January 2007

February 2007

President Gerald Ford

As the nation mourns the passing of former President Gerald Ford, we are all learning more about his life and legacy. What’s unique about President Ford is that he was the only President in the history of the United States that made it to the Oval Office without ever being elected. There are some people who run for office time and again, and never make it, and yet here, Ford never intended to be President, yet reached the highest office in the land. This provides us with an opportunity to reflect on Divine Providence. We should try our best to accomplish our goals, but while we are attempting to achieve, we must always keep in mind that ultimately our destiny is in the hand of G‑d.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

This may not be the first time a woman is running for presidential nominations, but it’s probably the first time a woman has a good chance of winning.

This is true in other countries as well. France has a woman running for President, Germany’s Chancellor is a woman etc.

It’s not an isolated incident anymore; it seems like a new trend has begun.

Kabbalah tells us that when Moshiach will come, women will not just be equal to men, but they will be the leaders. The Rebbe once pointed out that the woman’s changed role in today’s modern world is more than a coincidence. It’s a glimpse of the Messianic era!

March 2007

April 2007

Global Warming

After this month's freezing weather, snow storms and icy roads, the recent U.N. report about global warming sounds a bit far off!

Personally, some of these days I wished that the predictions about global warming would come a bit faster to Ohio. Let the guys in Texas worry...

While global warming may truly be something to worry about, we as Jews actually have a responsibility to warm up the world- but in a spiritual sense.

Warmth is a sign of life and when it comes to Judaism, we need to be full of life and vitality. Mitzvot should be carried out with joy and holidays should be celebrated with excitement. And don't forget about the hot chicken soup!

Matzah Bakery

Have you ever visited an authentic Matzah Bakery?

The atmosphere in the bakery is rushed, intense yet exciting. The clock keeps ticking and everyone knows that each batch must be taken from start to finish in less than 18 minutes – and that includes baking time. If they run over the allotted time, then the entire batch is considered "leavened" – Chometz - and is completely discarded.

In Hebrew, the words Matzot and Mitzvot are spelled exactly alike. When it comes to doing a Mitzvah, we are supposed to do it like the Matzah baking – immediately – and enthusiastically. Delaying a mitzvah, can mean a lost opportunity – and that would be Chometz!

May 2007 June 2007

Virginia Tech

"My father treasured every moment in his life. He always said, "We must utilize every moment we have." These were the words of the son of Professor Liviu Librescu, the 76 year old Holocaust survivor, who heroically saved his students during the recent Virginia Tech shooting.Professor Librescu, in his act of sacrifice brought great honor and dignity to Jews worldwide. It is our privilege and obligation to remember him and even more so, to learn from him. Judaism teaches us that every moment in a person’s life is precious. When we do a Mitzvah, we preserve the moment for eternity. Let’s continue where the Professor left off – by making each moment count.

Go Public

Are you proud to be Jewish? How proud? For most of our history in the Diaspora, Judaism was an "indoor" religion, practiced within the boundaries of one’s home.

Synagogues are behind closed doors, and holidays are celebrated around the dining room table, or at best in a Sukkah in your backyard.

The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, opened the doors and brought Judaism into the public domain. "Light giant Menorahs," he said. "Take traveling Sukkahs downtown to the football games. Create Mitzvah mobiles in Manhattan!"

In honor of his 13 th Yahrtzeit that is commemorated this month, let’s "go public"!

July 2007 August 2007

Fly High!

The mess of air travel gets worse from day to day and thousands of passengers are trapped because of continuous flight delays and cancellations - sometimes even sleeping on the airport floor. Listening to all this, we can’t help but wish we had our own wings to fly with. What a joy it would be not to be dependant on so many factors.

At least in the journey of Judaism, we don’t have to rely on airlines, pilots or even travel agents. The Talmud compares Mitzvos to wings. Every mitzvah that you do elevates you to greater heights. In the voyage of spirituality, it’s all up to you. Go fly high!

Harry Potter

Thousands of people stood in line for hours to be the first to purchase a copy of the new Harry Potter book. For a moment it seemed that our distinguished title "People of the Book" was lost to the American public.

For centuries, the Jewish nation was identified as the People of the Book – referring to the Torah given to us by G‑d at Mount Sinai.

One may argue that we earned this title because we followed the instructions of the Torah, studying it and passing it along from generation to generation. This is very true, but there is more to it as well. The Book is written about US! We ARE the people of the book.

Let’s live up to our name!

September 2007 October 2007

 Hurricane Dean

Communities around the world follow the path of Hurricane Dean, fearful that it should approach their city.

Jewish communities around the world are also aware of the approach of "Dean" but not the Hurricane Dean – the Days of "Din".

In Hebrew the word Din (pronounced Dean) means Judgment, referring to the High Holy Days - the Days of Judgment.

The path of Hurricane Dean is not in our control – but the outcome of the Days of "Din" is certainly in our hands. Judaism believes that a single Mitzvah can change one’s destiny and bring G‑d’s blessings upon them.

May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life. L’shana Tova!

 Chutzpah

Of all the speakers in the world to be invited to Columbia University, the one least expected was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran.

It takes a lot of Chutzpah to stand up on American soil - in an esteemed University - and espouse words that oppose the very essence of what America believes.

Maybe it’s time to take a lesson from our enemies! Next time when you find yourself in a position to defend Israel, or any Jewish belief, don’t be apologetic.

Stand up and stand strong. Use your Chutzpah, and be a proud ambassador for the Jewish people.

November 2007 December 2007

 After the Fires!

My brother Baruch, a Chabad Rabbi in San Diego, was on the phone describing the horrifying conditions of the city as the fires were drawing closer to his house and neighborhood.

"Don’t forget, ‘after a fire, one gets rich!’" I reminded my brother. This age-old Chassidic expression is not referring to the insurance payments that fire victims are allocated!

Kabbalah tells us that after a fire or other tragedies befall a person or a community, G‑d makes sure to bestow upon them an extra measure of mercy and many blessings.

May the blessings come as fast as the fires!!

 Give Cash

Running out of ideas for Chanukah gifts? Here’s a suggestion that you can try for one of the nights. It works for all ages and stages: it’s called Chanukah gelt, and I mean cash – not chocolate.

The custom of Chanukah gelt originated with children receiving small cash prizes for their efforts in their Jewish studies and as incentives to do more.

Another reason for insisting on cash was because this was a way to teach and encourage the children in the mitzvah of Tzedaka.

As the Chanukah season approaches, perhaps we should consider sticking to the good old fashioned way; give cash!