July 23, 2024
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Path to the Tree of Life: A Review

Englewood—Path to the Tree of Life is a recently published book adapted from a series of 183 lessons, close to 200 hundred hours of Chassidic thought, and Tanya classes given by Rabbi Mordechai Silver. “The ideas (in this book) are exalted and deep, they gladden the heart of those who seek Hashem, and they arouse fear of Heaven,” writes Rabbi Moshe Wolfson in the introduction. Wolfson is Mashgiach Ruchani of Mesivta Torah Vodaath and Rav of Beis Medrash Emunas Yisrael in Brooklyn, the father-in-law of Rabbi Silver, and a revered rabbi.

Silver’s lectures were given in Yiddish to yeshiva students from 1998-2005 and have been translated into English by Rabbi Zev Reichman. Reichman enhances the work with relevant testimonies and contemporary stories to serve as clarifiers of classic Chassidic texts, crystalizing the lofty concepts for a broader audience.

“For the matter of serving Hashem is very close to you, it is in your mouth and heart to fulfill it,” is a quote from Devarim 30:14; from Chapter One of Tanya, and the first page of this new work. In short order, Reichman sets about defining concepts of Tanya, which are the practical and mystical fundamentals of the Chabad philosophy, laying a clear concise case for the accessibility to Hashem by each and every Jew.

The Tanya, a revered guide to the living written by R’ Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of the Lubavitch movement, is itself a compendium of four millennia of Jewish wisdom. It answers personal and existential questions of life, and Reichman’s latest book, Path to the Tree of Life, echoes these classic teachings, bringing it down to bite-size nuggets for the uninitiated modern Jew.

Why is life a struggle? How do I deal with disappointment or the death of a loved one? What is my purpose? Guiding and counseling, countless individuals in and out of his community, Rabbi Reichman and his wife Chana serve as the spiritual leaders at the East Hill Synagogue. As a pulpit rabbi of this thriving Englewood Modern Orthodox community, he recognizes the need for binah, understanding, among contemporary Jews. Addressing questions of service to Hashem; How a Jew shows up in the world; The infinite struggle of the soul; Free choice; The Kabbalistic ten Seifiros; Divine wisdom, and identifying how as individual Jews, we are neither paragons of virtue, tzadikim, nor sinners, resha’im.

Reichman is the author of two other books, Remove Anger From Your Heart, a Torah guide to patience, tolerance and emotional well being, and Flames of Faith, an introduction to Hasidic thought, based on the shiurim of Rav Moshe Wolfson.

For more info: www.easthillsynagogue.com.

@elysehansford Blog: innerblossom.net

By Elyse Hansford

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