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The inside story of the founding of Jewish meditation.

INTRODUCTION

On 16 Adar, 5738 (February 23, 1978), the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menahem Mendel Schneerson, sent my father, Dr. Yehuda (Judah) Landes, a letter and memorandum about the dangers of "Transcendental Meditation (TM), yoga, guru and the like." (1) This was the start of a long correspondence1 (2) discussing (among other issues) many aspects of meditation.

The memorandum was unsigned and marked "confidential" (3) The Rebbe felt that his views expressed in this correspondence concerning meditation should be kept under wraps, because:
   ... the Memo could be used to encourage that which it seeks to
   discourage and preclude, namely, involvement in Eastern cults. For
   it may be argued by many who are already involved, that until such
   time as the medical profession will openly adopt the same methods
   of treatment and provide an alternative, they are justified in
   seeking this therapy elsewhere, especially if they take care to
   avoid active participation in the idolatrous rites and ceremonies
   that go with it. In support of this contention they could cite this
   memo which (1) confirms the therapeutic value of a part of the said
   methods, and (2) indicates also that the idolatrous elements in the
   said cults are not germane, indeed non-essential, to the therapy
   itself. (4)


In other words, people might misinterpret the Rebbe's letters as an acknowledgement and a partial heter (ruling of permissibility) for Jews to be involved in the meditative practices of Eastern cults, due to the lack of alternatives. For this reason, my father was circumspect as to whom he showed the letters.

One can imagine my father's surprise when a year and a half later the Rebbe publicly spoke of how meditation was being misused for idolatrous purposes in TM and the imperative to establish a non-idolatrous alternative.

After this discourse, my father asked one of the Rebbe's secretaries, Rabbi Leibel Groner, if the confidentiality clause had been lifted. He was informed that it was still in place. For this reason, my father never officially allowed the correspondence to be published.5 For this same reason, I had also made the decision not to publish the insights, discussions, and anecdotes that my father shared with me about the formative years of Jewish Meditation. However, I have recently had a number of reasons to re-evaluate this decision.

The first was a discussion I had with Rabbi Groner a little over a year ago. Rabbi Groner felt that since a great deal of the correspondence was already in the public domain, no purpose would be served by continuing to try to maintain the original confidentiality clause. A second reason was that I have recently seen a number of articles discussing "kosher" yoga and claiming the Rebbe would have supported this. I have also read several articles that seem to have inadvertently confused many of the Rebbe's views concerning Jewish Meditation. I feel that part of the confusion surrounding these issues may be because not all parts of the correspondence are readily available and it is easy to take many aspects out of context without seeing the entire picture.

When B'Or Ha'Torah published an overview of Jewish Meditation, (6) the editors requested me to write a follow-up article written from my knowledge of my father's perspective. I hope that the following anecdotes will help develop a more fully comprehensive picture of the Rebbe's outlook on Jewish Meditation.

THE FIRST LETTER--MAKING A 180-DEGREE TURN

It was always an occasion of excitement and joy when my father received a letter from the Rebbe. This letter was different--my father's reaction was shock.

This was the late 1970s. Most Americans, including many psychologists, were still fairly conservative in their outlook. My father was a case in point--he was a traditional Freudian clinical psychologist with a slight flavoring of the behaviorist B.F. Skinner. He did not believe in alternative therapies, psychedelic drugs, or meditation. At best he thought it was a lot of nonsense; at worse, the tools of cults. His general opinion was that no self-respecting psychologist would touch any of it with a barge pole. However, my father did advocate and use hypnosis. He accepted that certain forms of meditation could work, due to the power of suggestion, but he felt that hypnosis was a better and more traditional path to follow.

