Archive for August, 2014

Go Softly…

August 26, 2014

There is a word in the Chasidic lexicon that is most difficult to translate into English, even though it is vital to understand.  When the holy sources give us advice on how to approach life, we want to know what exactly they are telling us.  In this case, we are admonished to pursue a character trait called hishtavut, or “equality.”  At first glance we might think that the advice applies to civil rights, telling us not to discriminate or exercise bias against someone else of a different race or religion.  But no, this is spiritual advice, telling us to take all that happens to us with “equal weight,” or perhaps, with “equanimity.”  It’s not a common word, but in Chasidic terms it is vital.  It means, “know that all comes from Above.  Whether for the good or seemingly the opposite, it is all commanded and directed from one source Above, and therefore, “don’t get excited.”  Not easy advice, but we have a lifetime to put it into effect.  For more on the subject, go to And if you like this line of thought and want to pursue it in the context of prayer and meditation, go to  Finally, for a little information on Chabad in Jerusalem, go to   Have a great sof-summer!

Summer Time

August 18, 2014

There is something quite contrary going on here in Jerusalem.  While the fighting was taking place in Gaza, there were still tourist groups passing through the old city.  Whether Birthright or USY or NIFTY or whatever, there were all kinds of tourist groups, though not as many as before the fighting.  However, since the fighting has died down in Gaza, there are virtually no groups passing through.  Why would that be?  It is now summer vacation, now plus there is a semblance of “peace,” and yet virtually no tour groups seem to be coming to Israel?  It would appear that there is a “lag” – whatever occurs in the security situation is reflected two or three weeks later on the ground in the tourist areas.  If so, then allow me to inform anyone who is reconsidering – it is quiet and safe here in the old city of Jerusalem.  Now is the time to join us in the holy Land, and especially this week, during parshat Re’eh you will feel safe and secure!  For more on the subject, check out our weekly words of Torah, at  And if you really want to delve into the subject of prayer and meditation, then is for you.  If you just want to know something about Chabad in Jerusalem, try  After all that, here are two additional sites for your perusal:  and  Have a great week!

Summer Vacation

August 11, 2014

The concept of “summer vacation” may have originated from the Torah.  During the summer after the exodus from Egypt, Moses went up and down Mt. Sinai no less than three times.  It seems that these three “hikes” may qualify as the prototypes for the time that we spend outdoors during the summer, during the second half of the Jewish month of Av (roughly corresponding with August).  Apparently, Moses did not sleep or eat during the three periods of forty days that he ascended the mountain.  Being that we are a much later and therefore lower generation, we no longer maintain this custom.  We eat and sleep outdoors and enjoy the outdoor weather.  Moshe utilized his time on the mountain to absorb the words of God in order to transmit them to the Jewish people as the Torah.  We also have an obligation to learn some Torah every day, so if you’d like to find out more about Moshe and Mt. Sinai, go to  If you prefer something a little more in depth, try our suite of books on Jewish meditation and prayer, at  And if you just want to know a little about Chabad in Jerusalem, go to 

            Some people may want to know more details about prayer – for that, go to  And finally for some general knowledge about the weekly Torah portion and other matters, go to  Have a great week!

All we are asking…

August 4, 2014

As of this morning Israeli time, there is an uneasy ceasefire declared by Israel in Gaza.  As to be expected, Hamas is not honoring the ceasefire but rather continues shooting rockets at Israel.  But at the moment, that is not what interests us.  Today is erev tisha b’Av, the day before the ninth of Av, and what interests us is the upcoming fast and the mourning over the loss of two Temples, which were the focal point of Jewish life in Israel when they stood.  If today, we are fighting in Gaza and struggling to right public opinion for our obviously justified campaign, it is because we are lacking a Temple, lacking a focal point for our Jewish identity and expression.  Were the Temple standing, the spiritual light would be so great that it would overcome and banish any resistance, and there would be no fighting or bloodshed.  So, what we can hope and pray for over the next two days is to rebuild the Temple and put an end to all bloodshed and strife.  One path to get there is through prayer, and that’s what this week’s words of Torah are about – see for more information.  Also, check out for deeper information on Jewish prayer and meditation, and go to for more information on Chabad here in Jerusalem.  Finally, for matters of interest, check out and also  A little something for everyone!