Gut Shabbes! (Va’eschanan)

Sometimes, my views and actions attract a lot of attention from both my non observant and Chareidi friends. People seem shocked by my “values” and in many cases, they are shocked that a frum woman could believe certain things. “Why do you want to invite such people for Shabbes dinner? I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that,” or “How can you put up with such a person? I couldn’t, and I’m not even frum”. They feel that because I’m Chassidic, I should stick to mixing with other Chassidim, and that I am free to exclude people based on their religion, denomination or orientation.

I’m not your average Chossid. As someone coming from a non observant background, certain parts of my old lifestyle have stayed with me. I might have abandoned secular newspapers, music and films, but my views sometimes differ from those of major Chareidi rabbonim. I come under fire for this a lot, and sometimes, I begin to wonder if what I’m doing is necessary or even right.

Then I read the Hayom Yom today.

“The Alter Rebbe repeated what the Mezritcher Maggid said quoting the Baal Shem Tov: “Love your fellow like yourself” is an interpretation of and commentary on “Love Hashem your G‑d.” He who loves his fellow-Jew loves G‑d, because the Jew has with in himself a “part of G‑d Above.” Therefore, when one loves the Jew – i.e. his inner essence – one loves G‑d.”

What I do is second nature to me. Supporting someone- anyone- who is having a hard time, inviting people for a meal, or just giving them a chance to vent their frustrations- I don’t do it because it’s a mitzvah. I do it because I love every Jew- and, yes, every Noahide- who I encounter. We may be Chassidim, but that doesn’t mean we should shut ourselves off from those around us. Because when we fail to love each other, we fail to love G-d.

G-d gave us the precious gift of Shabbes in love. This Shabbes, let’s embody G-dliness. Let’s bring Holiness down to earth. Let’s spread love among our neighbours, without stopping to judge them or think badly of them just because they’re different.

In London, Shabbes candles should be lit at 8:25 PM tonight, and Shabbes ends tomorrow at 9:41 PM. When lighting your candles, please keep in mind Chaim Elozor ben Baila, Moshe ben Genya, Moshe ben Hadasa, Shmuel ben Soroh, Chashachana bas Bryna and Shai bas Odeya. Thank you, and gut Shabbes!

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3 thoughts on “Gut Shabbes! (Va’eschanan)

  1. The Alter Rebbe had suffered much criticism in his times for promoting the philosophy of outreach. It was novel and wrought with danger not only for Shluchim who implemented this approach, but also to the communities surrounded by vicious antisemitism. It went contrary to the Diaspora Rabbonim’s traditional lifestyle of fading into anonymity, where invisibility was the best protection. As Lion Feuchtwanger aptly remarked in “The Jew Zuss,” “What would a Jew want with a parrot?”
    Therefore, the traditional non-Chabad Chassidische philosophy, as well as the Yeshivish “Litvische” philosophy, is isolation. That’s what you are describing, and that’s why you sometimes come under fire. Obviously, you are following Chabad principles of interacting with the world, as do I.
    An amusing anecdote to illustrate extreme isolation: traveling through Lakewood, NJ for the first time, I noticed street signs in Yiddish. Then I saw a “no parking” sign, also in Yiddish. When I finished laughing, I told my husband that in this town, if you don’t read Yiddish, your car will get towed away!
    Thank you for providing yet another great theme for our Shabbos table – Gut Shabbos!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s interesting to read that the sort of criticism I suffer was suffered on a much more serious and dangerous level by the Alter Rebbe. One doesn’t feel so isolated hearing that. Thank you also for the amusing anecdote… and for your lovely words!

      Liked by 1 person

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