Author Archive for Miles Krassen – Page 2

Eqev

Parashat Eqev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25)

Ve-hayah eqev tishme’un… There is a rabbinic tradition that whenever a Torah teaching begins with “ve-hayah,” it is going to reveal a secret key to true joy.  The infinite levels of Torah can never be exhausted, and this is what I am hearing now:

You will be able to be happy even during the time called “footsteps of the Messiah,” when mashiach consciousness manifests itself, even though that is a time of perilous destruction, wars and terror.  How? “(only) if you really pay attention to these mishpatim.” (Devarim 7:12).

Because if you really do that, in your consciousness, and live accordingly, “the Lord of Be-ing who G-d’s you, will deliver Her primordial, promised flow of Great Kindness.” (Devarim 7:12).

What does it mean “to really pay attention to these mishpatim?”  Reb Nosson of Nemirov, the greatest disciple of the Rebbe of Rebbes, Reb Nachman ben Feiga of Breslov, offers an insight into the meaning of “mishpatim.”  “Mishpatim” (apportionments), refers to the awesome divine process that determines the specific and exact portion of abundance that each manifest entity is constantly receiving and will continue to receive as long as it exists. When we shift our view from the chronically disappointing one, where it seems that attaining what we want is a matter of desperate competition between groups and individuals here on the earth plane, to a contemplation of these hidden “mishpatim,” by virtue of which every entity receives what is coming to it, we have entered the mind state called “da’at.”  As our Rabbis teach, “If you don’t have da’at, what have you acquired? But, if you acquire da’at, what do you lack?” (Kohelet Rabbah 7:32)

And so, the parashah teaches if you really are mindful of “these mishpatim” and evolve to the level of “da’at,” (true knowing), then “(the Lord of Be-ing) will love you, and bless you, and increase your influence…”  (Devarim 7:12).  Thus you may yet find yourself in a self-sustaining world, where everything necessary is replenished and nothing is lacking.

About now you may be tempted to say, but this is impossible; the problems of the period called “footsteps of the Messiah,” are just too great for us to overcome.” (Devarim 7:17). Torah says: “Never fear, the remedy is to always remember the awesome breakthroughs that the Lord of Be-ing that G-ds you has already accomplished.” (Devarim 7:18).  We always have much more working for us than we ever know.  “So don’t be distraught in the face of these challenges, because the Lord of Be-ing who G-ds you is always right there with you, a Power that is greater and more Awesome (than anything that we can ever imagine).” (Devarim 7:17, 18, 21).

Remember that the way, according to which, the Lord of Be-ing who G-ds you has been leading us has never been easy, but all the challenges are tests to teach us that everything doesn’t just depend on contention here below, but really all life depends on the unceasing outpouring of the Divine Word that energizes, manifests, and sustains all that exists.”  (Devarim 8:2-3).

In truth, the Lord of Be-ing who G-ds you, is bringing us to a Land of Promise, that is like no other.  But to get there, we have to stay with the Divine program.  The only real danger is “if you start to believe that you are accomplishing all this on your own power,then, you better remember the Lord of Be-ing who G-ds you, who is the One that is giving you this power, only for the purpose of facilitating the primordially intended evolution of the Divine Dream.”  Because if, G-d forbid, you do “forget the Lord of Be-ing who Gods you, and follow after other kinds of power, serving and worshipping them, then you will surely perish.  (Devarim 8:17-19).

Today, we can clearly see that this warning of “surely perishing,” is by no means an idle threat.  We remember the midrash that tells us that when the Lord of Be-ing who

G-ds us was contemplating the manifestation of human consciousness in the Divine Dream World, two angels objected, saying, “What is human consciousness that You would wish to be remembered within it?” (Psalms 8:5). But the Shekhinah decided, I must have a place to reside in the very earth of that world, or My Divine Dream will not be complete.”  (Midrash Tanchuma, Nasso 16.)

Human consciousness is very precious and very precarious.  Even though the Lord of Be-ing that G-ds us is present everywhere and in everything that arises in manifestation, as written “the whole of manifestation is full of Her Glory,” (Isaiah 6:3), only human beings have to evolve in order to receive Divine Guidance consciously and must be reminded that “She will love you, bless you, and increase your (divinely guided) influence… (Devarim 7:13).  If a significant number of us do not evolve in this way, then all of creation may be imperiled because of us.

Because of this precious/precariousness of human consciousness, the neshamah claliut (the archetype of Enlightened Consciousness and Da’at) for each tradition, connects each sacred community to the source of the Divine Dream.  Thus the Buddha received his revelation sitting under the Banyan Tree for the enlightenment of millions of Asians; and Muhammad the Prophet, peace upon him and his descendants, sat in a cave and received guidance for all of Arabia.  And preceding all of these, in our tradition, our Rabbi, Moshe, appeared in the Torah, as the Master of Prayer, after his awakening in a vision of Fire that does not consume, “the burning bush.”

In order to counteract the real possibility of human extinction, Moshe ascended twice to merge with the Dreamer and Dreaming beyond time and space.  The first time he thought that his merging would be sufficient, but the Lord of Be-ing awakened him, “Get back down there quick; the dim beings that you have been guiding are getting it twisted.  They have formed an image of Be-ing that has solidified in their minds like an idol. I AM sees that they are hopeless and are bound to perish.”  (Devarim 9:12-14).

So Moshe descended as fast as he could from the midst of the Holy Fire with the Divine Instruction still flaming in his hands.  And he saw that he couldn’t do anything with it, because it was too hot to hand over.  And he had to replicate his first ascent and to pray for another forty days, so that human consciousness would not be extinguished.  And this time, Divine Guidance instructed him to make a wooden ark in advance, as a vessel for containing the Holy Fire: “And a Tribe of Divine Escorts, the Levites, were singled out to hold up the Ark and to stand and serve before the Divine Presence and to bless in the Name of the Lord of Be-ing.”  (Devarim 10:8).  It is these Divine Escorts to whom we look today, to carry and hand on the Ark of the Holy Teaching so that can we can overcome our present course, before it careens towards destruction.

“So, what does the Lord of Be-ing who G-ds you want of human consciousness? Just to remain aware of Him wherever we go, and to make Her our true love, so that we will serve the Lord of Be-ing that G-ds us with our whole heart and soul, so we commit ourselves to following the sacred obligations, by means of which we can unite ourselves with I AM every day for our benefit.” (Devarim 10:13).

And when we will scrupulously follow this teaching, out of true love for the Lord of Be-ing who G-ds us, merging with Her, wherever we go, then the Lord of Be-ing within us will take care of all the problems that confront us, including the ones that presently appear way too big for us.”  (Devarim 11:22-23).

By way of this teaching, the Lord of Be-ing ever leads us to the true Holy Land, which is unique, and entirely unlike any limited land that we have ever experienced.  For the True Land of Israel is eretz claliut (the Land from which all other lands derive their limited properties) and is unique precisely because it is not limited by any specific borders. “It is the Land that is constantly being contemplated in the Divine Mind.”  (Devarim 11:12).

The Midrash teaches that King Shlomo planted every variety of plant in Jerusalem, because the source of nourishment for everything that grows originates in Jerusalem.  We have a precious teaching from our Rebbes that wherever a Tzaddik (a saintly, enlightened being) is buried is itself an aspect of the Holy Land.  And thus we learn in our Parashah“(when you follow this teaching,) any place where you will place your feet will be within your borders, nothing can come between you and the Lord of Be-ing who G-ds you, for wherever you go, you will be in the Holy Land, as the Torah teaches you.”  (Devarim 11:24-25).

May we be blessed in this perilous time called “Mashiach’s footsteps” to constantly clarify for ourselves a mind state of “Da’at,” remembering constantly Be-ing who G-ds us now and forever, ever closer to the promised Holy Land of the Divine Dream.  May enough of us gain this Da’at in time to counteract all destructive tendencies that derive from actions based on limited human consciousness, in time to avert any and all decrees that may, G-d Forbid, imperil the well-being and harmonious balance of this Sacred World and all of its precious and diverse inhabitants.

Amen.
Rabbi Moshe Aharon Ladizhyner
5766

Ve-Etchanan

“And at that time, when the desire to realize the dream of the Land of Israel was most present in my mind, I prayed 515 times to the Lord of Being: please, please let me express the true prayer that would enable me to realize my dream.” (Devarim 3:23) In this verse, which begins parashat Ve-etchanan, if we read the Torah of our Hearts, we can each feel the depth of the great yearning of Moshe to bring about the ultimate Redemption in his lifetime. “But, since the time was not yet ripe, for your sakes, the Source of Being, became pregnant with my Dream. And the Lord of Life assured me, ‘you have already done enough, you really don’t need to speak to me about this again. Just go up to the highest level (beyond time and space) and there you will see it All for yourself…’” (Devarim 3:26, 27).

This parashah, which we read after the 9th of Av, points to one of the deepest and challenging moments in life, when we realize that despite our best efforts, we simply are not going to get the job done in one lifetime. This is not to say that we have not accomplished and experienced great miracles. But, we ultimately come to the sobering realization that the true purpose for our being here in this world, which is envisioned by the Moshe in us, is not going to be completed by us. That is the great, shocking, reality-check of the 9th of Av. And yet, in this parashah, which is read on Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of Consolation, we already begin to discover a new energy. We can already anticipate the 15th of Av, linked in Tractate Ta’anit with Yom Kippur, as one of the two most joyous and auspicious Holy Days of the year.

What is the secret of this amazing energy shift? The Zohar gives us a hint in a fantastic myth. Ya’akov and Esav were bargaining over the months of the year. Every month that Ya’akov gained would be a month of Compassion, but all of Esav’s months would be difficult months of Judgment. Esav took Tammuz and Av, while Ya’akov was able to claim the months of Elul and Tishri. However, always seeking ways to sweeten jusgment with lovingkindness, Ya’akov managed to liberate the second portion of Av from Esav. The result is that now the second half of Av is joined with the entire month of Elul, the month of Teshuvah, the best time for getting back into alignment with the Divine will. Indeed, the Holy Qedushat Levi, Rebbe Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev, noted that Av is an acronym for Arur (cursed) and Barukh (blessed). The blessing part of Av begins with this parashah and reaches its height on the 15th of Av.

