Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks speaks at annual Chabad emissary (shluchim) conference. He talks about being inspired to be a leader by the Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneersohn. He also speaks about getting wise counsel from the Rebbe on a number of occasions.  This video is a must see.

Connecting to G-d

There are 613 commandments or laws (mitzvahs) that are mandated in the Torah. But said another way, there are 613 ways to connect to G-d.

Every Mitzvah performed by a Jewish person is a real opportunity to connect to G-d. To interact with the Aibishter (all mighty) on a personal level.  I challenge you to make every mitzvah count, and to put a little bit of yourself in every mitzvah you perform.

Its simple. Actually, it is real simple.  A simple as, maybe, changing the location where performing a mitzvah or adding in your own words or actions.  The addition of a bit of your own flair helps you to connect to G-d in a personal way.  I am aware that when performing mitzvahs it is way easier to add your own personal touch then with other mitzvahs. We all know of mitzvahs that take a little extra thought and creativity in order to personalize, but making a mitzvah your own helps to keep it fresh and exciting, not just a rote activity.

This is me davening Shacharit on Cypress Mountain. Time to get away from usual Shul and home prayers and daven in nature, one of the wonders and creations of Hashem.

Last Sunday, Chabad of Richmond went on a community hike to Eagles Bluff on Cypress Mountain where Shacharit took take place followed by a bit of nosh, consisting of beagles, fruit and a wee bit of Schnapps, and then a Chassidic meditation class on living in divine space.

For me the purpose the hike was not only a chance to interact with community members outside of Shul, but an opportunity to get in touch with mind, body and soul, hiking for the body, davening and meditation mind and soul.  But more importantly it was an opportunity to connect to Hashem, G-d,  in a unique place and in a unique way. While I was davening at Eagles Bluff, I was putting my unique twist on morning prayers by being in a unique place and using my surrounding to connect to Hashem in a new way. Being out in nature, with some of the people I care most about in my community, absolutely gave me a different perspective and unique meaning to the prayer book words. I found myself pausing a bit longer on certain words to think about its meaning and how it applies to Hashem and the environment I was in. Also, at times, I was inserting some of my own words that made absolute sense at that particular time and place.

Even though It was windy and cold on top of the mountain, I felt warm. While davening my tallis kept blowing with the movements of the wind, but I kept absolutely still. At other times, when the wind died down, I found the freedom to move about and enjoy the natural environment I was in.

The time spent on the mountain last Sunday gave me a unique perspective to my connection to Hashem.  For the first time ever in my life, while davening, I felt the presences of G-d in all directions, north, south, east, west, up and down. Maybe it was that there was no fixed walls of home or Shul to limit G-d’s presence. Maybe it was that the ever present winds brought the divine presence to me in all directions. Most likely it was just the euphoria of davening with great people in a great place. But what was true and constant is that I did put a bit of myself into my davening which enabled me to connect to Hashem in a whole new way.

Yahrzeit of the Rebbe: A Tzaddik In Our Time

My thoughts below were originally posted in honour of Yud-Shvat.  As I would like more people to read, I’m updating slightly and reposting in honour of  The Yahrzeit of  “The Rebbe”, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. The Rebbe was not only a brilliant Torah scholar and tzaddik (righteous individual) but a true “forward thinking” leader for the Jewish people.

This post is also special to me because recently I participated, for the first time, in the mitzvah of Jewish outreach and helping people put on tefillian. I did this at a Canada day celebration in Richmond, BC.  Chabad of Richmond had a “mitzvah” and outreach booth at the festival. I helped numerouse people put on teffilian and explain its significance. I also talked to as many people about Yiddishkeit and welcomed them to come to our community for a class or Shabbos services/lunch.

Why is this important? Before the Rebbe launched his mitzvah campaign, most mitzvah were done in the home or at Shul, but certainly not in the streets or at public gatherings.  Some people today still don’t appreciate the idea of a Jew stopping another Jew on the street and asking if they have put on tefillin today.

Those few moments of connection with G-d and conversation with another Jew might make the difference in bringing a Jew back to traditional Yiddishkeit observance. But also the mitzvah has significant value in itself.  The Lubavitcher Rebbe had a deeply held belief that a single person preforming a single mitzvah could be the action that tips the scales and brings redemption to the entire world and all of creation.

As a Baal Teshuvah, I am proud to continue the work of The Rebbe in helping Jews to rediscover, or expand, their knowledge and love of  traditional Yiddishkeit and of course Chassidute Chabad.

