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On Road to Final Exodus

This week's Torah portion, Vayishlach, begins, "And Jacob sent angels before him to greet Esau, his brother." Jacob entrusted the angels with a message: "Im Lavan garti - I have sojourned with Laban." In these words Jacob summed up the approach he had taken toward Laban throughout his years in Charan: "garti - I have sojourned," i.e., I was only a temporary visitor and never fully at ease. To Jacob, the mundane affairs of this world were extraneous, removed from his true self and concerns. In Laban's household Jacob was like a ger - a stranger who was only passing through. His interest did not lie in the pursuit of wealth or material riches. Rather, Jacob's true "home" was in the realm of the soul, in Torah study and the observance of mitzvot (commandments). Jacob only felt himself at home, truly at ease and comfortable, when he was involved in the service of G-d. The Torah states, "He built himself a house, and for his cattle he made booths." For "himself," his true self, Jacob built a "house" - a permanent dwelling. For his "cattle," his material possessions, Jacob built booths - assigning them only marginal importance, like a suka that is designed only for temporary residence. In this light, we may better understand the explanation of Rashi, the foremost Torah commentator, on the verse "I have sojourned with Laban": "And I have observed the 613 commandments." In Hebrew letters the number 613 is written taf, reish, yud gimmel - the same letters that form the word "garti" - sojourned. Jacob was informing Esau that despite his extended stay in Laban's household he managed to keep all of the Torah's mitzvot. How? By relating to [...]

By | December 9th, 2011|Blog, Featured|0 Comments

Trust in G-d = Success

This week's Torah portion, Vayeitzei relates how a single and solitary Jew left his home and set out for a foreign land, arriving there with nothing, save for his faith in G-d. "For with [only] my staff I passed over this Jordan," Jacob declared. Nonetheless, Jacob's steps were sure and confident, as he had full faith in G-d. Once in Charan, Jacob quickly saw that there was no one upon whom he could rely, not even his relatives. His uncle, Laban, repeatedly tricked and deceived him, yet never once did Jacob lose his faith. Through outstanding service and dedication to G-d Jacob merited to obtain great wealth. But Jacob's main achievement in Charan was that, despite their growing up in a hostile environment, every single one of his children was a pious and religious Jew. Abraham had one son who followed in his righteous ways, Isaac, but he also had another son who did not, Ishmael. Isaac had one son who was righteous, Jacob, but he was also the father of Esau. Both Abraham and Isaac raised their children in Israel and not in exile, yet they still had descendants who abandoned the righteous path. Jacob, by contrast, raised his family in exile. Required to serve G-d in the most difficult of circumstances, he made sure that his twelve sons would not be affected by the negative influence of Charan. On the contrary, he strove to instill in them the Torah he had received from his forefathers and studied with his ancestors Shem and Ever, thus proving that it was possible to live a Torah-true life even on the other side of the Jordan. In Charan, Jacob merited both spiritual and material success ("And the [...]

By | December 1st, 2011|Blog, Featured, Minyan|Comments Off on Trust in G-d = Success

Toldot – Beyond Nature in Nature

This week's Torah portion, Toldot, begins with the words, "These are the generations of Isaac, the son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac." According to the Talmud, one of the reasons for the repetitiveness of this verse is to emphasize the fact that, according to natural law, Abraham was unable to father children at that age. When Sara conceived and gave birth to a son the nations of the world scoffed, intimating that Abraham was not the biological father. G-d therefore fashioned Isaac's facial features to look exactly like his father's, thereby proving his paternity and dispelling any misconceptions. "The nations of the world" had no difficulty accepting Abraham's ability to father children in the spiritual sense - spreading the belief in One G-d and fostering good deeds among mankind. What they found impossible to believe, however, was that Abraham - by virtue of his faith in a G-d Who transcended natural law - could overcome his physical limitations and father a child in the literal sense as well. The miraculous birth of Isaac demonstrated to the entire world that the physical body of the Jew - not only his soul - exists beyond the confines of nature and is created and directly sustained by G-d. It is in this light that we can understand the words of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the Previous Rebbe, which he uttered before being exiled to the far Eastern provinces of the Soviet Union, where he was sentenced by the Communist regime for the "crime" of spreading Judaism. Addressing the assemblage of Chasidim who had come to see him off, the Rebbe declared, "...And let all the nations of the world be apprised that it is only our physical bodies [...]

By | November 22nd, 2011|Blog, Featured|Comments Off on Toldot – Beyond Nature in Nature

UN Accepts 7 Noahide Laws Org

  As the world watches in horror the happennings at the United Nations, where light and darkness switched places, ruthless terrorists receive recognition as statesmen and honorable leaders receive treatment as terrorists, something different happened in those halls. Two Chabad-run Noahide organizations 7for70 directed by Rabbi Boaz Kali from Israel and www.noahide.org directed by Rabbi Yaakov Cohen have received official recognition from the United Nations, and are authorized to work in the UN. This was the conclusion of a five-year process undertaken by Rabbi Cohen to push the organizations thru. Their first official visit to the UN included participation in selecting the new judges for the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Rabbi Cohen asked the judges if the plan on judging with the fear of heaven, thus fulfilling one of the Seven Noahide laws. The organizations are in the process of finding a permanent Shliach to the UN who will represent their organizations. http://chabad.info/index.php?url=article_en&id=24976

By | September 15th, 2010|Blog, Featured|Comments Off on UN Accepts 7 Noahide Laws Org