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Mashpia (Hebrew: משפיע) lit. "person of influence", pl. Mashpi'im (Hebrew: משפיעים) is the title of a rabbi or rebbetzin who serves as a spiritual mentor in Tomchei Temimim (the Chabad yeshiva), in a girls' seminary belonging to the Chabad-Lubavitch hasidic movement, or in a Chabad community.
The role of mashpia exists in both hasidic and non-Hasidic movements (such as the mashgiach ruchani), and is used currently in both the Chabad-Lubavitch and Breslov hasidic movements.
The mashpia in Chabad-Lubavitch refers specifically to one whose communal service as a spiritual mentor includes providing:
- communal guidance through regular public lectures and classes, and leading farbrengens, Hasidic gatherings;
- personal guidance in matters of decent interpersonal conduct and fine character traits;
- inspiration to strive ever higher in one's spiritual growth, through intensive Torah study and observance of mitzvos, particularly according to the Chabad hasidic tradition;
- answers to those seeking clarification on matters of hasidic philosophy, customs, and general conduct according to the Chabad-Lubavitch school of thought; and
- personally-tailored advice on how to advance in the uniquely Chabad discipline of avodas ha'tefilah, lit. "the service of prayer". This discipline involves lengthy meditation on sublime hasidic concepts before and during the course of prayer.
The nature of the mashpia's role is alluded to in the preface to the Tanya, the classic text of Hasidic philosophy written by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch. It is discussed in numerous public talks delivered by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe. In particular, he instructed that one should approach one's mashpia regularly to be examined and evaluated.
There is a distinction to be drawn between a rav and a mashpia. Although the two terms are similar and often used interchangeably, the former term usually refers to someone knowledgeable and scholarly, who holds some official communal position. The latter term, however, refers to an individual who is chosen simply as an objective outsider to offer advice and guidance, and is chosen based on his personal exemplary conduct. This person need not be otherwise qualified.
The seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, also encouraged women and girls to assume a similar role of providing guidance, referring to such a woman as a mashpi'oh (Hebrew: משפיעה), pl. mashpi'ois (Hebrew: משפיעות).
- Hillel HaLevi of Paritch, d. (Paritch/Babruysk, Russia)
- Itche Der Masmid, d. (travelling Mashpia in pre-World War II Europe)
- Zalman Moishe HaYitzchaki, d. (Nevel, Russia; Tel Aviv, Israel)
- Menachem Mendel Futerfas, d. (Kfar Chabad, Israel)
- Nissan Neminov, d. (Brunoy, France)
- Yehuda Chitrik, d. (Crown Heights, NY)
- Menachem Zeev Greenglass d. (Montreal, Canada)
- Manis Friedman (Machon Chana, S. Paul, Minnesota )
- Simon Jacobson (Vaad L'Hafotzas Sichos, Meaningful Life Center, Crown Heights, NY)
- Yosef Jacobson (Beis Shmuel-Chabad, Crown Heights, NY)
- Yoel Kahn (Chozer and Senior Mashpia, Central Yeshiva Tomchei Temimim Lubavitch, Brooklyn, NY)
- Chaim Levi Yitzchak Ginsburg (Author of Pninei Hatanya, Senior Mashpia, Chabad Israel)