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The Chabad.org Blog

Marking 20 Years

June 27, 2014 10:39 AM

Dear Friend,

Editor's Note: After writing this note, we received the tragic news from Israel about the cold-blooded murder of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach.

Brokenheartedly, we pray that G‑d comfort their families among all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Brokenheartedly, we pray that G‑d comfort their families among all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

These last eighteen days witnessed an unprecedented outpouring of love, connection, compassion and caring among our brethren worldwide. Differences fell away as we united in our hopes for the boys and our efforts on their behalf.

Our determination now to transform adversity into growth must never falter as well. Our unity, our prayers, our actions, our mitzvot are needed now, more than ever.

* * *

We are currently marking the 3rd of Tammuz, the 20th anniversary of the passing of the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.

In Aramaic, an anniversary of passing is often called a hillula, which literally means “celebration.”

A celebration on the day of passing? The mystics explain that on the day a righteous person passes away, his Torah scholarship and good deeds are revealed in an elevated state, which makes this day a deeply meaningful and joyful one for all of his disciples.

And we are all disciples of the Rebbe.

If you are reading this e‑mail, your life has been influenced by the Rebbe’s teachings. If you’ve ever stepped into a Chabad center, you too have been touched by the Rebbe’s abounding love for every Jewish person. If you’ve visited our site (like 37 million others this past year alone), you’ve benefited from the Rebbe’s embrace of technology as a medium through which G‑d’s presence can be spread to all parts of earth.

If you think about it, the underlying factor of the Rebbe’s multifaceted leadership was his drive to transform our world into a place where G‑d will feel at home. So, let us commemorate the day of his yahrtzeit by continuing his mission, adding more mitzvahs and good deeds. Together, we can make his dream a reality.

Rabbi Mendy Kaminker,
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

Good Times . . .

June 20, 2014 4:31 PM

I love my job as staff editor and news journalist at Chabad.org. I really do. I get to read, write, and think about interesting things.

Even data entry is interesting when you are entering interesting data.

In the past few months some of us have slowly been adding chapters from Rabbi Yosef Eisen’s amazing book on Jewish history, Miraculous Journey, which takes the reader on a 700-page tour of Jewish history—from Creation to President Obama—all in one volume.

Adapting the book for web publication allows us to see the juicy tidbits he shares. For example, how could you not want to read about how in medieval Germany the synagogue attendant would knock on everyone’s windows to call them to synagogue as early as 4:30 AM, or that in the 11th century Shmuel ibn Nagrela caught the attention of the vizier (prime minister) of a Berber king, and ended up serving as vizier and general of the Granadan armies of the era?

Fascinating stuff . . . no? You can read more here and come back to check for new material as we add even more chapters.

Thank you, Rabbi Eisen, for making this material available!

A Vacation to Crown Heights

June 20, 2014 11:07 AM

Dear Friend,

It was the summer of 1983, and my parents wanted to take a vacation. But, as a bohemian couple living in Greenwich Village, they had few resources to spare. A friend who was then becoming interested in Judaism suggested they look at Crown Heights. The rent was affordable, and the tree-lined streets seemed rural compared with Manhattan.

That September, my father heard the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—blow the shofar in a packed 770. It was the first time he had heard a shofar. My parents’ stay in Crown Heights was the first step in a journey that led, eventually, to a fully observant life. Almost 20 years later, I completed the circle and returned to Crown Heights to attend seminary.

My family’s contact with the Rebbe was brief and indirect, yet his presence in our lives seemed to grow stronger as the years passed. Looking at the Jewish world today, I see that our experience was not unique.

Next Tuesday, the 3rd of Tammuz, will mark 20 years since the Rebbe’s passing. All over the world, communities will gather to study his teachings and celebrate his legacy.

Search our event directory for a gathering near you, or attend one of our three online gatherings, and you may well discover the Rebbe’s presence in your life.

Sarah Ogince,
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

Korach Exonerated

June 12, 2014 3:30 PM

Dear Friend,

When I was fourteen and my brother was turning thirteen, I volunteered to help write his bar mitzvah speech. And where did I turn for the most spiritual, accessible content? Chabad.org, of course.

The Torah portion of Korach seemed like a straightforward story: Korach, the arrogant, power-hungry rebel, demands that he become the high priest. G‑d puts an end to this rebellion, and Korach and his men are swallowed up by the earth. There are clear good guys (Moses and Aaron) and bad guys (Korach and co.).

But when perusing Chabad.org, I found several talks by the Rebbe that turned this story on its head. He suggested that on a deeper level we could view Korach as a passionate man who yearned for the Redemption, a time when all Jews would be elevated to the level of priests and would achieve a closer connection to G‑d. But Korach’s error was in his timing—as a people, we were not ready for Moshiach to come. And only through devotion to the Torah as taught by Moses can we achieve that level of oneness with G‑d in the future Redemption.

The Rebbe’s insight into Korach’s plight embodies the chassidic perspective—a perspective that inspired me then and continues to inspire me today.

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

Spying on Yourself

June 8, 2014

Dear Friend,

At least once a year they come to visit, the misguided spies who earned a place in Jewish history through the unfortunate events of this week’s Torah portion, Shelach.

They had been dispatched with clear instructions: Scout out the land, survey its topography and inhabitants, and bring back a report to Moses. And that is what they did—even bringing back fruit samples.

So why are they viewed negatively for bringing a disparaging report? Weren’t they just carrying out divinely sanctioned orders?

One approach is that the problem was not the actual report, but the conclusions that they drew from it. They were sent to convey what they saw—not to give a feasibility analysis on G‑d’s planned conquest. If G‑d promised to do it, it could be done.

We all encounter obstacles. When we throw in the towel, we’re following the spies. On the other hand, shutting our eyes and pretending the issues don’t exist doesn’t either work—wandering blindly, we’re bound to trip.

This week’s lesson is that we are to take note of the rough terrain, meeting our issues with eyes wide open. But the conclusion mustn’t be “I can’t.” Rather, “It’s going to be hard, a real challenge, but with G‑d’s help I can rise above it all.”

Mendy Kaminker,
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

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