I thought I heard on the news this morning that 5 Jews in Bondi were attacked by youths shouting antisemitic insults. I hope it is wrong. I wonder what is wrong with our world when I look at the disgraceful treatment of the Jewish people. In the Middle East you are the only friends we have. Antisemitism makes no sense at all. You are not aggressors, you only try to maintain a peaceful existence. A very friendly people who have suffered atrocities that ought never be forgotten. And now Jews are attacked on the streets of Sydney!? If it indeed happened, please accept my deepest apology on behalf of my country.
An Ordinary Aussie
I am afraid you heard right, this attack did happen. And I thank you for your sincere words of support to our community at this painful time.
As you say, antisemitism doesn't make sense. Only complete fools and amoral academics are able to justify singling out Jews for contempt. The rest of us are better off not understanding their hatred.
But I think this unfortunate episode tells us something else about Australia. As a fifth generation Australian myself, my pride in our wonderful country has only grown this week. I'll tell you why.
After the Jewish family was attacked by this mob, witnesses intervened to try to save them. A security guard from a nearby pub rushed over, and a taxi driver passing by jumped out of his cab to try and hold back the assailants. These everyday heroes endangered themselves to help complete strangers in the middle of the night.
The attack was indeed a despicable act of mindless violence. But it was not unique. It could have happened anywhere in the world at any time in history. But the outpouring of support from the government and the police, the media and religious leaders, and ordinary Aussies like yourself, could only happen in a place like Australia.
The cowardly mob who picked a fight with a couple of sweet grandparents are not representative of the ordinary Aussie. The bystanders who bravely intervened are. And so are you.
My wife has no sense of humour. She says I make fun of her in public (and she's always happy to tell me just how bad I am - even in public). Shouldn't she be able to take a joke?
Jokes are serious. The line between a friendly jibe and a humiliating stab is often a fine one. You have to question whether the laugh you may get is worth the pain you may inflict. But between husband and wife, humiliation is simply criminal. It goes against everything that a marriage is supposed to be: an exclusive oneness.
In the Jewish wedding ceremony, after standing under the Chuppa, the bride and groom are taken to a private room, known as the Yichud room. Yichud means oneness and exclusivity. By entering this room, a secluded place where no one is present but the couple, they create a sacred space that is theirs and theirs alone.
The newlyweds leave the Yichud room after a few minutes, but in a way they should never leave it. The privacy and oneness of the Yichud room must be taken with them in their marriage. The relationship between husband and wife is a sacred and secluded place, and should stay that way. Any word or action that jeopardises the privacy and unity of a marriage must be erased from our repertoire.
When you make fun of your wife in front of your friends, you have momentarily stepped out of the Yichud room. You have abandoned your soul-partner, leaving her alone and isolated just for a few cheap laughs. To make a joke is fine, but never at the expense of your oneness.
When your wife publicly criticises you, she has allowed strangers into the Yichud room. She is inviting others into a moment that should only be between the two of you. There is a time and a place for criticism in a relationship, but not in the presence of others.
These mistakes are so common that to many they have become acceptable. But it is these little things that can erode a good marriage. For a relationship to thrive it must always remain an exclusive oneness. Once you get comfortable in the Yichud room, you'll never want to leave.
The current bushfires across NSW and in particular in the Blue Mountains and the Southern Highlands have had a devastating impact on thousands of people and are continuing to threaten many homes.
We pray that G-d Almighty has mercy and brings a swift end to this terrible catastrophe, comforts the bereaved and heals the wounded.
"Here at Chabad North Shore we have opened our premises to house people who are in dire need of a place to stay as a temporary home" said Rabbi Nochum Schapiro of Chabad North Shore. "We have 40 bedrooms (each with en suites) which are ready and available to accommodate those in need."
There are a number of people who have already arrived today, among them a mother and two young children who have been forced to evacuate. She said with tears "You don't know how much this means to me!"We are in contact with more people in the area who may need to evacuate in the near future if things take a turn for the worse.
HOW YOU CAN HELP.
Adopt. We are asking assistance to temporarily adopt a cat or a dog.
Volunteer.We are also appealing for Volunteers to assist in a range of tasks required. To help, please contact us via the details below.
Appeal.We have launched an Appeal to help us accommodate these people and make their stay here as comfortable as possible. To make a tax deductible donation pleaseclick here.
Assistance.If you know of anyone who needs assistance or support during this time, please contact us via the details below.
On behalf of the victims we are thankful to all those who have already come forward to assist, and to the range of communal organisations who have offered psychological help, aid, food and Government assistance, including The Jewish House, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Young Adult Chabad, Jewish Aid, Chabad of RARA, The Yeshiva Centre and Our Big Kitchen.
We are shocked and saddened by the loss of life and property resulting from the ongoing bushfires throughout NSW. The Yeshiva Centre is coordinating and assisting relief efforts and call upon all community members to get involved, whether by volunteering or donating.
More than 1,200 meals, soups and Babkas were cooked today at Yeshiva's Our Big Kitchen by dozens of volunteers and will be distributed tomorrow to victims and firefighters.
There will be another special bushfire cook-in on Wed 30th of October at 6.30pm . RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org (Please bring $18 on the night to cover the cost of produce). There will be other opportunities to come in and volunteeer with bushfire relief, so please register your interest with our volunteer co-ordinator Jodi at email@example.com
If you have family or friends in or around Canberra, please inform them that Chabad of the ACT are running a cook-in and toy drive to help the NSW bushfire victims. For more details please contact Rabbi Shmueli Feldman on firstname.lastname@example.org
May our collective efforts bring some measure of comfort to the victims and may G-d Almighty bless the people of NSW with safety, protection and peace.
