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Thursday
Jan042018

YOU ARE THE CHAMPIONS!

  The task, the challenge, and the most important thing in modern life: believing in children and giving them strength. The search: I spent several years looking for the reason why I was in such internal turmoil. Even when I reached the peak of success, I left it all and moved on. The change: The first Shabbos that I observed in my life, when I was in Melbourne, Australia without understanding why. Connections: Between body and soul, through the studies ofcontact-combattraining and natural healing. The gift: The insights and abilities that I attained in life, I give to children through positive learning in the framework of Chabad schools. This is the fascinating lifes journey of RLior Inbar.

Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry

Chassidus Gufa” is a successful and revolutionary initiative that has taken root in recent years in several Chabad educational institutions and Talmudei Torah throughout central Israel. The objective of this project is to reveal the inner Chassidishe nekuda in every child, through its impressive and dynamic physical activities.

This marvelous project has transformed physical education into an educational platform with considerable Chassidic value. The program is run and operated by R’ Lior Inbar from Shikun Chabad in Lod, and he has achieved some very impressive successes.

“Every government-sponsored school with the Israel Ministry of Education receives special hours for physical education. The essence of our program is to utilize these hours in providing classes filled with fun and activity, providing each participating child with the Chassidic tools he needs to deal with different situations in life. The games, the assignments, and the exercises provide the children with continual experiences of Ahavas Yisroel, control over one’s thoughts, speech, and action, a profound sense of Jewish pride, a personal exodus from Egypt, diverting one’s mind, trust in G-d, etc. I clearly see how the Chassidishe nekuda reveals itself with ever greater intensity,’ said R’ Lior as he briefly described the heart of the project. In this series of classes, R’ Lior has often succeeded where other educational approaches have failed.

“YOU’RE LEAVING NOW?”

In his early childhood, R’ Lior never imagined that his main involvement would be in the field of education. During his life, he went through numerous travails. He was born in Netanya and grew up in a traditional home. The fact that two of his uncles are prominent Chabad chassidim, Rabbi Meir and R’ Chaim Aharon, had a tremendous influence upon him. He always knew how to show appreciation for the path of Chassidus, even though life’s twists and turns had taken him in another direction.

As a child, R’ Lior was the type who revealed and quickly showed enthusiasm for every new thing that came along, yet the zeal also dissipated just as fast. “I had less of an inclination towards in-depth study. I was always looking to learn through a kind of experience, and it was this that brought me during my youth to be a member of a dance company in Netanya. We made stage performances throughout Eretz Yisroel and even overseas. This was a very beautiful time, which came to an end with my enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces. While I served for three years in a mundane task – a stock keeper at the Wingate Institute – it was there that I discovered the world of sports.”

Then, the father of one of his friends, who headed the Israeli association of “k’rav maga” (‘contact-combat’), a military self-defense system developed for the IDF and Israeli security forces, suggested to Lior that he join a year-long training course in the field. “Among the participants in this course were people with some serious background in other forms of military fighting, while I was the only one who came from the field of dance… I connected well with the training, which I found quite stimulating. I loved the simple genius to this approach. At the year’s conclusion, I received my certificate as a coach, and I began training about five hundred children a week in ‘contact-combat.’ I enjoyed every minute.”

After about two years, Lior unwittingly began noticing that as he walked in the street, sat on a bus, etc., he imagined attack scenarios and how he would deal with them. “One day, I felt my whole body tensing as I took a leisurely walk, and this led me to think: Is it right to teach children to envision situations of violence in their lives? As I looked at those veteran trainers who live with ‘contact-combat,’ I realized that I didn’t want to be like them.

“When I informed the association heads of my decision, they were disappointed. ‘You are very successful and you have a brilliant future ahead of you in this field. Now you want to leave?’ they asked incredulously. Yet, in my heart, I was no longer there and remained unmoved. Looking back, I know that I was searching for a truer and more profound way of life, something that I failed to find in the ‘contact-combat’ methodology. There was one good thing that I did get from this training – a much stronger sense of self-confidence and self-worth. As a boy, I was very timid and frightened – now I had courage.”

During the next period in his life, Lior continued to search for his niche, and he came to the world of Chinese medicine.

