Ottawa Torah Centre
Location 111 Lamplighters Drive, Ottawa, ON K2J 0C2 Canada
Phone613 843 7770
Website www.theOTC.org
Upcoming Course: My G-d

Nothing is off-limits as this refreshingly open course asks piercing questions about G-d and delivers profound, insightful answers. An enlightening study into G-d’s nature, G-d’s goal for creation, human experiences of G-d, the role of religion, and the function of miracles and prayer, this course promises to satisfy your questions, including those you didn't know you had.

 

Course Details
Lesson 1 The Basics

Let’s become familiar with G-d’s basic bio:
What is G-d and where is He? Does G-d have a gender? And who created G-d?

Lesson 2 His Nature

Let’s learn a bit about how G-d operates:
Does G-d have feelings? Does He communicate with us? Does He ever act illogically? Why does He have so many names? And why is it that many write “G-d” with a hyphen?

Lesson 3 His Reasons

Let’s discover why G-d does what he does:
Why did G-d create me—does He need me? And why did He create evil—does He need evil? Can I question G-d? And why is He described in the Bible as “wrathful” and “jealous”?

Lesson 4 His Expectations

Let’s discuss G-d’s expectations of us:
Do I have to believe in G-d to be Jewish? What if I have doubts about G-d?

Do I need to fear G-d? That doesn’t sound very appealing!

Lastly, I’m okay with believing in G-d, but I’m not religious. Can I still have a relationship with Him?

Lesson 5 His Paradoxes

Let’s delve into some of the deeper Divine mysteries and enigmas: 
Can G-d create a rock that He can’t lift? Does His foreknowledge of events preclude my free choice? Is there anything that G-d finds difficult to do? And if G-d has decided to do something, can I change His mind?

Lesson 6 Our Relationship

Let’s deepen our understanding of our relationship with G-d:
Why can’t we see G-d? Because we can’t see Him, can we reconcile His existence with science?

Why is Judaism so obsessed with idolatry—is G-d jealous?

Last of all: I’m a spiritual person; do I need to follow the Torah’s “system” to have a relationship with G-d?

Dates & Times
The course date hasn't yet been announced for this location. Please email info@theotc.org or call 613 843 7770 for more info.
Upcoming Course: Book Smart

A panoramic overview of 3000 years of Jewish learning, this course introduces you to the works that earned us the title “The People of The Book.” You will experience the different genres that shape Jewish life, including Tanach, Midrash, Talmud, Halachah, Philosophy, Kabbalah, Musar, Chasidism, and meet the influential personalities who drove thirty centuries of Jewish scholarship. Whether you’re meeting these texts for the first time or as a seasoned scholar, this course will inform and enrich all your Jewish learning.

Course Details
Lesson 1 The Torah

We begin by addressing the question, “What is the Torah?” We discover how the whole of Jewish teaching (“the Torah” in its broader meaning) derives from the Chumash (“the Torah” in its narrower meaning). We also discuss the relationship between the “Written Torah” and the “Oral Torah,” and how these two components of Torah constitute a “partnership” of Divine revelation and human toil of the mind.

We then introduce the twenty-four books of the Tanach. We explain the differences between Torah, Neviim, and Ketuvim, and review the contents of each. We also see how the roots of the different “genres” of Torah—Midrash, Halachah, Kabbalah, Musar, etc.—are all in the “Written Torah,” as will be further demonstrated in each of the next five lessons.

Lesson 2 The Midrash

“Midrash” is both a methodology and a body of literature. In this lesson, we explore both aspects of Midrash. We study the various methods by which additional layers of meaning contained within the words—or between the lines—of the Torah are expounded. We also acquaint ourselves with some of the major Midrashic works that record the expositional teachings by the sages of the Talmudic era (approximately 100 BCE to 500 CE).

Midrash includes Halachic (legal) expositions, which extrapolate the details of the Torah’s laws from the text, as well as Agadic Midrashim—moral, philosophical, and mystical teachings, as well as historical narratives and parables. We study examples from both of these varieties of Midrash, including a number of intricate legal expositions, and an esoteric parable relating to a celestial battle over the creation of the human being and the paradox of goodness and truth.

Lesson 3 The Talmud

More than any other work, the Talmud defines “Jewish learning.” In this lesson, we review the history of the Talmud, explore the structure of this intricate and fascinating work, with its 63 volumes of teachings and deliberations by hundreds of sages over a period of six centuries on virtually every subject under the sun. We also engage in the in-depth study of a Talmudic sugya (“subject discussion”) and experience the unique twists and turns of the Talmudic dialectic.

