An Interview with Rebbe

There is MUCH to discuss in here... For now, lets simply back in the glow of Rebbe's fire...

An Interview with Rabbi Hershel Reichman

BY: Ari Lamm

Kol Hamevaser: “Spirituality” is a very fashionable term. How does Judaism view
spirituality? Does Judaism’s view of spirituality differ from that of contemporary society?

Rabbi Hershel Reichman: When contemporary society talks about spirituality, it’s about
having a certain psychological, emotional awareness of some experience. In Judaism, it’s not so
clear that the individual psychological experience is necessary to have a spiritual experience.
According to Judaism, and especially hasidut, a Jewish soul has many levels. There are five
fundamental levels of the soul: nefesh, ru’ah, neshamah, chayah, and yechidah. The first three
levels, nefesh, ru’ah and neshamah, refer to the biological, emotional, and intellectual. These are
the levels of the soul an individual is aware of, and so he could, on any one of those levels, have
something you could describe as a spiritual experience. You could do something physical that
could be spiritual as well. You could have some sort of emotion, and that could be a spiritual
emotion. You could do something intellectual and that might have some sort of spiritual effect.
But according to hasidut, the chayah and yechidah levels of the soul are, many times, beyond
human awareness. They can be experienced, but it’s not common. On the other hand, we can do
things that affect all five levels of our soul; probably everything that we do affects all five levels.
So let’s say someone does a mitsvah without any experience of spirituality at all. It’s dry, plain,
rote, robotic, and he doesn’t really experience it in his nefesh, ru’ah, or neshamah. But it’s
possible that one might have spiritual nourishment from a mitsvah through the chayah and
yechidah, which anyway aren’t usually experienced spirituality. So that’s why we say a person
should do the mitsvah even without kavvanah. We paskin that mitsvot lo tserikhot kavvanah,
because the mitsvah has a spiritual meaning and effect on us, even if we don’t know it. This
experience is beyond our awareness and located on higher levels of the soul. So the first major
consideration is that for general culture, spirituality must be experienced. For us, though, it can
be experienced, and I imagine it’s great when you do experience it, but it doesn’t have to be
experienced. That’s a very important difference. Spirituality is not identical with spiritual

Now, there’s an old question in my mind about why contemporary Jewish Orthodox life,
especially Modern Orthodox life, has neglected the spiritual experience so much. The emphasis
has been on doing the mitsvah and getting the thing done, which obviously is very important. But there’s been an educational and communal neglect of the spiritual experience. We don’t need the spiritual experience to make the mitsvah or the deed worthwhile or worthy, but we definitely need the spiritual experience just in order to practice the Torah and Judaism in the right way.

The pasuk writes that you must perform the mitsvot “be-khol levavkhem,” which means you have to have a heartfelt feeling and experience when you do the mitsvah, when you serve Hashem. To me, this is a great challenge that I think Jewish education must confront and really grapple with and hopefully successfully bring the experience of spirituality into peoples’ lives.

KHM: Is there ever a tension between spiritual experience and halakhah? Is there a
tension superficially, or a harmony at some level.

RHR: I think that everything in this world was created by God in a mirror way, in a double way;
there’s a good side and a bad side. There’s no such thing as neutral – it’s either good or bad, or I
can use it for good or for bad. The same thing is true of spirituality: there’s a good spirituality
and there’s also a bad spirituality. Obviously, the people who worshiped avodah zarah had
spiritual experiences, but they were bad. The Torah doesn’t say that just any spirituality is good;
it has to be the right kind of spirituality.

Unfortunately, today in the Jewish world, and through it the non-Jewish world, we have a phenomenon called the cult of the kabbalah. Now, there are ways of studying and learning kabbalah that will enhance one’s spiritual experience. However, if it becomes a cult and the goal is the experience rather than what’s right or wrong, you can get a wrong experience out of the kabbalah. This phenomenon is expressed by Madonna, who is dressed in a way that is not tsanua, wearing tefillin, and singing a song. This whole thing is just a paradox, the bad kind of spirituality. It reminds me of the rites of avodah zarah, which mixed religion with women and all sorts of terrible practices. So we have to be careful, when we go for spiritual experiences, that we do it the right away.

