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
The ten commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai
The night is the time when we can’t see or know God’s presence He is hidden form us. Nevertheless by coming to Him through the practice of Torah and mitzvot in faith we build the relationship which becomes manifest at the final redemption.
The essence of the festival of Shavuot, the time of the giving of the Torah, with the final redemption, is elucidated by Rabbi Ashlag in his commentary, the Sulam, on this beautiful piece of Zohar.
Here is a class given by Yedidah. The Aramaic and Hebrew is presented. The translation and discussion are in English.
You can access the text of the Zohar and Perush HaSulam here
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Praying at the Kotel
When we act from our ego we become separated from our soul . Yet it is the basis of our nature, formed by the Creator in the Thought of Creation. The ego expresses itself through two main vehicles— the mind desiring to know why we are doing any action and wanting control over our lives; and the heart which looks for pleasure, both sensual and emotional.
As we work to transform the direction of its energies, we come to unite the different aspects of ourselves, heart, mind and soul, which then form a uniquely coherent vehicle for the light of God.
From the writings of Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag
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Father and son reading from the Torah
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?
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The psalmist says, “What is man that you should remember him? ” However he continues, “Yet you have made him just less than the Divine!”
Where do these two very opposite views of Man’s worth come from? How do we feel about ourselves and where do these very paradoxical feelings originate from?
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The souls exist in different states simultaneously. At the same time that we are going through the ups and downs of this world, we already exist in complete perfection in the infinite. Where did that perfection come from? and what difference does this knowledge make to me in my life now? If my perfection is already assured how and in what way do I choose my path? From the teachings of Rabbi Ashlag.
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Teshuvah means coming back. But it also applies to attaining a new spiritual state we have not reached before. So how can that also be Teshuvah? The answer lies in the origin of the soul and the nature of our true Self. To listen to podcast ( ten minutes)