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.

Women's Lib

I just came across this letter from the Rebbe (written in English); it is an extremely interesting letter on so many levels… The letter is in response to a feminist who asked if Judaism stresses a woman's role as a mother, what is a woman’s purpose if she cannot physically have children? In the letter, the Rebbe mentions his attitude towards the various “denominations” within Judaism as well as the correct perspective on women’s involvement in Jewish life. I highly recommend that you read the entire letter which can be found here. Personally I found this postscript most remarkable:

P. S. Since you refer to women's lib, which has become so popular in recent years, it baffles me that the thrust of the movement is centered on the woman's becoming similar to man -- and this is what is termed 'independence' and 'feminist' pride, etc.!

The International Conference of Chabad Emissaries

I just returned from a one-of-a-kind trip to New York to participate in the annual International Conference of Chabad Emissaries. I will not attempt to describe what it was like because it is impossible to adequately describe what it’s like. The pictures at this website provide a glimpse into what transpires at these conventions. One of the speakers was one Dr. Lukins, I was very taken by his talk - click here for a round-up of the banquet including a video with an excerpt of his speech. Also, click here for pictures of the banquet and here for pictures of something unusual to find at a banquet. Here’s an article from the New York Times about the conference.

On the second day of the conference a special Torah scroll was completed in memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks in India last year. Included among the victims of those inhuman attacks were the directors of the Chabad House there, Rabbi Gabi & Rivki Holtzberg hy”d (See: The Legacy of Mumbai). I had the extraordinary merit to inscribe a letter in this special Torah, (sorry the picture’s unclear…).

Writing Sefer Torah.JPG

Just to get a little idea of what the ceremony was like – here’s a link to pictures of the culmination ceremony and here are pictures of the dancing that took place (they closed the entire Eastern Parkway – a broad, five-lane, major artery in Brooklyn, NY).

"Mr Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!"

Berlin Wall.jpg

It's almost the 20th anniversary of the falling of the Berlin Wall; here is an interesting tidbit from the Jewish Chronicle (UK), it seems that one Irene Runge heard from the Rebbe a prediction that the Berlin Wall would come down and that there would be an influx of Russian Jewry into Germany.

Irene Runge grew up in East Berlin, daughter of American ex-pat socialists. She remembers the Jewish community as deadly quiet before the Wall came down. “There were only funerals,” she recalls. But during a book promotion trip to New York in March 1989, Ms Runge was introduced to “the Rebbe” — Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson — “and he told me the Berlin Wall will collapse.

“I thought, how would he know, sitting there in Brooklyn?” Ms Runge had started cultural and social clubs for Jews in East Berlin, and the Rebbe told her to keep on with her work. “Of course — he was wise, and he understood that the Russian Jews would be coming.”

Sure enough, “all of a sudden they have to build kindergartens and schools and have bar mitzvahs. Without the Russians, there would be no Jews in Germany”.

Click here for the complete article, the quoted section is at the end.

This story echoes that of Professor Herman Branover. In 1985, the Rebbe asked him to relay a message to his contacts in the Soviet Union that the new leader (this was just after Gorbachev came to the Kremlin) would ultimately bring freedom to the people behind the Iron Curtain. Click here to watch a video of Professor Branover recounting this amazing story (watch the whole thing for a fascinating twist to the story!).

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