Rabbi Pinchus Feldman OAM Dean and Spiritual Leader, The Yeshiva Centre - Chabad NSW HQ
It seems that my family are the modern day wandering Jews. We have moved from city to city 5 times in the last 7 years. We like where we are now sort of, but we are always slightly on the edge (or not so slightly), making a living thank G-d, but unhappy with the schools, unhappy with the medical care, the weather, etc. We have even gone back to the place we just came from, only to leave again when things don't work out.
We need to be in one place for our 13 yr old daughter, but I don't know which place it should be. What should we do?
It is very clear where you need to be. You need to be where you are right now. G-d has put you there for a reason. Though you think you chose to be there, in fact you were directed there from above.
One of the names of G-d in Hebrew is Hamakom, which literally means The Place. There is a divine hand that leads us to the place we are in. So when the Talmud says, "Do not argue with Hamakom," it doesn't only mean you shouldn't have gripes with G-d. It means you need to make peace with the place G-d has put you. You are there because you couldn't be anywhere else.
You may never be completely happy with any place you live. But you will be able to settle, as soon as you decide that this is it, this is home, this is where G-d wants us to be and we are going nowhere. The very thought that you can always move, makes it likely that you will always move. But the acceptance that you are in the right place will itself help you see that you belong there.
Now of course, sometimes we do need to move. But only with a very clear message from heaven that it's time to go. Until then, put all your energy into making your little corner of the world a place where you and your family feel at home. Find out why you are needed there. And put your trust in Hamakom.
I was watching a debate between the famous atheist Richard Dawkins and some rabbi about religion and G-d. Dawkins said that religions are just money machines, and its leaders fleece their gullible followers of their cash and come out rich. What do you have to say about that?
So Dawkins is saying that for believers, money trumps morality. I assume he holds that atheists are different. Let's test that hypothesis. What happens when people need to choose between money and principles? Let's try the following theoretical experiment.
Imagine you put Richard Dawkins in a sealed room all alone, with no one watching, no recording devices or CCTV's, and you offer him a deal: "I will give you ten million dollars if you will make the following statement right here and now: G-d most certainly does exist, He created the universe, and atheism is a delusion. I will never tell anyone that you said it. There will be no record of this one off event. Just make the statement, get the cash, and it will all be forgotten."
Does anyone have any doubt that Richard Dawkins would go for it and take the money? Can you think of any reason in the world for him to refuse that offer? Would he even hesitate to accept it? I think clearly not.
Now imagine you put the rabbi he debated in that same sealed room, all alone, and made this offer: "Rabbi, you will receive ten million dollars cash, tax free, no strings attached, but on one condition - you eat this piece of bacon. No one will ever find out, it will not go beyond this room, it will be forgotten forever. Just eat and take the prize."
What would the rabbi do? Would he too sell his principles for ten million dollars? After all, it's just a one-off, and no one will ever know.
Let's be honest. Rabbis are humans too, and some rabbis may find the temptation too hard to resist. But I would say that the overwhelming majority of rabbis would refuse this offer and walk away. And not just rabbis, but observant Jews, including those who could desperately use the money, would be able to withstand the test and not eat the bacon.
I am not suggesting that religious people do no wrong. I am saying that a religious person has reason to stand for their principles even when they can get away with it, and reason to regret it when they fail. It makes no difference that no one will find out or no one is looking. G-d is always looking. An atheist doesn't have that restriction. I don't believe that even one single atheist in their right mind would refuse to abrogate their atheism when there is something to gain and no one will find out.
Money is indeed a powerful corrupter. But in a choice between money and G-d, at least G-d has a chance. Between money and atheism, there is no contest.
I need help with my in-laws again. They want to know what name we are giving our baby (born yesterday). I told them you are not supposed to tell anyone the name of your newborn before the official naming ceremony, which happens for a girl at a Torah reading in synagogue, and for a boy at his Bris. This is so the name should be given in holy surroundings as a blessing for the child (right?). My wife's family have never heard of this and say it is silly superstition. They are a little pushy and think they have a right to know their grandchild's name already, but I want to wait. So who's right?
Concealing a baby's name before it becomes official is not just a mystical thing. There is a very practical reason for it as well. From the sound of things, you and your in-laws need to hear it.
A name is the label of the soul. A person's energy, their mission and their essence are expressed in their name. Parents are given a flash of prophecy to choose the right name for the right soul. They and they alone are given this insight, and so the power to choose the name for a child belongs to the parents.
When parents share the name with others before it has been given, they open themselves to more opinions. This one wants the name to be after her late mother, and that one thinks the name you chose is too Jewish. As long as the name has not been bestowed officially there is still scope for argument and debate, and everyone feels they have the right to share their thoughts. The reactions you get to the name, like a scrunched up nose, a quizzical look, or stone cold silence, can leave you unsure of your choice.
Why ask for trouble? Let the parents decide on the name between themselves without any outside interference, and let everyone else find out the name once it is a done deal and there is no room for further discussion. The prophecy is theirs and no one else's. Keeping the name under wraps allows the parents to hold that space as their own until the time is right to share it.
I am sure your in-laws mean well. But your baby's name is for you and your wife to choose. It isn't often we get to be a prophet for a day. They already had their chance. Now is yours.