Author Archive for Miles Krassen – Page 3

Va-Yaqhel

Va-Yaqhel 5771 – 

According to Sefer Az Yashir Moshe (MetaTorah)

Moshe calls together a harmonious community that includes all factions… (Ex. 35:1)

The Sanctuary (Mishqan) that Moshe calls on all of us to participate in constructing, is a portable mini-Temple. As such it has to represent and include every single essential element present within the full spectrum of the Shekhinah Herself. Every truly sacred Temple whether portable or stationary is a fractal reflection on its own level of the Shekhinah who is Everything, from the very least all the way to Eyn Sof (The ALL).  We need such sacred constructions because our little eyes are too weak and easily distracted and cannot recognize directly that we are already blessed to be present within a divinely constructed Sanctuary, the Earth Herself, Goddess Gaea.

We also need a scaled-down microcosmic model to remind us that our own bodies, themselves fashioned in the “Divine Image,” have the potential to become sanctuaries, if we can master the Yoga of harmonizing all our energy systems with the deepest wisdom of the Heart, bilevavi mishqan evneh (“I’m building a sanctuary in my Heart”).

Through studying the construction and composition of this portable Sanctuary we can learn a lot about what we need to do in order to become ourselves a portable sanctuary that embodies and transports Holiness throughout time and space.  (See Reb Zalman’s translation of Ana Be-Koach.)

And here we need to recognize the essential difference between a portable Sanctuary (Mishqan) and a stationary Temple (Beyt Ha-Miqdash). The Temple can only come later after all the sacred battles relevant to a specific location (Milchemot HaShem) have been won, i.e., after everything has been eliminated that obscures and stands in the way of realizing the Shekhinah directly as Reality Herself right in that very place.

Many of us would like to jump over time and “re-build” the Temple without first constructing, creating and becoming a portable Sanctuary ourselves. But such a notion is inherently reactionary and regressive, because by merely looking backwards to where the Shekhinah has already been we cannot help Her reach where She still needs to go, ( mythically, the Third Temple). To getTHERE from HERE we always have to continue moving forward in order to master the construction of a portable Sanctuary. We have to become a sacred chariot (Merkavah) that can embody and transport Holiness throughout all reaches and stages of time and space. (“The Fathers and Mothers are the Chariot”)

The appeal of the “leap-frog beyond time and space” is powerful, because it appears to enable us to leap over and defy the fundamentally suffering nature of embodied experience.  But it is as illusory and unsustainable as any other limited fantasy model that obscures and separates the “two partzufim” of Reality that are essentially inseparable. (Qudsha Berikh Hu u- Shekhinteh.)  Any “Absolute” that is not sustained by the energy of conscious suffering within Time and Space is itself fated to fade away. (See what Gurdjieff says about the Absolute and merciless Heropass in All and Everything.) So, the Shekhinah wants and needs ushere to sustain and feed her.

How we feed and sustain the Shekhinah is a matter of scale and proportion.Since most of us cannot even begin to comprehend the Shekhinah as Whole, we need to work with limited fractal models that on their own scale reflect the Totality and that means coming together on some level in the construction of a fractal Mishqan. But, regardless of the level or the scale, whether as embodied individual, family, tribe, nation, multi-national, or globally, within time and space the sacred struggles that feed and nourish the Shekhinah, the sacrificial efforts we must make to sustain holiness on the Earth and in the Universe—miLeCHeMot HaVaYaH— the “Lechem of Being,” Divine Bread—cannot be avoided. We must provide HER with food for HER sustenance.

And here is where the problem arises that the archetypal meta-Moshe addresses.  The nourishing struggles we need to offer asPrasad, require of us discrimination and conscience. On the micro-Mishqan scale that means honestly acknowledging and addressing aspects of us that require refinement, however painful.  From the perspective of the larger vehicles, more expansive forms of the macro-Mishqan, this same sense of justice and conscience has also to be refined and expressed. These “struggles” are unavoidable and essential for creating, spreading, and sustaining holiness on the Earth.

But here is the problem.  While the conscious struggles rooted in conscience are not only required and quintessentially human, humanity on its own level cannot succeed in “bringing Mashiach,” the redeeming feature.  The reason is that we have one quintessentially human flaw that makes even our best efforts as futile as Sysiphus. As long as this chief human feature is not recognized and transcended, regardless of how “right” we may be in our expression and perceptions of conscience and “justice,” we are bound to fail every time in our efforts to bring about whatever we may think is “right.” That fatal flaw is Schadenfreude, the pathological pleasure we humans experience in the face of someone else’s suffering.  Unfortunately, this dubious pleasure greatly increases the more we think somebody “really deserves it.”

But no matter how terrible we may think someone else’s karma is, there is no one who is outside the reach of the All-Embracing outreach of the Thirteen Arms of the Shekhinah’s Pure Compassion (Thirteen Middot of Rachamim).  This very teaching is explicit in the midrash that is repeated at every Passover Seder in the Haggadah that tells us how the Shekhinah rebuked the Israelites for celebrating the drowning of their former oppressors who died while pursuing the Israelites into the Reed Sea.  (“My people are dying and you are cheering?!?!”)  It is one thing to celebrate the unconditional good fortune of being the beneficiary of Divine Grace. But Schadenfreude completely undermines the merit of any such celebration and guarantees that we will “lose it” again regardless of how high a level we may have reached.

And that is why our sages teach us that when it comes to conflict and opposition, the only kind that provides sustainance for theShekhinah is a machloqet le-shem shamayim: when we express our differences in support of Heaven’s interests. But differences cannot be expressed for Heaven’s interests as long as one is not rooted in the All-Embracing outreach of the Thirteen Arms of the Shekhinah’s Pure Compassion (Thirteen Middot of Rachamim) which exclude no one. As long as we hate someone and rejoice in their downfall, no matter how much we believe “they really deserve it,” we can know for certain that our struggle is not amachloqet le-shem shamayim and our “righteous” efforts will fail to provide sustainance for the Shekhinah.

