Ideas that power the Chabad mind

A growing collection of essays on motifs of Chabad thought as they relate to today's world.

What Is 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.
What is the Purpose of Existence?
A survey of the roots of this question, the scientific context, the classical Kabbalistic answers, and the explanation offered by the Chassidic masters
Wisdom and Faith
Why you are right and the world is wrong
There’s something you brought to the world that the world didn’t give you. It’s the only thing that makes you real.
Presence Through Absence
If you were to create a world, the first thing you would need to master is tsimtsum. Tsimtsum is a way of being present in your absence. Get that one down, along with creating something out of nothing, and everything else is a piece of cake.
The Beast Within
For some it's a war. Others win with love.
There’s a beast inside all of us. You’ve got to meet it eye to eye, in its own den.
Infinite Light
The Power of Is
How could there be light before there is anything at all? What would it illuminate, if nothing yet exists? Where would it radiate, if space is yet to be invented? What is its frequency, considering that time has yet to begin?
What Is a Soul?
Just as we invoke the existence of a force of gravity to explain things falling and an electromagnetic force to explain a host of otherwise very mysterious phenomena, so we invoke the existence of a soul-force to explain our inner experience of being alive, conscious, and self-directed.
So You’ve Got a Chunk of G-d Inside You
The story behind the divine soul
Within each of us is a breath of the divine, a neshamah. Everything else is created by speech. She is created by breath and by thought. Everything else is obsessed with being just what it is. But the neshamah hears the music of creation and yearns for it to be heard.
The Hidden G-d
Where do you hide when you’re everywhere?
He’s in the heavens, and He’s here on earth. He’s in the ethereal world of the philosopher, and He’s in the pragmatic world of the trucker speeding down Interstate 86. He’s in the putrid world of the worker digging out the city sewers down the street, and He’s in the aroma of the garlic our cook was now sprinkling on the chickens for tonight’s dinner. None of this could exist if He were not there. So, He’s certainly in your field of vision. Why can’t I see Him?
Rewriting Your Own Script
We all need failure. Failure, you see, is the only way you can fall out of the script.
The Kabalah of String Theory
Everything is forever running and returning
We intuitively think of matter as something very static, just sitting there. It’s strange to think of matter as a tune being played by a string. What if our entire reality is just that?
The Kabbalah of the Solar Eclipse
In each of us there shines a bright sun. In each of us there is a time of its eclipse.
G-d and Love
Could it be that love lies at the core of reality?
All that exists emerges out of G‑d’s desire to love and be loved. All that we do is an act within that drama. There is nothing else.
Nature and Miracles
Part one of a series
There are cracks in the system. Cracks everywhere. Which is a good thing. Otherwise, it would be like living in a big, impersonal machine.
Nature and Miracles II
Part 2 of a series on Nature and Miracles
Instead of asking whether there’s such a thing as a miracle, let’s ask if there’s such a thing as nature. Who is this Mother Nature anyways?
Nature and Miracles III
Part 3 of a series on Nature and Miracles
Why would an infinite Oneness create a finite, fractured world? For the same reason that a musician forces himself within the confines of a small wooden box with strings. Or a poet within the rigid structure of a sonnet.
How Real Is Stuff? Part I
The Mystery of Matter, a three-part series
If matter is made almost entirely of empty space, why can’t my hand go through it? The answer is more mystifying than the question, and leads to some profound implications about our reality.
How Real Is Stuff? Part II
The Mystery of Matter, a three-part series
It’s hard to say that matter is an illusion. But maybe it just isn’t as real as we think it is.
How Real Is Stuff? Part III
The Mystery of Matter, a three-part series
Ultimately, matter is the thing that matters the most. Because the experience of matter is the most profound expression of creativity in the creation.
Why It's Okay That Free Will Is Paradoxical
The Jewish take on creatures that have their own mind
Isn’t everything predetermined by the mechanics of the universe? I’m just a programmed machine; how can I be blamed for being what I am? Since G-d knows the future, what choice do we have in it?
Free Will and G-d's Plans
All the responsibility, no room for despair
Everything Is Constantly Rising Higher and Nothing You Can Do Can Stop It
The Rebbe on optimism in the face of disappointment and failure
Along the route of every bad turn, a new path of even greater ascent has just opened.
What’s a conscious being like me doing in a cold universe like this?
It is the height of human audacity to assume that we are fantastic instances of consciousness that have somehow emerged out of a dumb universe—much like the teenager who can’t understand how such a bright guy like me came from parents who have no brains.
The past is bounded, the future is blank; G‑d is now. Forever.
G-d Without Purpose
Just how dangerous can the G‑d idea get?
If G‑d is not to be a dangerous idea, G‑d must be good. But that would seem to be a small G‑d, a defined G‑d, limited by the parameters of goodness. How can we believe in a G‑d that contains all of existence and yet believe that His goodness is real and absolute? There is only one solution, but it is a very strange and radical solution...
Is Beauty Real?
From the upcoming book, Wisdom To Heal the Earth.
Once upon a time, there was a world that was a place of magnificence, awe and beauty. We, as cognizant beings, were privy to a small glimpse of that beauty—even to grasp some of the wisdom that stood behind it.
Rewriting Your Own Script
We all need failure. Failure, you see, is the only way you can fall out of the script.
What Is a Rebbe?
Before you can understand “what is a rebbe,” you must first ask, “What am I?” Light, to be light, must have something to illuminate.
What Is a Maamar?
More than just a teaching
When a maamar is spoken, something new and vital has entered the world. How are we to approach the maamar? How much of it are we capable of understanding? How is it meant to change us, and our world?
What Is Time?
An elucidation of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s comments on the topic
The very substance of the cosmos continually oscillates between a state of being and not-being. This oscillation, say the chassidic masters, is the primal source of Time.
Beyond Heresy
The G‑d I Believe In
Thank G‑d for atheists. If not for their scorn, how shallow our god would be!
The Day They Let G-d Back In
A series in seven parts
The Shechina
Exile of the Shechinah and descent of the soul
The feminine side of G-d, and the struggle for reunion.
The Etzem: How Each of Us Contains All of Us
A Chabad Mindbender of Burning Relevance
What Is Bittul?
To Be and Not To Be
The Signature Element of Chabad Psychology that Few Understand
The signature metaphor in Tanya to describe all human activity, popping up in some form or another on almost every page, is clothing. Life, according to Tanya, is less about who you are and more about what you wear.
A growing collection of essays on motifs of Chabad thought as they relate to today's world.
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