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Rabbi's Corner

Rabbi's Corner

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Jacob Went On His Way!

 Dear Friend, 

This time of year, I always recall my childhood, growing up around the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi M.M. Schneerson. After a whirlwind month of holidays, the Rebbe would often teach the biblical verse "V'Yaakov Holach L'darko" ("and Jacob went on his way"), as the overarching theme of the time ahead. 

When Simchat Torah passed, we marked the conclusion of the holiday season. Thousands of international guests who had spent a season of spiritual uplift in the presence of this spiritual shepherd and were now rejuvenated with joy, faith and hope, began their journeys back home to their lives, their busy schedules, the humdrum of every day. 

And the message for all of them would be: And Jacob went on his way.

I believe the key word in this message is his.

Some context: This verse, from Genesis, describes our patriarch Jacob's journey after several decades of living in the environment of his unscrupulous uncle Laban. Jacob finally opts out; moves on. Now it's HIS way, the Jacob way, and so begins his journey on the Jacob highway and the formation of our nation.

Our lives and identities are defined by so many factors: gender, nationality, genetics, environment. And- after a powerful month of reconnecting to G-d and our community and our soul- we recognize that we are also "Jacob"-  we are a Jewish self that awakens and asserts itself during this time of year. It is with this strength, a connection to our deepest and truest self, that we move on. 

Here in NYC, reflecting on a month of joyous holidays, record-breaking attendance at our Sutton Place Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services (over 250 beautiful new faces joined in to celebrate), so many experiences in our iconic 53rd Street Sukkah, the dancing-in-the -streets and "holy revelry" of Simchat Torah, one may wonder: what next?  After a month of spiritual reconnection, do we just go back to life as usual? 

The Rebbe would answer that "Jacob went on his way". The journey continues, we take with us our "Jacob", our Jewish self and spirit, and we remember that this journey ahead is not a sprint, it's a marathon. We traverse the spiritual terrain every single Shabbat at our synagogue and at a plethora of educational and community experiences for children and adults of all ages and stages. These opportunities for Jewish connection are all listed in our gorgeous glossy calendar; if you have not gotten your complimentary copy, please email chavah@chabadsutton.org and we'll send it out to you. 

The holiday season has ended but it is now that the journey actually begins. It is my honor to take this journey with you. 

Chodesh Tov, Shabbat Shalom, 

Shmuel Metzger -Rabbi

Dear Friends,

This time of year, I always recall my childhood, growing up around the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi M.M. Schneerson. After a whirlwind month of holidays, the Rebbe would often teach the biblical verse "V'Yaakov Holach L'darko" ("and Jacob went on his way"), as the overarching theme of the time ahead. 

When Simchat Torah passed, we marked the conclusion of the holiday season. Thousands of international guests who had spent a season of spiritual uplift in the presence of this spiritual shepherd and were now rejuvenated with joy, faith and hope, began their journeys back home to their lives, their busy schedules, the humdrum of every day. 

And the message for all of them would be: And Jacob went on his way.

I believe the key word in this message is his.

Some context: This verse, from Genesis, describes our patriarch Jacob's journey after several decades of living in the environment of his unscrupulous uncle Laban. Jacob finally opts out; moves on. Now it's HIS way, the Jacob way, and so begins his journey on the Jacob highway and the formation of our nation.

Our lives and identities are defined by so many factors: gender, nationality, genetics, environment. And- after a powerful month of reconnecting to G-d and our community and our soul- we recognize that we are also "Jacob"-  we are a Jewish self that awakens and asserts itself during this time of year. It is with this strength, a connection to our deepest and truest self, that we move on. 

Here in NYC, reflecting on a month of joyous holidays, record-breaking attendance at our Sutton Place Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services (over 250 beautiful new faces joined in to celebrate), so many experiences in our iconic 53rd Street Sukkah, the dancing-in-the -streets and "holy revelry" of Simchat Torah, one may wonder: what next?  After a month of spiritual reconnection, do we just go back to life as usual? 

