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The Chabad.org Blog

My Most Memorable Simchat Torah. Ever.

September 30, 2015

Dear Friend,

On Simchat Torah, I usually put on comfortable shoes for hours of dancing and lively festivities. My most memorable Simchat Torah, though, was spent in a quiet hospital room. In the wee hours of the night, my husband softly sang a holiday tune and danced around the narrow space, our hours-old firstborn son gently cradled in his arms.

Simchat Torah marks the conclusion of the yearly Torah-reading cycle, and immediately afterward, the beginning of the new cycle. At this auspicious time, it seems appropriate to utilize every moment for marathon Torah-study sessions and inspiring classes. Why is it that we spend hours singing and dancing?

The chassidic masters explain that we dance with Torah scrolls rolled tightly closed, for the Torah belongs to every Jew equally, no matter one’s level of scholarship. We dance together as equals, learned scholar and newborn infant alike. The Torah is the priceless heritage of every Jew, and we all celebrate G‑d’s precious gift together.

This year, join a local Simchat Torah celebration, and rejoice in your inheritance. And then take a few minutes to become better acquainted with the Torah, at a local Torah class or (after the holiday) on chabad.org. It’s yours, after all. Embrace it!

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

P.S.: Do you have a favorite Simchat Torah memory? Please share it by leaving a comment.

Do You Have Time to Sin?

September 24, 2015

Dear Friend,

My eldest son just became bar mitzvah on Yom Kippur (by the way, this section was a great prep tool). What is remarkable was that he even needed to show up to synagogue. After all, he entered Yom Kippur with a clean slate—so why ask forgiveness?

The truth is, between Yom Kippur and Sukkot we all have clean slates. We’ve just been forgiven on Yom Kippur. And with all the Sukkot prep, our sages say we don’t even have time to sin! This is why Sukkot is referred to in the Torah as “the first day.” After the hustle of putting up our sukkah, gathering the ingredients for our lulav and etrog, and all other preparations for the holiday, it’s the first opportunity for us to stray.

But then we walk into our sukkah, humbled by nature’s impermanence and reliant on G‑d’s protection. Appreciating the bounty of the past year, and confident that we’re deserving of a blessed year to come. We now have the energy and faith to continue in the path of Torah and mitzvahs for the entire year. That is true happiness, a theme of Sukkot.

If you have not yet gotten busy, here’s the quick guide to get started.

Gotta go, lots to do!

Wishing you a joyous Sukkot!

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

What Yom Kippur Is All About

September 16, 2015 1:31 PM

Dear Friend,

As Yom Kippur approaches, it is a time to take account of our deeds and right any wrongs.

We have a chance to find those we may have offended (something that is all too easy in the digital era, when a sharp text, IM, or Tweet can be sent almost instantly to someone halfway across the world) and ask for forgiveness.

Yom Kippur, however, is more than just a day for repentance. After Selichot, Rosh Hashanah and the 10 Days of Repentance, one may wonder: what more is there to do? Have not all the words been said and all the apologies before man and G‑d been made?

Yom Kippur allows us delve deeper into our very essence. Each of the five prayers of the 25 hours of Yom Kippur allows us to dig deeper into our character. Like the layers of an onion, we can peel back one level to reveal another. Until, during the Neilah prayer, we stand alone before the Almighty G‑d. All layers have been removed and our essence stands bare, in the ecstatic union with the essence of the Creator.

We are one and our Creator is one.

One day, one people, one essence.

May we all be sealed for a year of sweetness and revealed good in all matters,

Mordechai Lightstone,
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

Thoughts for the New Year

September 8, 2015 3:07 PM

Dear Friend,

It seems the world has been facing an unusual amount of turmoil. The Russia-Ukraine conflict continues, Venezuela and Greece are in the midst of ongoing crises, the US struggles with unrest, refugees from the Middle East are desperately clamoring for safety in Europe, and as always, Israel’s existence is threatened. And this is but a small sampling of the suffering in the world.

And then there are people in our own lives who are suffering, too—the children who have no one to take them to synagogue, the single parent who works three jobs and still struggles with the basics, the family who has a sick child in and out of hospital . . . and the many people who simply drift along, lost and disenfranchised.

As a nation that has consistently faced immense persecution and suffering throughout history, we are in a unique position to understand, empathize with and support those less fortunate.

With Rosh Hashanah almost upon us, G‑d is more available than ever, and it’s up to us to ask Him for what we need. On Rosh Hashanah He decides what will happen over the coming year, and our prayers can influence those decisions. With heartfelt, meaningful prayer, coupled with real, practical assistance, surely we can make a difference, and usher in a year of peace and blessing.

May 5776 bring the end of all suffering. Amen.

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

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