Before the Pesach holiday begins we are busy clearing out the chametz, the leaven from our houses. The Zohar informs us that this leaven represents the yezer hara, our egoism, within us. This process is not one of sadness but one of joy, as it gives us an opportunity to come to our true freedom, a freedom from being bound by our own egoism. A Freedom from being saddened by circumstances we can’t change, or from disappointments in not receiving what we thought we should, and the particular anxiety that goes with that.
But coming into redemption, is coming into our truest freedom which is of giving unconditionally. Nothing and no-one can enslave us there.
The whole process of our inner redemption is depicted in our preparations for the Pesach holiday and in the story of the Children of Israel’s redemption from Egypt as set out in the Haggadah. As we recite the story of our redemption of then we can pray to God and feel the joy of our redemption of now in an exactly parallel process.
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.
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
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?
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
In the beautiful imagery of the Zohar , the Bride and the Bridegroom, the Knesset Yisrael, and the Holy Blessed One, come to the wedding canopy on the day of Shavuot, the day of the Giving of the Torah. The previous night is spent by the companions of the Bride in studying and practicing the Torah, all through the night.
However, Rabbi Ashlag, in his tremendous teaching, the Perush haSulam on the Zohar, teaches that the essence of Shavuot and the essence of the redemption are the same. Likewise the night in which the Bride joins with Her Creator, not only refers to the night before Shavuot, but refers to the long days of exile when the forces of separation rule over us, turning us away from our Maker. Yet the Zohar teaches that it is precisely in this time of the concealment of God’s light that the souls join with the Holy Blessed One.
Watching the Children of Israel coming out of Egypt
Jacob our father felt fearful on the eve of coming down to Egypt. God appeared to him in a dream and reassured him, promising that He Himself would accompany the children of Israel in their exile. The Scripture further states that God says “I will surely bring you up”. The Zohar interprets this saying, with a beautiful imagery of our forefathers being brought to witness the redemption itself. Indeed in the Haggadah, we say “Blessed is He who keeps his promise to Israel.”
The Zohar that we learn here, teaches us that faith in God’s promise played a crucial role in the redemption itself. Pharaoh hardened his heart against God because in the natural way of things there was no way for the Children of Israel to escape his land. But faith is of a higher paradigm than that of the material world, and God overcame the evil of Pharaoh. The Scripture concludes on the shores of the Red Sea “And Israel saw the great hand which the Lord wrought against the Egyptians, and the people believed in God and in Moses his servant.”
This piece of Zohar is as timely now as it was then, and teaches us that God’s promises to our forefathers will surely be redeemed.
In this podcast we study the text of the Zohar Beshalach, paragraph 185 in the Perush HaSulam with grateful thanks to my chevrutas Dr Susan Jackson, Dahlia Orlev, Timna Segal, Leah Weinstein, Ofra Perl, Jodie Lebowitz Davis, and Mia Sherwood with whom I had the privilege of learning this article .
Purim now: reading the Megilla with the IDF tankists
We are living in turbulent times; on the one hand the light of redemption is undoubtedly getting nearer and with it an increasing consciousness of the light of God in the world. Equally, the destructive elements of the world seem to be growing in strength. This is not the first time that the Jews have faced these huge polarization of energies. They did so at the time of Purim 3000 years ago.
Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag in 1948 gave an oral discourse on the inner meanings of the festival of Purim. Through his insight into the inner meanings of Megillat Esther,we learn what choices were open to the Jews then and how we can learn from their experiences now, 3000 years later.
Not only in the scale of world events, but right in the small details of our lives, the choice of how we receive the light of God also applies in the small details of our daily lives. Let us give to God and to our fellow man according to the way of Torah, the way taught by Mordecai the Jew, and thus each of us, in our own small way may contribute to the redemption of all mankind through the light of God.
This talk was inspired by the oral discourse taught by Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag at the festival of Purim 1948, recorded by his son Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag. Printed in Shamati and in HaShem Shamati Shimecha (with a commentary by Rabbi Avraham Mordecai Gottlieb).
With grateful thanks to the women of the Tsfat Beit haMidrash and to my chevrutas, James Torrance, Ilan Ben Gal, Ofra Dekel, Jodie Lebowitz Davis, with whom I learnt this article and who inspired me with their delight and enthusiasm.
The Torah is a document of divine revelation. This revelation is timeless and ever present. Both historically true, and true for each individual, here and now.
Pharaoh of old denied God asking, “who is God that I should listen to his voice”? A similar voice inside us puts God in second place, giving priority to the strident demands of the ego.
The effects of this voice of Pharaoh inside of us is to block the divine light flowing from our thoughts to our action thus effectively preventing us from bringing through the manifestation of God in our daily lives. Yet we do not always see this inner Pharaoh as our enemy, as he does not prevent us from making positive resolutions, only prevents us fro carrying them through so he allows us the comfortable illusion of imagining that we can have our cake and eat it.
We are told in the Torah, only God Himself can bring the children of Israel out of Egypt; only God himself can help us with our inner pharaoh.
The message of Moses is a message of prayer and faith. He taught the children of Israel the tools they would need for the redemption, the same tools we need today.