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Parasha Insights

CAN YOU VIOLATE A MITZVAH?

The Soviet census taker comes to the Goldman house.
“Does Louis Goldman live here?” he asks.
“No,” replies Goldman.
“Well, then, what is your name?”
“Louis Goldman.”
“Wait a minute–didn’t you just tell me that Goldman doesn’t live here?”
“Aha,” says Goldman. “You call this living?”
It is certainly a strange phenomenon. There is no other sage in the history of Judaism that has all the Jewish people celebrating on the day that he passed away. Not Moses, not Abraham, not Aaron, Joshua, King David, or Elijah. None of them. With one exception: Reb Shimon ben Yochai. His yartzeit, Lag Baomer, has become one of the great days of joy… Read More »

CAN YOU FORGIVE AND FORGET?

 Once, on Yom Kippur, a Rabbi spoke about forgiveness.

 

 

After the sermon, he asked how many were willing to forgive their enemies.

 

 

About half held up their hands.

 

 

Not satisfied, he lectured the congregation for another twenty minutes and repeated his question. This received a response of eighty percent.

 

 

Still unsatisfied, he lectured for fifteen more minutes and repeated his question.

 

 

All responded except one elderly lady in the rear.

 

 

"Mrs. Cohen, are you not willing to forgive your enemies?"

 

 

"I don't have any."

 

 

"That is very unusual. How old are you?"

 

 

Read More »

DO YOU BELIEVE OR DO YOU TRUST?

Last Pesach, an Orthodox friend of mine, Shmuly, was at a business meeting during the middle days of the holiday. When lunchtime came, his colleagues went out to local restaurants, but Shmuly remained at the conference table and took out his matzah and hard-boiled egg. As he unwrapped it, another colleague joined him and unwrapped his lunch too. It was ham and cheese—on matzah.
The colleague looked at Shmuly with a relieved smile and said:
“Boy, I'm glad I'm not the only one. It's hard to explain Passover, isn't it?” Well, today I want to explain the name of the holiday.
On the seventh day of Passover, we are reading in the Torah about what happened on that day thirty-three hundred years ago the splitting of the Red… Read More »

TODAY IS A GIFT

They tell this story about Winston Churchill. As Savior of the free world, he felt himself entitled to grab a little shuteye (nap) in the House of Commons. When a fellow Parliament member approached him and said, “Must you fall asleep when I am speaking?”

Churchill answered, “No, it is purely voluntary.”

The Rambam rules in his laws of Tefillah:

When Rosh Chodesh Nisan falls on Shabbat, three Torah scrolls are used. The weekly Torah portion is read from the first, the reading of Rosh Chodesh from the second, and Parshat HaChodesh from the third.

Thus, this Shabbat is one of those extremely rare occasions when we take out three Torah Scrolls, since we read three distinct portions—Tazria, Pinchas and Bo.

We… Read More »

HOW DO YOU MAKE A TRANSITION?

 

 

A car mechanic is called in after every other mechanic failed. He listens to the engine for a few minutes, then hauls off and gives it a big swift kick in a certain strategic spot. Lo and behold, the engine starts humming like a kitten. The mechanic turns around, gives the car owner his bill for $900. The owner of the vehicle is flabbergasted and demands an itemized breakdown AND EXPLANATION.

 

 

The bill says...

 

 

“$10 for my time, and $890 for my expertise where to kick.”

 

 

It is an interesting Talmudic story.

 

 

Salome Alexandra, also known as Shlomtzion, was the queen of Judea, 150 years before the destruction of Judea and the Temple by the Romans.… Read More »

WHY SHUSHAN PURIM?

A Jewish woman wants to take her dog to Israel, so she goes to the travel agent to find out how. He says, "It's easy. You go to the airline, they give you a kennel, you put your dog in it when you get off at Tel Aviv go to the luggage rack, and there's your dog.

So, she does, gets off at Tel Aviv, goes to the luggage rack, no dog. She goes to the lost and found, says, "Where's my dog?" They look all over the airport for it and find the dog in another terminal. Only the dog is dead.

"Oh, my gosh, they say, we killed this woman's dog. What are we going to do?"

Then one says, "Wait a minute, it's a cocker spaniel. They're common dogs.

There's a pet shop across the street from the airport. We'll get the same… Read More »

WHAT IS YOUR SPARK IN LIFE?

A young lawyer, starting up his private practice, was very anxious to impress potential clients. When he saw the first visitor to his office come through the door, he immediately picked up his phone and spoke into it, making believe he was talking to someone.

 "I'm sorry, but my caseload is so tremendous that I'm not going to be able to look into your problem for at least a month. I'll have to get back to you then." He then turned to the man who had just walked in, and said, "Now, what can I do for you? Make sure to do this fast, as I am in a mad rush, as you can see from the endless telephone calls of clients."

