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)

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?

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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.

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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.

Yehudah, the teacher of prayer

Called to prayer from the teachings of Rabbi Baruch Ashlag

Called to Prayer

The Midrash states: “When Judah met Joseph, two Kings met.”

The story of the dramatic encounter between Yehudah and Yoseph, is one that reverberates in our hearts and prayers every single day. Yehudah (Judah) taught prayer, whereas Yoseph ( Joseph) represents bounty and redemption.

Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag teaches :

We need to believe before we pray that 1) the Divine hears our voice, whoever we may be. 2) that the Creator can help us 3) that He wants to help us.

Yet the fact that we even want to pray to God is a sign that the Creator is calling out to us. Calling to us to connect with Him and His call is in itself a redemption.

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Podcast inspired from the Zohar and the work Bircat Shalom, articles  by Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag

With grateful thanks to Mordecai (Yoel) Shoot whose questions sparked this study.

 

Teshuva : reuniting with our Source

Returning to our Source: from the Kabbalah of Rav Kook and of Rabbi Ashlag

purple anemones looking upwards

Rabbi Baruch Ashlag writes:

The scripture says “Return O Israel unto the Lord your God.” (Hosea 14.) This means that the measure of Teshuvah, returning,  needs to be unto  the Lord our God. What does it mean to return unto the Lord our God?

Rabbi Ashlag goes on to tell us that we came from God. Our source is Divine. However, the soul and the body devolve down different paths. The path the soul takes is through the framework of  holiness, whereas the path the body— known as the ego— takes, is through the framework of uncleanness.

The soul is clothed by  the body, and is under its domination for the first thirteen years of our life. Then slowly through the work of Torah and mitzvot for the sake of God or for the sake of our fellow human, we gradually return step by step to our Source.

As Rav Kook writes in his great work, Orot HaTeshuvah

Through Teshuvah everything returns to godliness. The reality of the power of Teshuvah that rules over all the worlds returns and reconnects all things in the perfect divine reality.

It is to this extent that we may indeed ultimately must return.

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This podcast is dedicated to the merit of my dear friend Hana Leah bat Esther Sara for a Refuah Shlemah

Teaching from Bircat Shalom of Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag  Ma’amar 2 Sefer Hama’amarim תשמ”ט and from Orot HaTeshuvah Rav Kook chapter four

Other talks on Teshuvah and the month of Elul

Forty days of love: From Elul to Yom Kippur

Enjoying the month of Elul

Shame is a precious feeling

Feelings: God’s gift to us in this world

Feeling is a property of the soul in this life.In a letter that Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag wrote to his brother Shmuel, he describes  the purpose for which the soul leaves the spiritual realms and descends into this difficult physical world.  Surprisingly, he describes the benefit the soul attains through its association with the physical.

This does seem  surprising, as in general, the physical  gets a bad press: it is the origin of the world to receive for oneself alone in this world,  and is often seen as gross, compared to the ethereal nature of the spiritual worlds.

But  Rabbi Ashlag points out that it is precisely through the association of the soul with the physical that the soul acquires not only knowledge of God but also feeling. Feelings are only possible through the physical body and it is through our  feelings, both positive  and negative that we may actually experience the light of God . Such experience is called “attaining the Names of God”.

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Podcast dedicated to David and Linor on the occasion of their marriage

Our inner enslavement / our inner redemption

Rabbi Ashlag teaching on inner salvery and redemption

” We were slaves in Egypt”
Passover Haggadah

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.

Listen to full podcast (15 minutes)

Lesson adapted from a letter Rabbi Ashlag wrote to his pupils Parshat Shavua Shemot (Igarot HaSulam 12) 

With grateful thanks to my chevrutas, Dr. Shmuel Iger- Kinyan, Dr Susan Jackson, Pamela Mond, Yehudit Goldfarb