Posted by: gruvenreuven | July 7, 2008

Gimmel Tammuz

Gimmel Tammuz Farbrengen

Secondlife Gimmel Tammuz Farbrengen

This past Sunday was “Gimmel Tammuz”. (the 3rd of the Hebrew Month of Tammuz). Gimmel Tammuz is the day in which the 7th Lubavitch Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, left this world 14 years ago.

The Chabad custom for Gimmel Tammuz is to spend the day in Farbrengen remembering the Rebbe. To take a step back, A Farbrengen is a Hasidic gathering, and is a term pretty much only used by Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidim. (Other Hasidim refer to gathering such as this as a Tish.)  A Farbrengen usually consists of explanations of Torah learnings, with an emphasis on Hasidic philosophy, relating of Hasidic stories, and lively Hasidic melodies. Of course  refreshments are served. It is regarded as a time of great holiness. Farbrengens are public events open to non-Hasidim as well.

Another Chabad custom for Gimmel Tammuz is to visit the resting place (the Ohel) of the Rebbe. The Ohel is located in Cambridge Heights New York (Queens), a stones throw from JFK Airport. Thousands of Hasidim and Non-Hasidim come from all over the world to pay their respects through out the day.

So Friday morning, July 4th, after Davening, I learned that a Trip was planned  to go up to the Ohel immediately after Shabbos. This trip would have us getting to the cemetery at about 1:00am with a return trip leaving approximately at 3:00am. I tried to get in on this trip, but living 50 minutes away from shul, I didn’t know if I could make the 10:30pm departure time. Well, I gave it my best, but got into Lower Merion by 10:40. (Sigh.. When I move out there this won’t be a problem).  I waited until 11:00pm before heading home.  Yes, I could have driven up myself, but a solo ride back in the car at 4am didn’t sound like a smart thing to do.

So, as any twitter head would do in a situation like this, I posted a note (Tweet) to Twitter informing my twitter friends that I missed the boat by a mere 10 minutes. My friend GoldieKatsu from Colorado responded… “Too Bad, How about a SecondLife Farbrengen instead?” . Excellent Suggestion!!  After getting home close to midnight and a few more notes back and forth with Goldie, I logged on to SecondLife and sent out an announcement for a Secondlife Farbrengen Sunday Evening at 7pm.

The next morning, I arrived at shul at 8:30am. My friends had just gotten back from the Ohel an hour or two before Shacharit (Morning Prayers). Everyone was asking what happened to me. I told them I missed them by 10 minutes, as I got to the Shul at 10:40pm. Well, it turns out on Shabbos the plans changed slightly and instead of a 10:30pm Departure, the new departure time was 11:30pm!!  Ahhh.. I should not of assumed that they left without me and called someone! Oh well I guess me not going was Hashgacha pratis (Divine Providence)

Getting home after Davening and a Torah Class given by my Rabbi who probably had all but an hours sleep, I sent out another note to the “Yeshiva Modim” group in secondlife reminding everyone of the Farbrengen that evening. Well, with less the 20 hours notice, the turn-out was respectable. We had about 9-10 people join us for a group discussion on how the Rebbe & Chabad has effected each of our lives. We went around “the table”, with each person speaking as to how they became connected with Chabad, and how the Rebbe’s work inspired/moved them.  It was a nice discussion that went close to  2 and a half hours!

During the evening, a Gentleman from “the outback” in Australia told us how there are only 55 Jews in a 500km radius around him.  Chabad Bucharim (Rabbinic Students) from Crown Heights NY come several times a year to help with Holidays and attending to their Jewish needs. He was very grateful of their efforts to say the least. He then did something that brought tears to my eyes… He thanked ME! He thanked me for holding the Farbrengen and the various study sessions I hold each week, as Secondlife is the ONLY opportunity he has to sit around a converse (and learn) with fellow Jews.  I was blown away that I was able to help someone like that.

I guess the next time that I start getting down on myself for the work I do in secondlife in leading study sessions, I need to think about the Gimmel Tammuz Farbrengen. Yes, Studying in a virtual world may be silly, but it is fulfilling the Rebbe’s vision in helping Jews everywhere and anywhere experience yiddishkite.

On a side note, the Thursday prior I got the a note (tweet) on Twitter from someone that I follow. She is someone I met at Microsoft’s Mix07 conference and is a leader in my industry. I respect her work and admire her professionally. That’s why her note to me really made me simile when she wrote… “I love following [on twitter] you. You help me remember that Judaism is a significant aspect of who I am.”.

The Rebbe\'s Ohel
The Rebbe’s Ohel

I guess, we don’t have to be a Chabad Rabbi Schluchim (emissary)  to help our fellow Jews. Helping a Jew move further in their observance and understanding  is a responsibility we all share. As the Rebbe used to say, if you know Aleph, then you need to teach someone who doesn’t.  That, I think that’s the important lessons to be learned on Gimmel Tammuz and what Gimmel Tammuz is all about.

As the first Lubvatich Rebbe, (the Alter Rebbe – R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi),  quotes from the Zohar in his work The Tanya, a tzaddik is even more accessible in this world after his passing than while he was still alive. Moreover, after his passing his chassidim continue to receive from him both spiritual benefactions which enhance their Torah study and divine service, and protection in material matters… With that being said the Rebbe’s work continues 14 years after his passing.  Baruch Hashem!



  1. Thanks for sharing Reuven! I thought of you on Sunday (yes, I knew it was it because I receive the Chabad newsletters, which I enjoy a lot).

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