In the process, we discover how Talmudic learning leverages the “flaws” of the human mind—its circuitous reasoning, its contentiousness, and its inconsistencies—to reveal the multifaceted nature of the Divine wisdom and apply it to the complexities of human life.

Lesson 4 Halachah

Halachah is the “bottom line” of Torah, where the biblical commandments, rabbinical ordinances, and Talmudic deliberations translate into the dos and don’ts of daily life. Halachah addresses every part of a Jew’s life, from waking to bedtime, from birth to burial, from everyday activities to the most extraordinary situations.

In this lesson, we explore the history of Halachah, from its sources in the Written Torah, through the Halachic Midrashim, the Talmud and its commentaries, the various “codes” compiled through the centuries, and the many thousands of Halachic responsa authored through the centuries. We survey the great variety of issues and dilemmas that Halachah addresses. We then bring it all to life via a case study that traces a Halachic issue from its biblical origins through more than a dozen citations across the entire spectrum of Halachic literature.

Lesson 5 Musar and Jewish Philosophy

Musar is the body of Torah teachings that deals with ethics, character development, and spiritual self-improvement. The field of Jewish philosophy, also known as “Chakirah,” includes works devoted to discussing the philosophy and ideology of Judaism. While these constitute two distinct areas of Torah literature, there is also a certain degree of overlap between them; indeed, some of the fundamental works of Jewish philosophy are also works of Musar, and vice versa.

In this lesson, we review the history and the primary authors and works in these two fields. We then study a number of texts covering three related topics in both these fields: the doctrine of creation ex nihilo (“something from nothing”), bitachon (trust in G-d), and the emotion of anger.

Lesson 6 Kabbalah and Chasidism

Kabbalah is the Torah’s mystical dimension, containing its most powerful and empowering ideas. But for many centuries, the teachings of Kabbalah were carefully guarded secrets, transcribed only in the guise of esoteric terminology and metaphors, and taught only to a small, exclusive circle of mystics in each generation. Chasidism is both an extension of Kabbalah as well as a field of Torah in its own right, revealing the inner “soul” that unites the Torah’s various components and applying its most abstract spiritual teachings in personally meaningful ways.

In this lesson, we survey the history of Kabbalah and Chasidism. We address the question of why these teachings were kept secret, and why and how they were eventually revealed. We then explore one of the core subjects of Kabbalah—the doctrine of the “Ten Sefirot”—beginning with a mysterious passage in the Zohar, followed by a series of Kabbalistic and Chasidic texts that examine the great paradox of G-d’s relationship with us, and the body-soul dichotomy that defines our own lives.

Dates & Times
The course date hasn't yet been announced for this location. Please email info@theotc.org or call 613 843 7770 for more info.
Upcoming Course: Jewpernatural

As we understand the natural world better, we have only grown more fascinated by mysterious topics like the meaning of dreams; the existence of angels, demons, and extraterrestrials; and the power of the evil eye. With record interest inspiring curiosity, dread, and mockery, this course probes the Talmud, Jewish philosophy, and kabbalah to provide Jewish
perspectives and guidance for those curious about
these perennial questions.

Course Details
Lesson 1 Dreams & Direction

We all dream as we slumber, but do the scenes of our dreams impart messages with lasting significance? And can we control our own dreams, perhaps to reduce nightmares and the like?

In this lesson, students will learn that traditional Jewish sources assert that the degree of meaning our dreams contain correlates with the degree of focus and meaning of our daytime thoughts. The occurrence of nightmares can be reduced through improving the quality of our daytime thoughts, strengthening our faith, and developing a positive Jewish bedtime ritual.

The lesson underlines the basic Jewish belief that there is no destiny that cannot be changed. Even if we are convinced that a particular dream forebodes negative events, we should know that prayer and good deeds can change any destiny.

Lesson 2 Stars & Signs

Since the dawn of time, the endless sea of twinkling planetary configurations has been read to shed the secrets of individual Homo sapiens, or to eavesdrop on the celestial pulling of puppet strings attached to our lives. Do the stars in fact influence our natures or provide information regarding our unknown futures?

This lesson shows that there is strong—although not unanimous—support in Jewish sources for the basic validity of astrology. However, any Jewish belief in astrology is tempered by the fundamental Jewish beliefs that human beings always retain free choice regarding their moral conduct, and no destiny is absolute. As a result, even the Jewish authorities that give astrology some validity caution us not to turn to it for information, and to focus instead on faith in G-d, Who shapes our destinies based on our actions.