The Rebbe would answer that "Jacob went on his way". The journey continues, we take with us our "Jacob", our Jewish self and spirit, and we remember that this journey ahead is not a sprint, it's a marathon. We traverse the spiritual terrain every single Shabbat at our synagogue and at a plethora of educational and community experiences for children and adults of all ages and stages. These opportunities for Jewish connection are all listed in our gorgeous glossy calendar; if you have not gotten your complimentary copy, please email chavah@chabadsutton.org and we'll send it out to you. 

The holiday season has ended but it is now that the journey actually begins. It is my honor to take this journey with you. 

Chodesh Tov, Shabbat Shalom, 

Shmuel Metzger -Rabbi

 

Thank you for joining us!

In the 1930's, the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe received a request for blessing via mail over the holiday of Shavuot. In relaying his reply several days after the holiday, he began by offering apologies for the delay: "This week was Matan Torah- the Giving of the Torah- and I did not yet come down from the mountain, therefore I couldn’t respond until now...”

After a full week of festivities at Chabad, I'm feeling those words. Thank you to everyone who joined us "at the top of the Mountain" this Shavuot!

From late night Torah study to two ice cream parties with a combined total of over 60 children from our neighborhood hearing the reading of the Ten Commandments, to a beautiful Yizkor service on the second day of the holiday and an end-of-holiday  farbrengen, it was a Shavuot to remember. 

Having received the Torah for the 3329th time, let's dig in: This week alone, we present multiple Torah study opportunities at Chabad. This is your gift- come claim it!

Join us on Shabbat, this week as all weeks, for Chassidic Perspectives on the Torah Portion, before Prayers, 9:30am at Chabad, and on:

-Tuesday, June 6, 6:30 PM for Lesson 4 of our current JLI course, as we discuss the Torah's perspective on the issues surrounding Land for Peace.

Wednesday, June 7, 8:30am at Starbucks, First Ave and 53rd Street for weekly Tanya study.

Wednesday, June 7, 8:00pm for women's Rosh Chodesh Torah study, last one for the year, "Living with Joy", with Raizy Metzger.

and so much more. 

Shabbat Shalom!

Shmuel Metzger- Rabbi

From our family to yours, a very happy Passover!

At your Passover Seder next week, I hope you'll be enjoying the company of people you love*, drinking four cups of wine and hopefully hearing someone little and cute asking the famous Four Questions.

In that spirit, allow me to pose four questions of my own:

1- How can we ensure that every Jewish individual and family finds a point of entry into the Jewish community and gains access to our timeless heritage?

2- Is it possible to educate every child in our community to grow up as a productive Mentsch and experience the warmth of Yiddishkeit?

3- Is there a lonely senior, forgotten in an apartment, who could use a friendly smile and hot food?

4- How can we pass on the treasure of Jewish tradition which we have been given, and ensure a vibrant and educated new generation of Jewish leaders?

At Chabad at Beekman-Sutton, from our center in Sutton Place, we address these questions daily-- not with rhetoric but with nonstop action! With our renowned preschool, Adult Education Institute, weekly Torah classes, open-door Synagogue, public holiday celebrations for the entire community, chicken soup delivery for seniors, and so much more, we are opening doors to meaningful Jewish experiences for many thousands each year.

All of this is made possible by local support. We receive no funding from any central office; our entire operating budget is raised and spent here in our community. This Passover, as we bring the warmth of the holiday to our community, I encourage you to support our Passover Campaign, to give generously by clicking here and in that merit, may G-d bless you and those you love with health and success in all you do.

As you sit down to the Seder this Passover, please know how much we appreciate your partnering with us to answer these questions and build a brighter future.

Yours sincerely,

Shmuel Metzger- Rabbi

Win Big!

Dear Friend,

I would like to thank our many valued partners who have made contributions during 2016. Our open synagogue, trailblazing Jewish  Montessori  preschool, top-notch adult education and so much more is only possible thanks to people like you!

As we enter the final weeks of 2016, we have launched a year-end campaign to help us end the year on a strong financial footing. OUR GOAL IS TO RAISE $50,000 before January 1, 2017. To do that, we're running a raffle with great prizes. The Grand Prize is $10,000, making your charitable gift a triple win: While helping Chabad build for a Jewish future with a fully tax deductible donation, you're entered to win great prizes. We are confident that with your support we can reach our goal.

