by Menachem Posner – chabad.org
A new online course on the rich and multifaceted teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—will begin on Tuesday, July 2, as part of the worldwide commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Rebbe’s’ passing, corresponding this year to Shabbat, July 6.
Presented by Rabbi Menachem Feldman, each of its four segments will highlight another unique aspect of the Rebbe’s approach to Torah study.
“The Rebbe approached Torah holistically, seeing links and parallels between seemingly unrelated nuances,” explains Feldman, author of a book summarizing the Rebbe’s teachings and director of adult education at Chabad Lubavitch of Greenwich, Conn. “To join the Rebbe in finding the hidden patterns and overarching themes in Torah is a delightful experience of discovery.”
The first segment will allow viewers to familiarize themselves with the Rebbe’s signature approach to Rashi’s commentary on the Torah, in which the Rebbe adopted a set of rules that he would apply to each Rashi in an effort to understand the underpinnings of the teaching.
Feldman is quick to note that the classes will not be a discussion about learning, but will be focused on actual learning. Through following the Rebbe’s analysis to two commentaries of Rashi, participants can grasp firsthand how the Rebbe unpacks layers of meaning hidden behind seemingly simple words.
In the second class, Feldman will guide his audience through the dizzying world of leshitaso (“according to his approach”). Building on the foundations laid by his father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, and the Rogachover Gaon, Rabbi Yosef Rosen, the Rebbe demonstrates how a given sage’s teaching on several subjects are connected by finding the underlying understanding that lies behind them all.
“The Rebbe, who rarely spoke about himself, told us that this is his mode of learning,” says Feldman. “And you can see why. In addition to requiring a tremendously broad base of knowledge, it goes to the heart of the Rebbe’s approach to learning, in which everything is essentially one, unified at the core, as a Divine teaching and a pathway to our Creator.”
The third installment will give participants the chance to learn an advanced portion of Talmud (Tractate Kiddushin), as analyzed by the Rebbe. Again, in the Rebbe’s pattern of unifying disparate themes, an inspiring Chassidic lesson is derived from what appears to be a legal discussion on the laws of marriage.
In the final lesson, Feldman will teach a Chassidic discourse of the Rebbe that concentrates on the prayer of Hannah, mother of the prophet Samuel. Hannah’s prayer for a son is often seen as the archetypical Jewish prayer. In his analysis, the Rebbe paints a vivid picture of the inner workings of prayer and the sacred undercurrents beneath our prayers for our most mundane needs.
“This is not only an opportunity to learn about the Rebbe’s teachings,” says Rabbi Yaakov Kaplan, who produced the course. “Rather, this is a chance to learn the Rebbe’s teachings themselves. It is a guided tour through complex and nuanced Torah study.”
The course will be presented on four consecutive Tuesdays, beginning on July 2, streaming on Chabad.org and then available for enrolled students to watch at their own pace. Each lecture will be accompanied by texts, discussions with fellow students on Facebook and quizzes, with student support at every step of the way. Although the course is offered free of charge, sign-up is required.
Viewers can register for the course here.