A very special Yid in Atlanta wrote a Q&A to explain Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh and Rav Itamar Shwartz to those who have not yet heard or learned from him/it. Rav Shwartz is speaking in Atlanta today. More information on that available HERE. Enjoy!
Background on Rabbi Itamar Schwartz - Speaking Today::A Very Special Q&A::
Q: Who Is Rabbi Itamar Schwartz?
A: He is an Israeli rabbi and author of the highly regarded “Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh” series (“In My Heart I Will Build a Mishkan”).
Q: Israel has many rabbis, lots of whom have written books. Why is this one special?
A: Because the book is really, really good.
Q: Elaborate please.
A: Do you mitzvot every day? Daven, keep kosher, light Shabbos candles, learn Torah, separate Challah… but find that the mitzvah itself only rarely brings a feeling of closeness to Hashem?
Q: Go on…
A: It’s likely because your mitzvot are separate from one another and no one has taught you to use them as the building blocks to construct a larger structure. A Mishkan in your heart.
Each Jew’s lifelong task isn’t just to serve Hashem at an intellectual level, but to integrate that service into our hearts. Once we learn to penetrate our hearts, we are meant to use our hearts to connect to our Creator directly.
Unfortunately, building that foundation for our personal Mishkan is something that very few Jews have been taught today - and that’s true of every community across the Jewish world. It’s a big part of why we often daven every day on “automatic” and our mitzvot can feel like individual bricks left lying around a construction site.
Q: Wait, I thought that I just had to learn something and then I knew it. You’re telling me that there’s a difference between intellectual knowledge and this more integrated knowledge that’s “in my heart?”
A: Yes. You can learn an idea in your head just by hearing it once, but it takes repetition and conscious exercise to teach yourself to react to that idea emotionally.
Q: You sir are describing my problem exactly, but I’ve read a lot of books that tell me to connect to Hashem. I don’t need more philosophy, I need to know how to go out and build a relationship with Hashem. Do the Bilvavi books teach me that?
A: They do their best to. Rabbi Schwartz gives very specific, practical suggestions for building this foundation.
The reason these books have been so enthusiastically received is because they are just about the only books to address this subject directly in our generation’s language. Reading them is one giant session of “Oh, so THAT’S how I’m supposed to be doing it.” Just remember, you have to actually do the exercises the books suggest or none of it will take root in you.
Q: Well, I’m sold. Where can I get more information before Rav Schwartz comes to Atlanta on Tuesday?
A: There is an active website devoted to the Bilvavi books at http://www.bilvavi.net/. In fact, most of the books are offered free on the site in their entirety. Just go to http://bilvavi.net/content/view/229/57/ to check them out.
Q: Great, I will click on that link right now, and then put this important event on my calendar. Thank you A. Thank you very much.