Mazel tov! As part of Rabbi Mendel Bluming’s position in Potomac, Maryland he officiates at life cycle events including Brisses and naming babies and encourages all Jewish parents to give their children a traditional Jewish name.
In Jewish tradition giving your child a Jewish name is not just an arbitrary choice. The letters that are in the centre of the word for soul, neshamah, are shem which means name. The name actually holds code for the spiritual life force of this child’s soul energy.
It is for this reason that a Jewish name is considered divinely ordained and its choosing should not be overly influenced by others because parents specifically are given the ability to identify the code for their child’s soul.
Rabbi Mendel Bluming guides the Chabad Shul of Potomac, Maryland and Chabad’s motto is to bring understanding and connection to the service of G-d.
So here’s a thought about washing before bread.
We are told that in the times of the Temple, the Kohen tribe of priests would live off of donations of produce from all the farmers, called the Terumah. This food could only be eaten by a Kohen and his family, and had to be eaten in a state of ritual purity. So the priests would always wash their hands ritually before eating to ensure that they were pure. It then became customary for even non-priests to wash their hands before eating, in deference to the Kohanim who were obligated to do so. And even though today we no longer have those foods that need to be eaten in purity, we continue to wash our hands before bread.
Why did our sages say that we should wash our hands the same way the priests did? The Kohanim did not work in the fields. They worked in the Temple, and relied on the tithes people donated to them for their upkeep. A priest couldn’t fool himself and think that he had worked for his bread. It was clear that he was being fed by the kindness of others.
We should all feel that way. It is not our own work and effort alone. It is all a gift from G-d.
Menachem Mendel Bluming and Rabbi Moss
Rabbi Mendel Bluming, the rabbi in Maryland, is regularly turned to with the quest of how to find happiness in life.
In fact it is a central Jewish theme because the verse in Psalms 100 teaches that one MUST serve G-d (do their mission in this world) with joy! But how can that be expected when life is often full of pain, loss and setbacks?!
And that’s why it’s handed to us in the form of a mitzvah. Happiness isn’t a reaction to a blissful life but rather an action, a firm ideology to living joyfully regardless of life’s circumstances.
How? Here’s a thought: One can see happiness as being a product of our circumstances, or one can see happiness as the driver of our circumstances.
Joy has the power to tear down barriers. A happy and positive outlook can be the cause of happy and positive results. Not that happy people never have suffering. But happy people aren’t happy to let suffering define them. And that gives them the strength to see through tough period and come out the other end.
We can’t possibly control everything that happens to us or to others. There may be worthy reasons to be sad, and sadness is an understandable and sometimes appropriate reaction. But happiness is not a reaction but an action. We are always able to find reasons to be sad. Or we can focus on living happily.
This is not to mean being blind to the suffering and pain in the world. The Zohar explains that we can feel pain on one side of the heart while feeling joy on the other. I can cry and laugh at the same time. I can be feeling pain, my own or another’s, and at the same time be full of hope and joy.
No, it’s not easy, it’s a lifetime calling.
Menachem Mendel Bluming and Rabbi Moss
The Torah famously tells us (Breishis 32) that Jacob remained alone. Abraham was named Ivri because he was on the “other side” of all of mankind, he stood alone. Elijah famously proclaimed, “I am the only one left, alone.” (Melachim Aleph 18). The Lubavitcher Rebbe was very content to stand alone. He was chastised for his campaign to put tefillin on for men on the streets, for persuading women to light Shabbat candles even if they did not keep Shabbat yet, for his stand towards Israel and on halachic conversion and of course on his Moshiach fervor and so much else. He was willing to stand alone and he formed a Jewish renaissance as a result.
G-d stands alone. The mystics expound that “One who is alone” is the level of the Divine Infinite Light which does not manifest in relationships. As in adon olam “Livado yimloch”. Isaiah 2: G-d will be exalted alone.
Do you have the courage to face standing alone rather than give in for acceptance in the pack? It is not easy, however, it is a high calling.
Chabad rabbi in Potomac Maryland ,Rabbi Mendel Bluming, has served the community since 2000 with his family.