Chabad Center
Location 212 Gaskins Road, Richmond, VA 23238 USA
Phone804 740 2000 Ext 7
Upcoming Course: Judaism: The Soundtrack
Dates & Times
The course date hasn't yet been announced for this location. Please email shlomo@chabadofva.org or call 804 740 2000 Ext 7 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 shlomo@chabadofva.org or call 804 740 2000 Ext 7 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 shlomo@chabadofva.org or call 804 740 2000 Ext 7 for more info.
Endorsements Endorsements, Reviews and Comments of JLI's Courses and Programs.
Past Courses

מגדלור

January 2020
מגדלור

הצטרפו אלינו כדי לבחון שישה מהערכים היקרים ביותר בעולם וכיצד הם הובאו לאנושות על ידי התורה. באמצעות מעקב אחר המסע המרתק שלהם למיינסטרים, נגלה יסודות נצחיים של תכלית, יושרה ובהירות בכל ערך - מתנה עוצמתית של הכוונה בניווט הבחירות היומיומיות שלנו.

Journey of the Soul

February 2021
Journey of the Soul

Who hasn’t wondered what happens when we die? We know what happens to the body. But what happens to the soul at birth and again at death?

Is there really a “better” place after this one?

Do our loved ones continue to connect with us?

Can I relate to an afterlife if I’m not spiritual?

At once practical and powerful, reflective and relatable, Journey of the Soul teaches a Jewish perspective on life that begins before birth and lasts well after a person’s passing.

It’s a journey we all take, and it’s yours to explore this winter.

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

 

 

This Can Happen

May 2021
This Can Happen

For thousands of years, the prophecies of a “messianic age” stretched the imaginations of even the most fervent believers.

Not anymore.

Instant media, certain mass social movements and a global pandemic have shown us how suddenly and radically the world can be rewired by the actions of a few.

Why not for the good?

Join us to demystify the Jewish idea of a perfect world and discover a practical path for reaching it in our lifetime.

לוחמה פסיכולוגית

November 2019
לוחמה פסיכולוגית

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.

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.  

 

הורות

January 2015
הורות

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.

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.

How Happiness Thinks

November 2014
How Happiness Thinks

Since the dawn of time, man has been ever-fascinated by the workings of the human brain. Only recently, scientists have been discovering the underlying dynamics that shape and influence our frame of mind--new ways to cope with anxiety and stress, steps that we can take to crystallize our self-concept, and practical tools we can use to build the resilience and grit to ride through any challenge life throws our way.

Surprisingly, Torah and the Talmud have for centuries advocated various approaches to achieving happiness; ideas that are only now being confirmed through scientific observation. How Happiness Thinks offers a Jewish roadmap to happier living. Every lesson contains poignant insights into how our minds operate with practical steps you can take to boost your happiness levels to places unimaginable.