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During your lunch break, why not feed your soul as well as your body?

Take some time out of a busy workday to study a bit of Torah over a kosher lunch.

Every Wednesday, over a delicious Mediterranean lunch, we take one hour to explore relevant Jewish topics using ancient wisdom to guide us in a modern society. The weekly lunch at JCC-Chabad, conveniently located, is guaranteed to be a peaceful break in the midst of a fast-paced work day.

Every Wednesday
12:00 - 1:00 PM
at Chabad of Downtown LA

Upcoming Classes:

 Wednesday February 20, 2019 Ki Tisa 
Broken Tablets, Broken Souls
The simple reading of the story goes like this: After the Jews created a Golden Calf, Moses smashed the stone tablets created by G‑d, engraved with the Ten Commandments. Moses and G‑d then "debated" the appropriate response to this transgression and it was decided that if the people would truly repent, G‑d would give them a second chance. Moses hewed a second set of stone tablets; G‑d engraved them also with the Ten Commandments, and Moses gave them to the Jewish people. Yet a few major questions come to mind. 1. Moses, outraged by the sight of a golden calf erected by the Hebrews as a deity, smashed the stone tablets. He apparently felt that the Jews were undeserving of them, and that it would be inappropriate to give them this Divine gift. But why did Moses have to break and shatter the heavenly tablets? Moses could have hidden them or returned them to their heavenly maker? 2. The rabbis teach us that "The whole tablets and the broken tablets nestled inside the Ark of the Covenant." The Jews proceeded to gather the broken fragments of the first set of tablets and had them stored in the Ark, in the Tabernacle, together with the second whole tablets. Both sets of tablets were later taken into the Land of Israel and kept side by side in the Ark, situated in the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem.

Wednesday February 27, 2019 Vayakhel 
Life as a Mirror
One of the most integral items in the Tabernacle was the Washstand, the Kiyor, from which the Kohanim would wash their hands and feet each morning. This was the necessary preparation for each day’s service, and was called ‘the sanctification of the Kohanim’ meaning it made those already holy yet holier. But what was the Kiyor itself made of? Not gold and not silver, but rather women’s mirrors. Mirrors used by women to adorn and decorate themselves. The Midrash tells us that women came in droves to donate their mirrors, but Moses refused to accept them. His argument was simple: How can it be that an item whose entire purpose is vain and selfish, superficial and materialistic, be accepted for use in the House of G‑d? A place where one came to be inspired to sacrifice and serve? Mirrors and G‑d are mutually exclusive! But G‑d disagreed. Emphatically. He told Moses: “It is precisely these mirrors that are more precious to me than anything else.” Why?

 Wednesday March 6, 2019 Pekudei 
zAn overview of historic holiness—more than 13 centuries of sacred architecture. A stunning snapshot of the different sacred sanctuaries that served as the epicenter of Jewish spiritual life from Moses to Rabbi Akiva. Discover why the locations shifted in the past, but will never again. Learn how they moved, and why some were destroyed, while others simply faded away.

 Wednesday March 13, 2019 Vayikra 
"Please Pass The Salt"
The timelessness of Torah throughout the ages is largely due to its eternal relevance to any man, in any culture, during any historical context. The Torah speaks to the young child learning how to read; to the teenager struggling with existential questions; to the rational philosopher who feels compelled to satisfy the logic of his mind; and to the spiritual mystic seeking transcendence from the bonds of corporeality. The Torah was the ultimate authority on life for the Judean of Biblical times, the Babylonian of the Talmudic era, the philosopher of Medieval Spain, the Eastern European of pre-war Europe, and today as much as ever, for the Modern Western Man. These dimensions are not a merely matter of interpretation, an artistic license granted to the random student, but rather inherent and true in the Torah itself. Stemming from an infinite source, the Torah contains infinite layers. In this class, we will take a specific Mitzvah — the commandment to apply salt on all sacrifices — and journey through five levels of interpretation, corresponding to five levels of consciousness, and demonstrate the underlying unity binding seemingly paradoxical approaches. 

 Wednesday March 20, 2019
Fast of Taanis Ester- No Class

 Wednesday March 27, 2019 Shemini
A Murder on Purim?!
In one of the most bizarre Talmudic stories (Megilah 7b), two of the greatest Talmudic sages feast on Purim together. They are inebriated and one of them slaughters his friend. The next day he brings him back to life. The following year he invites his colleague for another Purim meal. This fascinating class, based on an address of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, re-invents the meaning of the story, and applies it to our daily struggle to link heaven and earth.

