What the longest Zoom ever taught me

“Tatty, what is a fax?” my daughter asked me one day as we drove past a store awning with a fax number on it.

I started laughing so loud. I tried explaining to her how you put a piece of paper in a machine, press some numbers, and a piece of paper is coming out somewhere else…

“Oh, that’s an email connected to a printer” she exclaimed.

Now I laughed even harder.

Until I realized that I am seeing a generation gap right in front of my eyes.

I never thought it will happen to me. I always viewed myself as technologically savvy, “with the times”. Yet the generation gap is real. Very real.

[Some of you who are reading this are probably laughing at me. Maybe you remember telegrams or when they came up with touch-tone dialing. G-d bless you, may you live for many more long, healthy years!]

Recently I learned a beautiful idea the Rebbe shared about this topic. He said that the solution for the generation gap can be found in seven words at the beginning of our Parsha.

“And these are the generations of Isaac the son of Abraham; Abraham begot Isaac”.

You see some extra words right there, correct? If Isaac is the son of Abraham, obviously Abraham begot Isaac!

But no. Isaac was the son, that’s a biological fact. Yet, that doesn’t tell us too much. So many children are born to a parent, and have nothing to do with the parent, or with his or her way of life. The Torah tells us that Abraham was still the father; the bond was strong, they connection was never broken.

Think about it for a moment. Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old! Talk about a generation gap. The experiences that Abraham had, Isaac never did. The world that Abraham grew in was gone when Isaac came around.

So how did they maintain the connection? How did they bridge the gap?

Because they share the same values. The same faith. The same passion to serve G-d and to make the world a better place.

In the past few days, I participated in a very unique phenomenon. As you know, this year Kinus Hashluchim (international conference of the Rebbe’s emissaries) took place over Zoom. The conference organizers came up with a clever idea: to arrange a long Farbrengen that will take place in different time zones.

[In case you never heard the term, a Farbrengen is an informal Chassidic gathering where Niggunim (songs) are sang, stories are shared, and inspiring ideas are being taught. It doesn’t come with an official schedule or a strict line up of designated speakers; rather, everyone can speak and share. It’s a soul to soul connection]

The Farbrengen was to take place after Shabbat. First, it will begin with those who live in Australia. Others will join as Shabbat ends in their time zone, It will continue going around the world until after Shabbat ends in Alaska.

Except, that this Farbrengen didn’t end yet!

Yes, today is Thursday, and that Zoom Farbrengen is still going strong. Different Shluchim connect at different times, they come and go, but there are always Rabbis on the call. Some say it’s the longest Zoom meeting ever, and I have to tell you that it’s really special.

In the morning, in the evening, and whenever I can snick in a few minutes, I connect to this Zoom Farbrengen. There is always to listen to.

I heard from a Shliach sharing about his personal struggle, and how he motivate themselves even when the going gets tough; I have heard others cherishing their memories from meeting and being with the Rebbe; Yet others shared ideas from the Torah, reminding us the value of each and every single individuals, and how we should never be too busy to hear the plight of a single Jew.

Everything is just so uplifting!

I thought to myself: how is it possible that such a diverse group can get together, essentially “sit together” for days and days, and everyone feels so comfortable? The differences are so striking: in age, languages, cultures… this is not only a generation gap, it’s a bunch of gaps all mixed together!

So what is it that bridges the gap?

It’s the shared values. The Shared vision. The share mission.

My friends, right now our world is so divided and fractured. Not only between parents, grandparents and their children. It’s everywhere. There is simply too much divisiveness. The gap seems too wide.

But as the Rebbe taught us, it’s not!

We can come together. We can bring others together. And we must do it. For you, Telegram might have been the thing, I grew up around a Fax machine and my children might be using some AI-driven communication device. All of that doesn’t matter. What’s matters is our values. Our faith. Our shared goal, endowed to us by our creator, to make the world a better and holy place.

Allow my to conclude with a little poem I wrote last year:

When we meet
If you are a body, and I am a body—
We are so different.
You might have a short nose, and I, a long one.
You might like steak, and I, salad.
You might think differently
Act differently
Believe differently
Than I.
But if I am a soul
And you are a soul, too—
There is nothing that can divide us.

About the Author
Rabbi Mendy Kaminker is the Chabad Rabbi of Hackensack, and an editorial member of Chabad.org.
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