Thoughts on the challenges of being a chossid (or trying) in a modern world.
Fellow Lubs are most welcome to read and share and comment. Chabad-haters and agitators, please find another place to troll.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Football and Ahavas Yisroel

The Baal Shem Tov famously said that everything we see and encounter in life is - as a matter of hashgocho protis - placed there so that we can learn a lesson. Whether or not the Baal Shem Tov would consider it appropriate that some of us are fervent sports fans is therefore beside the point; there is still a lesson to be learned from all we encounter. So in between exulting over the recent success of my AFL football club, the Richmond Tigers, I must look further and ask: what can their approach as a professional sports club mean for me as a Chassid?

Monday, 11 February 2019

When will the Mic actually Drop for some people?

Disclaimer: I have watched one Mic Drop segment - from a cousin - and it inspired me to write an article about the nature of emunah and fallibility of humans.

Publicly sharing our innermost secrets and our darkest moments is all the rage these days. Of course it's 'best' if you've survived some adversity, but that's far from a prerequisite. Social media encourages us to put ourselves 'out there' and live a life of conspicuous consumption that borders on exhibitionism. Those who speak out are applauded as brave, and sometimes raised to hero status.

Is that the Jewish way? I'm not sure. The blessing of mah tovu oholecho Yaakov was that everyone's tents were arranged so that no-one could directly look into each other's tent. Nowadays, the walls of our tents have been ripped away.

Friday, 5 May 2017

The Economy, Jobs, Life Expectancy & Moshiach

In Jewish times of crisis, such as war or danger to Israel, we often think about and pray for Moshiach. I recall the Rebbe saying - perhaps during the Gulf War - that "der veld tzittered" (the world trembled with fear) and that these global events are indications that the arrival of Moshiach is imminent.

While we often look towards global geopolitical events (mostly the negative ones) and associate them with the birthpangs of the Messianic age, in the modern world, there are so many positive signs of Moshiach if only we look and take note.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Open Letter to the Yeshivah Community

I usually post about Yeshivah on my personal blog because the messages about governance and leadership have broader applications. This is posted on this blog because it's directed specifically at Anash and won't be shared through social media. It's not 'confidential' - just meant for a narrower audience.

This past year, 5776, has been another tough one for our community. Looking back at where things were a year ago and what we could reasonably expect to happen in the year to come, I throw my hands in the air and say "oy, vey". Every few weeks there has been another eruption or mini-scandal, more airing of our dirty laundry, more factional in-fighting than the Labor party, more meaningless communication from the trustees and/or ICOM-5 (can't remember what sequel we are on). This is the definition of a farshlepter krank.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Charidy Fatigue

Have you heard about this amazing online sensation called Charidy? You can run intensive 24-hour fundraising campaigns where donations are matched by others to 'gear up' or multiply the giving power. It's all or nothing - either they meet the target and the matching donations kick in, or ... you don't want to imagine. And you can use social media to spread the word!

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Mivtzo'im? There's an app for that!

While many Haredi and Chassidic communities continue to reject modern technologies, the Rebbe always maintained that the "ultimate purpose for which these new technologies were developed is that they be used for holy purposes". This position dated back in the 1960s, when the Rebbe pioneered broadcasting of Torah and farbrengens around the world. Melbourne people of my generation may remember the "hook ups" during the 1970s, when the shul was filled with people listening to the Rebbe's words live. I recall the elter chassidim standing, eyes closed in deep concentration, absorbing the Rebbe's message. For out-of-towners during a time when air travel was far more difficult, this was one of the few ways to stay close to the Rebbe.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Selfies and Yeshus

This site is about the challenges of being a chossid in the modern world. The advent of digital social media has changed the world and the way we engage with it (so much so that I'm writing a book about it). A changing world will always tend to clash with a conservative movement and belief system like Judaism. As Chabad chassidim, we believe all of these technological advances can be keilim to help us make the world a better place and to spread the light of Torah and chassidus. The new tools certainly can do that - however they are so powerful that they can be used both for positive and negative purposes, and can cause much good and much bad. The challenge for us becomes how to use them well, and how not to get caught up in many of the cultural ills that they enable and even foster.

Monday, 22 September 2014

New ohros and matching keilim

Someone bought me a new pair of shoes the other day. I put them on and they looked fantastic, but then I noticed that my pants looked somewhat scruffy next to the shiny new shoes. So I went out and bought some new pants. They looked great with the new shoes, but wouldn't you know it - my shirt really didn't do the new shoes and pants justice. There was only one option - to go get a new shirt.

Was this a case of the cart leading the horse? Perhaps. So what really happened here? I was actually fine with the old shoes. But getting a new pair disrupted things, and made everything else I was wearing suddenly look relatively bad. The other new items were 'required' to restore the equilibrium and consistency of my clothes.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Shavuos - returning to Echod

Some people pine for the simple life – a ‘sea-change’ from the hustle and bustle of modern living. On one hand, you might say that we are living in a ‘golden age’ for Judaism: there are many countries in the world where Jews can enjoy religious freedom of expression, there is a wealth of scholarship available in both nigleh and chassidus, and in general humankind has more leisure time than ever before. And yet, with all this opportunity before us, modern life is just so ‘full’ and busy it’s often a challenge to find the time to feed our souls.

Does it make sense to pine for an earlier time, when live was simple and Chassidim would spend hours learning or meditating before an even longer time davening? But would anyone want to live in those times, when Jews were persecuted and poverty was rife?

Monday, 14 April 2014

The power of the moment

Is it a dark conspiracy or perhaps part of some vast eternal plan that we spend weeks preparing for the physical aspect of Pesach - cleaning, cooking, running errands - to the point where we reach the Seder and are so exhausted that we can barely enjoy the experience?

How much time do we spend on the spiritual preparation? Whether it's the avoda of bedikas chometz, or learning the Haggadah so that our Seder can be more meaningful. Or do we sit back, conk out from exhaustion and wine, and attempt to pay attention as our children expound and affirm our decision to send them to good Jewish schools?