Bible as a record of the interaction between the Hebrew people and their God

History, according to the Biblical understanding, provides a learning experience The Divine Covenant and Human Responsibility: It is up to the humans to apprehend and abide by the transcendental order Divine expectation of fundamental moral conduct from everyone: Humans do not excel at governing themselves when left to follow their own conscience? Repeated renewal of the covenant through Noah, Abraham, and Moses: Genesis and Exodus Covenant relationship implies a binding relationship between two groups: Ideals of choice and acceptance Abraham as an example.

Function of Revelation and Prophecy: Instances of communication between the Transcendental power and humans Revelation as an divinely directed event which has a special significance for those who share a particular worldview Tension between the way things are and the way they ought to be: Biblical view of history incorporates a hope for change for the better Exodus: Metaphor of emergence from slavery to a people with a destiny and purpose Questions of Justice: Prophets, Kings, and Social Reform : Emergence of political identity of the Hebrew people and the associated social problems.

Gradual settlement of the freed slaves from Egypt in Canaan:
From a loose tribal confederation ruled by informal chieftains (Shophetim or Judges) : Samson, Shamgar, Ehud, Deborah etc. To a centralized monarchy: Saul, David, Solomon Construction of the Temple: Priestly and Legal authority.

Emergence of Monotheism focused on the worship of Yahweh. Secession of the northern tribes (Israel), centered around Samaria, in 922 B.C.E. and their dispersal in 722 B.C.E. by the Assyrian invasion Southern tribes(Judah), centered around Jerusalem, continued until the Babylonian invasion in 586 B.C.E.

The Prophetic Tradition:

Based upon intensely personal, ecstatic experience of individuals: Voice of social conscience. Worked from both inside as well as outside the social, and political institutions of the community Prophets proclaim for God against all unrighteousness and disloyalty against Yahweh.

3 stages of the Prophetic tradition:

1. Guild Prophets.

2. Pre-Writing Prophets (Nathan’s prophecy to David in Samuels II, ch 12 ) : Prophetic experience underscores God’s demand for justice; against individual acts of corruption?

3. Writing Prophets (Amos, Isaiah etc,): Challenged the corruption implicit in the social order and institutions.

Whenever you want to travel to any destination it’s important to note what you have at your disposal before going away. Do you have enough time and resources to go away? Have you planned your itinerary beforehand so you know what to do once you get there? Is your passport and traveling documents up-to-date? Will you go alone or with a companion? And so on. Is it uncommon to go away without any planning beforehand right? In the same way, how can you improve your life before getting to know yourself?

The starting point of any voyage is just as important as the place of arrival. The same occurs in life. Before you endeavor to improve upon yourself, you identify who you are, what you believe in, what your values and standards are, and I believe, you should question them wholeheartedly. You pinpoint what’s holding you back from success so you know exactly what you need to do to improve, change or discard. It’s not an easy task I know, there are obstacles, difficulties and even people who will get in your way toward success. But let’s be honest, anything worthwhile in life takes a decision, courage, determination, discipline, and several valuable attributes that many aren’t willing to develop.

Life is paradoxical because if you are comfortable with yourself now, life will be tough on you, but when you work hard on yourself, life will be extremely comfortable with you. Hence, the reason why successful people enjoy better lifestyles than others because they value the attributes I just mentioned and have hard-working mentalities that caused the results they now enjoy. Therefore make a commitment in this very moment to work hard on yourself so that you too live the rest of your life the way you really want to live it.

Trina Paulus once said, How does one become a butterfly? You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar. Many opt to remain caterpillars all their lives and can’t see themselves as butterflies. To become a butterfly you must stop being who you are so you become who you were meant to be in the first place. If you want to have a new wardrobe, for instance, you must give away your old clothes first, so that you make space for new ones, don’t you? The same principle applies when you want to become a better person: You change the dominating thoughts that occupy your mind and reprogram yourself with a new mentality.

Jack Canfield said, “Say no to the good to say yes, to the excellent” Ships are safe in the harbor, but is that what ships were built for?

