Category Archives: Personal Growth

The Three Preconditions to Spiritual Pleasures

The Torah has been described by many Jewish sources as a guide to accessing spiritual pleasure. While it is true that there are many laws that restrict pleasure, the net benefit of the Torah is that through it we can experience deeper and more sophisticated, spiritual pleasures. What is spiritual pleasure? What are the conditions needed to experience it? How does Torah and mitzvos unlock it?

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Please consider sponsoring a podcast by making a donation to help fund our Jewish outreach and educational efforts at https://www.torchweb.org/support.php. Thank you!

Contact:

Website: RabbiWolbe.com;
Twitter: @RabbiWolbe;
Facebook: Rabbi Yaakov Wolbe;
Email: rabbiwolbe@gmail.com.

Please SUBSCRIBE, RATE and REVIEW all my podcasts on iTunes, Android, and Stitcher:

Podcasts Links:

This Jewish Life – In-Depth Analysis into Critical Torah Topics: iOSAndroidStitcher;

The Jewish History Podcast – Telling the Remarkable story of the Jewish Peoples: iOSAndroidStitcher;

The Parsha Podcast – A Weekly Analysis and Exploration of the Parshas: iOSAndroidStitcher;

TORAH 101 – An Intellectual’s Introduction to Torah: iOSAndroidStitcher;

Eternal Ethics – Drawing Powerful Lessons from Pirkei Avos: iOSAndroidStitcher.

Dating, Courtship, and Spousal Selection: A Comprehensive Torah Attitude

Chapter 24 of Genesis contains a comprehensive narrative of the courtship and marriage of Isaac and Rebecca. Traditionally, this chapter served as the comprehensive guide of the Torah’s attitude of how to select a suitable spouse. In this podcast, we quickly run through the story and find relevant and insightful tips on how to find the right one, and how to avoid common pitfalls

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Please consider making a donation to help fund our Jewish outreach and educational efforts at https://www.torchweb.org/support.php. Thank you!

Contact:

Website: RabbiWolbe.com;
Twitter: @RabbiWolbe;
Facebook: Rabbi Yaakov Wolbe;
Email: rabbiwolbe@gmail.com.

Please SUBSCRIBE, RATE and REVIEW all my podcasts on iTunes, Android, and Stitcher:

Podcasts Links:

This Jewish Life – In-Depth Analysis into Critical Torah Topics: iOSAndroidStitcher;

The Jewish History Podcast – Telling the Remarkable story of the Jewish Peoples: iOSAndroidStitcher;

The Parsha Podcast – A Weekly Analysis and Exploration of the Parshas: iOSAndroidStitcher;

TORAH 101 – An Intellectual’s Introduction to Torah: iOSAndroidStitcher;

Eternal Ethics – Drawing Powerful Lessons from Pirkei Avos: iOSAndroidStitcher.

Enveloped by God: Understanding the Festival of Sukkos

The Festival of Sukkos has many moving parts: There is the mitzvah to dwell in a Sukkah for seven days; we are commanded to shake the Four Species on Sukkos; and there is a fascination with the Seventy Nations of the world and their ultimate downfall. In this podcast, we offer a comprehensive perspective of the Festival that also explains its intimate relationship with Yom Kippur and the enigmatic Shmini Atzeres.

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Please consider making a donation to help fund our Jewish outreach and educational efforts at https://www.torchweb.org/support.php. Thank you!

Contact:

Website: RabbiWolbe.com;
Twitter: @RabbiWolbe;
Facebook: Rabbi Yaakov Wolbe;
Email: rabbiwolbe@gmail.com.

Please SUBSCRIBE, RATE and REVIEW all my podcasts on iTunes and Android:

Podcasts Links iOS:

This Jewish Life – In-Depth Analysis into Critical Torah Topics;
The Jewish History Podcast – Telling the Remarkable story of the Jewish People;
The Parsha Podcast – A Weekly Analysis and Exploration of the Parsha;
TORAH 101 – An Intellectual’s Introduction to Torah

Podcast Links Android:

This Jewish Life – In-Depth Analysis into Critical Torah Topics;
The Jewish History Podcast – Telling the Remarkable story of the Jewish People;
The Parsha Podcast – A Weekly Analysis and Exploration of the Parsha;
TORAH 101 – An Intellectual’s Introduction to Torah

The Great Loophole (Repentance)

Teshuva (Repentance) can be an intimidating and daunting task. Entire volumes are filled with its components and nuances. In this podcast we shine light on a different aspect of Teshuva: Its easy, eminently achievable, and all the factors are in place to enable us to do it.

