Wednesday, March 07, 2007

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Eastern Infiltration - Part 2

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

(An ongoing story of the hand of heaven directing us and giving us a chance. A multi-part series and a true story.)

Part 1 here.
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Do you have any idea how hard it is to corner the rabbi's wife privately? I mean, I didn't want to embarrass her and discuss something questionable in public. And, getting the rabbi's wife private is not exactly the thing to do either.

I tried to corner her in synagogue off to the side somewhere. No way, somebody always wants to talk to the rabbi's wife. I called the synagogue office, "is the rabbi's wife there?" Well, no, why would she be in the synagogue office (and why's Akiva calling around for the rabbi's wife?) This is getting hard already, trying for days.

I called the rabbi's house at a time I thought he wouldn't be there, naturally the rabbi answered. "Hi, I need to leave a message and article for your wife, when's a good time to catch her." (OMG, he thinks I'm weird, or worse, because I'm leaving a message for his wife.) Finally, after trying and trying and trying and trying not to embarrass her or myself, and it was a challenge to continue and not just drop it, I mean it was getting seriously embarrassing, I finally got her.

I talked to her about what I had read and what I had learned from the white bearded chossid who was a former guru in Jerusalem. I dropped off the book so she could read that section also. That week, the class was cancelled because "the teacher couldn't make it". The following week, the class was quietly cancelled permanently. Thank G-d, something inappropriate had been dropped. She was seriously concerned, and she gained my respect that day in taking action, not worrying about opinion.

A few days later, we received our copy of a religious community Jewish magazine to which we subscribe. Turn the page, I find a 1/2 page ad for "Double Special Extra Kosher Yoga!". -Now, Special Kosher Yoga, great for all ages and all people. Check it out!!!-

So I try again, emailing the chossid who's a former guru in Jerusalem. "My dear friend, it's Double 'Special' Extra Kosher Yoga. See, it's special now, double special, so it must be ok, right? Oh come on, if it's advertised in a very kosher Jewish community magazine, it must be very special and very kosher, right?" (Please say right, who am I to get involved in this???)"

He writes back, forcefully, "no way".

I look back a few issues and find, this advertisement is not something new, it's been in a few past issues. Either nobody knows, nobody is up to actually challenging or confirming the 'kosher'ness of the ad, or somebody is misrepresenting something. Or maybe it's kosher...

But, a number of years ago I heard an amazing first hand story of a pair of shluchim (emmisaries) sent on a special mission by the Rebbe (the Lubavitcher Rebbe). The story is from the late 60's, and I heard it from the shluchim's daughter.

In the 60's, many secularized Jews became involved in Eastern religions and cults in their college years. Meditation and so forth became a big thing. So the Rebbe sent these shluchim on a search throughout the Far East to find a 'neutral' form of meditation, one devoid of avodah zarah that is a major part of much Hindu and Buddist practices. The story is amazing, one of remote monasteries through remote jungles, encounteres with masters of Eastern practices, and at least one encounter with a sar malach hamedina. But thats a story for another time.

What's relevant here was the Rebbe's instruction to keep the results private, and only use them for those specific individuals who are deeply involved in Eastern ways and need a transitional path out. So knowing that, I can't imagine how a religious Jewish publication could advertise yoga, or how it could be kashered. And even if it was, how the result could be considered appropriate for the religious Jewish community.


I take a deep breath and think, how do I write this in a nice way, yet strongly make the point that there's probably a serious problem here and get my point across to the magazine management? ...

Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.

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