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“Meditation? Me?
Why would I want to spend time sitting and focusing on my breath? I’m not the type…”

When I remember that version of myself, five years ago—someone who was not the “type” to meditate—I smile and am filled with gratitude. Gratitude toward my former self, for staying curious, which enabled me to follow a deeper yearning for connection. And, gratitude to the Institute for providing a safe space for inner work, and teachers who inspired me to explore Jewish contemplative practices.

The change in my life is palpable: more joy, less worry, more appreciation for all the blessings around me—blessings which I now am able to notice in their fullness and beauty. One very vivid example is my experience of aging. Yes, I worry about growing older and losing my physical vitality or mental acuity. But while I have never felt more vulnerable, I have learned to embrace it; I ask God for strength and in the stillness and spaciousness of my breath, I am at ease.

— Terry Rosenberg, West Newton, MA (Incoming Board Chair, Kivvun)

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 how do you remain open to learning?


who are your teachers?         


     Have you learned anything unexpected from an every day experience?
         a challenging experience?


From Chamber to Chamber

A text study on Hitlamdut by Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell,
featuring the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav.

“In this passage, Rebbe Nachman urges us to relate to Torah as a new chamber, unknown and fresh—not as the same texts we read last year. This lesson can be applied to everything in life…”
Click here for the full text study.


Learning about and practicing anavah (humility) could not have come at a better time; it saved me by helping me to reevaluate my life and escape the pressures of needing to prove myself. I was so used to defining my value solely by my successes, as opposed to by my passions or relationships. Tikkun middot practice helped me realize that what I accomplish—and don’t accomplish—does not define my worth.

— Madeline Dolgin, NYU student (Tikkun Middot Project)

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      What awakens 

               your curiosity?

            Tell us in the comments below!


3 Responses to “Hitlamdut”

  1. Lisa Zbar

    My holiday weekend was filled with great joy. I endured fear and sadness, too, and at times I was very uncomfortable. I don’t know whether this is an oxymoron, but I worked hard to stay in the pure fear and sadness, to step lightly over it and through it and with it, exploring it, looking at it, breathing it, crying it, rather than creating a story about it or avoiding it. There would have been no good outcome either way, and any sense of openness would have evaporated.

  2. Nancy Flam

    One of the surest ways I stay open to learning is by teaching. In terms of subject matter, I often choose to teach that about which I know I have something important to learn. In terms of process, I try to approach my teaching as guiding a group of co-learners, myself included. It is essential to be extremely present and attentive to the student when she is sharing her ideas and questions; if I am caught up at all in my own thoughts (e.g. how to respond, what the last person said, where I want to go with my own agenda), I will not only not offer her the honor of deep listening, I will lose the opportunity for true dialogue and genuine response/teaching, as well as expansive learning for myself. If I do not learn something new, surprising and/or personally relevant from my students as I teach, I know I have failed to show up, to open to the present moment, and to invite my own vulnerable aliveness to the table.

  3. Jonathan Slater

    I’ve tried to make it a practice to question all of my strong feelings. It actually grew out of the habit of talking back to the television — asking advertisements “Who says?” and challenging the framing of news reports. Over time, I came to ask myself the same question about my thoughts and feelings: Who says that what I think about another person, about their motivations, about my own motivations, about what things means — is true? What am I really upset about? What do I really know about the other? And, could it be possible that what I see as wrong, unacceptable or negative in the other is also true of me?


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