The Rebbe's letter fundamentally challenged my father's understanding of psychology. Not only was he asking my father to investigate the meditative techniques of TM, he was also saying that meditation worked and was extremely useful in combating stress. Even worse, the Rebbe made it very clear that he had grave misgivings about hypnosis. (7) The Rebbe approved of using hypnosis to treat patients only in life-saving cases because hypnotized patients are deprived of their free will. (8) (My father refrained from using hypnosis after receiving this letter except in the most extreme cases.)

I remember Father discussing just how daunting the Rebbe's task was. He said that the letter had, in many ways, challenged many of his belief systems in psychology. He had to "get his head around the idea" that meditation actual worked and was not a form of chicanery. He felt that the Rebbe actually had asked him to make a mental 180-degree turn. (9)

I think this helps shed some light on what I consider one of the most surprising aspects of the founding of Jewish Meditation. The Rebbe sent the memorandum about meditation to a "select few." (10) My father once told me that he later heard that it had been sent to fifty individuals. Of those fifty, it seems that my father was one of the very few who responded and offered to help. It may have been too radical for many of the others to consider.

"MEDICAL" MEDITATION VS. JEWISH MEDITATION

The two main questions that needed to be resolved were what should be the format of an alternative, non-idolatrous meditation and at whom should it be aimed? This was discussed at length at various points during the correspondence. (11)

The Rebbe felt very strongly that meditation, not to be confused with hitbonenut (the forms of meditation found in Hasidic literature that are often practiced by Hasidim before prayer), was for people who were suffering from stress or depression. It was not for the average, mentally sound individual. (12) The Rebbe wanted meditation to be used as a medical technique, prescribed by a doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist to alleviate mental problems. (13) Meditation should not be used as a vehicle to promote traditional Judaism or Jewish mysticism. The word "mysticism" should not be used, and kabbalistic insights should not be taught during meditation sessions. (14) The sessions should not be linked to Lubavitch or mainstream Judaism because this might discourage non-observant Jews who needed help.15 For this reason, the Rebbe was wary of my father's idea of using immersion in a mikveh ritual bath for meditative relaxation. (16) Glatt kosher food and mezzuzot on all doorways, however, were non-invasive and thus desirable.

My father was concerned that this approach would not be practical and would also have little effect upon those who were currently attending TM and other forms of Eastern meditation. This was for two reasons:

1. Although some of those involved in TM and other Eastern cults may have been suffering from various mental issues, the vast majority would consider themselves (and would be considered by most mental health professionals) as both normal and functional. Many otherwise normal people welcomed the opportunity of alternative methods of stress release and would take offense at the suggestion that they consult mental health professionals in order to use similar meditational techniques. (17)

2. Many of the attendees enjoyed the mysterious Eastern trappings associated with meditation. They were not interested in a cold, clinical meditational treatment. In order to attract these people, it would be necessary to "package" these meditational techniques in such a way that it was part of an equally compelling, albeit non-idolatrous, narrative. (18)

Finally, my father concluded that although he personally felt that some form of "Jewish Meditation" would have a wider appeal, he was quite prepared to use a purely medical format if this was the Rebbe's intention. (19)

DEFINING JEWISH MEDITATION

In his second letter the Rebbe wrote:
   ... let me say that, as a general principle, so long as the said
   two objectives (20) can best be served, whatever project is
   determined to be most effective is most desirable, and, of course,
   acceptable to me. (21)


With regard to "normal" people who wish to meditate, the Rebbe added:
   With regard to the basic point you make in your letter, namely,
   that most people for whom our plan is envisaged consider themselves
   "normal" and would not be interested in a program that offers
   profes- sional (medical) services, but would prefer a more
   simplistic setup for relaxation, etc.--this should certainly be
   taken into account, since the ultimate goals of our plan would not
   be effected. And if, as you suggest, this would be the more
   practical setup for attracting more people and achieving our two
   objectives--healing and the elimi- nation of Avoda Zora
   [idolatry]--then, by all means, this method should be given due
   consideration. (22)


This was the official sanction for Jewish Meditation (JM for short).

