The gate of tears is never locked

the gate of tears is never locked, from the Kabbalah of Rabbi AshlagYom kippur is a day of prayer and coming back to our true selves. But this isn’t easy, as we very often aren’t very conscious of where we have gone wrong or what our truest and deepest desires really are. In a remarkable essay, Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag teaches us how to begin to distinguish a real need from one that may seem real but is in fact extraneous. The Sages of the Talmud said,

“Rabbi Elazar said that when the Temple was destroyed all the gates of prayer were closed; but even though the gates of prayer were closed the gate of tears is never locked.”

Through this discussion we learn the inner meaning of the prayer” And all believe that He answers the whisper, Who open the gate to those who knock in Tehuvah,” wanting to return to their Source.

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From the Sefer HaMamarim of Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag, with grateful thanks to Shmuel Igar Kinyan who studied it with me.

Other talks on Yom Kippur
“The Inner Essence of Yom Kippur”, “From the depths I call on You”, “Yom Kippur : A chance to reclaim our true identity”

Sending the ego to the wilderness ; A talk for Yom Kippur

One for God and one for Azazel

One for God and one for Azazel

Aaron the High priest was told to take two he-goats and draw lots: one goat was to be for  God and the other to be for Azazel . On this goat on the sins of the Children of Israel were confessed and then the goat was sent to the wilderness.

The Zohar teaches us that this Temple service is actually about the choices we make and their consequences.

From the Perush HaSulam of Rabbi Yehudah  Lev Ashlag on the Zohar of Acharei Mot

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Teshuvah in the time of love

Selichot at the Kotel

Selichot at the Kotel

The essence of the month of Elul is “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.” Yet this doesn’t square with it being the month of Teshuvah, repentance. Or does it? It’s a time for repairing relationships till they reach the level of love they had before we messed up, whether they are relationships between ourselves and our fellows or ourselves and God. It is a time of Teshuvah, a time of coming back.
From Ani Ledodi by Rabbi Chaim Sabato with added inspiration from the teachings of Rabbi Ashlag and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

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Teshuvah- Coming Home

Teshuvah means coming home, back to our true placeTeshuvah 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)

The Inner Essence of Yom Kippur

What does atonement really mean?
Forgiving the hurts that others have done us somehow contradicts our sense of natural justice.
Equally, what do I have to do make amends when I feel guilty and ashamed of mistakes I have made?
Learn how the service of Yom Kippur itself give us valuable clues on these important issues and actually cleanses us for the New Year. Listen to audio talk (ten minutes)

Looking forward to the high holidays. Yes it is possible!

So many people dread this time of the year. It  tends to bring up images of an old man in the sky sitting in judgment. Of course we don’t believe in such things but still the anxiety persists. This  false idea of the holidays is so prevlent especially amongst Jews of Ashkenazi  origin , that I had a relook at the holidays from the perspective of the Kabbalah and found anxiety turned into confidence, dread into an eager-looking forward and the day of judgment turned into the day of compassion. Join me in these ten minute talks on this link

Yom Kippur, regaining our Identity

I was reading the other day in the commentary on the Zohar written by the Baal haSulam, Rabbi  Yehudah Lev Ashlag, about the children of Israel at the time of the first temple. and they would offer up sacrifices to atone for their nefesh, soul , well there it was and I began to think well what does that mean? and as I looked at these words in the Perush HaSulam on the Zohar I began to understand this atonement is about.

 The words in the Perush HaSulam  on the Zohar actually read like this:

 In the former days when the river (the goodness) was flowing with its waters from above to below then Israel was in the state of perfection. because they were offering sacrifices to atone for their nefesh.(Volume one paragraph 96)

 Now to understand what the Children of Israel were actually doing, we have to know a little bit about the different parts of ourselves. Starting from the outside in we’ve got a physical body, skin, bone, flesh, and all that, and then we have an aspect which is called the nefesh behamit, the animal soul, and that animates the body. That gives it its life force. We don’t have to tell the heart to go tick-tock, tick tock, it does it automatically. And the nefesh behamit gives it its life force, it also gives it its basic desires; for food, for health, for power, for security, for comfort, and so forth. All the basic desires that we share in common with the animals.

And then the next part of our selves is the holy soul which resides within ourselves, within the nefesh behamit. We all have this soul this neshamah which starts off in everybody as a point source. Then as we work on identifying with the desires of our holy soul that starts to develop. And it develops to different extents in different people because it develops to the extent that we put effort into it. So the question I really wanted to ask myself was, “Which is the real me?

 I’ve got these bits, I’ve got the body, I’ve got the animal soul and I’ve got the point source in my heart. Which bit is me?

 If we go back to that piece of Zohar we can see that there is a clue there. When Israel was in a state of perfection they would offer up sacrifices to atone for their nefesh. Now the part they were at atoning for is their animal soul. Now why did they need to atone for it? To atone is like rescuing something, its like paying a ransom. le kaper is the same as kopher giving a ransom. Now the reason we need to atone for it is because we get muddled up. It’s a case of mistaken identity. I think that’s the real me! I got all confused! I’m pretty sure my body isn’t the real me, because it changes and I can see that it changes. After all I started off as a baby and I certainly don’t look like one now and I get thinner or fatter. Most of us are clear that we are not the body. What we are not clear about is that we are not the animal soul either. Because the animal soul contains all those desiresand  it also contains the personality and the ego. Everybody gets confused on this one. You can’t live in the world and not get confused! In fact it’s a case of mistaken identity. We think it really is us. And that’s why it’s the cause of sin, because what is a sin? its when we think that that’s what we really want. When we go after what the animal soul is telling us.

 And how would they atone for it, well they would take an animal. An animal sacrifice is not by chance an animal, it was an animal which represented that aspect of the animal soul and they would bring it to the temple and they would put their hands on it and they would actually confess the sin on the animal before thy offered it up as a sacrifice. And that was the vidui, the confession  So as we begin to look ,we can see these elements in the Yom Kippurservice and in the way we fast on Yom Kippur.

Everybody has to keep Yom Kippur. It doesn’t say in the Bible you only have to keep Yom Kippur if you sinned, Yom Kippur is for everybody. It says in the Bible “On the tenth day of the seventh monthyou shall afflict your souls and the word used is nefesh. And the soul we afflict is the animal soul. We don’t eat or drink or have any other bodily comforts. It’s as if we’re paying a ransom. We all mistook who we were. During the year we identify ourselves with the animal soul. It’s inevitable . We all do it. And on Yom Kippur everybody from the high priest downwards gives this ransom. We redeem our identity.

We are not the animal soul, we are actually the essence of God who resides within us. In that source within the heart. We are bringing that back into the light again. That’s what we are redeeming. and the same elements that were done in the temple we do now in a different form. We make confessions and we pray, which is instead of the sacrifices in the Temple.

 When we have done that and we have come to teshuvah, we have come back to our source, we have raised up the Shechinah again, which is what Teshuvah is really about. It’s not really repentance, it’s teshuv hay, bringing back the God . So Teshuvah is about re-identifying with our holy soul. And the more we identify with our holy soul the more it will begin to grow.

 Our work on Yom Kippur enables us to clean of the confusion of the previous year and start the New Year afresh, identifying with our real selves.

Ktivha vChatimah TovahMay you be inscribed for a good year! Yedidah