That’s where halakhah comes in. Halakhah is really a control system to make sure that you gain
the spiritual experiences but in the right way; otherwise, you’re playing with fire. The logic and
control of halakhah in the spirituality of physical commandments, is very important. When we
speak about spirituality, it’s a function of a certain soul experience. The soul and the body are
really two different things. God attached the soul to the body in order to sanctify the body. The
body of the person is basically neutral and not holy. The soul, being holy, is supposed to share its
holiness with the body.

I don’t know if non-Jewish spirituality recognizes this concept. The Christians felt that you could never really sanctify the body, so they want people like nuns and priests not to get married because they don’t see how you can possibly bring spirituality into sex. But Judaism has a mitsvah of peru u-revu. And the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur has to have a wife to serve. So we think that if God put the soul into the body, that means that God knows, since He created us, that the body can be sanctified. Even though you might think the body is carnal, low, and animalistic, that might be true as you start the struggle, and we agree it’s a struggle. But we don’t believe like the Christians that it’s a lost cause, that it’s impossible, and that you must restrict the body. Instead, we feel that you have to control the body and channel it, and when you do that you get a very special spirituality that permeates not just the soul, but the body as well.

KHM: Throughout the ages, various Jewish movements have attempted to address a
perceived lack of spirituality within daily Jewish practice. Two of the most recent and
popular have been the Musar Movement and hasidut. What does Rav Reichman see as the
most important contributions of these movements, and how should students at YU relate to
these movements, their works and their legacies?

RHR: Both movements have made a most important contribution of making people sensitive to,
and giving them methods to attain, the spiritual side of Judaism. Personally, I go for hasidut
much more than musar. I’ve never really had a good teacher of musar. Some people think it’s
amazing. I’ve always found that the musar side is very demanding – to use a hasidic phrase,
musar is coming from the side of din. I never thought I could do it. But when I came into
hasidut, I found it to be more on the hesed side. The hesed side is light, more optimistic, more
joyous, involves more singing, so it’s positive rather than negative, and that’s why I chose it.
I might be wrong, but I think that in general that musar has become much more hasidic
than it ever was. I think if you go today and hear a musar schmooze in a regular yeshivah where
there’s a regular mashgi’ah giving musar, very often he’s using hasidic sources, like the Sefat
Emet, the Shem mi-Shemuel, and other hasidic books that are well organized. And they also
have moved from the somber, morose “din” into the optimistic, hasidic point of view. So it’s
harder today to distinguish between musar and hasidut, because they have merged. Call it
whatever you want, musar or hasidut, but it’s the bright, optimistic side which talks to me, and I
think it talks to the general public today more than the strong demanding side.

KHM: A common complaint is that it is difficult, after the year(s) in Israel, to maintain the
spiritual high felt during the year(s) in Israel. What recommendation would Rav
Reichman have for students at YU who experience this?

RHR: It’s a difficult question to solve. I personally think that you have to be very innovative. If
you’re going to wait for YU to do it, you’re probably going to become very disappointed. For
example, Rav Wolfson came last night (September 15, 2008), so a lot of the boys heard, for the
first time, a great hasidic master talk in a way that was so inspiring and so uplifting. So what’s
going to happen next? If a boy says he’s going to wait for the next time Rav Wolfson comes to
get the same kind of inspiration, he’s going to have to wait a very long time. But if you’re
innovative, you say, “Hey, Rav Wolfson really inspired me, and he has a shul in Brooklyn where
I hear there’s a lot of inspiration every Shabbat. I’m going to make it my business to go once or
twice a month.” You have to be innovative. You could go to Israel during vacations. For
someone in YU, spending two months a year in Israel would be a tremendous dose of

Now, within YU itself, which is where people are spending almost all of their time, you
have to look for those pockets, those places within YU, which can help you maintain and climb
the ladder to more avodat Hashem. The first place is the beit midrash. A student has to
maximize his time in the beit midrash. He has to. It’s spiritual survival. Minimizing his time in
the beit midrash means shooting himself in the leg. If he maximizes it, he can really succeed.
That includes everything he has to do in the morning, the whole nine yards, and then going at
night to the beit midrash. That’s voluntary, but he can do it, he has to. If he says, “My schedule
doesn’t allow me,” then he should change his schedule. I don’t believe in the sixteen or
seventeen credit schedule. I myself took six years to go through college.

