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Posts by yitzchak
Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. We may wonder if we need to do teshuva to properly atone for our sins, or so we only need the day itself. Our Sages tell us we need both teshuva and the Day of Atonement, the other opinion says we only need the day itself because it affects our atonement spiritually.
Our Kabbalistic Sages tell us that Yom Kippur represents Binah, which is connected to a higher world, the World To Come. So, we go into the higher world where there is no physical eating or drinking on Yom Kippur. Instead, our voices and our prayers serve as food.
In the higher world, the World of Truth we call Binah, we are so lined-up with the truth of who we are that our sins of the previous year are seen differently, by G-d and by us. We know we don’t want to sin, but we were stuck in the lower worlds, within the grasp of the Evil Inclination. But that behavior is not who we are.
One of the secrets of Yom Kippur is its power to atone. In addition, our Sages tell us that Yom Kippur is a time to go into Bittul, or self-nullification, a place where we want nothing but G-d. We think, “All I want is G-d, there is nothing for me but G-d.” When we do that, we also atone. G-d looks upon us and thinks, “All you want is Me? All I want is you, too.” It’s an exchange of love in that way.
Yom Kippur is also a day when our prayers are designed to help us ascend into new worlds, one world higher than the one before, until we reach the pinnacle, the crescendo at the end of the day, the Neilah service. It’s the closing of our judgment between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the period when we usually pray the hardest.
Back in the days of the Temple, Yom Kippur was essentially a “one-man show,” because the High Priest took over all the duties for the whole nation, although everybody was present and doing teshuva. The High Priest, however, offered the sacrifices and performed all the intense activities of the service, for the sake of all the people.
Everybody would fast, of course, but the High Priest placed the sins of all the people on the Azazel-bound scapegoat, and sent it off as a bribe or as “hush money,” so to speak, to placate the other side, and to keep it closed. It’s a big subject for another time…
Yom Kippur is the end of a 10-day period of teshuva, during which we are closest to G-d. It’s a great time to do teshuva, because our prayer books teach us to do teshuva, tefilla and tzedaka in order to banish the evil decrees. Negative decrees can be eliminated, but positive decrees are never rescinded. A chain of events may be put into motion, and it may be changed by getting out of our habitual actions in life and making changes.
We might change a particular habit, change our name, change our giving, change our judgments, change (or choose) our character traits, change our abundance and our G-d-connectedness. These things can be affected by our deep prayer, from our essence, and these things can change negative decrees. It’s much easier to change a decree before it occurs than after it happens.
It’s at the end of the Neilah service, the conclusion of Yom Kippur, when the decree is finalized for us. There are other chances, later in the holidays following Yom Kippur and even through Chanukah, but the main decree comes on Yom Kippur. That’s what we’re all working toward.
Our teshuva has to be testified by G-d, who knows the truth of our hearts. When we say we will be good, G-d knows the true testimony, the heart, the future. G-d knows what’s for real, or not. So, we need to be as real as possible in the process as well.
The day of Yom Kippur, the evening and the following day of fasting, consists of different confessions expressing sorrow for what we have done… “this is what I did, and I won’t do it again.” This, of course, is the verbal part of confession. The other component is the emotional part, genuinely feeling sorry and remorseful, and determining not to do it again.
It’s a good idea to begin the day with a sheet of paper listing what we’ve done, the things for which we want to repent. This is the time of year we diligently practice the three Ts – teshuva, tzedakah and tefilla, which is repentance, charity and prayer. Those are the three things that can banish a bad decree against us.
That’s a short description of the service of Yom Kippur. Hopefully, we come out of this day as a new person, refreshed and renewed, compared to the person we were before Yom Kippur. Each of us is hoping for a whole, new, purified version of ourselves.
Here are some of things I want to explore on Rosh Hashana:
Rosh Hashana is a judgment day unlike any other judgment day, because we dress in white instead of black, we eat apples and honey for sweetness, and we are experiencing a mixture of fear and love at the same time. We trust that it will all work out and that the King, the Judge, forgives us in the end. We are closer to the Judge during this time, more than any other time of the year.
So, it’s not simply a message of judgment, but also a much deeper message. You could say that G-d is making an inventory of everybody and everything in his world, and where they are, how they are fitting in to the plan. G-d wants to recreate the world, so he needs to assess who has a part in the plan now.
If who you are and who you have been makes you a good fit for the “new company,” which is the world as it’s being created. If not, there will be problems.
So, first, we need to come into Rosh Hashana and realize who we are and how we fit into G-d’s new world. We want to be partners with G-d in his new world.