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Please consider making a donation to help fund our Jewish outreach and educational efforts at https://www.torchweb.org/support.php. Thank you!

Contact:

Website: RabbiWolbe.com;
Twitter: @RabbiWolbe;
Facebook: Rabbi Yaakov Wolbe;
Email: rabbiwolbe@gmail.com.

Please SUBSCRIBE, RATE and REVIEW all my podcasts on iTunes and Android:

Podcasts Links iOS:

This Jewish Life – In-Depth Analysis into Critical Torah Topics;
The Jewish History Podcast – Telling the Remarkable story of the Jewish People;
The Parsha Podcast – A Weekly Analysis and Exploration of the Parsha;
TORAH 101 – An Intellectual’s Introduction to Torah

Podcast Links Android:

This Jewish Life – In-Depth Analysis into Critical Torah Topics;
The Jewish History Podcast – Telling the Remarkable story of the Jewish People;
The Parsha Podcast – A Weekly Analysis and Exploration of the Parsha;
TORAH 101 – An Intellectual’s Introduction to Torah

Maximizing Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is associated with prayer and liturgy that we may not understand, very long services and, of course, fasting. Unfortunately, most people are unaware of the power, meaning and opportunity of the day. In this podcast we go back to the very first Yom Kippur. What happened on that day and how is it represented in the holiday? Why is Yom Kippur both a day of the sealing of judgement and the day of atonement? What is the meaning behind the fasting? Listen and familiarize yourself with the true essence and opportunity of the day and learn how to maximize it!

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Please consider making a donation to help fund our Jewish outreach and educational efforts at https://www.torchweb.org/support.php. Thank you!

Contact:

Website: RabbiWolbe.com;
Twitter: @RabbiWolbe;
Facebook: Rabbi Yaakov Wolbe;
Email: rabbiwolbe@gmail.com.

Please SUBSCRIBE, RATE and REVIEW all my podcasts on iTunes and Android:

Podcasts Links iOS:

This Jewish Life – In-Depth Analysis into Critical Torah Topics;
The Jewish History Podcast – Telling the Remarkable story of the Jewish People;
The Parsha Podcast – A Weekly Analysis and Exploration of the Parsha;
TORAH 101 – An Intellectual’s Introduction to Torah

Podcast Links Android:

This Jewish Life – In-Depth Analysis into Critical Torah Topics;
The Jewish History Podcast – Telling the Remarkable story of the Jewish People;
The Parsha Podcast – A Weekly Analysis and Exploration of the Parsha;
TORAH 101 – An Intellectual’s Introduction to Torah

The Core Theme of Rosh Hashana

Rosh Hashana is the anniversary of the creation of man. It is also the Day of Judgement. What are the various elements and themes of the day and how do they interrelate?

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Please consider making a donation to help fund our Jewish outreach and educational efforts at https://www.torchweb.org/support.php. Thank you!

Contact:

Website: RabbiWolbe.com;
Twitter: @RabbiWolbe;
Facebook: Rabbi Yaakov Wolbe;
Email: rabbiwolbe@gmail.com.

Please SUBSCRIBE, RATE and REVIEW all my podcasts on iTunes and Android:

Podcasts Links iOS:

This Jewish Life – In-Depth Analysis into Critical Torah Topics;
The Jewish History Podcast – Telling the Remarkable story of the Jewish People;
The Parsha Podcast – A Weekly Analysis and Exploration of the Parsha;
TORAH 101 – An Intellectual’s Introduction to Torah

Podcast Links Android:

This Jewish Life – In-Depth Analysis into Critical Torah Topics;
The Jewish History Podcast – Telling the Remarkable story of the Jewish People;
The Parsha Podcast – A Weekly Analysis and Exploration of the Parsha;
TORAH 101 – An Intellectual’s Introduction to Torah

Is Repentance Easy?

“Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” – Mark Twain

Is it easy to change behavior? Is it easy to repent? In Parshas Nitzavim we see conflicting stances on this matter. In one verse (30:2), repentance is described in a similar way to martyrdom: “And you shall return (repent) to Hashem your God, and you shall hearken to his voice as all that I command you today, you and your sons, with all your hearts and with all your soul.” Reb Chaim Volozhiner notes the overlapping word usage with the verse in Shema, “And you shall love Hashem your God… with all your soul”, which Chazal explain to mean that we must even forfeit our lives for the love of our Creator. By utilizing the same verbiage for repentance, the verse is hinting that changing behavior and adopting a new way of life is akin to the ultimate self-sacrifice. Walking away from ingrained character and behavior demands similar courage, resolve and intestinal fortitude as allowing oneself to die for God. Apparently, repentance is pretty hard. That sentiment is likely shared by those who are intimidated by the myriad components and draconian conditions necessary for complete repentance of Rambam’s “Laws of Repentance” and Rabbeinu Yonah’s “Gates of Repentance.”   

Contrast that with a string of verses (30:11-14) later on in the chapter, describing an inordinately easy mitzvah: “This mitzvah that I command you today – it is not hidden from you, nor is it distant. It is not in the Heavens that you may say, ‘who will ascend to Heaven, and take it for us, and teach it to us, so that we may do it’. Nor is it across the sea that we may say, ‘who will cross the sea for us, and take it for us, and teach it to us, so that we may do it’. Rather, the matter is exceedingly close to you, in your mouth and in your heart to do it.” While the verses themselves do not explicitly identify which mitzvah is being referenced, the great commentaries do. Rashi explains that it refers to the mitzvah of Torah. Ramban disagrees and interprets the verse to be referring to the mitzvah of repentance. How can we understand labeling repentance as being so easy – “In your mouth and in your heart”? Also, how can it simultaneously be exceedingly difficult?

Another point to ponder is the characterization (30:6) of repentance as “circumcision of the heart.” What is intended by this odd classification?  

What is the essence of repentance? There is a misconception that repentance is exclusively sin-centric: To repent you must act in opposition to the sin. My grandfather, Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe זצוקללה”ה, explained that this was precisely the miscalculation of the maapilim (Bamidbar 14:44), the Jews that defiantly attempted to ascend to Israel after the Almighty decreed that the nation will languish in the wilderness for 40 years due to the sin of the Spies, only to be slaughtered by Amalek. Their decision was not without reason. They assessed that the core of the sin of the Spies was resistance to enter the Land of Israel and even proposing to return to Egypt (14:4), and therefore attempting to enter Israel in disregard of the entailed dangers can be the only remedy.  But they were mistaken. Repentance, Teshuva, means to return to the Almighty and to His Will. At that time His Will mandated that they remain in the wilderness for 40 years, and thus accepting that was the correct avenue to repentance. My grandfather would also invoke this notion with regard to the repentance of Rosh Hashana. The days of Rosh Hashana make up the first two of the “Ten Days of Repentance” yet unlike Yom Kippur, there is nary a mention of sin. At its root, repentance is returning to your Creator. On Rosh Hashana that is manifest by us coronating Him as King of the world, and on Yom Kippur the same objective is approached from a different angle by addressing sin.

Given that repentance is about man achieving closeness to his Creator, the process of repentance is bridging the gap between man and the Almighty, between the created and the Creator. Hence, the degree of difficulty in achieving it is contingent upon the distance between the two. In essence, the question of, “Is repentance easy or hard?” is precisely the same question as, “Is man close or distant from the Almighty?” The answer to the latter question hinges upon which of the disparate elements of man is being referenced. The “body” of man, the physicality, the ephemeral – has no commonality with the Almighty. However, our Neshama (Soul) is very similar to its Creator. In one teaching in the Talmud (Brachos 10a), five parallels between the Almighty and the Neshama of man are enumerated; another (Niddah 30b) plainly equates the purity of the two. As such, we indeed have an element of our being that is already extremely close to the Almighty and thus repentance for it is natural and seamless.

With this understanding, the conflicting messages about the difficulty of repentance can be reconciled. It is true that repentance is really difficult. By default we identify as an ephemeral body, and in that state repentance is unachievable. To repent we must shed ourselves clean of that attitude and identity. That is a painful process, akin to martyrdom. However, once we identify as our true and lasting element of self, our Neshama, we are already in close proximity to our Creator, and have achieved repentance. This process is illustrated by the circumcision of the heart. We already have everything that is needed to be close to the Almighty, it is just concealed. All we must do to reach our goal is to peel away the inhibiting factors, and reveal our true self that was all ready to go, lying dormant and awaiting liberation.  