So what is its secret? When Moshe accepts his mortality, his thoughts turn immediately to how to insure that his dream will continue to unfold after him. He immediately receives divine guidance concerning the need for a successor and he makes sure to include in this parashah, the most essential keys to consolation and continuing the path to Redemption. Here are several of the most important.

“Just be as careful as possible to stay awake so that you never forget what you yourself experienced.” (Devarim 4:9). Especially, at this time, we need to remember and recount those amazing and undeniable moments when we experienced directly in our own lives, the Divine Presence.

“I AM the Source of Being, your Divine Empowerer, who enables you to break free from identifying with the apparent limitations (of the egoic personality) that periodically enslave you.” (Devarim 5:6). “Hear (and meditate) on this for yourself (in the way your mind can understand it)…the Source of Being, your Divine Empowerer is (the only) One.” (Devarim 6:4). “Right now, shift into the parasympathetic mode of feeling consciousness in which your Heart does know that…there is nothing anywhere other than (the One).” (Devarim 4:39). “And then you yourself will have direct knowledge that there really is nothing other than that One.” (Devarim 4:35).

“And, even if that (ego death) seems scary to you, (don’t worry), the Moshe in you can mediate between you and the Truth” (Devarim 5:5) “so that you can cleave to the Source of Being, your Empowerer, and remain alive” (Devarim 4:4), “even though the Source of Being, your Empowerer, is truly a consuming fire… ” (Devarim 4:24).

And when you really do see this in your own way, “you will love the Source of Being, your Empowerer…” (Devarim 6:5) “and you will be sure to mindfully do everything that you need to do and that it is right to do, which I AM commands you to do.” (Devarim 7:11).

May we all have the merit to really take the message of this parashah to heart and recognize for ourselves, the ultimate consolation of knowing “eyn od milvado,” there truly is nothing but the One. May we slough off the old persona that dies on the 9th of Av and be reborn and renewed together in the re-aligning energy of the 15th Av, that greatest of all Holy Days, because it draws energy from the future, in which the Holy One is already dancing with us in a circle in which all are equal.

Amen.

Rabbi Moshe Aharon Ladizhyner
(“Reb Miles”)
5766

Devarim

Parshat Devarim, 5770 – 

“The Shabbat of Prophetic Vision”

This Shabbat is called the “Shabbat of Prophetic Vision” and comes just a few days before the 9th of Av. Generally the 9th of Av is associated with the worst, most devastating calamities that ever happened within the sacred Jewish mythos of the old paradigm. In particular, the destruction of the two previous Temples has been associated with this challenging and potentially dangerous time.  Yet, just as we approach, what from one perspective may be considered the low point of the year, we reach an unprecedentedly high level of Shabbat-consciousness from which prophetic vision can be attained. How do these seemingly irreconcilable “opposites” coincide during the “Shabbat of Prophetic Vision”? They coincide precisely through the mysterious emergence of the new paradigm, just as the old paradigm loses its viability and credibility.

The midrash teaches us that the 9th of Av is both the low point of the destruction of the Temple and the birthday of Mashiach—it marks both the collapse of the construction and focus of all that was sacred until now and, ironically, also discloses the early stages of the emerging consciousness of the new paradigm.  From this perspective, we can see how 9th of Av is emblematic of paradigm shift, the limbic intermediate state in which neither the old nor the new paradigm can be completely relied upon.  It teaches us incredibly deep, if painful, lessons, if only we can be open enough to receive them.  An exemplar of paradigm shift itself, the 9th of Av prepares us, perhaps more than any other sacred time in the Jewish calendar, for the present situation in which all that we hold dear may be challenged, and may indeed collapse. To be sure, as the haftarah from Isaiah suggests, the systems that define the old paradigm should, in fact, collapse because they don’t work, are unsustainable, and have brought us to the brink of mutual destruction (Isaiah 1:1-27). And yet, just as our ability to have faith in the old systems and ways dissipates, if we bring prophetic vision to this unique moment and collective opportunity, we may discern precisely those elements that can lead us to the new paradigm, to which Isaiah alludes in his second chapter, “they shall transform the energy of contention into means for supporting life, nations will cooperate with each other and war will become unthinkable” (Isaiah 2:4-5).  However, the 9th of Av teaches us that the radical transformation that occurs when paradigms shift is bitter-sweet. It does entail a tremendous amount of suffering just as it clears the way for the next evolutionary level. Thus, while we consciously step into the process of transformation, with its related tests and trials, we become dynamic components in the process of lifting and renewing the sparks.

The lessons mentioned above are encoded in this week’s parashah in which Moshe begins his reflections on the entire history of his relationship to the Tribes of Israel, recognizing that neither he nor his contemporaries will survive the transition into the new paradigm.  Not only does all the conditioning and assumptions that characterize the obsolescent construction of reality and meaning have to depart, but even the form of the guide has to give way to a new mode of what it means to lead as well as to be led. When we reflect on our history, we can easily see how the Moshe of the Pentateuch gave way to the Moshe of the rabbis, and, in turn, the Moshe of the rabbis was then superseded by the Moshe of the philosophers and kabbalists, who was renewed by the Ba’al Shem Tov, etc. This is but a model of how superior forms emerge through the “destruction” of transformation and evolution. But even that beloved construction, the “Moshe” renewed by the Ba’al Shem Tov, must be relinquished—freed in the form of transmutation—in order to make room to begin envisioning the Moshe of the emerging paradigm of the future.

So, in our parashah YHVH, the Spirit of All Life, brings Moshe to the Mountain of Telling the Future, where he says, “See from here how YHVH is setting out a new paradigm before you, go forward and don’t be too afraid and terrified by the paradigm that is collapsing all around you” (Deut. 1:21). And, although Moshe recognized that it was wise to look clearly and soberly into the future, most of the people were too terrified by what they would have to face and were only able to conceive of a “God” that had failed them.  And what was Moshe’s answer? “Your fear is simply based on inadequacies of the ‘God’ of the past—‘it is the emerging form of YHVH that is revealed in the new paradigm who can and will sustain you just as the form of YHVH in the old paradigm sustained you as long as it was viable’” (Deut. 1:29-30).  But, by believing that “God” can only be the construction ofYHVH that now has to be transcended, we can only lose faith and fail to recognize and follow the “new” YHVH that is leading us ahead, lighting our way in the darkness of the present, while remaining mysterious in the cloud of the future (Deut. 1:33). The result is that anyone who is only looking backwards will never be able to see the emergence of the new paradigm.  “Only a person like Caleb ben Yefuneh, a ‘heart-like being,’ who can empty herself of the comforts, constructions, and beliefs of the old paradigm, will see it, and I bestow it upon such a one who has already fearlessly stepped into the new paradigm and those that follow, they alone who are prepared to whole heartedly follow the YHVH of the emerging paradigm of the future” (Deut. 1:36).

May our encounter with the 9th of Av help us eliminate everything that binds us to a paradigm that is ending and prepare us for the birthing of a new and more evolved paradigm that will enable us to follow YHVH into the future—a future that is just being born…

Dedicated to the memory of my father, the Tzaddik and Ba’al Mitzvot, Yitzhak Aizik Dove Ber ben Shimon ha-Kohen, his memory is a blessing.

Mattot / Mas’ey

Parshat Mattot / Mas’ey 5770 –

Inclinations and Journals

I would like to share a few simple teachings that may help us connect these two parshiot that we read together this year. The first parashah is called “Mattot,” and Mattot means tribes.  It is interesting that there are two ways of talking about tribes. Sometimes tribes are called shevatim and sometimes they are called mattot. But it is significant that in both cases, the term refers to a staff.  Tribal leaders had a staff of authority. However these staffs were not merely signs of leadership. They were more like spiritual “lightening rods” that could receive transmissions of divine guidance and they were sources of great power when elevated. Thus our parashah begins: va-yedabber Moshe el- roshey ha-mattot liveney yisrael, le’mor…. “Then Moshe spoke directly to the very tops of the spiritual lightening rods of the Tribes of Israel…” and he said to themzeh ha-davar asher tzivah ha-Shem, “This is exactly the divine guidance that I’m now receiving.”

The Noam Elimelech, the great chassidic rebbe of Lizhensk, points out that for Moshe to be successful he has to speak.  He is not just a receiver of guidance for his own personal benefit. What he receives only becomes important when he transmits it to those who receive guidance through him. As it says in the first mishnah of Avot, “Moshe (not only) receives Torah from the Source, he also transmits it.”  So our parashah answers the question “who are the receivers of the Mosaic transmission?”  It is precisely,roshey ha-mattot. If we read this hyper-literally, the Noam Elimelekh is teaching us that for Moshe to be successful, he has to speak truth to power (the leadership elite of the tribes).

But from the vantage point of the new paradigm, transmission is not essentially hierarchical, but rather more holistic. In this sense, it’s the very tops of the “spiritual lightening rods” of the tribes of Israel that receive directly from Moshe.  Our Rebbes have been preparing us for centuries to become independent of the need to rely on one mythic central authority figure.  We have been taught to recognize the “Moshe” that is present within each of us as direct receiver of divine guidance and now we learn something more. The Moshe receiver in us has not completed its function until it transmits the guidance it receives to the mattot.  Significantly, in referring to the tribes here, the Torah doesn’t use the term “shevatim.”  This may be because mattot while also meaning staffs (or tribes) comes from a root that has the additional sense of “inclination.”  We have mentioned elsewhere that each of us as a whole is a microcosmic analogue of the macrocosmic Tribes of Israel.  Each Tribe or matteh is inclined towards a particular function and can be tilted and swayed by its own unique temptations and diversions.  Shalom and sheleymut (peace and wholeness) only come through integration of all the major points of inclination located in the body (the “very tips of the spiritual lightening-rods”) that receive and respond to the guidance transmitted by “Moshe.” (As Rebbe Nachman taught, “make sure your soul shares with the body all that it learns.”) This holistic integration occurs when head and heart are one and all the inclinations incline towards and form a circle around Moshe centered in the Heart.

midrash on the verse, where Moshe says to the mattotzeh ha-davar asher tzivah ha-Shem, “This is exactly the divine guidance that I’m now receiving,” explains that what distinguishes Moshe from the roshey hamattot, (and in the larger sense all the other teachers of Torah), is that Moshe says zeh ha-davar— Moshe expresses exactly what is coming through this is it. But the roshey ha-mattot (the very tips of the “spiritual lightening-rods”) like all other prophetic transmitters say, koh amar ha-Shem, “the way divine guidance applies to my particular inclination is “like this.” Koh means “the way I heard it,” and thus the “leaders of tribes” translate divine guidance into the forms that apply to all the parts of the body that are “on their staff” and under their particular “inclination.”