The archetypal meta-Moshe who alone can put all the pieces together because “He” is rooted in unlimited compassion is theDivine Power calling on all of us to come together in the construction of every level of Mishqan that can feed the Shekinah by enabling holiness to move freely through all dimensions of time and space reaching everywhere, everything, and everyone.

May it be so. May it be so.

Shabbat shalom.

Received and faithfully transmitted by,

Moshe Aharon Ladyzhiner

Va-Yaqhel 5771

(The highest level is recognizing directly and clearly the absolutely limitless and all-encompassing energy of pure rachamim that is extended and includes all beings without exception. If one doesn’t attain this level of realization, regardless of how many high attainments and merits one gains for oneself, it will still be possible to “completely lose it” in some circumstance or another. Only the consciousness that is rooted in and permeated by all-encompassing rachamim can manifest critically as a machloqet le-shem shamayyim and thus have qiyyum.)

Ki Tisa

According to SeferAz Yashir Moshe (Meta-Jewish Torah)

When you are elevating the consciousness of Israel (Exodus 30:12)

According to the BeSHT and the Maggid, all prayer and aspiration should be for the sake of the Shekhinah. The Shekhinah literally means Divine Presence. But what exactly is THAT? Divine Presence is precisely the space-like all pervasive invisible yet conscious medium within which everything appears and exists (Sovev Kol Almin). Unlike the Buddhists, we don’t say that the Shekhinah is the “ALL,” rather THAT which we worship as SHE, the great Cosmic Mother, is the EVERYTHING that in Her inseparability from the ALL (Eyn Sof) completes the Totality of ALL and Everything (Eyn Sof and Or Eyn Sof).

Ki Tisa et Rosh Beney Yisrael: If you want to raise consciousness not just for yourself but for everybody, teach them to make their prayer practice a time for revealing the Shekhinah. As long as the Shekhinah remains only a concept (however lofty) signifying something separate from “you,” any uplifting of consciousness is limited and remains self-centered. That isn’t really prayer for the sake of the Shekhinah. But whenever one allows the self-centered conceptual mind to drop away (bittul) the always already present Shekhinah is revealed just as THAT which (SHE) IS.

The main disseminator of the BeSHT’s teachings, Yossele Katz, took this deeper. He said, whenever a person is immured in conceptual mind, one becomes very heavy. Everything is a struggle and requires a lot of effort. “Working our brains” is tiring and the entire body suffers and doesn’t function optimally as a result. But whenever the mind is empty and expansive (bittul), there is a power present that spreads lucidity and lightness throughout the entire body. This relaxed state is self-evident and all may experience it for themselves.

In the Zohar, Tzaddikim-in-training are called “agents of the Skekhinah,” because they are not working only for their own benefit, but for the sake of the Shekhinah Herself who is both pervasive and equally present in everyone (memale kol olmin), as is self-evident to all Her Lovers.

Tzaddikim-in-training recognize all others as limbs of their own body. When a Tzaddik-in-training through bittul reveals the Shekhinah (spontaneously, effortlessly, and immediately liberating the Shekhinah from “exile”), lightness spreads through all “the limbs,” because the body always reflects and follows consciousness.

If you want your prayer to elevate consciousness not just for yourself, but for the entire world, allow the Shekhinah to reveal Herself.

May it be so. May it be so.

Very likely, you may doubt your power to affect the consciousness of others merely as a consequence of your own bittul, i.e. merely through effortlessly allowing the clear Presence of the Shekhinah to manifest wherever you are. But RaSHI already taught us that the verse “I will empower with MY Grace whomever I choose” (Exodus 33:19) means that revealing the Shekhinah isn’t conditioned by any particular merit or absence thereof. Anyone can do it, because the Shekhinah IS what IS. Even when She IS in Exile, SHE is still Ising, only then no one knows WHERE SHE IS. And that is our biggest problem: we don’t even know WHERE to look for HER.

So the Rebbe Elimelekh adds, whenever anyone through the efficacy of her own bittul reveals the Shekhinah, there is so much Divine Joy in that clarity that even those who aren’t able yet to reveal the Shekhinah through the unobstructed transparency of their own bittul get a “contact high” from the pure energy of the revealed Shekhinah’s all-encompassing embrace!

The only pre-condition really is that in order to be sensitive enough to feel the Shekhinah’s embrace, one has to pay a price, which means to be effectively doing the practice of teshuvah. Practicing teshuvah effectively means mindfully observing oneself with enough clarity so as to be able to make skillful adjustments whenever one’s energy and behavior require it. That is the true meaning of “vidui,” (confession), being honest with oneself and acknowledging what conscience requires you to fix. Dedication to “fixing ourselves” empowers the Heart to have the capacity to be a vessel for storing yirat shamayim (literally “fear of Heaven). But it isn’t really like a battery charged with the energy of fear in any conventional sense. Yirat shamayim is the Heart’s innate capacity to manifest the attitude of devotion to the Shekhinah, which in its ultimate level blossoms as the highest form of Love and the many are revealed as ONE.

Since this is a leap year, we won’t reach the (ultimate) level of Purim for another month (Adar Sheni). Anyone familiar with the sequence of Torah readings knows that to get to Purim, we need to pass through Sheqalim and Zachor, “weighing” and “remembering.” Even though we have another month of practice before we come to Purim itself, in the Shabbat of KI Tisa, we are already preparing ourselves through the secret of the “half-shekel,” our half of the “bargain” we make with the Shekhinah. We can already do our half of the weighing now that renders ourselves “weighty” enough to receive and consciously experience the all-encompassing embrace of the Shekhinah, who will graciously pay off the rest of our debt. This price we pay, which is equal for everyone—is like a ransom that contributes to releasing the Shekhinah from exile.

“Nothing more extravagant is required of the wealthy nor are the impoverished excused from the necessity of paying their half of the ransom that helps raise up the Shekhinah from exile in order to ‘get themselves ready for Purim’ (le-khaper al nafshoteyhem). (Ex. 30:15). The Purim hint comes right in the following verse: mindful self-weighing is called the “currency of those who are preparing for Purim” (kesef ha-ki-PURIM). (Ex: 30:16). And it is this currency that makes us “memorable” and thus receptive to the energy radiating as the all-encompassing embrace of the Shekhinah that manifests directly through the effortless, spontaneous, pure-hearted bittul of the Tzaddiqim-in-training.