Lesson 3 Jinx & The Evil Eye

Cultures across the map and down the eras have maintained a belief in the negative powers of an “evil eye” and curses, and produced diverse methods of protection from it. What does Judaism have to say? Is there an evil eye, and what might be its effect? Can people harm others by cursing them?

In this lesson, students will learn that there is strong—although not unanimous—support in Jewish sources for the notion that the evil eye and curses can have damaging effects.

The most prominent Jewish theory for explaining the effects of evil eyes and curses is that they attract added Heavenly scrutiny to an individual—and therefore an audit of their behavior in relationship to the blessings they have in their lives.

The lesson then demonstrates a corresponding and effective approach to providing protection through being more private and refraining from unnecessarily flaunting our blessings.

Lesson 4 Para & Normal

Is there other intelligent life out there in the universe? Does Judaism believe in angels and demons? Can we communicate with the souls of our deceased loved ones?

This lesson teaches that the question of the existence of extraterrestrial life does not have serious theological ramifications in Judaism, and there are traditional sources either way. The important Jewish principle is that we human beings are the purpose of creation.

Regarding angels, traditional sources describe them as spiritual entities that play a role in processing prayers to G-d and His flow of blessings to us. Demons are depicted as impure spiritual forces that cause harm. But both angels and demons lack any independent authority, and thus they should not be subjects of our focus. It is we humans, created in the image of G-d with the gift of free choice, that have the most meaningful relationship with G-d.

Finally, students will learn that Judaism believes that the human soul is eternal and continues to exist after death. We can “communicate” with the deceased by performing good deeds in their honor, thereby giving them pleasure and advancing them in their new world, but any form of direct communication with the spirits of the dead is forbidden by Torah law.

Dates & Times
The course date hasn't yet been announced for this location. Please email info@theotc.org or call 613 843 7770 for more info.
Endorsements Endorsements, Reviews and Comments of JLI's Courses and Programs.
Past Courses

Crime and Consequence

February 2019
Crime and Consequence

When innocent people are wrongly convicted...
When "correctional facilities" turn first-time offenders into hardened criminals...
When known murderers walk free on a technicality …
Fairness in justice simply cannot be left to chance.

In Crime and Consequence, we explore 3000 years of Jewish wisdom concerning criminal convictions, sentencing, crime prevention, and rehabilitation. We challenge our thinking, pondering the application of Talmudic principles to real and complex, modern-day cases, and we get to the heart of questions such as:

Should we consider testimonies given in exchange for a reduced sentence as reliable evidence?
What is the goal of punishing criminals? is it to gain retribution for the victim, keep criminals off the streets and safeguard from future crime, set an example and instill the fear of law, or to rehabilitate the criminal and reintroduce him to society?
Is life-without-parole a justifiable penalty? Is it within our right to sentence a man to death? When would these be warranted? Is there a better way?

Wrestling with Faith

October 2018
Wrestling with Faith

Most people, even the devout, struggle with beliefs about G-d. It is easy, for example, to affirm the basic tenets of Judaism during a prayer service, but when it comes to trusting G-d with our daily decisions, many share a secret, painful fear that G-d isn’t really looking out for them. Many of us have been brought up under the assumption that mainstream science is incompatible with our Jewish faith. So when we see compelling evidence for biological evolution, for example, we feel forced to choose between science and our faith. Wrestling with Faith was created to tackle questions like these—the “big issues” that keep people from an intimate relationship with G-d. The course acknowledges the often unspoken doubts and fears that all people share, and seizes their invitation for us to dig deeper for the answers.

What Is?

April 2018
What Is?

Imagine that you were able to rethink everything you knew about the universe, the laws of nature, your own consciousness, and the very idea of existence and reality. Imagine the new insights you will gain, the fresh perspective with which you will embark on the journey of life each morning.

What is? does exactly that. Drawing on the wisdom of Chassidic teaching, the most basic building blocks of existence are reexamined from the bottom up, revolutionizing our understanding of life, reality, and our place in the world.

Communication: Its Art and Soul

January 2018
Communication: Its Art and Soul

Can you express yourself effectively in 140 characters or less? Should you?

The rise of the internet, mobile phones, and social media has completely changed the way we relate, interact, and communicate with one another—and it’s high time we reclaim this lost art.

In Jewish philosophy, communication is more than just a tool: it is who we are. Humans are defined as communicative beings with a communicative soul, and aligning ourselves with this soul is our raison d’être.