KHM: So should everyone stay for a fifth year?

RHR: Absolutely. Everybody should take the fifth year. You should take nine credits in the
college, and three credits of shiur. Or if you’ve already maxed out with your Jewish Studies, take twelve credits in the college. You should never take more than 12 credits of secular courses. This way, you’ll have the time to go to the beit midrash at night. So I think going outside YU to find
spiritual inspiration is a great thing, but since very few boys do that, you must be in the beit
midrash. That’s the first thing.

The second thing in YU is to attach yourself to a rebbe. The rebbe spends basically his
whole day immersed in Torah and avodat Hashem; he’s not studying secular courses. He is a
very holy person compared to the average student, because of how he spends his day. So if a
talmid attaches himself to a rebbe, it rubs off. When I was here, I attached myself to Rabbi
Soloveitchik, the Rav. Whatever he did rubbed off on me as a student. There’s nothing wrong
with a big candle lighting a small candle.

So I think that the disaster and the failures come from the boys who violate these two
things. They don’t maximize the beit midrash, and they don’t have a rebbe. If you don’t have
both, you will probably have a very big fall. If you do have both, you can do very well. You can
do even better than Israel.

KHM: YU students split their days between Torah study and general studies. Does the
spirituality of the former relate, in any way, to the latter? In terms of religious
development and spirituality, how would Rav Reichman advise students view the latter
part of their day?

RHR: There’s theory and then there’s experience. To experience spirituality while doing secular
studies is going to be a challenge. It’s possible, but not very likely. The average person doing
mathematics or English literature is not going to have a Torah experience. I think you have to be
able to see it, at least intellectually, as a broader part of your Torah being. Let’s say you look at it
as a way of making a parnasah. Only very few people will, or are expected to, make their
parnasah from Torah. One out of a hundred may do so. The other ninety-nine are going to, and
are expected to, make their parnasah outside of Torah, so you have to say to yourself that God
put me into this world and I see from various experiences that this parnasah is what He wants.
A person who sees he could successfully make a parnasah in Torah, he should definitely go that
way; it’s the shorter path to the spiritual goal. And I think that even if a person has a safek that
maybe he could make Torah his career, he should try it. It’s like a Pascal’s Wager: sometimes,
you make a bet where you can only win. So if someone spends five years after college learning
Torah, in semikhah or kollel, and then it turns out that he can’t find a job, or he tries for a year to
be a teacher of Torah and he’s not a success, he has still won, because he got five years of Torah
learning out of it. So I say that even if you have a safek that you could do it successfully, you
should try it, because the worst you can get is five years of Torah and spirituality.

But what about the others? From the point-of-view of plain parnasah, you know
intellectually that it’s part of a Torah life, because God made me in a way that I have to be an ish
yotse ha-sadeh – that’s Hashem’s ratson. A guy who makes a living and supports a wife and
children – right away he’s doing a mitsvah. So you have to look at it, at least intellectually, as a
mitsvah. Don’t think that you’re a second-rate citizen, a failure. You’re not a failure. You have
your mission: to make a kiddush Hashem outside the beit midrash. Is that going to give you a
spiritual feeling when you do it? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not a mitsvah. As
we said before, there are many mitsvot you can do without a spiritual feeling.

