Getting to know G-d, really.

And the living take to heart – a lesson of humble unity and personal focus from the events of Lag Ba’Omer 5781

By the Grace of G-d


And the living take to heart – a lesson of humble unity and personal focus from the events of Lag Ba’Omer of last year



·      We cannot understand, yet we cannot ignore

·      The first Hilula celebration, a Striking parallel

·      Reb Hamnuna Sabba, Like a fish in the sea

·      An Essential focus - an intimate, eternal, relationship

·      Passing on vs Elevating

·      Humility, a portal to the Infinite

·      And the living shall take to heart – a take home lesson


We cannot understand, yet we cannot ignore

The happiest of days.

Lag Ba’Omer, the culmination of Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai’s life’s work is celebrated each year like a wedding. In fact, the analogy to a wedding is robust, with Rabbi Shimon’s entire weltanschauung being the loving, intimate, unity between G-d and the Jewish people.

It is beyond rational comprehension how last year at this exhibition of exultation in the relationship between man and our Creator, forty five souls, forty five entire worlds, were taken from us.

45 years ago, in the summer of 1976 the entire land of Israel and Jews around the world sat at the edge of their seats. An airplane carrying 100 Jews was hijacked and all of the non-Jewish people on board were released into freedom.

The Israeli military campaign and the subsequent miraculous victory are the stuff of history books but yet, there were days of tension and fear, and most of all the three human lives - three entire worlds - were lost.

With the blessing of audio recording we can take ourselves back to this time and listen to the Lubavitcher Rebbe describing the great miracles and offering thanks to G-d. At the same time, we hear the Rebbe teaching to not miss the opportunity to learn from the distress, and especially the loss of life involved.

What strikes me in those dialogs is the Rebbe’s approach. On one hand, G-d forbid for us to think that we understand the ways of G-d, but even more detrimental would be, on the other hand, to assume for a moment that it's just random.

With that in mind we look at what we can learn about the holiday of Lag Ba’Omar.

In the days, and the daze, after the events of last year, messages circulated on social media regarding a message in the Zohar that had uncanny parallels to the events in Meron. For every message suggesting a link, there were two that insisted that it was completely irrelevant.

The blessing of years spent being gifted the Rebbe’s perspective on life, G-d, Torah, and Judaism helped navigate the conflicting messages. My ears rung with the Rebbe’s adamant negation of attempting to invent lessons in pnimius, inner, parts of the Torah, while at the same time insisting in every situation to walk away with a compelling life lesson.

A lesson struck me one day. I was listening to the Rebbe speak about the Temple, and how it is engrained as a permanent edifice between us and G-d.

As a prooftext, the Rebbe began to teach the aforementioned Zohar.

I remember the feeling, on one hand not getting any more clarity of G-d’s inner plans, but at the same time being given a tease, a glimpse, that there is something deep here, that the events of Lag Ba’Omer in Meron represented something beyond what we can see.

In the process of working to share this, many more details came to light. The fact that this same prooftext is also the validation of our sole ownership of the Torah, the fact that the message from the story in the Zohar seems identical to a lesson we learn from Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai, and more.

I don’t feel that these words will bring clarity for things beyond our understanding. However, I hope to share the feeling that I felt when I first heard this lesson. That somehow our eternal, intimate, immovable bond with the Creator is in some way illuminated within the incomprehensible events of last year.


The first Hilula celebration, a Striking parallel

In the Zohar in Parshas Nasso, it describes a different Lag Ba’Omar celebration. This is going back 1800 years to the very first Lag Ba’Omer.

During that original celebration there was one noticeable absence. Eliyahu Hanavi, Elijah the Prophet, did not show up. Rabbi Shimon, who had specifically requested that everybody participate in this joyous occasion, asked him why he was missing?

He responded that he could not come because G-d had sent him on a mission. Rabbi Hamnuna Sabba was captured by the king and held with his colleagues for three days without eating or drinking.

Eliyahu had been sent to free them and he miraculously broke a wall, freeing Reb Hamnuna and his friends. He then brought them to a cave, gave them bread and water, and stayed with them all day.

What's shocking about the story is a remarkable detail that the Zohar includes. The Torah in general, and the Zohar in particular, is a work where no word or letter is extra, no meaning or number is without deep interpretation. In this story it says that in the process of freeing Reb Hamnuna, forty five officers died – the exact number of souls elevated at the exact same celebration, approximately eighteen hundred years apart.



Reb Hamnuna Sabba, Like a fish in the sea

Who was Reb Hamnuna Saba, the Sage that was freed from imprisonment via the incident where those lives were lost?