Although he toyed with the idea, my father never wrote a handbook for JM. It also seems that in the beginning he experimented with various techniques to see what worked best. However, he soon decided on a particular methodology. Several key aspects were:

1. Instead of using the concept of "emptying the mind," Jewish Meditation should focus on a specific idea, image, or issue. This was often a letter, such as alef, Shabbat candles, or the Shema.

2. Instead of the traditional Hindu mantras, JM used "Ha'Shem" (the respectful Hebrew term for G-d) during breathing exercises. ("Ha"--breathe in, "Shem"--breathe out.)

3. Everyone sat on chairs. No one sat in a classic yoga position. Sometimes, however, participants were asked to remove their shoes.

4. Everyone would chant (or sing) Shema Yisrael and often took candlelit walks outdoors.

It is important to note that the Rebbe never expressly said that he felt that JM was the ideal vehicle to promote meditative therapies. My father was always concerned that the Rebbe would have much preferred a totally medical-psychological form of meditation without any Jewish content. (23) My father often worried that JM was given the go-ahead solely due to the expert advice he was given that it was the only practical way to accomplish the Rebbe's goals. (24)

Perhaps one of the most important stipulations was made later by the Rebbe on 24 Tevet, 5742 (January 19, 1982) when he wrote:
   For this reason, it has been my advice to those PhD's and MD's who
   wish to enter the field of Jewish Meditation, that even if they
   also have Rabbinical Ordination (Smichah), they should seek the
   advice and guidance of a competent and experienced Rav, who is an
   expert in those sections of the Shulchan Aruch which deal with
   these ques- tions. To be sure, a Rav Moreh Hora'ah is expected to
   be proficient in all of Shulchan Aruch, but there are Rabbanim who
   have specialised in this particular field, and they are competent
   to rule whether this or that practice has any suspicion of A.Z.
   [avodah zarah, idolatry]. And there is surely no need to emphasize
   how strictly one must regard any suspicion of A.Z., even the
   remotest.

      In these days of confusion and misconception, additional
   precaution must be taken to avoid anything, however innocent in
   itself, if it can be misconstrued by a patient or by a colleague
   as a Heter for similar treatment or methods which may not be
   just as innocent of A.Z. (25)


This was the reason why my father specifically consulted Rabbi J.I. Schochet of Toronto on matters concerning idolatry and meditation. (26)

THE INSTITUTE

My father now had tacit approval and clear guidelines from the Rebbe regarding JM. He had broached the topic of putting together a center to promote JM, and the Rebbe's response had been to encourage it, as long as it could be done quickly. (27) The Rebbe had also asked for a budget and had twice mentioned that the Secretariat would be willing to fund the initial outlays for such a center. (28) It seemed that the scene was set for a Jewish Meditation institute.

My father went into overdrive. He recruited an anthropologist named Dr. Chaim (Charles) Rosen who was both interested in and knowledgeable about Eastern meditative techniques. Together they formed an ad-hoc committee that began to plan an institute that could directly challenge TM in the Western United States. It soon became abundantly clear that the institute was not going to be cheap. He put together two proposals. (29)

The Rebbe answered almost immediately that it would take too long to make such an institute. The Rebbe wanted results now. Therefore, my father and other trained professionals should publicize that they were offering meditative techniques as part of their medical practices. They should also speak to other physicians about doing the same. (30)

And that was the end of the Institute for Jewish Meditation.

It was not, however, the end of JM. Instead, it morphed into a series of workshops initially led by my father and Dr. Rosen in a variety of locations, primarily in California and New York.

FATEFUL MEETINGS

Father now switched his focus from developing a large institution to conducting JM workshops throughout Northern California. The Rebbe was very supportive of this and sent a message that he should "continue in this path that you are going." (31)

My father and Dr. Rosen visited New York towards the end of June to explore the possibilities of extending their JM workshop programs to the East Coast. The Rebbe suggested that psychiatrist Dr. Seymour Applebaum join their effort. (32)

The three of them conducted a series of meetings. One of these was with members of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists (AOJS). Although the AOJS members had been informed that an expert rabbi had been consulted about the halakhic implications of JM and although they enjoyed participating in the meditation itself, they expressed reservations that the yeshivah world would reject it because of its resemblance to idolatrous practices.

