Junity’s second Annual Shalom Conference – a three-day conference on marriage, based on the teachings of Rabbi Shalom Arush – took place over the weekend of December 2-4 in Tarzana. Both couples and singles attended the conference, where separate workshops were given for married men, married women, and those searching for their soulmates.
Ariel Perets, the founder of Junity (www.junitynow.com), says that the conference “gives [its attendees] a new view of how marriage is supposed to function.” He explains that most people enter marriage without adequate preparation. “Rabbi Arush’s teachings changed my life, and I felt impelled to bring them to others,” says Mr. Perets. The attendees gain the skills to navigate the everyday challenges that come up in every marriage. Last year’s conference was very successful, helping happy couples to take their marriage to a higher level and turning troubled marriages around.
This year’s speakers were Rabbi Lazer Brody and Rabbi Yonatan Galed. Rabbi Brody translates Rabbi Arush’s books and CDs into English and travels the world spreading his teachings. Rabbi Galed is the Spanish translator of Rabbi Arush’s works.
Both speakers were met by eager audiences who left the conference feeling inspired to make practical changes. “It was amazing, beyond my expectations, profound and powerful,” says Shmuel Yedidiya Gardner. “The biggest benefit was normalizing the whole experience of intimacy and marriage. It was mind-opening.”
Robyn Cardoza adds that Rabbi Galed has a way of relating to the audience that makes the material practical and applicable to everyday life. Her biggest take away, she says, is “focusing on gratitude and appreciating, recognizing, and acknowledging little things.”
On Motzaei Shabbos, both Rabbi Brody and Rabbi Galed spoke to the broader community, applying Rabbi Arush’s teachings not only to marriage, but to relationships in general. They emphasized Rebbe Nachman’s teaching, “if you believe that you can break then believe that you can fix.” Rabbi Galed mentioned that as a consequence of eating from the Tree of Knowledge, sadness was introduced into the world. He explained that sadness is the serpent’s venom that causes us to fail. The secret to success, he said, is “to see the good in ourselves and in others.”
Rabbi Brody analyzed Rebbe Nachman’s teaching further, explaining that there is never any cause for despair. “Do you think it’s possible that you could have done something that Hashem can’t erase?” he asked the audience. “No matter how deep you fall, Hashem is always there with you.”
While our natural tendency when encountering a difficulty might be to look for a solution, Rabbi Brody encouraged everyone to begin with strengthening our emunah. “Believe that you can rectify!” he said. “Hashem is waiting patiently, [asking,] ‘When are you going to call My name?’ The entire purpose of being in this world is getting closer to Hashem.” He explained that the reason the neshamah had to come down to this world is precisely for the purpose of learning emunah. Only after acquiring emunah in this world can the neshamah appreciate the lofty spirituality of the World to Come. Rabbi Brody recommended “disengage[ing] from the problem and remember[ing] that everything comes from Hashem” before looking for a solution.