The Chabad.org Blog

Something to Do Before the School Year

August 18, 2021 2:53 PM

Dear Parents,

As our children transition to the school year, it’s a good time to recall a transformative idea that the Rebbe introduced for all Jewish children 35 years ago, and one that is as relevant today as it was then.

In a letter addressed directly to “all Jewish children, everywhere,” the Rebbe called on all Jewish boys and girls to transform their rooms into a “home” for Torah, charity and good deeds, and thereby making it a holy space.

The Rebbe offered a very simple recipe: Have your child place in his or her room a prayer book from which to pray, a Torah book from which to study and a charity box with which to place some coins, and to use these daily (except for charity on Shabbat and Jewish festivals, when handing money is forbidden).

This simple formula empowers our children to dedicate their personal space for holy and good things, as well as a place where G‑d feels at home. Understandably, this will certainly have deep and long-lasting effects on our children, and by extension, the entire home.

To see the Rebbe’s letter, click here.

As the Jewish New Year approaches, please accept our wishes for a healthy, good and sweet 5782 for you and yours!

Chabad.org Kids

7 Easy Things You Can Do This Month to Prepare for the High Holidays

August 17, 2021 11:42 AM

It’s Elul, the last month of the Jewish year.

This special month is a time to look back at the old year and prepare for the new year!
Find out seven simple things you can do:

  1. The month of Elul is a chance to look inwards, reflect on how the year has gone until now and prepare spiritually for the High Holidays. Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of the Chabad movement, likens the month of Elul to a time when “the king is in the field” in contrast to the High Holidays when he is in the royal palace behind the royal guards. Right now, G‑d is accessible, calling out to us and “everyone who so desires is permitted (and able) to meet him, and he receives them all with a cheerful countenance, showing a smiling face to them all.”
    Learn more about the spiritual lessons of Elul.
  2. Each day of the month of Elul (except for Shabbat and the last day of Elul), we sound the shofar (ram’s horn) as a call to repentance. It’s like an alarm clock that awakens our soul.
    Explore 11 reasons we blow the shofar.
  3. When writing a letter or meeting one another, we bless one another by including the greeting Ketivah vachatimah tovah—“May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”
    You can learn more about all of the different High Holiday greetings.
  4. A little extra prayer is powerful now! Chapter 27 of the book of Psalms is added to the daily prayers, in the morning and afternoon.
    Find out why we say this special Psalm.
  5. The Baal Shem Tov instituted the custom of reciting three additional chapters of Psalms each day, from the first of Elul until Yom Kippur. (On Yom Kippur, the remaining 36 chapters are recited, thereby completing the entire book of Psalms.)
    You can see today’s chapters by going to our Daily Study portal.
  6. Elul is a great time to have one’s tefillin and mezuzot checked by an accredited scribe, to ensure that they are in good condition and fit for use.
    Read a personal story about a High Holiday mezuzah check.
  7. During the last week of Elul, in the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah, the Selichot prayers are recited. On the first night they are recited at midnight; on the following days, in the early morning. Many Sephardic Jews begin reciting Selichot at the beginning of the month.
    Find out why Selichot follows such an odd schedule.

May we all be inscribed and sealed for a good, sweet year!

Thank You, Asdfasdf!

August 12, 2021 3:23 PM

If you’ve learned how to type properly (I never did), you would know that when you have the fingers of your left hand in “basic position” and press the keys one at a time starting with your pinky, you’ll end up with asdf. Do it again and you get asdfasdf.

Why is this significant, you ask?

As a regular consumer of Chabad.org goodness, you may know that I have been writing a weekly quiz for the past several years. I am blessed to have a job (and colleagues) that I love, and writing quizzes (and other Jewish articles) is fun 99.9% of the time.

But I cannot deny that coming up with an idea for a new quiz each week requires a good deal of daydreaming, combined with a pinch of creativity—as does composing incorrect answers to each question.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone really cares if I do my job to the best of my ability or if I take a shortcut or two.