In Communication: Its Art and Soul, we contrast Jewish thought with scientific discovery to unearth the essence of communication and how to utilize its powers to better ourselves, our relationships, and all of society

With All My Heart

May 2019
With All My Heart

Whether you’re seeking relief from stress; you’re hoping for focus, clarity, and connection to a raw and vulnerable place deep within you; or you just want to start each day from a positive, humble, and grateful frame of mind, this course is for you.

Jewish wisdom teaches profound techniques to give wings to our emotions and words to our yearnings, allowing us to make contact and communicate with something larger than ourselves and feel comfort and shelter within a reality that’s more whole, more intense, more real, and more beautiful.
 

Worrier to Warrior

November 2019
Worrier to Warrior

We yearn to feel happy, self-assured, and enthusiastic, yet we’re consumed by feelings of doubt, regret, insecurity, and suffering. Do our delicate positive emotions have a fighting chance at being in control? This course explores negative emotions in a completely new light, offering spiritual mechanisms that allow us to remain upbeat no matter what life brings.

Beyond Right

May 2022
Beyond Right

Talmudic analysis and mind-bending logic have long been a hallmark of Jewish scholarship. But buried beneath much of the discussion and legalese are core Jewish values that fuel so much of the debate. This course examines a number of key legal issues that disclose fundamental ethical considerations that serve as the engine of Jewish civil law.

 

MCLE BOARD-APPROVED IN MANY STATES FOR UP TO NINE (9) CLE CREDITS FOR ATTORNEYS

Visit www.myjli.com/accreditation for a complete accreditation statement

Meditation from Sinai

February 2022
Meditation from Sinai

The Torah was given at Sinai. So were the meditative tools to help us open up, see more, and live more deeply.

This course teaches the what, how, why, where, and when of Divine Meditation, Mindful Awareness, and Soulful Transcendence. 

 

Learn more about available continuing education credit for medical and mental health professionals at www.myjli.com/continuingeducation

 

Outsmarting Antisemitism

November 2021
Outsmarting Antisemitism

Rise above the Hate

We cannot let antisemitism define our Judaism, but we cannot ignore it either. As direct memory of the Holocaust fades, Jews around the world are wondering whether the patterns of past centuries are returning, in both the Old and New Worlds, where Jews experience more hate crimes than any other group.

Are Jewish people doomed to be stuck in this cycle forever? Is there a way to escape this history of hate?

Outsmarting Antisemitism takes this dark subject on squarely, with a sense of unabashed optimism, profound faith, and a distinctly Jewish approach.

Through illuminating source texts and captivating case studies, this course considers the sources of this ancient scourge, along with the appropriate strategies for overcoming it. It’s time to find the confidence to fight hate with hope and to stand tall against antisemitism with positivity, purpose, and plenty of Jewish pride!

Judaism's Gifts to the World

January 2020
Judaism's Gifts to the World

By most indications, modern society is a model of moral progress. Yet when it comes to everyday values, we still grapple with the big ones…

   - What are our responsibilities toward the less fortunate?
   - How do we fashion a more moral and equal society?
   - How can we make a move toward more cohesive family living?

Join us to unpack six of the world’s most cherished values and how they were delivered to humankind by the Torah. By tracing their fascinating journey to the mainstream, we’ll discover a timeless core of purpose, integrity, and clarity in each value—a powerful gift of guidance as we navigate our own daily choices.

Great Debates

October 2017
Great Debates

Debate is not only encouraged within Judaism but resides at the very heart of our history and theology. Great Debates in Jewish History explores six fundamental conflicts that pitted the greatest Jewish minds against each other—six instances of divergent perspectives, including several that are still debated today.

Discover stirring and surprising accounts that span two millennia of Jewish disputation, reflecting the panorama of Jewish history and its monumental political, ethical, and spiritual challenges. Encounter the gripping narratives of six fascinating eras, the intellectual tension and points of view they unearth, and the light they shed on the most fundamental of Jewish beliefs.

Survival of a Nation

May 2017
Survival of a Nation

Experience an inspiring and thrilling account of what was then considered the most improbable and astonishing victory in all of military history.

Drawing on ideas of great Jewish writers and thinkers from throughout the ages, Survival of a Nation presents the Six-Day War as you’ve never experienced it before.

Its six sessions confront the impossible yet important questions of our time with affectionate and fervent patriotism, while also remaining realistic, and morally anchored.

Judaism Decoded

May 2015
Judaism Decoded
Just as science follows the scientific method, Jewish tradition has its own system to ensure its authenticity remains intact.
Judaism Decoded sheds light on the mysteries surrounding biblical interpretation. How do we know our interpretation is true? If it is true, why is it subject to differences of opinion? And with so many interpretations to choose from, how do we know which one reflects its original intent?
Discover the sheer elegance of the “source code” on which Torah law is built; enjoy the razor-sharp reasoning, intelligent debate, and compelling arguments of the Talmudic dialectic; and get a fascinating, behind-the-scenes glimpse of the most intellectually sophisticated religion in existence.

