Friday, October 19, 2007

The Rebbe "For this Reason I am Asking Because, of Your Influence "

"You are one of a select few whom I am approaching in this matter, knowing of your position of influence and connection with the medical profession, which could be used to great advantage and effect in promoting the cause espoused in the memo- which I feel certain, will meet with your approval, and the Zechus Harabim will help further"

-The Rebbe

I would like to present part two of the Rebbe's Perspective on Yoga and Mediation. Special thanks to Dr. Audi Gozlan PHD, director of KABALAH Yoga in Montreal Quebec and to Rabbis Eli Silberstein and Asher Lowenstein. Also included is an interesting picture of the Rebbe (part 85 in the series).

Preface to the Rebbe's Letter

Many people were surprised at reading the letter last week and learning about the Rebbe's acceptance of the usefulness of meditation. The letter which follows may be even more shocking. In it the Rebbe seems to acknowledge that this is a controversial opinion which would elicit much opposition. Nonetheless, he explicitly states that his comments on meditation are meant to support the argument of those who find benefits in meditation.

It should be noted that the Rebbe stipulates that the opinion be kept confidential since it could lead people to associate with improper practices and groups which are related to forms of meditation.

Dr, Yehuda Landes

881 seale avenue P.A.

Calif. 94303.

Greetings and blessings:

It is some time since I heard from you, and I trust that all is well, it is surely unnecessary to add the insofar as a Jew is concerned "all is well includes" above all, advancement in the torah and mitzvoth in the everyday life.

The purpose of this letter is to send you the enclosed memorandum which is self explanatory. The reason it has been written as a separate piece without a signature, and to some extent confidentiality is that the subject matter is of a sensitive nature and the memo could be used to encourage that which it seeks to discourage and preclude, namely involvement in eastern cults. For it may be argued by many who are already involved in the therapy discussed in the memo, or are tempted to become involved, that until such time as a medical profession, will openly adopt the same methods of treatment and provide an alternative, they are justified in seeking this therapy elsewhere, especially if they take care to avoid active participation in the idolatrous rites and ceremonies that go with it. In support of this contention they can site this memo which (1) confirms the therapeutic value of the said methods and (2) indicates also that the idolatrous elements in the said cults germane, indeed non-essential, to the therapy itself.

For this reason I am asking you- as all others whom I intend to approach in this matter- to use your discretion in connection with the enclosed memo, as to its source and its utilization, etc.

I must, however, point out with all due emphasis that in my opinion the problem has reached such proportions that time is extremely important.

Every minute that could be saved in speeding the implementation of the program suggested in the memo could be a matter of spiritual Pikuach-Nefesh for many actual and potential victims of the said cults.

You are one of a select few whom I am approaching in this matter, knowing of your position of influence and connection with the medical profession, which could be used to great advantage and effect in promoting the cause espoused in the memo- which I feel certain, will meet with your approval, and the Zechus Harabim will help further.

Needless to say, on my part I will do all I can to mobilize all possible cooperation in behalf of this cause which, I strongly believe, should be pursued with utmost vigor, without fear of duplication, or overdoing it.

Your comments on all above will be most welcome.

With esteem and blessing,

Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Picture Description: A Yechidus with the Rebbe that took place in the wintter on 1964.

Good Shabbos,


Copyright © Menachem Kirschenbaum 2007

1 comment:

Akiva said...

As published in Nshei Chabad Newsletter, a response to this misleading letter, by Shlucha Chaya Kaye of Sydney, Australia... NOTE THE BOLD SECTION (bolded by me)

Since my mother A"H ("Mrs. Hasofer of Australia," as referred to on page 14 of your Shvat issue) was misrepresented and misquoted in the last N'shei newsletter in Audi Yehuda Gozlan's response to Akiva's letter which I found to be quite accurate, I feel the necessity to write to you to make known what the Rebbe told my mother A"H, as printed in her booklet on meditation.

The booklet itself among other things, explains how to carry out non-idolatrous meditation and therefore the booklet has not been available for the broad public but has only been given out on an individual basis to help people who are involved in high levels of non-Jewish forms of meditation, to be able to change to a Kosher i.e. non-idolatrous form of meditation.

In 1979, the Rebbe had a yechidus with my parents, which lasted over an hour and he sent my mother around the world to find a non-idolatrous meditation which she subsequently found and which can lead to high levels of deep meditation.

I can only quote from the Yechidus the Rebbe gave my mother, which she printed in her booklet, "Dialogue With Atara" (Atara H.Y. Hasofer):

Excerpt from the booklet: "The only meditation that is enjoined to all Jews is that which is part of G-d's service, prayer . The Code of Jewish Law states that before each prayer one must meditate `on the Greatness of G-d and the humble state of man' (Shulchan Oruch Orach Chayim Chap. 98 Paragraph 1). This meditation is done with a fixed intent and at a fixed time. Its goal is to enhance the quality of one's prayer, not to calm one's nerves."

"Other types of meditation should only be used by those who need them for therapeutic reasons. A healthy orthodox Jew does not need meditation to attain tranquility. On the contrary, if he begins to meditate, he may hurt himself psychologically."

"Meditation shares a parallel with other therapies. They are only valuable when needed and used in the necessary amount. They can be detrimental to health if taken in excessive doses, and when they are not needed".

"The above are excerpts from a talk given by Rabbi M. M. Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, in 1979. Rabbi Schneerson is the spiritual leader of Judaism in this generation, and his words are therefore a definitive formulation of the Jewish point of view on meditation. No one could express this view with greater authority than him."

To clarify some other issues, my mother, Atara Hasofer, A"H, was not a yoga teacher. She was not involved in yoga and to her experienced understanding yoga is based on idolatry and she did not recommend any type of yoga because anyone who would want to get more involved in it than just plain exercise, and want to reach higher levels would be getting involved with Avoda Zoro, as the higher levels are idolatrous by nature.

I can't comment on what the Rebbe wrote personally to other people about "Kosher Yoga" and maybe, like meditation, there is a place for it to help people who are already involved in idolatrous yoga - to make the switch, but I also don't think that it is something for us to recommend for chassidishe women, Chabad Shluchos, and chassidishe maidlach.

In addition, Rabbi Groner was quoted as saying "[You have] blessings for strength and growth from the Rebbe to develop the kosher way." However, he was not talking about yoga either. At the time Rabbi Yehudah Landes was also searching for a non-idolatrous form of meditation.

I personally recently heard about a frum woman with a frum family who began going to yoga classes to help her stress. She started slowly getting more and more involved till it became the main focus in her life until now she is unable to reconcile yoga with Yiddishkeit and has problems keeping mitzvos!