Rabbi Yossi's Blog

Welcome to Rabbi Yossi's Blog; where you can expect to find thoughts on current events, Torah learning and Jewish spirituality. And of course, some good Jewish humor.

No Words...

Update from Mumbai

After over 40 hours of waiting for some positive news, now comes this terrible, disturbing report: UPDATE: Mumbai-Based Rabbi and Wife Killed in Terrorist Attacks. Words fail me... may G-d avenge their blood... may we hear only good news from now on!!

Urgent Message!

As you are surely aware, yesterday we witnessed a very calculated and horrific terrorist attack in the city of Mumbai (Bombay), India. You may have heard that the terrorists are still holding numerous people hostage at various locations in the city.
At this moment my colleague Rabbi Gabi Holtzberg and his wife, the Chabad emissaries in Mumbai, are being held hostage in their Chabad House. Their infant son has been released with the nanny, however reports indicate that the Rabbi and his wife, along with a few visiting Israelis, are still captive. Scores of commandos surround the house and it seems that a full-scale assault is imminent.

While everything must be done - and IS being done - by the security forces to rescue the hostages, we know that it is within the power of each of us to storm the Heavens and pray to G-d that this situation and the other ongoing, tense standoffs in Mumbai are resolved peacefully.
PLEASE say a prayer for Gavriel Noach Ben Freida Bluma, Rivkah Bas Yehudis (Rabbi & Rebbitzin Holtzberg) and all the others affected by this horror. (Here's a suggestion of an appropriate prayer; Psalm 20)

Don't stop with a prayer; please take it one step further and remember that a small act of "light" in one part of the world can dispel darkness wherever it may be.
Here are a few suggestions of mitzvot that we can do:
a) Give charity in their merit
b) Men: Put on Tefillin today; if you already did, see to it that someone
who hasn't yet, should.
c) Women: Resolve to light Shabbat candles tomorrow evening; if you already do, see to it that someone who doesn't yet, should.
Click here for more suggestions.

May G-d bring peace to our pained and darkened world! I look forward to reporting good news!

International Chabad-Lubavitch Conference

I just returned from the International Conference of Chabad Lubavitch Rabbis. And what an experience it was! I have no words to describe it, instead below I will post some links, pictures and videos and you can see for your self.

Click here for a report from the official Chabad news service, and click here for a report from another Chabad news service.

Click here for a few pictures taken during the group photo - you can get an idea of the size of this convention (via Reuters). 

The culmination of the conference is a large banquet attended by over 4000 people. One of the famous people in attendance was radio talk show host Dennis Prager.







The Guest Speaker was Mr. Yehuda Avner, a veteran Israeli diplomat who served as an advisor for at least four Israeli prime ministers. Below is a video of his complete talk (approx. 25 min.)

Mr. Yehuda Avner Speaks at the 2008 Shluchim Conference Banquet on Vimeo.

The Keynote Address was delivered by Rabbi Moshe Bryski, Executive Director of Chabad of the Conejo in Agoura Hills, CA. Below is a complete video of his entire (somewhat long but captivating and very moving) talk (approx. 40 min).

Kinus 2008: Keynote Address on Vimeo.


I Facebook, Therefore I Am

Now that the Facebook phenomenon has swept up the rest of society – even those of us that are out of college - I found this article very apropos: I Facebook, Therefore I Am?

"Change We Need"

The Baal Shem Tov taught that we must take a lesson in our service of G-d from all that occurs around us. Whether the results of our elections left you elated or disappointed, surprised or unmoved, there must be some personal lesson that we can glean from it. So here goes…

It seems to me that President-elect Barack Obama based the focal-point of his campaign on a call for “Change”. He concentrated less on the specific policies and proposals in exchange for the broad and open-ended call for “Change”. Perhaps, had he focused more on the specifics, he would have alienated many who voted for him. The prospect of change however, speaks to everyone as it promises to satisfy one of the most common human desires.

Brilliant campaign strategy? Apparently yes. Will he deliver? Maybe. But one thing I can say with certainty. Obama will never be able to satisfy our soul’s innate desire for change. Accomplishing that will take much more effort, on our part, than just pulling a lever in a voting booth.

Satisfying this need - on a personal as well as a global level - is possible. Every mitzvah we do helps to bring about the “Change We Need”. Every mitzvah brings us a step closer to the time when the world will be changed for the good, once and for all. Regarding this change we can truly say “Yes, We Can!” Every mitzvah is needed in this important GOTM (“Get Out The Mitzvah”) campaign. Choose a mitzvah and start bringing about the true change that we can and will collectively accomplish; the one that will be ushered in by Moshiach.  May it be speedily in our days!


On another note, no matter who you voted for, we all have the same president-elect today. The Torah teaches us that the hearts and minds of the leaders of the nations of the world are ultimately in G-d's hands; the Torah teaches us to pray for the welfare of the government; finally the Torah teaches us that the best way to ensure a safe and positive future for Israel and for the entire world is through increased Torah study and Mitzvah observance. Let's pray that this election bring positive results for the United States (and the entire world), for the Jewish people and for the Land of Israel.

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