The Chabad.org Blog

Have You Had Déjà Vu?

December 30, 2014 9:00 AM

Dear Friend,

Have you ever had déjà vu? You know, that uncanny sense that you have experienced an event before, even though you haven’t? One theory behind this phenomenon is that the new situation reminds our brains of a similar experience that we had but can’t quite recall. Not consciously remembering the first experience, our brains can only summon a vague sense of familiarity.

This Thursday marks the fast of the 10th of Tevet. On this date 2,439 years ago, the armies of the Babylonian emperor Nebuchanezzar lay siege to Jerusalem, setting in motion the events that would lead to the destruction of the Holy Temple and the Jewish people’s dispersion in exile.

This week’s Torah portion, too, describes events that lead to exile. The children of Israel have settled in Egypt, and Jacob and Joseph have passed on. Next we hear, the children of Israel are slaves.

The collective memory of the Jewish people harbors an intimate knowledge of holiness and divine revelation—the legacy of our ancestors—but the memory is sometimes dimmed by the darkness of exile.

And so, as we commemorate these transitions into exile this week, and dive into the thick of winter, let us pursue an active form of déjà vu, seeking out moments of light and holiness, and elevating them from the dimness of memory into the light of conscious experience.

Devora Levin
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

Is Chanukah Ending?

December 21, 2014

Dear Friend,

With Chanukah quickly receding into the past, it’s easy to feel a little down. Somehow, no matter how carefully we plan and how many “perfect” pictures we take, time marches ruthlessly on.

But yesterday’s menorah lighting is not gone. Every mitzvah done brings a bit more light into the world, and that keeps on aggregating—just like the Chanukah flames—until there is enough light in the world to finally tip the scales for good.

The Chabad.org Editorial Team
P.S.: This Shabbat is 5 Tevet, celebrated in Chabad communities all over as a day dedicated to Jewish books. Now is an appropriate time to purchase a new Torah book or two for your home. It will make your home that much holier.

Do you have a favorite Torah-related title? Please share it with us in the comments section.

Do I Get My Sword?

December 14, 2014

Dear Friend,

Overheard around Chanukah time:

Daddy? Where can I get a shiny sword? I want to be a Maccabee. Swish, bam! I’m gonna get so many bad guys…

Son, I think you only heard part of the Chanukah story. Yes, the Maccabees fought bravely against the Greek invaders, but they didn’t do it because they liked to fight or to slash their swords. They fought back because the Greeks wanted to separate them from G‑d and didn’t let them learn Torah and do mitzvahs. It wasn’t easy to be a Maccabee. There were many Jews who supported the Greeks, but the Maccabees followed their faith.

You can also be a Maccabee. When you are with your friends, don’t just see what everyone is doing and do the same. Remember who you are. Remember that you believe in G‑d and He believes in you. When you grow up and go out into the world, you’ll be a Maccabee when you don’t let your surroundings control the way you act.

Wow! Sounds wonderful, Dad. If I do all that, will I get a sword?

We all have our Maccabee moments, and most of us can probably have some more.

Mendy Kaminker
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

P.S.: We will be celebrating Chanukah in thousands of places all over the world. Please click here to find an event near you.

Learning Sefer Hamitzvot? There’s an App for That!

December 9, 2014 10:09 AM

Just in time for the annual Siyum Harambam—the conclusion of the yearly cycle of daily study of Maimonide’s Mishneh TorahChabad.org has released the “Daily Mitzvah App.”

Thousands of Jews worldwide participate in this daily three-tiered study program, in which people either study the Mishneh Torah or the mitzvah of MaimonidesSefer Hamitzvot (“Book of Commandments”) that corresponds to that day’s study material. This year marks the 33rd time the cycle has been completed since it was initiated in 1984 by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.

The new app aids mitzvah study by automatically loading the daily lesson (available in both Hebrew and English), as well as advanced commentaries. Easy access to a daily video class presented by world-renowned lecturer Rabbi Mendel Kaplan, founder and spiritual leader of Chabad @ Flamingo in Thornhill, Ontario, is neatly integrated into the app.

The app is currently available for Android devices on the Google Play store.

And what about Apple users?

We have plans for that as well. All we’re waiting for is a sponsor to take the project across the finish line.

Click here to download the new app.
Click here to view the Daily Mitzvah page on Chabad.org.
Click here to make a donation.

Take the Long-Short Road with Us

December 7, 2014

Dear Friend,

Did you ever try to take a shortcut, only to discover that you’ve just tacked on additional travel time to your trip? Have you ever purchased a cheap replacement part on the Internet, only to discover that it wasn’t worth the packaging it came in? Most of us do that at least once in a while. Our sages call it taking the short-long route. It seems to be shorter, but it’s actually longer.

