God kept faith: a learning for the last days of Pesach

Watching the Children of Israel coming out of Egypt ( Zohar)

Watching the Children of Israel coming out of Egypt

Jacob our father felt fearful on the eve of coming down to Egypt. God appeared to him in a dream and reassured him, promising that He Himself would accompany the children of Israel in their exile. The Scripture further states that God says “I will surely bring you up”. The Zohar interprets this saying, with a beautiful imagery of our forefathers being brought to witness the redemption itself. Indeed in the Haggadah, we say “Blessed is He who keeps his promise to Israel.”

The Zohar that we learn here, teaches us that faith in God’s promise played a crucial role in the redemption itself. Pharaoh hardened his heart against God because in the natural way of things there was no way for the Children of Israel to escape his land. But faith is of a higher paradigm than that of the material world, and God overcame the evil of Pharaoh. The Scripture concludes on the shores of the Red Sea “And Israel saw the great hand which the Lord wrought against the Egyptians, and the people believed in God and in Moses his servant.”

This piece of Zohar is as timely now as it was then, and teaches us that God’s promises to our forefathers will surely be redeemed.

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In this podcast we study the text of the Zohar Beshalach, paragraph 185 in the Perush HaSulam with grateful thanks to my chevrutas Dr Susan Jackson, Dahlia Orlev, Timna Segal, Leah Weinstein, Ofra Perl, Jodie Lebowitz Davis, and Mia Sherwood with whom I had the privilege of learning this article .

Faith provides the actual structure of the Succah

The succah of faith from the teachings of Rabbi Ashlag

A succah in Jerusalem

When asked what the real significance of the Biblical injuction of dwelling in the Succah for seven days is about, Rabbi Eliezer in the Talmud stated it referred to the Clouds of glory that protected the Children of Israel in the wilderness; Rabbi Akiva stated it referred to the physical structure itself.

Rabbi Ashlag, in a letter writing, his students on Succot asks how was it that two such great Sages came up with such very different ideas? He explains that they are both looking at the succah as representing faith in God but one is looking at the light of faith and the other at the creation of the actual vehicle for this great light. Faith is the vehicle with whihc we may connect with God both in times of God’s light being revealed to us and in times when it is hidden from us.
The festival of succot gives us an opportunity to build our refuge of faith for the entire coming year.

From a letter by Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag

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Keeping in contact with the soul, through thick and thin

faith at all times

faith at all times

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

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From the article Mamar Oraita veTzaluta, from the Hakdamah leSefer HaZohar

Raising up our voice in prayer

prayer is from the heart

prayer is from the heart

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.

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The golden calf and our lives today

Moses smashing the Tablets of stone

Moses smashing the Tablets of Stone

On the seventeenth of Tammuz we fast because of many calamities that happened to the Jewish people on this day. But they all started with the sin of the golden calf which took place on this day six weeks after the Children of Israel had received the Torah on Mount Sinai.
What went wrong? To our modern eyes the act seems foolish. But when we understand the inner meaning of the golden calf according to the Kabbalah then we realize it has implications that we also need to fix to this day.

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Faith: Torah from the Years of Fury

Flames of faith: teachings from  Aish Kodesh, ChanukahNo one can or should remain untouched by the tragic events at Newtown Connecticut. Some people in their grief and anguish ask ” But why did God allow this to happen?” It is hard to feel the love of God in such times and to have faith in His Name that He is Good and does Good to all.

The holy Rabbi of Pieczetsna, Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, taught his community during  the last years of the Warsaw Ghetto. A witness to the daily murder of innocent men, women and children, he faced this issue of faith in God in the worst of all imaginable circumstances. He did not survive the war, but in a miraculous way some of his teachings did.  When it was clear the ghetto was doomed, he hid the teachings in a milk churn, buried beneath the rubble.  They were  discovered accidentally by a Polish worker digging  in the foundations and eventually found their way to Israel where they were published under the name “Aish Kodesh” “Holy Fire”.

Here follows a talk containing his teaching on Chanukah from the year 1941 in which he addresses this very issue of faith in the midst of suffering.

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The talk is read from  the translation of Aish Kodesh by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira : Sacred Fire: Torah from the Years of Fury 1929-1942 published by Jason Aaronson Inc. 2002

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/heather/327818264/”>heather</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Chanukah: The Triumph of the Soul over the Ego

The light of the Chanukah menorah symbolizes the light of faithRabbi Ashlag teaches that since a person is as a small world events on the outside are reflected within ourselves.In this way we can find the elements of the Chanukah story within ourselves. The Greek part of ourselves  represents that part of the ego  that likes the certainty of logic and reason… whereas the Jew is the aspect of ourselves that  relates to faith, which belongs to a different paradigm altogether. This is our own inner enactment of the story of Chanukah, in whihc God delivered the many into the hands of the few, and  the mighty into the hands of the weak.

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