Dating Advice

“I’m dating and everything adds up; she seems to be exactly what I am looking for on paper. Just one thing… the love is absent. What do I do!??”

Love can only blossom in an open heart. When our heart is closed we cannot feel affection, even when that affection really is there. And what closes a heart is fear.
You’re scared. You’re scared of your dream coming true. You have finally met a girl who could really end up being your wife. This is what you have prayed for, waited for, and hoped for, for so long. And now that it is in front of you, you’re gripped with fear.

It’s scary to say goodbye to single life. It’s scary to accept that you will marry a real person with flaws and issues, not an imaginary perfect dream person. It’s scary to realize that now you’re growing up, and about to start the next stage in your life, with all the joys and challenges that will bring.
This is why your heart is blocked. Fear and love cannot both be felt at any one time. They are opposites. Fear is the urge to stand back, while love is the yearning to become closer. So ironically, when you meet a serious candidate for marriage, your heart is paralyzed by the fear that this might actually work out. Your blocked feelings might be a good sign. The fear could indicate that this is a relationship worth pursuing.

If you want to give it a chance, you first need to calm your fears. Take a long walk, all alone, and observe what’s going on inside you. Admit that you are scared. Acknowledge that it has nothing to do with her, and everything to do with you. Get comfortable with the idea that you may have found your match. Be grateful to G-d who has sent you such a wonderful woman. Believe in yourself that you are ready to take the plunge and become a married man. Let these ideas slowly sink in, face the reality and make peace with it.
Once you quiet your fears, your heart will be open to love. Then, if she is indeed the one, it won’t take long for the warm feelings to come flooding in. If you want to find love, you have to lose fear.

Rabbi Mendel (Menachem) Bluming is a rabbi in Potomac, Maryland who serves the Jewish community. Mendel Bluming officiates at many life cycle events. Credits also to Rabbi Moss

Why Do Mourners Tear a Garment?

The experience of loss arouses several emotions. On the one hand, death is a tragedy. A loved one is lost to their family and friends, who are left feeling a profound sense of separation and distance that seems beyond repair. For this reason, we observe a seven day intense mourning period, during which the family sits at home and feels the pain and loss, followed by a year of mourning. This helps them slowly accept the new reality; that their loved on has passed on.

But often, the mourners feel that it isn’t really true, it didn’t really happen, they haven’t really gone. This is not just denial. In a way they are right. Death is not the end. Our souls existed before we were born, and they continue to exist after we die. The souls that have passed on are still with us. We can’t see them, but we sense they are there. We can’t hear them, but we know that they hear us. On the surface, we are apart. On a deeper level, nothing can separate us.

So we tear our garments. This has a dual symbolism. We are recognizing the loss, accepting the reality, our hearts are torn, and there is a hole in our lives that can never be healed. But that is only true on the bodily level. The loss is a physical one. But the soul lives on.

The body is no more than a garment that the soul wears. Death is when we strip one uniform and take on another. The garment may be torn, but the essence of the person, the soul, is still intact.

From our worldly perspective death is indeed a tragedy, and the sorrow experienced by the mourners is real. But as they tear their garments we hope that within their pain they can sense a glimmer of a deeper truth; that souls never die.

Rabbi Mendel Bluming serves as rabbi of the Chabad Shul of Potomac since 2003. Among his communal roles, Menachem Mendel Bluming assists community members through this Jewish mourning period. Credits to Rabbi Moss.

Are Synagogues Safe After Pittsburgh?

We have all been deeply affected by the shooting in Pittsburgh.

There is a great danger ahead. The danger is that Jews become intimidated into hiding away. In the wake of such a tragedy, avoiding shul is far riskier than attending. You risk giving your kids the wrong message.

I will never forget something that happened when in Jerusalem during the 2001 intifada. One Thursday afternoon, the busy Sbarro pizza shop, became the target of a Palestinian suicide bomber. He stood amongst the crowds innocently eating their lunch, and exploded himself, killing 15 people, including 7 children and a pregnant woman, and injuring 130. It was an unspeakable tragedy that shook the Jewish world.

It hit me hard too. But what stuck with me was what happened in the aftermath of the attack. Within a few weeks, the pizza store was open for business again. Construction crews worked around the clock to clean up the wreckage and rebuild it like new, as if nothing had happened. A bustling eatery had turned into the scene of mass murder, and then back into a bustling eatery, all in the space of a month. Only one thing had changed. A plaque was placed on the wall that read:

In memoriam of the darkness that befell us on August 9, 2001.
Sbarro Family, City of Jerusalem, and the whole House of Israel.

