Thursday, March 29, 2007

11 Nissan 5767

Photos from

From Hayom Yom for 11 Nissan (Hayom Yom was written by the Rebbe in 5703 (1943) at the request of the Previous Rebbe):
On his birthday, one should spend time in seclusion. He should recall his experiences and think deeply into them. He should then repent and correct those (of his past deeds) that need correction and repentance.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

This Year's Chumrah for Pesach

I have just been alerted to this new chumrah for Pesach 5767. I will leave it to you to comment on this.

By Danielle Wolfbergand and Henry Lorman
Bergen County Jewish Times
Teaneck, New Jersey
March 1,2007

Yaniv Ben-Zaken, a local gas station owner, will be selling Kosher for Passover gasoline during the holiday this year. The move, Ben-Zaken says, has become necessary due to the increased ethanol content in gasoline required by the government. The ethanol is typically derived from corn, which is a forbidden food for Jews on Passover. And, according to Ben-Zaken, under Jewish law, it is also forbidden to derive any benefit from corn.

"We will be providing a number of services to anyone interested in making their motor vehicle Kosher for Passover," Ben-Zaken says. Services will include siphoning off the non-Kosher gasoline and replacing it with the Kosher gasoline. The entire process will be supervised by Rabbi Yitzchok Mendelbaum. A special exemption to the EPA rule regarding the plant ethanol content of gasoline had to be obtained from the government to allow for the use of this gasoline.

The move has created some controversy among local community leaders. Rabbi Shalom Silver, of Congregation Ohel Emeth in Teaneck, has recommended to his congregants that they not buy the gasoline. "Although Jews of Ashkenazi descent are not permitted to eat corn on Pesach, they are permitted to derive benefit from corn byproducts, such as gasoline with ethanol additives," he said.

However, Rabbi Mordechai Silver (no relation to Shalom Silver), of Yeshivas Torah Ohr in nearby Englewood, disagrees, and maintains that while it might technically be acceptable to use mass-produced gasoline, those who can afford to purchase the new alternative should. "In Jewish law, we have a principle of lifnim mshuras hadin-going above and beyond the basic requirements of the law," he explained in an email. "Thank G-d, many people in the area can afford to do so in this case."

Some local Jewish leaders have also complained about the high price of the ethanol-free gas, which Ben-Zaken estimates will be $9.69 per gallon, but Ben-Zaken insists that it is necessary. "The Kosher gas is made in small quantities and not mass produced, so the costs are high." In fact, Ben-Zaken, an immigrant from Israel who is not himself religious, claims that he will not be making any profit on the sale of the Kosher gas. "I'm doing this more as a community service. My hope is that people will be more likely to patronize my station the rest of the year."

Ben-Zaken also says he will be contracting with a local car rental agency to provide customers with a Kosher for Passover car if they would prefer not to use their own. This will also save the time of having to clean chametz from the car before Pesach-time that many local two-income families do not have. "Jews use different dishes for Passover. They ought to be able to use a different car, as well." Ben-Zaken says.
In case you haven't figured it out by now this is a joke...
Hattip to Rabbi Mark Ankorn.

A New Gadget from Apple

I don't necessarily agree with the politics but this comedy video is very clever.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

More Bad Publicity drew my attention to this article in the St Louis Jewish Light Online newspaper. The author, Bruce Warshall, writes about his experiences with the Meshichesten in New York. While what he writes will be considered by some to be anti-Chabad I believe that it is about time that Lubavitchers came out loudly against these crazy people. If we can believe him, and I do, the pamphlet that he was given on the subway is beyond what any normal person should accept. Statements in the pamphlet such as the one below prove that these people have no grasp on reality - both with regards to the Rebbe and world events - and that outsiders believe that these points of view are mainstream Chabad:

"America's efforts to safeguard peace around the world are critical elements in actualizing the redemption, as proclaimed by the prophet of our generation, the Lubavitcher Rebbe king Messiah (Moshiach) shlita (who lives forever)... America can be meriting the blessing of exceeding success with which the Rebbe king Messiah shlita blessed the U.S. armed forces in their holy mission in Iraq." Never mind that Schneerson has been dead 13 years but is able to bless this latest war, making it a holy mission. No one told these people that it has not been a success. The rest of the country seems to understand that, but it hasn't gotten to Chabad headquarters in Brooklyn yet.
The pamphlet says it comes directly from 770 Eastern Parkway, so I assume that it is official Chabad doctrine. I am told that there are sophisticated local Chabad rabbis that do not believe the above, but I don't hear their voices. Until I hear them say that they do not believe that the Rebbe is the Messiah, I assume that they do. I also assume that they believe that the United Nations sits in New York because of the Rebbe, etc.
He goes on to quote other parts of these pamphlets which I will not reproduce here. You can read them in his article if you wish.

The comments on give a wide range of views on this matter. Most people are disgusted and embarrassed by this terrible publicity. The attacks on the author are shortsighted and wrong. It doesn't help blaming the messenger. It is certainly much nicer reading those (somewhat breathless) articles extolling Chabad and the shluchim - but the facts have to be faced. These crazy, misguided people are destroying what the Rebbe spent decades building. Unless they are stopped I don't know what the fate of Lubavitch will be.

