God blesses us, we bless God; a holy dialogue

Rabbi Baruch Ashlag, receiving and giving blessing

Rabbi Baruch Ashlag, receiving and giving blessing

A holy dialogue increases the life and goodness in the world. The Zohar teaches us that God’s only desire is to give goodness to His created beings. Therefore all that He wants to give us is ready for us. However, we cannot always receive the goodness He wants to give, because we become separated from Him by receiving for ourselves alone. Blessing God for everything we enjoy is a simple and wonderful way that Judaism teaches us to change the one-way flow into a productive dialogue.

The Scripture in Deuteronomy tells us that, just as God blesses us with His goodness so we also need to bless Him. The Zohar on this verse teaches that our blessing and thanking God for all He gives us, is the key to changing a one-way flow into a dialogue that only multiplies the goodness not only for ourselves but for all hummankind.

Listen to full talk ( 13 minutes)

From the Zohar on Ekev paragragh 1 and Rabbi Baruch Ashlag’s Al HaTorah Parshat Ekev
With grateful acknowledgment to Rabbi Avraham Mordecai Gottlieb who inspired this learning.

What do I do about my mixed motives?

Often when we  start along the path of trying to come into affinity of form with the Creator , we  see our  own ego desires. We make resolutions to try to concentrate on giving good to others, but to our dismay we find that even our good deeds seem to be contaminated with rather mixed motives. Yes we are doing good, that is undeniable; but within the good deed we can still discern a lot of self-interest tucked inside there.

This realization causes many people to feel stuck , even paralyzed. But the Sages assure us: Even the practice of Torah and mitzvot that is conducted  not for its own sake will lead us to the path of Torah and mitzvot which are utterly unconditional.

However like all swords that are of any use, this one is also double -edged.

To learn more on the stage of mixed motives, called in the  Kabbalah, Torah shelo lishmah, listen to the podcast  here

From the Kabbalah of Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag

Learning the language of love

Loving hands

Love your neighbor as yourself: This is widely known to be a mitzvah that encompasses the whole of the Torah. But why should that be? There are many other mitzvot that deal with our relationship with God. Why are they also included in “Love your neighbor as yourself?”

We find that although the Scripture writes “Love your neighbor as yourself”, the Sage Hillel in the Talmud put it in another way. “Don’t do to your fellow what is hateful to you.” Why did he turn it around? Does the language of love teach us something about ourselves?

Drawn from the the article Matan Torah by Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag with the commentary of Rabbi Avraham Mordecai Gottlieb with grateful acknowledgment to my chevrutas, David Bar Dov and Ilan Bengal
Podcast talk 15 minutes

What the books of the Kabbalah are really about

Learning the texts of the kabbalahThe works of the Kabbalah are often technical with language that seems foreign to us. What are they really talking about? Why is it that purity of heart and loving-kindness help us understand the material in question, why isn’t intellectual aptitude enough?
Rabbi Ashlag wrote introductions, essays and letters to his pupils, which use language with which we are familiar. So we think we understand them. But the more we go into these works, the more we realize how deep they are, with many shades of meaning. As we work on ourselves, their meanings seem to change.
However, all these works are based on the work of the Ari and of the Zohar to which Rabbi Ashlag wrote more technical works that use language that seems foreign to our ears.
As we grow in both our inner work and in our learning we begin to see that both these types of writings are actually talking about the same issue. How we can rectify ourselves and fulfill the lives we were created for.

Includes an essay by the Baal HaSulam on why he wrote his books
(16 minutes)

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The Menorah: The light of God

The Menorah: the light of God

The Menorah : by the Temple Institute
( Machon HaMikdash)

The work of lighting the Menorah that Aaron was given in the Mishkan, is shown to be a metaphor for the work of the mitzvot that we do. However the western candle shone with more light than the oil allotted to it and this was seen by the Sages as miraculous, testifying that God in His mercy does not reward us strictly according to our deeds but gives us of His light, His bounty despite the paucity of our mitzvot. Through His light, he sustains the whole world.

From the teachings of Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag, on Parshat Shavua Al Hatorah Beha’alotecha

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Uniting mind, heart and soul

 Praying at the Kotel

Praying at the Kotel

When we act from our ego we become separated from our soul . Yet it is the basis of our nature, formed by the Creator in the Thought of Creation. The ego expresses itself through two main vehicles— the mind desiring to know why we are doing any action and wanting control over our lives; and the heart which looks for pleasure, both sensual and emotional.
As we work to transform the direction of its energies, we come to unite the different aspects of ourselves, heart, mind and soul, which then form a uniquely coherent vehicle for the light of God.

From the writings of Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag
Listen to podcast (15 minutes)

The Tree as a symbol of Man

A pomegranate tree symbolizes good deeds
“For a Man is as a tree of the field” (Deuteronomy). The spiritual significance of the tree is celebrated at the New Year for trees, Tu B’Shvat. Here we learn that the processes the farmer does for the tree to increase its produce, are all equally applicable to us in our inner work.
From a letter written by Rabbi Baruch Ashlag to his pupils.

Listen (ten minutes)