When we speak to each other we use words to indicate to the other person what we are talking about. That the other person understands us depends on a mutually agreed use of language. But if this mutual agreement was not there, misunderstandings would arise. That is precisely what may happen when we read Kabbalah texts.
The Sages of Kabbalah used ordinary everyday language to express states of consciousness. They relied on the perception of physical reality as having its roots in the higher worlds. . However, these connections between physical branch and spiritual root are not obvious to ordinary people and so we needed a great Sage, Rabbi Yehudah Leib Ashlag to act as translator and teach us the difference between what we think the Zohar is saying and what it really means. Only thus is its unfathomable wisdom open to us.
Root and branch. It is comforting to know that we all have spiritual roots with which we are connected at all time.
This shiur, is dedicated in loving memory of Feiga bat Shmuel and Rvikah and for the elevation of her soul.
The material for this shiur is taken from the forthcoming book, “ The Master of the Ladder, the Life and teachings of the Baal haSulam, Rabbi Yehudah Leib Ashlag, by Rabbi Avraham Mordecai Gottlieb, translated and edited by Yedidah Cohen, Nehora Press
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.
This Torah podcast is dedicated l’ilui nishmat Chana Annette bat Mazal and Moshe
This talk is based on excerpts from Rabbi Ashlag’s Perush haSulam on Zohar Vayerah 381 and Zohar TeZaveh 88-92
Further talks on Elul, Teshuvah and Rosh hashanah
In an article written towards the end of his life, Rabbi Baruch Ashlag discusses the issue of what should we do when we have fallen away form our service to God in one way or another, and we are feeling low because of it. We want to make amends.
But the Sages teach us, ‘ Serve the Lord with happiness, come before Him with song.” How is a person meant to be able to serve God with happiness when he is feeling broken?
God is surely not asking us to do the impossible? But on what basis can a person feel happy when he is so sad?
The answer is unexpected. Although the person is feeling low and despairing when he considers how he is not able to do the work for God, nevertheless, he needs to know that just having the awareness that he wants to come to God to get closer to Him is already a positive step. Furthermore, having the desire to come to God is actually a gift of the Creator , because this desire cannot arise any other way.
This podcast is dedicated for a Refuah Shlema for Alla Bat Rifkah. May this Torah learning bring her a true healing.
Article excerpted from Sefer haMaamarim of Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag Vol 4 article 25
We often have questions: is the way that God runs the world really good? What we are asking for actually is certainty. we want to see , feel and experience only good!
But God hides Himself from us in order that we have a chance to give to Him, unconditionally and in this way come close to Him. This way is the way of faith and is known in the Kabbalah as the right- hand line, the line of Chesed. It is the consciousness of giving unconditionally. According to our faith, we need to feel happy and content, even when things seem to be the opposite. To come to this state of consciousness we need the Torah, as the light from the Torah brings us to the good way.
If we can come to this faith in God as the Giver of all Good, then God reveals to us the inner wisdom of the Torah. This is the consciousness of knowledge, called the left- hand line of consciousness.
But the Sages have taught us that it is forbidden that a person’s wisdom should be greater than his good deeds, so therefore his wisdom needs to be clothed and covered by his deeds of loving-kindness. This is the middle line of Torah. This is the ultimate harmony and balance brought by the Torah.
This podcast is dedicated in love to all those souls who can and are ready to have more clarity in their lives and to shed the obstructions that hold them back from recognizing their own divinity . Especially dedicated to Yehudah ben Esther, and Kalman Roen ben Feige Tziporah
Podcast inspired by Article 19 from Sefer HaMama’arim volume 4 תש”ן
Before the Pesach holiday begins we are busy clearing out the chametz, the leaven from our houses. The Zohar informs us that this leaven represents the yezer hara, our egoism, within us. This process is not one of sadness but one of joy, as it gives us an opportunity to come to our true freedom, a freedom from being bound by our own egoism. A Freedom from being saddened by circumstances we can’t change, or from disappointments in not receiving what we thought we should, and the particular anxiety that goes with that.
