It happens to us all. At the train station. In the checkout line at the grocery store. Driving the kids to school. Sitting through a meeting at work. We experience a moment of stress. A feeling of frustration. A flash of hopelessness. An encounter of anger. Confusion about who we are, why we are here, what we could possibly doing differently in this moment so it doesn’t feel quite so upsetting.
Could it be possible that deep in those moments, when our questions seem to be strongest, that the answers seem to arise? Could it be that when it comes to money, relationships, health, family, work, or simply a search for meaning in our lives, that the answers are already here, ready to be accessed within our tradition?
It might be a shiur playing on a podcast through your headphones at precisely that moment of subway stress. It could be a flashback to a class you took way back in seminary or yeshivah while your boss drones on in a meeting. Maybe it’s hearing a posuk through your children’s iPad or catching a glimpse of an article on your morning scroll that reminds you: there are answers out there. There is meaning in life. In fact, there’s a whole toolset available, and maybe you’ve even encountered it before.
Chassidus is our greatest gift, the antidote that was granted to us to heal an ailing world, giving us perspective to bring G-dliness into our lives every minute of every day, through even the toughest moments. We’ve all been there, in the narrow places – but how often do we try to apply what we learned in books, shiurim and photocopied pages to our own spaces?
The Meaningful Life Center’s “My Life: Chassidus Applied” essay contest began five years ago as a way of inviting everyone, from laypeople, to students, to Chassidus enthusiasts to share their insights. Entrants are challenged to seek out ways of applying Chassidic thoughts and teachings to daily life, and inspire others in their own personal process – with the special incentive of $10,000 awarded to the first place winner! Not just for teachers, scholars or mashpiim, the essay contest has been a transformational space for ordinary people to share their own journeys of learning to begin applying Chassidus to life, weaving personal experience into these soulful words.
The power of Emunah and Bitachon helped an Israeli mother-of-four in her eighth month of pregnancy when her husband was called up to Reserve Duty in Gaza. A young Yeshivah bochur, winner of our 2017 student division learned to judge people more favorably by actively watching his own behavior while researching his essay over several weeks – and continues to do so long after the contest is over.
It might be an issue you’ve been grappling with for some time, and found some answers in Tanya that you’re ready to share with others. Maybe it’s an area you explore often through psychology articles or Ted Talks – but what about Chassidus? Perhaps you’ve always been curious what Chassidus has to say about it, or already found some sources that speak to you, but are looking for the motivation you need to write it up and share it with the world. Maybe you’ve studied or taught a lot of Chassidus before, but never really sat down to think about how you might apply it to your life. It could be the concept you always give over to friends – now you’ll have it in a published, written form! This is your opportunity – the contest is created for you. Let the $10,000 prize motivate you to enter and win (with runner up prizes awarded as well), but remember that the value of bringing your personal perspective out into the world is priceless.
There are many Mashpiim in the world, and thank G-d Chassidus is studied today more widely than ever. To quote Yakiv Haven, 2017 student winner, “Anyone who has learned even a small amount of Chassidus knows that its power extends beyond the book, and that the intention is that the concepts and ideas do not simply remain in the books.”
We’re asking you to help us bring these teachings outside of the book, and share them with the world. To find ways to add that last chapter to our holy texts, and talk about why it’s powerful and available to everyone in the world today. The world is waiting to hear your unique perspective – your challenges, your vulnerabilities, your struggles and your growth. The power of inspiration is not only in our teachers and leaders – it is in each and every one of us, no matter our age, background or level of education in Chassidus. Now, the MyLife essay contest is waiting for you to share your words – and you could even win $10k out of it!
As per previous years, the essay contest will be judged by a blind panel to explore how the concept in Chassidus is explained and elucidated to help others solve a contemporary life issue or challenge. (Judging is based on content, not writing skills, and entries are accepted in Hebrew, Yiddish and English). Three winners will be selected, along with a student prize for ages 14 – 21. All essays will be published and publicized on meaningfullife.com, and will be featured throughout the year on the My Life: Chassidus Applied weekly videocast.
ALL SUBMISSIONS ARE DUE BY 11:59 P.M Eastern Time on February 12, 2019
To view the contest rules and guidelines or submit an essay, visit www.meaningfullife.com/contest.
To view the contest rules and guidelines in Hebrew, visit www.meaningfullife.com/HebrewContest
A Word from Former Entrants…
“I’m especially thankful for an opportunity to share my findings with the Jewish world, so that perhaps the results of my struggles could help others who have similar struggles.” – Naomi Zirkind.
“It’s nice to learn about things theoretically, but the truth is that no one ever changed their life or was helped through a challenge by a concept that stayed in the theoretical realm. Chassidus is meant to change us, and the only way it will change us is if we let it into the deepest parts of ourselves— thereby surging us with empowerment to better ourselves and to serve as a beacon of light and support for those around us. I really appreciated the opportunity to be able to take that which I’d learned, and apply it to real life challenges. Life involves real people, real challenges, real struggles and we as Chassidim have all the answers right in front of us.” – Rochel Schwartz
“In general, I feel that I grew tremendously as a person throughout the 40 hours of effort and concentration that I put into the essay. My confidence and inner can-do attitude surfaced in a healthier, more balanced way after this essay was published. I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment every time I share it with others and help their healing process. Thank you for the opportunity to share this.” – Nechama Dina Zwiebel
Contact: Sruli Steiner, Contest Director, 718-774-6448 x 202.