The Chabad.org Blog

So Will He Really Work for Food?

May 31, 2015 11:55 AM

Dear Friend,

You see a person with a dirty face, torn clothing, and a sign that says “Will Work for Food,” and you might assume the person is homeless, jobless, and is not very interested in work or food.

We may hate to admit it, but it’s normal to judge people. Most of us do it all the time, to just about everyone.

In this week’s chapter of Ethics of the Fathers, we find a teaching of Hillel the Elder: Do not judge your fellow until you’ve stood in his place.

How can we possibly do that? Think of it like this. Suppose someone told you that the guy with the “Work for Food” sign was an actor. Suddenly you realize that your previous assumptions were all wrong. Under the grime and rags lives a person you hadn’t even bothered to look for.

The truth is that every one of us is an actor. We may act rich, poor, wise, foolish, proud or humble. But none of that defines who we are. We really are our G‑dly souls.

With that in mind, it’s all that much easier to take a step back and see that we may not know the people we think we know.

The Chabad.org Editorial Team

P.S.: Have you ever misjudged or been misjudged? We’d love to hear about it. Please share your experiences in the comments section.

Thank You to Our Presenters!

May 24, 2015

Dear Friend,

We just celebrated Shavuot, when our nation accepted the Torah from G‑d. What do you think they did the morning after Shavuot? Chances are they began studying and parsing the words they heard from G‑d and Moses, searching for nuggets of meaning they could apply to their lives. It’s also likely they shared their insights with each other, helping each and every member of Israel achieve an understanding of G‑d’s blueprint for life.

Now is a most appropriate time for us to recognize some of the dedicated teachers who share their knowledge and understanding of Torah on a regular basis on Jewish.tv—some almost each and every day.

Should you wish to prepare for your prayers with some deep chassidic insights, you need to look no further than the classes of Dr. Yaakov Brawer and Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan. Looking to split some Talmudic hairs? Rabbis Binyomin Bitton and Avraham Meyer Zajac are presenting Talmud classes regularly. If it’s a fresh insight on the weekly Torah portion, Rabbis Moishe New and Aaron L. Raskin have you more than covered. And if you need a little help with your daily study, Rabbis Yehoshua B. Gordon, Mendel Kaplan and Ronnie Fine have classes to suit all tastes and speeds. For those looking to brush up their knowledge of Jewish law, we are pleased to present the lessons of Rabbis Yosef Shusterman and Elimelech Silberberg. And for those looking for a young and uniquely feminine perspective, we stream classes by Shifra Sharfstein.

These Jewish.tv presenters are all volunteers, and our virtual hats go off to them for their amazing dedication. Thank you!

Please use the comments section to share who your favorite Jewish.tv lecturers are (of course we could not possibly mention everyone) and what their teachings mean to you.

Shmuel Lifshitz,
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

Cheesecake, Anyone?

May 20, 2015 12:11 PM

Dear Friend,

It was the most important moment in our nation’s history.

G‑d Himself descended on the mountain and declared, “I am G‑d your G‑d!” He then presented us each with the Torah to keep and cherish. The day was so full of love and commitment that it is referred to as our “wedding day.”

This coming Sunday morning, May 24, during the holiday of Shavuot, we will celebrate this momentous event anew, reaffirming and strengthening our bond with Him and His Torah.

Let’s all do our utmost to attend services at our respective synagogues and listen to the reading of the Ten Commandments. Let us once again experience and affirm the deal we struck at Sinai.

And, since the Jewish children are the next link in the golden chain begun on that fateful day in the desert, it’s especially important that we bring our children, even newborn babies.

(Many Chabad-Lubavitch centers hold ice-cream parties for the kids following services, a nice treat on a spring morning. And for their parents, more indulgence comes with cheesecake and other rich fare. It’s the dairy holiday, after all…)

So let’s all be there, and also encourage our friends, family and neighbors to not only celebrate the past, but to enjoy the present and to recommit for the future.

We wish you and yours a joyous and meaningful Shavuot!


Your friends at Chabad.org

You Can Now WhatsApp Your Favorite Chabad.org Content

May 14, 2015 5:24 PM
"WhatsApp logo" by Source
"WhatsApp logo" by Source

At Chabad.org we know that the power of social media isn’t the app that’s employed, but rather the human connection that’s forged through sharing. That’s why we’re constantly tweaking the tools available to add more ways to share the Chabad.org content you love with the people that matter to you.

