behalf of our readers, we are grateful to Kehot for generously sharing this treasure with the worldwide community,” says Chabad.org director Rabbi Meir Simcha Kogan.

The text was expertly and painstakingly digitized and processed by the Chabad.org team, each of whom contributed his or her talents to this special project.

The complete discourse can be viewed in Hebrew and English here.

A handsome hardcover print edition can be purchased from Kehot here.

Chabad.org’s Rambam Is Now Vowelized

February 3, 2020 1:41 PM

Since Chabad.org came online in the early 1990s, daily study has always been a cornerstone of Chabad.org and one of our most popular features. Making it easy for visitors to study the daily portion of Chumash, Tehillim, Tanya, Rambam’s Mishneh Torah and more has always been a priority and one that continues to expand and evolve.

For more than a decade, students of the daily Mishneh Torah have enjoyed the ease of learning from the original Hebrew text alongside Rabbi Eli Touger’s English translation, graciously shared by Moznaim publishers, a leading publisher of Judaic classics. (The full set of Mishneh Torah can be purchased here.)

In honor of 10 Shevat, which marks 70 years of the Rebbe’s leadership, we are delighted to share that the Hebrew text will now display with vowels (nekkudot), which will enable students of all backgrounds and levels of education to be able to partake in this daily study track in the original.

This upgrade is the product of a collaboration between Chabad.org’s technology and content teams, who are focused on making our growing selection of classic Jewish texts more accessible.

Access today’s portion, newly vowelized, here.

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