May the memory, profound words and actions of The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson of Lubavitch be a blessing for all time and the catalyst that spurs us all to bring about the redemption of the entire world.

Enjoy the post below.

 

Until the early 1900s when Jews started to come in droves to the new world, especially the USA, they lived in small communities, or shtetls, from such “far of places such as Poland, Spain, Lithuania, Hungry and Germany. In the shtetl everyone knew each other, everyone was Jewish, and when there was a non-Jewish community nearby they rarely mixed, except to transact a little commerce here and there. People knew you and your circumstances. You were a Jew; he was a Christian and so on.

But when people started to come to the America and other western countries, things changed. There were no shtetls and the  new life took very different forms and demands. The entire community that one had to live within and interact with was wider, not just at the weekly market, but at on a daily basis. Your next door neighbour in the small New York tenement apartment that you and your family of five rented was likely not Chaimy Finkelshein, the towns slaughterer and butcher, but Augustyn Sakorski, the recent immigrant from Poland who competed with you as the neighbourhood tailor. Or, perhaps, Patty O’Rieley , a woman of Irish descent whose husband had recently past away from tuberculoses or pneumonia and who you now saw begging on the street corner in order to feed her family of five.

This was a new world in which lives, already dislocated through harsh repression, pogroms and economic depression, had to readapt to a completely new environment of urban blight, discrimination, poverty and integrating with people from many ethnic backgrounds.

Over time this adaptation took the form of a changed sense of Jewish Identity as the pressure to blend with Mr. Sakorski and Ms. O’ Rieley became a strategy for survival. Off came the beard for men and woman stopped covering their head with tichels and sheitels. They needed, or so they thought, to look more common on the street, so that they would not stand out and distract from making a business deal or selling to the gentiles.

Jews increasingly assumed two identities: one in the home and the Shul, and another for the outside world. This was very different from the Russian shtetl they grew-up in only a few years before. In the old country, in the shtetl, Jews looked and acted as Jews and lived characteristically as Jews. When you went to work, you had a beard, when you came home and took of your hat you still had a Kippah on, and when you told a bad joke to a friend, and he groaned “Oy Vey”, it was preceded and followed by Yiddish, the language of the Jews and not English, a foreign tongue for a foreign land. Here you had to work at being Jewish. And some rose to this challenge, but many did not.

For others, Jewish identity was something that they started to hide. They thought that this was probably best for the survival of their family in a new world. It was perceived as the key to survival in a new land with strange cultural blends and a multitude of people of all nations in tightly packed urban neighbourhoods. While many Jews now only brought out there Judaism in front of family and friends while home or in the Shul, many traditions, or mitzahs, that were just part of daily life in the old country became forgotten or even worse, told were useless customs that had no meaning in modernity.

Some identifiable groups of Jews that came to the America and elsewhere, escaping persecution and bigotry, tried to recreate shtetl-like communities in order to keep their Jewish indentity vibrant and strong. But then a novel approach was born. 1951 witnessed a whole new age in Yiddishkeit. A great leader began his reign as a power force to lead the Jewish world. Not a leader that had diluted his Judaism in order to fit into modern society and also not a leader that isolated himself and his followers from the rest of society in order to maintain their identity. He was a leader that knew the modern world was not taking Jews anywhere with their traditions and beliefs. Indeed, Judaism, as a community, was being threatened, as so many Jews were hostile to replicating their traditional lives in small Jewish communities where they only dealt with Mr. Cohen and Ms. Greenberg.

But just what was the best medicine for a sick and ailing American Judaism? Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe, had the mighty elixir. Not a quick fix, but a slow process to instil the joy of halalchic Yiddishkeit amongst the less observant Jews of America and elsewhere in the world.

As the world around us changes our hearts and souls remaind Jewish, but our garments, were not Jewish. For countless Jews, the Rebbe’s mitzvah in-the-street program was the first step on the road to identification and intensified love with Yiddishkeit. The Rebbe and his Lubavitcher army literally took it to the streets and offered a chance for Jews to be Jews, not just in their homes or in the Shul, but in the middle of the street, Park Avenue in NY city or in a office building on Pender and Homer in Vancouver. “Did you put on tefillin today?” “Can I offer you Shabbat candles?” “Can I interest you in some classes on Judaism?” For many Jews, Jewish pride and Jewish precepts came out of the closet forever. This was a revolution of sorts, an ever-burgeoning renaissance of belief and resurgence of interest in the traditions of Judaism. For countless individuals and families, that mitzvah in-the-street, and the warmth and love of the soldiers or campaigners inviting participation, was the first step on the road to an intensified identification with Yiddishkeit, with Jewish education and Jewish observance. The Rebbe showed Jews that they could remain Jewish, look, act and feel Jewish all the while living and participating in the wider community. Unlike many Jewish leaders that preached isolationism as a way to remain Jewish in the face of a changing world, the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe took a different route. He preached that everything is this world should and could be elevated to the stature of the Holy. No good would be served by Jews leading dual, separated lives, one consisting of secular acts in daily living and another holy in terms of Jewish ritual. He so elequently preached that these two must be combined to make everything in one’s life have a G-dly purpose. Live in your community, wherever that is, but make it a G-dly place to live.