As with ‘contact-combat,’ his first days studying Shiatsu at Karkur College gave him reason to believe that he had finally found what his soul had long been after, quenching his deep inner thirst. “I discovered that I possessed a powerful sense of intuition, and this helped me achieve considerable success in my treatment of people. At a certain stage, I considered that while I was having success with others – what about me? My soul felt as if it was under siege: Anyone who provides treatment to others must be clean himself…”

One fine day, Lior packed his belongings and flew to India, where he rented a motorcycle and went out on a journey from the country’s central region up to the north. He preferred not to be in the company of Israeli Jews and went out looking specifically to be around the local Indian population. After a lengthy and enriching five-month tour, he returned to Eretz Yisroel with two insights that have developed his path in life ever since: “The first insight was that the Indians’ value for life bore no comparison whatsoever to the Jewish People. I learned this during my very first bus trip in India, when I noticed the native driver, who was drunk as Lot, weaving along the road. At this point, I tried to understand what was happening and how it was possible that all the other passengers were calmly sitting in their seats, while the bus rambled aimlessly as it struck other vehicles. Part of the road opened towards a dangerously deep ravine, and it was only then that I started hearing the passengers talk about ‘reincarnation.’ This filled my heart with terror… When the nightmarish ride was over, it was clear to me that I would never board another Indian bus again.

“The second insight was that I could succeed in anything that I wanted. This came when my rented motorcycle failed to start and one of the local Indians from a nearby village offered to try and make repairs. He worked for several long hours, loosening all the bolts. I was quite certain that he didn’t have the slightest idea how to put everything back, yet to my great surprise, he managed to do just that and the engine revved up again, as good as new. I thought to myself: ‘If this Indian can, I can – and so can anyone else.’ I realized that our abilities are determined by what we choose to learn and how we succeed.”

MY NESHAMA WAS CRYING OUT FROM ITS SPIRITUAL DEPTHS, YET I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND WHY…

With his return to Eretz Yisroel, Lior was extremely motivated to complete his studies in natural healing. He enrolled in a college in Tel Aviv for the study of Chinese medicine, where he became friendly with his teacher and eventually served as his personal assistant in preparing course material. Later, Lior opened his own clinic in the town of Even Yehuda, east of Netanya, which he ran for seven years and provided treatment to numerous patients. He connected well with the land and nature, and together with his good friend, he used his spare time to building a farm for raising poultry and livestock.

“This was a very busy time in my life. I had more than enough money and I was intensely involved in whatever interested me since I was a boy. I went back to training groups in ‘contact-combat,’ teaching and treating patients in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. I had a farm in which I had invested much time and effort, and I was writing and composing songs that I would sing with my friends from Yerushalayim. I felt that I had it all.”

Then, at the age of thirty-two, as at many stages in his life, he suddenly decided to leave it all and fly to Australia. Why? For what reason? He doesn’t have an answer. “When my father asked me why, I said that I felt that I wasn’t in my proper place. I was bored. In hindsight, I now know that my soul was simply crying out from its spiritual depths, yet I failed to understand what it was seeking.”

FLYING TO AUSTRALIA TO ATTAIN UNDERSTANDING

“My first stop was in Sydney, followed by Melbourne. As soon as I arrived, I put an advertisement in the local newspapers, publicizing my services in Chinese healing. I expected to find work rather easily, but that wasn’t the case. The money that I had brought with me had run out, and the telephone wasn’t ringing.

“In order to restore some semblance of order in my troubled mind, I decided to start keeping Shabbos. The very next day, I received my first job offer – to work on Friday and Shabbos. While I only had seventy dollars left, nevertheless, I found myself explaining to someone – I don’t even know if he was a Jew or a Gentile – that Jews don’t work on Shabbos… He agreed that I could work only one day. This was a very strenuous and physical workday, yet my enthusiasm grew as I prepared to observe Shabbos for the very first time. On my way to the Chabad House of Rabbi Dudu Lieder, the shliach for tourists in Melbourne, I called my mother with great excitement and said, ‘I’m keeping Shabbos!!!’ The day after Shabbos, as if by a miracle, employment opportunities began to stream in, job offers having nothing to do whatsoever with Chinese medicine…

“It was clear to me that the fact I had observed Shabbos was what had come to my aid. If that wasn’t enough, I was transformed within two weeks into a ‘job information center.’ The telephone didn’t stop ringing with job offers, while on the other hand, Israelis looking for work turned to me and I served as a kind of agent between them and their potential employers. At Rabbi Lieder’s Chabad House in Melbourne, I felt a sort of closing of the circle, as if my whole life revolved around this very spot. After a few weeks, when I resolved to start wearing tzitzis, all the obstacles were removed. In Eretz Yisroel, I had already tried to do t’shuva, but it never lasted. This time, I knew that it would succeed.”

Within another few weeks, Lior’s life had totally changed. He realized that he was completing a lengthy process of soul searching, one that had been burning within him since he was a youngster.