As more and more people use their mobile devices more often (we’re certainly seeing an increase in visitors on mobile devices to Chabad.org), new apps with a focus on mobile are becoming very popular. One extremely popular mobile app is WhatsApp. We’re so pleased that starting today you can now share articles read on your mobile browser to your WhatsApp network with a tap of your finger.

It’s never been easier to share Torah, Jewish inspiration, videos and more with your friends, family or groups! All you need to do is tap the “WhatsApp” icon above and below the video or article you wish to share.

Please let us know how you like it, and if you have any suggestions of what we can do to improve your learning and sharing experience at Chabad.org.

Million-Mitzvah Challenge With Popular Omer App

New ‘Omer Challenge’ campaign encourages nightly count; motivates outreach for others to do same

May 13, 2015 10:18 PM
Chabad.org just launched the “Omer Challenge,” encouraging people to count the Omer and inspiring others to do the same by posting their activity on social media.
Chabad.org just launched the “Omer Challenge,” encouraging people to count the Omer and inspiring others to do the same by posting their activity on social media.

When Tyler Scholl downloaded Chabad.org’s new “Omer Counter” app just before Passover, he knew he found a winner. The app helps users fulfill the biblical commandment to count the 49 days between the Jewish people’s departure from Egypt on Passover and their receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai on Shavuot.

“All the features work really well, and the reminders are super helpful,” says Scholl. “The app is really well-laid-out and user-friendly, and includes everything from the blessings to insights about each day and counting the Omer in general.”

Within a few days, Scholl shared the app with his circle of family and friends, who now use it regularly and have shared it with others as well.

“Through organic sharing, this app has, thank G‑d, reached a very broad cross section of the Jewish people,” reports Dov Dukes, lead app developer at Chabad.org.

A little more than four weeks into the Omer count, some 487,000 days had been counted, leading Dukes and his team to realize that reaching a million individual “countings” via the app was a real possibility.

“The fact that together we can reach such an impressive number of counts,” he says, “is a real motivator to get even more people to do this mitzvah, boosting us toward 1 million Omer counts.”

The app helps users fulfill the biblical commandment to count the 49 days between the Jewish people’s departure from Egypt on Passover and their receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai on Shavuot.
The app helps users fulfill the biblical commandment to count the 49 days between the Jewish people’s departure from Egypt on Passover and their receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai on Shavuot.

To that end, Chabad.org just launched the “Omer Challenge,” encouraging people to count the Omer and inspiring others to do the same by posting their activity on social media.

Using completely anonymous data, the app’s engine automatically keeps track of aggregated Omer counts and then updates the live counter accessible from the app, as well as on an expressly dedicated webpage.

The campaign also seeks to educate people that even if they missed a full night and day (or more), they can and should still count nightly until the end of 49 days (albeit without saying a blessing).

“The point is to help demonstrate that counting the Omer is an easy mitzvah we can all do during this time of year,” affirms Dukes. “The app makes it all that much easier, and the campaign adds another incentive to get people to join in something positive and inspirational. As I see it, this is just one more way to make every day count—quite literally.”

Latest Success for Jewish Apps

The “Omer Counter” app is part of Chabad.org’s Jewish Apps Suite, which strategically leverages Chabad.org’s content and know-how to make Jewish information and observance accessible on other platforms.

Through the vision and generosity of a group of funders, the Omer counter app joins the “Hayom” app (now available for the Apple Watch), the “Passover Assistant,” the “Jewish.tv” video app, the “Shabbat Times” app, a JewishKids.org app for children and others—all designed to help bring Jewish wisdom and tools to the fingertips of users. Additional apps are in the planning and developmental stages by an international Chabad.org team.

The drive, vision for and underwriting of the apps, which are available free of charge, come from the generous partnership of Dovid and Malkie Smetana, Alan and Lori Zekelman, the Meromim Fund, and Moris and Lillian Tabacinic—all dedicated to spreading the wisdom and practice of Judaism worldwide.

Read more about the “Omer Counter” app here.

A complete list of Jewish apps from Chabad.org can be found here.

Download the “Omer Counter” app for your Apple device here or Android device here.

Where Will You Be on Sunday Morning?

May 17, 2015

Dear Friend,

In a small community like mine (my wife and I co-direct the Chabad center in Munster, Indiana), coordinating a minyan of 10 men for every Shabbat can be a challenge. Despite our best efforts, we often end up with a minyanless service.

Not so for Shavuot.

