Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Soul Maps Test

If you are interested in taking a written test on Soul Maps feel free to download the quiz by following the link below.

Answers can be submitted to jli@chabadwinnipeg.org.
Good Luck!


Our journey of Tanya lives on...

Dear JLI Student,

Allow me to thank you for taking part in Soul Maps: Kabbalah to Navigate Your Inner World. I have very much enjoyed spending the past six weeks delving into the philosophy of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi as recorded in the Book of Tanya, and I hope you have as well.

Throughout this course, we have discussed emotional and intellectual congruity as well as serving G-d with all our faculties. The two most primary emotions are awe, shrinking back from that which is overwhelming, and love, drawing close to that which is pleasing.

Some of the steps necessary for personal change are relatively easy to identify and implement. We are comfortable with the idea of educating ourselves, and using that knowledge to set goals. Yet it can feel as if our emotions are beyond our control. It is one thing to muster up the will power to do good, and quite another to feel excited and happy to be doing it. Yet unless we learn to harness our emotions, we will have a hard time maintaining the motivation to follow through with our program of spiritual growth.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman ends his book by explaining how it is possible to educate and develop our emotions through study and contemplation. In our last class, we had the opportunity to partake in two contemplations together – one for awe and one for love, thus experiencing how this process can change us internally.

I hope that you will use this process often, so that you can see for yourself what a difference it can make in your life. And I hope that you will take the opportunity to continue your exploration of Tanya after this course has ended. I am available to speak with you privately about options for continued study.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Save the date!

This coming week, on Tuesday evening December 16, in addition to the sixth and final lesson of our award winning course "Soul Maps", the Chabad Jewish Learning Institute will be hosting a Farbreingin, an inspirational evening with Rabbi Avrohom Altein (Executive Director of Chabad Winnipeg) to mark the liberation of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi -- a leading disciple of Rabbi DovBer of Mezeritch and the founder of Chabad Chassidism.

He was released from his imprisonment in the Peter-Paul fortress in Petersburg, where he was held for 52 days on charges that his teachings threatened the imperial authority of the Czar. More than a personal liberation, this was a watershed event in the history of Chassidism heralding a new era in the revelation of the "inner soul" of Torah, and is celebrated to this day as "The Rosh Hashanah of Chassidism."

And of course all JLI students the world over will be celebrating the completion of the book of Tanya, authored by the Alter Rebbe.

The Farbreingin/Graduation will commence 9:00pm at the Chabad Torah Centre and is opened to the wider Jewish community (so that every Jew can have a taste of Tanya). If you have a friend, relative or colleague who may benefit from the spirit of Tanya, shnapps, refreshments or from a Chassidic melody, please don't hesitate to shlepp him/her along.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Listen to the Chanukah flames

Transforming the world with Mitzvah's

Dear JLI Student,

This week, we addressed the extent to which imperfect human beings can affect and bring perfection into a not-yet-perfect world. The battle within us mirrors the battle raging around us. Our personal struggle towards perfection impacts the state of the world at large.

As we learn to live as a beinoni, our attitude shifts so that we identify more strongly with the soul and gravitate more naturally towards spiritual pursuits. Yet a basic principle of Judaism is that “action is central.” Through the performance of mitzvot, we elevate “neutral non-holiness” to the level of holiness.

Our actions have ever-expanding ripples of influence, transforming ourselves and all that is touched by our action. Call it the “butterfly effect” of doing mitzvot. If a butterfly flapping its wings in China can influence the course of a tornado halfway around the world, then we can surely imagine how a kind word to a bereaved neighbor can bring the world closer to its ultimate goal of “creating a dwelling for G-d in the lower realms.”

Thus, even as we ourselves remain imperfect, our struggle has meaning and provides us with the opportunity to alter the very nature of all of creation. Not only do we have the ability to affect the world, but this mission brings with it great responsibility.

While action is central, this does not negate the value of acting with intent and feeling, for if a mitzvah is compared to a bird, intent can be compared to the wrings that allow it to soar and reach more exalted levels of holiness and perfection.

Our journey together through the book of Tanya is almost at an end. In the last class, we will discuss ways of ensuring that we continue to incorporate its lessons into our lives long after the course has ended. We have already discussed the power of study and contemplation to arouse the emotions that inspire us to follow the path of Tanya. In our next lesson, we will practice the art of Jewish meditation and explore its role in an ongoing program of spiritual growth.


Please visit: http://www.chabad.org/special/campaigns/chabadindia/default.htm

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Are we doomed to a lifetime of struggle?

Dear JLI Student,

We have now discussed both the process of self-change as well as the attitude, yet we are bound to wonder where we are going with all this. What is the point of attaining self-mastery if the perfection of the tzadik is likely forever beyond our reach? If we are doomed to a lifetime of struggle, what is the point of our efforts and what sort of lasting impact can we hope to achieve?

We will find our answer by turning our attention to the “the bigger picture.” Thus far, we have focused on the war inside, yet there is also a raging war in the world at large that parallels our inner storms, and is expressed in the natural disasters, national disasters, political upheaval, and grand-scale chaos and turmoil that surrounds us. Just as we seek progress and perfection within ourselves, there is also a need for progress and perfection within the world around us.

Might it be possible for us imperfect beings to nevertheless bring perfection to the cosmos as a whole? I look forward to exploring this question with you next week.

Kabbalah Toons

Playing the Universe: A resonance chamber amplifies sound. The universe is designed as a resonance chamber of human deeds. Harmonious deeds get the sweetest amplification, whereas bad deeds result in the greatest dissonance.


