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Essays

Tanya
Tanya Navigator
Man as Verb
The truth about the Tanya
I'll let you in on a little surprise: Who says that yourself is the real you? Maybe the real you is not a subject, not an object, but a verb? Maybe the real you is to be found not in who you are but in those things you need to do?
Juice
It's as if you would ask the Creator, a billion times a second, "Seeing what's become of it, would you do it all over again?"
Spiritual Warrior
I find this battle terrifying, because I have no idea where it will lead. It forces me to confront the plaguing question: if I truly let G‑d in, what will He do to me once He is there? Who will I be?
“My Name is . . . and I am a Human Being”
The Jewish idea of perfection
Imagine asking a Jew, “Did you ever eat on Yom Kippur?” and he answers, “I felt hungry in my stomach.”
The Physical World According to Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi
Which is loftier—spirit or matter? The soul or the body? The teachings of Rabbi Schneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chassidism, extol the first over the second, and then the second over the first, offering a unique and life-altering vision of reality.
G-d in the Talmud
In what way are the laws of the Talmud "the wisdom and will of G-d"? What's so "wise" about the how to divide a garment that two people are fighting over? Why G-d would "will" the procedures for buying a donkey?
Spicy Food
One day about 200 years ago there was a fire in hell. The whole place burned down. It was bound to happen, with those infernal fires burning night and day and the old devils getting careless over the years...
How One Word Changed the World
Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi added to a Scriptural verse a one-word modifier that revolutionized the way we think about ourselves and our lives: mamash.
What Is a Rebbe?
A fundamental principle of the Jewish faith is that there are no “intermediaries” between G‑d and His world; our relationship with Him is not facilitated by any third party. So what is the role of a rabbi, a rebbe—indeed, a Moses—in Judaism?
Accessing the Hidden Love
Why was the Tanya so novel? Who was the Rebbe's target audience and what was his objective for them? Looking no further than the Tanya's title page we read the Rebbe's self-stated mission statement spelled out lucidly.
The Abnormality of Jewish Life
People intuitively equate "normal" with good. In fact, normal is very bad. A person achieves normalcy when the molecules that comprised his being are in thermodynamic equilibrium with the environment, which is to say he is dust
The Longer Shorter Way
As the most direct and simple line between two points, it is misleadingly the surest way to town; but in truth, the "direct approach" is a dead end
Dealing with the Psychological Scars of Childhood
Repression or sublimation? What is the Torah perspective on how to deal with deep-seated feelings of anger, sadness and anxiety?
The Unbearable Heaviness of Being
So I don't exist. Or I don't exist and do exist at the same time. So what? I still have to get up in the morning, I still have to deal with my credit card balance, my mother-in-law, and this guy whose elbow is crushing my ribs on this crowded subway car. It might make interesting reading, but in the final analysis, what difference does it make?
The Removable Self
Man is the only truly clothed creature—a creature who attires him- or herself not only for warmth and protection, but to alter, enhance, even transform, his very identity.
The Flame
We can sit and gaze at it for hours. What is it about a burning flame that captures our imagination?
Faith and Reason
Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi’s Synthesis of Two Never-Intersecting Planes
The fact that you cannot rationally understand something is no reason not to study it.
Da'at
The Knowing I
Why do we become a bar mitzvah at adolescence? Because something dramatic happens to our minds at this time: A sort of awakening, a consciousness, a realization that "I exist"
Mind Over Heart?
The mind may be great at solving puzzles, but it's an incompetent idiot when it comes to real life. Wouldn't we much rather be run by the vivacious, freedom-loving heart? Nevertheless, it is the mind that's our conduit for the soul
Talking to Himself
On the outside, it speaks the language of humankind; on the inside is depth without end. Grasp either end and you have nothing. Grasp both and you have G-d Himself
How to Criticize and Other Thoughts On Love
Criticizing another person is not out of the question. It's just that there are a few conditions to attend to before you start...
G-d Playing Peek-A-Boo
If He had made the world a complete and utter mystery, we would have no path to know Him. But if all would fit together like a neat and tidy grandfather clock, we would not know that there is anything more to know...
Schizophrenic or Hypocrite?
I ask myself: Am I schizophrenic? Or worse, am I just a hypocrite? Who is the real me? How can a mouth that just uttered angry words to a fellow switch over to read G-d's praises?
World of Thought
Why did the Creator have to speak in order to create? Wouldn’t it be so much more wonderful if we were all just a thought?
Chassid in Wonderland
Parallel universes, supernatural phenomena, and a world where good always prevails. Is this Grimm's fairy tales, or a chassidic text?
How is it that a G-d who is capable of creating an entire universe, time, space and laws of nature included, can’t get His own creatures to fall in line?
Planet of the Apes
She scrutinized me for a few moments and suddenly her face lit up with the wonder of discovery. Her eyes grew wide and she exclaimed, "Oh my gosh! there are two of you!"
Recipe for Successful Behavior Modification
How do we identify the internal switches that operate the source of all actions, and do we have the mechanism to manipulate and control them?
I Sinned and Repented - Now What?
I sinned and repented—now what?
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