May 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

An Evening With the Tanya

Englewood—Rabbi Zev Reichman of East Hill Synagogue gave a Tanya shiur Wednesday, June 24, hosted graciously by Seth and Emily Gerszberg. The shiur is one of many that have taken place every Wednesday for the past year.

The shiur began in October of 2013, with original attendees Seth Gerszberg, Akiva Milgraum and Brian Haimm. “Seth wanted the opportunity to learn with Rabbi Reichman, and so we started learning Tanya,” said Brian Haimm. They chose to learn Tanya because “teaching Tanya is a great way to inspire each individual, and offers guidance of day-to-day life in one’s service to Hashem.”

The shiur is decidedly non-exclusive, open to both men and women, of all ages. “It wasn’t popular in the beginning like it is now,” longtime shiur goer Milgraum said. Now, each week 30–50 people come from Englewood, Teaneck, Lakewood, New York and even Israel to share the wisdom of the Tanya delivered by Rabbi Reichman. “It really is a wonderful mix, a melting pot of Jews from different communities,” Haimm said. The shiur is most popular around the times of Jewish holidays: during Sukkot, Purim, Chanukah and Lag B’Omer, peaking at around 300 attendees at the Lag B’Omer session.

The popularity of the shiur can be attributed to Rabbi Reichman’s love of Torah and ability to convey important messages. “Rabbi Reichman has the ability to give over Torah in a clear and simple way with a powerful message,” Eric Schwartz, who has attended the shiur many times, said. One of the youngest members at the shiur, recent Frisch graduate Solomon Rapoport said, “Rabbi Reichman brings an incredible spirituality to the table and his words change the way I view Judaism.”

This past week, the topic of the shiur was “Why do we need to do physical mitzvot to serve a spiritual God?”

“Every week there are lessons to learn, from thousands of years of Jewish heritage,” said Howard Baruch of Englewood. Whatever he learns in the shiur Wednesday night, he shares with his children each Shabbos.

The guests gathered outside on the porch of the Gerszberg house, where a cozy learning area was set up: chairs arranged on either side of a long table. Different food is served every week. Past meals have included barbecue, shawarma and sushi.

Guests filed onto the porch around 9 p.m. (The shiurim typically begin at 9:15 p.m. and ends around 10 p.m. with Maariv following the shiur.)

The shiur began with Chapter 34 of the Tanya. Rabbi Reichman introduced the topic with a question: “Why do mitzvot require such a physicality?” He recently came back from a trip to Odessa in Ukraine where he merited to visit the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in Uman. He was so inspired by the now thriving Jewish community in Odessa, with over 1,000 Jewish adults, 890 children, many yeshivot and several shuls. “Sometimes in life, a person merits to see the hand of God, some call it providence or unique supervision,” Rabbi Reichman said.

The Tanya shiur will continue to run during the summer months, at the Gerszberg residence, 229 Chestnut St. in Englewood, NJ. Rabbi Reichman recently wrote a book on Tanya called Path to the Tree of Life, which is available for order online at judaicapress.com

Recordings of the shiurim are also available online at yutorah.org. If anyone would like to be added to the Tanya email distribution list, email [email protected].

By Amanda Leifer

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