Teachings on Parshat Toldot

Jewish Soul Food Beit2

May we always be in a state of hakarot hatova – acknowledging to each other the kindness we receive from each other, as this helps us learn that our lives in fact do have meaning and do matter.  May we embrace our struggles to be in connection with HaShem and to always “inquire” of Him when we need to.  And may the “elder always serve the younger.”




I am excited to announce that registration is now open for my new class, Jewish Soul Food from Yerushalyaim: Getting To Know You .  The previous 50 sessions, The Inner Meaning of Parshat HaShavua, Baruch HaShem, were incredibly connecting, inspiring, and illuminating.  Now the time has arrived to move further along our learning journey.

Rabbi Akiva would say, “How beloved it is that the human being was created in the image of G-d; how even more beloved it is that one knows that one was created in the Image.”  Pirkei Avot 3, 14

In Getting To Know You  we will explore the teachings of R. Kalonymus Kalmish Shapira, the Piaseczner Rebbe, the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto. Looking at both his pre-war and wartime works we will examine what he thinks it means to be a Jew and a human being.  His inspiring and progressive teachings discuss the divine nature of our body and the physical world, our emotions and feelings, our thoughts and our spirit, how we awaken to that divine nature within us, and how we can integrate these components & expressions of the Jewish experience in one whole healthy being.

Jewish Soul Food from Yerushalayim: Getting To Know You will meet for 12 classes.  In the States, the dates are SEP 22 – DEC 15,  Monday evenings, 8:00pm West Coast time & 11:00pm East Coast time.  In Israel the dates are SEP 23 –  DEC 16, Tuesday mornings 6:00am.  There will be no class on OCT 13/14. 

Tuition is $120 per person for the 12 classes.   Prior to each class, that week’s text will be emailed to you, as with the WebEx link to participate in the virtual Beit Midrash.  Following each class the link to the audio recording will be sent to you as well.

Please register as soon as you can via PayPal at:


Please ensure that the email you designate for payment is: yiscah.smith@gmail.com.

Toda rabba to everyone for your support and participation.  I look forward to journeying further with all of you – returning students as well as new ones!

Kol Tuv im brachot b’ahava - all the best with blessings and love,

~ Yiscah


Meditational thought on Rosh HaShana

“Time is not a train of cars hitched one to another, one year dragged along by the year preceding, the present hitched tightly to the past, the future enslaved to the present. Rather, every year arrives fresh from its Creator, a year that never was before and could never have been known before its arrival.
That is why we call Rosh Hashanah “the birthday of the world” in our prayers. The past has returned to its place, never to return. With the blowing of the shofar, the entirety of Creation is renewed. From this point on, even the past exists only by virtue of the present.”

Based on letters and talks of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi M. M. Schneerson, may the memory of the righteous be for a blessing.

My Story – 40 Years in the Wilderness

My story is not simply a tale of personal triumph over inner demons.  Rather, I am telling my story in order to, with the help of God, inspire and help others who are mired in obstacles — people for whom achieving a life of authenticity, genuineness, and wholeness feels impossible.  I, like many individuals, was paralyzed by fear, shame, and low self-esteem for most of my life.  Like me, these individuals find themselves unable to make the leap of faith they need to honor their own inner truth.  Many people, deep inside, yearn to somehow catapult past their personal demons, the forces strangling, suffocating, and wringing the life out of them.  My demons were gender identity confusion and the passionate desire to live a spiritual life within the Jewish tradition that conflicted with it.

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