There is a phenomenon in the Chabad world. It’s called a “Farbrengen”. What is this foreign sounding word? It’s Yiddish for a gathering, specifically a Chassidic gathering. It is characterized by a long table, lots of people, good (or not so good) snacks, deep mind-blowing conversations, songs and niggunim (wordless melodies), and almost always enough alcohol for each person to have their own bottle.
Let me explain the last part of that sentence… Yes, Orthodox Jews drink alcohol. No, it is absolutely nothing like a college party. The purpose of a farbrengen, according to the Rebbe, is “to encourage each other in Torah learning, the fulfillment of the Mitzvoh with Hiddur [beauty], and the spreading of Yiddishkeit [Judaism] in general.” Alcohol is sometimes used as a way to open up people who are generally more reserved in a way that encourages participation in the intensely deep and often personally involving conversations. Getting drunk is never encouraged, and one should always be in control of their mental faculties.
This particular farbrengen was at Rivka Marga’s house… She is a teacher/administrator at the Mayanot Women’s Program, as well as the wife of Rabbi Gestetner, who is the Executive Director of all of Mayanot and the Rabbi at Mayanot Shul. They’re pretty much an awesome family. During Sukkot they had a farbrengen for the guys on Sunday night and for us girls on Tuesday night. Rivka Marga kicked all the boys out of the house so we could have the Sukkah to ourselves. This allowed for deeper conversations and of course, open singing.
Singing is one of those things that we don’t get to do so often since guys aren’t allowed to hear a woman sing unless it’s their wife. And since we are so kind, we try to make that easy for them. The only exception is if there is a large group of girls singing and they can’t see the group or identify which voice is coming from whom. I know this concept can be a little difficult to process, so if you have any questions about it, feel free to post in the comments below and I’ll provide more information. Moving on, singing was a go for the night, and it was a blast. We all sang the night away, and shared “Dvar Torah”s [lit. word of Torah] about Sukkot and what we’ve learned in classes our from the families we’ve been eating our meals with. It was a great “bonding time” with the girls, and hopefully the first of many, many more farbrengens with Mayanot to come! ♥