May it be so. May it be so.

Shabbat shalom blessings from Shekhinah Lover,

Moshe Aharon

Ki Tisa 5771

Toledot

If we follow the path of involution from the non-dual ground of Be-ing through the increasingly veiled stages of manifestation, we find that the deepest energetic quality of Be-ing is Divine Love.  In Kabbalah, Divine Love (Hesed) is represented by Avraham, whom Be-ing calls, Avraham, My Lover… (Isaiah 41:8.)  Were it not for Avraham, who personifies the continuously pulsating, sustaining power of Love, no world could manifest. Yet for the manifest world to evolve and reach its fullness, a contraction of Love is required, because Love in its most intense form overcomes and precludes any separation and individuation.  So Divine Love, an emanation of Divine Wisdom, restrains a bit of itself and sacrifices its beloved all-embracing state as an offering to Be-ing.  The G-ding Power tested Divine Love… (Genesis 22:1.)  …Take your beloved all-embracing state and elevate it as a sacrifice, above and beyond the (dualistic) world-space in which YaH is only discerned as a spice. (Genesis 22:2.)

Thus Divine Love itself, through its sacrifice and devotion to Be-ing, makes way for its own opposite and offspring, Gevurah(Restraint and Discriminating Judgment).  Avraham (Divine Love) birthed Yitzhak (Gevurah). (Genesis 25:19.)

Yitzhak is the progenitor of dualistic consciousness.  These (two) are the offspring of Yitzhak consciousness, which descends directly from Divine Love.  (Genesis 25:19.)

Yitzhak suffers greatly from the loss of his Mother, Sarah the Shekhinah.  His relationship to Divinity is a terrifying one, because he doesn’t know where to find Her; His progenitor Avraham’s Power of Love was Yitzhak’s Fear…(Genesis 31:42.)  Yitzhak calls Divinity “Fear,” because in Yitzhak-consciousness, one fears that Divinity is something that can be lost.

So why did Sarah prophetically name him Yitzhak (He will laugh)?  Because the more he awakens and returns to the Shekhinah,the more he can recognize the joke of dualistic consciousness, which appears dual but is really One.  Laughter comes through reuniting with the Shekhinah. (Proverbs 31:25.)

However, before one can ascend from Yitzhak-consciousness to the level of Divine laughter, it is necessary to come to know oneself clearly on the level of the personality.  Happily, Yitzhak attained a level of dualistic understanding through his devotion to a descended emanation of the Shekhinah. (Genesis 25:20.)

Contemplating the Shekhinah, Yitzhak turned himself over to Be-ing; praying that his devotion would be fruitful. Be-ing responded by transforming him so that he was aware of the dualistic tendencies within his soul.  (Genesis 25:21.)

Yitzhak-consciousness is characterized by inner conflict.  The Midrash says that Rivkah suffered greatly while pregnant with the twins, Ya’akov and Esav.  Whenever she passed a holy place, Ya’akov would start kicking and trying to break out of her womb.  Whenever she would pass by an unholy place, Esav wanted to come out.  In Yitzhak-consciousness the soul (Rivkah) is troubled by an internal struggle between competing tendencies: the yetzer tov (positive urge) and yetzer ha-ra’ (negative urge).  Two tendencies contended within her; so she thought, ‘if that’s the way it is in dualistic consciousness, what’s the point of this I AM?’ and she turned to Be-ing for an answer. (Genesis 25:22.)

Yitzhak-consciousness is essentially a struggle.  Sometimes one tendency prevails and sometimes another.  For that reason, it is often difficult to discern if any real progress is even being made.  Reassurance and direction depends on reliance on a higher source for guidance.  Be-ing informed the soul that there are two ego-driven tendencies within the depths of our personalities and our instincts are pulled in two directions; one will ultimately become stronger than the other… (Genesis 25:23.)

As long as one doesn’t get the joke of dualistic experience Yitzhak-consciousness can never lead to redemption.  Both positive and negative tendencies within Yitzhak-consciousness are egoic and support a dualistic view.  Nevertheless, for us to evolve, the holy, positive tendency has to prevail and become stronger through liberating and elevating the holy sparks that are also present in the yetzer ha-ra’.

And the old one will serve the younger. (Genesis 25:23.)

A wise but impoverished child is better than an old foolish king. (Ecclesiates 4:13.)  The Zohar likens the “wise, impoverished child” to the yetzer tov and the “old, foolish king” to the yetzer ha-ra’, because, according to rabbinic tradition, the yetzer tov appears in us at a later stage of development. As we progress, older structures from earlier stages of development remain part of us, but now they can serve more evolved objectives.  Although, like Ya’akov, the newly emerging, more evolved personality structure makes mistakes in its early stages, we recognize its superiority, because it arouses us to aspire to higher goals.

May we all realize that dualistic consciousness is the offspring of Love.

May our newly emerging aspirations lead us higher and closer to Divinity.

May we recognize the egoic nature of even our best impulses

And, discovering the joke of dualistic consciousness,

Laugh together in our reunion with Shekhinah.

Amen.
Rabbi Moshe Aharon Ladizhyner
5767

Chayyeh Sarah

The Midrash says that when Sarah heard about the binding of her son Yitzhak, she immediately died.  Her sudden death is attributed to the shock she experienced, when she realized how close to death her son had come as a result of a Divine command.  This interpretation may seem to emphasize the humanness of Sarah: the depth of her love for her son and her body’s frailty.  However, a Hasidic interpretation attributes Sarah’s death to more than human qualities.  (See Or GedalyahuChayyeh Sarah.)

Sarah was amazed… (Genesis 23:2.)  When Sarah learned what Avraham and Yitzhak had done at the Mountain of Divine Awe, she was immediately swept up by the power of the union of Heaven and Earth that had been revealed there.  Avraham and Yitzhak survived, because by sacrificing a ram instead of Yitzhak, they were able to ground their experience in a mitzvah, a devotional act that binds Heaven to Earth. However, Sarah, who was, perhaps, even more sensitive to the power of the Divine revelation, did not participate in the mitzvah and, as a result, died on the spot.

