The Chabad.org Blog

Technology and Me

December 29, 2015

Dear Friend,

As I rip the last month off my calendar and expose a fresh year, I think back to how I imagined this era twenty years ago.

Flying cars! Self-tying shoes! Virtual-reality holograms! Hoverboards! Teleportation!

This is supposed to be a breakout period for technology, and indeed there have been many major technological trends on the cusp of going mainstream, such as 3D printing, wearables, and even driverless cars.

But at the risk of being termed a neo-Luddite, I have to say that while all this technology has enabled us to live a futuristic life, it can come at the cost of living a present life. A close friend just had it with the distraction of WhatsApp last week and gave it up entirely. He has not looked back (or down) since.

Although our devices can be used for good and even holy purposes, let’s set a time to put them away, look up, and really connect with the people that matter. Learn some Torah together, light a fire in your fireplace and have family/couple time, or just enjoy each other’s company (read here why this is a special year to do this).

Let’s not forget that the man makes the technology, not the other way around.

Moshe Rosenberg,
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

How to Make Ice Shine

December 21, 2015 11:49 AM

Dear friend,

Tuesday marks the 10th of Tevet, a fast day commemorating the Babylonian siege which led to the destruction of Jerusalem and First Temple.

This month, Tevet, always falls at the height of the winter, when the days are exceedingly short and people are driven indoors by the cold.

A dark day in a dark month.

The Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the chassidic movement, was known to love light. Once, during a particular dark winter day, he instructed his students to use the icicles as candles to bring light. The students listened, and so it was: ice, the very essence of darkness and cold, became a source of light and warmth.

There’s a lesson here for us.

Every fast day, every dark day we encounter, has the potential to serve as a springboard to something higher and greater. We fast so that we can look inwards, repent, and bring goodness to the world. We use the darkness as the impetus to reveal the deep and powerful light we have within, and bring warmth to our surroundings.

May these days be turned from darkness and sadness to light and joy!

Mordechai Lightstone,
social media director @ Chabad.org

P.S.: If you haven’t done so yet, check out our Instagram account! It’s full of inspirational images and snapshots from Jewish communities around the world.

How to Celebrate Chanukah All Year Long

December 14, 2015 12:38 PM

Dear Friend,

We’ve kindled the last Chanukah candle, fried the last latke, eaten the last doughnut, played the last round of dreidel and distributed the last Chanukah gelt. Soon our menorahs will be polished and put away for next year, and if we aren’t careful, the festivities may fade into oblivion.

In fact, next Tuesday we mark the 10th of Tevet, one of the saddest days on the Jewish calendar, with fasting and prayer. On the 10th of Tevet, 425 BCE, the Babylonian army laid siege to Jerusalem, which ultimately led to the destruction of the Holy Temple, and our people’s exile.

We start Chanukah with one small flickering light, adding velocity each night until all the candles are ablaze, flooding the world, and our souls, with light. And then—BAM!—it’s over. There is no gentle tapering off. It seems anticlimactic, but there is another way to look at it.

Every Chanukah we get to infuse our souls with light, increasing our stores day by day, until by the eighth and final day we have enough. Enough to light up the darker times of the year. Enough to remind us that miracles and salvation can happen, and that light always prevails.

Miriam Szokovski,
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team.

The Bat and the Rabbit: a Chanukah Fable

December 8, 2015

Dear Friend,

Remember learning as a kid how bats are blind, and how they fly around using an amazing anatomical radar mechanism built into their heads? The truth is, of course, that bats see well enough, and that their echolocation system (which actually works more like sonar than radar) is an extra ability they’re blessed with.

But imagine you still believed that. And imagine a bat lecturing a rabbit on the superiority of radar over eyesight as a navigational system. His lecture is so logical, complex and eloquent that the bat almost convinces the poor rabbit to close his eyes and give up seeing altogether. But as the rabbit walks to the radar store to purchase a system for himself, the simple truth hits him: “Wait a minute. The bat is really convincing. But gosh, things are so lovely and so real in the sunlight!”

This is just a little fable to keep in mind this Chanukah, when we celebrate the Maccabees’ victory over the Greek regime that wanted to impose its worldview on the Jews of ancient Israel. Whenever you hear the word “Greek,” please think of the bat. Think of how colorless, cold and crepuscular the world would be without the light of the Torah.

Michael Chighel,
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team.

Webcasts to Bring Menorah-Lightings to a Global Audience

Chanukah from Paris, Jerusalem, Calgary, Florida, New York, Washington, D.C., to U.S. military bases and more

December 4, 2015 8:31 AM
The broadcast on Jewish.tv on the first night of Chanukah will link celebrations in Paris, Jerusalem and New York. (File Photo: Yaakov Guez)
The broadcast on Jewish.tv on the first night of Chanukah will link celebrations in Paris, Jerusalem and New York. (File Photo: Yaakov Guez)

Throughout the eight days of Chanukah (with the exception of the Jewish Sabbath), Jewish.tv—the multimedia portal of Chabad.org—will broadcast major Chanukah events and celebrations around the world so viewers can celebrate the holiday with people around the globe during this Hakhel year, when it is especially customary for groups to join together for Torah study and the performance of good deeds.

The Jewish.tv Chanukah broadcast page will be updated throughout the week of Chanukah.

Sunday, December 6 - 1st Night of Chanukah

Paris, Jerusalem, New York

Live satellite link-up of menorah-lightings in three major cities on three continents. This French program, to be filled with music and song, is based out of Paris, and will hook up with menorah-lightings in Jerusalem, Israel and Brooklyn, New York.

The broadcast begins at 2:15 p.m. EST (8:15 p.m. in Paris) on Sunday, December 6.

Chanukah live from Paris, Jerusalem and New York can be viewed here.

Washington, D.C.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden addresses the crowd at the 2014 National Menorah lighting, as Rabbi Levi Shemtov, left, and Rabbi Abraham Shemtov look on. (Photo: Ron Sachs)
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden addresses the crowd at the 2014 National Menorah lighting, as Rabbi Levi Shemtov, left, and Rabbi Abraham Shemtov look on. (Photo: Ron Sachs)

Live broadcast of the lighting ceremony of the national Chanukah menorah located on the Ellipse at the White House in Washington, D.C. Featuring the United States Marine Band and “The Three Cantors.”

The broadcast will begin at 4 p.m. EST on Sunday, Dec. 6.

The national menorah-lighting can be viewed here.

Monday, December 7 - 2nd Night of Chanukah

South Broward, Fla.

The 36th Annual South Florida Chassidic Chanukah Festival in the special Hakhel year of unity features a full concert, including the popular Chassidic singer Avraham Fried.

The broadcast will begin at 7:30 p.m EST on Monday, Dec. 7.

The Grand South Florida Chassidic Chanukah Festival can be viewed here.

Calgary, Canada

Rabbis and dignitaries from around Canada will be gathering for the 27th annual public menorah-lighting and Chanukah celebration in Calgary.

The broadcast will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 7.

The Calgary community menorah-lighting can be viewed here.

Wednesday, December 9 - 4th Night of Chanukah

U.S. Military Bases Around the World

Join U.S. service members in this first live video conference of menorah-lightings on U.S. military bases around the world.

The broadcast will begin on Dec. 9 at 5:30 p.m. EST.

U.S. Armed Services Worldwide Chanukah Celebration can be viewed here.

Visit here to learn more about what to expect at public menorah-lightings.

For Chanukah information—including locating public menorah-lightings—inspiration, recipes, events for the whole family and more, visit the Chabad.org Chanukah 2015 page here.

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