Becoming Adam: to resemble the Divine

Adam: from God and like God. From the teaching of Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag

 

How can I come to be the best person I can be? What does this imply?

The Talmud teaches us that there are two aspects to every action. The outer action, which is open and revealed to ourselves and others, but there is also our motive or intention, which may be quite hidden, even from ourselves. Yet it is our intention which gives the perspective of whether we are getting closer to the Creator or separating from the One.

A person, whether male or female, who aspires to become close to the Creator in the sense of resembling HaShem in giving unconditional love to his or her fellows or to the Creator is called by the name of Adam, from the scripture  אדמה לעליון, I will resemble the Most High.

How can we become Adam? How can we attain the desire of becoming the best we can be?

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This Torah learning is dedicated to the ilui neshama of  Reb Moshe Ben Ese-Esther,  a direct descendant of Rabbi Akiva Eiger ztz’l  the grandfather of  my chevruta, Shmuel Iger Kinyan, who despite the dangers of being Jewish in communist Russia first taught Shmuel that he was Jewish.

Teachings taken from the Perush HaSulam on the first volume of the Zohar Pikudah Kadma’ah and also from Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag’s Al HaTorah, Parshat Vayikra.

Teshuva : reuniting with our Source

Returning to our Source: from the Kabbalah of Rav Kook and of Rabbi Ashlag

purple anemones looking upwards

Rabbi Baruch Ashlag writes:

The scripture says “Return O Israel unto the Lord your God.” (Hosea 14.) This means that the measure of Teshuvah, returning,  needs to be unto  the Lord our God. What does it mean to return unto the Lord our God?

Rabbi Ashlag goes on to tell us that we came from God. Our source is Divine. However, the soul and the body devolve down different paths. The path the soul takes is through the framework of  holiness, whereas the path the body— known as the ego— takes, is through the framework of uncleanness.

The soul is clothed by  the body, and is under its domination for the first thirteen years of our life. Then slowly through the work of Torah and mitzvot for the sake of God or for the sake of our fellow human, we gradually return step by step to our Source.

As Rav Kook writes in his great work, Orot HaTeshuvah

Through Teshuvah everything returns to godliness. The reality of the power of Teshuvah that rules over all the worlds returns and reconnects all things in the perfect divine reality.

It is to this extent that we may indeed ultimately must return.

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This podcast is dedicated to the merit of my dear friend Hana Leah bat Esther Sara for a Refuah Shlemah

Teaching from Bircat Shalom of Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag  Ma’amar 2 Sefer Hama’amarim תשמ”ט and from Orot HaTeshuvah Rav Kook chapter four

Other talks on Teshuvah and the month of Elul

Forty days of love: From Elul to Yom Kippur

Enjoying the month of Elul

Shame is a precious feeling

Feelings: God’s gift to us in this world

Feeling is a property of the soul in this life.In a letter that Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag wrote to his brother Shmuel, he describes  the purpose for which the soul leaves the spiritual realms and descends into this difficult physical world.  Surprisingly, he describes the benefit the soul attains through its association with the physical.

This does seem  surprising, as in general, the physical  gets a bad press: it is the origin of the world to receive for oneself alone in this world,  and is often seen as gross, compared to the ethereal nature of the spiritual worlds.

But  Rabbi Ashlag points out that it is precisely through the association of the soul with the physical that the soul acquires not only knowledge of God but also feeling. Feelings are only possible through the physical body and it is through our  feelings, both positive  and negative that we may actually experience the light of God . Such experience is called “attaining the Names of God”.

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Podcast dedicated to David and Linor on the occasion of their marriage

The night of the Bride: when God’s light is concealed.

The Night of the Bride : Zohar, taught by Rabbi Ashlag

In the beautiful imagery of the Zohar , the Bride and the Bridegroom, the Knesset Yisrael, and the Holy Blessed One, come to the wedding canopy on the day of Shavuot, the day of the Giving of the Torah. The previous night  is spent by the companions of the Bride in studying and practicing the Torah, all through the night.

However, Rabbi Ashlag, in his tremendous teaching, the Perush haSulam on the Zohar, teaches that the essence of Shavuot and the essence of the redemption are the same. Likewise the night in which the Bride joins with Her Creator, not only refers to the night before Shavuot, but refers to the long days of exile when the forces of separation rule over us, turning us away from our Maker. Yet the Zohar teaches that  it is precisely in this time of the concealment of God’s light that the souls join with the Holy Blessed One.

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From the Ma’amar Leilah de Kalah, Perush haSulam, vol 1 Zohar,

With grateful thanks to Dvorah Hoffman and the chevrutas in Tsfat for enabling this learning. 

My soul, Jerusalem

Jerusalem our soul, by Rabbi Baruch Ashalg

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.

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Related talks on the inner meaning of the three weeks and tisha b’Av

Giving and receiving: Coming to a balance

Giving and receiving from the Kabbalah of Rabbi Ashlag

Giving with love

We are created from the dust of the earth. That means we all have the innate nature of desiring to receive happiness and goodness. This is in accordance with the Purpose of the Creator in His creation. So then why do we feel embarrassment or shame when we receive without having earned what we are receiving? This feeling of shame stems from another aspect of our Creation, an aspect connected with our true purpose in the world, that of tikkun.

Although our inbuilt nature is that of receiving we also were given the quality of being able to give. This came about with the union of the Sephirah of Malchut with that of Binah, whose aspect is that of compassion and giving unconditionally.

By giving to the other unconditionally we convert a finite separated vessel of receiving into an infinite channel for the goodness of the Creator.

From Rabbi Avraham Mordecai Gottlieb’s commentary on Matan Torah of the Baal HaSulam.

Listen Now (Podcast about 18 minutes).

Learning the language of love

Loving hands

Love your neighbor as yourself: This is widely known to be a mitzvah that encompasses the whole of the Torah. But why should that be? There are many other mitzvot that deal with our relationship with God. Why are they also included in “Love your neighbor as yourself?”

We find that although the Scripture writes “Love your neighbor as yourself”, the Sage Hillel in the Talmud put it in another way. “Don’t do to your fellow what is hateful to you.” Why did he turn it around? Does the language of love teach us something about ourselves?

Drawn from the the article Matan Torah by Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag with the commentary of Rabbi Avraham Mordecai Gottlieb with grateful acknowledgment to my chevrutas, David Bar Dov and Ilan Bengal
Podcast talk 15 minutes