There was also a meeting with Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan that did not go well. (33) Rabbi Kaplan had no interest in using meditation in the way envisioned by the Rebbe. Instead, he wanted to use meditation as a vehicle to teach Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah. (34)

My father and Dr. Rosen wrote separately to the Rebbe about these disappointing meetings as well as about a series of successful workshops that they had given throughout New York. My father's letter was dated the third of Tammuz, 5739 (June 30, 1979). The Rebbe immediately answered that he did not agree with the direction in which Rabbi Kaplan wished to take Jewish meditation. (35)

Despite the several successful JM workshops they had conducted in New York, my father, Dr. Rosen, and Dr. Applebaum were disappointed with the lack of interest from rabbis and other Orthodox Jewish mental health providers. Apparently the Rebbe was also concerned about this negative reaction, which may possibly have been a catalyst for his decision to break his silence and to speak publicly about meditation.

13 TAMMUZ FARBRENGEN AND AFTERMATH.

On July 8, 1979, at the 13 Tammuz farbrengen, the Rebbe spoke publicly about the dangers that Eastern cults and their form of meditation posed for many Jews. He also spoke at length about the need for professionals to offer meditation without idolatrous trappings.

The Rebbe spoke primarily about the need for a medical form of limited meditation, such as he had initially suggested in his first letter to my father. He clarified that healthy people should not use meditation because prolonged practice separates the meditators from their surroundings. In contrast, the Torah recipe for lasting mental health (for healthy people at least) is working and being actively involved in family and society. People who need meditation should have it properly administered in required doses, similar to medicine. The ultimate goal was not for meditation to become an integral part of a person's life, but for people to be weaned slowly off it so they could resume active lives.

The Rebbe also addressed the fact that many ordinarily healthy people wanted to meditate and would go to Eastern cults if not offered an alternative. The Rebbe mentioned that an alternative might be the usage of Jewish symbolism such as reciting Shema as a mantra. (This was the only time he alluded to JM during the farbrengen.) The Rebbe felt that the desire to meditate was a sign of mental difficulties and people with this desire should be offered closely monitored forms of non-idolatrous meditation.

Finally the Rebbe lambasted observant professionals and rabbis who did not want to get involved with meditation (most probably an allusion to the meeting with the AOJS) out of fear that all forms of meditation are idolatrous. Likewise, he disagreed with using meditation as a vehicle to teach Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah (an allusion to the attitude of Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan). The Rebbe also explained that the form of meditation that he was suggesting should not be confused with the hitbonenut espoused in Lubavitch philosophy.

Father was caught completely by surprise when the Rebbe broke his silence, although in hindsight he could see that the letters sent to the Rebbe during the days preceding the farbrengen might have evoked a response. Although he was glad to have issues concerning meditation out in the open, he was somewhat apprehensive that the Rebbe had championed a medical model, rather than JM. Once again, Father was concerned that he might be approaching meditation from the wrong angle. Nevertheless, the Rebbe continued to encourage the JM workshops.

Within a year, the three people involved with JM went their separate ways. Dr. Rosen moved to Israel, where he opened and taught JM at the Jewish Meditation Center in Safed. He also became active with the new Jewish Ethiopian community in Israel. My father remained in contact with him for many years. Unfortunately, my father soon lost contact with Dr. Applebaum. My father continued, with the Rebbe's encouragement, to organize JM workshops in California and throughout the USA until he retired due to ill health in the 1990s.

