Sinai Live books offer practical insight
by exploring the intersection of Jewish wisdom with everyday life.
Over the course of many years writing for Aish.com, Rabbi Blech commented on a wide range of topics – from movies to Bernie Madoff to Tiger Woods to the killing of Osama bin Laden. What connects these essays is nothing less than Judaism. The World from a Spiritual Perspective is a collection of essays that explores how viewing the world from a spiritual perspective can uncover new avenues of understanding and elevate our daily lives.Learn More
For this Mother’s Day it seemed fitting to blend the secular custom of honoring women dear to us on a Sunday in May with the Jewish tradition of blessing these women each Shabbat. For that reason, we have published More Precious Than Pearls: A Prayer for the Women of Valor in Our Lives. Read this book for free in digital form, send it as a special Mother’s Day gift (also free), or buy the print version from Amazon.Learn More
We open the High Holidays with Selihot (prayers of penitence) and in the span of two and a half weeks we will have gone through the Yamim Noraim (the Days of Awe). How much of the Yamim Noraim will go through us? Connecting Moments is a collaboration with some of the world’s top Rabbis and teachers, who, in text and on film, share the secrets to transforming the High Holiday experience.Learn More
By Rabbi DovBer Pinson
Life is a journey full of ups and downs, inside-outs, and unexpected detours. There are times when we think we know exactly where we want to be headed, and other times when we are so lost we don’t even know where we are. Often, people get stuck by the idea of a pre-determined destination for this journey called life. They either feel like they are supposed to be somewhere else, or they may feel like they will never get “there.” Both of these perspectives take us out of the eternal moment of the here and now, the transcendent present of presence. But if we read deeply into the inner dimension of the Torah, we are able to see that the true test of life is not where you get to, but how you got there. The point is not, in fact, the destination one reaches, but, more importantly, the journey one embarks upon.
The Torah, and its inner teachings, the Kabbalah, are meant to help us navigate this journey called life in the most conscious, caring, and creative way possible. Rooted in the ancient wisdom of the Kabbalah, this book provides readers with a passport of sorts to help them through any obstacles along their path, leading them toward a life of meaning, purpose and self-actualization.
Transform Your Life
For most of us, other people define who we are, and we are left to fill in the details. That is to say that for the most part, other people choose the context of our life, and we choose the content. … But there is another way to live. You can create a life and identity for yourself wherein you are empowered to choose both your context and your content.
An interesting thing about prayer is that if you want to make your prayers more meaningful, you have to surrender all ‘understandings’ about prayer. This means that when you pray, you should pray like a child. You can be very complex and interesting when you are trying to understand things, but that should all be prior to the actual act of prayer. Once you pray, there should simplicity.
When you only think about the larger picture, it is sometimes hard to see where your life is headed. In Kabbalistic terminology, your life’s meaning is like the Light. Then there are things and situations in your life that are the vessels for this great Light.
Certain events or experiences in life seem purposeless. When this happens, you are perceiving more of the vessel of a situation. Everything has both an aspect of light (meaning, purpose, connection) and an aspect of vessel (lack of meaning, purposelessness, separation).
Rabbi Pinson is the Rosh Yeshivah of the IYYUN Yeshivah and heads the IYYUN Center for Jewish Spirituality in Brooklyn, NY. He travels extensively and has attracted thousands of loyal followers and students around the world. Learn more at www.iyyun.com.
By Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
Many of the truths that matter most are brief but powerful. You can read the book itself in an hour or two, but the lessons it contains – largely drawn from Jewish sources thousands of years old – can bless and enrich your life for as long as you live. In addition, practicing the activities described inside will also make you a happier person.
What more could one want from a book?
Albert Einstein is reputed to have said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” In Telushkinisms, Joseph Telushkin supplies concrete suggestions of activities that can be immediately incorporated into your life.
Who is Rich?
“Our normal frame of mind and mood should be, “I am happy unless something bad is happening.” Many people are the opposite. They are only happy if something very good is happening. Their happiness is dependent on the extraordinary. But life is not lived in the extraordinary; it is lived in the ordinary. We have to learn to be happy during the ordinary times of life.”
“If you hear someone say, “I am worth ten million dollars,” what happens to that person when his investments collapse and he is then worth two million dollars? If he loses everything, then what is he worth? Nothing? Our value is ultimately derived from the fact that we are created in God’s image. Therefore, we are holy people.”
Declaring a Complaining Fast
“One of the quickest ways to start appreciating happiness and all the good things in your life now, is to declare a complaining fast. Declare that for a set time period no one in your house – or just you yourself — will complain about anything. You will suddenly become aware of how many wonderful things there are in your life. It will also become a lot easier to love with joy the people around you. Including yourself.”
Joseph Telushkin, named by Talk magazine as one of the 50 best speakers in the United States, is the author of Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know About the Jewish Religion, Its People and Its History. The most widely selling book on Judaism of the past two decades, Jewish Literacy has been hailed by leading figures in all the major movements of Judaism, and has been published in a third edition (June, 2008).
