Sunday, October 10, 2010

Shabbat Teachings from Tzfat (Safed)


Community life, this is what many inhabitants of Zfat's old City emphasize. In fact, most American new immigrants who have moved to Zfat have chosen to live in the old City. Rent is a little higher than in the new city surrounding the old prestigious Kabbalah city but whoever is looking for a quiet life, Zfat should be the place for him.

Last Friday afternoon I arrived at the local Chabad hostel "Ascent" in the old city. Shops close early in Zfat. By two o'clock before Shabbat comes in at about 4.30pm, almost all shops are closed. Real village life compared to the busy Machane Yehudah Market in Jerusalem where, until half an hour before Shabbat comes in, the traders are still active.

We had a Kabbalat Shabbat service at the hostel and then received families where we ate the Shabbat meal. A miracle happened and it started to rain heavily in the early afternoon. A real miracle because there is hardly any rain that early in October.
As soon as the rain started, the electricity went off in many households of the old city. Another sign of the local "village - like life".

Me and some other people were put together in one group and we went to a really nice family inside the old city. The family lives right next to the Synagogue of Chassidut Lelov. I have to admit that I didn't even know that the Lelover are located in Zfat.
We were told that one of the two Lelover Rebbes from Bnei Brak spent this particular Shabbat here in Zfat and I already "smelled" a chassidic Tish coming up. I got excited because I have never really been to Lelov.

We ate our meal and then it started raining again. "Don't worry, said our host, in Zfat is usually rains heavily but never for too long. You will get back to "Ascent" dry." And so it was. Except for our feet because we stepped in countless puddles on the way back. The electricity had gone off again and the entire old city was completely dark. No street lights, no nothing and we were staggering around through the old cobblestone alleyways.

I had a look into the Lelov Synagogue but there was no Tish going on. It seemed as if everyone had just ran home due to the rain. Today the sun is back and it is getting warm

However, I learnt that today is the Yahrzeit of the old Ruzhin - Boyaner Rebbe Israel of Rizhin. The one who lived in a castle - like building and where people tell that the Rebbe wore golden shoes but without soles. This way, people got the impression that he was so terribly posh and wore golden clothes. However, underneath he was humbled and cut off the soles from his shoes. Nevertheless, there is a huge controversy about the Rizhiner Rebbe until today. Did he order the death of some youth or did he not ? I don't want to go into the whole case taking place in Ruzhin in the days of the Rebbe. However, the Rebbe got arrested and later escaped to a different country.

Last Shabbat was "Shabbat Noach" and we read the Parasha with the famous Flood and the Tower of Bavel. One of the Chabad Rabbis working at "Ascent" said that "ARK - TEVA" can also be interpreted as "WORD". When Noach said "Come into the Ark" it could also stand for "Come to the Word" - meaning come close to Torah where you are protected.

Eli Naiditch from "Ascent" had a very nice and helpful teaching regarding "making Aliyah to Israel". He quoted the Lubavitcher Rebbe who once said that a Jew making Aliyah to Israel should not only look at his material well - being. Making Aliyah doesn't only include material matters but also a spiritual preparation. We cannot just compare Israel to our former country and criticize. Instead we have to look at the spiritual sides as well and try to sum up all the positive aspects. Only then we will make it in Israel.

No comments:

Post a Comment