ChabadNewOrleans Blog

A Hug Like No Other

There are many compelling arguments to be made for studying Torah. One of the most inspiring presentations I have seen on the value of learning Torah is in the 5th chapter of Tanya. Of the primary achievements of Mitzvot are, that they make us more connected to G-d. By engaging in an act that is G-d’s will we connect ourselves to G-d. Furthermore while the Mitzvah is performed the individual’s Neshamah (soul) is “embraced” by the Divine Energy invested within the Mitzvah.

However, when it comes to studying Torah, in addition to being “embraced” by G-d as with any other Mitzvah, the person grasping the Torah concept also has the advantage of “embracing” G-d, Who is invested within the Torah. In other words, the person is entirely enveloped by G-d at the same time that he is entirely enveloping G-d (as He is invested within Torah). To be entirely enveloped, while simultaneously completely enveloping the other is a physical impossibility – conceivable only at an abstract level. While this is true of any intellectual “grasping of a concept” – where the person grasps the idea at the same time that his mind is wrapped up in it, in the context of Torah study, G-d is part of the equation.

On that lofty note… I am eager to present the schedule for Project Talmud Summer 2012. After a promising Project Talmud debut in 2011, we are excited to be welcoming a budding young scholar, Yosef Rivkin (who happens to be my youngest brother), back for Project Talmud 2012.

Sunday, August 12 – 9-11 AM - Breakfast and Beit Midrash Program @ Chabad Uptown: Chavruta – small group studying the Talmudic discussion on honoring parents (Kiddushin 31:b), followed by a lecture: Analyzing the Financial Obligations in Honoring Parents.

Dinner and Premier Video Screening – 8:00 PM @ Chabad Uptown: Faithful & Fortified III – The Rebbe’s Relationship with Five of Israel’s Prime Ministers.

Monday – Friday Morning 8-9 AM @ Chabad Uptown - Coffee and Cake – Halacha Class - Topic: The Laws of Blessings (on Food).

Monday-Thursday Evening – 6:15 -7:15 PM @ Chabad Metairie: Jewish Mysticism - Topic: A Treatise on Teshuva – Tanya explores themes of Teshuva from the perspectives of Halacha, Kabbala and Chassidus with a strong practical application.

Sunday, August 19 9-10:30 AM - Breakfast and Lecture @ Chabad Uptown: Topic: Abraham's Genes – An exploration of Abraham's Jewishness and the spiritual DNA he bequeathed to us.

Sunday Night August 19 8:00 PM @ Chabad Metairie: Closing Farbrengen in honor of Rosh Chodesh Elul.

Mazel Tov to my sister Devorah Leah and her husband Rabbi Meir Chaim Posner who will be celebrating the Upshernish of their son Mendel Monday morning at Chabad House.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

P.S. If G-d forbid we are still in exile on Saturday night, please see upcoming events for Tisha B’Av schedule.

Let my people KNOW

One spring day in Paris a man saw a little girl being attacked by her own pit-bull. He quickly rushed to her rescue and killed the dog. A journalist saw the whole episode and approached the man asking him for his name so he could write an article about his heroism. “I can just see headline,” said the reporter, “Parisian hero saves little girl from viscous attack dog.” The man replied, “I am not from Paris.” “How about European man bravely rescues girl from pit-bull?” “I am not European.” “Then where are you from?” “I am from Israel.” The next day’s headline read, “Israeli aggressor kills little girl’s dog.”

Yet when there is an attack against Jews, much of the world is silent. Once again we suffered a blow at the hands of terrorists – Jewish lives in Bulgaria have been extinguished. How much longer must this persist – that a Jew needs to be afraid of being targeted while on vacation, or at a wedding, or at a Seder, or a pizza shop, or “safely” in bed at home? During these weeks of mourning for the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash this question is that much more poignant. True we must pray to G-d for protection and salvation. We must turn inward and find areas in our own lives that could be improved – thus making the world a better place. At the same time we must also demand that world wake up and acknowledge this malignant disease called anti-Semitism, so that action can be taken to fight it.

Let us pray that very soon the time for our Redemption will come, when Jews will be safe to live and serve G-d in our sovereign land Israel along with our crown jewel, a rebuilt Beit Hamikdash on the Temple mount.

They say that “Ignorance is Bliss,” yet our tradition does not accept that. The Shelah, a 17th Kabbalist, gives a unique interpretation to the story of Bilaam, his donkey and the angel. (Numbers: 22:34) After Bilaam strikes his donkey the angel allows him to see what caused the donkey to stop. Bilaam says to the angel "I have sinned, for I did not know that you were standing on the road before me.” The Shelah explains, that we must all read this in the following way, “I have sinned, that I did not know.” In other words, not knowing itself is a sin.

Maimonides tells us that foundation and pillar of all wisdom is to know that there is a G-d. Belief is not sufficient. We must also have knowledge. The only way to know is by studying. This is why we are excited to be bringing Project Talmud Summer 2012 back to town. Project Talmud will run for a week beginning Sunday, August 12, featuring classes by visiting senior Yeshiva student Yosef Rivkin. An exact schedule will be released in the forthcoming days. Project Talmud Summer 2012 is sponsored by GCP Labs (Gulfport, MS) in memory of Reb Shmuel ben Aryeh Leib Fishel HaLevi.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

Thank you Mr. Peres

Dear Friends,

It was recently reported that Shimon Peres, President of Israel, cancelled his participation in the opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics because of the conflict it would present with the observance of Shabbat. In reading up on the subject I have discovered that Israel’s heads of state do not publicly travel on Shabbat or eat non-Kosher food so as to properly represent the Jewish nation. While they may not (yet) be personally observant of these Mitzvot, as representatives of the Jewish state they feel the need display a public pride in who we are and what we represent.

I maintain that having a strong sense of pride in being Jewish is vital to Jewish continuity. If we can impart these feelings of Jewish pride to our youth we will have accomplished a great deal. We must also remember that the pride in being Jewish comes along with recognizing what is required of us as Jews. It is values such as Shabbat and Kosher along with many others that will bring the next generation along.

I would love to see our own Jewish institutions here in New Orleans taking a page from Mr. Peres in embracing the values of Kosher and Shabbat when it comes to Jewish community wide events.

Next Wednesday, July 18 is our monthly Lunch N Learn Downtown NOLA at 12 PM – NY Camera – 705 Canal St. This month’s topic (continuing with the Election 2012 issues series) is Torah Perspectives on the Immigration Debate. Lunch is served. [email protected].

The next Kabbala for Young Jewish Professionals is Tuesday, July 24 @ 8 PM – topic: The Kabbala of the Temple Mount. or www.facebook.comevents/378558272208465.

We are excited to announce the return of Project Talmud Summer 2012 in August. Details and dates will be released next week.

We wish the following members of the community au revoir as they move on to the next stage in their lives in another location: Bleama and Yisroel Kamen, Nahum Amosi, Dr. Rebecca Begtrup, Moshe Kornfeld & Rachel Feder.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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