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The Chabad.org Blog

To Capture the Soul

August 2, 2015

Dear Friend,

A great person is often difficult to characterize. We can describe the facets of their personality, their goodness, their strengths and their accomplishments. But all too often, their essential spirit eludes us.

This week marks 71 years since the passing of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, father of the Rebbe, of righteous memory. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was a halachist and Kabbalist of renown, who led the Jewish community of Yekaterinoslav-Dnipropetrovsk (Ukraine) through the difficult years of the demise of the Czarist empire and the Communist oppression that arose in its wake.

Much has been written, and has yet to be written, about Rabbi Levi Yitzchak (including my articles on his early life and career, his leadership in the Communist era, and his scholarly correspondence with his son).

But for a more transcendent glimpse of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s soul, I recommend that you read Start off on a High Note! by Mendel Rubin (no relation).

In describing the dramatic, joyous uplift of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s lively chassidic dance tune, Mendel captures the unique vigor of his personality. Even under the most oppressive conditions he celebrated his Judaism with remarkable boldness, hope and joy.

And even today, we can all emulate his spirit.

Eli Rubin,
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

P.S.: Over the past six months, we’ve experimented with using a new design style. Have you noticed the change? What do you think of the new style? Please share a comment. We really want your feedback. Thanks in advance.

The Editors

It’s Matchmaking Time!

July 26, 2015

Dear Friend,

“Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match . . .”

Judaism has many moments that may seem contradictory at first glance. Every year, in a span of less than a week, we are enjoined to be very sad and then very joyful.

On Sunday, we mourned the destruction of the Holy Temple by observing the fast of the 9th of Av. Then, on Friday, we will celebrate what the Talmud describes as one of the happiest days of the year, the 15th of Av.

There are several reasons for the celebration (you can read them here). One that has fascinated me is that on that day “the daughters of Jerusalem would go dance in the vineyards,” and it became a day of matchmaking.

The sadness we feel due to the destruction of the Holy Temple should not hinder us from living life, moving forward, growing in our connection to G‑d and helping others.

With the 15th of Av in mind, take a few moments to think about the people in your life who are still searching for their bashert, their intended. Perhaps you can do something to bring them together. Invite them to a Shabbat dinner at your house and let the matchmaking begin.

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

P.S.: Was there someone special who helped you find your life-partner? Please tell us.

Celebrating Fast Days?

July 19, 2015

Dear Friend,

This Saturday is the 9th of Av, the saddest day of the calendar. Yet, walk into a Jewish home, and you’ll find smiling faces surrounding a table set with wine, fish, meats, and other delicacies. How come? Because it’s also Shabbat, our weekly rendezvous with holiness. That night (see here for the exact time) we’ll transition from gladness to mourning, and fast until Sunday night. But for the duration of Shabbat we experience a reprieve from mourning, feasting instead of fasting.

Now, some may see this as a technicality. But a deeper look gives us an amazing insight into the nature of fast days—and all things negative.

The prophet Zechariah foretells that, in the time to come, fast days will become national holidays. Why? Because they are truly auspicious and special days. It’s just that the current crust of reality covers this divine truth, leaving us to experience only the negative.

But when the outer husks will be torn away, the inner sweetness in everything will pour forth.

On Shabbat, 9 Av, as we sip our wine and delight in the Sabbath, we get to taste this reality.

Let's hope and pray that even before the fast, Moshiach will come and this day will become a holiday, forever.

The Chabad.org Editorial Team

PS: How will you be observing this Shabbat and the day of mourning that follows? Please post a comment. We’d love to hear from you…

Getting Past the Past

July 12, 2015

I don’t like to live in the past. Why waste the precious now bemoaning what was when there’s so many opportunities for what could be?

Yet these three weeks are a period of mourning for the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, its destruction and the beginning of our exile.

So let’s get this straight: We’re not mourning the past. The past is happening right now, and we’re fixing it for the sake of the future.

Rabbi Chayim Yosef Dovid Azulai, a brilliant star of 18th century Jewry, wrote that every historical event of the Jewish People reoccurs each year at the same time—just not in a way that's within the range of our five senses. Which means that now we have the opportunity to correct the greatest calamities of Jewish history. And if we are given the opportunity, that means we are given the power as well.

Jerusalem was destroyed and our exile began due to senseless divisiveness. Let’s start by fixing that. Get together with other Jews. Where there’s been a falling-apart, fall back together. Where there’s been acrimony, make harmony.

And then, where there’s been destruction and exile, let there be rebuilding and regathering.

Tzvi Freeman

on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

PS: What are your thoughts? Are Jews preoccupied with the past? Or is that our way of dealing with the future? Let me know.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

July 6, 2015 10:53 AM

We’ve just entered a period of time known as the “Three Weeks,” when we mourn the destruction of our Holy Temples, our nation’s dispersion, and the suffering that has been our lot for much of the past 2,000 years.

In Hebrew this time is called Bein Hametzarim, which means “Between the Straits.” Visualize yourself squeezed between two cliffs, and you understand the name. As a nation, more often than not, we’ve been between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

But there is a positive message here as well. Sure, it takes effort to extract yourself from a pinch, but when you do, you’re likely to catapult forward, going farther and faster than if you’d not been pinched in the first place.

Yes, we are squeezed, and it sure isn’t comfortable, but we’re looking forward to the final push, when all our suffering and wandering will propel us to the greatest spiritual heights. May it happen soon.

The Chabad.org Editorial Team

P.S.: Have you ever felt squeezed by life circumstances, only to to transform the negative into a positive and come out stronger, healthier and happier than before? Please share your experience in the comments section. We’d love to be inspired by you.

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