But coming into redemption, is coming into our truest freedom which is of giving unconditionally. Nothing and no-one can enslave us there.
The whole process of our inner redemption is depicted in our preparations for the Pesach holiday and in the story of the Children of Israel’s redemption from Egypt as set out in the Haggadah. As we recite the story of our redemption of then we can pray to God and feel the joy of our redemption of now in an exactly parallel process.
This podcast is dedicated for a perfect healing for Michael Andrew the son of Jennifer.
Taken from the Haggadah Zot LeYedudah with the Be’er Shalom of Rabbi Ashlag
Other podcasts for Pesach
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?
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.
Each one of us is a whole world. Therefore in every person is a complex world of characters that make up the ego, and the one, pure, aspect of the soul.
Rabbi Ashlag teaches that all the aspects of the Torah stories take place within ourselves. Of all the aspects of the ego, the hardest one to deal with is the Pharaoh within us. The Zohar, likens Pharaoh, the ultimate denier of God to a crocodile lurking in the Nile (following Ezekiel chapter 29). Pharaoh manifests within us as the ultimate hijacker of our values and aspirations of spirituality, not allowing them to come into fruition.
From the Pesach Haggadah we find out that that the key to dealing with our inner Pharaoh is to cry out to God in prayer to help us, for it is the Holy Blessed One, Himself who rescues us from Pharaoh’s clutches and brings us out of our inner slavery into freedom.
The merit of this Torah teaching in this podcast is dedicated to Michael Andrew, the son of Jennifer. May he be blessed with a Refuah Shlemah, a perfect healing.
Picture credit: “Crocodylus niloticus in Lake Chamo 02” by Bernard Gagnon
The Midrash states: “When Judah met Joseph, two Kings met.”
The story of the dramatic encounter between Yehudah and Yoseph, is one that reverberates in our hearts and prayers every single day. Yehudah (Judah) taught prayer, whereas Yoseph ( Joseph) represents bounty and redemption.
Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag teaches :
We need to believe before we pray that 1) the Divine hears our voice, whoever we may be. 2) that the Creator can help us 3) that He wants to help us.
Yet the fact that we even want to pray to God is a sign that the Creator is calling out to us. Calling to us to connect with Him and His call is in itself a redemption.
Listen to full podcast
Podcast inspired from the Zohar and the work Bircat Shalom, articles by Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag
With grateful thanks to Mordecai (Yoel) Shoot whose questions sparked this study.
It doesn’t really seem credible: we all know the story. Rebeccah and Jacob don’t want Esau to get the blessings from Isaac. Rebeccah connives with Jacob in deceiving her blind and aged husband so he will get the blessings.
When we read this story in its plain and literal language, it seems shocking. Even if we try to make excuses: we can’t use either Rebeccah or Jacob as a role model for ourselves. Yet that is precisely what they are meant to be: The Sages of the Midrash taught, “The deeds of the fathers are a guide for the children.” How can we reconcile this?
The answer lies in knowing the nature and the intentions of all the protagonists of the story: Ya’acov (Jacob), Rivkah (Rebeccah), and Esau. These we get when we learn the Zohar.
The Zohar, the central book of the Kabbalah deals with intentions: our intentions, God’s intentions and those of our holy fathers and mothers. Indeed the great Rabbi Elijah of Vilna taught that one cannot attain the Torah, with full consciousness unless we apply the innermost levels of the Torah, namely the Kabbalah, to its literal meaning, the Pshat.
By learning the Kabbalah on this story of Rebeccah and Jacob we discover our fathers and mothers of integrity and truth who truly are role models for us and for all humanity.
Listen now (fifteen minutes)
This teaching is drawn from the Perush HaSulam of Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag on the Zohar Toledot.
The merit of this Torah learning is dedicated for the ilui nishmata of Musha Leah Bat Paltiel z”l