There is a fascinating discussion between Rabbi Dovber the Son of the first Chabad Rebbe, and Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak asked him to explain the seven blessing of the wedding. Hearing the explanation, he said in awe that the explanation he gave was an explanation expressed in the revelation of the first set of tablets!

What is described explaining this incident is that the son of the Altar Rebbe, his soul was a spark of Reb Hamnuna Saba - the Rabbi that Eliyahu was sent to free during the celebration of Rabbi Shimon.

The name “Hamnuna” is derived from creations that are “nunei yama” dwellers of the sea. Rav Hamnuna, and by extension the Mitteler Rebbe, saw G-dliness in the world the way that fish see water: As a constant, visible, reality, everywhere.

In fact, a custom of Reb Hamnuna was to pray for his sustenance, not just on rosh Hashanah, but every day – a constant awareness that the world is an active, miraculous, creation by G-d.


An Essential focus, an intimate, eternal, relationship

What is the lesson within the story the Zohar relates?

There are at least two times that this rescue story is used to validate essential elements that are deep-rooted in the core of the Jewish people.

The temple in Jerusalem is a permanent edifice between us and the Creator. Once the Temple was built, it was no longer permitted to bring offerings in any other location as an expression of our intimate relationship with the Creator. This exclusivity indicates that this home is not simply an ideal location, but an essential structure which cannot be replicated or moved.

We find this idea of immobility to our favor in another discussion.

When G-d gave us the Torah, the Angels claimed it for themselves. In the ensuing debate Moses succeeded to obtain the Torah for us where it now defines who and what we are.

But why did it have to be that way? Why couldn't G-d simply divide it and allow both us and the angels to have it?

We can ask the same question with the Temple. Why does the Temple need to be permanently centered in Jerusalem? After it was destroyed, why couldn't we simply move it to Brooklyn?

The answer to both of those questions, both of them core to our nation and to our relationship with the Creator, is answered through this very story, the rescue by Eliyahu of Reb Hamnuna Sabba during the celebration of Rabbi Shimon Ben Yocahi, involving the passing of the forty five officers.

If we look at the story again, it begs explanation. Eliyahu's justification for not being at Rabbi Shimon’s celebration has a deep inherent flaw: how could he claim to be missing because he was saving Reb Hamnuna's life, when we know that he joins us all at our Seder, and participates at every circumcision - despite the fact that countless are happening at any given moment?

Why could he not simply save Rabbi Hamnuna’s life and also attend the party?

The answer to this question, and because of that, this story, is a groundwork to our permanent home in the Temple and our sole ownership of the Torah.

The reason given is because while Eliyahu can spiritually attend many Seders at once with a spark of his Holiness being at each, and while he can do the same at a circumcision, when it came to saving the life of Reb Hamnuna that was not an option. To save a life he needed to be present with his entire essence in attendance. The Essence cannot be in two places at once.

From this seemingly anecdotal story, showing how Eliyahu could not be both saving Rav Hamnuna’s life and also with Rabbi Shimon, we learn an entirely different level of our bond with the Creator. We learn of a connection that gives validation to our sole ownership of the Torah – an Essential connection with the Creator which cannot be in two places at once, and our permanent home in the temple which is similarly immovable.


Passing on vs Elevating

As we look into these details in the Zohar and perhaps draw a parallel to a story involving the passing of a human soul grasping for meaning, we find a story that puts our view of life and purpose into focus.

The holy Bais Yosef is the author of the Shulchan Oruch. Literally translated as “the set table”. The Beis Yosef collected the instruction to Moses on Mount Sinai which had been distilled and expounded on in oceans of volumes, and prepared it for us in handy, organized manual.

Yet the Beis Yosef lamented the fact that he had once lost out on being able to sacrifice his life - decades before he went on to write his magnum opus.

We have no idea what it means for someone’s life to be elevated as part of G-d’s infinite plan, but we see from the Beis Yosef’s priorities in this late-in-life self-evaluation  that it supersedes the highest form of Torah, the application of practical law.


Humility, a portal to the Infinite

Even the number mentioned in the Zohar and etched in our minds seems to have a lesson for us.

The Zohar describes how when the world needed rain, Rabbi Shimon taught a verse, ps. 133:1: Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers also to dwell together. Henei mah tov umah no’im sheves achim gam yochad.

Chassidus teaches that this verse expresses how when opposites unite, we elicit G-dliness from on high.