CHECK YOUR SOURCES

My father often liked to tell how on May 1, 1980, he, Dr. Rosen, and Dr. Applebaum heard to their distress that a Lubavitcher PhD claimed that the Rebbe had told him privately that advanced forms of meditation enable people to fly and to practice mind control and telepathy. The three of them had always thought that such delusional beliefs were part of the dangers of TM. That day, my father sent a telegram to the Rebbe asking for a clarification. Five days later he received the following reply, also by telegram:
   I must emphasize again that my views and guidelines in reference to
   TM Meditation have not and could not have been changed since they
   are based on Shulchan Aruch. As for the suggestion you mention in
   your telegram about "teaching people to fly" it is the first I hear
   about it. Nor do I know details of it, but needless to say if it
   implies physical flying and hence is delusional, it is not only
   contrary to Torah, as any deception, but also inadvisable as a
   therapeutic method since eventually the patient will realise the
   deception and it is bound to result in a severe reaction. (36)


SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

My father felt that the Rebbe's view on the use of non-idolatrous meditation could be summarized as follows:

1. Ideally, meditation should be offered in the form of a medical model for those who are suffering from anxiety and/or other related mental and/or emotional issues. (37)

2. Healthy people should not use meditation. If used, it could actually lead to mental health issues. (38)

3. Seemingly healthy people who nonetheless insist on using meditation may be offered medical meditation, because their insistence in itself is a sign of their not being well. (39)

4. Meditation may be used with Jewish content, such as JM does, if this will reach and encourage more people to use it instead of Eastern meditation. (40)

5. JM should not be used as a means to promote Torah Judaism or Jewish mystical and Kabbalistic teachings because this may discourage some people from using it. (41)

6. Anyone who offers any of the above meditative services must do so in consultation with a rabbi who is an expert in this field to ascertain if any practices might inadvertently be idolatrous, connected to idolatry, or perceived as idolatry (marit ayin). (42)

Even after my father retired, he remained very interested in JM. He would have been pleased to see how many people today are offering JM as an alternative to TM. He would have been even more surprised at how many mainstream medical practitioners now suggest meditation (without the TM trappings) as a form of stress relief. (43) This is an example of how the Rebbe's views were ahead of his time.

However, I do believe Father would have beeen extremely apprehensive about any form of meditation calling itself kosher yoga or kosher TM, and so on, as it could be seen to be in conflict with principle 6 mentioned above. This is especially the case since the Rebbe mentioned yoga by name in the original memorandum as an idolatrous practice. (44)

It is true that yoga has many forms and has evolved over the years since the 1970s. There are also those who argue that yoga is now widely practiced solely as an exercise form to develop flexibility and enable relaxation. This was the July 2013 ruling of Superior Court Justice J. Meyers in San Diego. (45)

This should not, however, be interpreted as a sign that all forms of yoga are indeed kosher. The San Diego ruling is now under appeal. Moreover, civil courts have very different criteria than halakhah as to what constitutes idolatry. An even greater concern is the issue of marit ayin (that certain aspects of yoga could be misconstrued as idolatry). The very fact that many people believe that yoga is a religious practice is in itself problematic. I have also heard anecdotal evidence of practices in yoga classes that have been indirectly linked to idolatry, (46) which would also be problematic.

I believe that the only way to resolve this issue would be to follow the Rebbe's advice and refer the matter to a mumheh, a rabbinic expert in the halakhot of avodah zarah. To the best of my knowledge, no rabbinic mumheh has ever ruled on the issue of yoga and idolatry. (There have been plenty of laymen and regular rabbis who have offered their opinions, but this is obviously not sufficient according to the Rebbe's criterion.) A clear written ruling from a mumheh is the only way to put to bed the questions of whether the physical exercises of yoga and any of the many different forms of yogic meditation are halakhicly acceptable. It is possible that different mumhim may disagree on this issue. However, this is not more problematic than disagreements in other halakhic fields. In such cases, we generally leave it to the mumhim to thrash it out until a generally accepted position is reached.