As you consider your year-end contributions, I ask that you please include Chabad at Beekman-Sutton and make a generous contribution to the raffle . 

Your partnership in our vital work will reduce your tax burden and is an "investment" that will yield everlasting returns. Children and adults engaged in meaningful Jewish experiences today ensure the future of Judaism for our children, as generations before us have ensured it for us. Your assistance helps us reach out to the community at large with Jewish awareness and educaton, in addition to helping us cover our school and synagogue budget. 

We are committed to building and strengthening our community. We can't do it without you.

You may not be aware that Chabad at Beekman-Sutton is financially independent and supported entirely by local donors. We are a not-for-profit and federally approved 501(c) (3) organization. All donations are raised locally and stay local and are 100% tax deductible. You may send your check to the address below or make a donation online by clicking  here. 

Single raffle tickets are $36, and you can increase your chances (and your mitzvah) with ticket packages, $300 for 10 tickets, $770 for 25 tickets, and $1000 for 30 tickets.

With the help of dedicated supporters from our local community, Chabad has been bringing light to NYC for ten years now. Help us keep that light burning strongly with a year end contribution.

Raffle Drawing will take place on January 8, 2017. I hope you win!

Thank you very much for your friendship and support,

Sincerely,

Rabbi Shmuel Metzger

P.S. Please join us on Sutton Place and East 57th Street, on Sunday December 25, 4:00pm for our 10th annual grand Menorah lighting celebration, a celebration of light and Jewish pride for the entire community, and one of many projects directly funded by your participation in this raffle. Happy Chanukah!

25 Years Later

Dear Friend,

This week marks 25 years since the disbanding of the Soviet Union and the end of the cold war, and the beginning of complete religious freedom for Soviet Jewry. Even for people like myself, who had been hearing the Lubavitcher Rebbe foretell this event for many years, the swift and non violent fall of a vast communist empire was astonishing and miraculous, nothing short of a modern day Exodus from Egypt. "Let my People Go!", the battle cry of the worldwide Jewish community in the 70's and 80's, became a reality as tens of thousands of our brothers and sisters emigrated to the US and Israel and enjoyed their first taste of religious freedom.

Twenty five years later is a good time to reflect on these monumental events and remind ourselves of the latter half of the above mentioned verse: "Let me people go..so they may serve Me!" Religious freedom is a gift we have been granted, and one that nearly every Jew in the entire world can enjoy today. What a blessing this is! In a world of many frightening and dark possibilities, remember that we live in a very special era, one where all the wonder and wisdom of our Jewish heritage is open and available to us. If you're looking for a 2017 resolution, here's my suggestion: Take advantage of your personal religious freedom and study some Torah. Raizy and I are running multiple Torah learning opportunities here in the Sutton Place area, see below for details, and join us!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Shmuel Metzger 

New Beginnings

This Shabbat brings to mind the over-used (but always appropriate) ending line of many wedding videos: Not the End...Just the Beginning. Ever seen that one? Similar to a wedding, these last few weeks of High Holidays have been filled with excitement, spiritual highs, and non-stop action. But as we all know: real life begins after the wedding, and a true commitment is displayed in the way life is lived once the celebrations have quieted down.

The drama and the romance of the High Holidays are over. But now is the time to dedicate ourselves and display our commitment to our relationship with G-d, family and community. Join us THIS Shabbat, Oct 29 as we begin a new cycle of Torah reading with the book of Genesis/Bereishit, and begin the New Year in earnest. The Jewish Learning Institute begins next week, and now is a perfect time to sign up and commit to the study of Torah.

L'chaim to new beginnings, and Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Shmuel Metzger 

Big News!

In case you missed it, there's big news in the world of communications: the new waterproof iPhone 7 is here. To be expected, the tech-faithful are camping out on Fifth Avenue praying to get the $160 wireless earbuds (there is no option to plug in traditional headphones) before they sell out.

As for me, I've been test driving my trusted Shofar for the High Holidays. Doesn't need recharging, volume is consistently perfect, and it even comes complete with a timeless curved design.