So we see here a kind of holistic modeling of how a divinely guided center shares energy with principle points of inclination located around the body and those principal points, roshey ha-mattot, become themselves transmitters that transform what they receive from the Moshe point in the Heart and share it with all points that are part of their “staff.” And when this holistic consciousness is in place, a tribe is transformed from a linear “top-down” rod-like hierarchy into an expanded wave-like multi-dimensional integral staff of cooperative co-workers (partzufim).

On the very next verse, where it says, ish ki yidor neder, which literally means, “when somebody makes a vow,” Rebbe Elimelekh points out that the root letters, daled-resh-in yidor—imply making a residence, because a residence is a “dirah,” a place where one dwells.  So Rebbe Elimelech explains that the first thing required in order to establish this holistic system is to make a dwelling place within us for the centering Moshe receiver/transmitter.  We have to establish a place where the Divine Presence has a home within us, because otherwise holistic integration cannot be achieved and without that we can’t be successful in our specific deployment roles as we travel towards our destinations.  The letters of yidor can also be read as yered (descending) implying that consciousness has to “descend” and rest in the Heart, hinting that this dwelling place can be established by resting consciousness in the Heart during meditation.

Now let’s add just one teaching from Mas’ey to connect the two parshiotMas’ey is the account of all the journeys of transformation that lead from the beginning of the path, (from making the decision to follow Divine Guidance), until one reaches the very border and clear vision of the “promised land,” at which point one becomes identified as an analogue of the entire Land of Israel, which we’ve spoken of in greater detail before.*

There are many, many stages mapped out in this parashah that are described in detail in kabbalistic and esoteric sources.  They discuss various possibilities for associating particular experiences with each one of these stopping places along the way to the border of the “promised land” that we are asymptotically approaching, the place of wholeness.

However, practically speaking, what is all of this teaching us? What are we to do? Simply put, we’re being advised to keep a journal of our experiences, so we can look back and say, “This is how I got here; these are the things I went through.”

The Baal Shem Tov told a story from Reb Yitzchak Drohobitcher, who was the father of the Zlochover maggid.  This story concerns two different types of people who were on the same journey.

Once upon a time (before urban sprawl) to get from one town to another it was necessary to pass through a dense forest. Since people often had to get from one town to another and couldn’t do so without crossing through this forest, bandits often took advantage of travelers while they were in the forest.  In those days, people travelled on foot, or on horseback or by horse-drawn wagon. It was a slow way of traveling and you had to go through some pretty dangerous places.  Since there were so few people in the forest and hiding places were plentiful, bandits could easily take advantage of the situation.

So, one day a person was making the trip from one city to another, and he was a drunkard.  All the time he was travelling he was drinking, and by the time he reached the forest, he was drunk out of his mind.  So while he was in this forest, naturally, he was waylaid by the bandits, yet he was lucky enough to survive with his life.  The bandits took everything he had, and they gave him a terrible beating in the process, but they left him still breathing, and, baruch ha-Shem, he survived and managed to reach the next town.

When people in the town found him, because he had been so drunk, he couldn’t tell them what had happened.  He said, “What is this?  Where am I?  What happened to my clothes?” and they told him, “You just went through the forest, where there are all these robbers, and you were robbed and suffered a terrible beating in the process.” But he couldn’t understand what they were talking about because he had no idea what he had been through.

The very next day, there was another who was traveling, and this person also had to make the journey from the same town and passed through the same forest.  But unlike the drunkard, this person was making the journey in a fully awake state. Even though this person was fully awake, the same robbers were lying in wait and, basically the exact same thing happened.  They took everything that the person had and gave the traveler a terrible beating in the process. He was lucky, baruch ha-Shem, to survive with his life. Nevertheless, he too escaped from the forest and reached the other town.

When he arrived, people asked him: “What happened to you that left you in such a terrible state?”
And the person said, “Well, when you get to such and such a place in the forest, there is a certain   tree where the robbers hide.  And you can recognize the tree because there’s a rock just on the other side, so you can’t see them in advance because of the concealment.”

And so the nimshal [metanym] is, you should always watch where you’re going and keep a record of what you experience, because whether one travels like a drunkard or like the one who is sober you will still have to pass through the forest.  The only difference is if you know what you’ve been through, you can learn something from your story and you can tell the story to somebody else.  Your story is Torah.

Shabbat shalom.

Offered as an elevation for the soul of my father, the Tzaddik and Ba’al Mitzvot, Yitzhak Aizik Dov Ber ben Shimon ha-Kohen, may his memory be a blessing.

*For Reb Moshe Aharon’s comments on Israel as an analogue, please see Parshat Shelakh-Lekha.

Pinchas

Parshat Pinchas begins like this, Vayedaber YHVH el-Moshe l’emor, “the Divine Word came down to that part of consciousness that receives the teachings of the Torah, and this is what it said:” Pinchas ben-Elazar ben-Aharon haKohen, “Pinchas ben Elazar, the grandson of Aharon the kohein (priest)….”  Now, keep in mind that the quality of the kohein (priest) is the quality of chesed(pure giving, loving-kindness). Heishiv et chamati me’al Bnei Yisrael, “he was able to eliminate my wrath from the Bnei Yisrael, from those who are in the process of evolving through following my guidance,” b’kano et kinati b’tocham, “by taking on the issue of ‘My jealousy’ as it applied to them.” V’lo chiliti et-Bnei-Yisrael b’kinati, “because of him I didn’t wipe out the Benei Yisrael, as a result of my jealousy.”

There is such a deep message concealed here that is at the very crux of our transformation into a new paradigm.  The root teaching that is coming down here is, the person who can restore the world to a condition of Divine Favor performs the greatest of all mitzvot. There is nothing greater that any person can do than establish the condition of Divine Favor. That’s what Pinchas does in this story and it transforms him into a kohein.  So we have to really look into it deeply to understand what this entails, because it’s not at all obvious from the literal level and more importantly, the Torah’s meaning evolves as we transform from the old paradigm to the new.

I once met a Sufi sheikh who told me how he had met his sheikh. This happened in Turkey. One day the sheikh found himself for no apparent reason following around a seemingly normal person, and yet, he noticed that this individual had a kind of magnetic attraction. Somehow, he sensed that there was more there than one could tell by simply looking at him, and so, he followed him around all day long.  This individual was very busy doing all kinds of things, running errands, and meeting with various people about town, but never seemed to notice that he was being followed. He didn’t acknowledge him or say anything to him. And finally, he followed this busy, magnetic gentleman into a store. Inside, this man was doing business, and when he finished, the store keeper said to him, “may Allah be pleased with us!” And he responded, “Allah is pleased with us! May we be pleased withAllah!” And the person who told me the story said when he heard that he knew immediately that this was to be his sheikh.  Up until then he wasn’t even sure who he was following. But, you see, the sheikh gave over the teaching that Allah is pleased with us! That is basically what the power of Pinchas is here: he can wipe out the sense of Divine Displeasure and balance the scales on this side of Divine Favor.

In the old paradigm, from the now ending shemitah of the Torah of Din (the epoch during which divine guidance was mostly only comprehensible in terms of either/or, yes or new, right or wrong, permitted or forbidden, Israel vs. the “Nations,” the G-d of Israel or “other gods”) restoring divine favor was understood as requiring jealous acts of zealotry against “foreign influences.”  When the sages viewed parshat Pinchas from the vantage point of the old paradigm, they derived the halakhah (the law) “kenaim pog’in bo” (a zealot motivated by jealousy for G-d’s honor is entitled to strike out in order to restore Divine Favor and is not guilty of murder).

From the more enlightened perspective of the new paradigm Torah of Rachamim (when Divine Guidance comes to us in the form of all-embracing compassion), the old paradigm’s understanding of the halakhah and its reading of this parashah itself are repulsive and need to be renewed and transformed.

For the transformation to the new paradigm, kenaim pog’in bo, can mean a person who truly loves peace is forgiven for speaking out strongly against all forms of old-paradigm zealotry.  With the voice of compassion and reason and a new paradigm understanding of what “G-d” is, we can cut through and eliminate the very idea of “G-d’s jealousy and wrath.”

After all, what is Divine Displeasure really about? The Torah says here that Pinchas was b’kano et kinati b’tocham, “taking on the issue of my jealousy with them.” So, from the old perspective, there are two problems here. One is the issue that is called avodah zarah, which means that we’re not really clear about who and what it is that we are serving. We are led astray in some sense, and that’s called “serving false or foreign gods.” And the second separate issue (from the perspective of the old atavistic paradigm) concerned forbidden relations between Israelite men and certain non-Israelite women.

At a deep level the connection was a fear of losing purity and identity with the “True Religion.” But by the time of the Ba’al Shem Tov, a harbinger of the new paradigm that we now have a unique opportunity to pursue, the meaning of avodah zarah was transforming into something deeper. Already in old paradigm classical Hasidism, any way that we’re led astray, that we’reseduced by things that seem important or powerful to us, is a form of avodah zarah. According to the Baal Shem Tov, as long as we’re in devequt, aligned with the Divine Connection within us, then that is not avodah zarah. But whenever something overwhelms us and breaks that inner clarity, that is avodah zarah.