The word ‘mah’ included in the verse is parallel to the seminal intellect of ‘chochmah’ – which itself includes the word mah. Chochmah’s unity with the other sefiros is what draws G-d into the world, in this case causing rain and growth.

In other areas in Chassidus it explains that ‘mah’, meaning ‘what?’ represents the humility necessary to open ourselves up to a completely new idea.

The world ‘mah’, our portal to internalizing previously untapped elements from our infinite Soul, or from the Infinite in general, when written in Hebrew, has the numerical equivalent of forty five.


An the living take to heart – a take home lesson

We yearn for the clarity of hearing the Rebbe illuminate a direct take home lesson. However, in an effort to utilize all of the above to help us increase in our relationship to HaShem, there are some ideas that come to mind.

One lesson always primary on the day of Lag Ba’omer is unity. The number forty five as found in the verse celebrated on Lag Ba’omer is found in the word mah, implying humility. Specifically, relating to how the opposites, chochmah and bina unite.

Perhaps one lesson might be, to make every effort to achieve the sort of humility that allows us to not just tolerate others, but to truly partner with, and be productive with, people who approach life with a completely different perspective.

There is another lesson that seems to dovetail with the story we discussed here, perfectly.

The Rebbe teaches is how by Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai, Torah was his whole life. The Rebbe says that although we may not be of Rabbi Shimon’s stature, we can learn from him and imitate this manner of learning.

How can we do this? In another captivating tie-in to the rescue mission, the Rebbe tells us that the way we can imitate Rabbi Shimon, is, as Eliyahu exemplified during the rescue mission, with focus.

And then the Rebbe gives a practical idea – when you are learning, don’t pick up the phone.

This possible take home lesson from Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai seems to be the very message inherent in this story. What kept Eliyahu Hanavi from celebrating with Rabbi Shimon, and what became our claim to sole ownership of the Torah, and the permanence of the holiness of the Temple all boil down to one thing:


When we are with our kids, when we are learning in our home, the home should know and feel that the world, and the phone, don’t exist to us – focus.

With blessing for the immediate redemption.



Did G-d leave the mic on?

We are all too familiar with the awkward situation. A speaker, politician or public figure is somehow seen in their unguarded persona.  In some instances it is humorous, in others embarrassing – but in this Torah portion, it seems to go beyond that.

G-d, the creator who needs absolutely nothing, and who’s only purpose for our existence would seem to be love, uses language that is hard to read. To an outside observer, it sounds frightening. Our goal is to uncover what’s inside.  


A thought for match day 5775

Dear friends.

Tamar and I wish for and anticipate each of you matching in the very best program which you will not only love, but which will also accord you the fullest respect and bring out your full potential.

It is a true privilege to work here with all of you and it is humbling to see your dedication, selflessness and your passion to make a difference in the lives of others.

There is a lesson in this week’s Torah portion which seems to express your collective character, especially as it is seen on match day. Many assume that the offerings on the alter in the holy temple were a gift or a sacrifice - give something away to show devotion. The greater the item, the greater the sacrifice, the nobler the gift the deeper the impact. The Talmud, elucidating a verse read this week, seems to differ. The Talmud, explaining the implication of a seemingly redundant word: “offering”, teaches us that the ‘accessory’ offerings; wine, flour and oil may also be given as a stand-alone offering. Interestingly, the Talmud also adds in the list of possible stand-alone offerings: wood. 

This is strange. Wood certainly has its place on the altar, but we do not find it listed elsewhere as a part of another offering. The reasoning to deduce that oil, wine or flour could be brought on their own is clear, but what logic did the Talmud employ to understand that wood is also an option?

Each item on the alter had a title, a role, a distinction – except the wood. The wood was entirely consumed in the flames and entirely, only, to impact others. Its role consisted of facilitating the offerings heaped above it. Had the Talmud seen the offering as a gift, as an element of prestige, the wood would have no place. As a facilitator of our expression of humility however, wood is the ultimate.

There are some that see medicine as a career - the greater the title the more successful the bearer, the larger the office the grander the prestige.

You all believe otherwise and match day is the best example of that. Today you stand as the ultimate doctor. Today you show and feel that it’s not who you are, where you live, and for many not even what you do, but simply that you are ready to serve.

Tamar and I have seen as you personify the wood in its role on the altar. You give your all, not for a title, credit or even for yourselves. This is the essence of a doctor and we hope that long after you settle in the role and the career that you will ultimately lead, that you will remember this feeling and always let this ideal show.

