For our Sages the precise words of the Torah and even their spelling, had meaning, this is because the letters that make up the words are vessels for the light of God. If we take the Sefer Torah, then all its wisdom is contained in the light of the white parchment. But if it were not for the black letters, the absence of light, we would not know what it is telling us.
By learning the words and terms of the Kabbalah, the innermost portion of the Torah, we also gain understanding of our own lacks of light and how these transform into desires. We need to ask ourselves the question, are the words, and sentences which form my life truly reflect my deepest desires?
Today we study the term “zivug” which refers to the union of opposites. In the Kabbalah it refers to the entry of the light of God into the vessels, and in our lives applies particularly to our relationships.
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On a personal note I wish to give thanks to HaShem that after a long period of illness I am able once again to write and broadcast these short shiurim, and to my dear family and chevrutas who all helped me with their encouragement and prayers.
The month of Elul, the month preceding Rosh haShanah is a good moment for taking time out to contemplate the last year…. or to look at our lives as a whole. Its a moment when quietly we can be truthful with ourselves and see which of our thoughts, actions and words were in line with our own highest values, and where to be frank we let ourselves down.
Thoughts of our own slip-ups are painful and sorrowful and our most likely response is to push them away. A different, more healthy response that will bring us into a more aware consciousnesses, is the message of the shofar.
The Zohar teaches us that the sound of the shofar is the voice of compassion, the voice of loving-kindness. It awakens us to Teshuvah, because the ultimate source of our unhappiness and of our mistakes is our disconnection from our Source. But words that were said, can’t be unsaid, and actions that were taken. now exist. So what can we do to mend things?
Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, in his great work, Mesillat Yesharim, (The path of the righteous) writes:
“ Teshuvah, (Repentance) is given to people with absolute loving-kindness so that the rooting out of the will which prompted the deed is considered a rooting out of the deed itself.”
This loving-kindness manifests in the sound of the shofar. The voice of the shofar opens the opportunity to make good , to undo , to come back fresh…. and to a new start.
This is the miracle of Teshuvah: Teshuvah is returning home. It is returning to our Source. Before the world was created Teshuvah was created. Before Man came into being, the possibility of return was built into the whole scheme of things. The call of the shofar, is the call of compassion, of mercy and of bringing us back home.
May we all be blessed with a sweet and happy New Year.
A depiction of the relationships between the ten Sephirot called the “Tree of Life”.
The first thing people think of when you mention the word Kabbalah to them is often a chart of the Tree of life, the ten Sephirot. But such charts are misleading.
They take an aspect of consciousness and represent it in a two-dimensional way on paper. Such a chart has the same relationship to the Sephirot as has a line drawing of a boy to the real living and breathing child it represents.
In this talk we will be examining the basic terms of the Kabbalah and looking at their real meaning. We will be learning where these consciousnesses first arise in the Ein Sof, the infinite, and how they are integral aspects of our consciousness in our everyday lives and interactions.
Podcast based on the teachings of the Ari, from the Etz Chayim and from the commentaries of Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag’s Talmud Eser HaSephirot.
With grateful thanks to Mia Sherwood Landau for the inspiration of this podcast; and to Avraham Lowenthal, for permission to reproduce his relational diagram of the ten Sephirot Tsfat Gallery of Mystical Art
The Chanukah candle placed outside the house for all to enjoy and see the miracle
Rabbi Ashlag looks at the details of the laws of Chanukah as explained in the Talmud and teaches a wealth of inner work as he elucidates their inner meaning.
We are taught by the Sages of the Gemorrah that the Chanukah candle should be placed outside the house opposite the side of the mezuzah in the doorway.
Rabbi Ashlag teaches that this detail actually teaches about the root of the spiritual light of Chanukah when God gave the people of Israel a miracle over the Greeks in those days. But what does this mean for us now? When we try to give to others or to God unconditionally we find that many obstacles lie in our path. But the most difficult to overcome is our own inner adversaries.Our own inner Greeks, who represent our rational mind that opposes faith. We find that much as we want to we are unable to overcome our own selves. Finally we realize we need God to reveal His light to us just as He did in these days to our forefathers and show us a miracle. The inner miracle of Chanukah.
From the Bircat Shalom Sefer HaMaamarim of Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag
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
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
The light of the Torah is one. The vessels with which we receive the light of the Torah are called the garments of the Torah. However, to access the light of the Torah we need to add in the ingredient of faith. Faith that the Torah itself can bring us back to the good way.
From an article by Rabbi Baruch Shalom Halevi Ashlag from his Sefer HaMa’amarim
Listen to podcast (13 minutes)
There is a general principle in the Kabbalah that no light may be attained without its appropriate vessel.
So although it is true that we are surrounded by the infinite light of God at all times, we cannot sense God’s light if we do not have the appropriate vessel.
What is the appropriate vessel though which we may come to appreciate the soul, that part of God within us? How can we relate to the soul? How can we come into affinity of form with the soul, which implies dvekut or unity with it?
The Zohar states that the Torah, the soul and the Holy Blessed One are one. It also states that God is hidden in the Torah.
How does Torah differ from other knowledge? How can the Torah help me hear my soul? What qualities do I need to cultivate in order to find the Essence of God hidden in the Torah?
“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
Studying the Torah does far more than just give us more information, it helps us to overcome the will to receive for oneself alone which is our in-built nature. It has a special light.The Sages say ” the light that is in the Torah leads a person ot the good way”. For audio talk (7 minutes) http://www.nehorapress.com/115470/audiolearningKabbalah