I invite you to hear the Shofar at our Signature High Holiday Experience at Lexicon on 54th Street. The atmosphere is warm and upscale, the prayers and songs are beautiful, the company is great and Raizy and I look forward to greeting you.

To get the neighborhood into the High Holidays spirit, we've teamed up with Councilmember Ben Kallos to once again bring you New Year in New York: A High Holidays Concert and Fair on Sutton Place. Join us nextSunday, September 25 at the East 57th Street cul-de-sac from 4:00-6:00pm.Local bakeries will be giving out honey cake samples, there will be live music and fun for all ages.


As we come into the home stretch before a New Year, may all our prayers and communications be heard on high and answered favorably for good!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Shmuel Metzger

Chodesh Tov!

As we enter the month of Menachem-Av allow me to share with you a beautiful story from the Talmud (Makkot 24b).

After the destruction of the second temple the sages and Rabi Akiba went up to Jerusalem. When they reached Mt. Scopus, they tore their garments in mourning. When they reached the Temple Mount, they saw a fox emerging from the place of the Holy of Holies. The others started crying; Rabbi Akiva laughed.

Said they to him: "Why are you laughing?"

Said he to them: "Why are you crying?"

Said they to him: "A place [so holy] that it is said of it, 'the stranger that approaches it shall die, and now foxes traverse it, and we shouldn't cry?"

Said he to them: "That is why I laugh. For two prophesies are written. The prophesy of doom of Uriah  'Therefore, because of you, Zion shall be plowed as a field; [Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the Temple Mount like the high places of a forest.]'  and then the prophesy of redemption of Zecharia as it is written 'Old men and women shall yet sit in the streets of Jerusalem".

"As long as Uriah's prophecy had not been fulfilled, I feared that Zechariah's prophecy may not be fulfilled either. But now that Uriah's prophecy has been fulfilled, it is certain that Zechariah's prophecy will be fulfilled."

With these words they replied to him: "Akiva, you have consoled us! Akiva, you have consoled us!"

The Rebbe elucidates that Rabi Akiva was not only an optimist with the right perspective, rather a Baal Teshuvah and descendant of converts. As such he had a frame of reference far beyond his peers and the walls of the Yeshiva, he truly understood G-d's plan, first darkness then light. They were not veiwing destruction rather a demolition site for the construction of third and final temple by Almighty G-d himself.

As we look around the world and see poverty, indifference, darkness, and divisiveness let us do our small part to help others and remind ourselves, friends around us and the world the timely and comforting message of Rabi Akiva; Good days are up ahead!

On the subject of days up ahead, stay tuned for the high holiday schedule which will be posted in the e-newsletter of next week.

With wishes for a good Shabbos/Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Shmuel Metzger

Saving lives

This week, we hosted a CPR training at Chabad, thanks to our wonderful friend Susan Izatt, infant educator extraordinaire. As I practiced chest compressions, it occurred to me- thinking of the Baal Shem Tov's instruction to uncover spiritual insight in every encounter- that there were many lessons to be learned here. The idea of communal responsibility struck me. Susan, like many other kind and caring professionals, carries a CPR kit with her wherever she goes, and with her level of certification, she actually bears some legal responsibility to intervene in an emergency. We are all responsible for each other; not only in a spiritual, ephemeral way but truly and legally. We do not live in a vacuum.

At one point in the course, we were shown a nifty little device that allows air into the patient, but does not allow the patient's breath to transfer back. A fitting metaphor, I thought, for spiritual fortitude: when spreading light and goodness around us, we put ourselves out there, and need to ensure that those we lift up do not pull us down. Our device for ensuring that are the words of the Torah; surrounding ourselves with them strengthens us as we light up our surroundings.

My final insight from the course was drawn from the specificity of the protocol: thirty chest compression's, at exactly the right spot, followed by two breaths, etc etc. All that order reminded me of the Seder, which actually means "Order". And the precision with which the steps are detailed, each one with careful intent- a CPR for the enslaved soul, if you will, as detailed and precise as CPR for the body- provided me with the most profound insight of the evening.

