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Everyday lessons for life that I learned from studying Kabbalah with my friends

by Deborah Baron

Originally published in The Forward on May 27, 2020

One morning in the winter of last year, I agreed to show up to a new study group. For whatever reason, I was less than enthusiastic. I just did not feel like leaving my house and I wasn’t sure why I had agreed. But I had nothing else on my schedule that morning so, with a sense that I had nothing to lose, I put on my coat and left the house. As it turned out, showing up that day changed my life. Over the past 16 months, I have experienced a new depth of Jewish learning that reminded me that Jewish wisdom is everyday wisdom. It is practical and useful providing direction and ease.

Lesson 1: The lesson of Passover - Be Yourself

We all know that the basic lesson of Passover is freedom. The freedom to live, not as slaves, but as free individuals, not ruled by others. For me, this took on added richness and depth when I related to this at the personal level. What does it mean to truly feel free? To be yourself and not live under anyone else’s idea of who or what they might like you to be. So many of us live in a world of “should”. You should say things in a certain way, dress in a certain way, act in a certain way. What does it mean to follow your own inner voice and feel the ease of being who you are? Show up with authenticity. It is effortless and oh so beautiful!

Lesson 2: The lesson of Shavuot - Look within

Do you know the feeling of having a great idea? When an idea comes out of the blue? Or when you do not know what to do and then all of a sudden you do? Or when you are working on a project and you get so “in the flow” that the project pours out of you and you don’t know where the time went? We all have a space within us that sits before thought. A space from which thought, creativity and answers emerge. I am sure you recognize it; it is there for each and every one of us. This space is our divine connection to G-d and just as we all received the Torah at Sinai, we all have access to divine inspiration every minute of every day. Sometimes it is quiet and sometimes it is loud and only our personal thinking gets in the way of our hearing. Trust it. It is there for you; you only have to listen!

Lesson 3: The lesson of Sukkot - Create

This part is the coolest. As it turns out, when we start to look within and listen to our inner voice, we start to get all kinds of cool ideas. Inspiration comes to us and if we don’t let our insecure thinking get in the way it propels us forward in ways that we could have never imagined. You see, our inner divine voice is significantly smarter than our thinking brain. It contains a knowing, it contains creativity, it contains innovation and even resilience and hope. From this place we create our world. We let G-d show up and $&*! happens. We are creators, as we are created in the image of G-d, the ultimate creator.

My inner knowing sent me to study with a group of women who have changed my life. Learning Kabbalah reminded me to be myself, listen within and then go make it all happen. It reminded me that I already have everything I need, and you do too! No worries, you got this!

A thank you to my eclectic group of study partners who brought a diversity of religious perspective and found commonality in studying this together; Amy Guterson, Keshira HaLev Fife and Gabriella Horvitz. Our learning experience was sometimes the same and sometimes different. And a special thank you to our teacher Sarah Yehudit Schneider for sharing her wisdom and making her curriculum available to all of us.

Deborah Baron is an Executive, Leadership and Transformative Life Coach who helps her clients achieve more than they ever thought possible. You can sign up for her blog at

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