With warmth and affection,

Zalman and Tamar Teitelbaum

Superbowl life

A man was surprised to see an empty seat at the superbowl. He noticed a woman sitting next to the empty seat and made a remark about it to her. She looked at it tearfully and said, "Well, it was my husband's",  "But he died." "Oh my gosh!" He said. "I'm sorry for your loss, but I'm surprised that another friend or family member didn't jump at the chance to take the ticket." "I know", she said. "They all insisted on going to the funeral."

I wish I could say that this story is a joke but the reality is, that it would be better described as an exaggeration. In fact, this phenomenon is something that we, without realizing, use to determine a significant majority of our Schedule and priorities.

Let me ask you; what time to you eat dinner? What do you eat for breakfast? Which website do you go to for news? Now let’s try an experiment: what if you moved dinner a half hour later? Ate chicken for breakfast? Switch which news section you read first? …Feels uncomfortable? Why?
Let’s ask ourselves, if we are rational people, how much of our day/work/priorities/schedule are based on rational logic? Actually, very little. Why? Why do we sit for hours and watch grown adults play ball? Why does our coffee always reach the very top of the cup and all other drinks we stop a ¼ inch down? If “we think, therefore we are”, shouldn’t we think therefore we do?
Yes, and therefore we don’t.
We don’t exist because we think. How do we exist, why do we exist?
While we wait for the patriots to come up with an explanation for the deflated footballs and for science to come up with the ingredients that predated and caused the big bang, let’s try another way.
Think of a house. Now stop thinking of it. Now think of it again. Which ingredients is this house, which you just made and un-made, made of? How long did it take to make? Nothing and none. What is this universe made of, how is it here? – nothing,,, and I’ll explain.
Imagine if on superbowl Sunday, you took the 22 football players and instead of pitting them against each other, you brought them to a huge area or the desert and challenged them to see what they could do. These are the fastest, strongest, farthest-throwing players and in the same 60 minutes of play they could go miles! Making throws that would break records! - - - and it would all be watched by about 3 people on a three am sports special... who would be interested?
now, take the same players and put them against each other; each amazing qb has vicious tacklers charging at him, each player has defenders blocking him - and now, an entire country shuts everything down and sits at the end of its seat, so excited..
So why is the universe here? There is only one thing in existence that has opposition, challenge suspense - the human being. all of creation is our ball park, we are the players, our challenges (inside and out) are what make it real - and HaShem, the Creator, thinks all of reality into existence just to sit on the edge of Its seat watching every play...
So now let’s ask ourselves, Is this rational? What is the priority ratio between drinking a coffee and giving a poor person a dollar? If we realize that we have an audience, that the creator of the universe sits in suspense, feeling fulfilled – thrilled! by each good choice – what choice will we have?
And so, G-d selected the human species and set our mind’s eye to “opaque”. Why do we eat chocolate chip cookies with milk? Why does pasta seem different just because it’s thick or thin or straight or round? Because.
The human experience is mired in thoughtless routine, not because we are unimportant, but the opposite: because our suitor is mind-blowing.
So what do we do? How do we act, how do we relate? What is the latte we can prepare for G-d, the flowers we can offer that will not give him anything, but connect us?  
Let’s go crazy.
Not too crazy… just out of the box. Ask yourself, what if I ate chicken for breakfast? What if I, one minute to half time, walked out?!!! What if I gave that time to G-d? -Called a relative [one who is not into sports, otherwise it would be cruelty!]. What if I said Shema then?
Think of the effort we would make to be on time for kick off, now, transplant that to Shabbat services. Think of what we would ignore in the final seconds of a decisive game – and act the same way with our kids, with our spouse, with our Torah learning.
Our audience is the Creator, our greatest fan. Our task may be a tiny inch: did I say thank you, did I pay the extra .25 for the OU kosher symbol product, did I say shema, did I smile? – but the touchdown, the real touchdown, bringing G-d down here, on earth with us, in our lives, is the score that we, our parents, our ancestors have been scrimmaging for, for all of history.


 Number 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, New York, known to thousands as
simply "770", is home to Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters. The building
houses dozens of offices, a study-hall, and of course a large synagogue. It
is the place where Rebbe gave his talks and farbrengens and handed out
dollars. From 770, the Rebbe sent out his emissaries, building the largest
spiritual army in history which today covers a large portion of the globe.
Simply put, 770 is the hub of Chabad.

After studying in Israel for a few years, in the year 2000 I headed to
Brooklyn to study in 770. I vividly recall one evening in particular. The
dormitory where I had been staying temporarily was overcrowded, my friend's
basement apartment was full, and the apartment I would be moving to in a
few days was not yet ready. So what did I do? I went to 770, which is open
and occupied 24 hours a day, pushed a couple of benches together, and went
to sleep. I felt safe. I felt at home.