In hasidut, we say a remarkable thing. If you are forced by life to do a mitsvah where there is no spirituality, something difficult which is made even more excruciating because there’s no immediate spiritual payoff, hasidut says that’s really the greatest mitsvah. Hashem is testing you to see whether you are so loyal to Him and to the Torah that you will do it without an immediate payoff. So when a guy goes into general studies, he has to know that Hashem wants him to serve Him in that way. He’s not going to enjoy it on a spiritual level. He’s not going to come home and say that he had an aliyah. He may even say he went down, but he has no choice – he has to pay the bills and take care of the children. In the end, then, it might be an even greater mitsvah.

Having said that, you have to do things to maximize the spirituality. I say that if you have
to make a career choice, you have to look and see which career choice will give you the
opportunity to maximize real spirituality. Let’s say one career is going to be a nine-to-three job,
where you’re going to make a basic income, and the other job is a nine-to-nine job, like that of a
lawyer, where you’re going to make much more money. The question is: if you’re doing nine-to nine in a law firm, where’s the time for Torah and mitsvot? Intellectually, you know you’re
doing a mitsvah and being mekhaven le-shem shamayim when you choose to become a lawyer,
because you want to be able to use the money for family or tsedakah, but you’re not
experiencing spirituality. If you choose to work from nine to three, you’ll probably be a public
school teacher or a physical therapist, so you’re not going to make half of what a lawyer would,
but you’ll make enough for a living, and when you come home at three, you can teach your
children Torah, you can give your wife personal attention, and you can do many things which are
real, direct spiritual activities, not just an intellectual concept.

So I think that a person, when making a career choice, has to put the spirituality side of things into the question. It has to be something where he can feel the spirituality, not just know it intellectually. I’ll tell you the truth: I feel very saddened by the way the boys make their choices. I don’t think they think about it. They think about success, but success, I’m sorry to say, is a false idol. The way the world defines success is not the Jewish concept. It’s a sad thing when I see that they make choices without putting everything into the equation.

KHM: How should one view things that won’t affect your parnasah, like English literature
classes? Also, how would Rav Soloveitchik fit into this discussion?

RHR: The Rav, and I’m a great student of the Rav, was a man who was able to teach and to live
with paradoxes. His theory of Torah and of life was that paradox, though against basic logic,
was within Torah logic. The theory of the “two dinim” could mean either-or, but it could also
mean both. What does that mean for someone who wants to say, “I want to follow the Rav.”
Well, the Rav is teaching a paradox. You must learn Torah on such a level that you’re
completely immersed in it every moment of your waking hours. You have to think about it when
you walk, when you eat – even when you’re talking to someone, part of your mind is still
thinking about the Torah. But he then says that secular knowledge is great, it’s all from God,
and you can get inspiration there.

For normal, everyday people, that’s going to take time and mind. You can’t do two things at the same time. So the Rav teaches you a paradox. He himself apparently enjoyed paradox, but most of us don’t. Most of us like a simple thing. You have to have a great, philosophical mind to say paradox is essential and that you like it. So I can’t really tell you that the Rav gave us a clear road through this paradox of Torah and General Studies. I, personally, go for the Torah and leave the General Studies for parnasah. I don’t accept for myself the idea that General Studies is worth replacing time spent on Torah. My mind is onedimensional in that sense. I knew the Rav a little bit, and I can say that from what I saw, his mind could work two tracks at the same time – no doubt about it. Maybe Rav Aharon Lichtenstein has that kind of head and he can do it, too. I, myself, am very limited. I’m a small fry, and I only work one track at a time. When I got my Ph.D., which the Rav told me to do, I did so under a lot of parental pressure, too. To me, it was taking time away from Torah, and I did it only because of parnasah. I takke used it for 5‐6 years when I was a teacher of math at City College before I became a rebbe. So, for me, the Ph.D. gave me a parnasah; but what the Rav meant, I have no practical idea, because I am not at the level to deal with his dualities.

