The Truth about the Shofar

B”H

This blog is focused on my experiences and perspectives on a self-help program called the Call of the Shofar. Since the program is so powerful, it has been both praised and attacked on all sides from different groups. I’m hoping to be able to shed some light on the issues surrounding the Shofar, and give people to the opportunity to learn about the Shofar program in a more objective arena.

Disclaimer:

1) I am not officially associated with the Shofar in any way, nor do I officially speak for the organization. Opinions are mine, alone

2) I do not endorse attending the Shofar in any way. Going to such a program requires each individual to work closely with their own Rav, Mashpia, and/or therapist.

3) This blog is intended for Jews of all types – Lubavitch, Litvish, Modern, Reform, Unaffiliated, etc.  I take no position or make any assumptions about who is reading it or commenting on it.

-Dovid Feldman

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Is COTS Therapy?

B”H

Attending the Call of the Shofar is a unique experience. It is very difficult to describe, and therefore when we finish the program, we struggle for words to explain what the last 72 hours were all about. Most of us who went through the program have never experienced something like COTS before, so we cannot even compare it to anything. This makes it very difficult and frustrating for the witch-hunters to take down, without looking foolish themselves. In spite of the face-paint and nose-rings, it’s hard to throw a spear at something, when you don’t know what it is.

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Is Simcha Frum?

B”H

There is a common concern running around Chabad, which I find quite interesting. Namely, when discussing the merits of the Call of the Shofar, many are questioning whether Simcha Frischling is frum. No, they are not “checking into him” for shidduchim purposes, or questioning his level of kashrus to eat by him on Shabbos. Many Lubavs are concerned that because his frumkeit is questionable to them, it invalidates and actually “treif’s up” the COTS program. And, in my opinion, because so many Lubavs are horribly afraid of him (isn’t pnimius, emotional work a real pain?), there appears to be a witch-hunt going on.

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Psychology or Chassidus?

B”H

There seems to be a raging controversy within Chabad about the function and purpose of therapy. There are those among us who strongly believe in the healing power of a good therapist, and enjoy adding select self-help books to our knowledge-base of personal-growth strategies. And, there are those who really only want to steep themselves in Chassidus, and are particular that any “soul-healing” should come from pure Torah sources. Continue reading

Just Do It!

B”H

I remember when I first became a baal-tshuva and first started learning Talmud — I was in love. I studied for hours and hours and never ran out of energy to learn (I was one of those really, really annoying types). I remember approaching some older kollel-members, who didn’t look so enthusiastic about studying 12 hours a day, and exclaiming “when I can learn as well as you, I’m just going to keep learning right through Shas, over and over!”

Fast-forward 25 years. It saddens me when I don’t do the things I  love, I know are good for me, and that Hashem expects of me. Like learning Torah. Or paying attention to my children. Or being truly kind to my wife. Or calling my father. Or eating healthy and exercising. Or making more sales-calls at work. Or davening with real intent.

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What is Undifferentiated Oneness?

B”H

I have recently seen a lot of confusion amongst both Shofar-goers, and non-Shofar goers regarding some of the basic principles of the program. One of the goals of my weekends was to gain a very solid understanding of ideology behind the work, not just the experiential aspect. I spent many hours taking notes, reviewing my notes, and validating my understanding with many prominent Rabbis, some of whom attended, and some of whom did not attend the Shofar. I’d like to share my insights and knowledge of the philosophy, so as to shed light on the issues.

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Call of the Puppet

I love this video — Yossi Berktin did a great job poking fun at the current controversy surrounding the Call of the Shofar program, masking it as the “Tent of Avraham”. It is really, really creative and funny.

What I find most poignant about the video, though, is that it reveals so much of the fear & ignorance many people have about the Shofar. What this video showed me is that most people’s fears can be boiled down to the same small list. And the good news, is that they are easy to assuage.  Let’s delve deeper.

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