In the month of Elul, leading up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom HaKippur, a still small voice gently calls out to us through the Shofar. She begins to awaken us to our deeper selves, and invites us to enter our inner chamber, the hallowed space of our Divine soul.
In this interactive online course, taught by Yiscah Smith, we will explore teachings from the Piaseczner Rebbe, Rabbi Kalonymus Kalmish Shapira, also known as the Aish Kodesh (1889-1943). We will focus on excerpts from his work, Hachsharat HaAvrachim (Training for Students) that empower us to access the deeper meaning of this period leading up to the New Year – experiencing spiritual intimacy within ourselves.
In Hebrew, the four letters that spell Elul - אלול - are an acronym for four words in the Song of Songs – אני לדודי ודודי לי – “I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine.” At this time especially, the intimacy we seek to cultivate with our Divine inner selves is that of beloved with beloved.
Through textual learning and experiential practice, in this course we will explore how to train ourselves to become more sensitive and open to this intimacy. Together, we will learn and experience why passion and feeling are so important to this process, what it means to truly be a feeling person. For example, one important theme in the Rebbe's teachings is deepening our relationship with the Divine through being in nature.
Our online community will prepare for, and then experience Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, as openings for growth in this most sacred work.
All texts will be provided with clear translations, and no prior knowledge or experience with the subject matter is necessary.
This course is welcoming of advanced students and novices alike.
How does it work?
The course consists of eight weekly, online sessions, of approximately 1.25 hours. Sessions will be conducted live on over Zoom and will also be recorded so participants can watch and listen at their own leisure. Each class includes two essential components.
1) A close and interactive text-based study of the Piaseczner’s teachings on Jewish spiritual growth.
2) A guided meditative practice focusing on the particular theme studied in that class and how that nurtures and cultivates the Elul spirit of closeness, organically moving into Rosh HaShanah and Yom HaKippur.
Each participant will receive a printable source sheet in the original Hebrew with English translation. This will be emailed each week prior to the class with the zoom link. The source sheet will also be provided in the zoom chat.
Following each class, each participant will receive the YouTube link to the video recording.
Throughout the duration of the course, Yiscah will moderate a WhatsApp ongoing discussion group, allowing participants a platform to share thoughts and experiences, to ask questions and to receive support in their ongoing practice.
The course begins on Monday, August 2 and continues through Sunday, September 19.
The sessions will be on Mondays, except that due to Erev Rosh HaShanah and Erev Sukkot occurring on Monday evening, those two classes will meet on Sundays (September 5 and September 19).
The live zoom sessions begin at 9am Pacific / 12pm Eastern / 5pm UK / 7pm Israel.
Sessions can be joined live and/ listened to or watched at your convenience.
"Yiscah is magical. Regardless of where you are in your life journey, Yiscah will help open your intellect and your heart to Jewish texts that are transformative, relevant, and accessible. Her mastery of the material is apparent. Her joy is infectious. The first time I heard Yiscah speak, she addressed the Divine’s desire to connect with us, soul-to-soul and heart-to-heart, and had Jewish texts to prove it. That spoke to a quest that I didn’t even realize I was on! I knew she was someone I wanted to learn with. Yiscah’s generous soul will connect with yours. I am profoundly grateful that she has chosen to share with us her extraordinary gifts."
- Lynn Olinger, Dallas, Texas
Words cannot truly describe how inspirational Yiscah’s teachings have been in my life. I was a student of hers at Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies for two semesters, and her entire message was simple: cultivate the Divine from within. The small practices she taught us from the Piaseczner Rebbe (Rabbi Kalonymus Shapira) have changed how I live a more authentic life. Her careful attention to detail expresses how Yiscah does everything with a purpose. I believe I live a more mindful life based on the small practices she has taught me."
- Noah H. Bender, Student at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies
"Over the past year, we have studied together with Yiscah in various courses and also separately done private spiritual mentoring sessions with her. In her teaching, Yiscah’s spiritual depth, her clarity of presentation and her knowledge are equalled by her sensitivity to each student and her remarkable capacity to create a soul-level experience. In our mentoring sessions with Yiscah, she is completely attuned to our individual journeys, which she enriches by sharing with us her vast repetoire of meditative practices, through our text study with her and in our personal conversations. And her sincere warmth and charming sense of humour make each session with her a joy."
- Rona Shaffran and Dov Tannenbaum, Ottawa, Canada