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Rabbis' Blog

Seven Seventy

Tatty 770.jpg 

The Rebbe leaves Seven Seventy on Erev Yom Kippur 1983. I can be seen in the background near the doorway.

On Wednesday we experienced a historic event 33 years in the making. Laying the symbolic foundation stone for the new Chabad Lubavitch Center for Jewish Life at the Groundbreaking ceremony set the tone for the future of our community.

I was grateful to be flanked by such a wonderful group of friends and supporters and everyone in attendance made a statement of encouragement and enthusiasm of the great accomplishments in store for Judaism in El Paso. It was truly a moment of celebration.

In planning the architecture of the new edifice, much care was taken to serve the needs of our diverse and growing community. A spacious sanctuary, social hall and Judaic library will allow for activities to happen simultaneously in a comfortable and proper manner.

But the entrance will be the masterpiece. The front door is the place where everyone is welcomed and embraced with unconditional love. We therefore chose to build the entranceway in the likeness of Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters, known simply as “Seven Seventy” (its address is 770 Eastern Parkway) because the facade of that iconic building in Brooklyn is symbolic of everything Chabad stands for.

“Seven Seventy” served as the Rebbe’s base of operations and in its hallowed halls he educated and inspired generations of students to dedicate their lives to strengthening Judaism in every corner of the globe. Through its doors entered those seeking clarity and healing together with the curious and the content and everyone left empowered to bring the light and beauty of Torah to another part of the universe. Just seeing the three pointed tops of the brown-brick building is sufficient to elevate the spirit and gladden the heart.

For ten years I was privileged to study at Rabbinical schools in Brooklyn and every day I spent time in Seven Seventy. Unforgettable memories of praying with the Rebbe, observing many celebrations and participating in every farbrengen (chassidic gathering) when the Rebbe taught Torah and inspired thousands for many hours at a time.

In the summer of 1986, Chani and I together with our new born son Levi, hailed a taxi to the airport to catch our one-way flight to El Paso - from Seven Seventy. We had the mandate to bring the spirit of Seven Seventy to El Paso and establish a Chabad House for every Jew to feel at home. A space for everyone to celebrate Judaism at their pace.

With your help we have succeeded in doing so and we are proud that the new era of our journey in El Paso will bring a physical likeness of Seven Seventy to our midst.

Thank you to everyone for joining us on Wednesday (check out the full photo album here) and thank you to all who have thus far contributed to the capital campaign. We are halfway to our goal and if you have not participated yet, please consider partnering with us in this auspicious project. Please visit chabadelpaso.com/build for more information about the new building and for dedication opportunities.

I am so proud to be building the future together with you.

 

Demanding Works

 

Society places a premium on patience and politeness. No one appreciates being told what to do or being pressured into anything and we are trained to suggest and advise change rather than demanding it.

If this is true regarding our interpersonal relationships it follows that our interactions with G-d should follow the same trend. That’s why some people were queasy when the Rebbe launched a massive campaign to demand Moshiach’s arrival. “We Want Moshiach Now!” became the motto of the international Jewish Kids Club (Tzivos Hashem) the Rebbe established in 1980 and the Rebbe reiterated its importance at every opportunity.

Some argued that the approach was improper and impolite. How can you demand something like that from G-d? He sent us into exile and will bring Moshiach when He sees fit. Will demanding even help?

On Sunday we will celebrate Pesach Sheini - the Second Passover. Nowadays we mark the day by simply eating some matzah, without the drama of ridding ourselves of all Chametz or having an elaborate all-night seder. But the history of this minor holiday reveals a powerful element of the Jewish psyche that we ought to tap into sooner than later.

One year after the exodus from Egypt, the Israelites were told that on the 14th of Nissan they shall offer the Passover Sacrifice in the newly inaugurated Tabernacle and eat the meat that evening, as they had done one year earlier on the eve of redemption. From then on this Passover Sacrifice represented the birth of the Jewish nation and the eternal freedom granted to us 3,331 years ago.

Since the sacrifice is offered in the Tabernacle or Holy Temple one needs to be in a state of ritual purity. If one were to participate in a funeral and have contact with the dead body, for example, they would need to go through a seven day purification process in order to participate in the Passover Sacrifice and seder tradition.(It is important to note that ritual impurity can happen as a result of doing a mitzvah, such as burying the dead, and it is not indication of wrongdoing at all.)

The coffin of Yoseph, the famed Jewish viceroy of Egypt, accompanied the Israelites to the Land of Israel and his pallbearers were unable to be purified in time for Passover. Although they fully understood why they were barred from participating and appreciated the fact that they were charged with an important mission, nevertheless they approached Moshe and demanded “Why should we lose out from the opportunity to offer the Passover Sacrifice?”

Responding to their demand, G-d decreed that thirty days later, the 14th of Iyar, would be make-up time for anyone that was unable to offer the Passover Sacrifice on time. We demanded it and we got it.

In the absence of the Holy Temple most Mitzvot are impossible to observe. Every extra moment in exile means more time that Judaism cannot function as it should. It behooves us to demand this all change now.

So the next time you say “We Want Moshiach Now” don’t feel self conscious. The more strongly and incessantly we demand it the faster we will get it and usher in an era all of humanity desperately needs - NOW!

 

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