Second, we need to understand that Rosh Hashana is a day of conception of the whole year. It could be described as “spiritual genetic engineering,” because we are literally being conceived anew, like a child being conceived by a man and a woman.
The lasting influence on a child, from the night it was conceived, endures throughout its lifetime. The time of conception has more influence than anything else in a child’s life, including the education, care and all other influences.
That’s what is happening for us on Rosh Hashana. We are conceiving our year on that day. So, our mood, our intentions, our plan, our vision, our clarity, our mission and our connection to G-d on that day is critical. It is the most important time because everything else will follow the beginning. The way we begin things is usually the way it plays out. When we begin a day in a good mood, thanking G-d and going with it, our whole day is affected.
And our whole year goes like that, too, when we begin our year in that fashion. It’s very important to begin the year in a very positive and very meaningful way.
It’s important to remember that we are not the ones doing the judging. G-d is doing the judging on Rosh Hashana. Don’t think that you have to get the prayers right or you have to feel a certain way at a certain time, despite interruptions in the services, when the shofar is blowing or any other time… Who knows what’s really happening for you? G-d’s eyes are not our eyes.
It might be that you had to get up in the middle of the night to change diapers or soothe a crying child, and those are the things that set the course for a great year for you this year. We don’t know any of that. We just need to go with the belief that G-d is judging us, and we are not judging ourselves or others.
Of course, there are ways we can sweeten-up the judgment. We can start by not judging others harshly, so that, measure-for-measure G-d will not judge us harshly.
And we can work on judging ourselves. If we take care of it, G-d won’t have to take care of it for us. We can judge ourselves by seeing who we are, what we are doing and where we want to go.
As our Sages tell us, we will be written in one of three books on Rosh Hashana. We can write ourselves into the book of the righteous, the book of the living or the book of the good. Or, we can write ourselves into the “middle way.” We are the ones doing the writing, because G-d has said, “You choose where you want to go.”
We need to come into Rosh Hashana with clarity on our choice as well. The ten days of Teshuva between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are the days we are closest to G-d, more than any other time of year. That’s a significant difference between Rosh Hashana and every other time of year, because normally we are not supposed to be close to a judge. A judge is supposed to be objective and not as close to us as possible.
But, G-d is different, so we, too, are different when we choose to take advantage of the time to be close, to talk to G-d and to listen. It’s also a good time to make radical changes in our lives, with the least amount of effort. Think of it, once again, as conception – you can create a whole new you more easily in these days, pre, post and during Rosh Hashana. It’s easier during this time than any other time of year, and you can take it to a whole, new level. It’s a great time to accomplish this.
Also, this is the time to partner-up with G-d. It’s the time to figure out what you’re doing in your life, and then to say, “G-d, here I am. You and I are partners. What can I do with my talents to help further your rectification and healing of the world?”
Do that, and you’ll be infinitely inspired and empowered to do whatever you are called to do. Essentially, G-d says, “You do for me, I’ll do for you.” That’s what partnership is all about.
Rosh Hashana is also the day that Adam was created, the first day of Adam, so to speak. That makes it the perfect day to consider how we can get back to the Garden of Eden. Just as Adam was put to sleep and Eve was created from part of him, and Adam found her as a separate being, the same thing happens with us and G-d. We (humans) represent the female and G-d represents the male, and we come together like Adam and Eve.
We can see ourselves independently, and able to enter into a relationship, a partnership with G-d. The whole month of Tishrei is a courting process between us and the King.
It’s the time of Life, the book of Life is open and we have to appreciate what Life is all about, how precious it is, and how we need to dig down to find and see how every aspect of our lives is valuable.
I call next week’s MMM “Essence-ing,” in English, and in a sort of casual way in Hebrew, “Pnim D’Pnim.” The idea is “the inner of the inner,” which is a concept I learned with my long-time mastermind partner many years ago.
Back when I was contemplating making the leap of faith required to leave my comfortable, secure home in Israel and travel to the United States to teach my stuff, I certainly needed courage and I also needed faith. But the most important thing I needed was actually Pnim D’Panim.
When I said, “I’ve never done this, I’ve never given classes in various cities. I’ve never prepared classes, advertised them and networked with people internationally, to get people to show up for my classes.” I’d never done any of it and I had no idea what I would be getting into.
How would I be able to stand up in front of a crowd and keep my mouth moving when I could barely catch my breath at the thought of speaking publicly? I had so many worries, and I honestly couldn’t sleep for a month before my first trip. So, my mastermind partner told me, “Yitzchak, what you have to do is go inside yourself and “essence,” for lack of a better word. You have to find the essence of who you are, and let it percolate or bubble up to the surface until it’s overflowing from you.
