ChabadNewOrleans Blog

Dance with G-d

Imagine attending your chupah and reception but leaving the wedding before the dancing? Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur were the solemn parts of our wedding with G-d. Sukkot is the reception / wedding party. But Simchat Torah is the lively dancing part of the wedding. G-d is waiting to dance with us. On Simchat Torah and take your opportunity for this first dance with the Divine.

Monday, October 1 beginning 7:30 PM - Chabad Uptown or Chabad Metairie. BE THERE!

Chag Sameach
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin






Keep Soaring

We spent the 25 hours of Yom Kippur climbing up the ladder of spirituality and succeeded in reaching great heights. Now what? What happens to a Jew after the climax of Neilah at the end of the Holy Day? The simple answer is “keep soaring.” Take that inspiration and apply it directly to Sukkot and Simchat Torah, which are just around the corner.

If you are wondering what Hashem thinks of our capacity to do this; I will share a brief insight into His mindset. The Torah, when describing the Mitzvah of Lulav and Etrog, states, “And you shall take for yourselves on the first day” and then goes on to define the four species of plants that we use. The Talmud asks, “First day of what?” The simple answer is, “The first day of Sukkot.” But the Talmud offers a deeper interpretation. It is the first day of the new (post Yom Kippur) accounting of sins that a person may commit. Asks the Talmud. “What about the four days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot? To which the Talmud responds, “There is no time to sin. Everyone is busy getting the Sukkah ready and dealing with the Lulav and Etrog.”

So from G-d’s perspective we have the ability to remain so focused on applying the high of Yom Kippur that we are too busy to sin. That is the degree of confidence that Hashem has in us. Let’s live up to that and keep soaring!

Wishing you happy Sukkot prep and a wonderful and joyous holiday!
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

Happy Yom Kippur

Years ago, as a child walking home from Chabad House on Yom Kippur eve, we passed by the (then mostly non-Jewish) Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity on Broadway and Oak and observed that they strung a massive banner from their roof declaring Happy Yom Kippur. We were amused by their ignorance of the seriousness of Yom Kippur. They were likely happy about the nominal nod Tulane gives it high percentage Jewish student body by giving off from class on Yom Kippur.

As I began to study Chassidus I reflected that they may have been on to something. While Yom Kippur is most certainly a serious day, it is also a day to celebrate in happiness. Yom Kippur is the day that we can access a closeness to Hashem that is unparalleled on any other day of the year. It is a day on which Hashem declares Himself to be close to us along with his desirousness of our reciprocal closeness. This is certainly something worthy of the most heightened joy.

So, Happy Yom Kippur to a Father Who is welcoming His children home after they have been away. (Having just picked up my daughters from the airport for a visit, I can appreciate that sentiment.) Happy Yom Kippur to children who are returning to the unconditionally loving embrace of their Supernal Father. Happy Yom Kippur to all of those utilizing the opportunity to scope out all of the negativity, dirt and static from their lives, thereby freeing themselves to fully engage in the loving closeness that can to be accessed on this unique day.

Fruits of Tzedakah / Proud to be from Louisiana

Last night we had the pleasure of participating in the dedication of the newly named Slater Torah Academy, honoring Mrs. Rosina Slater, who recently gave a major gift to Torah Academy. It was heartwarming to see the nonagenarian surrounded by dozens of children who are the direct beneficiaries of her generosity.

Mrs. Slater and her late husband Joseph were not blessed with children of their own. But through this act of kindness she has gained many spiritual children. At the event, Rabbi Chesney shared a story of the Baal Shem Tov, who discovered a town full of children with similar names, all named after a childless couple from a century before, who endowed Jewish education in their town, thereby ensuring that all children would be afforded schooling.

I have known Mrs. Slater for many years. She used to come to Chabad House for holidays and then I saw her frequently while she was a resident at Lambeth House. She would often express herself to me that she wants to do something for the community. With this generous gift she has created a legacy that will have lasting impact.

Many people choose to do their contributing as a bequest from their estate. I am all for that and encourage people to consider remembering Chabad as well as Torah Academy in their wills. (Please contact us to discuss this further.) The downside of a bequest is that a person does not have the benefit of enjoying the fruits of their bequest during their lifetime. Certainly the Neshama gets a lot of pleasure and a boost from that Mitzvah. But the beauty of this gift is, that Rosina has the pleasure of seeing the direct benefit to these children with her own eyes.

This Rosh Hashanah she came to Chabad House and one Torah Academy child after the next came to greet her and wish her a Shana Tova. Yesterday at the event the elementary school children sang a song especially composed by Mrs. Nechama Kaufmann for her. This is the fulfillment of the verse, “Your world (to come) you will see in your lifetime.” To behold the effect on one’s generosity is a special privilege. We wish Mrs. Slater much Nachas from her family, all of the Torah Academy children. The Jewish future of New Orleans is considerably brighter for it.

Two things happened this week that made me proud to be from Louisiana. First, the immediate solidarity expressed by the entire New Orleans region in reaction to the hate graffiti vandalism that befell the Northshore Jewish Congregation’s facility. The reaction was swift and unequivocal. We received, as did all the other congregations, a letter of support from the Archbishop. Many leaders and lay people expressed their support and acted on that expression. There will be an event this Sunday, September 16 at 4:00 pm at NJC - 1403 N. Causeway Blvd in Mandeville.

The second is the amazing support being shown by the Louisiana community to the people in the path of Hurricane Florence. Hundreds of volunteers from the Cajun Navy headed out to the Carolinas with trucks, boats and catering facilities. Entergy sent hundreds of professional personnel to help with the relief and disaster assistance. During this season of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Louisiana certainly deserves a big check mark on the heavenly charts.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

Putting the High into the Holidays

There is an expression that we use to describe extreme happiness - "drunk with happiness." Similarly we can use the expression "high on inspiration". 

That "may be" one of the definitions of the phrase High Holidays. A time when we get so inspired that we feel like we are soaring. 

At Chabad we aim to provide that sort of experience for the holidays. Our services combine soulful melodies, relevant and contemporary messages, meaningful rituals and the warmth of community. Good food never hurts either. Please join us at one of the five Chabad of Louisiana locations this year.

In the meantime, on behalf the Shluchim and Shluchos of Chabad of Louisiana, I wish you and your loved ones that you be blessed by G-d with a happy, healthy, prosperous and meaningful year, filled with only open and revealed good for all.

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