In a related matter, I don't know (and don't care) who took down the Yechi sign in Yeshivah shul. That it went back up again is another sign that the yellow people may be winning.

(Thank you to "The Sad Truth" and "Joe" who pointed out this article in the comments. I was going to post this yesterday but Pesach preparations took priority)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Chof Zayin Adar

True Believers...

This Shabbos is the 27th day of the month of Adar which is the same day that the Rebbe had his strokes - the first on 27 Adar I 5752 (1992) and the second two years later on 27 Adar 5754 (1994). The Rebbe passed away a few months later on 3 Tammuz.

Appropriately, or more accurately inappropriately, The Jewish Daily Forward has an article this week about the controversy between the "global leaders of Chabad" and the "group of leaders elected from the local Chabad community of Brooklyn’s Crown Heights", as they put it, with regard to who owns 770. This paper is certainly no lover of Orthodoxy and enjoys putting frum Jews in a bad light. The problem is when there are those of us who excite the press by providing "newsworthy" quotes. One good example is the person mentioned in this section:

A recent visit to the synagogue downstairs indicated the strong influence that the messianic gabbais have over the sanctuary. During the services, most worshippers joined in a spirited prayer that celebrated the rebbe as the messiah. On the northern wall of the sanctuary is a long banner that says “Live Our Master, Teacher, Rebbe King Moshiach Forever and Ever.”

“What does it mean, he is alive?” said Yitzhak Fuchs, a 47-year-old congregant who was standing outside in a worn suit.

“We learned the king messiah is not going to die. He is going to disappear, but he’s not dead,” said Fuchs, who, like many of the other worshippers, wore a small, yellow lapel pin with a crown and the word messiah in Hebrew.

I believe strongly that all Lubavitchers would love the Rebbe to return as our long awaited Moshiach but, almost 13 years after his passing, surely reality must finally set in. The Rebbe awakened the frum world to the reality of Moshiach, whoever he may be. Instead of the common jokes about something happening "when Moshiach comes" orthodox yidden understand that the constant requests in davening for Moshiach really mean something. The desire for the arrival of Moshiach has become a basic precept in the frum world all because of the Rebbe's strong belief in this basic concept and his unbelievably strong longing for this to be a reality. May we be zoche to witness it very soon.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Rabbi Telsner's Imminent Arrival

Click on picture for a larger view

Rebbi Telsner and family are due to arrive in less than two weeks for him to take up his position as "Dayan" in the Yeshivah Community.

Thanks Emmanuel.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The "Gabbai Tzedokah" of Crown Heights

JEM have published excerpts from an interview with Reb Shimshon Stock OB"M which was recorded three months ago as part of its My Encounter with the Rebbe series.

Shimshon talks about how his organisation, Chevra Simchas Shabbos VeYomTov, was inspired by a sicha of the Rebbe on Rosh Hashana about 28 years ago.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Aussie "Living Torah" Video

This Living Torah video is from 20 Adar Sheini 5749 (1989) and features Mr & Mrs Yisroel Goldstein from Sydney during a yechidus with the Rebbe. Rabbi Groner can be clearly seen in the background along with some other Sydneysiders.

The last part where the Rebbe refutes Goldstein's claim that his brother has no "sheichus" (connection) with Yiddishkeit is consistent with the Rebbe's philosophy. He was always positive with regards to all to Yidden and presents his opinion in a strong but gentle manner.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Rabbi Groner's Road Trip

Yesterday our Rabbi Groner made his first trip down Hotham Street for many weeks. Accompanied by his grandson, Mendy Telsner, this was a "test run" to see if he could make it to shul. On the way they took a detour to the Motchkin Building and Rabbi Groner also went to see the Gurewicz Early Learning Centre for the first time.

It is good to see him out and about, smiling and looking quite trim. We wish him a Refuah Shleimah and look forward to seeing him without the wheelchair very soon.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Reb Shimshon Stock ע״ה

Shimshon Stock and his wife Martha ponder the state of
Jewish matchmaking in the film Make Me A Match

The passing of Shimshon Stock on Purim has caused shock and disbelief to so many people in Lubavitch around the world. Shimshon - as he was known simply to all his acquaintances - was a "do-er". He was concerned about everyone - whether it was individuals or families who needed to put food on the table or young people who needed a shidduch. He also organised weddings for those who could not afford them and did countless acts of chesed.

Shimshon was a social commentator and would not remain silent in the face of injustice. His article of May last year about the practice of "flipping houses" in Crown Heights is typical of his no-nonsense approach. His down-to-earth articles about family life in the Nshei Chabad Magazine are classics.

Many of us remember Shimshon passing around his silver foil covered basket in 770 before the Rebbe's farbrengen collecting donations for his organisation Chevra Simchas Shabbos v'Yom Tov. CSSY distributed food for the needy throughout Crown Heights and also in Flatbush, Boro Park and Williamsburg. Shimshon actively worked together with similar organisations in New York, such as Tomchei Shabbos, to ensure that the best use was made of the money he collected and that the most people benefited from his generosity. As far as I know he never took a cent for his work.