That said, in recent years I have observed and realized that the Rebbe was correct in his assessment of modern day Yiddishkeit in America and elsewhere in the world. While the Chabad organization under the leadership of Menachem Mendel Schneerson has made great strides in helping people see the joy and pride in identifying themselves a Jewish wherever they are, some Jewish communities do in fact insulate themselves and rarely venture out into the secular world. These communities are often cocooned in a little city area – a modern-day shtetl – and really don’t face the contemporary world, certainly that part of it where one faces many challenges to traditional Judaism. At the same time many other Jewish people still live following a very secular lifestyle that conceals, almost hides, their Judaism. This group’s participation in Yiddishkeit only takes place in the comfort of their home or at Synagogue at best. For many participants in this group, their Yiddishkeit doesn’t appear, or confront them, on a daily basis.

What guides us to the correct way of life? Should you wrap yourself in a cocoon, isolating yourself from the many challenges of living a Judaic lifestyle? Maybe you should live a double life, one of secularism in the modern world and Judaism at home. Is there another option in order to say faithful to the principals, ideals and ways of a Torah true Judaism? And does Torah instruct us in this regard?

I believe, actually I know, through his speeches and published discourses and commentaries, that the Rebbe, in part, took his inspiration from the Torah to guide us in the correct way to live in a challenging time or hostile land. For example, In the Torah portion of Vayeitzei, Yakov leaves the comfort of Be’er Sheva and journeys into the hostile world of Chorran. The great sages, teachers and Rebbes tell us that Yakov guarded the Torah and commandments and kept Yiddishkeit flowing in the hostile land of Choran. Every day he was faced with forces that wanted him to change and adapt to ways that were less than ideal for a Torah observant man, but Yakov Avinu was able to keep his Judaism open and honest in the face of great pressures from his new community and extended family.

The Torah tells us, through our great commentators, that we must go out into the “hostile” secular world with our Judaic-face-on (game-face-on). We must not cocoon ourselves into a comfort zone or isolate ourselves in a shtetl. We must face the world in order to make the ung-dly g-dly. Elevate everything in the world towards G-d. As an example, some communities shy away from computers and internet because of the ungodly and negative aspects that are found on the internet. Other communities use the internet in order to spread the joy of Yiddishkeit and promote a Torah observant lifestyle. These people know the dangers that lurk on the internet and take great precautions to avoid them. They also see that the internet offers great possibilities as a way to reach Jews and in its ability to carry G-d’s messages instantly to many people.In a sense it elevates the internet as a medium to help fulfill our G-dly purpose in life.

There are many examples in the Torah that teach us that we need to go out into the world around us, remain Jewish and elevate everything around us to the G-dly. How many times do we enter into the wider, secular world and our Judaism stays hidden? Is this how we should be as a nation, as a people, as Jews?

As Jews, when we go into the secular, we must not only take the teaching of Torah, Talmud, Tanya and other great Jewish texts and use them in our own lives to protect ourselves, and help us stay true to our Torah-based principles, but we must help construct the world by making the things around us have a G-dly purpose. We must be proud enough of our heritage and traditions that we are able to wear them openly on our sleeves. And this is the new tradition that was set by the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

Journalism and Influencing Public Opinion

 

The 7th Lubavitch Rebbe  had a high regard for journalism as a profession and I surmise from what others have said about him on this topic that he also had a high regard for public relations, or more specifically media relations, practitioners as well. The Rebbe perceived a clear need, so I am told, for journalists and, indeed, other writers to be influential in their writings in order to sway public opinion.