Getting back to the first question, if the College requires English literature, I need to do what
the College requires for me to have a parnasah as a lawyer, as a doctor, or as a computer
programmer. But if it were not required, I would never take it as an elective. I would maximize
whatever Torah learning I could, and if I would take more courses, they would be in my major.
Let’s say I had three free credits and I was maxed out in Torah – I couldn’t take more shiur. So if I were a computer major, I would take an advanced course in computers to be a better
programmer, for my parnasah, I would not be a dilettante and say that I want to broaden my
view of the world and be more of a romantic scholar within the world of liberal arts.
I never agreed with the whole philosophy of a liberal arts college. For me, it was crazy. By
studying liberal arts, you learn the philosophy and the culture of the world and that replaces
the time you could be learning Torah.

The Rav, until the age of 29, only learned Torah. He went through Shas many times and knew it on a deep level. He had a desire to learn what the nations of the world say, so he went to university. We are not like the Rav, we don’t know Torah like that. 99.9% of the people I know, adults and younger people alike, can only work on one thing at a time. We are relatively simple people. Therefore, every hour of English literature I take voluntarily is an hour I take away from Torah, hasidut, and musar. This does not make sense. We don’t know enough Torah to serve Hashem properly. We have to spend more time in the beit midrash, more time in shiur, more time back in Israel in yeshivah. I do not believe that there is any substitution from the nations of the world which can replace our responsibility to Torah and spirituality.

We’re not here to prove that someone can know a lot of Torah, Plato, and Shakespeare – that’s
been proven already. When the Rav was young, the irreligious Jews were claiming that in order
to have a parnasah and be successful, you had to throw away your Judaism. So in those years,
when the Rav went to college, there was a huge cultural, social, and intellectual challenge to
show that a person could be in university, learn everything they had to offer, and still stay frum.
And that’s what the Rav did. He went to show that a huge talmid hakham can study everything
they have – Hegel, Aristotle, Plato, Neitzche – and still remain a big talmid hakham. This isn’t
an issue for us today. We don’t have to prove that you can study English and stay religious; it’s
been proven already.

The issue today is not whether or not our students/children are being drawn away from Judaism by the non‐Jewish world’s intellectual attractiveness. No Orthodox Jews today are going to say, “I’m going to throw out religion to make money.” People would laugh. So why would someone today throw away religion? Because it is dry and boring for him. It doesn’t mean anything to him. We have to give our boys a full experience of religion. Secular studies are nothing but a tool in a person’s life. Do I have to prove that I can learn English and remain religious? I think it’s beating a dead horse. If it helps for parnasah do learn these subjects, that’s fine. But why pledge allegiance to a cause that is no longer relevant? The cause now is to strengthen the religious experience for people who are religious – to make it more real.

KHM: Since we are in the season now, could the Rosh Yeshivah comment on the topics of
teshuvah and tefillah?

RHR: As I have said, the experiential side of Torah is what needs strengthening. Unfortunately,
today the Torah education in America focuses on the intellectual side of Torah, not on the
experiential side. What happed to experience? What happened to the lev? Gone. Our boys
and girls are spiritual cripples. They are certainly intellectually trained, and maybe they can read a text nicely, but they are missing in sensitivities; they are like blind bats. So we have to shift gears to a new agenda, namely a total Jewish experience in education. Education has to move from just training the intellect to being a total immersion in Torah and Torah Judaism. That’s what a year in Israel does for a lot of boys and girls. All of a sudden they say, “Wow, I like this!” All of a sudden, there is a feeling. But when they come back to America it has to be nurtured.

That is the challenge for today.

Now, how do you teach teshuvah and tefillah – how do you teach lev? Rav Soloveitchik said
many time in his writings and teachings that he has no idea how to do it, and he said many
times that he considered this a failure on his part. So how can you do it? You can read certain
books that give you inspiration. You can hear lectures which focus on it and give you an
intellectual appreciation. But obviously that is now going to satisfy the need. It has to move
from the brain and get into the heart. I find that a kumzits with music is a very powerful
experience, and that’s what I do for myself.

