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Category: Essays

A Response to the Parkland Shooting

A Response to the Parkland Shooting

Setting aside for a moment the immediate reaction of the media about policy, let’s first try to understand this heinous act for what it is — evil. True, countries need militaries, homes need protection, cities police, and all schools should have armed guards and metal detectors because there will always be outliers who escape the law and order.  Obviously, the shooter should be locked away for life or punished capitally (which is worse?). Obviously, there should be heavy consequences for the authorities…

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Pleasure and Fear

Pleasure and Fear

Love, Not War Whether or not you have kids, it may have crossed your mind what kind of Judaism you want to give them. There are as many varieties of Judaism as there are Jews — probably more! We all know the perils of parents who force religion “down their kids’ throat.” No one likes them. Their children resent them — and if their kids turn out frum, it’s despite the forceful parenting. On the other hand, children need to be…

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Joy: The Long Short Way

Joy: The Long Short Way

This is an updated version of the essay that sparked The Long Short Way over a year ago. It happened when Rabbi Simon Jacobson, a while after his My Life: Chassidus Applied videos came out, made an essay contest to encourage people to tackle an issue head-on. I didn’t win or even come close, but the idea stuck with me. Joy: The Long Short Way Download the PDF here. Many wonder what the key is to happiness. Is happiness really an “inalienable…

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Focus: The Lost Art of Concentration Part 2

Focus: The Lost Art of Concentration Part 2

The Value of Concentration   The Infinite G-d used the tzimtzum to express Himself within finitude. The universe came into being because G-d is able to focus. Similarly, imagine a craftsman, working his craft. Whether it be a blacksmith, carpenter or locksmith— even a teacher preparing a lecture. It doesn’t take much knowledge of the particular field to appreciate the beauty of focusing for hours on the same task with diligence and passion. There’s a bocher I see often learning….

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Focus: the Lost Art of Concentration

Focus: the Lost Art of Concentration

How do we regain control of our scattered minds and lives? How can we grab the reins of something as intangible as our minds and hearts? How can we focus our attention without focusing our attention on focusing our attention? Words are thrown around constantly to describe the benefits of technological advances; efficiency, streamlining, logistics, communications, etc., etc., etc., how easy do these things really make our life? In our culture we have our fair share of words to describe…

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Iggeres HaT’shuva: Chapter Nine, Tammuz 25, 5775

Iggeres HaT’shuva: Chapter Nine, Tammuz 25, 5775

Here the Alter Rebbe explains that higher level t’shuva (t’shuva ilaa) is a result of fixing things at their root. For example: the sin associated with young men “nicks” the mind, the correction and the t’shuva is to become engrossed in learning Torah (which comes from Chochma of Aztilus) and to double the quantity. Like kissing, where the breath of one united with the other, when we learn, our minds think G-d’s thoughts, our mouths speak G-d’s words etc. The…

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Iggeres HaT’shuva: End of Chapter Eight, Shabbos Mevorchim Chodesh Menachem Ov, Tammuz 24, 5775

Iggeres HaT’shuva: End of Chapter Eight, Shabbos Mevorchim Chodesh Menachem Ov, Tammuz 24, 5775

Previously, the Alter Rebbe explained to us how t’shuva tattoh (lower level t’shuva) is done. Now that the t’shuva tattoh is done and the clouds have been cleared,” we can engage in t’shuva i’la’ah (higher level t’shuva). This happens through becoming emotionally engaged in learning Torah, which is a woundrous union between G-d and Jew. The this emotional state during intimacy with G-d is a result of binah (analysis and contemplation) and is also results in the return of the…

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Iggeres HaT’shuva: End of Chapter 7, Tammuz 22, 5775

Iggeres HaT’shuva: End of Chapter 7, Tammuz 22, 5775

So imagine you never did any aveira worthy of death from beis din or being cut-off…The little things we ignore in our relationship to Hashem add up. The little fibers of the 613 strand rope connecting us with G-d become severed weakening the experience. Realizing that we have distanced ourselves from Hashem will motivate to move forward.

7 Things I Learned From the Custodians in 770.

7 Things I Learned From the Custodians in 770.

These are a few things that cross my mind every time I see these guys. 1) they work efficiently and quickly. 2) they walk with purpose and work with determination. 3) they don’t let foolishness (or fools) get in their way 4) they are strong of body, spirit and will 5) they aren’t concerned with self-actualization, rather, they realize that their lack of formal education means that this is their lot and if they work hard perhaps their children will…

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Iggeres HaT’shuva: Chapter Five, Tammuz 17, 5775

Iggeres HaT’shuva: Chapter Five, Tammuz 17, 5775

In the previous chapter, the Alter Rebbe explained to us that all of life receives its life from Hashem’s speech (more externally, the latter hei in Havaye), as opposed to us who receive life from Hashem’s breath (from a deeper place, the thorn on the yud). Today the Alter Rebbe explains how koreis (being cut off) works: how could anything separate us from Hashem? The answer, he explains is based on a few pessukim: 1. “He breathed into his nostrils the soul of…

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