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Blog - It's all Greek to me!!!!

Life in Greece with a Jewish twist

Shabbat report: It's logical!

We spent the last Shabbat with a group of 38 professors from Israel on an academic trip to Greece, studying Greek Jewry: they visited Thessaloniki, Veria, Volos, Larissa, Athens, (but not only), met with local professors, and combined tourism with study.

It was very nice to meet all of them, to listen to inspiring words of Torah, to hear Zmirot (traditional Shabbat songs) sung to Greek tunes J.

My son Arie, 7, who is not exactly shy, delivered a short speech at Shabbat lunch, about the Torah portion of the week, Mishpatim, to the amused delight of everyone: He explained the difference between Mishpatim, which are commandments we can understand with our logic (such as not to kill, not to steal) and Chukim, commandments which are supra rational (such as the Red Heifer). The challenge is to fulfill the Chukim with the same joy as the Mishpatim: Arie’s advice (quoting the Sages J) was to remember how each Mitzvah, no matter if we understand its reason, is an occasion to fulfill G-d’s will and to connect to Him. This should help us be joyful even as we fulfill the supra-rational “Chukim”.

I like to think of it as the relationship of a couple: we try to please our spouse even if we don’t exactly understand why s/he likes this or that. For example, a husband will buy a bouquet for his wife if she enjoys it, even if he cannot understand why cut flowers that will get spoiled after a few days make her happy. He will do it just to show his love and dedication to her. In the same way, whenever we fulfill G-d’s commandments, including the seemingly illogic ones, we can think of it as an opportunity to show our unconditional love and dedication to Him.

I left the best part for the end: When Mendel asked Arie about the Mitzvah of “Kibbud Av Vaem”, respecting your parents, he thought it belongs in the category of Chukim, supra-rational commandments!!! Of course, do you think it is logical to listen to your parents telling you to brush your teeth, do your homework and share your toys with your sister?!!!! J

Back from NY

I participated last week in the annual conference of Chabad “Shluchot” (representatives) in Brooklyn, New York, and I had a great time. 4 days of interesting workshops, inspiring speeches, stimulating discussions, and just plain fun: seeing old friends, meeting new ones, exchanging ideas, eating delicious meals and enjoying the pampering and services being offered at the conference. I met ladies from all over the world: Nepal, China, Columbia, Brazil, Venezuela, Canada, all states of America, Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus, Ireland, UK… (I will stop now or this enumeration will turn into an Atlas of the world… there is a famous saying: wherever there is Coca-Cola, there is also Chabad… I just saw it with my own eyes! J ). The highlight of the conference was the banquet on Sunday night (this year in the Hilton of Manhattan), with thousands of women, their families and lay leaders of their communities. The energy you feel in the hall during the roll call of all countries, and then when everybody sings and dances together, is amazing. There, you see the vision the Rebbe had for his people, the care he had for each person even in the other corner of the world, and how he inspires and gives strength to all of us to carry out our mission: making this world a better place, one Mitzvah at a time.

My daughter Hanna participated in the girls’ program, along with almost 500 kids from all over the world, and she enjoyed it as well: making new friends, connecting with old ones, practicing her English (that was actually the part she least enjoyed J ), singing until she had a hoarse voice, eating kosher treats like ice cream and pizza (not exactly available in our corner of the world), going on outings, listening to stories and playing games… she told me when I picked her up after the 3-day program: “Mummy, it was a spiritual pleasure, as well as a material pleasure!”

We came back with a severe jetlag, but full of inspiration… Now we have to translate that into action!

Pictures: Gallery from the conference

Video: A moment of emotion, Nepal Shlucha remembering her best friend, Rivky from Mumbai.

Article: Emissaries resolve to persevere after Mumbai tragedy.

Watch this video of Shluchim and their families from all over the world (from November 2008). Check out  the Hendels:  0:59, 2:55, 3:09.

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