Now, the boys here don’t know how to daven at all. I am speaking in generalities;
obviously, there are some that do. It is very difficult for me to remember, in my forty years
here, a boy crying during his tefillah. It’s crazy. David ha‐Melekh is crying so much in Tehillim.
You are talking to you Abba – how can you not cry? They are not davening with their hearts.
Instead of talking to their Father in Heaven, they are just being yotsei the Shulhan Arukh. So
what’s the solution? The first thing in tefillah is to seek out the slow minyan.

Sometimes, for Ma’ariv, I’ll go to a dormitory to daven. I am not going to say which minyan it is, but this minyan has a rule that you have to finish in five minutes. It’s crazy. Five minutes for a minyan? I can’t believe it. The slower, the better, from my perspective. It gives you time to talk to God. If you see a minyan that speeds, either don’t go there or take the amud and go slowly. Don’t be ashamed. No one is a boss about the speed. There is no bylaw in the YU Catalog that Ma’ariv should take five minutes. The one who takes the amud decides. You can decide to go slow. If they scream at you, it’s not your problem. Slow is the key when it comes to tefillah.
As regards teshuvah, teshuvah is very difficult. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that you
are not expected to achieve it – just to try. You are human, so you try and continue to try.
That’s all that ha‐Kadosh Barukh Hu is asking. Hashem gives you a chance to clean the slate, and
if you have that ratson, you can receive it.

Rabbi Hershel Reichman is the Bronka Weintraub Professor of Talmud at MYP/RIETS.
Ari Lamm is a senior at YC majoring in Jewish Studies and is the Interviewer for Kol Hamevaser

Rebbe Reichman Interview

Rebbe Reichman Interview PDF


Working Stiffs - Why we cannot be Litvaks without Blowing our Brains Out

A conversation concerning working Jews and the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh:

"And perhaps herein lies the big difference between Chassidus and non-Chassidus. The Chassidic movement enabled people to dedicate their lives to serving HaShem with the tools they had at their disposal. A Gerrer Chassid who was working long hours in order to support his family, could nevertheless experience closeness with HaShem by fulfilling the mitzvos with intense kavannah. Those long hours of work themselves could be turned into mitzvos "simply" by intending to fulfill HaShem's will through them, instead of feeling guilty his whole life that he was not learning during most of his day."

Akiva Ben Canaan said...
On this issue, of different approaches to work:

I went to hear Rav Itamar Shwartz, author of the sefer Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, speak yesterday. Essentially, he said that we should all have the desire to be learning Torah 24/7; while G-d understands that we need to work, He demands that our hearts be filled with a desire to study Torah all day. But Rav Shwartz also made clear that this desire is really only step 1; ideally, we should fulfill this desire in practice - ideally, we would all be learning 24/7 in actuality as well.So I asked him - doesn't that mean that we working Jews, people who sit in an office all day long, lead bedieved lives? Should we all go through life feeling like second class, bedieved Jews? How can one have this approach and not be depressed?

Basically, he responded that we should feel upset - the angst we feel about not learning all day, which is part of the punishment of "b'zaiat apecha tochal lechem", should push us to desire to learn more than we already do. The unhappiness we feel about workin will create a greater desire to learn Torah.I found this a very difficult answer to swallow, and to live by - and certainly NOT a chassidic approach. I thought the Bilvavi sefer was pretty chassidic in thought, with its central focus on deveikus. But his talk yesterday appeared quite Rav Chaim Volozhiner to me.

"instead of feeling guilty his whole life that he was not learning during most of his day."This seems to be what Rav Shwartz is advocating. Did I misunderstand?

DixieYid said...

You were at Englewood or Boro Park? (Incidently, those should be online at dixieyid very soon.) There is an aspect of this idea in Chassidus as well. The ga'aguim for more kedusha than one has is seen as very precious to Hashem. And to the extent that those ga'aguim motivate a person to do more than he currently is, they have a good practical effect as well.But this perspective should be balanced with another idea that I doubt Rav Shwartz would dispute. If it indeed is Ratzon Hashem that I be working, then my situation is lechatchila from Hashem's perspective (though from my perspective, I may want and daven for more access to kedusha). Having bitachon in Hashem's decision in this regard is also part of one's avodah.-Dixie Yid

Having read through the first volume of Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, which does not focus all that much on studying Torah, I was surprised by the overall message of the shiur.

