The Chabad.org Blog

We Can Do Something

July 26, 2016 10:18 AM

Dear Friend,

It’s that time of year again: the Three Weeks, when we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temples in Jerusalem and the subsequent exile of our nation. But, as the chassidic masters write, “A single act is better than a thousand groans.” We can (and should) do more than just mope and sigh. The Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—was wont to suggest a two-part concrete course of action:

a. The Temples were destroyed and Jewish sovereignty was lost due to senseless infighting among our people. Reach out to others in kindness and love, and we’ll be one step closer to where we ought to be.

b. Even if the Temples no longer exist in our physical world, we can recreate them in the worlds of thought and speech. Learn about the layout, function and significance of the Holy Temple, and it’s all that much closer to becoming reality.

Let us hope and pray that if we all do our part, G‑d will determine that the time has finally come for suffering to end and for our people to be restored to our rightful home in Israel. Amen.

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

Shabbat Times: No Matter Where You Are in the World

July 25, 2016 4:27 PM

It’s summer, a time when people are on the road for one reason or another, and often away from home for Shabbat. Whether it’s on vacation, going to see the kids at camp or visiting family, knowing the shifting times for Shabbat candle-lighting can be tricky.

Enter the “Shabbat Times” mobile app. Available for both iOS and Android, the app offers easy access to Shabbat and holiday candle-lighting start and end times. Seamlessly interacting with the phone’s location, it automatically offers Shabbat times based on where a user happens to be.

A handy “how to” guide, complete with the blessings, is just a flick away. The app allows users to easily share candle-lighting times via text, email or social media with their friends and family.

The app also offers the weekly Torah portion, providing access to Chabad.org’s rich library of parshah content.

Since its debut, the “Shabbat Times” app has been installed on more than 150,000 devices and continues to attract new users each week.

Shabbat Times was made available free of charge by the generous partnership of Dovid and Malkie Smetana, Alan and Lori Zekelman, the Meromim Fund, and Moris and Lillian Tabacinic.

Introducing the 12-Step Program Toward a Better Life!

July 25, 2016 2:36 PM

Forty years ago, in the summer of 1976, the Rebbe launched his campaign to encourage Jewish education. The campaign included a novel idea: 12 passages culled from Scripture, rabbinic literature, and Chassidic teachings for children to learn, memorize and chant.

Known as the “Twelve Pesukim,” the passages have become a staple at holiday rallies, birthday parties and other children’s gatherings.

The Rebbe’s inspired view was that these passages together form the bedrock of Torah theology, especially relevant in today’s day and age. He maintained that it was very important to equip Jewish children with the spiritual strength needed to face the current challenges by ensuring that they internalized and memorize these 12 passages.

But what is the significance of these passages and why were they chosen? Join Rabbi Mendel Kaplan for an exciting 12-part video series as he explores each passage and uncovers layers of rich meaning behind these pithy statements. Along the way you will discover an incredible set of comprehensive responses to the pressing issues and challenges of this modern age couched in these 12 steps towards a better life.

The course begins on Tuesday with new classes being released every week.

You can view the first class here.

Feasting on a Fast Day

July 19, 2016 9:00 AM

Dear Friend,

This Shabbat is the 17th of Tammuz, a tragic day in Jewish history, and the start of a three-week period of mourning for the destruction of the first and second Holy Temples. The day is usually marked with fasting, repentance and prayers.

But don’t throw out the Shabbat food! This year, the joy of Shabbat will override the sorrows of the date, and the fast is postponed until Sunday. Rather than mourning, we’ll be celebrating with songs and happiness, and I’m even baking some extra treats for Shabbat.

How fitting that in this week’s Torah portion we read about Balaam, the prophet and sorcerer who was hired to curse the Jewish nation. The plot took a twist when, instead of curses, blessings poured out of his mouth. “The L‑rd, your G‑d, transformed the curse into a blessing for you, because the L‑rd, your G‑d, loves you.”

In the future, the prophet Zechariah tells us, the fast days will be times of “rejoicing and celebration and festivals.” This Shabbat, along with chocolate-chip-oatmeal cookies, we will experience a taste of the final redemption, when G‑d will permanently transform curses into blessings and sorrow into joy.

Let’s increase in acts of goodness and kindness, and pray that it happens soon.

Rochel Chein,
responder for Ask the Rabbi @ Chabad.org

On Being Pious

July 13, 2016 1:08 PM

Dear Readers,

Do you want to be pious (literally, a chassid)? The sages in the Talmud advised us to adopt three behaviors to attain this goal:

  1. Not to damage others (physically or otherwise).
  2. To live by the ethical teachings of our sages.
  3. To observe the laws of blessings (on food, etc.).

On the surface, their advice seems to be questionable, since not harming others and being careful about blessings are basic requirements of Jewish law, not something extraordinary or pious.

The Rebbe explains that the sages here are referring to going beyond the letter of the law in these matters. For example, avoiding even possible harm to another, or paying extra attention to the meaning of the words we say before eating.

I’ve also heard it explained that everyone is surely expected to have a basic fulfillment of these three requirements. However, your personality and life experience can direct you to excel in one of these, and make that your life’s mission.

This week my parents will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary, coinciding with their retirement and an “empty nest.” It’s a big moment of change, reflection and reality in our family. If anyone exemplifies the embodiment of these three traits, it would be them. My personal wish is that I can at least achieve one of them well.

Of course, Chabad.org offers great resources to get there, with our Talmud classes on laws of injuries, laws of blessings, and ethics!

The world needs more pious people—join the club today!

Moshe Rosenberg,
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

Marking 22 Years Since the Rebbe's Passing

July 5, 2016 3:02 PM

Dear Friend,

This coming Shabbat marks 22 years since the passing of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory.

Shortly after the passing of his father-in-law, the sixth Rebbe, the Rebbe remarked, “The sun is always shining. Even when it is night on one half of the globe, there is sunshine on the other. And even where it is dark, the brightness is present through the stars.

“In the same way,” the Rebbe concluded, “my saintly father-in-law is still present and radiant through the stars: the Jewish people.”

Throughout the decades of his leadership, the Rebbe touched the lives of many thousands. He taught, advised, encouraged, and brought meaning to people’s lives (read about the fascinating interactions between the Rebbe and Elie Wiesel, who passed away this week ). He loved everyone. He celebrated with them and mourned with them.

The Rebbe still continues to touch lives—but now it is through us. It is our duty to become the “stars” that convey the love that the Rebbe radiated.

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

P.S. In honor of this special day, please do an extra mitzvah, and encourage another to do the same. You can also send letters to be placed at the Ohel (the Rebbe’s resting place) by clicking here.

Summer Fun at Your Fingertips

July 5, 2016 1:45 PM

School’s out for summer. That means long road trips with the family, downtime between school and camp, and warm summer afternoons and light-filled evenings before bed. With all that time, parents everywhere are on the lookout for positive and educational ways to engage their children.

Enter the JewishKids.org video app. Iterating on the popular success of the Jewish.tv video app, the JewishKids.org app brings a world of Jewish educational video entertainment for kids and adults alike.

The app features a kid-friendly interface and the ability to remember where in the video the viewer left off.

The need for the finest “kosher” content for Jewish children is baked right into the app. As such, only material on Chabad.org specifically geared with children in mind is published to the app.

The JewishKids.org app is available on both Google Play and the iOS App Store, and brings a vast library of free video content for children and their families to enjoy.

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