‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ an Entertaining ViewpointthCATQM1W9.jpg

With everyone under so much pressure and tension from events in the USA, Israel and around the world, Rabbi Anchelle Perl at Chabad of Mineola, decided to share some lighthearted thoughts on the Ice Bucket Challenge, with the hope that is would bring smiles to our faces.

So What Does Jewish Law & Mysticism say about The Ice Bucket Challenge

The Rabbinical Court of Mineola NY, affectionately known as Lishkas HaMayim (The Water Office), has met in emergency session to discuss the Halachik (Jewish Law) implications and wide ranging spiritual impacts from the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Characteristic of Chachmei Chelm, (the wise men of Chelm), the Court has issued pertinent guidelines when performing the mitzvah of the pouring the Ice Bucket Challenge.

The Biblical Source

The Torah basis to the joy when pouring water can easily be traced to one of Sukkot’s most joyous observances known as Simchat Beit Hashoeivah, the Celebration of the Water-Drawing. When the Holy Temple stood, every sacrifice included wine libations poured over the altar. On Sukkot, water was also poured over the altar in a special ceremony. This ritual engendered such joy that it was celebrated with music, dancing and singing all night long.  

Can we use any water?

Only fresh water from the tap should be used for the Ice Bucket Challenge. Left over dishwater from the Shabbos plates or negel vaaser is strictly prohibited. If a person wants to be more machmir (stringent), he should gather the water in a pale just before sundown & leave overnight in a dark corner.  This is the same way we prepares ‘Mayim Shelanu’, the cold water used to bake hand-made Shmurah matzah before Passover.  

Only b'dieved, "after the fact" have we fulfilled this mitzvah of the Ice Bucket Challenge when using the leftover water from checking the lettuce leafs from bugs. Again we can rely on this minority opinion, when no other water is available for the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Who Do We Honor First

If a Kohen or Levi are standing near each other at the time of the Ice Bucket Challenge, in this scenario the Levi goes first. The reason is simple, the Levi always gets to pour the water on the Kohen’s hands before Kohen blesses us with Birkat Kohanim (The Priestly Blessings).

The Minimum Water Allowed to Be Poured

When pouring the water, the bucket must hold at least 3 ounces. This measurement is to parallel the minimum amount of wine that fills the Kiddush cup.

When is the Best Time of the Day to Perform the Ice Bucket Challenge?

The optimal time is the earlier the better. This ruling is the application of the general rule of Zrizim Makdimim Limitzvot, that one should perform a Mitzvah at the earliest possible time.

Making the Ice Cubes on Shabbat

Is it permissible on Shabbat to fill an ice cube tray with water and put it in the freezer to make ice cubes for the Ice Bucket Challenge? Theanswer is no. You can’t even make ice cubes on Shabbat to use for the Shabbat Meals etc.

The Mystical Lessons in Life from the Ice Bucket Challenge

Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (the founder of Chassidism, 1698–1760) would often say to his disciples: “Everything a Jew sees or hears should serve him as a lesson in his service of his Creator.”

In terms of spiritual service, ice represents absolute and unshakable commitment to G‑d. Not a commitment simply based on emotions (warmth), not one that rests on a foundation of love and awe for the Creator. For ultimately, any such relationship is based on a feeling of self: I love, I fear, I feel, I like, I appreciate, I understand...

And when the service depends on my warmth and excitement, it will fluctuate from day to day, even minute to minute. Some days will be sunny and warm; others will be overcast and chilly.

But if the commitment isn't driven by warmth and passion, by what I want and feel, but by what is wanted of me—then it's steady and constant, and not subject to vacillations and swings. Because what I'm wanted and needed for doesn't change. (Thank you to Rabbi Naftali Silberberg at chabad.org for this lesson from Ice.)

Back to the Serious Setting

The Ice Bucket Challenge, sometimes called the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, is an activity involving dumping a bucket of ice water on one's head or donating to the ALS Association in the United States. The challenge dares nominated participants to be filmed having a bucket of ice water poured on their heads. A common stipulation is that nominated people have 24 hours to comply or forfeit by way of a charitable financial donation.

Chabad Shluchim

Many Chabad directors across the country have joined in on the campaign, in honor of their friend and colleague, Rabbi Yitzy Hurwitz, Shliach in Temcula, California. Hurwitz was diagnosed with the disease in 2013, and can no longer speak. In an email to COLlive, Yitzy wrote, "As crazy these ice bucket challenge videos seem, they have brought me so much joy.” The Shluchim are saying 'Yitzi, we love you, we won't give up on you.' With this kind of support, with so much love between brothers, HaShem has to send a total refuah." To contribute to this special cause please go to: www.hurwitzfamilyfund.com.