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Each Class is can be understood on its own while a similar theme is woven into the complete series so come to one class or all classes and become grounded. 

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Location: Chabad 

Every Wednesday @ 7:30 pm

The Chabad Jewish Center in Bel Air

Becoming Grounded: Devarim  

Journey into the Soul of the Weekly Torah Portion

The Book of Deuteronomy: An 11 Part Journey 

The Book of Deuteronomy is Moses’ last will and testament as the nation stands on the cusp of leaving their nomadic, desert lives and entering the reality of the Promised Land.

It contains the guidance we need to bring the Torah’s holiness down to earth: How to be spiritually grounded in a material world, without getting consumed by it. 

Wednesday August 3 @ 7:30 pm

Devarim: Uniting Heaven and Earth

The final book of the Torah is the book of Devarim, also known as Mishneh Torah - the review of the Torah. Its contents include Moshe’s summary of the previous 40 years of the Jewish people’s travels in the desert, their failings and mishaps, and the lessons they learned along the way. As they stand at the threshold of entering the Land of Israel, they must learn how to assimilate and integrate these lessons. But how are they to accomplish this seemingly impossible task, when until now they studied Torah in the desert, far removed from “real” life? Theirs was a life of monasticism — of learning Torah in spiritual seclusion — what they lacked was a living Torah. That’s where Devarim comes in. It will ultimately bridge the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the spiritual and the physical. While the previous four books are ascribed to G‑d alone, the authorship of Devarim is attributed to Moshe. Yet a fundamental pillar of Judaism is that all five books of the Torah are of Divine origin. What then is the nature of Moshe’s authorship? How is it related to Divinity, and what are we supposed to learn from the special status of the book of Devarim, and its author Moshe? These are some questions we will explore in this lesson.

 

Wednesday August 10th @ 7:30 pm

Vaetchanan: The Spiritual Power of Oaths and Vows

The third of the Ten Commandments, coming immediately after the commandments to believe in G‑d and not to worship any other force or power besides Him, is the prohibition against taking HaShem’s name in vain. The Oral Law teaches us that this commandment goes far beyond the improper use of HaShem’s name, and includes the Torah prohibition against swearing falsely in general. In today’s lesson will explore the practical importance and inner meaning of oaths and vows. We will see that they are more than a way to confirm a promise to our fellows, and are greater then a means to guarantee sincere pledges that we make to ourselves and to G‑d. They represent a deep expression of our commitment to Judaism, a commitment that demonstrates our inherent devotion to Torah by consistently going beyond the letter of the law.

 

Wednesday August 17th @ 7:30 pm

Eikev: Moving out of the Desert

We recently concluded the three weeks of mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple, and commemorated the most solemn day of the Jewish year, Tisha B’Av, the day of the actual destruction of the Temple, and the beginning of this long but final exile. On each Shabbat during the seven weeks following this mourning period, we read a Haftorah portion that comforts us in exile and promises our redemption. This week is the second of these seven weeks, known as the shiva dirachumusa — the seven weeks of compassion. In this week’s class we will learn how the general exile of the Jewish people can be paralleled in the journey of each individual soul. What is different between our national and personal exiles is that we are empowered to free ourselves from our own golus, and in this week’s class we will begin to learn how.

Wednesday August 24 @ 7:30 pm

Re'eh: Imitating the Creator through Tzedakah

In today’s class, we will explore the multifaceted nature of the mitzvah of tzedakah, and will approach it via three distinct perspectives. Our Sages point out that just as the Jews in the desert were instructed to donate three types of precious metals to the Tabernacle, so Jews throughout the generations can express three levels of giving — bronze, silver and gold. First, we will examine tzedakah as it is compared to bronze (nichoshet). On this level, tzedakah is intended only for the benefit of the end user - the recipient of the charity. Tzedakah as it manifests on the level of silver (kesef) looks at the many material and spiritual benefits of the mitzvah for the benefactor. Finally, tzedakah on the level of gold (zahav) is not focused on the benefit to either the benefactor or the recipient. Rather, it is part of the very fabric of rebalancing our imperfect world and redistributing its wealth. As such, tzedakah is more accurately translated as a just or correct act (tzedek), one the realigns the world with its intended purpose, allowing us to emulate G‑d in His role as the ever-generous Giver.

Wednesday August 31 @ 7:30 pm

Shoftim: Heavenly Witnesses

The Torah concludes with the praises of Moshe, extolling his qualities and all the things he accomplished during his lifetime. Indeed, one would be hard pressed to find a greater individual in all of human history — a man who spoke face to face with G‑d, performed numerous miracles, and brought freedom and justice to the Jewish people - and by extension to all of humanity. Nevertheless, according to Rashi, the final act or quality that the Torah “praises” Moshe for was that he smashed the holy Tablets. In today’s class we will see how that was, in fact, Moshe’s finest act and the greatest expression of his love for the Jewish people.