And that’s where asdfasdf comes into play. Every week, I enjoy seeing the variety of comments that come in on the quiz. People share their scores, encourage and congratulate each other, and sometimes quibble about the answers. Those of you who comment regularly have become a sort of community, each one using the quiz to bolster his or her Jewish knowledge and appreciation.

But one thing I can rely on is that someone who identifies simply as “asdfasdf” will comment. His/her comment has just four words: “Thank you, rabbi Posner!” (Yes, the “rabbi” is always lowercase.)

I do not know his/her real name, or what else he/she is interested in. He/she appreciates the quiz and I appreciate him/her.

And so I want to use this forum to thank him/her for the encouragement. Thank you, “asdfasdf,” and all the other kind commenters who express their appreciation for the work I do.

I love you too!

Wishing you a shanah tovah,


You Can Toot Your Own Horn!

August 12, 2021 12:25 PM
Art by Rivka Korf Studio
Art by Rivka Korf Studio

Is the Delta variant making it likely you will spend yet another Rosh Hashanah away from the synagogue? Not sure how you’ll hear the shofar?

Go ahead and learn how to do this mitzvah on your own:

Step one: Get a shofar. This article has great tips for choosing the perfect shofar, and here is a link to a secure online shop where you can make your purchase.

Step two: Learn how to blow it. With your shofar in hand, take our “sound and spirit” course where you will learn to sound it like a pro, print out the blessings, and practice singing them like a seasoned cantor.

Step three: Take to the streets. Now that you’re all set, make sure your fellow Jews are as well. Let people know when you’ll be blowing at your window, at a street corner, outside their home, or wherever you can safely congregate.

Wishing you, yours, and the entire world a shanah tovah, a year of health, security, prosperity and pure goodness!

It's Time for a Spiritual Check-Up!

August 6, 2021 12:24 PM
A scribe at work, checking a tefillin parchment (Photo: Eliyahu Parpya)
A scribe at work, checking a tefillin parchment (Photo: Eliyahu Parpya)

Monday, Aug. 9, marks the beginning of Elul, the 12th and final month in the Jewish calendar. The next month, Tishrei, begins with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. As such, Elul serves as a bridge, connecting the past year with the coming year. We use it as a chance to reflect on the past year and prepare for the High Holidays.
One important action to take during Elul is to have your mezuzahs and tefillin checked with a certified, experienced sofer (“scribe”), an expert in STaM: Sefer Torah, tefillin and mezuzah.

Even if you purchased them from a reputable source, it’s still important to have them checked periodically, as imperfections and flaws can develop over time. We sat down with some experienced sofrim to learn more about this practice

Creating a mezuzah is a complicated process. The parchment used must be fully processed hide from a kosher animal. It almost always is from a cow, but sheepskin or goatskin could be used. You can follow along the process of writing and mounting a mezuzah with this video:

Learn more about the important mitzvot of tefillin and mezuzah with these two videos!

Introducing ‘Our 613: The 613 Mitzvot Through the Eyes of Women’

August 1, 2021 11:37 AM

Dear Reader,

I’m Chana Weisberg, editor of TheJewishWoman.org and I want to let you know about an exciting new initiative that TheJewishWoman.org has undertaken.

Our 613: The 613 Mitzvot Through the Eyes of Women is a daily series of short videos on Sefer Hamitzvot, Maimonides’ Book of Mitzvahs, concisely explaining each of the 613 commandments. These short videos (about 3-5 minutes each) are taught by women in a relatable, relevant way from a personal perspective.

The Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—instituted a daily study cycle based on level, whereby the entire work of Maimonides is completed on a regular basis by every Jewish man, woman and child. The Rebbe explained that when we all study the same Torah subject on the same day, our learning is united across continents. This brings us closer to each other, contributing to Jewish unity.

You can find Our 613 on Chabad.org’s daily study page under the Daily Mitzvah. We have also set up a daily podcast. Subscribe to our RSS feed here.

We’re very excited about this initiative! Please join us in studying Our 613 daily with us! We’re sure you are going to learn a lot and love doing so!


Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW

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