The Chabad.org Blog

Vayikra: To Praise or Not to Praise?

March 2, 2014

Dear Friend,

My daughter is beautiful, talented and bright (no bias here, of course . . .). And I let her know it. All the time.

Am I doing her a disservice? In this week’s magazine, we are featuring a Chabad.org classic by the late Jay Litvin, who reinforces my positive parenting approach. In The Benefits of Being Stupid When You’re Old, he asserts that parents should encourage and recognize their children’s successes, and “it is this sense of self-esteem and confidence that will yield the courage to learn, explore and succeed far more than any knowledge.” Score for Mommy!

But Chana Weisberg says quite the opposite in A Great Smallness: According to recent research, high self-esteem doesn’t improve grades or career achievement. Be discriminating with your praise, she advises.

So, what do I do with my little star? Chana concludes that “the most empowering self-image that you can give your child is the knowledge that she is a part of something much greater than herself.” So, as much as I love to heap on the praise, I want my daughter to know that she is much more than a pretty face and a bright mind. She is a little piece of G‑d. And she is here to do mitzvahs and make this world a better place.

As are we all.

Sasha Friedman,
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

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Pekudei: With Whom Will You Share Purim?

February 23, 2014

Dear Friend,

When I was a kid, the weeks leading up to Purim were among the most exciting times of the year for me, even more than the last weeks of school . . .

Costume shopping and mishloach manot packing led to the holiday itself, when we would dress up and deliver gifts to classmates and family. But I most looked forward to visiting hospitals and nursing homes to share the joyous Purim spirit with the elderly and infirm.

Of course, reveling with family and friends was special, but bringing the joy of Purim to those less fortunate was meaningful in a completely different way.

It remained a part of my Purim experience when I went to study in Israel, where my friends and I spent the holiday driving to army bases to read the megillah and celebrate with the brave men and women of the IDF. And it certainly continues today, as my wife and I lead a community Chabad House; we plan Purim events, as well as home visits to those who would otherwise be without.

And that’s what Purim is really about: caring for others and sharing the eternal spirit of Judaism. In the words of the megillah, “. . . make them days of feasting and joy, and sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.”

So, with just over two weeks to Purim, now is the time to ask: With whom am I sharing Purim this year?

Eliezer Zalmanov,
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

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What’s Your Jewish Birthday?

February 24, 2014 8:00 PM

One of the popular sections on Chabad.org is Chabad.org/ birthday, where (among other things) you can calculate when your original and current dates of birth are according to the Jewish calendar. More than just a cute bit of trivia to be filed away with your name written in Wingdings and your address spelled backwards, your Jewish birthday is an incredibly potent spiritual opportunity.

To help you celebrate, we’ve crafted a section that’s much more than a calculator. It has nifty little subsections where you can explore the Torah perspective on celebrating your birthday, collect suggestions on how a Jewish birthday is to be marked, and even sign up for annual Jewish birthday reminder or print up a colorful personalized Jewish birthday certificate.

Twenty-six years ago today—just weeks after the passing of his beloved life partner, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, of righteous memory—the Rebbe, of righteous memory, initiated a birthday campaign, encouraging everyone to celebrate their Jewish birthdays in a number of special ways. He pointed out that according to Judaism the date of your birth is a special day, when your mazal (spiritual energy) is heightened. As the anniversary of the most important moment of your life, it is a time for spiritual retrospection, celebration and good resolutions.

Do you know when your Jewish birthday is? What are you waiting for? Head over to our birthday portal, find out when your special day is, and plan a uniquely Jewish celebration.

Links to bookmark:

Winter Shminter! Here Are Some Good Links

February 13, 2014 3:58 PM

Dear friends,

Here we go again... If you live in one of 22 states from Texas to New England and portions of Canada hit by yet another heavy snowstorm, there is a high likelihood that you are sitting at home thinking, "Winter shminter. When will it warm up already?"

We hope that you and your loved ones are all safe and warm.

While we can't help with the weather, we'd like to share a couple of links and resources to help you make the most of your time at home.

First, let's talk Parshah. If you like to browse on your own, head over to our Parshah section where you will find a treasure of articles and insights on this week's Torah portion. If you like to watch Torah classes, here is one for this week: Is Technology Kosher? And while browsing our videos, check out our popular Kabbalah Toons which will both entertain and enlighten you.

Since it is Presidents' Day weekend, check out our feature on The Rebbe's Correspondence with US Presidents.

