“And God spoke to Avraham”
It is with these three words that the Torah opens a brand new chapter in the history of mankind.
These three words, “And God spoke to Abraham” startled me, coming out of ? nowhere?
Why did God speak to Abraham, and even more poignantly how did Abraham recognize God speaking to him?
If God were to speak to me, would I know who it was? Maybe God speaks to all of us everyday, but we do not hear?
So we need to ask ourselves, what had Avraham done? How had he worked on himself, in the seventy five years that he lived, before he heard the voice of God?
These questions are not new, but were asked in the Midrash, in the Zohar, and in modern times by Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag, the Baal HaSulam. The answers are as relevant now as they were to Avraham thousands of years ago.
Seder night : the night of inner and outer freedom
The Haggadah of Pesach teaches us that every person needs to consider himself or herself as if he came out of Egypt. Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag teaches that the essence of the exile and the redemption are both historical events and inner events within our consciousness. Our inner exile is caused by those parts of us that oppose our connection with God and make it hard for us to express ourselves in the framework of holiness in consonance with our souls. The hardest of all aspects of the ego is the Pharaoh within.
In this class based on an oral discourse that the Baal HaSulam gave to his students, he teaches us why the exile, both outer and inner, is necessary and the role that even our inner Pharaoh has to play to bring us to the full redemption of dvekut (union) with God.
This class is a translation and explanation of a an oral discourse given by the Baal haSulam transcribed by Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag in his work, Shamati. (Arie Miskanot le Paroh) (1 hour)
My grateful thanks to the many chevrutas who learned this article with me this year.
And God appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre, and Avraham is sitting at the doorway of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifts up his eyes and he sees three men standing before him . Abraham runs to greet them and he bows down to the ground asking them to accept his hospitality.
Why did Abraham break off a communication with God in order to give hospitality to the wayfarers?
What can we learn from this seemingly small act of Avraham’s whose meaning reverberates even now? Indeed,
the acts of our forefathers serve as beacons for us today.
From the teaching of Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag in the Perush Hasulam
When God gave Abraham his new name, changing it from Abram to Abraham, He was telling him about his role as a father of nations. It’s a role intimately connected with the purpose of the human being in the tikkun of creation.
This role is hinted at in the very beginning of Genesis. Crucially, the word describing the creation of heaven and earth has, in Hebrew, the same letters as Abraham”s full name.
What does this imply for us in our lives today? Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag, addresses this issue in a remarkable essay based on the Zohar Lech lecha .
This talk is based on an article in the Sefer Hamamarim of Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag
The third root mitzvah that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai brings in the Zohar is that of declaring God’s unity in the six words that make up the Shema. This declaration of the unity of the Creator is the first thing we learn as little children and the last thing we say when we die. In the morning and in the evening, as the day begins and ends, we affirm with our words this fundamental unity. Why?
Life itself is not uniform. It seems chaotic. We experience all extremes from dreadful to tremendous. Yet we affirm the unity of the Creator and the underlying unity of the acts of the One. These six words transform our lives from meaningless into purposeful.
In this talk we continue our learning of the fourteen root commandments (mitzvot ) whichwe started on before the holiday season took over. The commandment of loving God still seems to be beyond reach. In our last talk we learnt that it is the 613 commnadment that comes as a grace when we have attained all the rest. However, the Zohar opens up to a different possiblity which it hints at by looking at Noah , the father of all humanity, and Abraham our father. How did they come to love God? Can we learn from their approach?
Expecting A Reward
We have all been in the situation where we have given wholeheartedly to someone, or to a cause, yet the recognition or appreciation of our efforts simply hasn’t come through. Although our feelings of hurt are only too human we need to know that giving unconditionally, without getting a reward, was built into the very beginning of the Creation…