Happy Jew Year!

September 29, 2014 at 9:07 PM

Shimon and Rueven were close friends despite their drastically different levels of Jewish observance (Shimon was the Rabbi of the local Chabad shul, and Rueven was the rabbi of the local reform synagogue). One Friday morning Reuven called Shimon frantically, “Shimon, I need a favor. Discount tickets just became available to Aspen, Colorado for the opening of ski season, the flight leaves today and I cannot pass it up. “Nu”, said Shimon. “Well the president and CEO are also going so we have nobody to give over the speech Friday night. Would you mind stopping by the shul for a few minutes to give over some words of inspiration to the congregation?” “Sure, it would be my pleasure”, responded Shimon, “I can talk to them about the beauty of keeping Shabbat.” “Shabbat is a bit too much for this crowd”, responded Rueven, “perhaps you could speak about something else?” “Okay, I will speak about the revealed connection to G-d that a Jew feels when they keep Kosher”, Shimon replied. Rueven responded, “Sorry, my friend, but these people aren’t prepared for such talks.” “Okay, how about I speak about the deep mystical meaning of women keeping the laws of family purity and men putting on tefillin?” Shimon replied. “No, I’m afraid those topics are also not proper for this crowd” Rueven told his friend, who stood their puzzled. “Well, what would you like me to speak to them about” asked Shimon. “I know” Reuven said, “Speak to them about being Jewish!”

Happy Jew Year!

The other day I received an e-mail from someone with an article about the alarming increase in anti-Semitism that is rapidly spreading across the world. In the e-mail he wrote at the end in big bold letters, “We must do our part to end anti-Semitism.” I thought about that for a moment, and my first reaction was, “Is it possible to end anti-Semitism? And if so, how exactly does one do his or her part to do so?”

While there have been countless stories recently in the media of Jewish hate crimes throughout the middle-east, Europe, and even here in the US, anti-Semitism is nothing new. If Hamas thinks they are going to destroy Israel, think again; for one would be hard pressed to find a country, nation, or religion that hasn’t tried to destroy the Jewish people at some point in history. Guess what? It’s never happened, and it never will. To understand why, we need to first understand exactly what a Jew is. What makes us Jewish (besides adept business skills, a penchant for bargains, and proudly donning a gold Jewish star or Chai around our neck)?

The Jewish People are en eternal people, because G-d Himself has given us a mission, as well as the tools to fulfill it. When G-d gave the Jewish People the Torah on Mount Sinai 3326 years ago (a fact accepted by every religion in the world) the world was a corrupt place. The Torah is not only G-d’s blueprint for all of creation, but an instruction manual for how to live in peace, harmony, and perfection, the way G-d envisioned the world to be when He first created it 5574 years ago. The Jewish people were to be the bearers and guarantors of G-d’s Torah, to be G-d’s partner in completing the world by drawing down and revealing G-dliness in a world that by its nature conceals its very Creator. Despite being scattered across the world, oppressed, and dealt every single obstacle imaginable, the Jews have never abandoned this mission.

Despite the current cataclysmic upheaval in the world, the majority of people are good and want to do good. The problem is that the definition of what good is keeps changing, as does what is acceptable. Is it good to be rich? What if it comes at the cost of separating yourselves from your loved ones? Still good? Are family and meaningful relationships as important as Facebook, Instagram or BMW?

Contrary to some beliefs, truth doesn’t change based on perception or belief. And the truth is that the only way to really know what good is, is to go to the source, the ultimate source of all good, G-d Himself, the giver of the ultimate good; life.
As Jews, we have a special job, to be a “light onto the nations” to show them as the Lubavitcher Rebbe (the Moshe Rabainu (Moses) of our generation) has taught us that the world is not a jungle, but in fact a G-dly place. But in order to see that, to see what the world really is, we need to first take a look inside of ourselves and see whom we really are, and for what reason G-d put us here.

Every Jew has within them the map to not only world peace, but to inner peace as well. Inside every Jew is a secret weapon to put an end to hate, anguish, and grief; it’s closer than we could ever imagine, but it takes insight, courage and commitment to begin the journey towards our true identity. The world will stop hating us for being Jewish as soon as we overcome our own personal fears and start really being Jewish. The decision to make positive changes in our lives, especially into the realm of the “unknown” may seem daunting at first, but that is why the leader and redeemer of our generation, our Righteous Rebbi, has established over 5,000 guideposts (Chabad centers) across the world. His emissaries toil day and night to make sure that every Jew has the opportunity to learn and understand what our specific purpose in this world is through a life of Torah and Mitzvas, as well as for every non-Jew to fulfill their purpose by upholding the 7 Laws of Noah.

As we reach the end of another year, a new year and new beginning begin to unfold. Our Sages teach us that every year G-d fills the world with a brand new light and holiness that have never been in creation before. The question is, what are we going to do with this Divine energy? Rosh Hashanah is the time when we reconnect. We reconnect to each other, we reconnect to G-d, and most importantly we reconnect to our true identity and ourselves. As the final moments of exile quickly vanish before our eyes, may this year bring the fulfillment of G-d’s promise of Redemption, when there will be no more hatred, hunger, nor war, and the entire world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d.

May you be signed and sealed in the Book of Life for a Happy and Sweet New Year!


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This beautiful post was written by my good friend Matis Abarbanel

Matisyahu Abarbanel, Esq,






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