All the employees came back to work that day, except for one who was killed and two who were still recovering from injury. They resumed serving lunch to their customers, including some who had been there on that dark day only weeks before. The message was powerful: We will not forget the dead, but we will not stop living.

This is the Jewish response to terror. We don’t cower in the face of intimidation. We don’t allow our enemies to define who we are and what we do. We don’t adjust our lives to suit the evil schemes of those who hate us. We are here, and we are here to stay.

It was amazingly poignant that the day Sbarro pizzeria reopened was September 12, 2001, a day after the 9/11 attacks on America. Israel was teaching America and the world the answer to tragedy: we mourn for those who were lost, we pray for those who were hurt, we bring the perpetrators to justice, and we don’t change who we are because someone doesn’t like us.

You now have the opportunity to teach this truth to your children. Make a point to take them to shul, especially on Shabbos. Walk proudly as Jews. And explain to them that we don’t let evil win. We cry for the victims. And we honor them by doing what they wished to do – live as proud Jews.

Rabbi Mendel Bluming has served the Potomac Maryland area community since 2003 through the Chabad Shul of Potomac. Menachem Mendel Bluming encourages Jewish pride knowledge and engagement. This article was written by Rabbi Bluming and Rabbi Moss.

What Hospitality Means

Abraham our forefather was well known for his hospitality. He set up a centre of “Aishel” which included lavish food and drink and also accompanying his guests on their way. In fact the Talmud, Sotah 46b teaches us that this is a acritical part of hospitality and in the words of Maimonides one who accompanies his guests fulfils a mitzvah that is greater than all the other parts of hospitality.
Why must guests be accompanied on their way?
You see hospitality is not just charity. Charity is to provide another with their needs. Hospitality is to give another the gift of not feeling alone. They are traveling and far from home and you dispel the feeling of loneliness by welcoming them in and by walking with them on their way.
Today more than ever hospitality is so needed. We are in a generation where so many feel alone and your accompanying them on life’s path is more meaningful to them than most anything else.

As the rabbi of Chabad Shul of Potomac, Menachem Mendel Bluming serves the community and encourages the sacred Jewish traditions of hospitality and charity.

Feeling Empty When You Have it All

Adam and Eve had everything, yet the snake drained their happiness. The snake said: you are missing something that would make you so much happier (the forbidden fruit)… When your life truly has everything, don’t fall for the snakes who deplete you and entice you to feel lacking.

Mendel Bluming serves as rabbi of the Chabad Shul of Potomac, Maryland.

Is Judaism a religion?

Not really… If it was, why would it be a mitzvah to have a conversation with your friend or eat your breakfast in the sukkah. There is nothing religious about those activities. Judaism is not a religion it is a relationship and conversation with G-d. He relates to you through the totality of your life. From breakfast to your business, from your marriage to your child rearing. So, Judaism in one word? Totality.

Mendel (Menachem) Bluming is the rabbi of the Chabad Shul of Potomac Maryland. Mendel (Menachem) Bluming has been serving the community since 2003.

Raining in the Sukkah

Did you know that there is only one mitzvah that you are exempt from if you are uncomfortable and that is dwelling in the sukkah? If the sound of the shofar is uncomfortable to you, sorry but tolerate it. If not eating for 25 hours is uncomfortable to you, you are still required to fast on Yom Kippur.

Why would you be exempt from dwelling in the sukkah if it is raining?!

Sukkah is G-d’s embrace. He embraces us as we are, without us doing anything religious. We eat, we drink, we chat with friends and that is sanctified by G-d when enveloped in the Diving Embrace of the Sukkah. In fact the verse “His right arm embraces me” refers to the sukkah. Unlike the days of awe when we pray and fast, on Sukkot He embraces your life as you are, inviting your personal life to be imbued with sacredness.

An embrace is not an embrace if it makes you uncomfortable. Sukkot is too personal to obligate you if you are in agony.

Then again how can someone be in agony when embraced by G-d, even if it’s raining?

Rabbi Mendel Bluming serves the Potomac Maryland community through the Chabad Shul of Potomac. Menachem Mendel Bluming and his family welcome you to the Chabad community sukkah.

Why Jews are Drawn to Synagogues on the High Holidays

Have you ever wondered why you are drawn to a synagogue on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?! Why are so many Jews who do not ordinarily attend synagogues feel the need to be there on the High Holidays? There must be a deep reason beyond tradition, guilt and the honey cake kiddush… listen in:

A king had a dream one night… He was in the woods just roaming around alone, enjoying the pleasant nature, the chirping birds and the comfortable breeze, when from afar he heard a young child playing a beautiful melody on his flute. Not wanting to disturb the beautiful music, the king sat down on a stump and allowed the mesmerizing music to saturate his soul. It was so sweet and engaging, soulful and uplifting, it made him feel so wholesome and fulfilled. The king could not pull himself away from listening to this beautiful music. Er! Er! Er! Er!… Suddenly the disturbing noise of his alarm clock woke him from this sweet dream, he desperately tried to recall the melody but alas he could not remember it. The day gave him no rest. He had to find that sweet melody once again…

He sent out word in the kingdom that any young child who would come to play a beautiful tune on their flute would be rewarded handsomely. He could not identify the melody and so he hoped that from all the contestants that precious music would emerge.