Now, in the old midrashic language of myth, the Torah says that when we’re not connected inside the way we should be with the Divinity that is within us and that is surrounding us and so forth, then “G-D,” as it were, is jealous of the “false god.” But, what is the “false god?” The “false god” is represented in the story by a Midianite woman who is called Kozbi. The name Kozbi itself, based on the root Kaf-Zayyin-Bet, means “wrong,” “mistaken,” “deceived.” So, we have a story about a relationship between Miss Mistaken and a leader of Israel, who is called Zimri ben Solu’. Now, Zimri, can mean many nice meanings, like “music,” and “song,” and so forth, but it also means “cutting,” “to cut,” something that prunes, like pruning what has to be removed from a tree. And the root for the name Solu’ means “stung,” or “pricked,” like by a thorn. So Pinchas recognizes that a leader of Israel is, as it were, dancing with the wrong woman, meaning: embracing a “false Shekhinah” (immanent Divine Presence, usually figured as female). Remember, Kozbi, by her very name, indicates the other side of the Shekhinah. Instead of dancing with the Divine Presence Itself, he’s led astray by all these things that appear attractive to him, and that’s how avodah zarah and the relationship with the forbidden female come together.

So really, these two issues, his being with the wrong woman and the issue of avodah zarah, are really the same. It’s only that the story of the interaction between Zimri and Kozbi is about “Divine Jealousy” in the sense that “G-D” says, “if you’re not dancing with the Shekhinah, I’m jealous for the Shekhinah.” It arouses “G-D’s wrath.” “G-D” wants us dancing with the Shekhinah, that we should be connected and dancing in this world with the Divine Presence itself and not some false version of it. So Pinchas acts boldly because he feels how important it is that Divine Wrath should not exist. When we are dancing with a “false Shekhinah,” things cannot go right in the world and there is no Peace.

We have a teaching that says, “If there is justice below, judgment below, there doesn’t have to be judgment from above.” This means that if we ourselves get it together, we don’t have to be compelled by the divine cosmic powers to force us to get it together. So what does Pinchas do? He takes “Zimri,” the aspect of Israel, the form of the followers of the path that are led astray, and he punctures the illusion of the “false Shekhinah” (an obsolete concept of divinity).

By doing so he restores Divine Awareness to the people of Israel. And when they have this Divine Awareness, then there is no Divine Displeasure. Because all that “G-D” really wants is for us to have knowledge of the Shekhinah of Divinity Herself. But Pinchas, because he has the power to recognize what is most important to G-D, namely our knowing, our awareness of G-D, is able to puncture the illusion of the false Shekhinah, and in so doing earns the just reward of the Covenant of Peace.

But, really we must go even further and learn from this parashah how renewing Divine Favor requires puncturing the illusion of “Divine Jealousy” itself.  The One that is All and Everything has no other to be jealous of and ironically, the misguided zealot who thinks otherwise is the very one who needs to be “pierced” and neutralized.  Only that “God” who is everybody’s god and nobody’s god, who is all gods and no god, can bestow on us the “Covenant of Peace.”

Yehei shlama rabbah min shemaya ve-chayyim tovim aleynu: al kol Yisrael ve-al kol yoshvey tevel.
May Heaven’s awesome peace and good life embrace all of us, our People and all those with whom we share this Earth.
In memory of my father, the tzaddiq and ba’al Mitzvot, Yitzhak Aizik Dov Ber ben Shimon ha-Kohein, may his memory be a blessing.

Balak

We come now to Parshat Balak, which is, for the most part, the story of Balaam the prophet. The interesting thing about Balaam that isn’t explicit in the Torah text itself, but is in the tradition, is that Balaam is viewed as basically the equal of Moshe Rabbeinu. That is to say, Balaam is no slouch. He is not just any sort of ordinary black magician that Balak has handy. In fact, in our tradition he’s viewed explicitly as being on the same level as Moshe Rabbeinu. What that means is that he is the Moshe of the “other side.”

In the kabbalistic tradition there is the side of holiness and what is called the “other side,” which is a euphemism for saying, “the mirror image of Holiness,” which has the same structure, as it’s made up of the same sefirot and the same qualities and energies. But the other side has the purpose of retarding progress. So there are the evolutionary forces which are represented by the aspects of Holiness, of which Moshe Rabbeinu is the transmitter, or the deep mind that connects to the Divine Source and affects the nature of reality decisively through its power to articulate the directions that come from the Divine Source Itself. In the case of Moshe Rabbeinu, the messages that he gets are evolutionary, they’re pointing towards the future. Everything that is on the side of holiness has zeh le’umat zeh. We have the verse (Kohelet 7:14) that says, “one thing was made corresponding to the other,” meaning that if you have something on the side of Holiness, just as in the Newtonian sense, there is an equal and opposite force on the other side. There is something resisting, except in this instance it is not exactly equal and opposite. In a certain way, it’s equal because it’s on the same level of functionality, but there’s still a clear distinction, because in the long run, it wouldn’t be social evolution unless something actually progressed, unless something actually evolved. So, holiness is ultimately higher than the other side, but we can’t discount the other side, meaning that the process of evolution takes a lot of time. The reason evolution takes a lot of time is because there are opposing forces. The curser, Balaam, has a power that’s similar to Moshe Rabbeinu, but its power is the other side form that offsets the virtuous power of Moshe Rabbeinu. Balaam’s primary function is to curse, that’s to say, to articulate the form of energy that is resistant and that channels and manifests the destructive elements that retard the evolutionary process.

So what we see in this parashah is basically this: we have this king, Balak. Balak represents the powers of the current establishment that are frightened of progress, they’re frightened of evolution. Balak sees that the forces that followed the evolutionary direction of Moshe Rabbeinu have had a certain measure of success and that frightens the established order because everyone wants to maintain itself. That’s a fundamental principle of evolution: everything that exists has a desire to live and to continue living. So Balak’s operation is to see, “how can I hold back my own destruction?” And the way Balak goes about this is to turn to the mirror image of Moshe Rabbeinu, who is Balaam.

Balaam is Balak’s prophet, his divine mouthpiece, so to speak. So, Balak goes to Balaam and says, “look, we’re in trouble here, because there is this revolutionary teaching that is coming through and it’s had some success, and if we’re not careful, we’ll be finished! So, I want you to use your power, your equal and opposite power, to put a curse on the evolutionary forces, which is to say, to unleash a potent form of energy that will retard the success and progress that comes through the holy side, through the message of Moshe Rabbeinu.”

Now, Balaam is actually very high, so what he says to Balak…he doesn’t simply respond by saying, “neat! Cool! Okay, let’s do it! I know I’m going to get paid well for this because it means a lot to you.” But what Balaam says to Balak is, “look, I’m going to tell you something: I might be the equal to Moshe Rabbeinu, I have a lot of power and that’s to say, I’m tuned in to the Divine Purpose and so I can really bring a lot of powerful stuff through. But the truth of the matter is, there’s not one thing I can do on my own. I’m only really channeling, as the mouthpiece, The Articulator, The Shaper of the Opposite Forces of Resistance that are only a part of the total picture. Really, I’m not a separate entity unto myself because there really is only one Totality and there is only one Source driving everything according to Its will. So, I understand what you’re asking me to do, but I can only do it to the extent that I get the message from the Divine Source.” And that’s the answer Balak gets from Balaam.

Of course, what we see is that Balaam can’t really deliver anything but a blessing because the fact of the matter is the evolutionary message and direction is going to materialize. And so the best that he can do is expressed in the verse in which he says, er’enu ve-lo’atah, “I can see where this is leading and it’s not going to be immediate.” Asherenu ve-lo qarov, “I can hold it back, to some extent, so that it won’t be happening right now, but,” darach kokhav mi-Ya’aqov ve-qam shevet mi-Yisrael, “whatever I’m going to do to retard this, it’s inevitable that the Star of Guidance, the Light of the Future will be leading the lower aspect of the human part of us, which is Ya’akov. This is the part of us that has to be transformed. And the shevet, which is the ascendancy and scepter, will ultimately emerge from the higher evolving level of Yisrael.”

So, there’s a teaching given over that illustrates the difference between Moshe Rabbeinu, who’s the tzaddik, meaning the channel for Divinity on the holy evolving side, and Balaam, who’s on the opposite side, which is the channel for Divinity on the holding back side.  A verse from Shemuel says, “Tzaddik moshel yirat Elohim, “a tzaddik rules through yirat Elohim, through awe of the Ultimate Power.” And the Midrash explains, “Ha-Qodesh Baruch Hu gozer v’tzaddik mevatlo,” “the Holy One determines what’s going to happen, but a tzaddik can cancel it out.” This is the very opposite of Balaam. Balaam can’t cancel out anything, he can only do. He can only express the form of retardant power that G-D wishes to be currently operative. But on the holy side of Moshe Rabbeinu, the ultimate difference is that the tzaddik can actually go higher than the power that is predominating in any particular time, which is the “Divine decree,” the gezeyrahAnd so, through the power of the heart of the tzaddik, which has the intention of fostering evolution and leading people in that direction, there is the ascendency. There is something special. Even though Balaam is on the same level as Moshe Rabbeinu, there is that little extra, because Moshe can actually go beyond any manifestation that presently exists and bring down a higher evolutionary light that can literally transform things and make the situation better.

In giving over these teachings, I try to shape things in a new way, but I’m not sitting here simply making all of this up! I draw from teachings that are explicit in the tradition, but whose meaning for the emerging paradigm is hidden in plain sight and ready to be revealed.

If you look in the p’shat, the apparent meaning of just what appears in the Chumash, Balaam is an enigma in that he is brought in to curse and yet he delivers the most beautiful, poetic blessings. There is something very ironic here, but it’s hard to understand. In the esoteric tradition he is given tremendous kavod in the sense that he’s the other side of Moshe Rabbeinu. We could go much more deeply into that teaching, but the point is that while there are offsetting powers, there is a slight and deciding advantage on the side of holiness. But this is obviously a process in which there are retardant conservative forces.

