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Building Blocks of Jewish Thought

A lexicon for dabblers and explorers alike

The landscape of classic Jewish thought is painted with a finite set of themes and motifs...

God
The Not-thing
The other day I realized that I hadn't seen G-d in quite a while -- probably not since childhood... Where did I misplace Him?
Godliness
The Underlying Reality
The most puzzling thing about G‑dliness is that it can be hidden from us. The true reality of everything that exists can be hidden from those very creatures that emerge from it.
Torah
Beyond Wisdom
Torah is how the Creator shares the purpose, intent, and desire behind all that exists.
Mitzvah
The State of Being Connected
The only way a Creator can connect with a creature is by a simple request.
Tefillah
A Labor of the Heart
Not prayer, not worship, but an intimate sharing of heart and soul. A communion. Reaching deeper and yet deeper and finding there G‑d Himself.
Spirituality
Elusive Yet Vital
Before we can understand what is spiritual, we first have to know what is physical.
Kabbalah
The Soul of Judaism
If this is a secret wisdom, why are we teaching it?
Chassidut
Teachings from the core essence
The Baal Shem Tov’s teachings are like a diamond of many different facets, and yet it is one glistening essence. And from that essence comes life.
Chabad
Do-It-Yourself Judaism
Chabad is a cognitive approach that has faith in the divine spark within each of us, and empowers us to find that spark and fan its flames. Not through coercion, not through guilt or tirades from the pulpit, nor by promises of instant enlightenment does Chabad reach the Jew, but by facilitating each one in his or her own path.
Tzaddik
Being human all the way
The tzaddik is a human being like all of us. Because, essentially, all of us are divine.
Emunah
Beyond Belief
We’re used to thinking of faith as a strategy for people who can’t think for themselves...
Bitachon
Real Confidence
There are attitudes that are the outcome of experience, and experiences that are the outcome of attitude.
Hashgacha
The Ultimate User Interaction
Hashgacha is a kind of two-way interplay between Creator and creation, whereby each one responds and interacts with the other.
Creation
Creation Without Cause
The immediate implication of true creation is that nothing “must be.”
Chutzpah
And is it good or bad?
Chutzpah is a Hebrew word that has been adopted into Yiddish and then English. Chutzpah has been defined as audacity, insolence, impudence, gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible guts, presumption and arrogance. Yet something essential about chutzpah is missing from all these words.
Free Will
How much choice do we really have?
The Free Will Problem in Judaism
The Paradox of Choice and Divine Omniscience
The classical questions, the theological contradictions, the Kabbalistic foundations, the Chassidic interpretations... Insights, essays and stories on "Freedom of Choice"
Happiness!
What it is and how to get it
A collection of received wisdom, contemporary responses and practical advice in short essays, video and animated cartoons.
Baal Teshuvah
Traditionally, a baal teshuvah was someone who left the good path and has now returned. But then, we are all constantly returning. Or, at least, we should be.
The landscape of classic Jewish thought is painted with a finite set of themes and motifs...