Jerusalem, a thriving city
The Sages taught “All those who mourn over Jerusalem will merit to see her rejoicing.” (Taanit 30b)
Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag pointed out that since many Tzaddikim mourned throughout the ages for Jerusalem and did not merit to see the Temple rebuilt, we need to understand this statement on an inner level.
The Zohar teaches us that the collective Soul, the indwelling presence of God within us, the Shechinah, is the Jerusalem within us; each one of us having a unique aspect of her.
Jerusalem is known by many names in the Bible, (Tanach). By considering the names of Jerusalem: “the city”, the “city of David”, “the epitome of beauty”, we can understand more of the role the soul should be taking in governing our thoughts, our words and our actions.
The fact that our soul does not occupy the central role in governing us that she should, is the cause of our mourning. However, from its name itself “Jerusalem” Rabbi Ashlag also teaches us the way to help reestablish its presence in our lives.
Listen to podcast (15 minutes)
Related talks on the inner meaning of the three weeks and tisha b’Av
Learning Torah with the heart
We can learn Torah with our minds only. Many people do. But that on its own won’t really fulfill the true reason for learning Torah. Yes, we need to learn in order to know how to fulfill the mitzvot. Yes, we need to learn in order to fulfill the daily mitzvah of learning Torah, but there are deeper reasons.
Rabbi Ibn Ezra, the great medieval commentator on the Torah said: the purpose of learning the Torah is to rectify the heart and thus come closer to God.
We need to ask the question, What do we mean by the heart? Some people consider it as the seat of feelings, some relate to it as simply an anatomical entity.Rabbi Ashlag unites both these approaches by telling us that the heart is actually our expression of our will or desire. Indeed when we get excited over something, our heart beats faster. When we are angry, we feel the blood throbbing in our ears.
Relating to our heart means relating to the true purpose of our lives
Listen to the podcast inspired by the writings of Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag
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
Listen to podcast
The Sages have taught that when the month of Adar comes in we increase our joy. But we must have a basis for this. A person cannot feel happy without a reason. Senseless happiness feels foolish and silly. The Sages are referring to the happiness of holiness, the happiness of being in unity with the Creator.
However to feel the presence of the Creator in our lives we need to first feel how empty our lives are when we don’t feel in connection with Him, otherwise we do not appreciate what we are given. Feeling happy and feeling empty are two opposite states of being.
Prayer and thanks or praise are our responses to God to these states. Rabbi Ashlag teaches us that for both prayer and praise to be real they have to come from the depth of the heart. How can we achieve this depth of feeling, and what does this have to do with the month of Adar?
From an article by Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag z”l (Sefer HaMa’amarim)
Listen to podcast (15 minutes)
Reading from the Torah
Rabbi Ashlag poses everybody’s question… what is the purpose of my life? But he gives an unexpected answer. To understand what he is saying we first need to know what the word “life” actually means in the Kabbalah . The Torah itself is called the Torah of life. But whether or not we actually experience it as such depends very much on our reasons for studying itand on our relationship with it.
To listen :
photo credit: drurydrama (Len Radin) via photopin cc
“And God called the light “day” and the darkness “night”.” Why did He do that? What does this mean for me? These are questions that the great Kabbalist Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag asks. His answer takes us to the Purpose of Creation, the process of Creation, and the role these play in our own individual lives.
Listen to full talk
Blessings, compassion and connection with God are the true associations with Rosh HaShanah. It isn’t generally appreciated the extent to which the language of the Kabbalah has penetrated our prayers and traditions. As we learn the true meanings of the symbols of the New Year, we understand more clearly the meaning of the festival.
Click for talk