I have created a FREE eBook so that you’re on your way toward getting to know yourself by identifying your beliefs, values, talents, strengths, as well as your top priorities. Download it for FREE now and take advantage of it! Remember than success is attained by your willingness to pay the price for initial failure, your daily focus in your top priorities, and your personal development should be one of them.

So tell us, what is one thing you’d love to succeed at and are willing to pay the price for?

Leave a comment below if you will.

Cheers, have a great day! =)

One Example: If a guy has trouble saying “I love you” to his wife, what Maamarim might address that by talking about the properties of chessed and yesod, the sefirot corresponding to love (chessed), vulnerability, connection and sexual intimacy (yesod). Once those Maamarim were identified, I thought they might begin to figure out different experiential exercises that can inculcate these concepts and values (articulated in the Maamarim) into the person. After all, people are not brains walking around on bags of meat and very often, emotional pain and trauma that is lodged in the body will only exit by engaging the body.

But none of this happened. Nothing close to it. It pains me deeply but there it is. Many people refused to even go because the Rosh, a wonderful human being and incredible Talmid Chacham (someone who has shown me incredible kindness) has serious anger and communication issues. Others messaged me they won’t go because some of the Rabbanim won’t talk to the other Rabbanim outside of public functions and scheme against the others. Hardly the paragons of healthy happy Jews.  Personally, while I hear that, the value of “accept the truth from those who speak it” would outweigh this if not for the fact that there was no attempt at listening and receptivity to people’s needs nor any attempt at articulation or systemization of Chassidus to address people’s needs.

4 – I feel it prudent to point out that Chabad has never been one to tout Daas Torah and intellectual subservience to Torah Scholars. Think Zalman Moshe and Reb Mendel – need I say more? Therefore I feel it wise to address the Asifa’s points substantively, as I just did above.

5 – Claims that meditation is passul (invalid and unholy) will not hold water. The Rebbe himself, was one of the biggest proponents of using powerful techniques that all sorts of unsavory groups used. The Rebbe didn’t care who created them or how they were currently being used.

2 – There is a serious miscommunication going on. Many people and Rabbi’s see guys going to Shofar and only hear, “I want to feel good” when in reality, guys are saying, “I want to feel” period. They are scared to even feel any emotion. By feel, I mean to reflect on it, give it space and honor it, instead of shutting it down since it doesn’t fit with toxic notions of bittul or kabbalas oyel that they were taught.

In fact, some guys are simply saying, “I want”. Forget about feelings, they’ve never allowed themselves to just be and exist without constant berating and beating of themselves.

Lastly, some guys, by going to Shofar, are simply saying, “I”. They can’t even conceive of having a desire. They are battul be’metziyus. Of course, they’re not emotionally (or intellectually but that’s a different story) resonant with that bittul bemetziyus so they suffer as do their families and friends.

3 – It saddens me to say this and I know this will make some people mad, but it must be said. The Rabbanim last night wasted a wonderful opportunity. Instead of showing up receptive and listening they showed up talking and lecturing. I was hoping to hear, “Ok Chevra, you got our attention. We obviously (as evidenced by over 1800 men going to Shofar) failed to provide for your needs and wants via Chassidus. So help us understand what you feel is missing, help us understand your pain so that we might come to appreciate your suffering and perhaps begin to help you recover.

I thought there might be a hat going around so that people could put in anonymous comments, real questions and burning issues that bother them.

I thought perhaps, there would be an all night marathon of learning and study groups to begin the process of placing various Maamarim and sichos into different slots of issues.

So much has been going on and so many ideas and claims are being thrown around that it’s hard to get clarity. As my thoughts are somewhat disorganized I will do a point-by-point analysis instead of an essay. I will only be addressing those claims leveled against Shofar that are also leveled against overall therapy and mental health. Perhaps I will explain my thoughts on Shofar a different time. But for now, I want to solely discuss the claims, explicit and implicit, made by the Asifa.

  1. Does Chassidus have all the answers? We need to scrutinize this statement quite closely. It is my belief that given the current method of teaching Chassidus, we can safely say, “Chassidus might have all the answers but Chassidim certainly don’t.”

