by Menachem Posner – chabad.org
The weeks and days leading up to Jewish holidays are a frenzied time for Chabad.org’s editors, programmers and Ask-the-Rabbi responders, each of whom is doing his or her part to make sure that every member of the Jewish nation has the tools, information, encouragement and guidance they need to fulfill the mitzvahs of the day and celebrate in style.
Walking into Chabad.org’s central offices, tucked away on the fourth floor of the office complex adjacent to the Lubavitch World Headquarters, that’s exactly what is happening this week.
No, Passover was not delayed, and it is not yet Rosh Hashanah. The excitement surrounds two annual events that are coinciding for the first time in history.
The third day of the month of Tammuz (this year, June 13, 2021) is the anniversary of passing of the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory. And that same date will be the day thousands of students begin the study of Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah anew, an effort that takes approximately 11 months.
The anniversary of passing, known as Gimmel Tammuz, is traditionally used for reflection, learning, prayer, and above all, positive action. Jewish communities everywhere honor the Rebbe’s life and legacy with events that bring people together for farbrengens, to hear guest speakers from near and far, and to study the Rebbe’s teachings.
To mark 27 years since the Rebbe’s passing, the Chabad.org team has partnered with Merkos 302 to produce Unfazed: A Symphony of Living Voices, Story and Song, which will illustrate lessons of resilience and self-empowerment from the life and teachings of the Rebbe.
Set to air on June 14 at 7:00 p.m. EST, the online program will be hosted by Ari Hoffman and Chabad emissaries Rivka Slonim and Rabbi Dov Greenberg, and will also include Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, David Luchins, Dina Hurwitz, Michal Oshman, and Elisha Wiesel. A special musical presentation will feature violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman and tenor Shulem Lemmer.
For those still at home due to covid, the staff has updated How to Observe Gimmel Tammuz at Home, as well as What to Do on 3 Tammuz.
If there was ever a single place that showcases the Rebbe’s global impact, it may very well be Chabad.org’s directory, through which one can find a Chabad presence on six continents across all 24 time zones. This impact has only grown in the quarter-century since the Rebbe’s passing, with Chabad Houses opening up in more and more locations. A newly redesigned and reprogrammed directory—more intuitive, accessible, and user-friendly than its venerable predecessor—has been released in beta version in honor of this milestone.
In an effort to share the inspiration as widely as possible, new videos have been released on social media, as part of the ongoing Illuminating Souls: An Encounter With the Rebbe project.
To help as many people get on board for the new Mishneh Torah study cycle, the Chabad.org team has created a cornucopia of new features and tools, in addition to the ever-popular daily study page, which includes classes by Rabbi Yehoshua B. Gordon and others.
Of special interest is the newly-revamped Daily Study App, which has been upgraded to include adjustable playback speed and the ability to subscribe to and save classes in advance, or from past days, for offline listening. Users can preload up to two weeks’ worth of classes, making it ideal for travel when data connections can be spotty.
New for this year, building on the growing collection of quizzes on the weekly parshah and just about everything Jewish, an ambitious project is underway to produce a quiz for every chapter of Mishneh Torah, being rolled out in time to be enjoyed by those following the one-chapter-a-day track.
Another exciting development is the creation of a Facebook group by TheJewishWoman.org, which will be a place where women can share insights, questions, and resources for learning the daily mitzvah.
For the advanced students on the three-chapters-a-day track, and anyone interested in learning more about halachah (Jewish law), a special new feature by Chabad.org author Mordechai Rubin will be a weekly essay on halachic issues learned that week.
Other upgrades include adding missing footnotes to the English translation of Mishneh Torah provided by Moznaim Publishing Corp, in partnership with Chayenu, and exploring ways to make the text more accurate.
“Gimmel Tammuz is a major landmark in the Chassidic year,” says Chabad.org’s Rabbi Mendy Kaminker, “and helping people get on board with the new study cycle is something we work hard towards every year. When the two come together, our efforts are redoubled, and we hope and pray that the results are as well.”