The New Year for Chassidism: Redeeming the Soul at the Start of Winter

So it’s the first day of December, and suddenly we’re all like, oh wow, one month left to finish that list of resolutions we started a mere eleven months ago!

It’s also a day celebrated in the Jewish world for the impact its made on many a journey to self improvement, a day known as the “Rosh Hashana” – “Jewish New Year” of Chabad Chassidic mysticism, the system of philosophy and spiritual growth defined by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, a holy Rabbi released from incarceration in Czarist prison several hundred years ago today.

The moment of the Alter Rebbe’s release was marked by his recital of a Psalm “My Soul has been Redeemed from Battle in Peace” – kinda an oxymoron, if you ask me. Battles aren’t exactly peaceful, amirite?

Winning the battle that is spiritual growth and self improvement comes about in two ways: First, there's creating a checklist of bad habits and developing the tools to battle them, a messy, warlike way if any; but then there's the process of undergoing a real test or challenge in life, and possessing the internal peace and core strength, if you will, to remain in peace no matter what battle rages is all around.

The second element, that peaceful redemption, is all about connecting to divine wisdom that brings on innate peace by helping to understand who and what we are, and what we stand for. This one comes about through those crazy moments, the real test periods that question our very ego and identity, rip out the carpet from underneath and demand you dig deep to find the inner resources of peace and redefine your sense of self. The only way to train for that one? Developing core strength (pilates!), because no weapons or tools can assist when you need your full body weight against the door. The release from battle is peaceful, this time, because we’re digging deep, finding internal peace, and transcending that balagan of ridiculousness that’s the battle raging around us.

And our training regimen? The study of divine spiritual teachings, and if may say so myself, the mystical side of Torah is a great place to start.

In celebrating this day and the hundreds of years of divine knowledge that's flowed through as a result, I'm grateful for these teachings that have shaped my life and helped me grow, and grateful to all of you for allowing me to share them with you through the occasional lengthy Facebook jam. May we merit on this day to grow in the learning and study of this incredible framework of Divine Torah teachings - of which all her ways are peace - and in the path and direction of true Chassidism - from the root word "Lovingkindness" – through to real world application - the hardest part, but so the best. Good Yom Tov!