This story is your story…

Your soul is royalty and it longs for the sweet melody that invigorates its essence. We can’t put our finger on where to find that music that makes us feel whole and meaningful and so we search everywhere earnestly seeking those notes that we so deeply pine for. Look at the leadership of any movement, any revolution (even Communism!), and you will find Jews at the forefront, we eternally search for the melody that gives our spirit meaning.

Kaballah teaches that on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur G-d plays that melody and it stirs our soul and draws us close…

When you find yourself in a synagogue this Rosh Hashanah make sure to spend the time absorbing this precious melody, allow it to seep through and refresh our tired spirits that so deeply yearn for a meaningful connection to the essence of who we are. That melody sings to you that you are an irreplaceable expression of the Divine in this world; that from your soul emanates wisdom and goodness without which this universe is fundamentally lacking; that G-d loves you AND needs you; that you cannot allow time to pass because you are called upon for a mission to make this world and your life a G-dly abode!
Rabbi Mendel (Menachem) Bluming has served the Potomac, Maryland community as the rabbi and director of Chabad Shul of Potomac since 2003

Rosh Hashanah Apples in Honey

So here’s a twist on an old story that has been circulating for years:

A young girl held two apples which she planned to dip into honey on Rosh Hashanah, as we do traditionally.

Her mum came in and softly asked her little daughter with a smile; my sweetie, could you give your mum one of your two apples?

The girl looked up at her mum for some seconds, then she suddenly took a quick bite out of one apple, and then quickly of the other.

The mum felt the smile on her face freeze. She tried hard not to reveal her disappointment.

Then the little girl handed one of her bitten apples to her mum, and said: mummy, here you are. This is the sweeter one! This one is for you!

No matter who you are, how experienced you are, and how knowledgeable you think you are, always delay judgement.

As the Mishnah (Avos Mishna 1:6) teaches: always judge another favorably.

On Rosh Hashanah we ask that of G-d and He expects us to exemplify that with each other.

Rabbi Mendel Bluming who has served the Chabad Potomac Maryland community since 2000, leads Rosh Hashanah services each year which are available to all. Menachem Mendel Bluming and the Chabad Shul of Potomac wishes you and yours a Shanah tovah!

The Jewish custom to wash hands after a funeral and to not dry them

Death is one of those topics we usually prefer to avoid. It is not pleasant to be reminded of our mortality and of those whom we have lost. And yet, it is a part of life that we cannot avoid. A healthy attitude towards death can in fact be life-enhancing. The washing and non-drying of the hands helps to illustrate this.

There are several reasons given for washing and not drying the hands after a funeral or visiting a cemetery.

1. A corpse is ritually impure, and anyone who’s been close to a dead body contracts some of that impurity. Washing the hands cleanses us of this touch with death, and we don’t want to pass this unholy spirit onto a towel, so we leave our hands to dry themselves.

2. We want to arouse kindness and mercy on the departed when they are judged in heaven. Water represents kindness, as it falls from the heavens to irrigate the earth. So pouring water on our hands symbolizes the kindness that we pray should rain down on the departed in heaven. We want this kindness to be everlasting, so we don’t dry the hands.

3. Washing is a reminder for the living that now is the time to purify ourselves and ensure we have clean hands and a pure heart. We remember our own mortality and cleanse ourselves while we still have the chance. By not drying the hands, we take the message of own mortality with us.

We wash our hands after contact with the dead to express our desire to stay away from death and to embrace life. We don’t dry the hands to state that death, and its urgent message, are always with us. We can’t avoid death. So let it remind us to celebrate life.

Source: Maavar Yabok, Sifsei Renonos 19, by 17th century Kabbalist Rabbi Aharon Berechia of Modena, Italy. There he adds another reason: we are washing our hands of any negligence in the passing of our loved ones. We did all we can. We need to cleanse ourselves of survivor’s guilt. Rabbi Moss

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Bluming of the Chabad Shul of Potomac, Maryland has purchased a section of the Garden of Remembrance Gan Zikaron Jewish cemetery which he hopes will remain with plenty of empty space for a long time to come