Hasidic Mysticism and the Torah

An online class for the weekly parsha that draws from Jewish mystical wisdom

Hasidic mysticism sees Torah study as a pathway to the Infinite

As children or as curious adults, many of us encountered the Bible as a set of stories and laws. Also, for many of us, when we began our spiritual journeys in a deeper way, a disconnect grew between our inner lives and the central texts of Judaism. How can we bridge the stories of Noah, Adam and Eve, or the Israelites in Egypt with feelings of meditative peace, alignment with nature, intuition, or even mystical oneness?

If you ask me, Hasidic mysticism is a wonderful connector between our rich inner worlds, the writings of our ancestors, and the call to be a blessing in this world.

This class is designed to help spiritual seekers connect with Jewish mysticism and the Torah. You do not need to know Hebrew or Aramaic to participate. There will be time for reflection and discussion as we journey through the experiential and kabbalistic interpretations of the weekly Torah reading (i.e. the “parsha“). Every session will be recorded and will be available for viewing.

We will be primarily reading from the Me’or Eynayim, a profoundly psychological, transformational, and transcendent expression from early Hasidism. Written as a commentary on the weekly parsha, this book contains reflections from the Chernobyler Rebbe (1730-1787). The Me’or Eynayim is regarded for its spiritual depth, its creativity, 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 (two central figures in the founding of Hasidism in the 18th century) . As such, the Chernobyler’s teachings reflect a beautiful example of the aliveness and richness found in the origins of this popular, embodied, and joyously innovative movement.

This class will run if it gets a minimum of four registrants. It has space for up to 8.

There will also be an opportunity to continue the learning journey after August 8th in regular, weekly classes.

In the course, students will…

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

(2) Be invited into discussion and reflection because each of us, regardless of prior text learning, has wisdom and insight to share

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

(4) Learn from an experienced teacher who specializes in the translation and embodiment 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 (and in English!), 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