Beginning a week or so in advance, I will call, e‑mail and text our friends in the community asking them to make an extra effort to attend. Of course, in typical Chabad style, we offer a delicious dairy buffet of cheesecake, blintzes, pasta dishes, and more (and, of course, ice cream with lots of toppings for the kids).

Why all this? Because on Shavuot, as we stand in the synagogue listening to the Ten Commandments read from the Torah, we are actually standing before G‑d, agreeing to become His nation once again. And just like at Mt. Sinai, where every single Jewish soul of all future generations was present, every Jew should also make an effort to attend a Ten Commandments reading at her or his local synagogue.

And, the Lubavitcher Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—would always emphasize that this applies particularly to children, who are our future and the guarantors that Torah observance will always be a part of our being.

So click here to find a local Ten Commandments reading, and make sure to come and bring a friend.

Let us celebrate the Torah and internalize its messages.

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

On Racial Tensions

May 11, 2015 2:11 PM

Dear Friend,

With the hot summer weather coming, it’s likely that racial tensions will continue to simmer in the United States, as they have most recently in the city of Baltimore. From Missouri to Mississippi to Maryland, the frustration, violence and deep-seated grievances remain remarkably similar.

On both sides of the issue, people struggle to make sense of those holding diametrically opposite views. “How can they not see how wrong they are?” they fume. “Don’t they realize how destructive, violent and narrow their approach is?” they declare self-righteously.

And therein lies the problem. As long as we see two sides—with competing worldviews and goals—peace cannot be achieved.

Rather, as the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—told New York City mayor David Dinkins following the Crown Heights riots in 1991, “Forget both sides; it is one side, one people united . . .”

“All of them were created by the same G‑d for the same purpose,” the Rebbe said to the mayor during an earlier meeting, “to add in all good . . .”

When we truly realize that we are all descendants of a common ancestor, created in the image of G‑d, everything else will fall into place.

With wishes for a safe, healthy and peaceful summer,

The Chabad.org Editorial Team

Join Jewish.tv’s Newest Series: Practical Halachah

May 11, 2015 1:02 PM

There is a common refrain that “the devil is in the details.” But following chassidic teachings, we at Chabad.org believe that G‑d is indeed in the details (and everywhere else). Especially when it comes to performing His commandments, the mitzvahs, even the smallest details are significant.

Those details are part of halachah (Jewish law), the ways of living which were given by G‑d to Moses at Sinai, and further clarified and expanded by the sages and scholars through the generations.

We are therefore very excited to announce a new video series on this topic: Practical Halachah.

The new series will be taught by renowned halachic expert Rabbi Yosef Shusterman of Los Angeles, who will help viewers learn by explaining and relating Jewish law as it applies to real life.

The first course in this series will focus on the laws of Shabbat. What are the requirements for kiddush? How is food prepared before and during Shabbat? What can a person do, for example, in case of a medical emergency on Shabbat?

Each class will offer a detailed look into another topic. This course is sure to enrich your knowledge and observance of the special mitzvah of Shabbat.

To sign up for the new series, click here.

P.S.: Special thanks are due to Rabbi Mendel Shusterman for his important part in making this class a reality.

Please Meet “Rabbi Y”

May 5, 2015 9:57 AM

Dear Friend,

Judaism is all about asking questions. In fact, before the Internet was invented, Chabad.org’s founder, Rabbi Y. Y. Kazen, was fielding questions from all around the world via message boards and other precursors to e‑mail as we know it.

To this day, our Ask the Rabbi team replies to hundreds of questions on a daily basis on every topic imaginable. From the Jewish backpacker seeking a warm meal and a place to pray, to the curious gentile wondering about Jewish tradition—each and every one is answered with care and respect.

Since the early days of our site, we’ve been publishing some of these questions (of course, removing any identifying information to ensure the privacy of the questioner). Today, Chabad.org has a collection of thousands of such correspondences online for all to enjoy.

We’re thrilled to announce that Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin, who joined the Ask the Rabbi team in 2009, has begun a new column called Ask Rabbi Y. As you may have guessed, it will be a place where you can ask “why.” Why do we write Hebrew from right to left? Why do we make a blessing on fire on Saturday night? These are just some of the issues he’s been addressing on a weekly basis.

Is there something you’re wondering about? Just submit your “why,” and Rabbi Y will consider it for an upcoming column.


The Chabad.org Editorial Team

P.S.: Rabbi Shurpin also maintains another column, The Court of Jewish Law, where everyday questions are analyzed in the light of halachic tradition.

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