“To the extent you do that, you ‘essencize’ your life, and you find out who you are and what you have that’s unique, and come to an understanding of what you can give to other people that they cannot get from anybody else. And the deeper you go, the more passionately you go into this mind-state of consciousness, the less you’ll have to make any kind of efforts at all during your American tour. D
“Doors will be opened for you by G-d, the way the Red Sea was opened up for the Jewish people when they needed it. Everyone is going to be on your side, to get involved, to introduce you, to work for you, and to help you create connections with lots of people. You’ll have everything it takes to make it happen.
“G-d will give you the courage, the confidence and the words, but it all depends on how much you go into the essence of who you are.”
So, that’s how I was introduced to this concept of Pnim D’Panim. Now, let’s jump back into the present, when we’re very close to beginning a new year. Every year at this time I try to review all the highlights of my life, which for me, personally, prepares me and and “essences” me. It lights up my inner light, more than anything. I can clearly see that I’m much more of a human being than I thought, as I recall various parts of my past year while they are percolating through my mind.
The more I’ve seen lost parts of myself coming to the surface and into my awareness, the more I sense the world is meant to connect with me. The people in different parts of time, space and soul are reaching out, seemingly out of nowhere, to ask, “Hey, are you the Kabbalist Rabbi who helps people understand a million weird things, meaning whatever comes up in their minds?”
Questions like that one come up because the deeper a person goes inside, the more they will experience people and opportunities embrace them and chase them down, sort of like teenagers chasing after the Beatles in the early 1960s. It has that power because we are microcosmic beings, and the deeper we go inside ourselves, the more we wake up the world around us, especially the things that correlate to the deepest parts of ourselves.
And that is Pnim D’Panim. What can you do to get it? First, you have to see who you are and what your calling is in life, and hopefully be able to synthesize your core essence into a concept or a word. For example, “a transcender, a giver, a fixer, “ or whatever your word may be. When you have it, you can walk with your word, and make decisions from it, and speak from that place, that “identity word” of who you are. That is “essencizing.”
And you have what you need to blow past all the pettiness of life and get down to the core of it. People are going to feel that from you, and it will allow you to break through walls. When we speak from our hearts and souls it opens other people’s hearts and souls, too. When we speak from our essence, then me can “essencize” other people as well.
You have to find out who you are by studying your life, seeing the highlights of your life and what you are yearning for, what you really desire. What do you excel in and what are you struggling for? What MUST you have in your life? These are the questions that lead you to your essence point, and the answers will be provided as long as you’re receptive enough to hear them. Your answers are available 24/7 if you’re asking the right questions.
Go straight to the source and ask G-d your questions. Once you do that, you’ll give birth to your “essence personality,” and it will light up your way in your soul family, your people, in ways you never thought possible. And all this will happen without your personal, concerted effort. It’s unfamiliar to people who are living in the natural world instead of their own essence.
I’m referring to a concept that’s extra-ordinary and super-natural, which is – the deeper you go inside, the more the outside stuff is taken care of for you. So, that’s the challenge, and my MMM for this week. I’m curious where it will take me, where I’m going to take it, and who else is going to jump on board.
This will be the MMM for Parsha Re’eh this week, and the topic is Integrating the Lower Self, or the Lower Soul. This is a topic that really interests me, because most people are completely ignorant of it and suffer as a result of their ignorance of it. They simply don’t know how to integrate their Lower Soul into their lives.
The Lower Self, Lower Soul or Animal Soul… which is not the same as the Evil Inclination, not at all… but it is part of us which often takes over to sabotage us at the wrong moment. It can impair us in a negative way, or it can empower us in a positive way.
The source of the Lower Soul in Kabbalistic works is called The Left Side of the Heart or The Animal Soul. It’s associated with the original mix-up with the Tree of Good and Evil. It’s associated with Esav, the twin brother of Yaakov, and the Esau/Esav energy of unharnessed chaos, in a way.
When properly processed however, this part of ourselves becomes a great point of life force and empowerment. We have to integrate it, and it’s dangerous stuff because we can easily take it too far.
In a conversation with a friend of mine who is a Hollywood script writer, we discovered that he does not refrain from talking about the dark parts of himself because it gives him the creative edge needed in his business. The more he does it, the more his works become brilliant.
To bring this idea back to the Jewish sources, it’s like this – King David, at the end of his life, could not physically maintain warmth. So, after searching the Land of Israel, the most beautiful girl was found, and she was hired to lie beside him to keep him warm.
