A Visitor from Dharamshala, India: a Chabad Shaliach‘s Miraculous Journey
Rabbi Dror Shaul was the special guest lecturer at Chai Center’s bi-weekly lunch and learn series for the entertainment industry, held on July 14th in Century City. The series, usually led by Rabbi Mendel Schwartz, previously featured L.A.’s beloved Schwartzie as well as other popular speakers. Rabbi Shaul dedicated his presentation to Shwartzie’s memory.
Rabbi Shaul and his family manage the Dharamkot Chabad House in Northern India where an astounding 60,000 individuals come though their doors. Their goal is to unite fellow Jews and give them a warm, loving atmosphere. Many come for Shabbat and for the kosher restaurant. Courses between one and twelve weeks in length are given in kabbalah, psychology, and meditation. Students are greatly inspired by kabbalistic, esoteric Chassidic teachings.
Among the young travelers who come looking for a spiritual experience are an estimated 20,000 Jews annually, mostly Israelis who consider travel almost a “rite of passage” between completion of military service and entrance into civilian life. In fact, Dharamkot Village which overlooks the hill town has been referred to as “The Tel Aviv of the Hills.” Young Israelis help the economy and are warmly welcomed into Himalayan homes. Sadly, some never return home. Others get lost and join the rampant drug culture. Thankfully, thousands have been influenced by the Shaul family. The Shauls became permanent schluchim for the Lubavicher Rebbe in the year 2000, when they founded the Chabad house at the foot of the Himalayan mountain range. They have since expanded with a branch in the nearby village of Bhagsu, and they also have a center in Rehovot, Israel.
The Chabad House has become the address to seek refuge for travelers who are tired from the arduous journey, or looking for food and shelter in an area where most amenities are primitive. Rabbi Shaul recounted an amazing story about being contacted on Shabbat because a trekker had fallen down the mountain and there was no one else to call outside of Chabad. Within minutes, a rescue team was organized By Rabbi Shaul and they proceeded in the dark on an arduous climb up the mountain. The Rabbi said he would not have to been able to lead without his emergency training as a paratrooper in the Israeli army. He was able to administer an IV infusion because he had practiced many times as an army medic, but this was the first time using it in a real crisis.
Rabbi Shaul related his personal story and how he came to be a Chabad shaliach. Like many of the travelers, the rabbi was raised in Israel in a secular environment and had no connection to his Jewish roots. He came as a young man to Dharamshala and started attending a monastery. There were many signs that he should return home to Israel but it wasn’t until a German man (the least likely person he thought to instruct him) said that as a Jew he belonged in Jerusalem to learn kabbalah that Rabbi Shaul returned home to Israel. He said that he arrived with long hair and Indian garb and surprised his family by saying he was going to the Kotel. Rabbi Shaul had no idea it was Shavuot, and he arrived at the Kotel just as thousands of people gathered to hear birkat kohanim. He realized that the garb worn by the kohanim was holier than the garb he had seen and worn in India. This experience was the beginning of Rabbi Shaul’s Torah learning. Eventually, he believed that the best way for him to bring the light of Torah to people was to establish a center in Dharamshala. Rabbi Shaul spoke about how his wife is a true eishet chayil to work alongside him for 17 years of amazing shlichus with all the challenges and difficulties.
Rabbi Shaul led the Chai Center class in a powerful meditation which involved exhaling all ones breath and asking Hashem to give you another as well as a new beginning. Not to be missed: Rabbi Shaul will be coming back to L.A. in November and will be offering what promises to be an amazing kabbalah course. For more information and to register, contact Rabbi Shaul on What’s App (972-547-888-770).