More than a building or a synagogue, 770 is a magnet, a compass, drawing
people in. I studied in 770 for about 8 years. I spent hundreds of hours
poring over holy texts; hashing out Talmudic debates. I spent many a night
in that study hall, deep in Chassidic discussion, often till the wee hours
of the morning. This is the place I could forget about the rest of the
world and meditate for hours about the greatness of G-d.

Whenever I come to Crown Heights I make a point of bringing my kids into
770 because 770 is such a holy place. It is my spiritual home.

But two days ago, the safety and security we've always felt in our home
away from home, 770, was brutally shattered when a knife-wielding man
violently stabbed 22-year-old Israeli student Levi Rosenblatt* in the neck.
Thank G-d, Levi is recovering and will be ok, but to have a horrific attack
like this in 770 is unimaginable. Understandably, we are all reeling.

Clearly, the spiritual forces of darkness are waging war, desperately
trying to subdue us.

But this week in particular we celebrate the triumph of Chassidism and
light over those who sought to destroy it. The 19th of Kislev is known as
the Rosh Hashanah of Chassidism. On this day, the founder of the Chabad
movement, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, was released from prison (where he
had been imprisoned due to false accusations) and allowed to continue
spreading his teachings. When he returned home, he explained that his
release from prison was not only a personal victory, but a spiritual one as
well. In the heavenly realms, the forces of evil were trying to prevent the
dissemination of Chassidism, and the Rebbe's physical release from prison
represented the victory of holiness, purity and light over darkness.

Today, we stand on the cusp of redemption, ready for Moshiach, and so once
more we battle the evil forces that would like nothing better than to see
us fail. But we cannot be subdued. As we celebrate the 19th of Kislev this
week, and Chanukah next week, we will continue to add light, love, kindness
and generosity to the world, until we manage to vanquish the darkness

*Please continue to pray for Levi Yitzchak ben Raizel. May he have a full
and speedy recovery

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Uriel Vigler

True leadership

 Imagine a true leader. Now ask yourself, what would be an offer he can't refuse? 2:11

A heartfelt thanks and a thought for Thanksgiving

 A heartfelt thanks and a thought for Thanksgiving

As many of you know, each Chabad center – including Chabad at Einstein – is entirely dependent on its own specific supporters. I would like to express deep profound gratitude to all those who care and give to provide so much for the students at Einstein.

Every social event, each serving over a hundred students from every part of the Jewish spectrum, each class, with questions and intrigue from all angles of Jewish thought and every Shabbat meal, each representing the beauty and diversity of our colorful nation – all are an expression of the heartfelt generosity of our caring supporters.

On behalf of the countless students who have been fed, who have met friends – or a spouse!, have had questions answered or just enjoyed the atmosphere, Thank you. May HaShem repay your kindness and your generosity many times over with health, success, happiness and everything that you wish for.

This week we learn of Jacob’s ladder bridging the gap between heaven and earth. This gap is not a journey of distance, the divide is much greater: earth is a paradigm where each element is separate from each other; space, time and opinion give each earthly being its own realm. Heaven on the other hand is the abode of one G-d, where everything is inseparable and undivided.

Jacob’s ladder represents prayer, the vehicle that we have to leave our earthly confines which separate us from each other, and therefore distance us from G-d, and to express oneness - to become close to G-d. What is the first rung? What is the very first prayer uttered each morning? “Thank you”. Modeh Ani. To become close to G-d, to leave our petty shells, the first step is to humbly recognize that we are not G-d. We did not create ourselves. Everything that we have, even our very selves, is a gift, and for that we offer thanks.


The Black-Hatted Army

By: Elisha Greenbaum, Hampton East, VIC, Australia 

The Black-Hatted Army

I'm sitting on a plane, having just left New York and contemplating the
prospect of 28 more hours of travel until I can get home and get back to my
real purpose - *shlichus.*

At risk of sounding pretentious, this *Kinus* - International Shluchim
Convention - has really crystallised for me what my purpose in life should
be and why I should do that which I should be doing.

It is only when you get to the Kinus that you realise the sheer variety of
personality types who have enlisted in the Rebbe's army. I love sitting
down to a meal, a bus to the workshops, or at a late night *farbrengen* and
introducing myself to the *shliach* sitting next to me. You meet people who
are really accomplishing revolutions in their cities. Young Rabbis who
showed up in a town with no previous Jewish infrastructure and within a few
short years they've been blessed to have opened a shul, school and a dozen
other institutions, often staffed by other Shluchim who they've attracted
to the city.

