Battles within


2010-09-30.jpg.jpgA constant battle rages within us on a regular basis. Sometimes we are aware of it, and sometimes we are not.

After many years (in this week’s Torah portion), Rebecca and Isaac were finally blessed with a child, but the pregnancy was such a nightmare that Rebecca even wondered why she had been praying for it for so long.

Turns out, Rebecca was carrying twins. And apparently not just any twins but twins who would become the heads of nations, two very different and opposing nations. So what Rebecca was experiencing during her pregnancy was an intense struggle of opposite extremes within her. 

When she passed by a house of idol worship, one child got excited and when she passed a Jewish house of worship or study the other made a big commotion. There was constant motion and discord. 

What's interesting is that in fact we all have a similar kind of battle going on inside each of us on a regular basis. Sometimes we are aware of it, and sometime we are not. 

It's not twins, and in most cases it's not even a pregnancy at all:), rather we all contain two opposing souls within us. 

One of those souls is the G-dly soul, pursuing spiritual connection and actualization. And the other is the 'animal' soul whose entire purpose is to ensure physical comfort. 

By very definition these two souls are in a state of constant conflict. One wants spirituality, the other wants physicality; two things that are mutually exclusiveand constantly pull us in opposite directions. 

So if you're wondering what that feeling of unrest is, perhaps you're tuning in to your souls. 

How do we calm these two forces? Well, the first step is to know what they are and why they are doing what they’re doing. Once Rebecca heard what was going on, she managed to get through her challenging pregnancy.

The next step is to figure out whose lead we want to follow, the G-dly soul or the animal soul. We can do that by understanding the nature of ourselves and our purpose in this world.

(And in case you haven’t heard this from me before; the best way to figure all that out is through the study of the book Tanya, authored by R Shneur Zalman of Liadi in 1796.)

Hope to see you on Shabbat!


Picture of the week: 

0896e5c7247842b1f36fa87495720888.jpgMentoring event with Marc Rowan, founder of Apollo Management

Dating, our way


Have you ever wondered about the Jewish take on dating? Well, this week’s Torah portion tells us about the first recorded shidduch. Perhaps we can take a few ideas that might just apply to us today.

Isaac is deemed ‘of age’ and so, his father Abraham, sends his trusted servant Eliezer to the city of Aram Nahraim to find an appropriate wife for him, fromamong his own people’.

On his journey, Eliezer prays for Divine assistance in finding the right girl, and so when he arrives into town he sees immediately that Rebecca is blessed with a miracle. The water from the well rises up to her.

Eliezer is excited about his find, but waits for one more component. When he asks her for a drink, she happily gives him water and then tells him that she will also give his herd of camels to drink, until they are no longer parched.

Eliezer is struck by her kindness and generosity, and then showers her with gifts and jewelry from his master. And goes home to meet her family.

With the divorce rate in our country over 50%, it seems quite obvious that we are doing something wrong, and what I find interesting is that the numbers of people turning to online matchmaking sights is growing rapidly. A website, claims to be hugely successful. Not only in the numbers of marriages that their matches have procured, but they also claim that thesemarriages are more likely to be lasting and fulfilling.

Eliezer searched for a wife for Isaac; 1) from among his own people, 2) he prayed for divine assistance and 3) he looked for character traits and values. While matchmaking websites won’t pray for you (that’s your department) they will filter people according to background, character traits and values. And only when those boxes are checked, will they introduce you.

But what about chemistry you ask? Chemistry is a funny thing. Chemistry is an integral part of a relationship and of keeping two people together, but the problem with chemistry is that it can cloud a person’s judgment. So the appropriate time to see if there is chemistry is after the original boxes have been checked. Once you know that the person you are about to meet shares your values, is the kind of person you are looking for, then make sure that there is chemistry between the two of you.

With both components in place, the chances of a relationship being enduring and fulfilling are significantly higher.

“And Isaac took Rebecca to his mother’s tent, he married her and he loved her.” Or in less biblical terms, ‘they lived happily ever after’.

Maybe we can too!


P.S. Showering a gal with gifts and jewelry can't hurt;)

Picture of the week: 

Super fun Challah baking and tasting class.


First Chabad House Ever:

This week says it all; for us here at Chabad at Penn anyway.

You see in this week’s Torah portion (vayeira), Abraham and Sarah set up the very first Chabad House in the history of mankind.

Abraham and Sarah were considered the first Jews because they were the first to discover monotheism, and once they came to that realization they immediately set out to share that awesome truth with anyone and everyone they came in contact with.

It was a mammoth task. They were the only G-d believing people on earth, it was them against everyone. They were mocked, ridiculed and completely disregarded. Yet they persevered, because they knew that when you taste the truth, it sets you on fire, makes your insides dance and makes you want to share that light with anyone and everyone you meet.

This was their mission, and together they changed the face of history.

So what does that have to do with a Chabad House?

While we don’t share their challenges or face a hostile world the way they did, the text and the Talmud tell us that their home became a center. Open doors on all sides,literally and figuratively. Open for all to enter and open for all to feel welcome. Abraham and Sarah served good food, not just the basics:), and offered a place for visitors to work through their concerns or questions.

And so, we humbly join their tradition in inviting you into our tent. Join us for some good food, to meet great people and to explore your Judaism.

Hope to see you soon!

~Nechama ~

Picture of the week: 

20131014_205440.jpgAwesome group of new Sinai Scholars in session.

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