Like Avraham, Sarah was an extraordinary being.  Sarah’s way of life consisted of a hundred blessings a day;  in her elder years, she still had the energy of a twenty year old; her youthfulness was nourished by the integrated flows of all seven sefirot (from Hesed toMalkhut) that energized Sarah. (Genesis 23:1.)

Avraham the tzaddik (a righteous servant of Be-ing) was able to recognize Sarah as an emanation of the Shekhinah (the feminine aspect of Be-ing).  In the place whence Sarah’s soul departed, four sefirot: Hesed (Unconditional Love), Gevurah (Just Power), Tif’eret (Compassion), and Malkhut (Divine Immanence) formed a complete circuit, bringing together the upper spiritual worlds and the lower world of deceptions.  When Avraham the tzaddik arrived to mourn Sarah, he immediately began to honor the Shekhinah and to weep for Her absence. (Genesis 23:2.)

In order to accomplish his purpose in this world, Avraham had to clarify his special needs.  Avraham got up from his meditation and told people… (Genesis 23:3.)  This world is not my real home; I need a place to practice ascending to the higher worlds even while I am living here among you.  (Genesis 23:4).

People love to have a tzaddik among them, even though they may not really understand the depth of the tzaddik’s practice and special needs.  Listen, Divine One, you who maintain the G-dfield among us: go and do your practice wherever you like.  No one will stop you. (Genesis 23:6.)  But it takes extraordinary humility and devotion to find a way to establish a permanent union of Heaven and Earth in this world.  Avraham accomplished this by purchasing in perpetuity a burial site for Sarah, emanation of theShekhinah.

When Avraham wasn’t meditating, he held himself lower than even the most ordinary people. (Genesis 23:7.)  Whenever he spoke with them, he had in mind how he could establish his practice for the sake of their souls… (Genesis 23:8.)  If only I had access to the cave of dual realms, at the edge of the G-dfield.  May I gain perpetual access to it through the merit of complete longing, so that I can leave my body and ascend to higher worlds, while I am still among you.  (Genesis 23:9.)

Rebbe Elimelekh provides an awesome insight into this role and practice of the tzaddik in his seferNo’am Elimelekh. The Midrash says that The Holy One first thought to create the world with the attribute of Divine Judgment. Recognizing that if the world were based exclusively on judgment, it could not survive, the Creator brought together the attributes of Judgment and Love to create the world.  On the other hand, we have a verse that specifically says, the world was made out of Love. (Psalms 89:3.)  How could the Absolute change Its Mind and why does the verse say that the world was created with Love, if it is the result of both Judgment and Love?

Rebbe Elimelekh’s answer is that there are two realms, upper and lower.  The upper realm consists of the spiritual worlds that exist in the Divine Mind.  These worlds, which we generally refer to as AtzilutBeriah, and Yetzirah, are indeed based entirely in Divine Judgment.  They come into manifestation as a result of a contraction of the Divine Essence (Atzmut Eyn-Sof) and they operate according to what appear to us as unchanging spiritual laws.  The lower realm consists of our world and the kelippot, which can be characterized as a world of deceits and illusions.  It is this lower world that can not survive if dependent on Divine Judgment alone. The Divine nature of our world is so concealed that human beings live in a constant state of confusion.  Only after overcoming many challenges do we gradually discover what is of real value.  Because we so often miss the mark in our perceptions and treatment of others, our world might easily be condemned, if judged by the standard of strict justice.  In order to remain in existence our world requires repeated infusions of Divine Love (Hesed).

It is tzaddikim like Avraham who establish Love here in the world of deceits.  In order to fulfill the role of a tzaddik, Avraham needed access to the gate of the dual realms (the Cave of Machpelah).  By way of the Cave of Machpelah, the tzaddik, as advocate of Love, can ascend to the upper realm, in order to “sweeten Judgment in its source above.”  The tzaddik accomplishes this by leaving the body below like a corpse entombed in a cave, while the soul travels through the higher worlds, empowered by complete longing for the Shekhinah.  The Ba’al Shem Tov, Rebbe Yechiel Mikhel (the Maggid of Zlotchov) and Rebbe Elimelekh were all well known for making soul ascents.  After the ascent, the tzaddik’s soul returns to the body, bearing a new infusion of Divine Love.  As a result of such intimate knowledge of spiritual reality, a tzaddik sees through the deceits and feels compassion for all who are lost in illusions.

Sarah’s death enabled Avraham to perfect his practice of soul ascents.  Through Sarah’s merit, the Cave of Machpelah (gate of the dual realms) was established in the Land of Israel (the Divine dimension within a tzaddik’s consciousness). Sarah’s soul permanently left her body and ascended to the upper realms, when she sensed the Divine Revelation caused by the Binding of Yitzhak.  Because Avraham recognized that Sarah was an emanation of the Shekhinah, after her death he was able to make soul ascents, by visualizing her face.  When Avraham died, he was buried with Sarah in the Cave of Machpelah.  Now, whoever joins her soul to the energy of Avraham and Sarah can enter the Cave of Machpelah and make a soul ascent, wherever one may be.

The Binding of Yitzhak was Avraham’s final test and completed his tzaddik-in-training stage.  From that point, Avraham was a Divine Chariot, a vessel in the world of deceits that was filled with the attribute of Hesed (Divine Love).  He was able to reach such a high level in his lifetime, because, as a re-incarnation of Adam, he was already “an old soul.”  Avraham was an old soul, when he began his life… (Genesis 24:1.)

When Avraham’s training was complete, Be-ing blessed Avraham with the All (ba-kol.) (Genesis 24:1.)  The Gemara says that“Bakol” was the name of Avraham’s daughter. (Baba Batra 16b.) This “daughter” was really Sarah, who remained ageless, as Avraham grew older and wiser.  Sarah was called “Bakol,” because through her, Avraham was permanently connected to the Shekhinah.