You also meet Shluchim who haven't enjoyed nearly the same apparent level
of success; Shluchim who struggle for a minyan, Shluchim who struggle to
put food on their table to feed their own families, lonely Shluchim,
Shluchim with ill children, Shluchim with outrageous mortgages driving them
old before their time.

But they're all Shluchim and they all serve the same cause.

I sat on the bus next to an Argentinean Shliach who'd abandoned his
previous professional career to open a shop-front synagogue in a decaying
neighbourhood, just because he wanted to challenge himself to leave his
comfort zone and do something for G-d and the Rebbe.

I chatted to an old friend of mine, a Shliach with 9 kids, who wakes up
every day wondering how he'll meet his school-fee obligations but somehow
overcomes his anxieties and goes to spend every waking hour smiling at
senior citizens and teaching Torah to the town.

I had the privilege to meet a distinguished Shliach, head Chabad Rabbi of a
major Israeli city, who devoted an hour he could have used sleeping or
learning to giving me advice and generously sharing his memories of my late
father-in-law, of whom he was a childhood friend.

A French Shliach described to me his life in the outskirts of Paris, where
rioting Muslims youths periodically torch his car and an Ukrainian Shliach
at one of the sessions described the last few months of attempting to
shelter his community in the middle of a war zone.

There are fat Shluchim and skinny Shluchim, tall Shluchim and short
Shluchim. Sephardi, Ashkenazi, and Yemenite Shluchim. Shluchim who have
only been religious for a few years and others who were sacrificing
themselves back in pre-WW2 Russia. Introverted Shluchim and incredibly
extroverted ones, Shluchim in wheelchairs and others who run marathons to
inspire their campus students. Shluchim who minister to pre-school
children, others who deal with geriatrics and yet others who reach out to
every demographic and interest group in between. Some Shluchim fundraise,
others preach to thousands every week from the pulpits of fancy Synagogues
while other Shluchim have accepted the mission to teach the 7 Noahide laws
to non-Jews.

It is a blessing and a privilege to be counted among them and an
inspiration to have spent time with them this past week.


Living in suburban Melbourne one tends to lose sight of the size of the
army in which one is enrolled. We each have our own comfortable life; our
families, our congregants and our self-imposed daily to-do list to work
through. However it is only when we periodically leave home to congregate
together with our brother Shluchim that we are reminded how, in reality, we
are part of something so much bigger than ourselves.

If I wanted to get evocative, I might suggest that we're like a marching
army of black-clad worker ants; an endless wave of individuals, each only
tasked with carrying a tiny crumb of goodness and accomplishment back to
the nest, but whose combined efforts will ultimately bring Moshiach.

In Kabbalistic teachings they use an analogy of a sun-ray, when traced back
to its source in the sun. While in our own individual pods, we feel all
bright and accomplished, shining light into our own particular corner of
the world and basking in our own warmth. However, when we get to the Kinus
and are re-enveloped in happy anonymity in the company of thousands of
others just like us, we are reminded again that we are merely rays of the
Rebbe's personality, sent forward to share the light of G-d's teaching with
the world.

We read in the Torah this week how Yaakov, on his journey from Israel to
Choron, dreamt of a ladder whose base was lodged on earth, while its top
rung reached up to heaven. Angels of G-d were climbing that ladder, while
others descended to take their place.

The sages explain that angels of Hashem accompany us on every step we take
in this world. At each stage of life a different angel steps forward to
play his part in our destiny. As Yaakov left his home and birthplace, one
group of angels left him, only to be replaced by another group who would
protect him on his next journey to the new world.

Just like G-d sends his angels to serve us, so too the Rebbe enlisted an
army of messengers to travel to cities and suburbs throughout the world to
serve the local people. It was the Rebbe's vision that wherever a Jew may
be, at whichever stage of life he is to be found, there will be a Shliach
there to help him or her transverse that stage.

Whether in the vacation spots of Europe or the slums of Morocco, teaching
Barmitzvah lessons in West Africa or operating burial societies in the
former Soviet Union, as we travel from one country to another and as we
pass through every event of our life-cycle, the Rebbe's angels are there,
building the local infrastructure and devoting themselves to our needs.


Thus far, everything I have written reads like the usual advertorial one
tends to write on the plane to justify to your congregants why you
abandoned them for a week. However, let me share with you the greatest
inspiration of all the experiences that I enjoyed over the past 7 days.

