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Tishrei Redux

The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe likened the month of Tishrei to a shopping trip where we fill up our basket with packages of what we will need for inspiration for the year. When we get home we need to unpack and start using the goods. As we reflect on the holidays of the past month it behooves us to be thankful to all those that helped make them the meaningful successes that they were.

Over the past month of holidays hundreds of people passed through the doors of the Btesh Family Chabad House (Uptown) and hundreds more at Chabad Metairie, Chabad @ Tulane, Chabad of Baton Rouge and Chabad of Biloxi. Serving so many of our fellow Jews is a privilege but it requires a lot of help from a lot of people to pull it off. As they say, “it takes a shtetl.” I would like to thank those that were instrumental in helping us at Chabad Uptown this year! Some gave of their time, some of their resources but we could not have done it without them. On behalf of my wife Malkie and the other Shluchim at Chabad Uptown, Rabbi Zelig & Bluma Rivkin and Dr. David & Nechama Kaufmann and our families, we extend our appreciation to those that are mentioned and to those that we forgot to mention.

First and foremost I want to thank each and every individual that participated in any of our holiday services, events or activities. J_daism is certainly not the same without U. For that matter, neither is Comm_nity.

We thank our event sponsors, Saul and Raquel Hakim, Myron, Sharon and Julian Katz, Tere Vives, Zalman and Tova Borowski, Jon Powell, Morris and Malka Lew, Uzzi and Rivka Kehaty, Gershon and Esther Schreiber, George and Elaine Haas, Lou and Chana Furman, and Evelyn Rodos & Devvie Rodos Harris (children’s programs).

Thank you to: Shane & Chaim Schreiber for Synagogue setup. Damaris Kurall, Marlene and Veronica for helping with event prep and cleanup. Sara Rivkin, Mussy Schapiro, and Chaya Rivkin for the children’s programs. The babysitting crew, Georgia and Taylor. Adam Stross for leading the Lambeth House delegation. Rabbi Saadya Kaufmann for leading services. Rabbi Peretz Kazen for manning the door on Yom Kippur. Sholom Rivkin, Yitzi Lew and Mendel Kaufmann for Shul setup during the holidays. Avi Fine for the Sukkah Mobile. Alexandra Cazabat, Yuliya Yastremskaya, Flora & Opal Hearst, Sarah Chaya Pertuit, Orit Naghi for the help with the Sukkah-Fest. To the Sukkah-Fest setup crew, baking and cooking crew and the cleanup crew including all Rivkins and Schapiros. Peter Fierman, Moshe and Michael Shargian for the schach cutting and delivery. To Rabbi Leibel and Mushka Lipskier for the Kiddush in the Sukkah. Mushka Rivkin for ladies’ learning on Shmini Atzeret. Rabbi Mendy Schapiro for the inspiration. Rabbi Saadya and Chaya Sara Kaufmann, Gene Gekker, Kotel Sadrusi, Evelyn Rodos for special Simchat Torah L’chaims. To everyone who helped setup, cleanup and prepare for the Simchat Torah events. To everyone who helped make the holidays – the serious ones and the joyous ones – as meaningful as they were. To all those the contributed and pledged in support of Chabad so that we can continue to offer these wonderful events. To all those that attended and participated.

May Hashem bless each and every one of you in all areas of life.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

Frindle and High Holiday Liturgy

Frindle is the name of a popular (and, in my opinion – a high quality) secular children’s book by Andrew Clements. The gist of the book is that the protagonist, a 5th grader inspired by his Language Arts teacher, makes up a new word for pen - Frindle. It stems from the teacher’s explanation of the background for the words in the dictionary and all world languages, being the idea that a society mutually agrees to use a particular word for a particular object. That term can then be adopted into other languages and so on.

There is one exception to this rule – The Holy Tongue – Lashon Hakodesh (the origin for Hebrew). Kabbala explains that the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet are actually 22 Divine energy streams. When the letters are combined that represents a spiritual energy formula that is the life-force of a particular thing. That letter combination is also its name in the Holy Tongue. Genesis tells us that Adam named all living things. Kabbala explains that he determined the name based on his discerning the energy formula. So a name in Lashon Hakodesh is not just a societal convention but an actual representation of the life-force behind that entity.

This is why our liturgy is so powerful. The sages who composed the words of our prayers were mystics who understood the power behind the words and letters they used. As such each word contains layers of meaning based on the layers of Divine energy within each letter and letter combination. This is especially true of the High Holiday liturgy – which employs acrostics quite often. Not only do the words have individual layered meanings, along with the combined layered meanings as they come together as a sentence, but there is also the additional layered meanings within the acrostic.

This Yom Kippur take a moment to notice the beauty of the language employed in our prayers. Sadly this beauty does not overflow into the translation. We can translate the basic meaning but not the layers upon layers of deeper meaning. But even then we can know that our words contain those layers of meaning and when we say them we have in mind that whatever the sages intended with these words shall apply to our prayers as well.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and meaningful Yom Kippur
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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