That is to say, we have not yet articulated a clear coherent method for dealing with real life and mental issues via Chassidus. Many people would say we should not be focused on that in the first place. A close friend and mentor said,

“The Alter Rebbe writes in the Hakdamah “ve’eitzah nechonah le’chol davar ha’kasheh alav BAAVODAS HASHEM”. A whole litany of Rabbis invoked this verse in a letter condemning COTS.

But why does he add the two qualifying words “ba’avodas ha’shem”? We are all told about how the Alter Rebbe considered for 6 weeks before writing a certain “vav”… So certainly when it comes to two full words they are precise and layered with meaning.

The answer is one of two.

Option #1) He is teaching us that any problem a yid ever has (“kol davar ha’kasheh alav”) is inherently a part of his “avodas hashem”.

Option #2) The Tanya is telling us that he addresses ONLY issues that are in the realm of Avodas Ha’shem.

Well, according to the first option, Tanya has the answers to a broken leg too, which, everyone agrees is ludicrous.

So we are forced to the second option.

The question now begs itself: the words “ba’avodas ha’shem” are to the exclusion of what?

I maintain that they exclude a person who is struggling with issues of humanity. These are not “avodas ha’shem” issues, for only a human being can serve Hashem, not a half human. In other words, when a person’s Nefesh Ha’behamis is damaged, he is traumatized, injured, etc. the Tanya never claimed to address him! The Tanya only claims to address a HUMAN BEING who is encountering issues in his “Avodas Ha’shem.”

I am inclined to agree with him for the time being. Especially as nowadays, it is my firm belief and experience that, not just is Chassidus not being articulated in a way that can address all problems – quite the contrary. It is being taught in deeply toxic and harmful ways.

Even if Chassidus was meant to address all mental psyche-related issues, there is much work to be done before we can, in good conscience, direct people with real issues to Chassidus for answers.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America…one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

           g         Alas, the many months leading to our elections gravely affirms there are two nations under God. Both divided, legalistically bound, and unclear (perhaps, intentionally) about God’s true meaning of justice. The schism is due not only to political ideologies, religious beliefs, worldviews, economic conditions, gender, race, age, geography, and historical experience but in its failure to care for the most vulnerable amongst us and love one another. The manifestation of our divided hearts is well articulated through the words of political aspirants, their supporters, church leadership in the pulpits and across the television screen, in sanctuary pews, and in the deepest closet prayer.


      We find a Biblical parallel with the minor prophet, Amos. In the 8th century B.C., Amos lived in the complexity of two nations under God: the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Israel was entrenched in a deep socioeconomic divide, an ancient 99% movement without progress and media spin. The wealthy lived in luxury and extravagance, lavishly decorated homes and appearance, unfair business practices, corrupt and brutally negligent to the needs of the poor. Does it sound familiar?


        God was not pleased and His judgment brewed. Outwardly religious, the Israelites condoned by word and deed dishonest, immoral, and oppressive means to preserve their milieu. Their inner man (heart) truly did not know God and sought not His known character. Amos’ reprimand to find God’s mercy and personal and national course correction applies to us. “Seek good and not evil— and live! You talk about God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, being your best friend. Well, live like it, and maybe it will happen. Hate evil and love good, then work it out in the public square. Maybe God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, will notice your remnant and be gracious.” (Amos 5:14-15, the Message).


          How do we heal our deeply divided nation? Brother and sister, we must seek forgiveness for dividing that which God made one. “Every kingdom that is divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” (Matt. 12:25; Mark 3:24-25, and Luke 11:17). Most troubling, this “kingdom”, city and house is occupied by those who profess a doctrinal understanding of the faith,  relationship with the Savior, Jesus the Christ and call themselves, Christians. A nation is built upon communities. Individuals, like you and me, form the foundation of the latter. Sincerely, we must repent for our separation from Him and our sins of omission and commission against Him…and others. Harken back to Paul’s remarks to the Colossians, in this reconciliation with God and in bearing with each other and forgiving one another as the Lord forgave, we will be bound together in perfect unity. We heal our divided hearts. Then, only then, we can stand as one before God.