On Friday morning <x-apple-data-detectors://2>, all the Shluchim travelled
as a group to the *Ohel -* the Rebbe's Resting Place.
is a special moment. We learn Torah, sing together songs that the Rebbe
taught us and prayers are recited for the safety and success of the
Shluchim, their families and their congregations.

I got there a bit before the program started, so I davened with a quick
minyan and then sat down with a cup of tea to learn some Torah while

I honestly couldn't learn a word.

Sitting opposite to me, across a narrow table in the room outside the
*Ohel,* was a Shliach in the middle of his prayers.

He wasn't just saying words; he was Davening with every fibre of his being.

He wasn't singing, but soft music was pouring out of him.

He was not an old man; maybe in his early 30's, yet implicit in every
syllable that he poured out to Hashem was a subtext of such longing and
heartfelt connection that most of us could never aspire to in a lifetime.

Even as a I write this, sitting squashed in the plane, I am transported
again to the beauty of his Davening and the enjoyment that I experienced,
just sitting and basking in the radiance of his devotions.

The Rabbis explain that the ladder that Yaakov saw in his dream is an
analogy to prayer; the ability for a mortal man or woman to transverse the
distance between earth and heaven. That anonymous Shliach at the *Ohel* was
travelling upwards on Yaakov's ladder, and for a few short minutes he took
me, his unintended passenger, along with him on his journey.

His eyes were closed. He did not know I was there. I will probably never
learn his name or where he serves, yet I would like to believe that he had
a profound affect on my life.

Only time will tell whether I will personally hold on to the inspiration he
unwittingly provided and whether my personal journey towards truth will be
permanently coloured for having had the privilege of hearing a true chosid
and a real Shliach daven for a few moments. However, I have no doubt that
the cumulative affect of the example and actions of the thousands of
Shluchim that the Rebbe sent to thousands of communities will have the
permanent affect of helping our people succeed on our national climb up the
ladder towards Hashem.

I am positive that with every step up the ladder that the Rebbe inspired
his Shluchim to take, we will reach one more rung on the path to
perfection. When the Shluchim, the Rebbe's angels, bring those sun rays of
spirituality back with them on their journey to their respective corners of
the world, and when they inspire their friends and families to complete
their own climb up the ladder of Torah and Mitzvos, our job on this world
will finally be complete and our purpose fulfilled.

Together with the angels that Hashem sent down to accompany us through
life, we will return to G-d, to finally enjoy an everlasting era of peace
and blessing with the coming of Moshiach.

Can we make G-d Laugh?

 It's never funny to disect a joke, but what is a joke? What makes us laugh? What brings joy? Pleasure? Can we do that for G-d? 1:58

Who listens to whom?


If a soul marries a physical body, who listens to whom? video 2:12

What's important in a relationship?


If I care deeply will you need to look harder to see it or will it be easier to see? How does that play out with our relationship with G-d? 2:20

Relationship "issues"

In the Torah Portion this week G-d commits to the Jewish people for eternity - "you will not believe what happens next" :)) 2:09



Look up and find your spouse

In honor of the 15th of Av I would like to share two steps, leveraging Chabad’s special secret, to help find a spouse.

Step one: Do this test.

Take some time and do it honestly. Ask yourself the questions in the most realistic way. The questions below are a sample only; each person would need to adjust the scenarios with challenges that fit their specific character.

1)      You skimped for a few weeks to comfortably afford to treat yourself to a restaurant that everyone is talking about. You used the one afternoon off to get to the city and you feel great ordering an entrée that costs the same as your entire weekly student food budget (along with an appetizer, dessert and a glass of wine. As the meal is being served at the perfect temperature, you get a text message and promptly leave the restaurant leaving behind the savory food, and the one day off you had. What was in the text?

a.       Did your friend offer you home plate tickets to a game?

b.      …to a Broadway show?

c.       …to an exclusive art exhibit?

Whatever it is that would get you to leave something that you wanted so much is clearly more important to you. Playing around with different possible scenarios you can find a bit about your real priorities. Let’s keep the scenario as restaurant and answer that you left to see a game.

2)      You are now sitting at the game. Home plate tickets, Res Sox vs. Yankees. Score 7-7 9th inning, Dereck Jeter is at bat. You get a text and leave the game before the pitch. What was in the text?

a.       Is a family member visiting briefly on a short stopover?

b.      Is there an opportunity to meet the director of a program that you are hoping to apply to?

c.       Is there a lecture by a world renowned professor?

