June 8, 2024
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Rabbi Mischel Teaches Us to Walk Along Teshuvah’s Path

Highlighting: “Baderech: Along the Path of Teshuvah,” by Rabbi Judah Mischel. Mosaica Press. 2021. Hardcover.
544 pages. ISBN-10: 1952370523.

“The work of teshuvah lifts a heavy stone from upon us and uncovers new rays of light shining from above and within. When we roll away the rock, it is clear to us that vitality and deeper well-being were right here all along, underneath the surface of life.” These words, from the introduction to “Baderech: Along the Path of Teshuvah, ” recently published by Rabbi Judah Mischel, are an example of how our concept of teshuvah will be redefined and rediscovered as a result of the journey outlined for us in this compilation of powerful stories illuminating the practical wisdom of our tzaddikim.

“Baderech” takes us on a path toward greater self-actualization, joy and faith. It will bring us closer to the light within our neshamot. Every step on this path will bring us closer to uncovering who we are and what we can be. On this path we discover the great treasures that lie within us: our abilities, potential, strength and essential holiness.

Rabbi Mischel provides us with inspirational vignettes about tzaddikim from long-ago eras as well as more contemporary gedolim. Their stories reverberate with sensitivity and spirituality, holiness and happiness. These tzaddikim will guide us on our personal journeys. Prominent among the tzaddikim presented is Reb Zusha
of Anipoli. “This beloved tzaddik was the embodiment of unassuming righteousness, sincerity and down-to-earth holiness, who revealed a derech of teshuvah, a systematic path of return. Rooted in positivity, Reb Zusha’s real-world advice empowers us to advance personally and spiritually. This road map is not merely instruction in how to do teshuvah but heartfelt and valuable guidance for living consciously in the presence of Hashem in every area of our lives.”

For Rav Judah, as many know him best, “Baderech” is the culmination of many years of collecting concepts from the inspirational figures in his life. “I have been maintaining a draft of this teshuvah scrapbook for some time. This book is my humble attempt to follow the guidance and instructions of my teachers and to take them to heart. It is an effort and prayer to actualize them in my own personal life, to internalize and live with them. May these words help lift the stone, unearth the treasure, and enable light to shine for myself, our family, and for anyone who is open to sharing the journey…Like me, like all of us, this is a work ba’derech, in progress.”

In response to our query as to what he hopes to convey to his readership, Rav Judah responded with the following. “Rav Kook wrote that all books, and all of the knowledge that is expressed externally from oneself exists only to help awaken the ruach ha’pnimi, one’s inner spirit, and to bring to light that which is hidden deep within us. So, I guess I wrote this for myself, and hope that some of it might resonate in others. Rav Yaakov of Lisa zy’a, author of “Netivot haMishpat,” said that a single good idea makes an entire book worthwhile. I tried to write this book with terminus, as naturally as possible, with my own words and voice. I pray readers will find a good idea, story or Torah nugget they’ll enjoy—and that will make all the effort worthwhile.

Rabbi Judah Mischel is a widely admired inspirational teacher and guide. Since 2014, he has served as the executive director of Camp HASC, the Hebrew Academy for Special Children, the Jewish community’s premier summer program for individuals with special needs. Mischel founded the Tzama Nafshi organization in 2012 with the mission of fostering Jewish education and inspiration and connecting Jews with their heritage and each other. He is also the newly appointed mashpiah of OU-NCSY. Prior to assuming a full-time role at Camp HASC, Rav Judah was a maggid shiur and director of programming at Yeshivat Reishit in Beit Shemesh. Before his aliyah on the first Nefesh B’Nefesh flight 19 years ago, Mischel was the director of student activities and a rebbe at Yeshivat Frisch in Paramus.

Rav Judah studied at Yeshivat Sha’alvim and received semicha from the Jerusalem Rabbinate. He earned a BA in history from Yeshiva University and an MA in education from Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education. He was also a graduate fellow at the CUNY Center for Coexistence at the School of Public Affairs.

Rabbi Mischel and wife Ora (née Marcus) live in Beit Shemesh with their 8 children, ranging in age from 2 to 20. From the turnout of over 150 participants at his recent presentation at Beth Abraham in Teaneck, it is quite obvious that Rav Judah has achieved a reputation as an inspirational speaker and a valued chaver.

“Baderech; Along the Path of Teshuva” is available at local Jewish bookstores as well as on Amazon.

By Pearl Markovitz

 

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