Thursday, May 17, 2007

New Blog at the perfect time!

Welcome to our new blog!

Our new blog and new-and-improved website couldn't have been launched at a more appropriate time.

You see, Shavuot, the holiday we are celebrating on May 23-24, is the ultimate time of renewal. Each year on Shavuot, we receive the Torah anew!

The first Shavuot took place on Shabbat, fifty days after the Exodus from Egypt, on the sixth day of the month of Sivan, 2448 years after the creation of the world (May 9, 1312 BCE), 3319 years ago. That day, at the break of dawn, G-d spoke the Ten Declarations.* (See next post entitled "Popular Misconceptions") Similarly, each year G-d gives us the Torah anew on Shavuot. We celebrate each year by going to Shul (this year, on Wed. May 23) and listening to the reading of the Ten Declarations & the giving of the Torah, thereby reliving the events of that momentous time. In addition, the night before, we remain awake late into the night studying the Torah, awaiting it's giving the next morning as we would a most cherished treasure.

So you see, Shavuot is a time of new beginnings.

In fact, new-ness is such an important theme of Shavuot that the Torah commands us to bring a "New Grain-Offering" to G-d on that day. On Shavuot, the first wheat offering of the year's new harvest was brought as an offering in the Holy Temple. It was also the time that people began to bring the first fruits as well.

Each Biblical holiday has agricultural/seasonal significance as well as historical significance. In fact, these two significances complement each other. The arrival of new wheat -- food for the body -- corresponds to the new gift of the Torah -- nourishment for the soul.

Hope this gives you some food for thought!

So nu? Please join us in shul on Wednesday as we relive the Sinai experience anew.
And thanks again for reading our new blog.

Sincerely,
Rabbi Green

5 comments:

Horace Friedman said...

Rabbi,
I noticed on the website that you had all the Rebbes of Chabad, and their timespans. With the seventh Rebbe, you wrote 1902-1994. Who took over after 1994?

Horace said...

Anyways, I doubt you'd have the guts to post this comment.
Otherwise, great website!

Rabbi Green said...

Dear Horace,

Thanks for your comments. Why shouldn't we have had the guts to post it? It is an excellent question.

I will offer five answers:

Who took over after 1994?

1) You and I. To quote Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of UK, “The Rebbe was not interested in creating followers. He was interested in creating leaders.” Only now, after 1992, we the erstwhile followers were to become leaders, ambassadors of the Rebbe’s leadership to the world.

2) No need for anyone to take over, because the Rebbe continues to lead us, albeit in a less apparent way. The constraints of a physical body are not applicable to Tzaddikim (the righteous), not even in the duration of their physical lifetime, and certainly not afterwards. Some examples might include (quoting from Talmud): “Jacob our Forefather did not die,” “Moses did not die,” or the more proverbial “David King of Israel lives for ever.” There are countless examples of legendary tzaddikim who were still regarded as leaders posthumously.

3) The Rebbe's teachings & instructions. The Rebbe, a pragmatic and realistic leader, foresaw the times we are in now, with no heir-apparent to “take over.” He therefore made painstaking efforts to put his vast & voluminous teachings to print. By studying his Igrot Kodesh (Letters), Sichot (Talks), and Maamarim (Discourses) of fifty plus years, we can continue to be inspired by the Rebbe’s leadership.

In addition, the Rebbe instructed every chassid to have a “rav” or Chassidic mentor to whom to consult with on all matters one would have consulted the Rebbe himself. This mentor bases his/her assistance or advice on the Rebbe’s teachings.

4) Maybe your question is a more practical one, i.e. who is running the day-to-day operations at the Chabad Management. The Rebbe appointed people to these positions, and they have been doing their jobs, well before 1992.

If you really want a fair, objective assessment of the current situation in Chabad, however, here is the most straightforward answer I can muster:

5) There is no one who could “replace” the Rebbe. If you were ever privileged to meet him, you would probably agree that he was/is the sort of individual who appears once in a millennium. One of the setbacks of being such an extraordinary person is that you become, well, rather indispensable and irreplaceable. Fortunately for previous Rebbes, they each had an outstanding successor. The Rebbe had no such luck. All he has is us. So how can Chabad survive without a visibly apparent and viscerally approachable leader? This is not only about Chabad. The Rebbe was a world Jewish leader. How can the world survive without the Rebbe, the Moses of our generation? By default, we go back to answer 1-4.

But this is not just by default. If you carefully study the Rebbe’s talks in both early and recent years, you will see that the Rebbe clearly prepared us for the current situation. And this is precisely why Chabad is experiencing unprecedented success, in certain ways, much greater than was achieved prior to 1994.

The Rebbe, in his talks prior to his first stroke in 1992, clearly stated that ours is the final generation of the Galut (exile) and the first generation of the Geulah (redemption). As such, he declared, “the rebbe and leader of our generation will lead us to the Geulah in these present times.” If we take the Rebbe’s unequivocal words at face value, he was communicating that we will not need a new Rebbe, or anyone else to “take over,” because the Messianic Redemption is an impending reality.

If we indeed accept him as a Rebbe, as a man of G-d and prophet of our times, then we are to look forward to the imminent arrival of Moshiach, guided and inspired by the Rebbe’s teachings. A couple of chaotic years with an empty chair should not faze us.

If one insists on finding a new Rebbe, then it seems as though he didn’t heed the Rebbe’s message about the uniqueness of our times, or that he didn’t care to find out what the Rebbe had said.

If that’s the case, why does he need a new Rebbe? He never had one to begin with.



(Of course, I welcome your comments as always)

Myrna Kamchinovitch, Hong Kong said...

Good answer!! Kol Hakavod... You are an inspiration Rabbi!

Raquel said...

wow nice answer