Think about it. Some people would leave a job opportunity to meet a family member in the airport and some would leave a family dinner for a job opportunity (please do not answer what you think is correct, answer what is true about yourself, what you deeply respect and what you would do and feel). Let’s assume you went to meet the director of a very competitive program.


3)      You got your dream job. The office is throwing you a welcome party and you get up to warmly accept the position and thank the team – and you get a text. You tell the gathered: “I’m sorry, I’ve worked my whole life for this and you are the best there is, but I will not be taking this job in the end.” Why?

a.       Perhaps a child was diagnosed with asthma and you will need to move with your family to another state?

b.      Did you discover a moral challenge to fulfilling the dream position?

c.       Is a family member not well and needs you by their side?

This test can have as many steps as you would like to pursue and as you ask the questions you get a better idea of who you are. In the oft quoted Mishnah in Taanis discussing the 15th of Av the first instruction given to the suitors is “sa noh einechah, lift up your eyes”. Don’t look at what you see, look inside, look higher.  Sadly many people these days meet based on the very lowest steps; an appreciation for the same team, restaurant or song. All the while each party would leave the game, meal or concert for a priority not shared with the person now set to build a life together.

Marriages are not made or broken by the stanzas of even the most romantic tunes. The bonds that build a family are tied by shared sacrifice, deeply respected by each other. If you will be out for nights to develop a career, your partner will be sacrificing as well – be sure that it is with you, not for you.

To truly complete this test, try to answer to ultimate question: what would you die for? Or rather, what would you live a completely foreign life for? To share this, what life really means to you, with a spouse is the essence of a marriage. [“Love” is not an acceptable answer. Love is what you have with the one you share the answer with].

This is Chabad’s secret. Revere the soul and spurn the mundane. Reach deeper. Discover the inner, the essence, the soul.

Step two:

Take a piece of paper (back of an envelope is fine :) and write down three names. Take your time with this as well. Start with three, not more. Each person is a friend or close acquaintance that knows you well. They probably would have answered all of the above questions about you more quickly than you did. Perhaps not perfectly, you can help then with that, the next criterion is much more important:

Each one is someone that you trust will be answering you, not saying what they want to say. You are calling them to ask a favor and you must be sure they will be thinking of your happiness and your future, not their success or wittiness. Before thinking that you don’t know anyone like this, remember this is not a test and no one needs to know who it is you are calling. This is between you and them and the answer may not be intuitive.

Remember Voltaire’s lesson: the perfect is the enemy of the good. No one will know you perfectly and no one will answer you truly honestly. Many will not return your call precisely when expected and some may be older or younger than you would like to admit. Write down three names.

Now call each one, take a deep breath and tell them: Hi x, we know each other for a long time and I’m not sure if you are updated on exactly where I am right now, but at the present I am not seeing anyone. I’m calling to tell you that I think that you know me pretty well but most of all that I really trust your opinion. I don’t mean to impose but rather just to let you know where I’m holding and that if you think of someone that you think would be the right person for me, I would take that very seriously.

Now, make a day of the week, say Wednesday, and each Wednesday call one of the three to briefly chat. This way the people that you feel would be likely, if they find a prospect, to get it right, will have you in their consciousness. Slowly you can add more people to the roster, but keep the same criteria in mind.

This is another secret of Chabad: We are our own worst judge. A quite person often feels they are extroverted and a person who is loud may criticize others, using their own assumed quietness as an example.  We must constantly ask others, even equals, for guidance, critique and advice.

This is especially so with a question as emotionally charged as choosing a spouse: We would never ask a Bubbe if her Bubbaleh was safe at base or out, so why would we trust ourselves – closer related to ourselves than our bubbe – for such a vital judgment? Yes, only we can judge our chemistry – but the character match is a much more technical judgment and one that must be made before any chemistry is at play.

I really hope that these thoughts help out and I would truly appreciate any follow up or feedback – and hopefully a mazal tov!

While working on this on a personal scale, let us also pray for the ultimate wedding – When G-d and us, G-d’s people will be fully united, in our homeland, eternally.


Moshiach Moment 05 Roughing it with us

The intuitive way people percieve G-d's relationship with G-d's "constituents" is: be good, hang out with G-d, be bad, goodbye...
This weeks Parsha throws a wrench in that perspective...

Moshiach Moment 05 Roughing it with us 0:01:44

Moshiach Moment 04 on the outside leading in

As our brothers and sisters prepare to exit the safty of their home towns to achieve security and peace for the rest of us, they follow in the footsteps of our ancestors.

 Moshiach Moment 04 Matos 1:58

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.