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Chabad Community Centre

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The-Rebbes-Unique_1“In 1964, when I was still taking my first steps on the path to Judaism, I tried to master the basics of Chassidism. Once I told my teacher that I was extremely surprised to find out that Chassidic books were nothing like the aca­demic textbooks I was used to. In physics, for example, the textbooks set forth the foundations of the science, present­ing the information in a detailed and orderly fashion. They begin by defining the main concepts and terms, and then go on to describe the basic laws.

This is followed by practical applications, and so on. As a result, after studying such a textbook, even a mediocre student will have a basic under­standing of the subject. The same is true for other sciences. Why, then, is there no systematic textbook on Chassidism? My teacher replied that I was not the first to ask this ques­tion. One of the previous Lubavitcher Rebbes was asked about this; his reply was that Chassidism is not solely a the­ory or a system of views and opinions. Chassidism cannot be understood and studied only through textbooks and only by means of logical thinking. Chassidism must be embraced with one’s heart and soul. Talking to a Rebbe, or at least a mentor – an elderly Chassid seasoned by many years of the Chassidic way of life – is indispensable.

Farbrengensare certainly the most reliable way to study Chassidism. How­ever, a farbrengen has nothing in common with a university lecture. A farbrengen is like music that resounds through and beyond the words uttered by the Rebbe. This music en­ters and elevates the soul, and purifies and sharpens the mind. Learning to observe the commandments with joy and devotion is equally impossible through books. Chassidism, in fact Judaism in general, must be lived. Only then can one hope to one day attain an understanding that will open the gates of the mind in a way that no systematic textbook ever could. That is why books on Chassidism are so different from academic textbooks.” The Tanya is the cornerstone of Chabad philosophy. Though it’s physically small, it’s in the depth of its insights into the physical and spiritual spheres of Jewish life.

 
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