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The Chabad.org Blog

What I Learned on My Walks to the Grocery Store

May 31, 2016 10:09 AM

Dear Friend,

Taking a walk with my toddler is a great lesson in appreciating the small things in life.

What is usually a 10-minute walk to the local kosher grocery store can take more than 40 minutes with him. Everything catches his attention: birds and squirrels, flowers and plants, rocks and pebbles, cars and motorcycles, people and pets, stoops and steps.

Time is not an issue for him as he savors and explores whatever object catches his attention with intense curiosity until he moves on to the next item. Then the wonder starts all over again.

The founder of Chassidism, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, whose yahrtzeit we observe on Shavuot, often said that “everything one sees or hears is to be taken as a lesson in how to better serve the Creator.”

From my toddler I learn (among other things) to pay closer attention to the beautiful world G‑d created, to truly appreciate it and be grateful for it and all it contains. Thanks to him, I rediscover meaning in many aspects of daily life, and hopefully become a better person.

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

‘Scroll Down’ an Engaging 10-Part Multimedia Exploration of Jewish Texts

The ‘on-point, off-beat course on the transmission of Torah’ begins on May 31

May 24, 2016 4:03 PM

By the time most Jewish adults graduate from college, they know far more about the fundamental texts, principles and histories of a host of cultures and civilizations—from the West to the Far East—than they do about the history and genius of Jewish thought, and the deep and practical wisdom to be found in classic Jewish texts.

Enter Dr. Michael Chighel and “Scroll Down,” a 10-part comprehensive multimedia introduction to Jewish texts, designed to orient viewers on the process of the Torah’s transmission and exposition through the ages. With deep insight and ample humor, Chighel leads a delightful tour among the people, places and events that have shaped the Jewish library.

From the Five Books of Moses to contemporary biblical commentaries; from the Talmud to 21st-century halachic works; from the early Kabbalah to modern Chassidic masters, “Scroll Down” provides viewers with a comprehensive grasp of the scope and structure of the Jewish library.

An experienced educator, Chighel earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Toronto. In Canada, he taught philosophy and Jewish studies at York University, Queen’s University and the University of Waterloo, and produced and hosted two television series on Torah and Jewish subjects, Passages and Messages. From 2008 to 2015, he headed the Jewish Learning Program at the Lauder Business School in Vienna, Austria, where he also taught courses in political economy and ethics.

The first installment of “Scroll Down” debuts on Tuesday, May 31, on Jewish.tv, the video platform of Chabad.org. Each class includes a 10- to 20-minute video presentation, supplementary readings, and an opportunity for reader questions and feedback.

To enroll in the free 10-week course, click here.

Imagine You Were Rabbi Akiva . . .

May 24, 2016 10:29 AM

Dear Friend,

Imagine you were a 40-year-old poor illiterate shepherd who found it very difficult to learn. Let’s say you were inspired by the steady drip-drop of water making a growing hole in a hard rock and went off to learn Torah. After 24 years, you become one of the leading sages and attract 24,000 students.

Now, imagine that one of your most important teachings was to “love your fellow as yourself.” But despite that, all 24,000 students die in a plague because they went against your most fundamental teaching. You started out very late in life, you were finally successful in learning, and now, in your twilight years, the continuation of your lifework is gone. What would you do?

Thank G‑d, Rabbi Akiva (the hero of this story), lived with the motto: “It’s never too late.” He found five new students. These students (including Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, whose passing is celebrated this Thursday on Lag BaOmer) became some of the greatest sages of Israel, who ensured the continuance of Torah tradition.

We don’t need to wait until we’re 40 to study Torah. Yet even if we are already older, it’s simply never too late to start learning.

So what are we waiting for?

Yehuda Shurpin
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

Introducing SiteLinks!

May 16, 2016 10:19 PM

Have you ever been lost looking for something in the more than 100,000 articles, videos and audio files published on Chabad.org? That’s why we built and continue to refine a strong search tool.

In fact, we just improved it.

The result? A dozen major changes to our search engine. Among them is the introduction of Chabad.org's new SiteLinks feature. Instead of finding a seemingly endless list of articles on a given topic, searches on Chabad.org now feature key subcategories on a given search term.

What does this mean for you, the user?

Try searching Shabbat candles, for example. What comes up will be a digest of all major articles on the topic: "How to" Guides, Frequently Asked Questions, videos and more.

Simply put, the SiteLinks feature offers better access to the breadth and depth of 22 years of the Chabad.org knowledge base.

My Israel-Inspired Thought

May 10, 2016 9:50 PM

Dear Friend,

Having torn myself away from a beautiful Passover in Israel, I want to share a thought I brought back with me:

Israel is a microcosm of each of our lives and of our planet. Why? Because it’s not just a chunk of land. It’s the promised land. It’s unique, sacred earth.

This body that you’re in, this life you’ve been given—it’s your promised land. And this planet we dwell upon, these people we need to learn to live with—they are humanity’s promised land. The story of the Land of Israel and the Jewish people is meant as a model, a highlighted fractal of the whole.

Look at things this way, and everything changes. You stop kvetching and start finding solutions. And you value every moment. Because every moment is another footstep across sacred earth.

In my mind, this is the key to all solutions—this awareness that life has meaning, where you are is with purpose, and every moment is eternity.

Just my Israel-inspired thought. You’re the reader. Tell me yours.

Tzvi Freeman,
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

Jewish Mother’s Day?

May 3, 2016 4:33 PM

Dear Friend,

Mother’s Day is coming! Schoolchildren throughout the United States are designing greeting cards, retailers are advertising gifts, and restaurants are tallying up brunch reservations.

Interestingly, the second Sunday of May is also Rosh Chodesh—the day when the new crescent moon begins to appear in the sky. The connections between the moon and motherhood are many. Both follow a monthly cycle, both have their ups and downs, and both provide a soft and tender light that brightens up the darkest of nights.

In fact, did you know that Rosh Chodesh is often viewed as a mini-holiday just for women? So when you gather with family and friends to celebrate a special woman in your life, come prepared with some special texts or activities, and make it into a Rosh Chodesh celebration.

Happy Rosh Chodesh!

The Chabad.org Editorial Team

P.S.: How do you celebrate Rosh Chodesh? Please leave a comment and let us know.

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