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Israel Launched Their First Moon Lander

This is what it means to me as a Jew

February 22, 2019 11:31 AM
Credit: Oshratsl
Credit: Oshratsl

Did you watch the launch?

I couldn’t help myself marveling at the scene. The first spacecraft made by Israeli scientists, sitting on top of a SpaceX rocket, about to head to the moon.

With a fiery force, the “Beresheet” moon lander started its long journey. In seven weeks, this special spacecraft will land on the moon and make history. In launching yesterday, it not only became the first Israeli spacecraft to venture beyond Earth's orbit, but also the first-ever privately funded moon mission.

The scientists spent a long time thinking of each detail. They chose the name “Beresheet,” the first word of the Torah, which describes the creation of the world. They view their mission as a true beginning, pioneering and paving the way for many missions to follow.

They also emblazoned the sentence “Am Yisrael Chai” on the craft. The Jewish people are here to stay.

But I bet even they didn’t realize the symbolism in the timing of the launch.

You see, look at the name of this week’s Torah portion: Ki Tisa. Tisa can be translated as “raising,” “lifting up,” and “reaching higher.”

That’s exactly what SpaceIL did.

It’s interesting to see how we humans are obsessed with space. It’s not like we finished figuring out everything on Planet Earth, but we are always trying to understand and know what’s above us.

The Rebbe once quoted the following Chassidic teaching: “The kindness and special quality in G‑d's making man upright, to walk erectly, is that though he walks on the earth he sees the Heavens; not so with beasts that go on all fours; they see only the earth.”

I bet animals don’t care to know what’s in space. Water on Mars? Living organism on the dark side of the moon? These questions simply don’t occupy the animals’ minds.

But G‑d gave us that ability and desire to know, the aspiration to reach to the heavens.

Not only the physical heavens.

The spiritual ones too.

He embedded in us the constant desire not to be satisfied with a materialistic life, but to look for the inner meaning in everything that we do. And when we look for it, we find it.

Perhaps that’s why SpaceIL named their spacecraft Beresheet.

Because the next two words of the verse are bara Elokim, “G‑d had created.”

When we are ready to ascend, willing to have the courage and to reach to the heavens, we will find Him – right here with us on earth.

Feature of the Week: Daily Dose

February 19, 2019 1:12 PM

Since the early years of Chabad.org, Tzvi Freeman’s Daily Dose of Wisdom has been a beloved staple of our site. Like a delicious cup of coffee, these pithy nuggets of Chassidic wisdom are uplifting, delightful, and just the right thing to start your day. View them on our homepage or on Facebook, get them in your inbox daily and as part of the Hayom App, or enjoy our favorite selections in ebook form and as an actual book for Shabbat enjoyment.

Feature of the Week: Two Exciting Updates for Story Lovers

February 12, 2019 5:23 PM

Our Jewish Stories Podcast brings little-known tales to the general public for the first time. Each season of stories, narrated by Benson Simmonds, is available for immediate listening or for later binge-listening on Chabad.org and iTunes or by searching for “Jewish Stories Podcast” in your favorite podcasting app.

We also recently added a Jewish stories feature to our Google Assistant app. The feature plays short Jewish stories for you to enjoy. The app is part of a limited set of Google’s Family Safe category, meaning that parents can let their children safely explore the app while limiting the other unwanted content they can access.

To hear a story, simply tell one of 5,000 connected Google devices: “Hey, Google! Ask Chabad to tell me story.”

Feature of the Week: Parsha Perks

February 11, 2019 5:33 PM

There’s a Chassidic teaching that we are to “live” with the Torah portion of the week. Every week, the parshah comes alive for thousands of viewers through Dr. Michael Chighel’s enlightening, insightful and zany conversations with himself. Titled, “Parshah Perks,” these delightful and fast-paced vlog-posts are whimsically described as “perquisites for daily life percolated in the Rebbe's teachings on the parshah.”

This week, Professor Chighel and an alter ego who looks remarkably like Captain Ahab learn a lesson about obstinacy, ambition, and humility. The other week, he spoke to a Freudian psychoanalyst from yesteryear about the divide between rational and supra-rational. With whom will he be speaking next week? Make sure to open this email (or check online) every week to find out.

The. Worst. Superbowl. Ever.

February 5, 2019 1:58 PM

The Worst. Superbowl. Ever.

Rabbi Confession # 1: I didn't watch the Superbowl.

Rabbi Confession # 2: I don't even know the rules of the game, so even if I had watched it, it would have been boring.

Speaking about boring, it seems like everyone thinks that this year’s game was boring. Some even called it “the Worst Superbowl Ever.”

Why?

It seems that this game lacked action. No drama, no high energy movement. Just two teams trying to protect themselves, playing it safe.

And we like excitement. We want to see action. We crave bravery, courage, and risk taking.

Not because we like to see players fail. It’s because when there’s drama, the players shine. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. In those moments of risk and uncertainty, some players find within themselves the most amazing talents. Ignoring the fact that their careers and the very safety of their cities can be jeopardized by their next moves, they “lock in,” focusing only on the job at hand and shine under pressure.

And this game, I’m told, had none of that.

Now, guess what: G‑d also likes exciting Superbowls.

No, not the one played yesterday.

The one being played every day in the arena of our lives. In the stadium of our souls.

You see, G‑d could have guaranteed us a low-score, no-drama, slow-moving life.

But that would be boring. And besides, we wouldn't have an opportunity to shine.

So he created a life full of the possibilities for magnificent catches and dropped passes; great runs and awful fumbles; game-winning touchdowns and blown field goals, so that in spite of everything happening around us, we can tap into our inner core and show our true colors. He gives us the ability to “lock-in.”

He likes it. Not because it's fun to watch, but because he knows it's good for us.

Next time life throws a curveball at you (is this a football term? Not sure ;)), remember that you are in this big, exciting game. Give it your all and play to win.

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