In honor of Avraham’s achievement, the Torah now calls the Divine attribute of Love (Hesed) “Avraham,” and instructs thetzaddik-in-training who follows the path of Avraham.

Be-ing speaking through the Divine attribute of Love said to Its servant, drawer of Wisdom from the upper realms, who governs the flow of Divine Love in this world, through constant devotion to the Shekhinah: ‘radiate all your power into the lower realm.’ (Genesis 24:2.)

I adjure you in the Name of Be-ing, G-ding Power of the upper realms and G-ding Power of the lower realm, do not be satisfied with the energy of the world of deceits, in which I AM is concealed.  (Genesis 24:3.)  Ascend to My Source above and draw down inspiration from there for your delight. (Genesis 24:4.)

The tzaddik-in-training is charged with an awesome task and cannot help doubting her ability to succeed.  The Servant of Divine Love speaks to Be-ing, ‘What if I am not able to draw down Divine Love to the lower realm, should I be content to remain above in the Source? (Genesis 24:5.)  Then Be-ing, speaking through the attribute of Divine Love, answers: ‘Take great care not to ascend without intending to draw down Divine Love. (Genesis 24:6.)

‘Be-ing, G-ding Power of the upper realms, who emanated Me from the Source and Who is speaking through Me now, has adjured me to reveal to you that I AM is manifesting the lower realm for the sake of your descendants; I AM will equip you with a Spirit Guide so you can draw down Divine Love from above. (Genesis 24:7.)

‘Even if you don’t succeed in drawing down Divine Love to the world of deceits, you will be blameless, as long as you made the ascent with the right intent.’ (Genesis 24:8.)

Learning this, the servant of Avraham resolves to devote all her power to drawing down Divine Love to the lower realm and binds herself to do just that. (Genesis 24:9.)

May we be blessed with the age-defying holy energy of Sarah.

May we recognize emanations of the Shekhinah in our world.

May we learn to rise above the world of deceits

And sweeten our judgments with new flows of Divine Love.

Amen.
Rabbi Moshe Aharon Ladizhyner
5767

Lekh Lekha

The Land that I AM will Reveal to You

Like many other wisdom traditions, the Torah teaches that the path to true greatness is fraught with many challenges.  Sometimes a person, despite the challenges, does succeed in attaining an extraordinary degree of holiness during her life. The person may even reveal so strong an emanation of one of the divine attributes that others continue to derive energy and guidance from that exemplary life, long after the person has passed from this world.  We call such a person a tzaddik.  Accordingly, in our tradition, we say: “the memory of a tzaddik is a blessing.”

However, in drawing to ourselves the blessings of tzaddikim, we should resist the temptation to sugarcoat the experience of becoming a tzaddik.  The path of the tzaddik-in-training is often a painful transformation, during which it is necessary to constantly cultivate and harmonize all parts of the self, so that a holy soul can increasingly manifest within us.  No matter how lofty the source of our souls may be, few of us, if any, are born in an already perfected form. Awakening necessitates facing many tests.

In the case of Avraham, who succeeded in becoming an archetype of the divine attribute of Hesed (unconditional love), the Torah hints at his transformation by making clear that he was born Avram (Genesis 11:26) and only later became “Avraham.”  (Genesis 17:5).  Avram’s path from ordinary person to tzaddik is framed by the Hebrew words “lekh lekha. (“Get yourself going”).  Few would dispute that Avraham’s greatest test occurred later in the Torah, when he was commanded to sacrifice his son.  There it is written, Lekh lekha to the Land of Moriyah (Divine Awe). (Genesis  22:2).  This was Avraham’s greatest test because it required him to overcome his own natural tendency to express Hesed (unconditional love). Yet, in the Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah 39:9), Rabbi Levi, noting that the same words, lekh lekha, appear in our parashah, wonders whether Avram’s initial test may not, in its own way, be as great as the later one. (See Netivot ShalomLekhLekha).

Avram perceived Be-ing softly vibrating within him as the words lekh lekha. (Genesis 12:1).  What was the great challenge implicit in this perception?  Most Hasidic commentators read the Hebrew hyper-literally as “go to yourself.”  Although what “yourself” may mean is interpreted in various ways, there is general agreement that Avram is being aroused to a quest to discover and follow his unique self.

Before awakening, all of us are a composite of influences, from our culture, our nature, and our family.  This is the great archetypal challenge that we all face: Avraham sensed Be-ing softly arousing him to seek his own unique self, apart from cultural influences, innate tendencies, and influences from his family… (Genesis 12:1).

To enter the path of a tzaddik-in-training, we begin by noticing how we are limited by these unconscious formations.  There is a growing sense that we are really something more than this composite personality, and dissatisfied with its limitations.  This is Be-ing’s way of prompting us to become more conscious through seeking a more authentic self.

In our culture, many people are encouraged to be unique individuals and yet few become tzaddikim like Avraham.  The reason is that for most of us, development doesn’t reach beyond a lekh lekha that simply means “go get it for yourself.”  What made Avram capable of entering the path of the tzaddik is that he heard a deeper message in Be-ing’s admonition lekh lekha.  Thetzaddik-in-training is not satisfied with pursuing narcissistic gratification through individualistic achievements.  What motivated Avram was a desire to consciously seek and connect with the deepest part of the soul, called heleq ‘eloha mima’al (a portion of Divinity). (Job 31:2). What he heard Be-ing whispering was Seek the source of your soul in the Land that I AM will reveal to you.  (Genesis 12:1).

Our challenge is to discover within ourselves not just a self that is unique, but one that is also holy.  One of the great miracles of a divine creation is that every individual element expresses a facet of divinity in a unique way.  But the beauty of each unique being is only revealed when we are conscious of our divine source.  As Reb Natan of Nemirov teaches in the name of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, wherever we find ourselves, we should always seek the inner point of the source of our soul.  Whenever we are centered in our soul’s source, we can become, like Avraham, a channel of Hesed (Divine Love). Then our motivation in life is to make ourselves and others better expressions of the divine purpose in creation.