I am sure that there are many people reading this who benefited from Shimshon and his wonderful wife Martha's help finding shidduchim. He didn't just put couples together but he counselled them before, during and after the shidduch. Many ba'alei teshuvah looked to him and Martha as supportive parents.

Shimshon's philosophy was that all people should be treated equally and with respect. I remember well that when he helped couples pay for a wedding he would insist that, rather than have the wedding in a small hall maybe with a minimum number of people, they should have a wedding like anyone else in Crown Heights. He made sure that they could have the wedding in Oholei Torah with all the trimmings.

Shimshon, we'll miss you!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A Freilichen Purim

Another video from JEM taken at the Rebbe's Purim Farbrengen in 5732 (1972).

"Hop Kazak", "Jump, Cossack, Jump". Rabbi Aryeh Leib of Shpoleh, the "Shpoler Zeide", danced to this song in competition against a Cossack to gain the freedom of a poor, Jewish innkeeper.

I think that it is also worth spending 5 minutes listening to this week's Living Torah sicha on The Rebbe discusses the challenges we face living in countries where we are free to practice yiddishkeit in any way that we choose. What the Rebbe says is even more relevant today than when it was said 27 years ago.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Message from Rabbi Y D Groner

Dear Kehilla & Friends

We are happy to inform you that as of today Thursday 11 Adar - 1 March Rabbi Groner came home from hospital. Although he has regained some of his strength he is still basically in the same medical condition as he was in hospital with minimal movement of his legs and general body weakness. We hope and pray that Hashem sends him a full recovery very soon amongst all other cholei Yisroel.

Unfortunately, yesterday Rabbi Groner received news of his brother's passing in Israel - Reb Yaakov Groner obm. He therefore is now within a shiva period.

In light of all above Rabbi Groner has instructed us to inform the kehilla and friends the following:


Rabbi Groner wishes to celebrate Purim with his kehilla as much as his strength will allow him. Therefore Rabbi & Rebbetzin Groner's home will be open on Purim for the following times only:

Purim Day - Sunday 12.00 - 7.00pm - for visitors
Please be aware that Rabbi Groner will only be able to personally receive his visitors at irregular periods during the above times depending on his strength. However, a message may be passed on to him. Please also make your visit limited to 2 minutes.
For those who wish, it is Halachically permissible to send Mishloach Manos to a Rov of a kehilla who is an ovel (a mourner).

Purim Night - Sunday 9.30pm onwards - for Purim farbrengen (without music)
It is Halachically permissible for a Rov of a kehilla who is an ovel to hold a Purim farbrengen that is held regularly each year. As of yet we do not know if Rabbi Groner will attend the farbrengen and when. Regardless of this he strongly encourages all to keep up the tradition and participate in the farbrengen with increased simcha.

Nichum Aveilim

Rabbi & Rebbetzin Groner's home will only be open for nichum aveilim on:

Friday 2 March - 12.00 - 2.00pm & 4.00 - 5.30pm
Monday 5 March - 12.00 - 2.00pm & 4.00 - 5.30pm

Please be aware that Rabbi Groner will only be able to personally receive his visitors at irregular periods during the above times depending on his strength. However, a message may be passed on to him. Please also make your visit limited to 2 minutes.
Nichum Aveilim my also be performed on Purim (see times above)

General Visiting

After the above days we will assess Rabbi Groner's strength and ability to receive guests in the future. Therefore on all other times than above we request from all to refrain from visiting Rabbi Groner until furthur notice.

We thank you in advance for your cooperation!

Wishing you and you families a happy Purim and much health and many simchas.

Rabbi Groner's Family

Welcome Home Rabbi Groner

Boruch Hashem I just heard that our Rabbi YD Groner is out of hospital and at home. He still has a lot of convalescing and rehabilitation to go through but I am sure that he is happy to be back on Hotham Street.

I am told that we will soon be informed about visiting times, especially on Purim, but the community should understand that Rabbi Groner may be asleep or not available even at those times.
We all wish Yitzchok Dovid ben Menucha Rochel a Refuah Shleima and should keep saying tehillim for him.

You may also be aware that Rabbi Groner's older brother, Reb Yaakov Sholom Groner, passed away yesterday in Yerushalayim where he lived.

Mazal Tov Lieutenant Vogel

Second Lieutenant Yisroel Vogel, Brigadier Mark Bornholt - Commandant, Royal Military College Duntroon, Chaplain Captain Yossi Segelman

reported the following story. I do not know Yisroel Vogel so if anyone can add any more details I would appreciate it. has learned that earlier this week Mr. Yisroel Vogel graduated from the Royal Military College of Australia as a 2nd Lieutenant. The 34 year old father of three and his wife are Lubavitchers living in Sydney. Vogel is the first religious Jew in recent history to graduate from the Royal Military College of Australia. He will join the 8th signal regiment located in Randwick, Sydney in a troop command role.