On Sunday evening, April 22, over 500 participants from the Baltimore community gathered to hear Rabbi Yom Tov Glaser, a senior Rabbi at Aish HaTorah Jerusalem and an international lecturer, present his talk “The Possible You” at the 46th Annual M. Leo Storch Memorial Lecture. The event, held at Bais Yaakov High School’s M. Leo Storch auditorium, was the capstone of Rabbi Glaser’s four-day visit to Baltimore, which included visits to local schools and a festive Shabbaton with over 250 people at the Storch family home.
Rabbi Glaser has travelled internationally as a musician, professional surfer, and mountain biker, and presents people with what he calls a “transformational” approach to education. Using rabbinical and Torah-derived concepts, combined with elements of contemporary psychology and his personal experiences of emotional and family healing, he aims to help individuals come closer to Hashem by overcoming inner fears that can block them from living up to their potential.
At the start of the Sunday lecture, Rabbi Glaser extolled M. Leo Storch as a pillar of the community, someone who made a difference for generations of Baltimore Jews. He also honored Hannah Storch, who was in attendance, for carrying on the important work her late husband began.
Rabbi Glaser then focused on pairs of concepts that he invited the audience to explore in their lives. He described each concept as separate and distinct, hard to distinguish without conscious work, and in need of mindful questioning. These ideas were “deciding” versus “committing,” and the “conceptual” versus the “experiential.” Using light humor, which elicited audience laughter, Rabbi Glaser pointed out how we focus on “decisions” more than “commitments” and encouraged listeners to reflect on how replacing the former with the latter can enhance their relationships with others, themselves, the world, and Hashem. He then showed how people get caught up in “conceptual” aspects of situations, keeping their minds on “the past and the future,” rather than being fully present in the “experiential” world of “now.”
To illustrate this, he asked the audience to think about how they heard about him, and how they focused on anticipation of him as a speaker, even while he was speaking. He then asked everyone to snap their fingers. As people did so, their thoughts gave way to sensory experience: the feel of their hands and the sound of hundreds of fingers snapping.
This, he asserted, changed their awareness from “conceptual” to “experiential,” replacing “past thinking” with openness to what was around and inside them in the moment.
Prior to the lecture, the Shabbaton at the Storches welcomed young professionals and college students from Maryland and New York. Rabbi Glaser’s Shabbos afternoon shiur (speech) was a powerful sample of his “transformational seminar,” and attracted a nearly standing-room-only crowd of over 200. His other visits in the area included Bnos Yisroel middle and high schools on Thursday, Mesivta Neimus HaTorah and Yeshivas Toras Chaim on Friday, a brief speech at Ohr Hachaim on Shabbos morning, Elite at their Capital Camps Shabbaton on motzei Shabbos, and Women in Torah (WIT) on Sunday.