On the topic of the Seder, don't wait: Our most magnificent, white-glove Seder, this year at Mike's Bistro, right here in the neighborhood and widely considered the best kosher restaurant in NYC (with the highest Zagat rating for exceptional cuisine) is now open for reservations by calling our office at 212.758.3770. This Seder is the ultimate in community warmth and high-end luxury, and we hope to see you there.

With warm wishes for a Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Shmuel Metzger

PS: Don't just rely on CPR training: protect yourself and your family with a Mezuzah on every door of your home. Chabad's new Mezuzah Concierge Service, exclusively for our area, is your ultimate Mezuzah solution.

The Menorah's Message

In this week's Torah portion we read about the construction of the Mishkan- Tabernacle and the very first mention of that most immediately recognizable Jewish symbol: the seven-branched candelabra known as the Menorah.

Iconic and familiar as it is, the shape of the Menorah deserves some inquiry: If the purpose was to illuminate, why not one large torch, or perhaps, seven distinct lights? There must be a subtext to the unique seven-branch design, stemming from a single base and made- as per G-d's instructions- from one solid piece of gold.

Indeed there is, and as we watch the ‘you-couldn't-make-this-stuff-up’ reality show that is the 2016 election season unfold, the Menorah's timeless message becomes ever more relevant.

Chassidic thought teaches that the seven branches of the Menorah are analogous to seven distinct personality types that comprise the totality of human personality and expression. Some may be more inclined to liberal sensibilities, while others may be more conservative and fiscally conscious; we may have dramatically different views on key issues of great importance.


And yet: while the differences between us are real, we are all branches of one light; essentially, we are one entity working together to be a beacon of light and make this world a brighter place. Like the ancient Jewish Sanhedrin: A Supreme Court with no less than 71 Judges (!) and a vast range of dissenting opinions-- and yet unified with a common purpose. That essential unity of all humankind is a message we would do well to remember.

My wife Raizy and I are currently leading the interactive Jewish Course of Why at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. If you have not done so already, I strongly encourage you to join a sophisticated group- diverse in so many ways- but tackling sociological, religious, and yes, even political issues together.

We look forward to greeting you.

Warm regards,
Rabbi Shmuel Metzger

One Day for Chabad

WOW! ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY THREE people have stepped up and participated in OneDayForChabad.com!

We are at 90% with just two hours to go. Can we do it??? Can we reach the finish line? With your help, we will!

Join the campaign at www.OneDayforChabad.com

If you haven't given yet, NOW is the time! 

And for some inspiration, here are our Top Ten:

  TOP TEN REASONS TO DONATE AT  WWW.ONEDAYFORCHABAD.COM:

10. Super fun, awesome holiday parties. Ever been to the Sutton Place Chanukah celebration? Or an amazing Purim celebration with hundreds of local families? That's us.
9. Really nice people. It's called Ahavat Yisrael, and we take it seriously.
8. Someone's gotta tend to the spirit and the soul... that's where we come in.
7. Did you know that we send food every Friday to several elderly seniors in the neighborhood who are lonely and just need a home-cooked meal?
6. Our cande lighting magnets went out to 3000 homes in the 10022 zipcode this year. That's a LOT of Shabbat light happening.
5. No one is ever turned away from The Chabad Preschool for lack of funds, even if that requires a nearly full scholarship. It's a commitment we're proud of.
4. Our preschool program is not just Jewish, warm and loving, it also offers the most progressive, Reggio inspired education you can find. Just ask our legions of parent fans!
3. It costs a whole heck of a lot to live here. Now imagine running a Synagogue here! Every donation helps.
2. We're a not-for-profit. And more not-for-profit than other not-for-profits. Everything is tax deductible, plus you get a Mitzvah.

1. It's all very local here. We get no seed $ or support from any umbrella organization. Our whole budget is raised right here and given right back to the community. This online fundraiser is crucial for us to end 2015 in the BLACK.

YOUR CONTRIBUTION CAN GET US TO THE FINISH LINE! 

Thank you!

Month of Light and Miracles

Today we celebrate Rosh Chodesh Kislev and welcome the month of miracles and Chanukah lights.

Chanukah is more than a commemoration of "They tried to annihilate us, G-d saved us, now let's eat". The military campaign between our people and the ancient Hellenist Greeks was an expression of an even greater battle of cultures.