The Art of Parenting

January 2015
The Art of Parenting

As parents, we worry about the well-being of our kids; about their future, and about our role in shaping it. In The Art of Parenting, we scale the challenges that face us as parents and explore timeless insights from Jewish wisdom to instill values, foster independence, and ensure the long-term success and emotional well-being of our children.

Justice and the War on Terror

July 2015
Justice and the War on Terror

Part 1: Negotiating with Terror
In 2011, Israel set 1,027 prisoners free in exchange for the release of Gilad Shalit. More recently, the rise of ISIS and the murders of James Foley and Steven Sutloff and others have forced us to revisit this heart wrenching debate: Should we pay hefty ransoms or release dangerous criminals in exchange for the life and freedom of an innocent hostage?

Part 2: Torturing to Save Lives
The recent "Torture Report" alleges that the brutal interrogation techniques used by the CIA in the aftermath of 9/11 were ineffective. But what if they did yield valuable information--would they have been justified? While the evils of terror must be combated, human rights must also be protected. How are we to balance these competing values?

Oasis in Time

May 2011
Oasis in Time

We invite you to explore the mystical, psychological, social, and cultural dimensions of Shabbat as we unlock a model for achieving balance and serenity in the modern age.

Over six weeks, we’ll uncover timeless principles for how to achieve a life of inner peace while making each workday more productive and fulfilling.

Sign up today for a remarkable experience.

Journey of the Soul

October 2015
Journey of the Soul

Journey of the Soul explores the mysteries surrounding the spiritual dimension of our existence—our destiny that continues even after we’ve shed our earth-bound body suit. We examine the transition of the soul into the hereafter, the kinds of legacies that are valued even after we’ve forsaken this earthly existence, and the accompanying emotional journey and rituals that help the soul and those closest to it prepare for its new reality.

The Jewish Course of Why

February 2016
The Jewish Course of Why

Give your Judaism the intellection you know it deserves. Prepare to tackle the quizzical, queer, and seemingly-unanswerable questions about Jewish belief and practice.

Ever wondered why there are so many Jews in Hollywood? Why Jews eat gefilte fish and cholent and wish each other mazal tov and l’chaim? Why the Bible sanctions slavery and animal sacrifices? What is the cause of antisemitism? What does Judaism say about Christianity? About the role of women in Jewish life? You will also gain insight into mysterious Jewish practices, strange biblical narratives, and enigmas of Jewish identity.  

 

The Dilemma

January 2017
The Dilemma

Accredited for Continuing Legal Education (in most states)

Apply mind-bending, brain-twisting, hair-splitting Talmudic reasoning to solve real-life modern dilemmas—situations that actually happened yet seem impossible to solve. What do you do when your gut tells you one thing, and your brain tells you another? Prepare for a mental expedition to mind-wrestle with situations that force us to choose between two reasonable truths.

Analyze, discuss, and debate Talmudic texts with live interactive polling for an authentic taste of original, dynamic Talmud study.

 

How Success Thinks

November 2016
How Success Thinks

Whether it’s at home, in the office, or in your personal life, everyone craves success. This course provides uniquely Jewish ways of thinking to help you develop a growth mindset, identify and cultivate your signature strengths, deal with your weaknesses, and overcome the obstacles to your success.

Strength and Struggle

May 2016
Strength and Struggle

In Strength and Struggle we unlock the secrets of great character by exploring some of the most dramatic narratives and inspiring personalities in all of history. Set in the midst of our nation’s formative years, an era in which our ancestors fought to carve out a civilization among hostile neighbors, these thrilling tales of judges, kings, and prophets reach into the essence of the human condition. Their heroes and antiheroes teach us eternal lessons of struggle and triumph, courage and humility, hope and resilience.

Secrets of the Bible

May 2020
Secrets of the Bible

A lush garden...a snake...forbidden fruit...temptation...the sin of knowledge...shame...mortality...
What is really going on?

Revisit six seemingly absurd stories you likely remember from Hebrew school. Uncover their hidden themes and eye-opening insights into the mysteries of life.
~ What is the deeper meaning behind these stories?
~ How did they shape the Jewish worldview?
~ What wisdom do they hold for you today?

Sign up for a thought-provoking experience, sure to deepen your understanding of Judaism and enrich your life!