Archive for December 29, 2016

Archive

Goodbye 2016

B”H Zev and I were outside of Walgreens in North Hollywood, California, where our son-in-law Nachman was putting up signs for his Chabad community’s Chanukah event. He wished the obviously Jewish-looking man a Happy Chanukah. “I’m not Jewish,” he answered, “but everybody thinks I am.” He went on to tell us that his ancestors were from Ecuador and how he had lots of Jewish friends. He knew about the Jewish expulsion from Spain, too, adding that his family could have...

What’s the Spin?

B”H You’ve heard the classic joke about every Jewish holiday: “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat.”  There’s truth to that, but it’s never the whole story, especially with Chanukah. In the Chanukah story, the military victory is the “body” of the story.  There’s also the “soul” of the Chanukah story, which revolves around the death decree issued by Syrian tyrant Antiochus against Jews who observed the supra-rational mitzvos, mainly Shabbos and kashrus. The way of the Syrian world...

The Other Holiday in Kislev

B”H Everyone knows Kislev is the month of miracles, with Chanukah as our emblematic holiday of Jewish victory over all physical and spiritual opposition. Less well known is the holiday of Yud Tes Kislev, the nineteenth day of Kislev (corresponding to this Monday), a day of victory celebrated in the world of Chabad as “the New Year of Chassidus.” On this day in 1798, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi– known as “the Alter Rebbe”– was liberated after 53 days in...

Conquering My Second Worst Fear

B”H People used to comfort my aging father, of blessed memory, telling him that getting old isn’t great, but “it beats the alternative.” To this, he answered, “Yes…but not by much.” Two of my biggest fears as a teen-ager were dying young and getting old. Now that I have successfully beaten the first rap of dying young, I am working on the art of staying young. I have already researched and written about the Jewish antidote to aging.* The trick...

Legacy of Mumbai: Is It Light Yet?

B”H For reasons known only to G-d,  Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivkah were murdered in their Chabad House in Mumbai on November 28th, 2008. Along with four of their guests, they were brutally tortured and killed, targeted for death simply because they were Jews. Like millions of Jews before them and too many after them, they died al kiddush Hashem, in sanctification of G-d’s name. But martyrdom is the antithesis of what G-d wants from us: He wants us...