When the Jewish people were in Egypt, we all were instructed by Moshe Rabbenu to quarantine in our houses the night of the Pesach seder until the morning. Nobody was allowed to leave their homes. Everyone put blood over the lintels of their houses so that Hashem would pass over their homes and strike the Egyptians.
How often do we isolate ourselves from others or decide there are people we do not want to associate with? How often do we choose to like certain people and reject others? How often do we separate ourselves from friends or family members through conflicts or other issues that arise, and many for reasons that are not even valid or justified?
I recently heard a class given by a Rabbi who was discussing the coronavirus (what else is new?). He made a very interesting point. He said that this virus is resulting in self quarantine. Many people are now isolated in their homes.
In every society, people seek comfort together. In western society in particular, we have become very isolated in our lives. People go for themselves. Nobody seems to really care about others.
It is the beginning of the new month of Adar. This is certainly one of the best months of the year for the Jewish people: a month of good “mazal”. A month of joy. In fact, the Torah tells us that when Adar enters, we must increase in joy. But how do we do that? Joy is an emotion: it is very hard to turn joy on and off at will. And to increase every night in joy? How do we do that realistically?
Today is Yud Shevat,marking 70 years of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s leadership after the passing of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak. The Rebbe was a leader, a nassi, for the entire Jewish nation, and in fact for the entire world. And he still continues to lead us, albeit on a more spiritual level. What is it we need to learn from the Rebbe? What he taught us in the first maamar he said, Basi L’gani: that we are the seventh generation from Avraham Avinu and all sevenths are beloved by virtue of being the seventh from the first.
Moshiach will reveal a new and higher light than has ever been revealed in the world before. As we approach that time, the G-dly revelations become more concealed in preparation for this new light so things often appear darker in the world. But the reality is that the world is just preparing for a greater light. I guess it is sort of like when you are in a theatre: before the next show, the curtains are drawn: thick, dark curtains that shut out the entire scenery. Then, when the curtains are lifted , the light shines so strongly and so brightly.
Chanukah commemorates the victory of the small group of Jewish fighters, the Maccabees, against the Greeks who defiled the Beit Hamikdash. After winning, the Jews then entered the Beit Hamikdash to kindle the menorah and found miraculously one flask of pure oil with the seal of the Cohen gadol still on it.
Today is the auspicious day of Yud Tet (Yud Tes) Kislev, the day that the first Chabad Rebbe, the Alter Rebbe, was released from prison after 53 days in confinement. He was imprisoned on trumped up charges of treason, but as we know, any accusation in this world is due to an accusation above in the Heavenly realms. What was the accusation against the Alter Rebbe? That he was introducing to the world a new study of Torah, the inner dimension of chassidut, and he was doing so to the masses whereas in the past the inner dimension (such as Kabbalah) had only been studied by a select few.
It is very nice that America has one day of the year to sit down and give thanks for everything. But as Jews, everyday is thanks giving! In fact, the power of recognizing the blessings one has and offering thanks to the Almighty is very important and has even brought miracles to many people. It is something that is not always easy to do because we tend to focus on what we are lacking rather than on what we have.
Our forefather Abraham (Avraham Avinu) stood up against the entire world. At that time, everyone worshipped idols. He was one person against the multitude. He stood up against falseness and lies. The whole world was against him. Nimrod tried to kill him by throwing him in a fiery furnace. His own father Terach tried to kill him. But Avraham did not care. He knew the truth. He understood about the Creator o f the world and he stood up against all lies and spent his life spreading the truth to others.