Archive | February, 2014

Reality Check

25 Feb

There is nothing like a trip to the “fathers of the world” to provide us with a reality check.  And the same applies to the “mothers of the world.”  Today, we made a trip with a few students to the tomb of Rachel, the wife of Yaakov our forefather.  Two things stuck me about our trip.  First, the bus transporting people to the tomb was absolutely full, standing room only.  I had expected to find a mostly empty bus, but the residents of Jerusalem apparently love to pray at Rachel’s tomb.  The bus driver reported that all of the buses on this route to Kever Rachel are full.  Second, Rachel’s tomb is no longer the unassuming little dome structure that it used to be.  It is now a fortress.  Even Hevron does not seem as absolutely walled in and protected as Rachel’s tomb.  And for good reason – the “neighbors” across the street from Rachel’s tomb are not friendly, to say the least.  What is the takeaway from our day excursion?  First of all, the Jews know where to turn for their prayers.  Second, we have an army that protects us. 

                For some deeper Torah thoughts on the parsha, go to  And if you like Jewish meditation and prayer, visit our suite of spiritual books at  Have a great week!

The Right “Gong”

18 Feb

Recently, we tried out a new gimmick in the old city.  The Hurva square downstairs is full of tourists, students and soldiers.  The level of noise is cacophonic, and it can be difficult to hear the person speaking next to you.  We needed a novel way of attracting attention to our tefilin stand.  We decided to try a Chinese gong.  We imported a gong from China, and it has begun to serve its purpose.  Until now, it was necessary to approach people individually to ask if they wished to don tefilin.  Now, the gong does the job.  Within a couple hours, several people hearing the gong approached to put on tefilin, including two who had never put on tefilin in their entire lives.  Speaking philosophically, a gong is not a mere piece of metal with which to make noise.  In Yiddish, “gong” means “a way of going,” a “path,” if you will.  So, when you hear the clang of the gong, the purpose is not only to put on tefilin.  It is also to usher you onto the right spiritual path.  Other than tefillin, that includes mitzvoth such as Shabbat, mentioned in our weekly Torah portion (Vayakhel).  You can cover all of that by going to our website at    If you are more philosophical and you like Jewish meditation and prayers, have a look at, and if you just want to know what’s going on in Jerusalem, check out   Have a great week!

HIgh Priest of the Suiperbowl

3 Feb

Today, I mention my sins; I watched the Superbowl last night (Here in Israel it was on from 1:30 AM to almost 5 AM).  I was expecting to see some great American football, which I love.   Instead, I saw one team absolutely pulverize the other in a way that was so convincing it was boring.  I managed to stay awake just long enough to see Scar Jo do her Soda Stream spot.  Life is good.  Nevertheless, next year we will not stay up all night long to watch a bunch of 350 pounders pulverize each other.  We will instead watch the highlights on television the next day.  But here’s the takeaway from a spiritual perspective.  You gotta wear the right uniform.  Last night, the team wearing white was on the inside track, always pushing closer to the goal posts.  The team wearing orange was on the outside – they just couldn’t get anywhere near the goal.  In this week’s Torah portion (Tezaveh) there is only one team, but it has two uniforms.  When the High priest wore his white uniform, he was on the inside track.  When he donned his golden uniform, he was generally on the outside, trying to get in.   So, clothes do matter.  Keep that in mind.  For more sartorial advice, go to our website at   If you like what you find, you may want to look further, at (especially if you’re into Jewish meditation and prayer).  Finally, if you want to know what’s going on with Chabad in Jerusalem (no, we don’t watch football every night), check out  Have fun and enjoy the month of Adar!