In the sefer (volume 1), Rav Shwartz clearly statesthat the point of our lives is achieving closeness to G-d - in all that we do, be it buying a table or any other mundane activity. Performance of the mitzvos, even Talmud Torah, are a means of achieving this closeness, not the goal in and of themselves.

In the shiur, however, Rav Shwartz never once mention Deveikus. Rather, he explained that both before birth and after death, one's soul spends all of its time studying Torah. COnsequently, our job in this world is to increase our desire to learn, as well as increase our actual learning - so that when we reach the next world, learning all day will be a joy, not a burden.I found the completely different emphasis (as I understood it) to be somewhat jarring. Over the long term, over decades of working as a lawyer, is it really possible to consistenly be inspired by Rav Shwartz's approach - that I should feel upset over the fact that I am not learning more? Is "negative inspiration" feasible and/or healthy for most Jews?

DixieYid said...
Akiva,Though he may not have said it in that shiur, it's no less true because of that. I think that on this trip, a lot of his emphasis was on adapting our lifestyle greatly so that we shouldn't have to be in a position of living a lifetime of regret about not learning enough.

Of course the Deveikus is still the point, but I think he was going back to something more basic than that, kind of as a way of focusing on things which enable that Deveikus. Because if we don't do enough of the things which enable deveikus, we won't have the deveikus either.

My approach would be this. I heard what he said. Now let me ask myself if I can change or make a relistic plan to put into action to change my lifestyle and work part-time and live more simply or whatever, in order to have more time for focusing on learning, Hisbonenus, etc. If I can change my lifestyle, then let me put that plan into action (whether it's a one year plan or a five year plan or whatever).

And if I can't do it, (truly), then this is the Ratzon Hashem and it would be depressing to constantly focus on my "bidieved" lifestyle. Rather I can instead focus on using the methods in hisbonenus throughout the day and for an hour a day to focus myself on bringing Hashem into all of those things, as you were saying.


Ki va Moed!

Hat tip to Yael B, friend of the Revolution

Rav Moshe Wolfson shlita At YU

I don't know if everyone was aware, but Rav Moshe Wolfson shli'ta spoke in the YU main Bais last night (9/16). Along with some sick gematrias, beautiful yisodos on elul/life, and a clear explanation of the Sefet Yetzirah with regard to Nefesh, Makom, and Zman. Also, Rebbe and Reb Zev did an amazing job being there, especially adjusting the microphone and assuring the Rav that it was ok to speak for 5 more minutes (Rebbe was to Rav Wolfson's right, and Reb Zev to his left).

Does anyone have pictures or the audio, because it was an amazing and historic event/shiur (I have notes if anyone wants...but they are incomplete and not as good as other people's out there)


Mazel tov to Mr. (Live Stranger) and Mrs. (Rebbe's daughter) on their Aliyah!

Mazel Tov to Ar and Talia Fuld on their Aliyah!
May we all merit joining them, very soon, in the Holy Land, together with Rebbe!

Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh and Rav Zev Reichman...

Rav Itamar Shwarz, the author of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh seforim , will be in the United States for a speaking tour. The following is a list of the venues which are open to the public. Please attend! If you haven't heard him speak or learned his seforim before, you're about to experience a perspective on Avodas Hashem, and learning how to attain closeness with Hashem, which is different than what you may have experienced or learned before. All of his Drashahs will be given in a clear and easy to understand Hebrew.

Englewood, NJ Sunday Morning, September 14th, 9:15 AM (After 8:30 Shacharis)East Hill Synagogue , 255 Walnut St.


Holy Sparks In Alaska


After getting back from my shlichus from Alaska, I have the following to report: Beautiful views...fishing...glaciers...lumberjack shows. There are many sparks that need to be uplifted in Alaska.

Good thing our allies have started already.