In 2006, Bell Tower/Crown published the first volume of his monumental work, A Code of Jewish Ethics: You Shall be Holy, a comprehensive presentation of Jewish teachings on the vital topic of personal character and integrity. Richard Joel, president of Yeshiva University, called the book, “a gift to humankind,” and Rabbi David Wolpe hailed it “as a remarkable guide to goodness.” In 2007, A Code of Jewish Ethics won the National Jewish Book Award as the Jewish book of the year. Volume 2 of the Code, subtitled, “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself” was published in 2009 to great acclaim.
In September, 2010, Telushkin published Hillel: If Not Now, When? A biography of the great talmudic sage that makes the argument as to why Hillel should emerge as the great rabbinic figure of the 21st century. The book discussed in detail Hillel’s open and encouraging attitude to non-Jews interested in Judaism and in converting. Telushkin is currently writing a study of the life and impact of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
Rabbi Telushkin’s earlier book, Words that Hurt, Words that Heal became the motivating force behind Senators Joseph Lieberman and Connie Mack’s 1996 Senate Resolution # 151 to establish a “National Speak No Evil Day” throughout the United States.
He has also written Jewish Humor: What the Best Jewish Jokes Say About the Jews. Larry Gelbart, author of Mash and Tootsie said that “I don’t know if Jews are really the chosen people, but I think Joseph Telushkin’s book makes a strong argument that we’re the funniest.” Telushkin is also co-author with Dennis Prager of one of the most influential Jewish books published in the last thirty-five years, The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism, hailed by Herman Wouk as “the intelligent skeptic’s guide to Judaism.”
In 1997, his novel, An Eye for an Eye, became the basis for four episodes of David Kelley’s Emmy Award-winning ABC TV series, The Practice, and he co-write (with Allen Estrin) three additional episodes of the program. Telushkin was the co-writer with David Brandes and the Associate Producer of the 1991 film, The Quarrel. The film, an American Playhouse production, and the winner of the Santa Barbara Film Festival, was released theatrically throughout the United States.
Rabbi Telushkin was ordained at Yeshiva University in New York, and pursued graduate studies in Jewish history at Columbia University. He resides in New York City with his wife, Dvorah Menashe Telushkin, and they have four children. Telushkin lectures throughout the United States, serves as a Senior Associate of CLAL, and on the Board of Directors of the Jewish Book Council.
By Rabbi Benjamin Blech
Over the course of many years writing for Aish.com, Rabbi Blech commented on a wide range of topics – from movies to Bernie Madoff to Tiger Woods to the killing of Osama bin Laden – as well as a host of other major and minor noteworthy events. What connects these essays is nothing less than Judaism. And that’s because for me Judaism means looking at the entire world through the lens of a divinely ordained perspective known as the Torah. Judaism isn’t just a religion that teaches us how to relate to God. It’s a way of life that is meant to make us wiser, more contented and better people. This collection of essays explores how viewing the world from a spiritual perspective can uncover new avenues of understanding and elevate our daily lives.
The Archenemy of Happiness
“I used to think that the main goal of American business was to make people happy. Create new products so consumers have a better quality of life. Add new bells and whistles to existing technologies to offer a more satisfying experience to the users.
I thought happiness was the objective. But the truth is just the opposite: billions of dollars are spent to figure out how to make us feel unhappy. And unless we understand the secret motivation behind the desire of marketers to make us feel discontented with what we have, we are going to fall victim to a never ending cycle of unhappiness.”
“The Secret” Revealed
“Thinking positively is always the first step to success. Should we ardently wish for things that we want? Of course! Hope fills us with conviction that our dreams are attainable. Desire serves as spur to our initiative. If it is not a magnet, it is at the least a supreme motivator. We should believe in the possibility of acquiring our heart’s desires. But that’s far from saying that there is a universal and unequivocal law that turns every one of our wishes into God’s command.
Judaism always understood that the answer to some of our most profound desires may still be “No.” Not every wish deserves to be granted. And even more to the point, not every wish ought to be fulfilled. George Bernard Shaw understood it when he pointed out that “There are two great tragedies in life. One is not having your prayers answered; the other very often is the reverse.” Jewish prayer asks of God, “And fulfill the requests of our heart for good” – only if what we ask for is truly in our best interest from the Divine perspective.”
His book Taking Stock: A Spiritual Guide To Rising Above Life’s Financial Ups and Downs was featured in a full page article in the Sunday New York Times and one of his recent works, If God is Good, Why Is The World So Bad? has been translated into Indonesian where it has had a powerful reception in the wake of the country’s tsunami, as well as into Portuguese.
