136: Tisha B'Av and Kedusha - אתה קדוש

What is there to look forward to on Tisha B’Av? Do you even know what you're missing? 

Here’s a whole new look (literally!) into the mysteries of the Kodesh HaKodashim, the Holy of Holies… and what that has to do with YOU and YOUR LIFE.

The pain of Tisha B’Av is the pain of losing sight of God’s love for us; the pain of rejection. On Tisha B’Av, our pain can lay the foundation for growing towards Hashem, for committing to becoming something greater. 

Growing in Kedusha is “work that is done quietly, silently, known to no one but oneself and God, on one’s own inner self.”


134: The Triad of Man, Earth & Rain

Discover the deeper drive motivating construction of the Tower of Babel, where the invention of fired bricks seems to be "a technology in search of a solution” (as they say in the venture capital biz).

What is more pleasing? Things in their natural state, or things that have been worked on by Man?
In the process of developing the raw materials of the world, we develop ourselves, too. Thinking humans have a tremendous ability to act upon the world and upon our selves.

Rain reminds us that for all our hard work (or rather, “sweat equity”), there is always an element we cannot control…  We start to understand why rain is so key a theme in tuning in to God’s absolute power.

131: “Mechalkel Chaim BeChessed: Why Praise Comes First — Shevach and Bakasha

Changing reality by aligning our will with Hashem’s. 

"One should open with praise of Hashem before asking for his needs" (Brachos 32).

“In truth, Sefer Tehillim has more zemiros than tefillah. The difference is as follows: when it comes to tefillah one must try to daven at an eis ratzon [an opportune time], whereas Tehillim has the power to create an eis ratzon.” 

— Rav Yitzchak Hutner, Pachad Yitzchak al SuccosMaamar 70

Session 121: VeZocher Chasdei Avos - Part III - What is Chessed?

"What אהבה is in feelings, חסד is in deeds — love translated into action." —Rav S.R. Hirsch, Commentary on Bereshis 24:27. 

“חסד is both the highest degree of doing good which human beings can accomplish, and the highest expression for the love that God shows to human beings." — Rav S.R. Hirsch, Commentary on Shemos 34:7

Session 104: Intro to Shmone Esrei Part I — עומדים ברומו של עולם Standing on Top of the World

How do you know you're at the peak? The view from the top is wider and broader than the view down below...

Shmone Esrei is the peak of Tefilla; it is an opportunity to gather every facet of yourself and elevate it to nearness with God and His Benevolence. But how? What is the essence of Tefilla, of Bakasha? What does it feel like to stand at the peak of the world?

Session 103: Does Davening Really Help?

Painful days demand painful questions and real answers. Please listen to this class.

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When innocent children are stabbed to death in the streets of Jerusalem; when people are mowed down in a kosher supermarket in Paris; when every news outlet tries to be “fair” by denying the atrocities of history and of today… How does it help to sit down and say some Tehillim?

When you pray to God that He stop the carnage, and by the time you close your siddur, a charitable man has been cruelly butchered… How can you say that your connection to God is real?

When people are scared, abused, hurting, sick, lonely, depressed, and you want so desperately to heal them, to hold them, to fix things, but you don’t know how… How can you feel that God is listening to you and cares about you?

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How to turn your pain into a bridge to God, and how to feel the pain of others.

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Introduction to Shmone Esrei:

Getting a concept of how to relate to Hashem at the highest level of Neshama, by merging your will with His.

Session 101: A Moment in Time / Rosh HaShana

We begin exploring how the halachos of Shmone Esrei all are expressions of the reality that we are speaking directly with Hashem, and define the elemental 3-part structure of the Tefilla (Shmone Esrei), and how it plays out in the Rosh Hashana prayers.

Time is the structure in our lives that allows us to think of our lives as having meaning, mission, purpose. Time allows us to think about our past, commit to our future, and make choices in the present.  אין עתה אלא תשובה.

The call of the Shofar "brings you through your innermost self to God." (— Rabbi S. R. Hirsch)

"The root of the root of the Shofar on Rosh Hashana is the selfsame breath which God blew into the nostrils of Adam at the creation of humanity." (— Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner)

Handout - Present, Past, Future