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The Chabad.org Blog

Let’s Do This Together

February 26, 2016 1:46 PM

Dear Friend,

Twenty-four years ago this week, the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—delivered what would be his final public address.

The week’s Torah portion, Vayakhel, was central to his talk. The word “vayakhel” (“and he gathered”) refers to Moses bringing the entire nation together. The Rebbe spoke of the importance of Jewish unity today and at all times. When the Jewish people stick together, no one can harm us. We are collectively strong, and our history has demonstrated time and again that no matter what our enemies scheme, we will come out stronger on the other side. That is the power of the Jewish nation. But we must be there for each other.

This year—as readers of Chabad.org no doubt are aware—is a year of Hakhel, commemorating the once-in-seven-years coming together of every Jew, adult and child, in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem to hear the king read from the Torah. We observe this today by hosting assemblies of Jews wherever we are. The focus is Jewish unity and the enhancement of our Jewish observance. We remind ourselves that at the end of the day we have each other to depend on, and that is the key to our survival.

Praying for the day that we will once again unite in Jerusalem,

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

Baby and Bubby

February 22, 2016 11:01 PM

Dear Friend,

My youngest son and I recently had the pleasure of spending a few days with my grandmother. As I balanced the needs of a toddler and a nonagenarian, the parallels between the two flashed through my mind.

My son is at that stage where he understands but does not yet talk. He uses sounds and motions, and sometimes resorts to tugging until we realize what he wants.

My grandmother is always great to talk to, yet she is at that stage where she sometimes forgets a word, a thought, or worse, a name, resulting in frustration on her part.

My son speeds up and down the stairs. I try to encourage his budding independence while at the same time ensuring that he does not get hurt.

My grandmother wishes to continue living as she always has, but her body is frail. So as I watch her cautiously climbing the stairs, I try to respect her dignity while protecting her from being hurt.

Our babies and our seniors deserve to be heard, esteemed and treated with dignity, whether they can speak or not, whether they remember who we are or not.

The Torah enjoins us to honor and respect our elders. Over these few days, I learned that dignity truly starts in infancy.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on dignity (or on my musings).

Chana Benjaminson,
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

What Is Leadership?

February 16, 2016 5:40 PM

Dear Friend,

With the U.S. presidential primaries now in full swing, the topic of leadership is on everyone’s mind.

I am reminded of the last chassidic discourse that the Lubavitcher Rebbe (Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory) distributed before his passing. It is based on this week’s Torah portion, and addresses the role of Moses’ leadership.

The Rebbe explains that the role of Moses and his successors is to arouse and reveal the inner faith and strength that is rooted in, and stems from, the very essence of our own souls. Building on that, we continue to grow through our own initiative. Change can last only if it comes from within ourselves, from our very essence.

While many aspiring leaders of today might focus on other candidates’ flaws, we must remember the Rebbe’s message. When we concentrate on developing the potential latent in our own souls, we no longer focus on those externalities that set us apart, but on that which unites us—the spark of G‑d that resides within our souls.

Yehuda Shurpin,
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

My Last Conversation with Rabbi Gordon

February 9, 2016 11:31 AM

Dear Friend,

Like many others, I woke up on Monday to the stark news of the untimely passing of our very own Rabbi Yehoshua B. Gordon, Chabad.org Torah teacher par excellence (read a special letter about him here).

Though I did not work with him as closely as the Jewish.tv team, my mind wandered back to the last time I called him. This past fall, I was working on a story about Tashlich observances all over the world, and wanted to talk to him about the indoor fishpond used by his congregation in Encino, California.

I didn’t know it at the time, but he was already suffering from the illness that would take his life, and there I was pestering him about room layout, décor, and the spelling of Weequahic Park, where he went to Tashlich as a child.

There were probably a million important things on his mind, but during that call he was wholly focused on helping me with my article (which was never published, since I found a more compelling story out of Tallinn, Estonia).

I believe that this focus on others is what made Rabbi Gordon’s classes an instant hit all over the world. Sure, he was engrossed in the text he was teaching, but his main focus was on his students, and how he could best impart his lesson to them.