While I agree that the job of a public relations professional is to gain the public’s interest and, hopefully, positive interest in a particular issue, I respectfully disagree with the Rebbe that this is, or should be, the mission of a journalist. While I know it can often have that effect, I don’t believe that journalists should give their personal opinions when writing in journalistic form and from that platform.  All my formal training in public relations and journalism and my reading on journalism and journalistic writing has led me to believe that reporting by journalists for a public media outlet (e.g. newspapers, radio news, TV news etc…) should be written as unbiased as possible. While journalists do have the opportunity to inform their readers, they should not tell readers what to think (opinion), but, rather, what to think about (subject).

 The Rebbe was not only learned in Torah, Jewish law and spiritual matters, he was formally educated in science, mathematics, philosophy and engineering at European universities and  institutions, before qualifying as a licensed electrical engineer.

Verse from Torah: A voice is heard on high, the “higher” the stature of the voice the greater its influence will be on the public.

Torah True?

What proof is there that G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai? What evidence is there to prove that the Torah is true and what constitutes proof or evidence?

If you are at all interested in having an answer to this age old question, please read the following article written by Rabbi Nechemia Coopersmith and Rabbi Moshe Zeldman of Aish
 
Read  here: Article

Yud-Shvat- A New Era in Jewish Leadership

Yud-Shvat marks the anniversary of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson assuming leadership as the 7th Lubavitch Rebbe in 1951

Yud-Shvat marks the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (1880-1950) the 6th Lubavitch Rebbe

Yud-Shvat marks the Yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Rivkah Schneerson (1833-1914) Wife of 4th Lubavitch Rebbe

        

Until the early 1900s when Jews started to come in droves to the new world, especially the USA, they lived in small communities, or shtetls, from such “far of places such as Poland, Spain, Lithuania, Hungry and Germany. In the shtetl everyone knew each other, everyone was Jewish, and when there was a non-Jewish community nearby they rarely mixed, except to transact a little commerce here and there. People knew you and your circumstances. You were a Jew; he was a Christian and so on.

But when people started to come to the America and other western countries, things changed. There were no shtetls and the  new life took very different forms and demands. The entire community that one had to live within and interact with was wider, not just at the weekly market, but at on a daily basis. Your next door neighbour in the small New York tenement apartment that you and your family of five rented was likely not Chaimy Finkelshein, the towns slaughterer and butcher, but Augustyn Sakorski, the recent immigrant from Poland who competed with you as the neighbourhood tailor. Or, perhaps, Patty O’Rieley , a woman of Irish descent whose husband had recently past away from tuberculoses or pneumonia and who you now saw begging on the street corner in order to feed her family of five.

This was a new world in which lives, already dislocated through harsh repression, pogroms and economic depression, had to readapt to a completely new environment of urban blight, discrimination, poverty and integrating with people from many ethnic backgrounds.

Over time this adaptation took the form of a changed sense of Jewish Identity as the pressure to blend with Mr. Sakorski and Ms. O’ Rieley became a strategy for survival. Off came the beard for men and woman stopped covering their head with tichels and sheitels. They needed, or so they thought, to look more common on the street, so that they would not stand out and distract from making a business deal or selling to the gentiles.

Jews increasingly assumed two identities: one in the home and the Shul, and another for the outside world. This was very different from the Russian shtetl they grew-up in only a few years before. In the old country, in the shtetl, Jews looked and acted as Jews and lived characteristically as Jews. When you went to work, you had a beard, when you came home and took of your hat you still had a Kippah on, and when you told a bad joke to a friend, and he groaned “Oy Vey”, it was preceded and followed by Yiddish, the language of the Jews and not English, a foreign tongue for a foreign land. Here you had to work at being Jewish. And some rose to this challenge, but many did not.

For others, Jewish identity was something that they started to hide. They thought that this was probably best for the survival of their family in a new world. It was perceived as the key to survival in a new land with strange cultural blends and a multitude of people of all nations in tightly packed urban neighbourhoods. While many Jews now only brought out there Judaism in front of family and friends while home or in the Shul, many traditions, or mitzahs, that were just part of daily life in the old country became forgotten or even worse, told were useless customs that had no meaning in modernity.

Some identifiable groups of Jews that came to the America and elsewhere, escaping persecution and bigotry, tried to recreate shtetl-like communities in order to keep their Jewish indentity vibrant and strong. But then a novel approach was born. 1951 witnessed a whole new age in Yiddishkeit. A great leader began his reign as a power force to lead the Jewish world. Not a leader that had diluted his Judaism in order to fit into modern society and also not a leader that isolated himself and his followers from the rest of society in order to maintain their identity. He was a leader that knew the modern world was not taking Jews anywhere with their traditions and beliefs. Indeed, Judaism, as a community, was being threatened, as so many Jews were hostile to replicating their traditional lives in small Jewish communities where they only dealt with Mr. Cohen and Ms. Greenberg.

