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The Chabad.org Blog

Mazal Tov! Maimonides Has Gone Linear

June 28, 2016 2:55 PM

Chabad.org is excited to share a new take on the Mishneh Torah, the 12th-century compilation by Maimonides that covers all aspects of Jewish law. For the first time online, we’ve released a complete linear Hebrew-English translation of this classic work.

This new format features user-friendly layout, a fresh design and an easy-to-use linear format.

In addition to its wide appeal as the first codification of Jewish law of its kind, the Rambam’s seminal work on Jewish law is studied annually by Jewish communities around the world, many turning to Chabad.org’s daily study pages and apps each day to do so. Since 2009, a modern, accessible English translation has been available on Chabad.org, thanks to a partnership with the Moznaim publishing company.

Until now, however, the Hebrew and English texts were on separate pages, which made it cumbersome for those wishing to reference both languages at the same time.

With the linear format—made possible by a grant from Dr. Reuven and Pearl Rockford and family—both texts are now instantly accessible.

The new format is the result of a seven-month project that combined a custom-tailored rendering engine designed by Chabad.org developers and their UI team, working alongside content editors who spent hundreds of hours tagging and reformating the text to enable the automatic matching of the English to the Hebrew text.

Chabad.org’s new linear format is, of course, responsive and works on desktops, tablets and mobile devices, which has become the dominant consumer of daily study content.

And because the engine powering the translation is modular, other foundational Hebrew texts will also be slated for the linear layout.

A Daring Antarctic Rescue

June 28, 2016 1:56 PM

Absolute darkness, icy winds, and temperatures of -75°F (-60°C)… this is what a courageous Canadian air crew had to contend with on a daring medical rescue mission to the South Pole last week.

Antarctica is a lonely place in the winter. Only a handful of scientists, researchers and maintenance staff stick around to keep things running, and they are largely on their own. At the research station where the rescue took place, the sun set in March and won’t rise again until September. Storms and hurricane-force winds are commonplace, and temperatures can fluctuate wildly without warning, dipping well below -100°F (-84°C). This was only the third winter rescue ever attempted at the South Pole.

The evacuation was completed successfully, and the two sick workers have been transferred to a medical facility where they can receive the care they need to make a full recovery.

Sometimes, G‑d orchestrates things just so. This week we read about the spies’ negative report after visiting the Promised Land. They did not believe the Israelites would be able to conquer and settle it.

What they forgot to take into account was that G‑d had instructed Israel to enter the Land. And with G‑d’s help anything is possible.

Miraculous victories over strong, well-armed nations; a winter landing on the South Pole; or even world peace—our job is to try. The rest is up to Him.

Miriam Szokovski,
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

Brexit: Yea or Nay?

June 22, 2016 10:32 AM

Dear Friend,

Brexit is big news these days. In case you live with your head under a rock, Brexit is a big referendum on Thursday, when British voters will decide whether to leave the European Union.

While there is lively debate whether it would be wise for the UK to leave the EU, since I am not British I will keep my opinion to myself. However, it seems fairly clear that they would be allowed to back out, should they wish to. It was a union made for economic and political purposes, and a change in circumstance can very well render the union a burden rather than a boon.

And then there are unions that just don’t break up. Like the union of the Jewish people. We can disagree with each other. We can vex each other. We can do everything different from each other. It does not matter. We are one people, united by a common Torah and a common Father in Heaven.

You may like falafel, and the guy down the hall may like gefilte fish. You may go to synagogue twice daily, and the Jew across town many not have stepped foot in one since his bar mitzvah.

We are one people. Forever. No Jewxit for us, and thank G‑d for that!

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

The Ultimate Torah Reading App

June 8, 2016 3:01 PM

It’s been 3,000 years since Sinai, and Jews are changing how they learn to read the Torah with a technologically advanced “Torah Trainer” app.

Chabad.org’s “Torah Trainer” gives students of all ages and backgrounds the tools to read all 54 Torah portions, haftarahs, and the blessings recited before and after the readings.

Blending tradition from Sinai and modern technology, the “Torah Trainer” app—along with its sister app, the “Megillah Trainer”—guides students word by word through the Torah portion, aiding them in learning the proper pronunciation and cantillation.

The “Torah Trainer” can be used from a desktop computer, as well as on mobile devices.

Come, Connect

June 7, 2016 3:26 PM

Dear Friend,

Among the most enjoyable parts of working for Chabad.org’s “Ask the Rabbi” team is the opportunity to be in touch with people from all over the world—a businessman from Switzerland, a graduate student in the United Kingdom, a mom in South Dakota, a tech entrepreneur in India.

They come for various reasons, but ultimately, it comes down to the same thing: communication. Whether it’s a question about the intricacies of halachah, the meaning of a Torah verse or even a life decision, they’ve all turned to a channel of communication, and we’re more than happy to respond in kind.

We are approaching the holiday of Shavuot, when the Jewish people heard the Ten Commandments from G‑d. G‑d “spoke” to our ancestors, beginning a relationship that enables Jews for all future generations to interact with Him. Until that point the spiritual and material were separate, but that changed with G‑d descending on Mount Sinai to “speak” to us.

We relive (and recommit ourselves to) this super-deep experience every year, when we attend the reading of the Ten Commandments in the synagogue. Every Jew is encouraged to participate, especially young children, for they are the Jewish future.

Be there, and you may even get some ice cream and a slice of cheesecake. Not a bad deal.

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

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