I was always an inquisitive child, ever curious to learn more about the world around me. Then, as an impressionable 15-year-old, my life unexpectedly fell apart. It happened one day when I was alone with my father, a man I adored, the person I looked up to as having the answers to all of life’s questions. Suddenly, without warning, he had a fatal heart attack right in front of me. I was desperate yet powerless to help him. In an instant, I found myself bereft of my beloved mentor and left to fend for myself with life’s demanding questions. The need to find meaningful answers had now become infinitely more acute. In addition to all the usual teenage questions, one tiny word was reverberating around my head screaming out the biggest question of them all – WHY?
The rest of my life has been nothing less than a path of discovery. Raised in an Orthodox Jewish home, I dived deeply into the oceans of Jewish thought and learning. Following high school graduation, I enrolled in Yeshivot (higher colleges of Jewish education). I studied Torah with a Chassidic twist in America (Tomchei Temimim, Chabad, Morristown, N.J.) and then more Torah, this time seasoned with an accoutrement of Lithuanian Jewish thought, in Israel (Kerem B’Yavneh). This allowed me to set sail on that sea of Jewish thought throughout my subsequent married and working life – a healing journey that served as a stabilizing backdrop throughout later life challenges.
Now a veteran hi-tech professional with an actuarial and accountancy background, for close to the last 2 decades, I have been working as a product manager for a leading global provider of business management software solutions. With expertise in finance, logistics and production, I work with a business software suite used internationally by many tens of thousands of companies. Along the way, I received Smicha (Rabbinical ordination) from Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg and Rabbi Chaim Perlmutter in a working man’s program for advanced Jewish study, a part-time Kollel.
All those years ago, my introduction to Chassidic thought also launched me into the world of Kabbalah, an area of learning that has proven to be profoundly comforting in providing answers to those ever-present nagging questions. My dive into the world of Lithuanian Jewish thought introduced me to the work Nefesh HaChaim, another portal into that same underlying Kabbalistic world. At the time it was beyond my wildest dreams to think that some 30 years later I would translate and comment on this profound work in Nefesh HaTzimtzum, Vol. 1. Moreover, I could never have imagined bringing the two worlds of Chassidic and Lithuanian Jewish thought together, believed by many to be fundamentally conflicting, by showcasing their agreement over the fundamental Kabbalistic concept of Tzimtzum, in Nefesh HaTzimtzum, Vol. 2. Still, many questions were nagging at me and I had to go deeper.
I then began to appreciate the beauty of the work, Shomer Emunim, a primary source work for both Chassidic and Lithuanian Jewish thought. Using it as a platform to build a systematic presentation of the Arizal’s (Lurianic) Kabbalah, an introduction to authentic Torah-based Kabbalah, I unexpectedly discovered that the most central of concepts in Kabbalah can only be properly understood using a framework of understanding from contemporary science. Remarkably, this understanding explains the nature of the technological changes that we are all witnessing in the world around us.
Many of my questions now have satisfying answers that have been recorded in my books:
- Nefesh HaTzimtzum, Volume 1: Rabbi Chaim Volozhin’s Nefesh HaChaim with Translation and Commentary
(816 pages, Urim Publications, 2015)
- Nefesh HaTzimtzum, Volume 2: Understanding Nefesh HaChaim through the Key Concept of Tzimtzum and Related Writings (760 pages, Urim Publications, 2015)
- Shomer Emunim: The Introduction to Kabbalah (1080 pages, Urim Publications, 2021)
Now living in Beit Shemesh, Israel, I am privileged to have shared this fascinating journey with my darling wife Tania, and to have been blessed with our children, Miri, and Gila and Max Bernstein. However, this journey of discovery is far from over and with God’s help I am looking forward to writing the next few chapters soon….