But just what was the best medicine for a sick and ailing American Judaism? Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe, had the mighty elixir. Not a quick fix, but a slow process to instil the joy of halalchic Yiddishkeit amongst the less observant Jews of America and elsewhere in the world.

As the world around us changes our hearts and souls remaind Jewish, but our garments, were not Jewish. For countless Jews, the Rebbe’s mitzvah in-the-street program was the first step on the road to identification and intensified love with Yiddishkeit. The Rebbe and his Lubavitcher army literally took it to the streets and offered a chance for Jews to be Jews, not just in their homes or in the Shul, but in the middle of the street, Park Avenue in NY city or in a office building on Pender and Homer in Vancouver. “Did you put on tefillin today?” “Can I offer you Shabbat candles?” “Can I interest you in some classes on Judaism?” For many Jews, Jewish pride and Jewish precepts came out of the closet forever. This was a revolution of sorts, an ever-burgeoning renaissance of belief and resurgence of interest in the traditions of Judaism. For countless individuals and families, that mitzvah in-the-street, and the warmth and love of the soldiers or campaigners inviting participation, was the first step on the road to an intensified identification with Yiddishkeit, with Jewish education and Jewish observance. The Rebbe showed Jews that they could remain Jewish, look, act and feel Jewish all the while living and participating in the wider community. Unlike many Jewish leaders that preached isolationism as a way to remain Jewish in the face of a changing world, the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe took a different route. He preached that everything is this world should and could be elevated to the stature of the Holy. No good would be served by Jews leading dual, separated lives, one consisting of secular acts in daily living and another holy in terms of Jewish ritual. He so elequently preached that these two must be combined to make everything in one’s life have a G-dly purpose. Live in your community, wherever that is, but make it a G-dly place to live.

That said, in recent years I have observed and realized that the Rebbe was correct in his assessment of modern day Yiddishkeit in America and elsewhere in the world. While the Chabad organization under the leadership of Menachem Mendel Schneerson has made great strides in helping people see the joy and pride in identifying themselves a Jewish wherever they are, some Jewish communities do in fact insulate themselves and rarely venture out into the secular world. These communities are often cocooned in a little city area – a modern-day shtetl – and really don’t face the contemporary world, certainly that part of it where one faces many challenges to traditional Judaism. At the same time many other Jewish people still live following a very secular lifestyle that conceals, almost hides, their Judaism. This group’s participation in Yiddishkeit only takes place in the comfort of their home or at Synagogue at best. For many participants in this group, their Yiddishkeit doesn’t appear, or confront them, on a daily basis.

What guides us to the correct way of life? Should you wrap yourself in a cocoon, isolating yourself from the many challenges of living a Judaic lifestyle? Maybe you should live a double life, one of secularism in the modern world and Judaism at home. Is there another option in order to say faithful to the principals, ideals and ways of a Torah true Judaism? And does Torah instruct us in this regard?

I believe, actually I know, through his speeches and published discourses and commentaries, that the Rebbe, in part, took his inspiration from the Torah to guide us in the correct way to live in a challenging time or hostile land. For example, In the Torah portion of Vayeitzei, Yakov leaves the comfort of Be’er Sheva and journeys into the hostile world of Chorran. The great sages, teachers and Rebbes tell us that Yakov guarded the Torah and commandments and kept Yiddishkeit flowing in the hostile land of Choran. Every day he was faced with forces that wanted him to change and adapt to ways that were less than ideal for a Torah observant man, but Yakov Avinu was able to keep his Judaism open and honest in the face of great pressures from his new community and extended family.

The Torah tells us, through our great commentators, that we must go out into the “hostile” secular world with our Judaic-face-on (game-face-on). We must not cocoon ourselves into a comfort zone or isolate ourselves in a shtetl. We must face the world in order to make the ung-dly g-dly. Elevate everything in the world towards G-d. As an example, some communities shy away from computers and internet because of the ungodly and negative aspects that are found on the internet. Other communities use the internet in order to spread the joy of Yiddishkeit and promote a Torah observant lifestyle. These people know the dangers that lurk on the internet and take great precautions to avoid them. They also see that the internet offers great possibilities as a way to reach Jews and in its ability to carry G-d’s messages instantly to many people.In a sense it elevates the internet as a medium to help fulfill our G-dly purpose in life.

