Rabbi Ashlag: What he learned when he reached dvekut with God.

 

 

One evening in 1892 in a suburb of Warsaw, a seven-year-old boy was lying in bed when, suddenly, a book fell off the bookshelf, hitting him on the head. The boy picked it up and started to examine it. His father, hearing the sound, came in, and seeing the book in his son’s hand, took it from him and replaced it on the shelf. “This is a book for angels, not for you,” said the father. But the boy argued, “If it has been printed, it must be meant for everyone.” “No,” insisted his father, “it is not for you.” But the boy’s curiosity had been aroused, and he started to study it. It was a book of the Kabbalah and its light illumined his heart.

The child was Yehudah Leib Ashlag who, one day, was going to change the way we see spiritual consciousness.

Rabbi Ashlag had , even for those days, an unusual dedication to his studies. He had a tremendous quality of truth. Truth for him meant inner truth, being totally true to himself, and thus when he studied a book of musar, he never left it until he felt he had completely put into practice all tha the book demanded of him.

With this intense labor on himself, in his regular Torah study, his study of the Kabbalah and the work on his own virtues, he came to the incredible spiritual level of dvekut with God, unity , and enlightenment at an extremely early age.

In the normal way we would not have access or any record of such a great Rabbi’s personal life or spiritual achievements.  Our great tzaddikim hid their spiritual achievements preferring modesty. . True to this tradition of modesty, in the last year of his life Rabbi Ashlag requested his devoted assistant, Rabbi Moshe Baruch Lemburger, to make a pile of his personal papers and burn them. However, others, who were present, contrived to save the papers from the fire.

Among these papers is a piece of writing in which Rabbi Ashlag describes his thoughts and his feelings when he had the merit to receive the great light of God, the Or d’Chochmah. This is the great light that God wants to give us according to His purpose in creation. A person receives this great light only when he has finished his personal tikkun (rectification of his soul).  At the time of the redemption, all humanity will receive this great light.

In this document we have a record, unique in Jewish spiritual literature, of the development of the tzaddik on his receiving an experience of enlightenment while in affinity of form with the Creator. It was an experience that was to change the direction of Rabbi Ashlag’s life.

Rabbi Ashlag starts by asking a question: He is in this experience in which his whole being is totally illuminated in the light of God. So he wants to know what does his service to God  consist of, now that he no longer has to give faith or belief in God, because he is in a state of knowing God?  So he sets out to visit his teacher, the Rabbi of Belz. But when he arrives at the Beit haMidrash, he finds that the Sage’s response to him in his state of enlightenment is not encouraging, to put it mildly, but treats him with sarcasm and shows his displeasure. Rabbi Ashlag finds himself in a quandary: on the one hand he believes in his experience, on the other hand, he has faith in his Rabbi. Perplexed, Rabbi Ashlag has to resolve this seeming contradiction for himself.

For Rabbi Ashlag’s description of how he resolved this dilemma,  listen to the rest of the podcast!

This shiur, is dedicated in loving memory of Feiga bat Shmuel and Rvikah and for the elevation of her soul.

The material for this shiur is taken  from  the forthcoming book, “ The Master of the Ladder, the Life and teachings of the Baal haSulam, Rabbi Yehudah Leib Ashlag, by Rabbi Avraham Mordecai Gottlieb, translated and edited by Yedidah Cohen, Nehora Press. 

When we need to ask.

deep in prayer. Forgiveness from the teachings of Rabbi Ashlag

What is a sin really?

In the Hebrew, the idea of sin, is  no way as harsh as it is in the English language. The word sin, chet, really means to miss the mark. Indeed,  all of us at times  look back at some aspect of our lives, and wish we had acted otherwise.

The Sages tell us that the force of the evil inclination , the self-centered ego is so strong that if God does not help us with it, it would cause us fall into evil every day!

So Rabbi Baruch Ashlag , the great Kabbalist, asks this simple question. If we are really unable to deal with our selfish love ourselves, what do we need to ask forgiveness for?

In his answer he shows us that the real need for forgiveness arises  because we did not ask God to help us when we needed to. Asking God to help us when we are struggling with our own selves maybe, surprisingly, quite difficult. It involves a giving up, and a wish for God to come close. Realizing what we need to ask forgiveness for actually helps us make better choices next time!

This podcast is dedicated for a Refuah Shlemah to my mother Chaya bat Sara Leah.

From Sefer Hama’amarim of Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag ( article 4 תשמ”ח)

Sad and happy: conflicting feelings in our relationship with God

feeling sad, yet finding a cause to rejoice in our relationship with the Creator. From the Zohar and the Kabbalah of Rabbi Ashlag

In an article written towards the end of his life, Rabbi Baruch Ashlag discusses the issue of what should we do when we have fallen away form our service to God in one way or another, and we are feeling low because of it. We want to make amends.

But the Sages teach us, ‘ Serve the Lord with happiness, come before Him with song.” How is a person meant to be able to serve God with happiness when he is feeling broken?

God is surely not asking us to do the impossible? But  on what basis can a person feel happy when he is so sad?

The answer is unexpected.  Although the person is feeling low and despairing when he considers how he is not able to do the work for God, nevertheless, he needs to know that just having the awareness that he wants to come to God to get closer to Him is already a positive step. Furthermore, having the desire to come to God is actually a gift of the Creator , because this desire cannot arise any other way.