Admittedly, I reject the more dualistic paradigm in which there is a need to completely vilify Balaam and Balak. That’s dualistic in that there is absolute evil and absolute good. Rather, in the new paradigm we see a complex system involving various forces that perform different functions. But what might be considered negative or dark forces are clearly “taking their orders from the same source” or, to put it another way, participating in the same holistic process, and they don’t really have any power to overcome the “Divine Intent.” It is this that is really the message, the key to Balaam for us. Yes, he really is powerful, but he has no independent power, no independence at all! On the other hand, in a way, on the side of holiness there is a quality of freedom. There is a certain freedom that enables a really devoted being to have the capacity to elevate beyond the present configurations, the “Divine decrees” and through this one can actually change something. That’s the transformative power. Balaam doesn’t have the transformative power, only a kind of retardant power, a resistance factor.

Chukat

Parshat Chukat is a very important parsha as it has one of the deepest teachings in the entire Torah. In fact, it begins “va-yedabber HaVaYaH el Moshe ve-el Aharon leimor,” “the Divine Guidance spoke to Moses and Aaron and said, Chukat ha-Torah. This is basically the way the Torah works, this is the almost incomprehensible law of the Torah.” And then the Torah tells us that basically Moshe received this teaching, that is to say, he received the Divine Command to deliver this teaching. And what is the teaching? It’s a teaching of the red heifer, the parah adumah. And what Moshe is supposed to tell us is that we should work with this parah adumah, a red heifer that is temimah, it is absolutely perfect, it’s immaculate. The rest of the verse tells us it doesn’t have any flaw in it, because it was never used for anything, it never bore any burden, it was never under the yoke.

The Kozhenitzer maggid, a great hasidic rebbe, has a teaching wherein he reads the verse and divides it into two. First of all, he says that there are two things here, one is the parah adumah, itself, which is perfect. And the other is asher ayn bo mum, meaning anyone who says they don’t have any flaws has never borne the yoke of Torah. In other words, anyone who thinks this way hasn’t even begun spiritual work. So, what’s the connection between the two? Moshe is instructed to tell us that we should take and make use of this “sacred cow,” this red heifer that is absolutely perfect, but also warns us that any person who would see themselves as lacking any flaw has never done any spiritual work at all.

The basic principle of our cosmology is that everything is in a process of being fixed. So, what’s implied here is that the basic condition of the world is full of flaws that need to be perfected and the red heifer represents something that’s immaculate which we need in order to fix something. And so the question is, “what does that which is flawless fix?” And, the answer is that it fixes the damage of the golden calf.

The parah, the heifer, is the mother cow, and the eglah, the calf, is the immature offspring that goes astray. The result of the golden calf is the breaking of the first tablets. Because Moshe Rabbeinu comes down with the first tablets, the first version—which is actually the higher Torah—and sees that the people don’t—can’t—handle the higher Torah because their level of understanding of reality isn’t high enough so they can’t really get what Moshe Rabbeinu is in touch with. So, they turn to this unevolved representation, which is the golden calf, something they can relate to, and as a result Moshe Rabbeinu feels this sort of righteous anger as an example that there can be a sort of anger that is righteous. He winds up breaking the first tablets, and the result is that we then get the second tablets. Basically, we have here the teaching about two levels of Torah. One is, so to speak, about the original and future Torah, which is beyond our grasp. It is beyond our level, the level of present consciousness. The other is the Torah that fits our present level of consciousness. But even though we (only) have before us a Torah that fits our present level of consciousness, we have the experience and memory of a Torah that is higher, and that is actually the Torah that we’re meant to get. It’s that ‘higher Torah’ G-D really gave Moshe Rabbeinu to bring down, but we couldn’t handle it. So, we need something to fix the fact that we can’t handle the higher Torah, which we can understand as the Torah of the future.

So the Torah that is broken by Moshe Rabbeinu, because we didn’t have the vessels to receive it is nevertheless the Torah we talk about when we talk about the light of the future, which is already here but we still don’t have the chops for it, the kelim or the vessels to really hold it. So the fix that we need to make is represented by this red heifer, which is flawless.

Now, what is the red heifer which is flawless? It’s the level of consciousness which gets ayn od milvado, there is really nothing but G-D. That consciousness actually fixes the level of the flaw that comes from the golden calf. Since we couldn’t get that higher level, we needed a lesser representation. The attitude, or consciousness, that was flawed at the time of the golden calf was something like, ‘well, G-D must be like this, or G-D must be like that, but it’s not this and it’s not that!’ As if “It” were something limited: limited, specific, and limiting! So the fix is the consciousness of the red heifer, which is perfect without any qualification. It has and is absolutely everything. This ‘perfection,’ is the consciousness that recognizes that everything is G-D.

But the specific teaching that we have relating to the red heifer is a paradox. The paradox is that it purifies anything that is impure and it makes impure anything that is pure. So, what is the meaning of this? The meaning is, if a person tries to make the fix of the red heifer, to fix the problem of the golden calf, then they reach the level of the consciousness that everything is G-D. Now that’s the level of red heifer! But, paradoxically, that consciousness that recognizes that everything is G-D can either make the impure pure or it can make the pure impure. In other words, if we are aware of the limitations of our ordinary “golden calf” consciousness, the “red heifer consciousness” fixes us.  But, on the other hand, when we get an insight into the level where everything is G-D, the risk is we’ll say, ‘therefore we have nothing to do because everything is G-D and the world is just happening and doesn’t need our efforts to evolve.’ If we draw the conclusion that everything is perfect and we have nothing to do, then that’s like what the Kozhenitzer maggid says, “if you’re saying I have no mum, I have no flaw, then you haven’t done any spiritual work at all.” Then the red heifer fixes you in a different way.  It throws you down to the fact that you still need to do something to further evolve. So, the only way the red heifer can really fix us is if, when we reach the consciousness where everything is G-D, we paradoxically recognize as well that we still have plenty of work to do.

So, the fix of the parah adumah, the red heifer, is that when we encounter the consciousness that is ayn od milvado, that there is nothing else but G-D, it stirs in us this great longing inside to reach higher levels in terms of what’s possible for us to attain within our own levels of spiritual work.

Korach

Rav Me”Ah: 
We’re drawing out what we can through Parshat Korach.  As for the name Korach – we’ve talked previously about how names are very important and there are messages encoded in the letters – the name Korach has the root kuf-resh-chet.  One of the meanings of kore’ach is ‘bald’ and there’s a story in the Gemara that explains this name.  It’s about a man who had two wives.  He had one wife who was older and then he took a second wife who was younger.  So the Gemara says that the young wife pulled out all his grey hairs, and the older wife pulled out all his dark hairs.  The result was that he was bald, with no hair at all!

The idea of Korach then really represents the middle, between one extreme and another.  The problem with Korach is that it’s hard to stand there in the middle; if the middle doesn’t hold then everything falls apart.

You need a very deep clarity to appreciate the importance of the middle.  Because to be in the middle you have to yield.  You can’t go too much in one direction or another.  If you can occupy the middle then you can balance the two extremes.

The middle is very difficult.  Also you can freeze in those conditions, if you don’t have a warm heart.  That is what is needed, otherwise in the middle you can become very cold.   That is the real meaning of the name Korach.  So what can we learn from this, the problem of being in the middle?

It has something to do, first of all, with Korach being a Levite, which is also in the middle.  We already spoke about how things have to be triadic.  We spoke about the three-part Torah, the three-part people, given by the third-born person – Moses, third-born to his mother, preceded by Miriam and Aharon.  And the triad in terms of the division of the people is the Kohanim(priesthood), the Levis, and the tribes, which are called Yisrael, which represent the body aspect, which consists of all these different parts.

So Korach is part of the Levites, and the job of the Levites is to take the position of the middle, to hold the middle, and really be the heart of Israel.  But to be in the middle you have to be willing to yield, to surrender to something that is higher than you.

And that’s the predicament that Korach is in: the test is of the heart, to have a heart that’s going to be warm and not be frozen, not be cold; this comes from the ability to surrender, to take the middle position, to not have to be on top.

To see the importance of the position that comes in the middle – this is basically what Moshe says to Korach:

‘You think it’s me’at, a little thing – I mean, isn’t it enough for you – you think this is a little thing that you’re blessed with the position of the middle, that you don’t want to take that role; you want to collapse the middle; you don’t want to have the three parts that we need; you don’t want to have the integrating principle; you don’t realize how important that integrating principle is – that integrating principle is symbolic of the middle.  It places itself in the middle; It’s the centering perspective – to have something higher than itself and something lower than itself.’

We can see that in the prayers in the Chassidic tradition, all the great prayers and all the great pray-ers among the tzaddikim – that they take on the intention before praying to connect their souls with all of Israel.  As the Zlotchover Maggid said:  ’Every time that I would go to daven, the first thing that I would do is I would connect my soul with all the tzaddikim that were on a higher level than me.’

Amitai: 
Who was that?

Rav Me”Ah: 
The Zlotchover Maggid, Yechiel Mikhel of Zlotchov; the root guru of Meshullam Feibush of Zvorazh, whom I wrote about in Uniter of Heaven and Earth.

The Maggid would say:

‘Whenever I daven the first thing that I do is I connect my soul with all the tzaddikim that are on a higher level than me, so I can draw energy from their level, from their clarity.  And once I make a connection with them, then I connect myself with all the people that are lower than I am, so they can benefit from what’s coming through.’

So in other words, you could see that the Zlotchover Maggid takes the middle.

This is the hard place, as we saw before – because otherwise you’re stuck with the binary [divide] between the head and the body, what you’re feeling viscerally, and what is stuck in your head.  The memes that are implanted in your head create an imaginary world that appears to be separate from your body.  So really it takes the establishment of the heart – and really the key to the establishment of the heart is being able to assume the middle – and to hold everything together. This applies not only to the vertical dimension of prayer, but also to overcoming the frozen conditions of any binary conflict.

Now we’ve seen that Korach doesn’t know how to do it.
He says to Moshe: ‘Who are you to be the Rav?  You should be higher?’
Because he can’t accept that the middle means you have to have [something] above you.  As he understands it, the middle is a sort of pluralism, where everything is just as good.  And that seems to him to be the middle.  That’s the misguided middle.  Where everyone is equal, everyone’s on the same level.

