Decoding Hasidut: Reading the Me’or Eynayim in Hebrew

An online class for studying Hasidic mystical writings in their original language

Hasidut is One of the World’s Great Spiritual Traditions

Many of us have a desire to connect with the wisdom found in Judaism’s mystical writings. And, as those who spend considerable time learning Torah in Hebrew/Aramaic discover: each era, and sometimes each book, has its own distinct style, rhythms, and technical terminology. In the case of mysticism specifically, a key ingredient to understanding these sources is connecting the teachings with our own personal experience.

This class is designed to help seasoned learners unpack, discuss, and connect with Hasidic texts. We will be focusing on the Me’or Eynayim, one of the “greatest hits” of early Hasidism. Written as a commentary on the weekly parsha, this book contains drashot from the Chernobyler Rebbe (1730-1787). The Me’or Eynayim is regarded for its spiritual and psychological depth, its highly creative interpretations, and the wide variety of sources it draws from to articulate its messages. Menachum Nachum of Chernobyl was a student of both the Ba’al Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezeritch. As such, his teachings reflect a beautiful example of the aliveness and richness found in the origins of Hasidism.

This class will run if it gets a minimum of four registrants. It has space for up to 12.

In the course, students will…

(1) Receive a list of technical terms for Hasidic study which can be used for engaging with many texsts in this genre

(2) Engage with Torah-based teachings relating to the personal journey of transformation and the cultivation of wisdom

(3) Join a cohort of like-minded learners discovering the Me’or Eynayim in an open-minded, open-hearted, and friendly context

(4) Translate texts on your own and present them to the class to strengthen your understanding and capacity for teaching hasidut (optional)

(5) Learn from an experienced teacher who specializes in the translation of Jewish mystical writings

Meet Rabbi Matthew Ponak

I am a teacher of Jewish mysticism, a spiritual counselor, and a tutor of Hebrew and Aramaic. Ordained with honors at the neo-Hasidic Rabbinical School of Hebrew College, I also hold a Master’s degree in Contemplative Religions from Naropa University. I live in Victoria, British Columbia, and am certified as a Focusing Professional to guide others to deeper self-knowledge and healing. My first book, Embodied Kabbalah, is a translation and commentary of 42 mystical texts from throughout the last 1000 years. I am the proud husband of Melina and the proud father of Orion and Sephira, two wonderfully joyful and creative kids.

As a teacher and counselor, I help students of diverse backgrounds tap into their own essential truths. In this ever-evolving information age, where big ideas and advice abound, I take the approach of a spiritual ally: sharing teachings with no-strings-attached and empowering people to be true to who they are.

I deeply value the balance between presenting esoteric teachings in a way that is accessible, while also creating the context for individuals to find their own voice and thrive.

Matthew has a warm-hearted and friendly approach as a teacher. His classes offer a combination of engaging scholarship, open-mindedness, and spiritual depth.

~ Emma Forman, Program Associate at the Ruderman Family Foundation

Matthew’s evolving vision of an evolving Judaism steps beyond the limits of a supposed Jewish essentialism, shatters the imposed conformity of an imagined Jewish continuity, and allows the iconoclastic daring of Jewish creativity to reinvent who is and what it means to be a Jew in the 21st century.

~ Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author of Judaism Without Tribalism

Matthew is a wonderful teacher who makes class accessible to students of all kinds. He injects humor and stories into his teachings to keep everyone engaged, but is able to communicate a powerful message. I highly recommend taking any class that speaks to you!

~ Kim Varieka, Varieka Personal Training and Yoga