Posts Tagged ‘Rebbe’


The sun’s blessings, solar energy and the Rebbe

March 4, 2009


The blogger at Jewish Climate Initiative has a post about the Rebbe’s early recognition of the possibilities of solar energy.

“So why did Rabbi Schneerson get it twenty eight years ago, when so many other smart people didn’t? The date of his utterance, April 11th, 1981 provides us with a clue. The Lubavitcher Rebbe gave his speech on solar power three days after the last Birkhat Hahama celebration…

Speaking on the Shabbat after the last Birkhat Hahama, Rabbi Schneerson was doing just that. He was challenging his listeners to use that day, an obscure but precious resource from our tradition, to think about whether their generation was using the sun’s blessings wisely.”

Read it all here.

Here’s the a clip from the sicha he references: (You will note that this Farbrengen, held in honor of the Rebbe’s birthday, did not take place on Shabbos. tells me that 11 Nissan 1981 was a Wednsday.)


Birkas Hachama – What’s up with it?

March 3, 2009


So what is Birkas Hachama anyway?

Hint: It’s not this.


Every 28 years the sun returns to the exact position, at the same time of the week, that it occupied at the time of its creation—at the beginning of the fourth day of creation. A special blessing – called Birkat Hachamah, “the sun blessing” – is recited to mark this event. Due to the rarity of this event, this blessing is customarily recited amid large public gatherings of men, women and children.

On April 8th, the sun will not be in the same spot as it was at the time of creation. Even discounting the fact that the world was created in the month of Tishrei, and assuming that the world began in Spring, the positioning simply does not match up.

So here goes: The brocho of Birkas Hachama is said when the spring equinox, or the start of “tekufas Nissan” by Shmuel’s accounting of the solar year, occurs on the same time and the same day of the week as in the springtime preceding creation (year 0 -6 months) when it was “oloh b’machshovah” or conceived. This happens every 28 years.

For a heliocentric explanation of the sun’s rotation and its relation to the seasons see after the break. Read the rest of this entry ?


The Rebbe pleads: Finish the operation!

January 21, 2009

To my endless shame, this blog pretty much ignored the war raging in Israel these last few weeks.

In the two clips below, the Rebbe pleads with Israeli politicians to let the IDF achieve its objectives: Making Israel safe for Jews and destroying its enemies.

Alas, it appears I may be too late.

The first clip is audio only  with subtitles, but well worth a listen. From Peace Upon the Land.

The second is a sicha from the same period, the first Lebanon War. From Living Torah.

Behold, even as the queasy and weak of heart bungle, the Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps

This is a preview of the Six Day War segment from “Peace Upon the Land“.


Rabbi Dovid Hollander, OBM

January 20, 2009

Rabbi Dovid Hollander has passed on. Baruch Dayan Haemes. Word from Collive.

Rabbi Hollander served as a pulpit Rabbi in Brooklyn for a long, long time. He grew up in the Bronx, went to Yeshiva College (now RIETS) and graduated NYU and Brooklyn Law school. He was president of the RCA and the Hebrew Alliance of America. A passionate speaker, he campaigned against orthodox rabbis recognizing “denominations” of Judaism that deny the existence of G-d or his Torah.

In his My Encounter with the Rebbe interview, he says that because few of his colleagues were willing to take on this issue, he felt alone and asked the Rebbe for support. The Rebbe encouraged him wholeheartedly. The oldest active pulpit rabbi in America, he served well into his nineties. (He told the Rebbe years back that he was considering retirement, which the Rebbe discouraged.) There’s lots more to say here. I don’t do the man or the interview justice, but such are the constraints of time.

Rabbi Hollander and My Encounter producer Yechiel Cagen. Courtesy of COLlive.

Rabbi Hollander and My Encounter producer Yechiel Cagen. Courtesy of COLlive.

Update: I see now the Circus Tent covers this nicely.


Another “My Moment” week up, more coming….

January 19, 2009

As I’ve blogged before, another week of dollars has been added to “My Moment with the Rebbe” at The pace of these becoming available should pick up soon. (We upgraded some of the technology too, as JEMnation readers know.) 

I'm pretty sure this is former Israeli MK Rechavam "Gandhi" Ze'evi

I'm pretty sure this is former Israeli MK Rechavam "Gandhi" Ze'evi

And to warm the frostbitten heart: A couple of Chossanim came into JEM last week to pick up “My Moment with the Rebbe” DVDs of their Kallahs getting dollars, as presents leading up to their wedding. Isn’t that just darling?

But seriously, it makes the perfect gift. Chosson: ask (surreptitiously, to preserve the surprise!) her family if she’s ever gotten a dollar, and when. Check out the weeks available online. Have a great married life. It’s that simple.


My top five

January 15, 2009


As promised, my five favorite JEM titles (in no particular order):

  1. Tishrei with the Rebbe – For me, this will always be the benchmark by which all others are judged. Aptly subtitled: “Days of Awe” and “Days of Joy”. Most of the footage was being shown for the first time. The soundtrack and audio mix is spot on. Highlights (on volume 1) include: Erev Rosh hashono at the Ohel, panim, lekach, birkas habonim…. I could keep going. Truly a masterpiece.
  2. Davening with the Rebbe – The first (by my recollection) to use top notch editing and effects. In particular, the haunting (I know there’s a better word) around-the-year intro, over a backdrop of pages from the Rebbe’s siddur and an exquisite, original score. Audio mix also excellent.
  3. America is No Different – Presentation of archival films at its best. A slice of history. I hate to keep going on about the music, but here again it hits all the right notes. The highlight was the Frierdiker Rebbe’s citizenship proceedings from 1949, (amazingly) in full color. It was many years before the quality and substance of that first color film was matched. (Parenthetically, I think the Rebbe was responsible for the filming of that event.) The book that accompanied it was great on its own. 
  4. Embers – This is probably the soundest – script-wise – of all. It has a focused, overarching premise, and it moves. The new threat from communism is introduced: “Yoseph Yitzchok my son (from the Rebbe Rashab), dark clouds are descending upon Russia”. It vividly recalls the Frierdiker Rebbe’s struggle and the years of darkness and doubt that followed. The clandestine efforts to keep the sparks (embers) of Yiddishkeit alive during those years. It packs an emotional punch, showing the Rebbe crying for the plight of the Jews behind the Iron Curtain and then addressing them publicly in Russian. Then the rebirth of the last twenty five years. The only downside here is the prominently featured Mr. Putin who has fallen out of favor these last few years. (Embers, by the way, was the answer to yesterday’s “What’s missing in this picture” question. Congratulations to commenter dfruendlich who will collect his prize of an ice cream cone one of these days.)
  5. The Early Years – Breakthroughs in both content and presentation. Mounds of original research, newly unearthed material, in a historical context. (Too many, the Rebbe’s early life was private, and should remain so. In my humble opinion, debunking much of the half-baked misinformation from this time period has proven worthwhile.)

Honorable Mention: Peace Upon the Land, Reflections, Cornerstones.


Top five JEM releases, reader favorites

January 14, 2009

Now hear this. 

I’ve chosen my five favorite JEM releases of all time. I’ve circled four of them in the photo below, again using my trusty crayons. One of my choices is not pictured. Which is it? 

The first commenter with the correct answer will be invited to the JEM production office to receive a prize of my choosing.

Past JEM releases, excepting (at least) one

Past JEM releases, excepting (at least) one

 Stay tuned for my choices, together with my reasons  and  reviews.

What are your favorite JEM videos? Speak now or forever hold your peace. 

Commenting activity from JEM employees has been particularly dismal. Let me hear you! 

I might have to start calling you out by name. Things could get ugly.