But it doesn’t really mean that.  Because if everybody’s on the same level, then you’ve reached basically the top of rationality – the current limit of human evolution. To be a really good person – most people think that rationality is the epitome of what a person can become.

But the problem with it is, even though that’s a tremendous advance, from an evolutionary perspective, on anything that came before, in the nature of being human and the human mind, it’s essentially egoic.  It’s rational to be egoic.  Rationality supports the egocentric perspective.

And it leads to the desire to fulfill your own needs.  From a rational perspective that’s completely reasonable.  Any person says: ‘Look, I’m out to get what I need.’  You can’t say there’s anything wrong with that.  From the position of rationality, it’s perfectly reasonable, and that’s what Korach represents: Korach represents the un-evolved potential to become the middle, but he can’t become the middle because he’s stuck at the rational level.  The rational is democratic pluralism.  Everybody’s equal.  There’s no higher.  And if there’s no higher, then really there’s no middle.  The middle has to be in the centre.

In the tree of the sefirot, the Etz Chayyim, the middle is represented by Tiferet.  If you think about the six directions, Tiferet is there in the centre.  Tiferet has Keter above it, and it has Malchut below it.  To be a true middle, you have to be in the centre of above and below and the four directions, not to go into too much detail about the various rays that come out.  But to have a middle, the minimum that you need is North, South, East and West, above and below.  That’s what you can see in pretty much any tradition that does powerful rituals.  It creates a cosmic mandala that needs to have at least these six elements.  That’s where Korach needs to be but he can’t get there because he can’t transcend the rational.  Nobody’s better than anybody else.  There’s no above. And as long as there’s no above, there’s no surrender.

As I said, I think the problem is that if you can’t transcend the rational, then you can’t get beyond the person who is out for his/her self, whose life is basically based upon fulfilling their own needs.

Our tradition… I’m giving over this teaching by way of the Yam haChochmah, Rabbi Itche Meir Morgenstern, who is one of the greatest kabbalists in the world today.

What I received from him is the sense that, to use the language of our tradition, there are two types of shevirah, that is, there are two types of conditions of being broken, meaning that they’re incomplete, and require tikkun – they need to be fixed.  They need to be fixed in order for us to get to Ge’ulah, which literally means redemption.

What redemption means in my lexicon is the next evolutionary step: what gets us out, frees us from the limitations of the present evolutionary step, which is dominated by rationality, and expresses itself in self-interest and conflict.

Parenthetically, that’s why we are currently finding so many people attracted to Ayn Rand and all these people who are basically out for themselves, and what can you say about that?  That’s where this framework of ego-centric rationality ultimately leads. It’s human.

In our tradition, according to the Yam haChochmah: that view of the person who is out for their own needs is called shevira d’klippah – that’s the incompleteness of the breakage that is in the klippot.  The klippot represent the conditions in which holiness, the sparks of light, that provide the energy for further evolution, are frozen; they’re locked into a form that freezes them.  That’s Korach, in the sense of the frozen – the wholeness is frozen in the heart of Korach.  The potential, to be the heart – to be the middle you need to be the heart.  If you can’t open your heart it’s as if the light is frozen, and that’s called the shevirat haklippah, the breaking of the vessels that pertain to the klippot.

The higher level is what Korach is fighting against – he doesn’t want to recognize that Moshe Rabbenu is on a higher level.

He says:

‘What are you talking about?  That’s not rational.  We’re all the same.  Who do you think you are?  You must have a bigger ego than the rest of us.’

Because the rational is all about egoic perspective.  So it must be, if you think you’re higher, that you have a bigger ego.  There’s no other way you could be higher.

But there is a higher level, and the higher level is called the shevira d’kedusha, the breaking of holiness.  So in this model, you could say there are two ways in which a person could be broken and need fixing, need tikkun.  These ideas are straight from Lurianic kabbalah, that the world is in a state of incompleteness; it’s in a process of evolution, but the evolution is not completed, so there’s more that needs to be done.

So there are two categories of need.  The lower need, which is represented by Korach at this stage, is the need that is associated with the shvira of the klippah – what I need as a rational individual.  I need this.  And this need looks for its fixing in getting what it needs, but as long as that’s its perspective, that centre is its middle, it’s Korach with a frozen heart, it’s Korach without a heart and without a true middle – and without a middle you can’t have a real tikkun: you can’t really fix anything.

The reason why, you need to go back to what we were talking about last week, that everything’s triadic.  You have a micro, a macro, and your macro is a micro to a bigger macro.  Each level is embedded.  Each level is an analog for a bigger macro.  So there’s no such thing as just fixing yourself.  It’s only from this limited evolutionary perspective of Korach, who cannot assume the role of middle, that it seems that he’s separate, that he’s an individual, that you’re distinguished from everything else in some kind of way, and you have individual needs that need to be filled – which is perfectly reasonable if that’s the way you see the world.  But you can’t ever fully succeed in that, because from a higher perspective it can be seen that this is a kind of myopic perspective – you’re missing the depths of the way things are; they’re much more integrated and inclusive.  And since you’re embedded in these bigger macros, anything you’re feeling really pertains to something in the macros, and isn’t just something that you’re experiencing in the micro of your own experience and understanding through your own senses and so forth, but actually you have no conception of what the forces are, so to speak, that are operative in the macro, beyond what you’re experiencing, that are coming through to you; and so in simply trying to fulfill your own needs you’re going up against insurmountable odds.  There’s so much more that you’re involved in – you just don’t see the picture.

Why do we say that the higher levels are also called a shvira, meaning a breaking?  The higher level is called the shvira d’kedusha, the breaking of the holy.  There are two ways a person can be broken-hearted.  The first is what we’ve been talking about.  I can be broken-hearted because I want another cup of chai and I can’t find the guy who’s serving me, and I’m going crazy because I need that so much and that’s the only thing I can think of.  That’s the shvira d’klippah.  I’m broken because something I personally want or think I need I’m not getting.

So you might think the higher level, which is represented often in certain stages or spheres of spirituality, you think the higher level is ‘where I get everything.’  It’s where I have no personal needs.  We often fall into that, but that’s actually just a kind of higher level of the shvira d’klippah.  Sort of like the mirror image.  We have this ideal spirituality – but since we’re really egoic by nature, by human nature, the higher level is where I don’t really have any more personal needs, however that might be.  It might be a karmic state of samadhi or enlightenment or however it might be conceived – but really it’s just a reflection of the breaking of the klippah, you see.  It isn’t really yet the higher level, just sort of the ideal that would satisfy the structure of the shvira d’klippah.

But the higher level, according to Rabbi Morgenstern, in the terminology of our tradition, is called shvira d’kedushah – it’s holy brokenness.  And that’s the quality of the tzaddikim.  This is precisely what Korach cannot get.  To be higher than the middle doesn’t mean that you’ve got everything that you want or you don’t need anything.  Or that you’ve somehow managed to turn off the pain of need.

It means that your sense of incompleteness is on a higher level, because it’s not basically egoic, which is based on fulfilling my personal needs.

Nevertheless it’s still called a shvira – it’s still based on the sense that something needs to be fixed.  What is it that needs to be fixed?  The higher person, the person who’s above Korach – who obviously in our story is Moshe Rabbenu and his brother Aharon haKohen.  They also experience the brokenness.  But the brokenness that they feel is not the brokenness of not having their personal interests fulfilled.  It’s the brokenness of the absence of the ge’ulah, the realization of the higher level that could take us beyond the shvira d’klippa.  And that is the quality of all the tzaddikim.

So we can see how Moshe Rabbenu and Aharon haKohen act in this situation.  They fall on their faces.

Korach says ‘You must just be a bigger ego than me.  Who the hell do you think you are?’

And Moshe Rabbenu says ‘Look, this isn’t about me.  You’ve got to check this out.  We’re going to do something and I’ll show you this isn’t about what I want.  This is about what God wants.’

This is the quality of the tzaddik.

You know it reminds me of the way that Heschel understood the Prophets.  Heschel wrote a famous book on the Prophets, and his basic thesis is that a prophet is a human being who has evolved to a level where they feel divine pathos.  They feel when something happens – they feel what God feels, not what a human being feels.  An ordinary human being is frozen, has a frozen heart, is stuck, they’re stuck on the ego-centric level, which may seem totally justifiable to us:

‘I don’t really like bad things to happen to other people – it’s not my interest, I may try to avoid it, to the extent that I can.  But I’m not going to go crazy about it, because I have to spend the majority of my time taking care of me.’

And that’s not what a tzaddik is.  Heshel’s description is basically of a human being who gets the divine perspective on something.  They experience that God basically can’t stand a person suffering as a result of somebody else’s maltreatment, ill-consideration, lack of sensitivity, these things – not to put it too much in political language, but any kind of taking advantage, exploitation, oppressing other people.  The whole prophetic tradition tells us that that is abhorrent, from a divine perspective.  But how many people actually feel that?

That’s the quality of a tzaddik, who has what is called kissufim amiti’im.  Kissufim amiti’im means real longing, means a person really feels in their heart, they feel in their body absolutely, like, craving.  Your longing is for the next level, is for the light to be revealed, is for people to get it, that everything is tied up together, everything is integrated together; that it’s not the way we presently see things, which justifies our acting as if we should get everything we can and defend ourselves against others and so forth.

But that perspective is frozen in that it creates a barrier in our ability to recognize and to respond to the One Presence, the element of Present Reality that everything is in fact an expression of.  That’s precisely what you can’t get, when you’re stuck in the egoic perspective.

The tzaddik – and there are many levels of being a tzaddik; but what distinguishes the higher level is the degree to which a person has a heart that is truly longing, truly longing for the redemption, for the next level, next evolutionary level in which we can transcend and overcome the effects of this present level, this shvira d’klippa.  And that’s what Moshe Rabbenu is basically trying to demonstrate to Korach in this parsha.