There are many examples in the Torah that teach us that we need to go out into the world around us, remain Jewish and elevate everything around us to the G-dly. How many times do we enter into the wider, secular world and our Judaism stays hidden? Is this how we should be as a nation, as a people, as Jews?

As Jews, when we go into the secular, we must not only take the teaching of Torah, Talmud, Tanya and other great Jewish texts and use them in our own lives to protect ourselves, and help us stay true to our Torah-based principles, but we must help construct the world by making the things around us have a G-dly purpose. We must be proud enough of our heritage and traditions that we are able to wear them openly on our sleeves. And this is the new tradition that was set by the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

.

Parshat Bo and the Foundations of Prayer and Spirituality

Parshat  Bo and the changing of one’s mindset in anticipation of the new. Developing a deep rooted understanding in what G-d wants of us in terms of prayer and spirituality.

This past week I was studying the Torah portion of  Parshat Bo.  I was thinking and learning about mindset change, one of many themes in this week’s parshat.  While in my mind I was connecting my thoughts to to being a baal teshuvah, or returnee to traditional Judaism and increased spirituality,  I got a twitter link from a prominat Chabad Rabbi, Rabbi Pearl who had written about mindset change and spirituality. This was quite a pleasent surprise to me, that a Rabbi of such stature would be writing about the same topic I was contemplating, and making some of the same connections as well.  I later thought that maybe G-d, in his mysterious way,was indicated to me that my thinking was indeed on the correct path by giving validation to my thoughts by showing me that a more knowledgeable person in Torah, a Rabbi, had similar thoughts as I. 

Soon after, borrowing a thought or two from Rabbi Pearl and another great Rabbi, Rabbi DovBer Pinson, I formed my own conclusions and wrote a D’var Torah which I gave in Shul on Shabbos.

With minor adjustments, this is what I said.

The people in this week’s Torah portion are in a constricted place. They are slaves with little freedoms, if any. But with G-d and Moshe (Moses) moving towards releasing them from Pharaohs enslavement the Jewish people would have to change their mind to new possibilities and a new way of living.  It is not good enough for the Jews of Egypt to just follow Moshe and G-d out of Egypt to freedom. They had to change their mindset and way of thinking to new responsibilities needed to accommodate their pending freedom.  G-d knew that if the mindset of the Jewish people was not changed they would still be trapped by old ways of thinking and old habits.

When one is stuck in old ways or habits and wants to change, one must initiate a destruction of the old mould. One must recognize the need for a change and then start to break the old mould by taking a first step towards the new structure.  As a second step you must begin to see new possibilities then believe in the power of those you want. The third and final step is creating a new way of being and one must begin to apply “new possibilities”. One must now start to create new behaviors.

In this week’s Torah Portion, G-d commands the Jews to bring their sheep into their homes for four days before prior to sacrifice. The Jews needed four days to change their mindset. They had to come to terms that they would have discard what the Egyptians had show them, through ritual, to be sacred, like an idol.

Today, many times, people just jump headfirst into something new. While this can be a great way of breaking the mould, more often than not people forget to change their mindset in order to fully accept the new. Usually this method of going from the old to the new doesn’t create a sincere bonding with the new.

In terms of spirituality, many people dive into going to Shul and try to participate in prayer. Some people even try to learn, or study, prayer of liturgy.  While for some this method works, but for the vast majority of us it lacks a foundation that helps us change our mindset and thinking in order to appreciate and understand new spiritual realms in prayer and worship, and what true spiritually brings and teaches us.  After diving head first into prayer and liturgy, some people end-up not returning to Shul as often as they would, should or could. Others of us end up with a different path to some-sort superficial fulfillment through other branches of Judaism and yet others say: “This did nothing for me and it did not inspire me.” then they become drop outs.

Why does this happen?  I believe that one did not change their mindset in order to fully appreciate the nature of traditional spirituality, worship and prayer.

How, then, can we properly change our mindset? While there are probably many ways to do this I believe that the best way is through study and learning. One can study prayer and liturgy, but I don’t believe that this will give you a fundamental grasp of what G-d wants of us as Jewish people, for it does not open oneself up to a new way of thinking. In order to develop solid foundations and actually shift one’s mind towards the new, one must study Torah in all its forms Zohar Kabbalah, Tanya and Chassidut.

This will give you the proper foundation of knowing what G-d wants of you and how to sincerely worship the Aibishter.