God’s name on Seder Night

God’s name on Seder Night

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As we move through Seder night, we drink the four cups of wine and we relate to the elements on the Seder plate, we are not usually cognizant of the fact that both these central components of Seder night, actually represent the four-letter Name of God, YHVH

Pharaoh said, “Who is YHVH that I should listen to His voice? “

Actually, Pharaoh was cognizant of God acting through nature in the name of ELOKIM because that is how he acknowledged God to Joseph.   And even if we are talking about a different Pharaoh, one who did not know Joseph, nevertheless he would have heard of the story. But YHVH was unknown to Pharoah.

 It is when God makes himself known to the Children of Israel through the Name YHVH that the four expressions of redemption occur.

2. God spoke to Moses, and He said to him, “I am  YHVH 3. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob with [the name] El Shaddai [Almighty God],  but [with] My name YHVH, I did not become known to them. 4. And also, I established My covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojournings in which they sojourned. 5. And also, I heard the moans of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians are holding in bondage, and I remembered My covenant. 6. Therefore, say to the children of Israel, ‘I am YHVH, and I will take you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will save you from their labor, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7.  And I will take you to Me as a people, and I will be a God to you, and you will know that I am the Lord your God, Who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8. I will bring you to the land, concerning which I raised My hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and I will give it to you as a heritage; I am YHVH.’ “

Exodus 6: 2-8

What is the significance of this new name? This name, YHVH, which we simply call HaShem, meaning the Name, is the name of God that is compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. Even though we, the Children of Israel had sunk down to the forty-ninth level of uncleanness, nevertheless, HaShem had mercy on us and took us out. Then, as He does now.

Just as we were exiled in the historical Egypt, we all suffer different aspects of exile wherein we are in exile from our inner selves. Connecting with the name of God, HaShem helps us put our trust in God, helps us forgive ourselves and others and helps trust that HaShem will release us from the bondage of our inner Pharoah, as indeed He does.

As we say on Seder night,

In every generation a person needs to feel as if he or she is taken out of Egypt.

Haggadah of Pesach

This podcast comes from an edited class given on the inner meanings of Seder night. It is dedicated to the ilui nishmat of Feiga bat Rivka z”l and Aharon and Sara Kotler z”l

The fruits of holiness: Tu Bshvat

The fruits of holiness: Tu Bshvat

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Tu Bshvat is the new year for trees. But why should trees have a New Year? There seems to be a comparison made between the tree and the human being by our sages: For a man is as the tree of a field. It transpires that this comparison goes much deeper. Like the tree we also have fruit to give, the fruit of our lives and of our labor. What type of fruit will we be giving out? Who will reap the benefit?

Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag, takes the comparison between the tree and the root to a much more detailed level. He also looks at the work a human being needs to work on himself by considering all the different work a farmer needs to do for his tree in order to enhance the harvest of fruit: composting, hoeing, pruning, removing stones, smoking out insects and worms. By looking at the meaning of these differrent actibvities we can see that they have their equivalent in our own spiritual work.

It transpires that Tu B’Shvat is not just a New Year for trees, it is a New Year of all of us as well.

The material for this podcast is taken from a letter Rabbi Baruch Shalom Halevi Ashlag wrote to his pupils on Tu B’shvat, 1957 Manchester.

The podcast is dedicated in loving memory and lilui nishmat Sara bat Yisrael Tzvi Halevi Kotler.

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It was redemption from Egypt then; it is redemption from our inner Egypt now

We are slaves to our own ego.And God redeems us from ourselves. Rabbi Ashlag

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.

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This podcast is dedicated for a perfect healing for Michael Andrew the son of Jennifer.

Taken from the Haggadah Zot LeYedudah with the Be’er Shalom of Rabbi Ashlag

Other podcasts for Pesach

The inner meaning of Seder night, the night of redemption

Who knows One?  From Exile to Redemption

The Four Cups of Wine: Their Inner Meaning

God keeps his promises: A talk for the last days of Pesach

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.

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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?

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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

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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

 

The night of the Bride: when God’s light is concealed.

The Night of the Bride : Zohar, taught by Rabbi Ashlag

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.

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From the Ma’amar Leilah de Kalah, Perush haSulam, vol 1 Zohar,

With grateful thanks to Dvorah Hoffman and the chevrutas in Tsfat for enabling this learning. 

God kept faith: a learning for the last days of Pesach

Watching the Children of Israel coming out of Egypt ( Zohar)

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.

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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 .