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Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 4 Tammuz 5777
 
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Questions and Answers  
Do you have a question? Whether you're curious about Jewish holidays, or want to address personal issues, use the forum below to get quick answers.
 
Chassidim
Does the Lubavitch culture clash with that of America's?
Posted by:
Rabbi Yosef Carlebach:

A culture clash can occur when there is a dichotomy of beliefs or systems. A major tenet of Chassidic philosophy stresses that this world and all in it are created by a supernal Almighty and the world is truly not clashing with G-dliness but a place where G-d can and must be revealed through our actions.

We believe that this country is G-dly blessed and that its helpful and democratic role in religious life will enhance the practice of religion in general and Judaism in particular.

Is there conflict between Lubavitcher's and other faiths or sects of Hasidism? (Satmar) If so, which ones and why?
Posted by:
Rabbi Yosef Carlebach:

There is no real conflict in the different schools of Chabssidic thought, other than the differing stress on certain areas of study. In fact, many Chassidic sects study Chabad-Lubavitch texts as an adjunct and beneficial part of their own Chassidic teachings.

Is the attire and appearance of a Lubatvitcher (black hats, hair) absolute and enforced within the religion, if so what is the purpose?
Posted by:
Rabbi Yosef Carlebach:
A chassid will generally follow a traditional way of dress, shunning the 'fashion of the day' etc. The traditional Chasdsidic garb has its roots in the leaders of the movement and the locale of its original center.
Is there still conflict, today, between Lubavitcher's and the black community of Brooklyn? (Considering the incidents of 1991)
Posted by:
Rabbi Yosef Carlebach:

There are individuals in any community that look to create strife for a number of reasons. The majority of the citizens of Crown Heights live side by side and in harmony with their neighbors.

What is the importance of the Rebbe, will there be a new one instituted in the future?
Posted by: James Gartland, Madison, NJ
Rabbi Yosef Carlebach:

The importance of the Rebbe is historically one which dates to biblical days. We believe that Moses was the first Rebbe. All generations have had authentic leaders that were "Rebbes" of their time. This would include the era of our prophets and of the Talmud. The innovation of the Chassidic world is in essence a continued mode which dates from many Kabbalists and codifiers of law to biblical times.

Daily Life
What are some important specifications to follow as a Lubatvitcher? (Diet, technology)
Posted by:
Rabbi Yosef Carlebach:
A Lubavitch Chassid is bound by the laws of the Torah. As such all issues in regard to diet (kosher), etc. are in accord with the Shulchan Oruch - Code of Jewish Law..The uniqueness of a Chassid is that one finds greater joy and meaning in the daily actions via the introduction of Chasdsidic philosophy and tradition.
Holidays
Hi Rabbi... I am lying here struggling because I know how important the High Holidays are supposed to be to me and I feel guilty but not compelled to observe.

I wholeheartedly identify myself as Jewish... but I do not believe or have faith, so I don't observe and that makes me feel guilty and like a bad Jew.

Also, I don't live a traditional lifestyle, i.e. husband and kids, and I never will, so I do not feel entirely accepted by the religious. And then I feel like a hypocrite in that I don't observe any holidays or traditions all year and then I make a big deal about these holidays.
Posted by:
Rabbi Yosef Carlebach:

You are not the only one with this type of feeling. You are just more open and honest that the average.

Don't let this mar your feelings for wanting to be  connected to the 'upstairs' in the coming days. Simply do as much as you are comfortable with.

Jewish Identity
Rabbi Goodman,

I am a Rutgers College student and I have been studying abroad in Italy all semester. While in Europe, I had the opportunity to visited Auschwitz and last summer I visited Israel onBirthright. Because of these trips and other things, I have reconnected with my Jewish spirituality and these places have influenced my feelings towards the Jewish community.

I am telling you all of this because I wanted to get a tattoo as a symbol of my love of community and Jewish heritage. I wanted to get the word "love" tattooed in Hebrew. I had a few questions before I did this though. Is it kosher to get a tattoo?

My mom has threatened that I would not be able to be buried in a Jewish cemetery if I "desecrated" my body. I still would want to get the tattoo, because I like the fact that it is almost a recommitment ceremony for me.

Also, I have wanted a tattoo for a long time, but could not think of anything I would want to put on my body permanently. The process of reconnecting to my Jewish heritage has made me realize I will always be Jewish and therefore a tattoo symbolizing the love of my faith is something I would like to commemorate.

Another question or request I had was could you send me a link to a Hebrew font and/or write out the word "love" in Hebrew (I believe it is "ahava," but I am not sure if I am remembering correctly. I haven't taken Hebrew since high school.)