This is a helpful and heartening thought to take with us during the season of repentance. It is very difficult to repent. But it is comforting to know that all we are really doing is clearing out the path for our true self to shine. It may be back-breaking labor to dig out buried treasure, but it’s made easier knowing that the treasure is there, and it is complete, and once it is unearthed it’s yours.

The Novelty Principle

What is the secret to novelty? How can we inject a feeling of newness and freshness into our life, our relationships, and our Torah? In this podcast we combine a series of Talmudic teachings to outline a path to living with newness in every area of our lives.

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Please consider making a donation to help fund our Jewish outreach and educational efforts at https://www.torchweb.org/support.php. Thank you!

Contact:

Website: RabbiWolbe.com;
Twitter: @RabbiWolbe;
Facebook: Rabbi Yaakov Wolbe;
Email: rabbiwolbe@gmail.com.

Please SUBSCRIBE, RATE and REVIEW all my podcasts on iTunes and Android:

Podcasts Links iOS:

This Jewish Life – In-Depth Analysis into Critical Torah Topics;
The Jewish History Podcast – Telling the Remarkable story of the Jewish People;
The Parsha Podcast – A Weekly Analysis and Exploration of the Parsha;
TORAH 101 – An Intellectual’s Introduction to Torah

Podcast Links Android:

This Jewish Life – In-Depth Analysis into Critical Torah Topics;
The Jewish History Podcast – Telling the Remarkable story of the Jewish People;
The Parsha Podcast – A Weekly Analysis and Exploration of the Parsha;
TORAH 101 – An Intellectual’s Introduction to Torah

Lessons I’ve learned from studying a page of Talmud daily

For the past 40 days, I have participated in “Daf Yomi”, literally “daily page”, a nationwide effort to study the Talmud, one page per day, finishing it every seven and a half year cycle. In this podcast I delineate several powerful and poignant teachings from these 40 pages of Talmud, including the surprising attitude God has to the suffering of evil people; the great lengths our sages went to avoid shaming others; and how to break patterns of destructive and addictive behavior.

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Please consider making a donation to help fund our Jewish outreach and educational efforts at https://www.torchweb.org/support.php. Thank you!

Contact:

Website: RabbiWolbe.com;
Twitter: @RabbiWolbe;
Facebook: Rabbi Yaakov Wolbe;
Email: rabbiwolbe@gmail.com.

Please SUBSCRIBE, RATE and REVIEW all my podcasts on iTunes and Android:

Podcasts Links iOS:

This Jewish Life – In-Depth Analysis into Critical Torah Topics;
The Jewish History Podcast – Telling the Remarkable story of the Jewish People;
The Parsha Podcast – A Weekly Analysis and Exploration of the Parsha;
TORAH 101 – An Intellectual’s Introduction to Torah

Podcast Links Android:

This Jewish Life – In-Depth Analysis into Critical Torah Topics;
The Jewish History Podcast – Telling the Remarkable story of the Jewish People;
The Parsha Podcast – A Weekly Analysis and Exploration of the Parsha;
TORAH 101 – An Intellectual’s Introduction to Torah

Critic’s Choice: How to Rebuke Effectively

Besides being a critical mitzvah, to rebuke or criticize someone who is acting improperly is a vital skill that every leader (boss, parent) needs to know how to wield effectively. Our sages tell us that there are two ways to criticize, one that works and one that does not. The critic can only choose one.

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Please consider making a donation to help fund our Jewish outreach and educational efforts at https://www.torchweb.org/support.php. Thank you!

Contact:

Website: RabbiWolbe.com;
Twitter: @RabbiWolbe;
Facebook: Rabbi Yaakov Wolbe;
Email: rabbiwolbe@gmail.com.

Please SUBSCRIBE, RATE and REVIEW all my podcasts on iTunes and Android:

Podcasts Links iOS:

This Jewish Life – In-Depth Analysis into Critical Torah Topics;
The Jewish History Podcast – Telling the Remarkable story of the Jewish People;
The Parsha Podcast – A Weekly Analysis and Exploration of the Parsha;
TORAH 101 – An Intellectual’s Introduction to Torah

Podcast Links Android:

This Jewish Life – In-Depth Analysis into Critical Torah Topics;
The Jewish History Podcast – Telling the Remarkable story of the Jewish People;
The Parsha Podcast – A Weekly Analysis and Exploration of the Parsha;
TORAH 101 – An Intellectual’s Introduction to Torah