FOR FURTHER READING

Sichos Kodesh. 5739 (1986). New York: private publication. vol. 3, pp. 314-322.

(1.) Confidential Memorandum, Tevet, 5738 (January, 1978) that was included with the above mentioned letter 16 Adar, 5738 (23 February, 1978). The Rebbe also sent an excerpt from the US District Court of New Jersey (Civil Action 76-341, Alan Malnak v. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, October 19, 1977) that ruled that teaching the Science of Creative Intelligence and the Puja in New Jersey public high schools violates the First Amendment.

(2.) The full correspondence, ranging from 5738-5742 (1978-1982), is sixty pages long and includes a memorandum, eight letters, and a telegram from the Rebbe. It also includes written messages from the Rebbe through the Secretariat and a transcript of a telephone call with Rabbi Nissan Mangel. It also, obviously, includes letters of response from both my father and Chaim Rosen. It is my hope one day to publish all of this material. Until then, I am happy to show it in its entirety to those who are interested in examining it.

(3.) As was the first letter.

(4.) Letter from the Rebbe to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 16 Adar I, 5738 (February 23, 1978).

(5.) Not that it helped. At least two of the people to whom my father showed and gave copies allowed parts of the correspondence to be "leaked."

(6.) Natan Ophir. 2012-2013. "The Lubavitcher Rebbe's Call for a Scientific Non-Hasidic Meditation" B'Or Ha'Torah. vol. 22 (), pp. 109-124.

(7.) Letter from the Rebbe to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 21 Adar II, 5738 (March 30, 1978).

(8.) Letter from the Rebbe to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 16 Adar I, 5738 (February 30, 1978).

(9.) I once asked my father why it took him almost a month to respond to the first letter from the Rebbe. (He was usually quite punctual about answering these letters.) His answer was that before he could send an answer, he first had to undergo an inner change of attitude that meditation was actually beneficial and not some form of quackery.

(10.) Letter from the Rebbe to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 16 Adar I, 5738 (February 23, 1978).

(11.) Letters from the Rebbe to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 21 Adar II (March 30, 1978), 11 Sivan, 5738 (June 16, 1978), 10 Tammuz, 5739 (July 5, 1979).

(12.) Letters from the Rebbe to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 21 Adar II, 5738 (March 30, 1978) and 10 Tammuz, 5739 (July 5, 1979), 13 Tammuz Farbrengen, 5739 (July 8, 1979).

(13.) Letter from the Rebbe to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 16 Adar I, 5738 (February 23, 1978), 13 Tammuz Farbrengen, 5739 (July 8, 1979).

(14.) Letters from the Rebbe to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 10 Tammuz, 5739 (July 5, 1979) and 11 Sivan, 5738 (June 16, 1978).

(15.) Letter from the Rebbe to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 21 Adar II, 5738 (March 30, 1978).

(16.) Letter from the Rebbe to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 11 Sivan, 5738 (June 16, 1978).

(17.) Letter from Dr. Yehuda Landes to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, 13 Adar II, 5738 (March 13, 1978).

(18.) Ibid.

(19.) Ibid.

(20.) The two objectives were making such therapy available to Jewish patients in a kosher way and saving numerous Jews from getting involved in avodah zarah--letter from the Rebbe to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 21 Adar II, 5738 (March 30, 1978).

(21.) Ibid.

(22.) Ibid.

(23.) Letters from Dr. Yehuda Landes to the Rebbe, 13 Adar II (March 13, 1978), 3 Nissan and 15 Menahem Av, 5738 (April 10 and August 18, 1978).

(24.) In rabbinic terms, one could say it was bedieved rather than I'hathila.

(25.) A copy of this letter from the Rebbe (24 Tevet, 5742 [January 19, 1982]) was forwarded to Dr. Yehuda Landes.