The Rebbe Elimelekh makes clear that seeking the source of our soul is not meant to radically detach ourselves from this world.  Rather, we are to seek a connection to our soul within all of the various components of our experience: Find your real self within your earthiness, feeling states, and thought forms. (Genesis 12:1).

Although the path of the tzaddik-in-training promises a most meaningful and rewarding life, we should always remember that it is not an easy path.  Avram was already seventy five years old when he mastered his anger and even then his shadow (Lot) still accompanied him.  (Genesis 12:4).

What then enabled Avram to transcend less spiritual modes of achievement?  He was willing to follow guidance that came from beyond the personal self.  Avram realized that his success in life depended on attunement with a Higher Source and he was willing to follow Be-ing, even when he did not know where It was leading him.

Seek your real self… in a Land that I AM will reveal to youThen I AM will make you great; I AM will bless you; I AM will expand your vessel’s capacity to contain holiness; and you yourself will have the power of blessing others. (Genesis12:1-2).

Avram’s first great test was to accept Be-ing’s command to put aside personal self-interest and to seek a more authentic self in a way that would only later be revealed to him. Through his willingness to constantly seek the source of his soul, Avram became a devotee of Be-ing and entered the path of the tzaddik.

May we all be stirred by the call of Be-ing

And enter the path of the Tzaddik-in-training.

May we constantly seek the Source of our soul

And become channels of Divine Love,

Through the blessing of the tzaddik Avraham.

Amen.
Rabbi Moshe Aharon Ladizhyner
5767

Noach

First Become a Tzaddik

The Midrash tells us that before launching this world, the Yotzer Bereishit (Former of Beginnings) emanated many other worlds and each was found wanting.  Even when this world arose in the Divine Mind, there was still some uncertainty concerning whether to create it with the attribute of Judgment or Compassion.  If we look deeply into the implications of these midrashim and shift from the language of ancient myth into our own paradigm, we can recognize how deeply the Sages intuited the evolving nature of the G-ding project and the precariousness and imperfection of any emanated world.

The acute challenge which the G-ding Power must face is that in its inherent greatness, Be-ing would not be enhanced by manifesting an already perfected world. Rather, It constantly aspires to manifest a world that is perfectible.  Such a world has the capacity to bring about its own destruction, as well as its own salvation, because contraction and darkness are essential elements in any evolving world.

Generally, through the agency of the G-ding Power, evolution gradually occurs.  But once Adam, the earth- being with the capacity to be conscious of its source, appears on the scene, the prognosis for the world becomes especially problematic.

As we read, at the end of parashat BereishitBe-ing manifested a Comforter because the  earth-being that had evolved up to this point had become such a pain, that Be-ing considered wiping the entire world out of existence because of the earth-being.  (Genesis 6:6-7).

The Torah speaks of a time when it seems that every creature in the world is not acting properly.  From the G-ding Power’s perspective, Creation was ruined, because every creature was malfunctioning. (Genesis 6:12).  The Slonimer Rebbe teaches that this threat to all life should not be viewed as a punishment for creatures that have no real choice.  It is human folly, greed and weakness that have the capacity to affect the entire world so negatively.  The effects of this “contamination” can be so widespread that at some point, tikkun (fixing the world), may no longer even be possible.  (See Netivot ShalomNoach).

When we read in our Rebbes’ teachings that the world was created for the sake of the tzaddik, it is so easy to think that this is just a quaint, sweet way of thinking or, worse, some form of self-aggrandizing propaganda by spiritual teachers seeking power.  But in our time, when the consequences of unenlightened human behavior are so apparent and ominous, it is necessary to consider how the Torah’s teaching concerning Noach, the first Tzaddik, may be vital for our survival.  If a sufficient number of us do not quickly evolve to the level of at least “tzaddikim-in-training,” what will induce and enable the G-ding Power to maintain our present world?

The Torah, foreseeing our predicament gives us hope:  Be-ing recognized Noach as a channel for the flow of Divine Grace.  (Genesis 6:8).

These are the effects of Noach; Noach, a person who became a tzaddik… in his times… (Genesis 6:9).  Rashi cautions that because the Torah refers to Noach as a tzaddik… in his times, we might think that Noach’s achievement was only relative.  But, precisely because Noach succeeded in becoming a Tzaddik in such unfavorable circumstances, he deserves our great admiration.  Noach is an example to be followed, especially in times when there seems to be no hope.

Rebbe Aharon of Zhitomer, a close disciple of the Berditchever, explains why the Torah’s wording makes it possible to view Noach’s righteousness with both praise and contempt.  (See Toledot Aharon, parashat Noach).  Why does the Torah repeatNoach; Noach…? (Genesis 6:9).  Because the Torah was calling attention to the tzaddik Noach’s two ways of viewing himself.  On the one hand, he was aware that in a time of such rampant arrogance and destruction, he was unique.   At the same time, he also knew that the level of spiritual elevation he had achieved under these difficult circumstances was only modest, compared to what he might have achieved in a more highly evolved age.

Noach represents the lone tzaddik, visible only to the Divine Eyes.  Thus he is the archetype of the hidden tzaddikim.  Thirty-six are the offshoots of Noach… (Genesis 6:9), because Noach is the source of the tradition of thirty-six righteous individuals who in their timesare unswerving in their devotion to the G-ding Power, (Genesis 6:9).

If Noach is the archetype of the tzaddik, what is his secret?  Hints are already present in the last verse of the previous parashahNoaCH found CHeN with the Eyes of Be-ing. (Genesis 6:8).   The letters of Noach’s name and the letters of chen (Divine Grace) are the same.  The only difference is that the order is reversed and the initial “supplicating” Nun at the beginning of the name, Noach becomes the long, vertically extended final Nun which is the last letter of chen.

What can we learn from this?  The name “Noach” means “easy” or “comfortable.” The archetype of the tzaddik is called “Noach” because he or she is so close to Be-ing that a state of ease and comfort is maintained, even under the most challenging conditions.  The “supplicating” initial Nun, indicates that Noach was bowing before the Divine Presence.  This enabled him to achieve a higher consciousness.  As the letters of his name suggest, he was constantly reducing his egocentric tendencies and connecting to Chokhmah (Divine Wisdom), as indicated by the letter Chet that follows the initial Nun.