Finally, wherever you are — women and girls, this is for you! — it may be freezing outside, but your light can make the world brighter and warmer. Be sure to do your part by lighting your Shabbat candles this Friday afternoon. Look up the time to light here.

Wishing all of our readers Shabbat shalom and a safe weekend!

Your friends at Chabad.org

New Online Trainer Makes the Whole Megillah Easier to Chant

February 12, 2014 1:52 PM
Whatever the age, it's never too early (or late) in life to learn to chant the Megillah.
Whatever the age, it's never too early (or late) in life to learn to chant the Megillah.

One of the four mitzvahs of the Jewish holiday of Purim is to hear the reading of the Megillah, a scroll on which Mordechai and Esther wrote the amazing turn of events that brought about the Purim miracle in Persia in 356 BCE.

Handwritten on parchment in the same ancient calligraphy as the Torah scroll, the Megillah scroll (with no vowelization) must be read and heard both on Purim night and Purim day—the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar II—which this year will be celebrated on Saturday night, March 15, and Sunday, March 16. (The holiday is celebrated the following day in Jerusalem, a biblical “walled city,” on the 15th day of the month of Adar II).

Learning to read the entire Megillah (also known as the “Book of Esther”) can present a challenge, even for seasoned Torah readers. The style of cantillation is different, and the 10-chapter scroll is significantly longer than an average Torah portion and is to be read with no breaks.

But high-tech help is on the way. Rabbi Levi Galperin of Chabad.org notes that a newly released online app, the Megillah Trainer, will make the training much smoother for beginning and experienced readers alike.

The tool assists students by highlighting each word as it is sung, allowing them to go at their own pace. Supported on mobile devices and tablets, it is ideal for those learning while they are on the move.

The tool assists students by highlighting each word as it is sung, allowing them to go at their own pace. Supported on mobile devices and tablets, it's ideal for those learning while on the move.
The tool assists students by highlighting each word as it is sung, allowing them to go at their own pace. Supported on mobile devices and tablets, it's ideal for those learning while on the move.

The technology behind the Megillah Trainer is the same as Chabad.org’s Torah Trainer, which now includes all 54 Torah portions, their haftarahs, and the blessings recited before and after the readings.

The Megillah Trainer currently includes two reading styles.

One features the voice of Rabbi Chaim B. Alevsky, creator of Tools for Torah, who reads in a lilting voice using the Modern Hebrew intonation. The other features Rabbi Levi Kaplan, director of operations at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI) and director of the Council of Chabad Cantors, who reads in a traditional, Russian-style Eastern European manner in his signature baritone.

Give a Gift That Will Satisfy the Palate and the Mind

February 10, 2014 3:49 PM

Purim is fast approaching. One of the four mitzvahs of the day is to send edible gifts, called Mishloach Manot, to family and friends.

For those who live near you, you can simply send over a food package, and you have fulfilled the mitzvah. But for everyone else, surprise them with a different kind of Mishloach Manot: an annual subscription to The Scroll.

The Scroll, Chabad.org’s weekly print publication, will provide them with a steady source of stories, information and inspiration delivered direct to their doorstep.

Oh yeah, and it will also will include an actual food package timed to arrive in time for Purim. But you need to order before March 2, so that we can get the packages in the mail in time.

Click here for more info and to place your order.

Sixty Days of Joy!

February 7, 2014 9:31 AM

Are you happy?

Yes, that was a loaded question. But we are in a loaded month—two of them, actually. You see, we just entered the Hebrew month of Adar, about which the sages say, “When Adar enters, we increase in joy.”1 Not just that, but since this year is a Jewish leap year, we have two Adars, which bring us 60 days of joy.

One second, you say. What is there to be happy about?

We are entering a season of miracles. Soon we will celebrate Purim, when we were saved from evil Haman, and then comes Passover, when Moses (who was born in the month of Adar) took us from Egyptian slavery and tyranny to freedom and Torah. These are not just isolated events on the calendar. This is a season that lends itself to happy endings.

This year, we have sixty days of joy. There is a halachic notion known as “bitul beshishim,” which means that something is considered insignificant and becomes nullified at a ratio of 1:60. The classic example given is that if a drop of milk accidentally falls into a pot of chicken soup, and there is 60 times more soup than milk, we pay no attention to the milk and the soup remains kosher. In the same way, any negativity or reason for unhappiness can be completely negated by these 60 days of sheer joy.


Taanit 29a

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