Orthodox Rabbi speaks on his 9-year TM practice

by Bob Roth on September 8, 2010

Rabbi Abraham Shainberg is the son of Holocaust survivors. His parents were from Warsaw, Poland, and they immigrated to America through different routes before raising their family the Lower East Side of New York. His father served as Rabbi of the First Warshauer Congregation for 27 years. With the urging of his father, Abraham studied at the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School on Henry Street in the Lower East Side from kindergarten through high school, and then attended Brooklyn College at the Flatbush campus. 

“A lot of my friends went there,” he recalls. “We studied the Torah, and the more you study the Torah the more you live the Torah. Sixty of us started the three-year program to become an ordained Rabbi (Semicha) but only seventeen of us completed the program. A few of us became rabbis, but most became professionals or businessmen. We were always cognizant of our rabbinical training because it dwells in your soul. It never leaves you.” 

Ten years ago, Rabbi Shainberg heard about the Transcendental Meditation technique from a friend. As a practicing Orthodox Jew, he was cautious but intrigued. “I wanted to know more, so I watched some videotapes of Maharishi’s lectures. Obviously, Maharishi is not my rabbi, but every tape I listened to, everything Maharishi said, was exactly on par with the Torah. I couldn’t believe it. Not a word was off. This wasn’t ‘new age;’ this is the wisdom of the ages. Maharishi came to the same conclusion arrived at by the greatest rabbis.”

Soon after, Rabbi Shainberg learned the Transcendental Meditation technique, and has been meditating 20 minutes twice a day ever since.

“Looking back over all these years, I can say TM has led me to better prayer, better service, and to be a better Jew. I’m more on my path to God than ever.”

“Transcendental Meditation is not a religion,” says Rabbi Shainberg, “and it doesn’t profess to ever be one or take the place of one. It is a technique for you to go inwards and find your soul, find your silence, find your bliss as a human being—and become the person God truly wants you to be.”

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  • Shaas

    Amazing testimony!
    The basic truths of life are same in every religion.
    Thank you very much!

  • Claire Pluygers

    It’s a moving testimony indeed. Rabbi Shainberg makes clear things I was asking me.
    So, Maharishi brought him TM but he is not his rabbi. It seems me to be an important difference.
    Thank you!

  • Phil

    What a terrific video to view the evening Rosh Hashana ended! My wife and I learned TM many years ago, but unfortunately, did we not practice it regularly for many years. We restarted our practice a few months ago and even got our two teenage boys to start meditating. I am also the son of a Polish-born Holocaust survivor, and we found great comfort and wisdom in Rabbi Shainberg’s video. It has confirmed the wisdom of having our entire family begin practice of TM again.

  • http://www.a2zyoga.com/blog Katherine Roberts

    I am glad that Rabbi Shainberg came across Transcendental Meditation ! TM must be really beautiful which is why Rabbi is into it ever since he learned it.Meditation has really worked wonders for me too . It has helped me in building my self confidence, has increased my patience and has overall made me an better human being.

  • Rabbi Eli Mallon, M.Ed., LMSW

    R. Joshua b. Korchah said [in the Talmud; Mishnah Brachot 2:2]:
    “…one should first accept on oneself the yoke of the kingdom of heaven and then accept on oneself the yoke of the commandments.”
    Maharishi has taught us the import of what The Bhagavad Gita says [2:45]:
    “Be without the three gunas” (i.e. accept the yoke of the kingdom of heaven)
    and (2:48):
    “Established in Being, perform action” (i.e. having accepted the yoke of the kingdom of heaven, accept now the yoke of the mitzvot).
    We might find, of course, an ongoing, progressive interaction between the two, in which our performance of the mitzvot (commandments) is enriched by transcending, and our experience of transcending is more integrated in our daily lives by our performance of the mitzvot, as Rabbi Shainberg says.

  • Claire Pluygers

    I’m interested & moved by this discussion. I’m the daughter of a Holocaust-survivor mother too, & thus very attached to my Jewish roots. I rather see the yoke of the mitzvot like something able to give us an individual & social structure. The kingdom of heaven like a “contact”, an anticipation (in an essential meaning), so to say, with Transcendant. The danger is, like said above, having one without the other: only the mitzvots could seem strange and quite despairing – letting forget the aim; only the heaven can let us forget we are still in a body, on the earth. One has to feed the other. I read some hassidim didn’t want to be delivered from the joy of the mitzvot, & I find it beautiful. It means they were “integrated”; nevertheless I think the “kingdom of heaven” is before and also at the end.

  • Laurie

    Rabbi Shainberg has clarified in this video the questions I had about religion and transcendental meditiation.There really is a difference and not a conflict. TM seems to enhance your life on multiple levels.

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