Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Yud Tes Kislev!

Tomorrow, starting tonite, we celebrate Yud Tet (the 19th of) Kislev, the Chasidic "New Year." On this date the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidut, was liberated from prison in Russia.

Not merely a personal event, his redemption was an ideological victory for the revelation of the inner aspect of Torah, and a significant milestone in preparing the world for Moshiach.

Before Yud Tet Kislev, the inner, esoteric part of the Torah - the Torah's "soul," as it were - was in a concealed state. Only its outer aspect - the "body" - was revealed.

Human beings are also composed of a physical body and a spiritual soul. The soul cannot be touched or perceived by the senses, nor can the human intellect fully comprehend its essence. The soul's existence can only be determined by deduction - i.e., if the body is alive, there must a soul that is animating it.

With the redemption of Yud Tet Kislev, the Torah's "soul" became revealed and apparent. Anyone can now learn its inner wisdom, and understand it on an intellectual level.

The innovation of Yud Tet Kislev affected all Jewish individuals on a personal level as well.;making it easier for every Jew to fulfill his mission in the world.

On such an auspicious day, when the same spiritual energy that was originally present comes down into the world, it is appropriate to rededicate ourselves to ensuring that all our deeds and actions help hasten Moshiach's revelation - the underlying purpose of the spreading of Chasidut.

May everyone be inscribed and sealed for a good year in the study of Chasidut and in the Chasidic ways of conduct.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fast Day for Volunteers of Chevra Kadisha

The Chevra Kadisha, The Sacred Burial Society, have instituted an annual fast day. It was established as a form of repenting, if G-d forbid they had failed to handle the deceased body with the utmost of care.

The volunteers treat the body with gentleness, with special care and with absolute dignity. Every act of theirs is infused with reverence and honor for the deceased. They keeping the body covered whenever possible. They move the body gently and only when necessary.

This is an extraordinary concept. So much concern and attention to avoid hurting a Jewish body. So much emphasis and caution to guard against harming someone who can no longer feel.

How much more so must we be careful and sensitive when interacting with people who do have feelings. Our family, our friends, our neighbors and even total strangers deserve our vigilance and tenderness. Not because they can hurt us back, but because they are part of G-d.

If the Torah instructs us, with many intricate details, how to treat a body without a soul, without G-d's holy spark that gives it life, shouldn't we be much more cautious and careful when relating to a human being with a G-dly soul??

This is a lesson to always be a little kinder than necessary to all those around us.