So the real teaching is the teaching of the heart.  You have to be able to unfreeze the heart.  To unfreeze the heart means that I’d be happy if I knew someone was on a higher level than I am.  Not in the “more,” egoic sense, like I have a million and they have a billion, because then I’d rather have two billion.  Rather I understand that the person who is higher is not, like, more.  It’s higher, meaning it’s higher as in more evolved, in that evolution that means greater empathy, greater sensitivity, greater capacity to love.  And what goes with it, why it’s still called shvira d’kedusha, is because there’s an element of pain in it, an element of suffering.  If someone is suffering, if you’re a tzaddik, you can’t stand it – you can feel it in your body!  It’s not just a political theory.  Your politics are this and my politics are that and I don’t agree with you.  I’m protesting because I cannot stand…

Amitai: 
It’s as if the world and your engagement with the world are no longer abstracted.

Rav Me”Ah: 
Exactly.  You end up a heart-being rooted in your body.  But when your heart is open in your body, you will physically, in an embodied way, feel the pain of any being. Any person’s pain will be your pain.

Amitai: 
But heart-broken is different from depression.  I remember Reb Zalman once saying the heart-broken are the people that it’s as if you gently touch the heart, and it’s that sore tender place – that your world hits you on that level.  You can tangibly feel it.

Rav Me”Ah:
That’s right.  You can feel it.  It’s not just in your head, with some theories about what’s right or what’s wrong.  It’s very visceral, and that’s the next level.  The people on the higher level are feeling something that we should be feeling but are not yet capable of feeling.  And that’s Korach’s predicament.  And Moshe is showing us, basically, what that higher level is.  That it’s not all about me.

Amitai:
Korach is a tough archetype to hold.

Rav Me”Ah: 
Moshe Rabbenu doesn’t even really want Korach to suffer.

Amitai: 
Moshe pleads for all of Israel, doesn’t he?  When Korach starts rebelling, he pleads for all Israel.

Rav Me”Ah: 
Of course, because that’s the very nature of the higher:   He’s not saying ‘my people, my party, me, me, me.’  He means allpeople.

Amitai: 
In the very response, it’s the response of God…

Rav Me”Ah: 
The response of the tzaddik is the integrated perspective, the perspective that includes everybody.  It includes everybody in that one feels everything, feels everybody and everything.  But at the same time, Moshe can’t really save the old Korach, because he basically has to be swallowed up.  Because we basically have to have the middle.  And that ice has to be melted.  May it be so.
I feel more than ever this is a very timely teaching.  To get to what is higher, and how important the middle is, which is what Moshe Rabbenu says to Korach:
‘Don’t you get it?  You’re given the honor of holding the middle.  But you’re not up to it yet…’

Amitai: 
So do you see that all these invitations, all the signs right now are really pointed towards, the knocking on the door we hear right now, is the invitation to open up the heart..?

Rav Me”Ah: 
Yes.  I think that one of the things that is feeling to me as important to say as part of participating in bringing through the next evolutionary stage of spirituality and being, is that we need to distinguish between the ideal of Korach, the spiritual ideal of Korach, which would be the stage where we’re relieved of all our shvira – ‘I’m relieved of my heart being broken’ which is an individual experience; and to understand that actually the next stage is a higher form of a broken heart that is not individual.  It’s the heart that is broken because of everything that is keeping us from peace and the higher consciousness of redemption.

Amitai: 
Do we have to be willing to be heart-broken to get to that next level?

Rav Me”Ah: 
I think so.   I think that Moshe Rabbenu is, Aharon haKohen is.  I think this is something that many of us stumble over at one point or another.  Especially when we get very impressed by what we think is the character of some of the Asian spiritual traditions – we take a look at our tradition and we don’t see people sitting there in samadhi and bliss.  We see people undertaking tremendous responsibilities and bearing the burden that comes along with it.

And in order to do it there also has to be access to noam haShem, the pleasantness of divinity.  We have to be able to have access to those higher levels which transcend, which suffering doesn’t reach.  But not stay there as an end, not view them as the goal of our studies.  But to access them.  But what we see represented and demonstrated [as the goal] is some form of serving, ofavdut, of becoming the eved, the servant.  We have the same idea in Islam of course, becoming the servant of something higher.  And that isn’t completely pleasant.

It’s not pleasant, really, to be Moshe Rabbenu.  But it’s higher to be Moshe Rabbenu.

So that’s what I want to bring through, really.

This notion – which is in Rebbe Nachman, too, but people tend not to take it far enough; but Rabbi Morgenstern takes it farther: people tend to think it’s all vertical, that when Rebbe Nachman talks about kissufim and ga’agu’im and longing and all this sort of stuff, I think it’s because people can’t transcend very well Korach’s level – they think it’s all about me, somehow, or all about my tradition, even if they become very spiritual.

Then their longing is just too vertical and narrow:  ‘I’m not getting a certain experience.  I want the experience, to really feel that God loves me,’ these sorts of things.  Not to say that that’s necessarily bad.  But it’s a model that goes with the level that we want to transcend, we want to get beyond, that has to have a lot more of the horizontal in it.  It has to embrace all the macros that we have access to, macros that are also empowering micros of other beings and traditions, and not just the connection between our individual micro and our Jewish macro.  So I think that’s really the issue.  These kissufim (longings) are not really about you.  As long as the longing is just about your spirituality, that ‘I’m not satisfied with my spirituality’ – well, that’s OK for a beginner.  But that’s far from being a tzaddik in training.

To be any degree of tzaddik, to at least be a beginner tzaddik in training, and please God we’ll at least be beginners, is to have some degree that you can feel the suffering of others.

So in other words, yes, there has to be suffering and pain.  That’s the shvira d’kedusha.  That’s a holy form of suffering, not a frozen-hearted form.  Not a form based on unfulfilled egoic cravings, but it’s the suffering taken on by someone who’s serving a higher purpose, the higher evolutionary purpose itself. And of course, there are great rewards in this.

Amitai: 
Thank you.

Shelakh Lekha

Question: In regards to the Shelakh-Lekha parsha, it opens with, “The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Send men to scout the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelite people; send one man from each of their ancestral tribes, each one a chieftain among them.’ So Moses, by the LORD’s command, sent them out from the wilderness of Paran, all the men being leaders of the Israelites. And these were their names…” (Be-Midbar, 13:1-4). It then goes directly into the names and the tribal relevance, the list of which is part of the beginning of this parsha. I intuit there is information here with how we may relate to this on another level, perhaps even with how we may navigate through the sefirot with this list. It appears that these names and the related tribes are symbols and keys, but what are they symbols of, if that is even the case? How do we relate to this teaching that is coming through here as hasidim? Please clarify.

Answer, Reb Moshe Aharon: This is a good question.

One thing I would want to say as an important principle is there are a lot of sources for decoding but, one thing I would say as a general principle is there is a way in which the microcosm and the macrocosm are related. And so, a lot of the things that we get in Tanakh and in the Torah are the map of the macrocosm and the kind of information that we need to get is how that map applies to each person as a microcosm. The land of Israel is a kind of model for understanding the disparate parts of both the macrocosm and the microcosm. So, one of the things that we have to do is first of all take a look at the map and see where each tribe is located.

Question: How do you mean? Which map are we looking at?

Answer, Reb Moshe Aharon: The map of how the land of Israel was physically divided. That’s the macrocosm. And so the principle is first you have to have a map, a model of the totality and, even beyond that, there is more than one level because the land of Israel itself represents the model of conscious energy that is working to accomplish the Ge’ulah, the redemption, which is ultimately a macrocosmic redemption, meaning that its interest is in the entire world although it is expressed kiveyachol, locally. I’m reminded of Reb Zalman who loves to say, “Act locally and think globally,” and in a way that is what kind of map this is: locally this is sort of where you work in these places and there is a different energy in each part of the land of Israel that’s apportioned to a particular tribe.

So let’s say there are three levels, the first of which is the macro-macrocosm, for which, there are actually more levels than this. We’re just looking at three as a way of simplifying the example. For example, someone like Gurdjieff tried to map out these levels with the various octaves and different planets. The point being these maps and models can be made to be universal and global, galactic even; these models can go out and out and out, but the main focus for us is Gaia, is the Earth.

Question: So the micro-macrocosm would be the first level, so to speak? This being the physical land of Israel and then the macrocosm of the land of Israel is Gaia, our manifest world…?

Answer, Reb Moshe Aharon: Right. And there’s a macro even for that map of the land of Israel, to be even more specific. The land of Israel can be a micro in relation to an even bigger macro and all of these levels of micro and macro are analogous to a particular relationship to a related macro and micro sphere, which can be extended out infinitely

Question: So these maps of micro in relation to a macro is reflective of the way the Etz Chayim works? We’re talking about a model quite similar to the Etz Chayim?

Answer, Reb Moshe Aharon: That’s right. The thing that a lot of people don’t understand is that the maps are just like a yardstick: the yardstick gives you markings that are dynamic and relative that is a usable range, but we can’t measure the whole macro-world with a yardstick. But, you can move the yardstick, for example, when you get to the end of what appears measurable, you can bump up or adjust the yardstick to measure further out, so to speak. But if you have a yardstick, you then have a way to measure what appears from one’s distinct perspective top and bottom, the left and the right, and all the six directions the Sefer Yetzirah talk about. But people often think that the yardstick is the totality whereas in actuality it’s only a movable and relative means to measure where one is in the various worlds as we do not know what the limits are.

Question: The yardstick, then, implies that we’re measuring something we recognize and, the fact of the matter is that this yardstick grows, so to speak, as we grow and further explore the dimensions the Sefer Yetzirah teaches about, all the while further increasing the size of our map?

Answer, Reb Moshe Aharon: Yes, that’s right. This process extends and can expand infinitely.

Question: And so this relates to our ancestral tribes…

Answer, Reb Moshe Aharon: …because they are part of the map. Each tribe is given a spot, a particular domain within the land of Israel. So, to be able to decode the information, the first thing you need to do is get a map of the land of Israel, of where the tribes are within the land of Israel. You can get such a map, for example, in Aryeh Kaplan’s Chumash translation, “The Living Torah.” Then you can clearly see where each tribe is located and everything has meaning in terms of the model. So once you have the clarity of the map, then you can transfer the information from the macro of the land of Israel to the micro of the individual human being.