When a tzaddik, like Noach, is connected to the Higher Consciousness of Chokhmah, perception is elevated beyond the way things look within the various dimensions of manifestation. This level of consciousness is called seeing with the Eyes of Be-ing(Genesis 6:8).

When this way of seeing is mastered, there are profound consequences.  Noach found chen… (Genesis 6:8).  The reversed letters of chen teach us that when the tzaddik’s consciousness is stabilized in Chokhmah, the surrendered state (Noach), is transformed into an active state in which the tzaddik is able to draw down Divine Grace (represented by the long, vertically extended Nun inchen).   (See Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, Liqqutey MoHaRan, part 1, torah 1).

Some have thought it relevant to criticize Noach for not praying for his generation.  But this criticism misses the point of what we need to learn from Noach.  Noach discovered what was charming from the perspective of Be-ing.  (Genesis 6:8).  A tzaddik’s wholehearted righteousness makes a person so beautiful that Be-ing may be enticed to maintain the world’s existence, as long as enough tzaddikim like Noach are in it.

Noach’s charm derived from the fact that through his constant surrender to Hokhmah (Divine Wisdom), he was able to master three essential stages of spiritual development.  The tzaddik’s state produces three essential contemplative qualities: the sense of awe and surrender, passionate devotion, and the capacity to manifest spiritual beauty.  (Genesis 6:10).  When these three qualities (MalkhutChesed, and Tif’eret) are integrated, the tzaddik can see the world the way it appears in the deep gaze of the Eyes of Be-ing.

From this perspective, the tzaddik knows what the Divine requires.  The gematria (numerical value) of the name Noach is 58.  This is the same gematria as the Hebrew root Alef Zayin Nun.  This root forms the word ‘izzun (balance).  The tzaddik balances the three essential spiritual qualities, so that he/she is always Noach (at ease), regardless of conditions in the world.  The same root forms the word ‘ozen (ear).  Because of the tzaddik’s balanced state, Noach recognizes what is about to occur and is receptive to the Divine Command.  The G-ding Power told Noach I am now contemplating the end of all creatures that are filling my world with violence; My intention is to slaughter them along with the entire world.  (Genesis 6:13).

As the Slonimer Rebbe teaches, sometimes it may already be too late for rebuking and criticizing others to be effective.  When the polarizing energies of hate, fear, violence, and arrogance contaminate the entire world, the only remedy left may be the way of the tzaddik.

Make yourself into a spiritual vessel of refuge…make it impervious to negative influences coming from outside yourself and also from your own inner weaknesses. (Genesis 6:14).

Make sure your vessel of refuge has a window to receive light from the Higher Divine Mother Binah.  Make an opening by its side(Genesis 6:16) so that you are open to receive all who are capable of joining you and also have a way to release whatever needs to be eliminated.

Make it big enough to integrate your entire body, heart and, mind.  (Genesis 6:16).

Then, whenever I AM manifests a maelstrom of destructive energies that threaten to overwhelm all that lives, (Genesis 6:17) I AM will maintain a conscious connection with you, so that you and all that are dear to you can be safe in the vessel of refuge.   (Genesis 6:18).

May we all be Noach in the most challenging times.

May we maintain balance through appropriate praise and self-criticism.

May our spiritual beauty Be-ing into maintaining our world.

May we transform ourselves into vessels of refuge

That can weather any storm.

Amen.
Rabbi Moshe Aharon Ladizhyner
5766

Bereishit

“Light is Good”

The Torah of Be-ing is inexhaustible, it relaxes our minds. (Psalms 19:8).

Because of our anxieties and uncertainties, we may wish that our Torah were absolute and unchanging. But the Torah itself says, This is a scroll of human evolution (Genesis 5:1). The Degel Machaneh Efraim (see Bereishit ‘o yomar zeh sefer toledot adam) calls our attention to the middle of the Torah where the words Moshe darosh darash (Moshe deeply expounded) appear. Why two forms of the same root, DRSH, at the very center of the Torah? Because the Written Torah that Moshe received from Heaven has to be completed by the Oral Torah that is evolving in each generation.

Thus we read not In the beginning, but In a beginning. (Genesis 1:1).

The Berditchever particularly wants us to understand as deeply as we can why the Torah says, a beginning and not the beginning. If we think there is only one “beginning” and then history takes its inevitable course, we may fail to realize the deeper mystery of Be-ing Itself, which transcends all finite beginnings and endings. In the liturgy, we say that Be-ing is Forming Light and Creating Darkness (Isaiah 45:7), because the world is constantly coming into and out of existence. The Ma’aseh Bereishit (Myth of Creation) in Genesis is happening all the time. It just happens so fast that we can’t see it. That is why Rebbe Nachman was teaching us so strongly to never despair. New beginnings and new endings are always possible.

A beginning speaks of an end (Isaiah 46:10). As we learn from Sefer Yetzirah (1:7), an end is formed by a beginning and a beginning derives from an end.

Whenever we break free of our linear sense of time, we discover a new beginning that emerges from an apparent end, and an end that can empower us with a new beginning. This secret is conveyed in the first and last letters of the Torah. The first letter of Genesis is the letter Bet and the last letter of the Torah is the letter Lamed. When we join these two letters, we form the Hebrew word, lev (Heart). The expansive consciousness of the Heart frees us of the limitations of the past and enables us to enter new beginnings.

Be-reishit (in a beginning). To enter into this new cycle of Torah, Divinity, and self, we connect the beginning of our new Torah with the end that forms it. We recall all of the signs and wonders that Be-ing empowered our Higher Mind to accomplish in transforming the not yet evolved sources of our bondage and limitation (Deuteronomy 34:11) and the overwhelmingly shocking thing that our Higher Mind did in order to arouse all of us to sense the Great Mystery. (Deuteronomy 34:12).

B-reishit… (The Great Mystery.)