Wednesday April 3, 2019 Tazria 
Why do we love to gossip? 
Great people talk about ideas; ordinary people talk about things; small people talk about other people. When you are in touch with your humaneness, your words carry a ring of majesty and dignity to them. Your words are candid, real, deep, pure, coming from the humanness within your being. Not accidentally does the Targum (the authoritative Aramaic translation of the Bible) translate the phrase "a living creature", descriptive of the first man, as "a speaking spirit" (ruach memallelah [2]). To be human is to emulate the Divine who created the universe through words. We too have the power to create worlds, embrace souls and heal hearts through words. Each word we use can be a conduit for love and for blessings. 
But when we are scared of being human—genuinely human—we resort to malicious talk that defames and degrades other people. In our desperate need to feel better about ourselves, we describe the lowliness of others. In our pressing need to muse ourselves, we cut down others.  
Slander stems from boredom, or insecurity, or apathy, or inner negativity. All of these qualities are indicative of impoverished, broken spirit. It is no wonder why following such a conversation an incurable emptiness sets into our psyche. G‑d created the world through words and He gave us the power to destroy it through words. When we employ that power, we ourselves also feel broken.

Wednesday April 10, 2019 Metzorah
Moshiach the Leper
The seventh chapter of Kings II (read as the Haftorah of Tazria-Metzora), tells a fascinating story. It is the narrative about the “four lepers.” The story takes place during the First Temple era, when the Syrian Army swept down on the Northern Kingdom of Israel and laid siege to the city of Samaria (Shomron). Siege was the ultimate strategy in ancient warfare, comparable to a present day naval blockade. If an invading force could not penetrate the city walls, then the enemy would encamp around the walls of the city, cutting off all supplies, especially food and water, and simply wait until the inhabitants were starved and forced to surrender. The city of Samaria found itself in just such a predicament: under siege by the Syrian army, which had surrounded the city, and was now waiting for the Jewish Samaritans to surrender.
The narrative teaches three fundamental lessons, about how to respond to a situation when you feel stuck between a rock and a hard ball; about how to confront the fear of how other people will respond to your actions; and how it is the leper within us and the lepers around us who can bring us redemption.
 

Wednesday April 17, 2019
No Class- Passover Preparation 

Wednesday April 24, 2019
No Class- Passover 

Wednesday May 1, 2019 Achrei Mos
The Day After: What Happens When You Come Off the Great High?
The composition of the Torah portion Acharei in the book of Leviticus, is one of the most paradoxical and puzzling in the entire Chumash—a blend of splendid holiness with grotesque profanity. 

 
The portion (Parshas Acharei, Leviticus chapters 16-18) is basically divided into two sections. The first half of the portion deals with the holiest and most spiritual day in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, and its magical ingredient for renewal. It discusses that rare moment, occurring once a year, when the holiest man of Israel, the High Priest, would enter the holiest space on earth, the chamber in the Temple known as the "Holy of Holies" where he would perform special services. This day was designated to bring atonement, cleansing and healing to the Jewish people and to the entire world.

 
 Yet, soon after this, the Bible moves on to caution us against vulgar expressions of intimacy. "Do not follow the ways of Egypt where you once lived, nor of Canaan, where I will be bringing you," states the Torah. It then proceeds to enumerate a long list of sexual activity from which a human being should abstain, including intimate relations with one's father or mother, siblings, uncles and aunts, very close relatives, other married women, etc. 

 
Finally, the Torah concludes, "Do not perform any sexual act with an animal… A woman shall likewise not give herself to an animal and allow it to mate with her. This is an utterly detestable perversion.' Do not let yourself be defiled by any of these acts…You shall not cause the land to vomit you out when you defile it, as it vomited out the nation that was there before you."

 
 How does one understand the juxtaposition between these two extremes — Yom Kippur and immoral relations? And how do we understand the law that on Yom Kippur afternoon we read in the Torah about these immoral relations? Why does Jewish law dictate that the High Priest go home at the end of Yom Kippur? Where else would he go? And what is the meaning of the High Priest sprinkling blood “one above and seven below,” each time counting “one, one and one, one and two…” 

 
The class takes us on a journey into one of the most meaningful lessons in the Jewish approach to morality. You may be flying high in heaven; your heart may be melting away in celestial ecstasy; your soul may be ablaze with a sacred fire and your heart may be swelling with inspiration. Yet you must remember that in one day from now or in one month from now as circumstances alter, you may find yourself in the muck. At this critical moment of an inner spiritual explosion, you must stock up the resolve and commitment to retain your integrity during your lowliest moments that may come ahead.