“I have been able to find a stronger center in myself to which I can return so that I am not shaken by the daily ups and downs of congregational life.”

— Rabbi Rona Shapiro

Text Study 5778

Sign up for text study this year with Rabbi Sam Feinsmith, Rabbi Marc Margolius, or both!

Read the first five teachings for free!

Make a Window for the Word: $240
Mindful Torah: $240
Two-Subscription Package: $450

Student Rate: $50 for either program, $75 for both.
If you are a student, please email marab@jewishspirituality.org for information on how to register at the student rate.

Click here to register now!

Click here for information about previous years’ text study courses.

Read the first five teachings for free!

Hundreds of rabbis, cantors, educators and others have been enriched through their study of Hasidic texts – with partners in havruta or on their own, in Torah study groups and as materials for teaching. This year, Rabbi Sam Feinsmith will be taking us back to the source, providing teachings from Sefer Ba’al Shem Tov, a compendium of teachings recorded by disciples of the founder of Hasidism, Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the Ba’al Shem Tov (c. 1700-1760).

In a well-known epistle to his brother-in-law Rabbi Gershon Kitover, the Ba’al Shem Tov relays an encounter with the Messiah during a meditative journey inward (a soul ascent). Upon asking the Messiah when he would come, the Messiah responded with the words of Proverbs 5:16: “[When] your waters flow outward.” This year’s text study is offered in the spirit of making the Ba’al Shem Tov’s teachings widely available, opening a deep well for parched lips and hungry souls who yearn to practice for the betterment, repair, and healing of our world.

Our title for this year’s Hasidic text study, Make a Window for the Word, is taken from the Ba’al Shem Tov’s re-reading of God’s commandment to Noah to make a window for the ark (the Hebrew word teivah can mean both “ark” and “word”). It is an invitation to actively engage (“make”) in the work of carving out an inner sanctuary that provides a refuge from the turbulent waters of life; it beckons us to saturate that ark with awareness (“a window”), and shine the penetrating inner light of mindfulness into words of Torah and prayer. In so doing, our Jewish practice can become a refuge, a source of inner stability, equanimity, calm, and peace.

Each week Sam will provide an annotated translation of one of the teachings on the weekly parasha (Torah portion), along with a commentary that elucidates the interpretive dynamics at play, reflection questions to connect the teaching with experience, and a practice to bring the lessons of the text into your everyday life. As always, his commentary will support your capacity to situate and deepen your mindfulness practice within native Jewish teachings and practices.

Read the first five teachings for free!

Can Torah study help us actualize our innate potential for greater awareness, wisdom, and goodness? Explore the weekly Torah portion this year with Rabbi Marc Margolius, focusing on the integration of mindfulness practice and close attention to middot, core spiritual/ethical qualities within each of us. Rabbi Margolius will highlight and explore specific teachings arising from the text which can help us wake up, grow in discernment, and bring our best selves to the challenges of daily life.

Drawing from classic Rabbinic, Hasidic, and Mussar commentators as well contemporary sources, this study program will offer an overview of middot-related themes arising in each parasha, delving more deeply into at least one particular middah each week which can inform our spiritual practice and enhance our daily lives. Rabbi Margolius will include specific practices and reflections to help integrate the teaching into daily living each week through ongoing mindfulness practice and close attention to the week’s middah. This text study aims to be fully accessible for less experienced students, while also rich and meaningful for those with more background.