Wednesday September 7 @ 7:30 pm

Ki Teizei: You are What you Wear

The spiritual and physical worlds constitute a single, unified whole. As G‑d's guide to life in these worlds, the Torah necessarily takes a special interest in every part of our being - from our spiritual behavior to our social interactions to the way we conduct our mundane daily lives. This is notably demonstrated by the Torah's being acutely attuned to the slightest details regarding the foods we eat, and, as we will be discussing in this week’s lesson, even to the garments that we wear. Of all our laws and customs, one of the least known is the Torah law that forbids the wearing of shatnez, which generally speaking is any garment containing both wool and linen. Many students probably have never heard of shatnez. Some may have heard of it but do not know what it is. Even those who may be scrupulous in following the kosher dietary laws may not concern themselves with shatnez, since they may believe that it is a local custom or an optional stringency, rather than a firm Torah law. But the fact is that both shatnez and kashrut are of equal standing in the Torah's 613 commandments. In other words, wearing shatnez is as much of a violation of G‑d's will for us as eating a ham sandwich. In this class we will learn about this Biblical prohibition and see how the laws against shatnez teach us a unique spiritual lesson with regards to how a fundamental aspect of a G‑dly life lies in our ability to limit our choices in life, while simultaneously ensuring that our individual personalities are not limited to one style or manner of living.

Wednesday September 14 @ 7:30 pm

Ki Tavo: Walking in G‑d's Ways

Parshat Ki Tavo contains the verse “Veholachto Bidrochov” — “And you shall walk in His ways”, which we will learn is the basis for the mitzvah of emulating G‑d. In this lesson we will identify the parameters of this commandment and see how following it will create a positive transformation in our approach to life, even if we already are already performing mitzvot regularly. We will gain a deeper understanding of the power of objectivity and the use of reason over emotionalism, and we will come to appreciate how walking in G‑d’s ways is the key to liberating ourselves from our human instincts in favor of our G‑dly ones.

Wednesday September 21 @ 7:30 pm

Nitzavim/Rosh HaShana: Not in the Heavens

This class explores the meaning and importance of the proclamation in this week’s parsha that the Torah is “not in the heavens.” It seems like an obvious statement, so why does the Torah elaborate so emphatically about this point? We will show that even though the giving of the Torah at Sinai established the Torah as part of our earthly experience, one may nevertheless make the erroneous assumption that the Torah remains inaccessible under certain circumstances — for example, when we are in exile— nationally or personally. We then examine position of the Rambam and the mystics, including the Alter Rebbe, that the proclamation refers specifically to the mitzvah of teshuva. Ultimately, the two interpretive approaches — that of exile and that of teshuva —are intimately intertwined, especially in terms of the inner, spiritual exile of the individual. Finally we will show how knowing that we have the ability to overcome all obstacles through Torah study and teshuva. We are empowered to overcome these obstacles in all three arenas that the verse implies: “in your heart, and in your mouth, to perform it” - in thought, speech and action.  

Wednesday October 5 @ 7:30 pm

Haazinu /Yom Kippur: Life in Three Dimensions

This week’s Torah portion begins with a declaration made by Moshe calling on the heavens and the earth to be witnesses to the covenant between G‑d and the Jewish people. At the time of this declaration we had already had a covenant with G‑d that began with our ancestor Avraham and came into full effect at Mount Sinai when as a nation we were given the Torah and accepted it and all its commandments. Why then did Moshe call upon heaven and earth to testify to the validity of the full national covenant, forty years after it was sealed at Sinai? In this week’s class we will analyze the significance of Moshe’ declaration, and it’s meaning for us today, particularly as we approach the awe-inspiring day of Yom Kippur.

Tuesday October 11 @ 7:30 pm

Vezot Habracha/Simchat Torah: In Praise of Our Teacher Moshe

The Torah concludes with the praises of Moshe, extolling his qualities and all the things he accomplished during his lifetime. Indeed, one would be hard pressed to find a greater individual in all of human history - a man who spoke face to face with G‑d, performed numerous miracles, and brought freedom and justice to the Jewish people — and by extension to all of humanity. Nevertheless, according to Rashi, the final act or quality that the Torah “praises” Moshe for was that he smashed the holy Tablets. In today’s class we will see how that was, in fact, Moshe’s finest act and the greatest expression of his love for the Jewish people.