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.
It doesn’t really seem credible: we all know the story. Rebeccah and Jacob don’t want Esau to get the blessings from Isaac. Rebeccah connives with Jacob in deceiving her blind and aged husband so he will get the blessings.
When we read this story in its plain and literal language, it seems shocking. Even if we try to make excuses: we can’t use either Rebeccah or Jacob as a role model for ourselves. Yet that is precisely what they are meant to be: The Sages of the Midrash taught, “The deeds of the fathers are a guide for the children.” How can we reconcile this?
The answer lies in knowing the nature and the intentions of all the protagonists of the story: Ya’acov (Jacob), Rivkah (Rebeccah), and Esau. These we get when we learn the Zohar.
The Zohar, the central book of the Kabbalah deals with intentions: our intentions, God’s intentions and those of our holy fathers and mothers. Indeed the great Rabbi Elijah of Vilna taught that one cannot attain the Torah, with full consciousness unless we apply the innermost levels of the Torah, namely the Kabbalah, to its literal meaning, the Pshat.
By learning the Kabbalah on this story of Rebeccah and Jacob we discover our fathers and mothers of integrity and truth who truly are role models for us and for all humanity.
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.
The Children of Israel went down as families, welcome guests of the King of Egypt, nearest relations to the second- in-command, Joseph, the savior of the Egyptian people. What happened to change their reality within the space of one generation to indigent slaves?
The Torah describes the onset of the slavery in one terse sentence, “And there arose a new King who didn’t know Joseph.”
How is this possible? that in the space of one generation, the Pharaoh had no idea of what had happened? Had no knowledge of the man to whom his entire country owed its survival? Rashi says, he made as if he didn’t know Joseph.
Rabbi Ashlag in a remarkable letter written to his students relates this sentence not to the outer ruler of a country, but to our own inner ruler. Who are we letting govern our impulses, our thoughts and decisions? The guidance of the Sage, the Torah, or our ego? The new king who did not know Joseph is represented within ourselves as the ego; the part of our self that does not want to acknowledge the superiority of the Tzaddik. When we allow the ego to govern us, then our inner self suffers a spritual descent and this enables the outer exile to overcome us.
The difference between the Hebrew word for exile Golah and for redemption Geulah is only one letter, the letter aleph, א, our connection with the One.
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.
The soul is, by and large, not well known to us. We all have moments when we feel connected, and plenty when we don’t. But there is a solution. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai taught it in the Zohar, 2000 years ago, but its message is still good for us today.
The link between the Torah, the soul and faith is one that is unbreakable, and it is a link which gives us a way to say in contact, even when we can’t.
In this podcast we learn along with Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in the Zohar with the aid of Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag’s commentary, the Perush haSulam
When we heard the news of the three boys kidnapped last week, all our hearts in Israel seemed to stop for a moment. Spontaneously people throughout the country, secular as well as religious began to gather, in holy sites and in town squares, to pray together for the safety and will being of Ayal Yiftach, Naftali Frankel and GilAd Scheur
When we are in trouble we all turn instinctively to pray. But why do we pray? How does prayer work? When we say the words ascend what does that mean?
In this podcast we learn how prayer affects the higher worlds and provides a vessel for the light of God to come into this world.
May our learning be counted in the merit of Ayal ben Iris Teshurah, Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah and Gil-Ad Michael ben BatGalim for their safety, their well being, and their speedy release.