The Hellenists were all about the empirical and the human physique. In their culture the ultimate champion was one who excelled in a run swim or jump. To be sure, The Torah is also for living a healthy lifestyle but as a means to an ends. Judaism champions the spirit (there is something SO Jewish about the special Olympics). The ancient Coliseums make a sightly tourist attraction, the G-dly spirit of the Torah endures forever.

The materialism versus meaningfulness battle still rages in both the individual and the world. The antidote to the pursuit of materialism is study and the pursuit of something higher. At Chabad Beekman-Sutton we have opportunities for all ages and stages to explore the G-dly and spiritual, I personally recommend our weekly Rohr JLI class our most popular to date. To sign up please click here

Good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Metzger

The light of our soul

We are on the threshold of the wonderful new month of Kislev - The month of light, when we will commemorate and celebrate the festival of Yud Tes Kislevand Chanukah representing both physical and more importantly spiritual light.

We are all endowed with a candle within - a soul. We are way more than just a sum of cells with an electric current, we are all vivified with a spark of G-d with a mission to illuminate our world. The Rebbe would always emphasize that a small candle can illuminate a room of deep darkness, how much more so a symphony of small candles working together to dispel indifference to the spiritual and each other.

Interested to study more about the soul that makes you tick? Join Raizy and I for week 2 of The Jewish Learning Institute. We will explore ancient text on the workings of the soul and its journey to this material realm. This is by far our best attended JLI to date and for good reason. To reserve click here.

I look forward to greeting the real you!

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Shmuel Metzger

Beginning Anew

Shehechiyanu V'kimonu V'higioyonu Lazman Hazeh!

Last week, we re-rolled the Torah to the beginning and we're off on a new start. Since we're a year older and wiser, we read the same text, searching for fresh insight and wisdom in G-d's user manual for creation.

In the week's portion, "Noach" we see all of humanity destroyed; with only Noach and family (and wildlife) preserved. A generation or so later, the nations of the nascent population unite to build a monument tower, the likes of which had never been attempted, in a symbol of mutiny against G-d. The Almighty is not pleased and creates a language barrier between the nations, an episode known as "The Tower of Babel".  

 

The Rebbe would often point out that the generation of Noach was breakdown of "Man vs. Man" behavior, while the Tower of Babel was a popular uprising of "Man vs. G-d". The latter was not tolerated, but did not warrant ultimate destruction. The former, a chaos of humanity at war with each other, was enough to flood the entire civilization and destroy it. The Rebbe would point out the importance of our interpersonal relationships, and the imperative to love our fellow as ourselves.

After a week of bloodshed and fear in our Holy Land, Parshat Noach reminds us of G-d's distaste for violence, His abhorrence of fighting among His children and His love of peace. May all people understand the lesson of this week's Portion: that to know and love G-d is to love and act kindly toward the innocent, to protect them from who would harm them, and thus to avoid bloodshed and achieve peace.

May we merit a true Peace in the Land of Israel, a Peace through Strength, where those who would resort to violence and bloodshed are deterred and the safety of all good and peace-seeking people is secured.

May Hashem bless His children with peace! Shabbat Shalom!


 

Shmuel

P.S. As Jews, we know that our physical protection is very much connected to our spiritual activities, and when we pray or dedicate a good deed to our brothers and sisters in Israel, we create a spiritual defense shield that will help us through difficult and dangerous times.

Here are six positive responses to do for Israel and its people.

1: Encourage every Jewish man and boy over the age of 13 to put on tefillin today, and every weekday.

2: Encourage every Jewish woman and girl to light Shabbat candles every Friday before the onset of Shabbat and on the eve of Jewish holidays. (Come by our Shabbat Candlelighting Table for your free kit! Share with a friend. Spread the light!)

3: Do you have mezuzot in your home? This may be a good time have them checked to make sure they are still in shipshape order. Call me at 212.758.3770 to schedule a Mezuzah check.

4: Dedicate a daily prayer for our brethren in Israel.

5: Give charity every day

6: Forward this information to your friends. Post it on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media.

7. come to Shul! 

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