"Nothing," replied the man. "I'm here to hook up your phone.”

In this… Read More »

DO YOU KEEP A BALANCE IN YOUR LIFE?

A boy asks his father to explain the differences between irritation, aggravation, and misery.


Dad picks up the phone and dials a number at random. When the phone is answered he asks, "Can I speak to Ralph, please?"

"No! There's no one called Ralph here." The person hangs up.

"That's irritation," says Dad.

He picks up the phone again, dials the same number, and asks for Ralph a second time.

"No--there's no one here called Ralph. Go away. If you call again I shall telephone the police." End of conversation.

"That's aggravation."

"Then what's ‘misery’?" asks his son.

The father picks up the phone and dials a third time:

"Hello, this is Ralph. Have I… Read More »

NUCLEAR LOVE

In the 1970s, a Russian school inspector is questioning the children. He points to one of the boys and says, "Who is your father?"

The boy replies, "The Soviet Union."

He then asks, "Who is your mother?"

"The communist party," came the reply.

"And what do you want to be when you grow up?"

"I want to be a dedicated worker for the glory of the state and the communist party."

The inspector then points to one of the girls and asks, "Who is your father?"

The girl answers, "The Soviet Union."

"Who is your mother?" -- "The communist party."

"And what do you want to be when you grow up?"

"A heroine of the Soviet Union… Read More »

THE POWER OF NOW

Sam was a single guy living at home with his father and working in the family business.


When he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sickly father will die, he decided he needed a wife with which to share his fortune.  

One evening at an investment meeting he spotted a woman whose natural beauty grabbed his attention.

"I may look like just a plain, ordinary man," he said to her, "but in just a short while, my father will die, and I'll inherit 30 million dollars."

Impressed, the woman obtained his business card.

Three days later… she became his stepmother.


The holiest article in the Tabernacle that the Jewish people constructed in the desert was the Ark, which housed the Tablets… Read More »

HOW SHALL HE SLEEP IN THE COLD WINTER?

You know the story of the man who came to the therapist for a very serious problem.

“How can I help you?” asks the therapist.

Yes, says the patient. Please tell me what time is it?

That’s why you came to me? Asks the therapist. Are you nuts? It’s three o'clock!

Patient: Oh, no! G-d help me.

Therapist: What's the matter?

Patient: I've been asking the time all day. And everybody gives me a different answer!...


It is a beautiful law, recorded in this weeks Torah portion Mishpatim:

When you lend money to My people, to the poor man among you, do not press him for repayment. [Also] do not take interest from him.


If you take your neighbor's [night] garment as security [for a loan], you must return it to him… Read More »

Three Models of Marriage

A woman noticed her husband standing on a bathroom scale, sucking in his stomach.


“Ha! That’s not going to help!” She said.

“Sure, it does.” he said. “It’s the only way I can see the numbers.”

A visitor at the British Museum asks a museum employee: "Can you tell me how old that skeleton is?"

"It is precisely 60 million and three years, two months, and eighteen days old."

"How can you know that with such precision?!"


"Well, when I started working here, one of the scientists told me that the skeleton was 60 million years old - and that was precisely three years, two months, and eighteen days ago..."


In this week’s Torah portion Yitro we… Read More »

TO SEE THE ORDINARY AS EXTRAORDINARY

Professor Albert Einstein: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”


When the Torah portion of Beshalach - Shira describes the splitting of the sea, it states:

And the Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.


But later, after the miracle has concluded, as the Jewish people sing the “song of the sea,” they state:

For the horses of Pharaoh, with his chariots and horsemen, went into the sea; and G-d turned back on them the waters of the sea, but the Israelites marched on dry ground in the midst of the sea.

There is a subtle but significant change from… Read More »

Parshat Bo

They tell an old story about the poor little porcupines, who realizing the dire cold they were in, decided to group together; but, the quills of each one wounded their closest companions. After a while, they decided to go their own way. Soon they began to die, alone, and frozen.


Finally, they had to choose: either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the earth. Wisely, they decided to go back to being together. They learned to live with the little wounds that were caused by the close relationship with their companions, but the heat that came from others allowed all to survive.

The opening of this week’s Torah portion Bo reads: "And G-d said to Moses: 'Come to Pharaoh because I have hardened his heart and… Read More »

CAN YOU LIFT THEM UP?

A few one-liners by Woody Allen:
If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank.

If you want to make God laugh, tell him your future plans.

I'm astounded by people who want to 'know' the universe when it's so hard to find your way around Chinatown.

It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off.

Moses knew all along it would not be easy. In this week’s portion, Shemot, Thus, when G-d summoned Moses to embark on a mission of setting his people free, he rejects the invite. The people, he says, will deem him a liar, a charlatan.

What does G-d do? He gives Moses three signs to perform for the people. First G-d… Read More »

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