Food For the Soul
Preparing for Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the universe, the day G-d created Adam and Eve, and it’s celebrated as the head of the Jewish year. It begins at sundown on the eve of Tishrei 1 (Sept. 6, 2021) and ends after nightfall on Tishrei 2 (Sept. 8, 2021). Since we have not yet seen the end of the pandemic many are preparing to celebrate the holiday alone; physically distant from family and friends. If you are planning to spend Rosh Hashanah in isolation, there are some tips and reminders just for you on Chabad.org
At MADA, preparations are underway to unite our community in hope and joy. We will once again be providing special Shana Tova food boxes as well as our usual yearly Holiday Food Grocery Item Baskets. To learn how to participate in this event as a donor, volunteer or recipient, click here.
While we are still in the Jewish month of Elul, it’s the perfect time to look inwards, reflect on how the year has gone until now and prepare spiritually for the High Holidays. Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of the Chabad movement, likens the month of Elul to a time when “the king is in the field” in contrast to the High Holidays when he is in the royal palace behind the royal guards. Right now, G-d is accessible, calling out to us and “everyone who so desires is permitted (and able) to meet him, and he receives them all with a cheerful countenance, showing a smiling face to them all.”
May we all be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet year!
The series of Selichot (“supplication”) prayers recited in preparation for the “Days of Awe” of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur begin this Saturday night, after midnight (after the Ashkenazic custom; the Sephardic community begins on the 1st of Elul). On subsequent days, the custom is to recite the Selichot in the early morning hours, before the morning prayers, each morning up to and including Elul 29, the eve of Rosh Hashanah. Selichot are communal prayers for Divine forgiveness. For information visit about them visit Chabad.org
Mind Over Matter
Happiness as an acquired state
The Torah suggests that joyfulness is a state of mind which we should aspire to achieve in virtually every situation, especially when things are going well, but even if unfortunately, there are set-backs. A long section of the Torah describes the terrible suffering which will come to the Jewish people if, when they are in the Land of Israel, they do not properly serve G-d. Yet then comes a surprising statement. Why have these terrible things happened? “Because you did not serve G-d with joy and a happy heart, when you had everything” (Deuteronomy 28:47) Maimonides writes that this verse shows that one must serve G-d with joy. The same comment is made by the great kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria, and this is a central theme of the Chassidic movement. Our lives as Jews should be joyful; keeping Commandments should be joyful. Even when we have done wrong, perhaps something seriously wrong, and we regret the past and attempt to mend our ways for the future — we should at the same time be joyful that G-d grants us this possibility of change.
From an article by Dr. Tali Loewenthal
“This day, G-d, your G-d commands you to perform the decrees and the statutes…” Ki Tavo 26:16
Our sages teach that the words “this day” imply that the Divine commands must always be to you as something new, as if you had been commanded them now, this very day. This applies also to our actions and endeavors to hasten the redemption. They must be innovative. One is not to be content with the mere addition of more deeds from one day to the next. Our activities must be in a mode of “something truly new.” Thus will be fulfilled the prophecy of “the new heavens and the new earth” (Isaiah 66:22) that will be with the coming of Moshiach.
Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet
Have I Got A Story
Naomi is married to a goal-oriented individual. Due to his overloaded schedule, they rarely spend quality time with each other. One day, Naomi phoned her husband. An important client had called. She had taken the initiative and scheduled a meeting for 8:00 that evening at an elegant restaurant.
Naomi’s husband thanked her and assured her that he would rearrange his schedule to make the meeting. By 7:55 Naomi’s husband was seated in a quiet corner of the restaurant. By 7:57 PM, he had instructed the waiter to come to the table as soon as his guest arrives. At a minute to 8:00, he clicked off his cell phone.
A few moments later, to his utter astonishment, Naomi entered the restaurant. Purposefully, she made her way to his table and gracefully sat down. His perplexed expression briefly turned to annoyance, then to anger, but finally settled on admiration as it dawned on him that his wife was the “important client who had been trying to meet him for a long time.”
“It will be, when you come into the land which G-d gives you for an inheritance . . . that you shall take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, and you shall put it into a basket and go to the place that your G-d will choose to have His Name dwell there. You shall come to the kohen who will be serving in those days… “ (Deuteronomy 26:1-3)
The bikkurim, the “first fruit” offering, had to be the very best quality, produced in the Holy Land, from the very first fruits to ripen. These fruits were brought to the Holy Temple to express gratitude to G-d for the opportunity of settling in the Land of Israel and for blessing its produce. (Mishneh Torah, Bikkurim 2:1 and 2:3)
Maimonides explains that “everything that is for the sake of G-d should be of the best and most beautiful. When one builds a house of prayer, it should be more beautiful than his own dwelling. When one feeds the hungry, he should feed him of the best and sweetest of his table. Whenever one designates something for a holy purpose, he should sanctify the finest of his possessions, as it is written (Leviticus 3:16), ‘The choicest to G-d.’”
In devoting the “first-ripened fruits” of our life to G-d, we are in effect saying: Here is the focus of my existence. Quantitatively, this may represent but a small part of what I am; but the purpose of everything I do is to enable this portion of spirit to rise above my matter-clogged life.
Bikkurim teaches us to establish priorities. In the myriad responsibilities of the “daily grind,” it reminds us to give precedence—and devote our strongest, freshest resources—to the people and values that we most cherish.
Have we neglected to schedule quality time with our spouses, to reignite the spark that originally attracted us to each other? Do we allocate time for our children at the end of our day, after we’ve been depleted of energy or initiative to adequately relate to the issues of their lives?
Are we so occupied with pursuing material success that we leave but a few crumbs of energy to nourish our spiritual growth? Do we connect with our Creator in only a few rushed moments of distracted prayers, to assuage our guilt before tackling the “real” tasks of our day?
Step back and prioritize—the first and best of your fruit, time, energy, and resources, must be devoted to G-d. Realize what’s important in your life and schedule that first. Recognize who you most cherish, and connect regularly with those individuals. Don’t allow your life to become so entangled with trivialities that you forget the main purpose of why you’re here.