(26.) Although Rabbi Schochet was better known for his anti-missionary work and his debates with Christian theologians, he was also knowledgeable in Eastern religions. My father wrote to the Rebbe (15 Menachem Av, 5738 [August 18, 1978]) that, for this reason, he was using Rabbi Schochet for halakhic queries. It is my feeling that if the Rebbe disagreed with this choice, he would have certainly objected (as he objected to so many other aspects of my father's ideas during the founding months of JM).

(27.) This was to become a major concern as the correspondence developed.

(28.) Letters from the Rebbe to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 21 Adar II (March 30, 1978) and 11 Sivan, 5738 (June 16, 1978).

(29.) Letter from Dr. Yehuda Landes to the Rebbe, 15 Menachem Av, 5738 (August 18, 1978).

(30.) Letter from the Rebbe to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 15 Menachem Av, 5738 (August 18, 1978). It seems that the Rebbe answered my father on the same day that his detailed letter proposing the institute was sent!

(31.) From the Secretariat in the name of the Rebbe, 19 Shevat, 5739 (February 16, 1979).

(32.) Letter from the Rebbe to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 15 Menachem Av, 5738 (August 18, 1978).

(33.) I was in New York at the time and I still remember how upset my father was when he returned from the meeting.

(34.) This is discussed at greater length in Natan Ophir's "The Lubavitcher Rebbe's Call for a Scientific Non-Hasidic Meditation" in B'Or Ha'Torah. vol. 22 (2012-2013) pp. 109-123.

(35.) Letter from the Rebbe to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 10 Tammuz, 5739 (July 5, 1979).

(36.) Telegram from the Rebbe to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 6 May, 1980. (I have added the punctuation).

(37.) Letter from the Rebbe to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 16 Adar I, 5738 (February 23, 1978), 13 Tammuz Farbrengen, 5739 (July 8, 1979).

(38.) Ibid.

(39.) Letter from the Rebbe to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 21 Adar II, 5738 (March 30, 1978), 13 Tammuz Farbrengen, 5739 (July 8, 1979).

(40.) Letters from the Rebbe to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 21 Adar II, 5738 (March 30, 1978) and 11 Sivan 5738 (June 16, 1978).

(41.) Letters from the Rebbe to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 21 Adar II, 5738 (March 30, 1978) and 11 Sivan, 5738 (June 16, 1978), 10 Tammuz, 5739.

(42.) Letter from the Rebbe forwarded to Dr. Yehuda Landes, 24 Tevet, 5742 (January 19, 1982).

(43.) Many physicians in the United Kingdom now acknowledge the therapeutic value of meditation. See NHS Choices, Mental Health: http://www.nhs.uk/ news/2008/12December/Pages/Meditationanddepression.aspx.

(44.) Confidential Memorandum, Tevet, 5738 (January, 1978).

(45.) Sedlock v Baird (2013), 37-2013-00035910-CU-MC-CTL. Retrieved from http:// courtindex.sdcourt.ca.gov/CISPublic/casedetail?casenum=20i30oo3S9io&casesite =SD&applcode=C.

(46.) I was recently told of a situation where an observant person found a small statue of Buddha in their yoga class. While this is unlikely to be considered idolatry itself (avodah zarah), it may well be considered an affiliation of idolatry (abizrayu davodah zarah) according to Jewish law.

Rabbi Yehoshua P. Landes

Rabbi Yehoshua P. Landes was born in Palo Alto, California, and received rabbinic ordination in France (1984) and New York (1985). He received a BA in Chinese and European History from Murdoch University in Western Australia (1996). He was the founder and director of Chabad of Western Australia from 1988-1996 and served for a decade as the Rabbi of the Prestwich Hebrew Congregation in Manchester, UK. In addition to Lubavitch outreach and rabbinics, Rabbi Landes has also been involved in Jewish education for both adults and teenagers for over twenty years. He taught English and British history at the Lubavitch Boys High School in Manchester, UK. He has recently been appointed Head Teacher of Hillel High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
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