Beyond BT

Spiritual Growth for Jews

Spiritual Growth Through Drinking on Purim

The Obligation to Drink on Purim The Shulchan Orach states (Orach Chaim 695:2): “A person is required to become intoxicated on Purim until he does not know the difference between the cursing of Haman and the blessing of Mordechai.” Drinking to Strengthen Our Emunah in Hashem Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz in his Servant of Hashem piece […]

The Exquisite Paradox of Teshuva

By Rabbi Benzion Kokis At the core of the process of t’shuva lies an exquisite paradox. On the one hand, a mature commitment to a life of Torah and Halacha is the ultimate self-discovery, through which a Jew connects to his spiritual roots. In fact, very often what initiates the entire process of t’shuva is […]

The Grand Unification Theory of Kiruv

I’ve previously written about three models of Kiruv: – The Chabad like Point Kiruv, where the focus is on performance of single mitzvos. – The widely practiced Circle Kiruv, where the focus is to move people inside the Circle of Torah Observance. – The growth oriented Line Kiruv, where the focus is to get the […]

Another World

Many years ago I sought the attention of an obgyn doc in Manhattan, Dr. Kevin Jovonovic, for a tricky problem I was having that another doctor was recommending surgery to fix. Dr. Kevin specializes in this problem and although it took me an hour train ride, and then an hour’s walk to his office by […]

Eating as a Tikun

Did you ever wonder why eating is such a challenge for most people. Sarah Yehudit Schneider has written a wonderful booklet explaining the spiritual basis for the challenge and how we can use eating as a tikun. You can purchase the book from Amazon or directly from Mrs. Schneider. Here’s an excerpt: Humanity’s first sin, […]

Rabbi Label Lam on Personal Growth Lessons from Tu B’Shevat

On Wednesday night, Tu B’Shevat begins. Rabbi Label Lam gave a wonderful Drasha a few years back where he looked at the Mishna in Pirkei Avos which states “Rabbi Yaakov said, one who is walking along the road and is studying [Torah], and then interrupts his studies and says, ‘How beautiful is this tree! How […]

Frozen Jews

Originally Posted on Oct 25, 2006 When Modiin was first built, it was designed as a ‘secular’ haven for the people who used to fancy living in Jerusalem, but didn’t want hareidim for neighbours. As the city has grown, it’s begun to attract quite a few modern orthodox, including a lot of expat anglos, who […]

Internalizing The Three Most Important Jewish Principles

The Rambam, R’ Yosef Albo and the Ramchal in Derech Hashem all focus on three key Jewish Principles. 1) Hashem who always has and always will exist, created the universe 2) Hashem communicates to man via prophecy, and through prophecy He gave us the Torah 3) Hashem supervises and guides the world based on our […]

Wearing My Kippah Full Time

By JDMDad Jewish Deaf Motorcycling Dad I’ve been slowly ramping up my level of observance for the past several years. Really, in the past year it has been almost an exponential growth. Each time I added something new (starting to use Tefillin, starting to wear Tzitzits, etc.) I kept wondering what would be the next […]

Growing in Eretz Yisroel

This post is courtesy of the winter storm of 2015 currently hitting Yerushalyaim. I’m currently visiting my son who is learning here. I was staying in Yerushalyaim and my flight is scheduled to leave Thursday, but a predicted 4-8 inch snow accumulation with accompanying road closures made me change my plans and head to snow-less […]

Shovavim

It’s Parsha Shemos and also the beginning of Shovavim. Here’s some links on the whys and wherefores of Shovavim. Shovavim and Self Improvement: Shovavim is an acronym for the parshiyot that we read during the period between Chanukah and Purim. Rav Nachman Cohen writes that this period is an auspicious time to repent for Adam’s […]

The Most Important Jewish Hierarchy

There was a lot of push back to last week’s post “Growing At The Bottom Of The Heap”. A friend pointed out that the push back supports the Ramchal’s point that people are uncomfortable being on the bottom. One friend related an experience on how a pharmacy employee treated a wealthy customer and one of […]

Growing at the Bottom of the Heap

Finding Oneself on the Bottom Torah communities are wonderful places to live, but we may feel uncomfortable if we find ourselves near the bottom of one of the hierarchies of the community. Three of the hierarchies which are discussed in Torah sources are those of wealth, Torah wisdom and spiritual performance. Two others that come […]

Jewish Education, Learning Torah and Connecting to Hashem

Mosaic Magazine has an article by two prominent Jewish sociologists, Jack Wertheimer and Steven M. Cohen, titled “The Pew Survey Reanalyzed: More Bad News, but a Glimmer of Hope.” (link). One of their conclusions is that the non-Orthodox movements are facing major challenges keeping their constituents involved and their descendants Jewish. On of their recommendations […]

Selling Yourself the Truth About Judaism

Have you ever had this conversation? “Did you hear about Sam and Susan?” “No.” “They’re separating”. “Really? How many kids?” “I think three. And he’s far off the derech. Doesn’t believe in G-d,” “So sad.” And it’s not surprising. Sam was a BT and was told by many FFBs that: – A Torah observant life […]

The Practical Spiritual Growth Project

Introduction The goal of mitzvos is to develop a deeper connection to Hashem. If we perform mitzvos and say brachos with more Kavanna, they will have a bigger impact on our connection to Hashem. Good places to start are with mitzvos and brachos that we perform every day. Here are four daily mitzvos/brachos: 1. Birchos […]

The Season of the Spiritual Growth Mindset

The secular world has recently “discovered” the growth mindset: Mindset is a simple idea discovered by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in decades of research on achievement and success—a simple idea that makes all the difference. In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard […]

Teaching an Older BT New Davening Tricks

It’s amazing what we remember from our youth. I went to Hebrew School at the Clearview Jewish Center in Whitestone, NY, which was recently sold to a Montessori School, with some rights retained to a small chapel. I still remember my second grade class close to 50 years ago. We were learning how to read […]

Leveraging the Spiritual Drip Method

In a recent shiur, Rabbi Akiva Grunblatt, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim discussed how continued spiritual growth is the purpose of a Jew’s life. (You can listen or download the shiur here.) Rabbi Grunblatt brought down the story about Rabbi Akiva, the water and the stone. Here is the relevant passage from the Avot […]

Tisha B’Av, the Holocaust and The Power of Speech

In our Shul, we try to include some programming on the Holocaust on Tisha B’Av. This year in addition to the CCHF videos, we had a survivor tell his story, and we showed a number of videos about the Holocaust. Although the turnout for the CCHF videos and the survivor’s story were very good, the […]

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