Then there is the long-short route. Taking the time to find the right contractor, choosing the fast-moving highway even if it’s a few blocks out of your way, having a nutritious breakfast before you start reading your e‑mails, are all examples of time and energy well spent.

This Thursday is 19 Kislev, celebrated as the Chassidic New Year. On this day, we begin anew the annual Tanya learning cycle. In his intro to the book, the author, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, writes that his purpose is to chart out the long-short way to serve G‑d. Curious to learn what it is? Join us as we begin the study cycle and find out for yourself.

Menachem Posner,
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

P.S.: Remember, this is not a quick fix. Don’t expect all the answers in the first few chapters. Keep on learning, and you’ll get the hang of it.

P.P.S.: Have you ever traveled the long-short way? Please share your experiences with us in the comments.

Announcing the ‘Power of Jewish Children’ Contest Winners

Awards ceremony and concert to be broadcast live on JewishKids.org on Monday, Dec. 8

December 3, 2014 3:18 PM
The “Power of Jewish Children” contest was open to children “who have worked hard to make a difference, and want to be part of something special internationally."
The “Power of Jewish Children” contest was open to children “who have worked hard to make a difference, and want to be part of something special internationally."

Tzivos Hashem: Jewish Children’s International has announced the four winning entries in the annual ‘Power of Jewish Children’ contest, which recognizes children under the age of 14 who have devoted themselves to a worthy cause and who have made a difference in their communities.

The winners will appear at the Tzivos Hashem dinner at the Grand Prospect Hall in New York. They are among the many worthy contestants who were nominated by the public via JewishKids.org.

For the first time, the event will be broadcast live on JewishKids.org on Monday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m., including the awards ceremony and entertainment for the whole family.

The winners will each receive a $500 cash prize, $500 to be donated to a charity of their choice and sets of Jewish books. A video presentation will feature the winners describing their projects, to be followed by a question-and-answer presentation.

Here are profiles of the winners, provided by Tzivos Hashem and JewishKids.org:

Eitan Bernath

Proudly wearing a kipah and openly explaining his restrictions due to kashrut—Jewish dietary restrictions—Eitan appeared on the first-ever middle-school-age kid’s episode of the Food Network’s popular cooking show “Chopped.” From the initial casting calls up to the show’s taping, Eitan amplified Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G‑d’s name). His incredible grace under pressure resonated with the larger Jewish community as emails nationwide poured into his personal website, praising his obvious Jewish pride and commitment. He is proud to represent the new generation of kosher chefs and happy to have inspired so many other young Jewish children to follow their dreams.

Eitan Bernath
Eitan Bernath

Caley Coughlan

Caley is a Friendship Circle volunteer who participated in bowling activities on Sundays. Her bowling buddy was a boy named Jeremy. Though Jeremy’s physical abilities were limited, his ability to inspire others was as strong as ever. Jeremy’s smile shone for miles, and his enthusiasm was contagious. He loved being surrounded by music, action and noise. After Jeremy’s untimely passing, Caley resolved to keep his memory alive by starting “Jeremy’s Jump.” Her goal was to enable children with special needs to share their smiles and enthusiasm with others. The “Jump” program consists of a 10-hour relay jump-a-thon to raise awareness and funds, as well as to promote the acceptance of children and teens with special needs.

Caley Coughlan
Caley Coughlan

Mendel Minkowicz

Mendel Minkowicz, whose 37-year-old mother Rashi passed away tragically and suddenly in March, initiated a campaign to raise funds for a new Chabad Center in Alpharetta, Ga., to be named “Rashi’s Campus” in his mother’s memory. To date, the campaign has raised more than $3 million, which included a substantial amount raised through a campaign that Mendel initiated called “1818forRashi.”

Mendel Minkowicz
Mendel Minkowicz

Chloe Dahan and Jamie Zimmerman

Chloe and Jamie first attended a Friendship Circle San Diego special-needs awareness workshop when they were just 10 and 11 years old. After attending many Friendship Circle events together, the girls were inspired to make a difference themselves and create a new, ongoing performing-arts program called “Shooting Stars.” Focusing on girls and teens with special needs, Chloe and Jamie organized the program; designed the fliers; designed and ordered T-shirts; planned the curriculum; and recruited friends, volunteers and local performing-arts experts to participate. They are shining examples of the power of volunteerism, and they have had a tremendous impact on Jewish children in the San Diego community.

Chloe Dahan and Jamie Zimmerman
Chloe Dahan and Jamie Zimmerman

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