I am sorry this email is so long and you do not even know me, but thank you.
Posted by:
Rabbi Boruch Goodman:

B"H

Hi, did you see my facebook friendship request? How did we live before facebook??

Anyway, I read your letter with great interest and am responding as quickly as I can.

Firstly, let me share with you that as a rabbi, I am always happy to hear that a college student wishes to connect with his or her heritage and background.  As a Jew, it is absolutely something that a spiritual person would seek.  And your letter reflects the desire of your soul to connect in the most meaningful manner to your spiritual source. Can't wait to meet you!

With the aforementioned in mind, let me respectfully tell you that a tattoo is something that we as a nation have not endorsed in any fashion from our very beginning.  Moreover, marking our body in a permanent way is proscribed in our Torah in rather powerfully negative terms.  Our history and heritage has been guided for three millennia by the Torah.  I invite to inquire and see for yourself how our ancestors and leaders found ways of connecting with the Jewish heritage in varied methods, and always kept within the framework of our beautiful Torah.  Our religion and heritage believes that our bodies are truly holy and we treat this holiness with respect and according to the G-d given six hundred and thirteen precepts of the Torah.  One of these precepts is simply not to have a tattoo.

I invite you to allow me, my wife Sarah (she's sooooo nice - wait 'til you meet her!) and any other people that care to help you in searching for an avenue that will engage you totally and spiritually.  I can promise that if you agree, you will not be disappointed, not now nor in a matter of days and years.

I sincerely hope you will take our offer. I see that you're returning soon to the good ol' USA, so when you get back, let's get together and talk more about this. My phone is 732 296-1800 ext. 3
and I'm on campus every day.  We also have really fun and popular, traditional Friday night dinner parties each and every Friday night at sundown with tons of great people and plenty of good food! All the best, very excited to meet you and thanks so much for writing me.

Rabbi Goodman

What's in a Name?
Posted by:
Rabbi Shmuel P. Bogomilsky:
Among the Jewish life cycle events, naming a child is uniquely important, for throughout his life, his Jewish name defines his identity at every waking and sleeping moment. It is by his Jewish name that a person is remembered and memorialized after a hundred and twenty years.
Miscellaneous
I will be in Venice, Italy this next week, Mon-Thurs.I would like to visit the jewish area.

Do you have any suggestions of whom I can contact for a tour

Thank you,

Irwin Behren
Posted by: Irwin Behren, East Windsor, NJ, US
Rabbi Mendy Carlebach:

Hi Irwin,

I would advise looking at www.jewishvenice.org , they have all the info regarding tours, kosher food, etc. in Venice.

All the best and a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Rabbi Mendy Carlebach

 

Moshiach
Do the Lubavitch believe former Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson is the Messiah? If so why? And has this created a conflict within the Faith?
Posted by:
Rabbi Yosef Carlebach:

Lubavitchers generally believe that the Rebbe is the Moshiach, based on the Talmud Sanhedrin - which discusses how disciples of great leads identified their Rebbe as the Moshiach.

Lubavitch has not found any conflict in this belief and Lubavitch believes that any true scholar can find ample Torah sources to support this belief.

Shabbat
Why would God dictate that there needs to be a specific day of rest -

Is there so little faith in mans ability to understand when he needs to rest and when he needs to work that such things must be mandated and have consequence tied to them if not followed -

If we are God's children than why is there such a lack of faith that we can grow to make good and healthy decisions -

T.
Posted by: T.
Rabbi Yosef Carlebach:

How come you only ask the easy question?

Your point of allowing man to freely decide the basic issues of life is well taken.  However we recognize that man on his own can easily rationalize and justify almost any decision, right or wrong.

The first reason for G-d's commandment to us is to simply create a relationship.  How can a creation have any thing with creator?  The Torah tells us that G-d implemented a method that enables man to be G-d like, and that is the way of life prescribed in the Torah.   So more than anything, the mitzvot-Commandments serve as a link between finite and infinite.  We 'need' Shabbat far more than Shabbat needs us.

In addition, man can look for ways to 'lighten' any commitment, no matter how critical.  Look at a family unit making a decision that can have ramifications for a life time and beyond.  The first generation many be completely dedicated to the adherence to the family's principles.  But as time progresses, generations following may decide that the previous ancestors were 'old-fashioned' etc.  The only guarantee to continue the mission is to see it and practice it as a commitment to G-d.  This is the only time-tested and honored method of ensuring its constant adherence.

All the best

Torah
What Is Torah?
Posted by:
Rebbetzin Sarah Goodman:
The Torah is a guidebook. Valuable things (lawn mowers, mp3 players, minivans) come with a book of instructions on how to properly and optimally use them. The same applies to the valuable (and complicated) thing we call life--the Manufacturer enclosed an instruction book.

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