Just as a person is made up of both body and soul, so too the Torah we learn comprises both elements. There are the dos and the don’ts and the historical facts. And then there’s the “inner Torah,” a system of teachings passed down through the generations that penetrates to the core of reality, discussing the act of Creation, the soul, and how the soul can reconnect itself and its world back to its source.
People today are not satisfied with the do’s and don’ts and historical facts. We need a deeper, often mystical understanding. Chabad is unique in that its teachers are trained from youth in the authentic texts of the inner Torah, also known as the Kabbalah and Chassidut.
Chabad thought builds on the wisdom of the great Jewish thinkers and is very much a part of classic Jewish thought. Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad, was a deep thinker and intellectual, fascinated with all aspects of knowledge. He was a prime student and disciple of Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezritch, known as “the Magid of Mezritch,” heir to the Baal Shem Tov. He created a synthesis of Jewish rationalism and esoteric thought using the rich metaphor of the human psyche. His successors and their students continued in the same path, expanding Chabad to a broad and lively school of thought and debate. Chabad philosophy has influenced the thought of many great leaders and movements outside of Chabad as well.
When you leave a typical Chabad class, you don’t go away with just knowledge, you go away with a whole new way of knowing, a new pair of eyes. That’s one of the main reasons for Chabad’s popularity—Chabad teachers are able to provide meaningful answers to critical questions, because Chabad is all about how you use your mind.
The Baal Shem Tov taught, “G-d wants the heart.” Chabad teaches that you can reach the heart through the mind—through questioning, through meditation and deep contemplation, and through reframing your concept of the world.