In a national survey, Rabbi Blech was ranked #16 in a listing of the 50 most influential Jews in America. A recipient of the American Educator of the Year Award, he is a Professor of Talmud at Yeshiva University since 1966 and has formed thousands of student-teacher relationships through his warm and caring style. A tenth-generation rabbi, Rabbi Blech is Rabbi Emeritus of Young Israel of Oceanside, which he served for 37 years. He is a frequent lecturer in Jewish communities as far-flung as Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Israel. Closer to home, he has served as Scholar-in-Residence at hundreds of synagogues throughout the United States and Canada and been active on behalf of countless Jewish causes. His lectures on tape have an international following and are among the most popular from among the thousands made available on the web through Aish Hatorah. He is known for his ability to present complicated ideas in a clear and entertaining manner. A past President of both the National Council of Young Israel Rabbis, as well as the International League for the Repatriation of Russian Jewry, Rabbi Blech has also served as officer for the New York Board of Rabbis as well as the Rabbinical Council of America. He has appeared on national television (including the Oprah Winfrey Show); hosted a popular weekly radio program in New York; and written for Newsweek, The New York Times and Newsday, in addition to a wide and varied number of scholarly publications. As a result of his personal meeting with the late Pope John Paul II, he was instrumental in securing the loan of precious Jewish manuscripts for exhibition in Israel and he is presently involved in further negotiations for the return of precious Judaica held by the Vatican that may well prove to be of historic significance.
Rabbi Blech is an unusually eloquent and gifted speaker, as well as a profound contemporary theologian and religious spokesman, who has made a major impact on the many tens of thousands of people he has addressed.
AND MOST RECENTLY: Rabbi Blech’s latest book, The Sistine Chapel: Michelangelo’s Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican, was featured on Nightline, Good Morning America and a one-hour special on 20/20.
Coinciding with the 500th anniversary of Michelangelo’s starting work on the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, this groundbreaking book is already the subject of huge interest, discussion and controversy. Translated into 15 languages, including Japanese, available in 25 countries, a first printing of 100,000 copies by HarperOne, movie and TV rights presently in negotiation with three major film companies, and national TV coverage, this major work proves that Michelangelo incorporated many teachings of Jewish Midrash and Kabbalah into the Sistine Chapel – daring ideas unknown to its 4 million annual visitors. And unlike the DaVinci Code, this book is not fiction but fact. Enrico Bruschini, official Art Historian of the American Embassy in Rome, in his Foreword to the book writes, “Just as the work of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel changed forever the world of art, so will this book change forever the way to view and, above all, to understand the work of Michelangelo!”
By the Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
For more than forty years, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis has written about taking a spiritual approach to solving life’s problems, large and small. In Footsteps: Perspectives for Daily Life, the Rebbetzin Jungreis speaks to readers directly from the pages, providing universal wisdom on how to live more meaningfully.
The book is divided into concise, impactful chapters such as Purpose, Confidence and Creativity.
“I remember meeting once a lady who said to me, “Rebbetzin darling, if I had only met you thirty years ago, how different my life would have been.” And I said to her, “My dear friend, if only I had met me thirty years ago!” Because thirty years ago I didn’t know the things I know today.”
“It doesn’t matter whether you are a cab driver or a physician. The question becomes, what sort of a physician do you become? Or what sort of a cab driver do you become?”
“We all have to know that because of us, the world was a little bit better; it became finer. We touched some people, we touched some hearts, and we made a difference. Don’t cook for just yourself. Cook for the world. Cook for others!”
Hineni In 1973, Rebbetzin Jungreis founded Hineni, an international movement to inspire the Jewish people to return to their roots. Hineni programs have been held throughout the United States as well as in Israel, South Africa and Australia. In 1982, the Hineni Heritage Center opened its doors at 232 West End Avenue in New York City. Today, the Center offers a comprehensive series of programs and classes on the Torah, Talmud, Kabalah, History, Rituals, Hebrew language, and much more. There is a constant flow of visitors through its welcoming doors, and visitors leave fortified with a knowledge of their roots, and with the desire to learn more. Visit Hineni at www.hineni.org or contact the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Books and Columns For more than forty years, Rebbetzin Jungreis has written a weekly column for The Jewish Press using the Torah as the source for solutions to everyday problems. In addition, thousands tune in for the Rebbetzin’s Life Transforming Weekly Torah Class, which is live-streamed around the globe.
The Rebbetzin Jungreis’ books include:
Jewish Soul on Fire William Morrow & Company, 1982. Named one of the ten best Jewish books of the year by B’nai B’rith.
The Committed Life: Principles of Good Living from Our Timeless Past Harper Collins, 1999. Now in its eighth edition and translated into multiple languages.
The Committed Marriage Harper Collins, 2004
Life is a Test Mesorah Publications, 2006
Torah for Your Table Mesorah Publications, 2009
Speaking and Recognition Rebbetzin Jungreis has been acclaimed by the Jewish community throughout the world, and her outstanding work has been recognized by Hadassah, The Jewish War Veterans, B’nai Brith, Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations, Knights of Pythias, and the Christian Amita Society. She has been the keynote speaker at the joint convention of Reform and Conservative Rabbis in Palm Springs, and has spoken for the Rabbinical Council of America, O.R.T., Hadassah, U.J.A., B’nai Brith, and many more. She has also been accorded recognition by the State of Israel and invited to address members of the Israel Defense Forces. Her seminars attract overflow crowds.
Note: Biographical information courtesy of Hineni and The Harry Walker Agency
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