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One for all

I just got back from a fantastic crazy weekend. There was delicious food, friends, family, and lots of helpful brainstorming. I'm talking about the Kinus Hashluchim, the international conference of Chabad Lubavitch Rabbis. Attended by 6,500 Rabbis and lay leaders, it is the most diverse Jewish conference in the world.

This year was extra special, being that it is Hakhel year. Hakhel is a tradition spelled out in the Torah that following a Shemittah (sabbatical) year, all the Jewish people gather and the holy temple. The Jewish King takes out the Torah and reads specific passages. The Torah tells us that this tradition is so that we instill within ourselves fear of G-d.

Even though we no longer have a temple, and we don't gather in the Temple to hear the King read the Torah, the Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that we must all make Hakhel gatherings throughout this entire year. And like in the holy Temple, every Jew must be included, men, women, children, and even babies.

This conference was an actual Hakhel gathering of the entire Jewish nation represented by Jewish leaders of communities worldwide who gathered together for one purpose, to refocus on our mission to make the world a better place.

Many people asked me what my favorite part of this gathering was. Was it the food, the company, the great ideas you heard at the workshops, or maybe the dancing at the conclusion of the Grand banquet?

Of course, all these things are essential and enhance this gathering tremendously. I want to focus on something that was mentioned at one of the events over the weekend. We discussed this idea of Hakhel and how every Jew has to participate. First of all, Hakhel isn't just gathering together multiple people; rather, anytime a Jew does a mitzvah, he is doing a Hakhel gathering. Because Hakhel doesn't just mean we need to gather people together, Hakhel means that every single one of us individually affects everyone. We are not just individuals, but we are all a collective. If one person does a mitzvah on one end of the world, it affects every single Jew, not just the one that did the mitzvah or the one who helped perform the mitzvah. Hakhel means Jewish unity. It's not just something that applies to the people you know or may meet; everything you do matters to every Jew, no matter where they may be. As Maimonides says, one mitzvah can be the one to tip the scales and bring the coming of Moshiach. And there is nothing more powerful than that.

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I write this sitting on a plane as I head to my cousin's wedding (Mazal Tov Isaac & Dora!) with mixed feelings. Five years ago I sat on a plane as we moved to Duluth to strengthen the Jewish community

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