Upon his return from Australia, he went to Rechovot, where he studied Nigleh and Chassidus at the ‘Da’at’ Yeshiva, headed by Rabbi Yitzchak Arad. “I had to fly to Australia to understand that what I needed was Torah study and observing mitzvos,” Lior said with a smile. “Even before I returned to Eretz Yisroel, G-d arranged that there would be nothing to interfere with my decision to follow the path of truth. This was when my partner from the moshav told me that the flock of sheep we had worked so hard and invested so much money to tend had been stolen without a trace. He thought that I would be angry, but I laughed and told him about my new path in life…”

A TRULY EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE

Several months later, he established a proper Jewish home. The newly married couple chose to settle “near the location of the yeshiva,” as the Rebbe had written in a response to their request for a bracha to find a place to live – near his uncle’s kollel in Rechovot, where he learned for five years to receive his rabbinical ordination and develop his Chassidic character. During his kollel studies, he received an offer from his cousin, Rabbi Shneur Zalman Aharon, principal of a Talmud Torah in Tel Aviv, to serve as a teacher. “While I encountered much success in this job, I still didn’t think that this was my calling.”

Why did you feel that way?

When I taught Mishna and Gemara in class, the students paid attention, but not completely. I was certain that when I would speak about the importance of Chassidic values, they would be far more attentive. However, I was proven wrong. At a certain point, I thought that if I seasoned my presentation with a few stories, their attention would reach the maximum – but again this was not the case. While the level of their attention did increase, it was still inadequate. Then, when I took my students outside of class and ran some educational activities in the schoolyard, their response was absolute.

I realized that it would be far better for me to use this method in teaching and educating the children. This was after we had moved to Lod’s Shikun Chabad neighborhood. When I suggested the idea to the principals of the Talmudei Torah in Tel Aviv and Lod, they agreed to try. I started training once or twice a week – each class received one hour. I would combine dynamic physical activities with a variety of cognitive tasks; the rationale behind each activity was to create challenging situations, ‘compelling’ each child to reveal his inner Jewish Chassidic essence. The success was overwhelming; the principals and educational staff saw that it was good and they asked if I could run additional classes.

I decided that my activities should focus on a number of “burning” issues: improving attention deficiencies, attaining greater understanding of instructions and their fulfillment, personal and social empowerment. I harnessed all the knowledge that I had gathered throughout my life – in dancing, teaching “contact-combat” to children, and of course, the insight from Chinese medicine – and I combined them in my teaching the values of Chassidus. When I was a student, since it was quite hard for me to sit and learn in a classroom environment, I could understand those having problems concentrating in class. This is the reason why I see this as a holy shlichus.

CHASSIDIC TRAINING

Can you give some examples how “Chassidus Gufa” manages to reveal Chassidic values within children?

Here’s one example: When we go down from the classroom to the schoolyard, I remind the children that we walk in an orderly manner without running, emphasizing that this is an avoda under their complete power. Your animal soul wants to run, but you can control it. Even first-grade children understand the meaning of instructions, and I see them replicating this behavior for other incidents occurring throughout the day. When we reach the schoolyard, I ask the children to stand in a circle, close their eyes, and think. This is what I call “Control in Thought.”

This educational approach is one of the foundations for success in “Chassidus Gufa.” I’ll give you an example: A child occasionally wants to speak with one of his friends in the middle of activities where total quiet is necessary. Instead of turning to the child making noise, I go specifically over to those fulfilling their task and commend them for how they controlled their power of speech. The positive reinforcement, together with taking no notice of certain negative actions, causes even the most “problem” children to join and cooperate. Thus, during the activities, I reinforce the children’s control over their thought, speech, and action. We make considerable effort to accept others, those much weaker, with true Ahavas Yisroel, by working in pairs. At first, a child chooses his best friend as a partner, but after an exercise or two, I ask them to pick another child and then they turn to another classmate. I continue using this method, asking them to choose more and more children until everyone has worked with all the others.

A few weeks ago, one teacher told me that due to our activities, he had noticed during recess that children who once would never speak with another were now playing and talking together.

An example of another activity is one designed to foster greater social contact. I ask the children to mingle around the classroom and then I see how many seconds it takes them to form a circle. In those classes where I started doing the exercise with them, it takes them some time to close the circle. There are always those who remain outside because no one wanted to give them a hand. Thus, whenever some make an additional effort, I praise them for their success, particularly those who include “outside children,” and the effect is immediate: If the first time it takes them more than a minute to form a new circle, in the following classes, the stopwatch doesn’t even reach five seconds…

ALWAYS SEEING THE GOOD

Tell me honestly, does your approach sometimes fail to achieve success?