Weekly E*Torah

by Rabbi Avrohom Altein

Memorial to the Victims of Mumbai

Last week, the entire world watched a horrifying disaster unfold in Mumbai that chilled every civilized person. Close to 200 innocent men women and children were murdered in cold blood. Jews of every persuasion were heart-broken when the hostages at the Chabad Centre in Mumbai were found killed.

The young Chabad emissaries, Rabbi Gabi Holtzberg and his wife Rivkah, were exceptionally kind and generous people who opened their home to thousands of Jews, both the affiliated and the non-affiliated. Countless Israeli backpackers saw in Chabad of Mumbai, a spiritual and physical oasis of life and learning. Gabi and Rivkie's little son Moshe just turned two. He was miraculously rescued by his Nanny. It was heart wrenching to see and hear Moshe crying for his mother Rivkah, not able to comprehend that never again will he see his parents.

Together with the Asper JCC and the Rady Centre, Chabad-Lubavitch of Winnipeg is scheduling a memorial to those that perished in Mumbai. The Lubavitch Rebbe always inspired us not to lose hope in the face of tragedy, but to grow even stronger in our commitment to all that is good and kind. On the first night of Chanukah, Sunday December 21, the Jewish Community will gather at the Asper Campus at 4:00 p.m. for a Chanukah Menorah Lighting Ceremony. Afterwards, we will join together in the Bernie Theatre for the Mumbai Memorial.

In the ancient times of Chanukah, Jews faced spiritual darkness and gloom of spiritual intolerance and death. Yet the Jewish Nation did not lose hope; they regained religious freedom and rekindled the Menorah as a symbol of the light of Mitzvot. Today we too will not lose hope in the face of terrorists and murderers. We will rekindle the lights of Mitzvot at the Mumbai Memorial on Chanukah.

In a demonstration of pride in increasing the power of light and goodness, the Mumbai Memorial will be followed by a Chanukah Menorah Parade, leading from the Asper JCC to the site of the upcoming new Chabad Torah Centre, west of Centennial between Mathers and Grant Avenues. At the conclusion of the parade we will celebrate at the new Chabad site with the annual Chanukah Fireworks.

We urge everyone to do a Mitzvah as a personal memorial to the victims of Mumbai. Light Shabbat candles, don Tefillin or donate charity. One can specifically donate to help rebuild Chabad of Mumbai or towards the welfare of Moshe, the toddler orphan of Gabi & Rivkie, by clicking here. Please join us as well for our annual Chanukah Celebration at the Family Latke Night, Tuesday December 23, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., in the North-End Lubavitch Centre, 2095 Sinclair Street. Phone for reservations at 339-8737 or email to reservation@chabadwinnipeg.org

Monday, December 1, 2008

Action; Take on a Mitzvah

There are tears, pain, mourning and loss. There is hope, commitment and faith.

But there are no words.

Instead our actions must speak for each of us. The people that we help, the differences that we make, will testify to what we cannot verbalize. The goal of terror is to paralyze, to make us feel there is nothing we can change. We will now work all that more passionately to ensure that nothing will stop us from growing, from developing and creating.

We owe it to the victims—the more than 190 innocent victims, including six of our Jewish brothers and sisters: Gavriel and Rivky Holtzberg, directors of Chabad-Lubavitch of Mumbai; Rabbis Bentzion Chroman and Leibish Teitelbaum; Norma Schwartzblatt-Rabinowitz; and Yocheved Orpaz. May their righteous memory be for blessing.

Click here to make a Mitzvah commitment: www.chabad.org

Weekly E*TORAH


This Shabbat's Portion of Toldot describes the stark differences in the personalities of Jacob and his twin brother Esau. The Torah states that Jacob, the ancestor of Jewry, was a sincere and honest person. Conversely, Esau was cunning and brutal. Jacob's power was in his mouth, "The voice is the voice of Jacob," a reference to the words of prayer and Torah study. Esau's strength lies in violence, "He lives by his sword."

Esau almost succeeded with deceit and cunning to obtain his father's blessings. Jacob was forced to adopt Esau's cunning in order to win back the blessings that were rightfully his own. And when Isaac realized that it was Jacob whom he had blessed, Isaac acceded to the blessings and ascertained that it would be Jacob that would be his true heir.

There is a powerful lesson to us in this about Jewish survival. At times, we Jews are forced to take up arms to protect ourselves. We should not hesitate even one second from using brute force to save lives from terrorist killers. Sweet and peaceful talk is totally misplaced when dealing with cruel murderers. We can only deal with them using their own destructive tools.

But a Jew can never feel comfortable with violence; it is only a necessary tool of survival in a cruel world. The real Jew underneath is a mild and compassionate human being. His true strength is prayer and Torah. Jews always find solace in times of their distress in voicing the psalms and donating to a charity.

Many nations have swept to power with brute force and terror. They oppressed Jews and the righteous. But the glory of those nations was always short-lived. Despite all that we have suffered, we Jews have outlived every one of our enemies.

We await the era of the "Redemption" when all humanity will come to understand the beauty of "The voice of Jacob" and live together in harmony.

Yom Kippur we beseech G-d to forgive our sins. That's why it's a Mitzvah to forgive and forget on Yom Kippur.

One year a rabbi asked if there was anyone in the congregation that had not forgiven their enemies. An elderly lady of 98 years stood up. "Why won't you forgive your enemies?" the rabbi asked. She replied very sweetly that she had no enemies.

"Amazing!" the rabbi remarked. "Tell me, how can it be that a person can live 98 years and not have enemies?"

"Simple," the old lady explained. "I outlived them all!"