This podcast is dedicated for  a Refuah Shlema for Alla Bat Rifkah. May this Torah learning bring her a true healing.

Article excerpted from Sefer haMaamarim of Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag Vol 4 article 25 

 

 

Becoming Adam: to resemble the Divine

Adam: from God and like God. From the teaching of Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag

 

How can I come to be the best person I can be? What does this imply?

The Talmud teaches us that there are two aspects to every action. The outer action, which is open and revealed to ourselves and others, but there is also our motive or intention, which may be quite hidden, even from ourselves. Yet it is our intention which gives the perspective of whether we are getting closer to the Creator or separating from the One.

A person, whether male or female, who aspires to become close to the Creator in the sense of resembling HaShem in giving unconditional love to his or her fellows or to the Creator is called by the name of Adam, from the scripture  אדמה לעליון, I will resemble the Most High.

How can we become Adam? How can we attain the desire of becoming the best we can be?

Listen now

This Torah learning is dedicated to the ilui neshama of  Reb Moshe Ben Ese-Esther,  a direct descendant of Rabbi Akiva Eiger ztz’l  the grandfather of  my chevruta, Shmuel Iger Kinyan, who despite the dangers of being Jewish in communist Russia first taught Shmuel that he was Jewish.

Teachings taken from the Perush HaSulam on the first volume of the Zohar Pikudah Kadma’ah and also from Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag’s Al HaTorah, Parshat Vayikra.

Unity through friendship

Love of friends gives us unity, from the teachings of Rabbi Ashlag

 

When Rabbi  Yehudah Leib Ashlag was away from his students, he wrote them very many letters instructing them on the path of spiritual growth. A recurring theme in these letters is the importance of working on the love of friends. He wrote:

I understand that you are not practicing so much the rectification of the will to receive for oneself alone, as it is expressed through the mind and through the heart. Nevertheless, do the best you can ,and the salvation of God comes in the twinkling of an eye. But the most important way, that stands before you today, is in the union of the companions. Make greater and greater efforts in this aspect, for it has within it the ability to compensate for all lacks. Igeret Parshat shemot 5685 Warsaw.

By contemplating these words very deeply we see that we are given a profound clue for ourselves today.

How do we come to unity? Why is it so important? By looking at Rabbi Ashlag’s work in the context of the revelation on Mount Sinai, we see that we have been given a key whereby we too can come to a revelation of the light of the Creator.

Listen to podcast

This podcast is dedicated with love to my dear friend Netanyah bat Sara on the occasion of her birthday and to the grandchildren of Mary Ann Ward, her nephew and nieces.

This podcast is based on letters written by Rabbi Yehudah Leib Ashlag (Igarot HaSulam) and on Rabbi Moshe Sheinberger’s commentary on Tomer Devorah, with grateful thanks to my chevrutah Shalom Siegel.

Lighting our inner flame; a talk for Chanukah

The chanukah candle lights us from within as well as from without. Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag

The oil the wick and the vessel provide the three essential components to light the flame of the Chanukah candle. How was this candle first kindled?

The candle was lit  through the dedication and the sacrifice of the men of faith, who rejected the secular philosophy of the Greeks. The Greeks relied on external logic and rationality as the basis of their thought, whereas the way of the Jew is the way of faith in the Goodness of the Almighty. Often God’s way is hidden from us, and we cannot see or understand His goodness. But the miracle of Chanukah, when the candle stayed alight in a way which no cold logic could have predicted is an open revelation of God’s light. That was the miracle.

In this letter, Rabbi Baruch Shlaom Ashlag looks at the components of the candle from their inner perspective and teaches how this miracle may be kindled in our own lives, thought our faith and service to God.

Listen now

This podcast is based on a letter of Rabbi Baruch Shalom Halevei Ashlag taken from the book Bircat Shalom, Mamarim bavodat HaShem al derech haemet.

Dedicated for a Refuah Shlemah to Chava bat Shifra Hinde

Other talks on the inner meanings of Chanukah

The triumph of the soul over the ego

What is a miracle?

Rosh Hashanah: Choosing anew.

Rosh Hashanah apples pomegranate and shofar

Rosh Hashanah: apples, pomegranate, and shofar

Ego or soul? which one do we want to be governed by? The concept of God as King is actually a discussion of our own choice.

Rosh HaShanah, the new year is a day of choice; a day when we are given the possibility of choosing again. This is an amazing thought. For so many of us, the days go by and we seem to have drifted into habits of thought, feeling and even actions, which on closer examination we may not in fact espouse.
So what does this new choice consist of, and how do we choose?

Do we choose to come back into the mode of compassion or giving which will bring us back to union with the Creator? Of course we do. So what makes this choice so difficult/ or so hard to uphold?

Listen

to an article by Rabbi baruch Shalom Ashlag who ex[plains the choice and how to take th leapr of fiath towards the Creator who then takes the giant steps towards us. But the choice is ours and the day of choice, Rosh hashanah!

May all of us be blessed with a sweet New Year, Shanah Tovah! Yedidah

Listen

Other talks for Rosh Hashanah can be found here

The language of Rosh Hashanah is derived from the Kabbalah

The Shofar, the sound of compassion

Changing our outlook on Rosh HaShanah