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Jewish Lessons from Wordle

January 19, 2022

Perhaps you’ve seen it in your social-media feeds—lines of green, yellow and gray boxes. Five boxes per row, up to six rows in length.

These boxes are part of the game Wordle. A code-breaking game in the tradition of Mastermind, Wordle challenges players to guess a five-letter word, giving clues as to which letters and which placement are correct.
Every day the word resets, giving a new one for the global community of players to figure out.

The game has gone viral.

And it has a Chassidic message at its core.

The Chassidic masters teach about the power of speech. The world, after all, was created by Divine speech.

Letters are imbued with a creative power. They form words that can act as conduits for the deepest, most profound concepts. Each complex permutation of Hebrew letters serves not just as a guide to making sounds, but is the key to unlocking all the potential lessons that the word conveys.

The Hebrew letters bet-resh-chaf form the word baruch, “to bless,” and within that word can be found the depth of the word “blessing.” Memories of making Kiddush starting with the Baruch … heartfelt requests for goodness in our lives … complex ideas of a brachah serving as a conduit to imbue the mundane world with the Divine. It’s all there.

Yet break off a letter, and the word evaporates.

The foundational Kabbalistic work, Sefer Yetzirah, often translated as the “Book of Formation,” is the earliest extant Jewish esoteric work and the only one mentioned in the Talmud.

Sefer Yetzirah explores the creative power of words. Each word is a stone, a block that can be used to build houses, complex ideas. … Two letters can make two houses, three letters can make six houses … until we get to five letters, which can build 120 ‘houses … ’

And from here, you may see where we’re going with Wordle.

Person after person has shared rows of colored blocks, white, yellow, green—all clues showing how they solved the correct sequence of letters that form the daily word, steps towards building that house.

And in that world of possible words is the greatest lesson of all: We combine letters in our own way to build houses. … But that construction is complete only when it reveals The One Word.

Thus, we must set aside time to make a spiritual accounting of what we’ve accomplished—learning from our mistakes, figuring out what can be improved and acknowledging what we got right—and then proceed to once more approach the task of revealing the One that created all by His word in this world.

Today We Say: Thank You!

January 16, 2022 12:30 PM

Today we say, Thank You!

Thank You, G‑d, for shielding our dear brothers and sisters during their hostage ordeal, and for reuniting them with their loved ones!

Thank you to our heroic law enforcement personnel from so many agencies and jurisdictions, to our elected officials, and especially to everyone who risked their lives to rescue others!

And thank You, G‑d, for guiding and protecting each of them during their selfless efforts to save lives!

We also thank G‑d profusely for the collective sigh of relief we were all able to express so (relatively) quickly!

Please let’s not take anything for granted. Let us pray, let us be thankful, let us pledge to do more mitzvahs — but not, this time, out of the necessity borne of fear and concern, rather as an expression of our tremendous gratitude to G‑d for His revealed miracles!

As we celebrate 15 Shevat, the New Year of Trees, tonight (Sunday night) and tomorrow, let us thank G‑d for ALL the immense blessings that He keeps showering upon us!

Let us take the opportunity to emulate the trees, who remain deeply rooted in their life source, yet are always growing and providing nourishing fruits for others.

We wish you and yours — and the entire world! — abundant blessing, and endless reason for gratitude!


On behalf of your family,

Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin

P.S. Would you like to share your thoughts, your gratitude to G‑d, your prayers and mitzvot pledges? We'd love to hear about it! Please do so in the comment section below.

Let's Pray for Colleyville

January 15, 2022 10:11 PM

Like millions around the world, when we powered up our devices after Shabbat, we were distressed to learn about what’s happening at Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas.

Along with the entire Jewish nation, and billions of fellow humans, we pray for a peaceful and safe outcome.

In the meantime, here are some things you can do, wherever you are, to bring spiritual protection to our beleaguered brethren:

Keep on praying! it’s a mitzvah to call out to G‑d in a time of need. No matter which language you use, G‑d hears all prayers.

Bearing in mind the Chassidic call to “think good, and it will be good,” let’s keep our thoughts faithful, positive, and hopeful!

The Team

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