May his memory—and recorded classes—be an inspiration to us all.

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

Our Dear Rabbi Yehoshua B. Gordon, of Blessed Memory

Chabad.org mourns the loss of Rabbi Yehoshua B. Gordon

February 8, 2016 5:50 PM

Dear Chabad.org Family Worldwide,

We are deeply pained to share with you the tragic news of the untimely passing of our very own Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Gordon, Chabad.org Torah teacher par excellence.

As many of you know, Rabbi Gordon’s knowledge, clarity, humor and down-to-earth sensibility made learning with him edifying, enlightening and enjoyable. It’s no wonder that within two short years of allowing his daily Torah classes to be streamed live on Chabad.org (in mid-2009), he gained the unique and historic distinction of teacher to the largest classroom of daily Torah study in the world!

Rabbi Gordon rose daily at 4 a.m. to prepare for his classes, giving his all to his students across the globe.

Less known, however, to his worldwide family of students were the immense responsibilities he undertook in caring for the San Fernando Valley’s 250,000 Jews.

When Rabbi Gordon and his wife, Deborah moved to the Valley in 1973, the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, blessed them with immense success to accomplish their mission: to help every single Jew in the Valley achieve his or her Jewish potential. In so doing, Rabbi Gordon recruited 35 additional emissary couples, and established some 26 Chabad-Lubavitch centers, to serve area Jews.

Shouldering a great deal of responsibility for the successful joint Valley operations, including an at times crushing fundraising load, Rabbi Gordon also counseled couples and individuals and made himself available to fellow shluchim around the world who sought his advice, all the while raising a wonderful family with his wife. He did his utmost to maximize every moment.

Yet his Torah-teaching—to his community and to the Chabad.org family worldwide—held a special place in his heart. It meant a great deal to him that on his travels around the globe for Chabad, he would encounter people from all walks of life, who told him: “Rabbi, I learn with you daily”; “You’re my personal teacher”; and so much more.

Rabbi Gordon lived the knowledge that rabbinic, organizational and budgetary responsibilities notwithstanding, the very first responsibility of a shliachan emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe—was to impart the Torah’s wisdom to others.

And he felt fortunate to have each of you worldwide as his students, no less fortunate than each of us felt to have him as a teacher. He had a unique intimacy to him that came across the screen, helping each of us to feel as if we were in the room with him and he was speaking with us directly.

***

While Rabbi Gordon was always ready to put himself out for others, he did not want others to be inconvenienced by him. It was this steadfast principle that caused him to prohibit us at Chabad.org from informing anyone of his illness upon its discovery more than a year ago. He could not bear the thought of so many people walking around pained in any way because of him. With the heaviest of hearts, we obliged. And for as long as he possibly could he went about his business as usual, including teaching his daily classes.

When his energy waned and he suffered great pain, Rabbi Gordon derived daily strength and satisfaction from the knowledge that he was continuing to help us all learn Torah, through the filmed archive of his classes, which we will forever air daily on Chabad.org.

The soul of HaRav Yehoshua Binyamin ben HaRav Shalom Dov Ber has ascended on high, but he has left us a strong and lasting beautiful legacy of Torah scholarship permeated with Chassidic warmth, which will remain with us forever.

We know from discussions we had with him that it would bring him the greatest nachas, the greatest joy and satisfaction, if in his memory we would each:

1.Rededicate ourselves to the Rebbe’s daily learning programs of Rambam, Chumash, Tanya, and Tehillim to which Rabbi Gordon gave his all; and

2. Inspire at least one more friend who does not yet participate in these classes to begin learning with Rabbi Gordon daily.

***

To ensure that we all remember our teacher and friend, and to give his wife and children an inkling of what he meant to so many of us, we encourage you to post your memories and condolences below. (You may also choose the option of sending your message privately to Rabbi Gordon’s family. To do so, please indicate in your comment that you do not want your message posted online.)

May G‑d bless Rabbi Gordon’s family, including all of us around the world, to be comforted with the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem, with the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days.

— The Chabad.org Team

An obituary of Rabbi Yehoshua B. Gordon appears here.

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