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Course: Attaining Freedom

Course: Attaining Freedom


Attaining Freedom: Shemot

Thursdays 8:00 PM
A challenging interactive lesson on the weekly Torah portion

Dear Friends,

The following are the topics of our next 11 weeks of our new lecture series. I invite you to join us Thursday nights at 8pm at our Chabad Center on the ground floor of the King David. These lectures are designed to engage everyone regardless of prior knowledge. Hope to see you there!

Rabbi Yisrael Baron

Shemot: Overcoming Enslavement
December 19th, 8:00pm
Throughout our study of Chumash Shemot, the second book of the Torah, we will be focusing on the theme of "Overcoming Adversity." What better place to begin than with the story of the Jewish people's enslavement in Egypt. In this week's class we will be studying the sin of Lashon Hara, or destructive speech, which was a prime cause for delaying the redemption both from Egypt and from every subsequent exile. We will examine its root causes, and find out what we need to do to eradicate it once and for all.
Vaeirah: Who Has the Right to Question G‑d?
December 26th, 8:00pm
When the Jews became depressed about not being immediately redeemed from slavery, Moshe bitterly complained to G‑d. As a result, Moshe was severely rebuked, compared unfavorably to the forefathers, and punished by G‑d. It's important to note that Moshe was not complaining to G‑d for his own sake, but because the Jewish people were suffering. Is there no place for us to express our feelings of pain and even anger toward G‑d when those who we love are in pain? In this week’s class we will discuss this and other pressing questions about facing adversity with a proper balance between acceptance and questioning.
Bo: Unconditional Surrender
January 2, 8:00pm
In Parshat Bo the long anticipated exodus finally takes place. Though the portion opens with the Jewish people still in Egypt, redemption "is in the air" and there is imminent and palpable anticipation for it. This class will examine why Egyptian exile was a necessary precursor for entering and conquering the Holy Land, and why an upfront and personal physical and spiritual showdown with Pharaoh was a necessary precursor for the exodus from Egypt. We will apply this principle to the subsequent exiles of the Jewish people, and internal and external victories that have to be won prior to the final, Messianic redemption.
Beshalach: Despoiling Egypt
January 9, 8:00pm
Following the drowning of the Egyptians in the Sea, the Midrash tells us that Moshe had to force the Jews to travel on against their will. The Egyptians had adorned their horses with ornaments of gold, silver and precious stones, which were scattered when they drowned, and the Jewish people could not stop themselves from scavenging for more loot. After witnessing such wondrous miracles, and now on their way to receive the Torah, could they have still been so immersed in the most mundane material pursuits? This desperate last treasure hunt for the jewels of Egypt reveals a wealth of unexpected spiritual detail about our purpose as individuals and as a nation.
Yitro: A New World After Sinai
January 16, 8:00pm
Prior to the giving of the Torah, man was certainly capable of doing good, and when he did good, his soul was elevated spiritually. But the objects of his experience remained the same. The events at Sinai not only brought G‑dly wisdom into the world, but it transformed the physical world itself. Material reality now became capable of holding onto holiness, and every element of physical creation became capable of elevation. In this week's class we will learn about one of the most fundamental principles of Judaism: The transformative effect that a mitzvah can have on every aspect of creation.
Mishpatim: The Four Custodians
January 23, 8:00pm
This lesson will trace the classical law of the four shomrim-the four types of custodians outlined in the Mishnah-to their original sources in the verses of this week's Torah portion. We will demonstrate that it is impossible to derive the respective degrees of liability in Jewish law without access to both the Oral and the Written Torah. After defining each type of custodian and clarifying their varying degrees of liability in the case of a loss, we will examine the spiritual meaning behind these laws. In the process we will discover two fundamental attitudes to life and G‑d, which translate into four archetypal relationships between Man, the Creator, and His creation.
Terumah: Making a Home for G‑d
January 30, 8:00pm
When one thinks about the concept of the Tabernacle and the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the obvious question that comes to mind is why is G‑d confining Himself to a single place of worship if He's truly everywhere? In this lesson we will examine how and why G‑d's true Essence in our material world is only revealed in physical structures. We will also come to understand why and how our synagogues and Jewish homes have been the primary shelters for the Jewish people and the G‑dly presence for over two thousand years of exile, persecution and adversity.
Tetzaveh: Divine Garments
February 6, 8:00pm
When viewing the noble clothing, rich tailoring and the elaborate design of a ruler or affluent person; does it reflect anything more than ego, opulence, fashion, high position, and power? What message does clothing relay? What deeper significance does it convey? In this week's class we will learn about the High Priest's glorious garments. His elaborate attire featured woven gold, precious stones and the finest materials. As we've noted many times, every detail in the Torah has deep significance and important messages relevant to every Jew, and it is fascinating to see what possible relevance a High Priest's garments can have to our own relatively humble lives.
Ki Tisa: Mirror Images
February 13, 8:00pm
In this week’s class we will discuss the spiritual significance of the kiyor, the copper vessel from which the water that was used to purify the priests in the Temple prior to their service was drawn. We will examine a "difference of opinion" between Moshe and G‑d over the appropriateness of using the copper from the mirrors that the Jewish women had used to groom themselves, in order to make themselves attractive to their husbands during their enslavement in Egypt. We see how, like the Jewish women in Egypt, our primary tool in overcoming adversity is our ability to channel our natural, potentially destructive physical drives into good and G‑dly purposes.
Vayakhel: Keeping Focused
February 20, 8:00pm
Following the Exodus from Egypt, an individual who was both a prince and a scholar, known as the Nasi, led each of the twelve tribes. We learn in this week's portion that the princes were among the very last of the Jewish people to contribute towards the building of the Tabernacle. What was the reason for their delay? Why did they wait until last to bring their contributions? Shouldn't they have been role models for the people, and wouldn't they have inspired the people to donate even more if they had gone first, or at least earlier? In this week's class we’ll see what we can learn from the princes' collective delay, and what it says about true Jewish leadership.
Pekudei: Double Vision
February 27, 8:00pm
The final portions of the book of Exodus-Vayakhel and Pekudei-seem to needlessly repeat the details and instructions for the construction and furnishing of the Mishkan. In this lesson we will show that this repetition teaches us that there are two very different and distinct Mishkans-the lofty and spiritual Tabernacle that only can be accessed by a tzaddik approaching the level of Moshe, and a lowly physical Tabernacle that is accessible to everyone. We will learn why G‑d chose to reveal His Essence in the physical Tabernacle that is accessible to all, and why He chose to call the earthly one his His home.


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