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The Chabad.org Blog

On Anti-Semitism

August 29, 2014 9:45 AM

Dear Friend,

It’s not hard to find the relevance to current events of this week’s Torah portion. In Parshat Ki Teitzei, G‑d urges us to remember Amalek’s attack when we left Egypt—the very first act of anti-Semitism that we experienced as a nation.

Between boycotts of Israeli goods, anti-Israel protests throughout the world, hate crimes on the rise, and multiple condemnations by the UN, we are constantly reminded that anti-Semitism is alive and well. Yet there’s a silver lining, argues Rabbi Yossy Goldman in his article, Who Needs Anti-Semites? He contends that they “remind Jews that they are Jewish.”

Of course, xenophobia is evil, and has caused unfathomable suffering for our people over the years. But as Miriam Karp writes in On Prayer, a Stubborn Ego, Ammunition and Peace, “Hamas’s rockets have blasted more than buildings; they’ve blasted through the crust around my soul.”

This Elul, the month in which “I am to my Beloved and my Beloved is to me,” let’s reach into the deepest parts of our soul to connect to G‑d and our fellow man. Let’s become a stronger, united nation, one that does not need any external reminders to embrace its Jewishness.

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

Shaking Awake

August 25, 2014 2:58 PM

Dear Friend,

We are beginning the month of Elul, when we blow the shofar every day in anticipation of Rosh Hashanah. The shofar blasts serve as a wakeup call, reminding us that we will soon stand in judgement before G‑d as we crown Him King of the Universe.

This week, I spoke on the phone with Rabbi Elchonon Tenenbaum of Chabad of Napa Valley, who had just experienced a different kind of wakeup call: a 6.0-magnitude earthquake.

He told me how thankful he was that the quake had taken place in the middle of the night when everyone was in bed, not near the heavy bookcases that had tumbled over and smashed a solid wood table.

Even in the challenging times, G‑d’s hand is always there, guiding, steering, and supporting. During the month of Elul, G‑d leaves the palace, so to speak, and meets us in the fields, accessible to all. Now is the time for us to recognize His loving presence and reciprocate in kind.

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

Turns and Returns

August 18, 2014 4:07 PM

Dear Friends,

During the summer months we customarily study the tractate of the Mishnah known as Ethics of the Fathers, which is filled with insightful aphorisms and edifying instruction relating to all kinds of personal and social questions. A recurring theme, and the topic of this week’s chapter, is the study of Torah. “Turn over within it and turn over within it,” the Mishnah instructs, “for everything is in it.”

Why the double expression? Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson—father of the Rebbe, whose 70th yahrtzeit was this past Shabbat—explains that to turn Torah thoughts over in your mind is to engage in a two-way relationship with G‑d. On the one hand, you are drawing down divine wisdom from above. On the other hand, you are raising up your physical mind and surrounding environment to receive that wisdom. Thus, Torah study is a man-G‑d partnership.

Now, who wouldn’t want to become partners with the Creator? All you need to do is open a book, hop over to a class, or even open the computer. He is there waiting for you.

Now, that’s something to turn over in your head.

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

Marking 70 Years

August 13, 2014 3:49 PM

Dear Friend,

This Friday night and Shabbat day (Aug. 15–16), the 20th day of the Jewish month of Menachem Av, marks seventy years since the untimely passing of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, of righteous memory, father of the Rebbe, of righteous memory.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was considered one of the greatest Talmudic and Kabbalistic scholars of his generation. He served as the chief rabbi of the city of Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, during the bloody Bolshevik revolution and the subsequent Communist oppression. Despite terrible persecution directed at religious leaders in those days, he remained fearlessly defiant in strengthening Jewish learning and practice in his city and throughout the Soviet Union. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was eventually arrested, tortured, and subsequently banished to exile in a remote village in Kazakhstan. His spirit, however, was not extinguished, even while his body was broken and eventually gave way to his early passing.

His selfless efforts for Jews and Judaism even in the face of a sadistic superpower regime determined to leave no trace of them were later tenderly nurtured by his son and disciple, the Rebbe. The Rebbe conducted Soviet Jewry’s affairs clandestinely from afar, and eventually saw the decades of his father’s effort blossom into full bloom upon the fall of the Iron Curtain and the public resurgence of Jewish life there.

Soviet Jewry, however, is not alone in the debt of gratitude it owes to Rabbi Levi Yitzchak. His personal example, demonstrating how Judaism will survive against all odds and how we must adhere steadfastly and proudly to its ideals, serves as a shining beacon of inspiration for all of us today, and for all generations to come.

We are likewise collectively indebted to Rabbi Levi Yitzchak and his life’s partner, Rebbetzin Chana, of righteous memory, for giving us the Rebbe, whose application of their teachings and way of life to all the rest of us changed the very course of world Jewry.

In tribute to this great man, it would surely be appropriate to give some extra charity on Friday, before Shabbat, and to set aside time on Shabbat to study from his deep teachings and recommit ourselves to add in Torah and mitzvahs in his honor.

The Chabad.org Editorial Team

Longing for the End

August 11, 2014 10:48 AM

Dear Friend,

It seems the world is facing an unusual amount of conflict and turmoil. Russia and Ukraine are at war; both Syria and South Sudan continue to face ongoing internal violence; the US struggles with gun violence; Iraq is being terrorized by ISIS; Nigeria by Boko Haram; Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are battling the Ebola virus; the list goes on.

And then there’s our beloved Israel, described in this week’s Torah portion as a land flowing with milk and honey, blessed with the seven kinds, and constantly under G‑d’s watchful eye. Our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land are once more facing an ongoing barrage of rockets from Gaza.

This week we mark the 15th of Av, which the Talmud describes as one of the greatest festivals of the year. One of the events we mark on this day is that the dead of Betar—Jews killed by the Roman legions nearly two thousand years ago in a bloody massacre—were released for burial, bringing closure to a terrible period of our history. It is my fervent wish that the 15th of Av once again usher in news that these horrific conflicts all come to an end, in a world awash with peace and harmony—but this time forever.

Miriam Szokovski
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

We Are One!

August 1, 2014 8:33 AM

Dear Friend,

For the last several weeks, our hearts and minds have been on Israel. We’re glued to news reports as we are heartened by the victories of the IDF and mourn the loss of lives. We’ve been encouraged to pray and do mitzvahs in the honor of the brave troops, and we’ve responded to requests for basic supplies and toiletries, which have been happily delivered from around the world.

There has been an outpouring of love and support from Jews in Israel and abroad, a unique togetherness almost unheard of under normal circumstances. We are all Jews—brothers and sisters—and that’s what counts.

This great oneness of the Jewish people is especially germane at this time of year, when we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temples on Tisha B’Av. The Talmud says that the reason for the current exile is senseless hatred among our people. It follows, then, that the redemption and the rebuilding of the Temple will be caused by “senseless” love for our fellows, regardless of how different we are.

I think we are on the right track.

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

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