On a path toward happiness

Posted Thursday, Dec 11th, 2008
Daily Pilot
Published Wednesday, November 12, 2008 11:19 PM PST


On a path toward happiness

Six-week Jewish program taught at more than 300 Chabad centers will help pupils to understand their purpose in life.

Most monks will tell you the path to enlightenment takes a lifetime, but how about getting there in six weeks?

OK, well maybe not so fast, but the new self-help course offered by Chabad Jewish Center in Newport Beach can at least get you started on the path to happiness in six weeks, thanks to Soul Maps, a course that combines ancient teachings of the Kabbalah with innovative approaches to psychology.

The program, initiated by the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute, will be taught at more than 300 Chabad Jewish Centers worldwide beginning today.

Rabbi Mintz, who will teach the course in Newport Beach, said of all the similar programs he has led in the past four years, this is the one he is most excited about.

“I encounter many people in the community who say they feel like they’re running in circles in their search for direction,” he said. “The purpose of this program is to help them learn how to navigate their inner complexity and clear a path for themselves.

“Most people want to be nurturing and caring, but at times feel self-centered or aggressive. We want to help them make sense of these thoughts and emotions, to understand their purpose, and live life to its fullest potential.”

Amy Robinson Buck, who has taken similar courses at Chabad in the past, said she is looking forward to the Soul Maps program.

“I’ve never learned about the Kabbalah before, and I think it will add a new dimension to other things I have studied,” she said. “The JLI classes are formulated really well, and Rabbi Mintz does a great job of teaching their concepts because he goes in depth, but is easy to understand.

“The classes are also a good way to connect with other Jews in the community. It’s a really nice group of people and I always enjoy getting to know the other students.”

The program will closely follow the book of Tanya, an 18th-century exposition on Jewish spirituality and psychology from the perspective of Hasidic philosophy and Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah).

The book serves as an advice-giving guide in a non-sermonized format and explains how spiritual growth to high levels is attainable if we’re willing to endure the climb.

“The Kabbalah was once a mystical teaching that was shared by very few, and the Tanya brought it to the masses,” Mintz said. “We can all gain insight from its practical implications.

Students will walk away with concrete tools they can utilize in everyday life to resolve guilt, confusion and conflict, and to develop joy in everyday life.”

The course is designed for people of all levels of knowledge, including first-time learners of the Kabbalah. The 90-minute sessions will utilize material from more than 200 Cabalists across the globe, and will involve textbooks, interactive dialogue, and audiovisuals.

Each center will follow the same schedule, which makes it an easy commitment for those who travel. Chabad also invites the community to join the first class for free to see if it interests them.

“It’s amazing if we invest just a little time, how much we can come away with,” Mintz said.


WHAT: Soul Maps

WHEN: 7:15 to 8:45 tonight, Nov. 18, 25, Dec. 2, 9 and 16.

WHERE: Chabad Jewish Centers, worldwide.

INFORMATION: Cost is $79 and includes textbooks and materials; first lesson is free for those who want to check it out; registration required; visit www.myjli.com for information or to register.

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