This book was written for people who will probably not look for it. There’s Brad, a lawyer in Manhattan, Joan, a consultant with a computer networking firm in California, Phil, an advertising executive in Connecticut, and countless others.

We know them all too well. At one point in their lives, almost all of them sought contact with some sort of Jewish involvement, and Judaism did not come through for them. It wasn’t meaningful, exciting, and joyful enough to maintain their interest. They can’t be blamed for not continuing to identify as Jews; they’re being honest. Had Judaism presented a message that they felt was viable, they would have listened.

Brad, Joan, and Phil have not closed their doors. Although they may be involved with other pursuits, they are still willing to listen. If Judaism presents a message that they can relate to, they will respond. It is for them that this book was written.

But we should not set up differences between “we” and “they.” First of all, no one should ever draw lines of demarcation separating one Jew from another. But more important, to inspire them, we have to inspire ourselves. Had they seen more vibrant, purposeful, happy Jews, their feelings of disillusionment and alienation would never have arisen. Reaching out to them, therefore, must involve reaching into ourselves. We must look inside — into our core being and into the core of our Torah heritage. We hope the book serves this purpose as well.

The Book’s Structure

The book centers on the weekly Torah readings, for they convey lessons of timeless relevance. Year after year, century after century, a five-year-old child and a venerable sage have studied the same Torah passages, and year after year they have both discovered depth and meaning. This is an ongoing process. The truths that have generated happiness, depth, and purpose for our people for centuries continue to do so at present.

The very word “Torah” relates to the Hebrew word horaah, meaning “instruction” or “guidance.” G‑d gave us the Torah to guide us in our day-to-day lives. In that vein, every weekly portion can be seen as a bulletin of immediate relevance containing new insights to help us advance in our Divine service.

After each of the lessons from the Torah readings, we draw a connection to Mashiach and the Redemption that he will initiate, for the coming of Mashiach is the fundamental goal of our existence.

Our world is essentially good. It is — at least in potential— G‑d’s dwelling. In the era of the Redemption, this potential will blossom into actuality and G‑d’s presence will permeate every dimension of our environment.

As is explained in several places in the book, the era of the Redemption is not a dream of a far-off future, but a reality that is becoming manifest in our lives at present. To heighten our awareness to the shifting paradigms that characterize our society, we highlight Mashiach’s coming in each of the readings.

Similarly, we included readings that focus on the Jewish festivals and fast days, for these are far more than mere dates on the calendar. Each one of them prompts a different mode of spiritual activity, beckoning us to explore and experience inner growth and development in a unique way.

What is the In Touch

How should we respond to loss? It’s almost natural to drift into a powerless state of grief. After all, the anguish is great and hard to overcome. A proactive person, however, endeavors to transform the pain into a positive force leading to growth and development.

On the 3rd of Tammuz 5754 (June 12, 1994), the Lubavitch community, world Jewry, and indeed, mankind as a whole felt pangs of pain as it heard of the passing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson. All of the millions whose lives very touched by the Rebbe felt the magnitude of the loss.

But those who had assimilated the Rebbe’s teachings refused to remain mired in sadness. Rather than bemoan the darkness, they would create light. Instead, of lamenting the loss of the Rebbe, they would spread his insights outward.

This spirit motivated a small group of people to begin a bi-weekly fax service sharing the Rebbe’s teachings with a cross-section of business, legislators, and professionals in the legal, medical, and entertainment fields. The overwhelming majority of the recipients did not identify as Lubavitcher chassidim. By and large, they were Jewish, but they were also contemporary Americans and they wanted to hear a message of ideals and values that both dimensions of their personalities could accept with integrity. Some of the recipients were non-Jews, but they understood that moral principles and spiritual truths were important in molding the face of our society. They became the core of the In Touch Family.

Every other week, they received by facsimile, a message sharing the Rebbe’s teachings on the weekly Torah readings and the Jewish holidays, written by the celebrated author and translator, Eliyahu Touger and edited by Yossi Malamud. The readings were original compositions, attempts to take the Rebbe’s themes and communicate it to an audience unfamiliar with the terms and style of presentation he employed.1

We have collected a sample of these messages and published them in book form. Our intent is to allow the waves of insight the Rebbe generated to ripple further throughout our society and by doing so, empower us all to draw on the self-generating spark of G‑dly fire found within our hearts and within the Torah.

Sichos In English