Your question essentially leads me to a description of the “Chassidus Gufa” educational approach. As I mentioned previously, an important basis to my educational agenda is always to see the good and look for success. If a child starts to cause disruptions, I don’t react to them. This isn’t easy for me, as it’s human nature to seek out the disrupter. However, I work on myself and teach our counselors to ignore the disturbances and only take note of the successes. The counselor is constantly busy looking for points of strength within the children, praising them before the others. Similarly, the children are busy cooperating, showing how they too have positive qualities that they want us to tell everyone about.

I remember one child who came to us; he would stand on the sidelines and not participate. He had a very weak muscle tone and since I knew how hard it was for him, I chose not to pressure him. When he did participate a little, I immediately complimented him for that. With each new class, he dared to try more and more until he became an integral part of the group. He joined all the exercises just like everyone else. A few weeks ago, his mother called me and asked, “What’s happening with him? You remember that I told you about how difficult he would be?” I reported to her that he is showing a marked improvement, and she replied that she has begun to see a change in home. He’s starting to help and do his work like his brothers, and therefore, she wanted to call and offer her thanks…

SUCCESS STORIES

Can you share with us some other stories that you’ve experienced through your work?

There are numerous stories, but I’ll tell you one about a boy who was an integral part of my activities from the very start. On the day he arrived, his mother informed me that a day wouldn’t pass without his clashing with someone. I met the boy and saw that he was very talented, however, his aptitude had failed to take form in class. During the first training sessions, he made every effort to show me how disturbed he is and how correct it would be just to get rid of him. However, this did him no good. With each new session, I discovered a new talent that he had, and every small success earned him praise. After a few months, his teachers and peers couldn’t believe the change. He gave himself over completely to the activities and had much success, and the change had an effect upon the entire class and upon his conduct at home.

I remember another boy whose mother told me that he has serious attention deficiency problems. My suggestion was that she bring him to one training session and watch what’s happening with him. At the start of every session, we close our eyes and the children do meditation exercises. She saw him during these moments and was quite amazed; she told me that she never would have believed that he could concentrate for more than a minute. True, I hadn’t really solved his attention deficiency problem, but I had taught him that he can overcome it whenever he wants, through experiencing his own personal successes.

From my standpoint, the most amazing thing I find is in my lesson plans. I felt tremendous help from Heaven in the process of developing this project. My first series of classes took place during the middle of a school year, and I had to prepare about twenty weekly lesson plans lasting until the end of the year. I invested much time and effort as I looked for exercises that would serve the objectives of Chassidic teachings. At the end of the year, I was stunned when I looked back at them. They were put together with incredible precision and depth, progressing sequentially from stage to stage. There were moments when I was certain that I hadn’t written this…

A CALL TO PARENTS: BELIEVE IN YOUR CHILDREN!

In conclusion, since you’re an educator, we’d like to get a tip from you.

“The biggest gift that I can give to parents is concealed in the process that I personally endured. In recent years, I’ve thought a great deal about what my parents were going through while I was searching for my true purpose in life. Think about it: They raise you, expect something from you, and before their very eyes you make the worst possible mistakes. Nevertheless, I never heard my parents expressing concern for my future or any lack of confidence in me. In their eyes, I was always a very talented and successful child. They believed in me. In contrast, when I was much younger, I believed far less in my talents and abilities, and whenever they complimented me, I became even more perplexed. There were times when I tried to show them their error in judgment, but they wouldn’t hear of it. Therefore, the best advice that I can give to parents, which led to my eventual success, is that they should have confidence in their children. Have wholehearted faith in their abilities – especially during those times and cases when they aren’t succeeding. I always tell the kids: ‘You are champions!’ I also give a special emphasis and support to the concept that every small success they achieve is what leads them to more successes.”

CHASSIDUS GUFA

The name of the blessed initiative established by R’ Lior is “Chassidus Gufa.” Aptly named, its objective is to reveal and intensify the Chassidic abilities within every child through activities of the body. “The name ‘Chassidus Gufa’ came to me after a year of activities in the field. G-d led me through a surprising spiritual journey and it illustrated for me the path of Chinese medicine – where the soul influences the body in a manner of ‘contact-combat’ training, where the body can influence the soul. Combined with our work in education, we can lead to the fullest and most intense revelation of the Jewish Chassidic nekuda. ‘Chassidus Gufa’ creates clear and continued changes, whether on each student’s personal level, his conduct in the classroom, or in his general school environment. This is a feeling of true shlichus and we hope that when additional counselors join the program, with G-d’s help, we can expand ‘Chassidus Gufa’ activities to other educational institutions throughout the country.”

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