Why does the Torah begin with an oversized letter Bet? The letter Bet is the second letter in the Hebrew alphabet and represents duality. The Slonimer Rebbe teaches that the oversized Bet is there so that we will pause and contemplate how, as soon as the world appears within human consciousness, duality emerges with it from the non-dual ground of Be-ing. (See Netivot Shalom, Bereishit). The world of incredible diversity and fascination that appears to us conceals its non-dual Source so that we feel we are separate from all that exists. Because of this dualistic way of seeing, we tend to believe that truth is limited to whatever our minds can conceptualize. Be-ing through its G-ding Power causes all types of living creatures to evolve from the earth and to appear within the limits of human consciousness to see how Adam will conceptualize them; and however the earth-being with the power to conceptualize names them, that is what they seem to be. (Genesis 2:19.)

But when we are able to see beyond the limiting view of our mental constructs and experience the state of awe that arises with the expansion of the Heart, we find that the Torah is pointing towards something much more wondrous.

At every moment the creative power of the Source that is beyond all conception is producing a G-ding Power associated with the apparent duality of a universe (that arises within the contraction of human consciousness). (Genesis 1:1). The Torah calls this duality Heaven and Earth and the G-ding Power (the program that “G-ds” this “Heaven and Earth”) is called “Elohim” (“G-d”).

Reishit Hokhmah (Beginning is Wisdom) (Proverbs 111:10). The Zohar revealed that the G-ding Power that shapes and gives coherence to every “Heaven and Earth” is always receiving its energy to maintain “Heaven and Earth” from an even deeper level of Divinity, called Hokhmah (Wisdom). The letters of Hokhmah can be understood as koach mah (source of indeterminate possibilities).

As manifestation assumes the form of “Heaven and Earth” through the agency of the G- ding Power, the True nature of the Land that derives from Hokhmah is covered over by veils that conceal its holiness.

The Ground of Be-ing appears as confusion and agitation, with darkness covering over its vast depth… (Genesis 1:2).

Nevertheless, even though Truth is concealed, the spirit of the G-ding Power hovers over the ocean of manifestation to bring the hidden holy sparks to life and light. (Genesis 1:2). The spirit of the G-ding Power, which emerges from Hokhmah, is Mashiach (Messianic) Consciousness. (See Liqqutey Halakhot, Y.D, Heksher Kelim, 4:38-39.) Some Prophets experience this higher consciousness as a makif (surrounding light), just behind and above the head.

And the G-ding Power decrees ‘Let there be Light,’ Light that was already there! (Genesis 1:3). (See Zohar I:31b-32a).

The G-ding Power discerns that Light determines what is Good, and so the G-ding Power draws out the light from within the darkness. (Genesis 1:4).

A midrash teaches that there is an Angel of “Truth” that opposes Be-ing’s intention to evolve the world through the G-ding Power. (Midrash Rabbah on Genesis 1:26). This “Truth Angel” feels compelled to oppose the divine intention to create us, because it recognizes that the way humans generally conceive of the World through the contraction of their minds is not true. But the G-ding Power discerns that despite the darkness, whenever a righteous person makes the effort to find a spark of holy light, it is Good. In the Midrash, Be-ing hurls the opposing Angel of “Truth” down to earth, so that we can gradually reveal an emesdige emes (a higher truth) each time we break through our darkness and confusion thus releasing the hidden light.

The Ba’al Shem Tov teaches that this Light is concealed in the Torah, so that in every generation, whenever we turn to it, we can find our way to Truth. (See Degel Machaneh Efraim, Bereishit, ve-yar’ elohim et ha-‘or ki tov). His grandson, Rebbe Moshe Chayyim Efraim of Sudilkov, clarifies in Degel Machaneh Efraim (Bereishit) that the verse, The Torah of Be-ing is inexhaustible, it relaxes our minds (Psalms 19:8), teaches us that everything in the world is Torah. When we search for the hidden light, we find G-d everywhere.

The Ba’al Shem Tov’s great-grandson, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, made it even clearer. Despite the “truth” that our minds tell us, there is a point of light and goodness in every person and situation. The path of constantly seeking that light is one of the deepest and most powerful methods of tiqqun (fixing ourselves and the world).

The Ba’al Shem Tov said, “The light is concealed for the righteous.” To be a righteous person, we need to learn how to find this light by relaxing our rigid attachment to mentally constructed points of view that we think are true. We need to learn the practice of humbling our opposing “Truth Angel,” which so often only mires us in an impasse of tohu va-vohu (polarization and despair), solidifying our darkness.

Rebbe Nachman’s great Hasid, Reb Natan of Nemerov has an amazing teaching that can help us connect our new teaching with the last verse of the Torah. (See Liqqutey Halakhot, Ribbit 5: 20, 24-29, 33):

What was the overwhelmingly shocking deed that Moshe did in the presence of all Israel that is alluded to in the very last verse of the Torah? It was when Moshe took the first Tablets of the Covenant, written by the divine hand, and threw them down to earth, so that they shattered. How could he dare to do that?

Reb Natan answers, it was because Moshe knew that according to the “truth” of the first tablets, the entire people of Israel would be condemned to annihilation for making the Golden Calf. Moshe the Tzaddiq saw the hand of the opposing “Truth Angel” in this condemnation and shattered that previous version of “truth” and “justice.” Because of Moshe’s Mashiach Consciousness, he saw the sparks of goodness in each of our hearts. He knew that the G-ding Power really desires a world in which truth is brought down from Heaven to Earth. Moshe was teaching us that the Divine Intention is not a Torah that distances and condemns us, but a Torah of inclusion, which brings all of us and everything nearer to Be-ing that G-ds us. We need to open our Hearts to this emesdige emes, the truer truth.

May we have the merit to learn this Torah of inclusion

And connect our new beginnings with what came before us;

From the openness of the consciousness of the Heart,

May we find sparks of light within all levels of concealment.

Uniting Day and Night, whose secret is the Day of One. (Genesis 1:5).

Amen.
Rabbi Moshe Aharon Ladizhyner
5767

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Streamed live on Aug 9, 2013

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