Archive for Parsha Commentary – Page 2

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

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
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