Let’s say that as an individual human being, you are an analogue of the land of Israel if you are engaged in the Jewish tradition. By engaging the tradition you are in effect saying you’re using this particular map and this model in order to understand yourself in the universe. So first you have to see where it is in the land of Israel to understand what part of your person, what part of your body, and what part of your neshamah is governed by which particular tribe. This is called K’lal Yisrael, being a complete Israel, Israel in totality and some of the secrets in the decoding. If we’re going to look into the decoding, we can find it in the blessings that Yaakov, that Jacob gives to each of the tribes. Before his death he calls all of the tribes in and each one receives a specific blessing.  There’s the information relevant to what the function is of how each one is different from another and what their function is and so forth.

The Nesi’im is one of the terms used…there is the Nasi, which is usually translated, “the prince,” or “chieftain” or something like that, but what it really means is something like what we saw in the parsha from two weeks ago, which is parshat Naso’, it means “lifting up.” What is the active agent that lifts up the function of each tribe? Then, to understand that you have to go to the specific names, for example, the Nesi’im of this particular tribe is so and so and so and so. And generally, because of the letters in Hebrew all represent specific building blocks or types of energy, according to the Sefer Yetzirah, there is an encoded message in the very name, for example, of each of these tribes. Further, for example in Naso’ last week, a lot of the parsha talks about the Gershuney, the sub-tribe whose name comes from Gershon, which is an aspect of the Levites. The name Gershon has within it the root Gimel-Reish-Shen, which means Geyrush, “driven out,” or “separated.” So this is a particular family in the macro of the people of Israel. To complete this example of a specific name, this name represents that element within us which has a tendency to fall out and which has to be lifted up. So in the torah of Naso’, one aspect is that it’s about raising up the name of Gershon, this being the element which gets separated. What is the element that gets separated? It is the heart, it’s what comes in the middle as when we generally get stuck, very often we’re in binary form.

Binary form for us means we’re somewhat split between a mind and a body and we have trouble keeping the two integrated together and this is really what dualism is: when we function as a conscious mind separate from a body, when the body appears to be doing one thing and the mind is somewhere else. But then there is the piece that comes between.

The Torah is basically dialectical and the dialectical principle is basically in threes, it’s in triads. There’s a version, for example, of this that also appears in Gurdjieff’s work. He talks very specifically about triads. Gurdjieff didn’t get this out of the blue! The Torah is really based on triads; there’s a whole midrash that says, ‘the three-part Torah (Torah, Nevi’im, Ketuvim) was given to the three-part people (Kohen, Levi, Yisrael) by the Third Born (Moshe) on the third day of the third month,’ to get across to us that we need triads. Dyads are good but if we don’t have the piece in the middle then they pull each other apart. The middle is where the Gershuneys function; the part that has to be lifted up is the heart that connects the head—that integrates the head—with the body.

Question: In looking deeper into this parsha, can we apply the concept of triads and the reminder to go back and explore the macrocosm of Israel? And as we explore the macrocosm and then are led to the microcosm that is us as individuals, but also globally…what is the triad that is being formed here? How do we increasingly stay connected with our tribes of Israel as taught in the Torah, both as individuals and communities?

Answer, Reb Moshe Aharon: As you said, the tribe is very important here because, even though the yardstick could be extended infinitely, for us there are basically three main levels that we need to be cognizant of, which is our own individual self as the micro-microcosm. But we, as the micro-microcosm, in order to have power, in order to have meaning, we have to have the macrocosm that gives the micro its relative map and it is this map that gives meaning. The map that is giving us meaning is K’lal Yisrael. So we’re participating both as an analogue of the land of Israel and its divisions and also as an analogue to the tribes of Israel, which is like body and neshamah. But in order for this practice to have power, then we have to see that our map is itself amicro and its power comes from and is vested in its analogue, which is something much greater. And this is why it’s important for us to keep, stay with, and use our tradition, to relate to it and to draw power from it but also to draw the power from beyond our macro, because power is ultimately infinite, but practically speaking it gets exhausted if it’s not renewed. So every macro is a micro in relation to something else and we need a macro for our macro and that’s the triad for us. So it becomes the mediating point between something that is bigger and higher than it is and by doing so it can pass on to us, through its unique model, the energies that will be conducive to transformation on our personal, micro-level.

Va-Yiqra

Va-Yiqra 5771 –

According to Sefer Az Yashir Moshe (Meta-Torah)

The infinitesimal Alef calls to Moshe and (then) the Source of Compassion speaks to him in the mind space where Divinity and Humanity meet. (Leviticus 1:1).

The Meta-Moshe Rabbenu (Rinpoche) has immediate access to Divine guidance under all circumstances. At that level one doesn’t need a Temple to go to or any particular spiritually enhancing context in order to approach the Shekhinah.  You yourself are a Sanctuary and the Shekhinah is in and around you and even speaks through you.

But, how do we “get there?” Our Sages tell us that Divinity is broadcasting an evolutionary current at all times that seeks to bring us into alignment (teshuvah). This infinitesimally subtle vibration is however all too rarely perceived. In fact, although we receive it quite frequently, the level of confusion that characterizes most of us in our misconception of Reality prevents us from “getting the message”— the Divine “love-taps” that are subtly seeking our attention. This subtlety of Divine transmission is required by the evolutionary process itself, commonly thought of in terms of “reward and punishment” (karma).  If the broadcast were louder and clear enough for everyone to hear, there would be no possibility of evolution as no effort would ever be required of us. If that were the case, there would be no way to feed the Shekhinah and the Atzmut, the very essence of ALL THAT IS (Eyn Sof), would have no basis for manifesting as EVERYTHING in time and space.

The difference between an un-awakened person and a Tzaddiq-in-training may be measured by the degree of sensitivity that a person has to this subtle sound current. The Noam Elimelekh says a Tzaddiq-in-training is not a person whose behavior is always perfect, but rather a person who is extremely sensitive to the guidance coming from the subtle current that let’s one know when a course correction is required.  In the state of “sleep,” even though we may think we are awake, we act mechanically. When our behavior is challenged, we immediately become defensive, dishonest, and in denial. But for the awakened tzaddiq-in-training, even though incapable of measuring up to anyone’s conceptual idea of idealized perfection, the least “misstep” is heartbreaking.  That very acute presence of Conscience within is an indication that one is sensitive to the call of the infinitesimally subtle “Alef” that guides Moshe Rinpoche.

Whenever Moshe consciously responds to the “call” of the vibration of the infinitesimally subtle Alef, it transforms the mind-stream of the Tzaddiq into a condition called Ohel Mo’ed (mind space where Divinity and Humanity meet). In that special “meeting place,” the vibration of the infinitesimally subtle Alef expands into the transmission of a compassionate and evolutionary teaching.  In this parashah the process begins with the transmission of a teaching concerning fundamental ways of drawing closer to the primordial state of inseparability from the Shekhinah.  These fundamental ways of drawing closer to theShekhinah are called “sacrifices” (“korbanot’) because each requires a certain form of conscious suffering.

Tell those on the evolutionary path that if they want to draw closer to the Shekhinah, they should make conscious sacrifices that refine the ‘beast,’ the source of unregulated desires (“min ha-behemah”), sacrifices should be made through the center of awareness (“min ha-baqar”) and through unification of Source and Manifestation (“min ha-TZoN”)(Leviticus 1:2)

The primary and most general sacrificial path is called “from the beast” because it points to the efforts we need to make in order to bring our total animal nature into a higher level of refinement. This is basically the same image Plato used in regard to the horse and carriage that requires a driver if it is to go in an evolutionary direction. The general path of conscious sacrifice includes all forms of self-discipline that regulate and direct unconscious drives that increase our confusion.  What is being sacrificed on this general path is the unchecked and relentless pursuit of satisfying our cravings on all levels.

To achieve the general purpose of conscious suffering in order to become more than a beast, there are two supporting inner paths. The first is called: “BaQaR,” which literally means “from the herd” but alludes to the center of awareness, based on the Hebrew root BQR that implies critical insight (BiQQuR). This is the inner sacrificing of mindless confusion.  In order to follow this path, it is necessary to make the effort to cultivate constant mindful awareness— to maintain as much as possible the condition of being present to all that one is experiencing.

Deeper than this is the second inner path called: “TZoN,” literally “from the flock.” However, according to Kabbalah we know there are secrets hidden in the letters TZadi Alef and Nun that have to be deciphered in order to disclose a deeper hidden teaching. The letters TZadi and Alef equal 91 which is the sum of the two Holy Names, YHVH (26) and ADNY (65).  Thus the sum of these two letters alludes to the unification of the two Holy Names representing Source (YHVH) and Manifestation (ADNY). When the two are ONE, they express the mystery of Divine Love. This love flows from the highest Source all the way down like the final form of the letter Nun (see the first Torah in Liqqutey MoHaRaN) expressing the power of drawing down Divine Grace (Hesed) to the most manifest level of Malkhut.  This capacity to radiate Hesed (real kindness) in actuality within the world itself flows spontaneously and directly from the ultimately inseparable union of Source and Manifestation. Thus the sacrifice of “TZoN” is the path of complete non-dual unification. This path is followed by realizing, remaining in, remembering, and returning to the state of Knowledge that existed before we were born and which can be recalled as we evolve in our embodied condition. (See B.Talmud, Niddah 30). Whoever practices this path in life sacrifices ego-identification at the very deepest level (bittul bi-metziut).

May we blessed to become increasingly sensitive to the call of the infinitesimally subtle Alef vibration. May we respond to this Divine Call with sincere efforts of realignment (teshuvah) and share its message to inspire others. May we commit ourselves to the paths of conscious sacrifice that ultimately can enable us to become truly kind and awake beings in this very world as embodiments of non-dual Reality.

Shabbat shalom!

Faithfully transcribed from the subtle Alef vibration by,

Moshe Aharon (Ladizhyner) for the Shekhinah,

Va-Yiqra 5771