By COLlive reporter
“The Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch used to be a closed book to me,” admits Rabbi Yosef (Yoey) Muchnik, a Shliach who runs youth programs at Chabad Jewish Center of Camarillo in California.
He says that changed “dramatically” with the publication of the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch – Code of Jewish Law by Kehot Publication Society with its English translation and annotation by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger and Rabbi Sholom Ber Wineberg.
Muchnik, who has a Mashpia as the Rebbe has requested of Chassidim, says his mentor has advised him to take upon himself to study from this English version for five minutes a day. “Not more, not less,” were his exact instructions.
“As a result, today I am proud to say that I have completed the entire Orech Chaim in Hebrew and English, including all the footnotes, and I am well into Hilchos Shabbos,” Muchnik told COLlive.com.
But something else momentous happened too.
As he started to learn five minutes a day, Muchnik says he realized “how much ground I was covering and how brilliant my mashpia’s suggestion was. Five minutes is doable. Even your yetzer hara can’t convince you that you can’t carve out five minutes a day.”
That led him to decide to share those five minutes with other English speakers as well. He went on to open group on WhatsApp titled “5 Minutes a Day SA Harav” to which he sends a five-minute voicenote every day as a daily dose of Shulchan Aruch.
The project has been going strong for more than two years.
Rabbi Shmully Litvin, Educational Director of Chabad of Kentucky in Louisville, is a member of the group. “This group has transformed WhatsApp to a positive beacon of light in my life,” he says. “I encourage all to challenge themselves to add these bite-size pieces of Torah into their lives. It transforms your day, and you end up with your head in the Torah all day.”
Mrs. Elya Eidel Hirman, a resident of Oak Park, California, calls the voicenotes “one of the best five minutes of my day.” As a working mother, “finding time to learn became a daily challenge,” she says.
“Since I joined the group and started to receive five minutes lessons through WhatsApp I found my solution! While I’m driving or during my coffee break or waiting for my kids – whenever is more convenient – I have my daily learning on the go with me. Easy, productive and inspiring.”
Listeners hail from other English speaking countries as Australia. Rabbi Yankel Rapp, who runs a Campus Chabad House in East S. Kilda, says the short class became part of his breakfast routine.
“Yoey gives over the information in a dynamic, clear, and concise manner,” he said. “It’s long enough to cover ground and short enough to power-start a busy day after davening.”
The voicenotes are offered free. To join, send your name and number to 805-236-9870 and write “Add SA.”