The meaning of “not being warm” in King David’s expression was, “libieb chalal bekirei” which translates as, “my heart is void inside of me,” and means that he had no desire for lower-soul stuff any more. It means he was complete and had no need for it, so that caused the situation he experienced at the end of his life, his inability to literally and figuratively warm himself up.
The body heat and the spiritual heat that warms people up is that Lower Self, that Animal Self, that stuff that’s coming from the Left Side of the Heart. King David didn’t have it, toward the end of his life, and he needed help to get warm, literally.
Moses, at the age of 120, right before he died, was completely lucid. And he said, “I can no longer go in and come out anymore,” which means he didn’t experience ups and downs any more. That Lower Soul is responsible for knocking us down so we have to climb up and reach a higher place. Moses didn’t have that responsibility any longer. He was not no longer a warrior and he didn’t belong in this life anymore because he had completed the job.
So, that lower part of ourselves, that Animal Self, is actually the part that keeps the life force alive. So, what we need to do to get to that part, to connect with it, and there are several different ways to do that. One of the ways to connect with that part is to clean it, clear it, and purge it.
We need to give it a voice. People who do Transcendental Meditation say a non-sensical mantra so that the mind will “sweat out” all of these lower soul thoughts, so that they are not just repressed there. They get processed, and that’s what keeps them calm during the day.
Debbie Ford, one of the original new age writers, wrote about the dark side of ourselves in a book called The Dark Side of the Light Chasers. The wrote about what she called a “shadow world.” We have many parts inside of ourselves, character traits which are not flattering and we’d never want written on our tombstone. We’d never want to become famous for them or have them written on our CD.
We may be lazy or jealous or just looking for a good time. Those are just some examples, and what we have to do is find our own character traits and bring them to the surface, so that we can make a deal with them, we can say, “ok, I’ll let you be a part of my conscious world if you don’t mess me around too much, and if you don’t steer me wrong.”
When we do that, we are able to integrate. Then we generate and ignite those parts of ourselves that, if we didn’t allow them to come to the surface in a healthy, sane way, they would derail us. They would sabotage us, at all the wrong times and in all the wrong ways. So, that’s another way to get to them.
Yet another way to get to them is to know how to mix them, to mix the strong parts with the weak parts, the holy parts with the not-so-holy parts. We can learn to unify them in a way which is healthy.
One way to do that is to look into our mind, which is what the Baal Shem Tov used to do. When we’re involved in a holy space, such as prayer or learning or something like them, we need to look at the thoughts coming to us. There are a lot of lower-self thoughts coming to us, saying, “raise me up!”
Some people are encouraged to go around, because it’s too dangerous to deal with the thoughts. But another approach is to say, “take those things and elevate them, to put them in the service of G-d.”
Instead of wanting to strong-arm people, be a warrior for G-d. It’s that kind of a work that we do.
Even in time management, we can process these things. We can take the Higher Self, which is what we should do, and the Lower Self is what we would do if we could, and we blend those together. We take the woulds and the coulds and, and scoring them on a scale of 1 – 10, and then looking at the combination of them and making it our priority.
Whatever scores a 10 on the woulds and coulds in my life is the first thing I’m going to do. It’s the most important thing, and the ones scoring 9 and less, are less important to me.
We can look at these lower parts of ourselves and rather than completely focusing on them, we can look at the positive side and try to bring that out to be the dominant side. We can mesh them together to achieve harmony in our lives.
We can look at the Esav side of ourselves, this animal energy we have, and if we can possibly put it into proper vessels, then we have harnessed the animal energy for holy purposes.
There’s a lot more to talk about on this topic, but that’s it for now.
The MMM theme for the week of Parsha Eikev is connection. Here’s a list of the things I want to share in my connection-themed MMM:
- The whole concept of connection or connecting, in Kabbalistic literature, is the juxtaposition of two Sephirotic aspects, one of which is always the source of all activation, movement and vitality. Everything is either a connection or a disconnection. Connections in Kabbalah are called “chasadim,” and disconnections are referred to as “gevurot.”
These are the universal activators of life, opposite of each other. Chasadim connect, and they are associated with water, and gevurot disconnect, and they are associated with fire. Many more parallel aspects exist, but I won’t deal with them right now.
- Another source of connection is the unification of the broken vessels of the world. Right now, we are in a 45-day period of time, from Tisha B’Av until the 25th of Elul, the day commemorating the creation of the world. Forty-five is the Kabbalistic code name for Tikkun, or rectification.
Connecting, then, is rectifying. And disconnecting is breaking, which is the opposite of rectifying.
- A Messianic consciousness source for connecting can be seen by understanding that a human being is a microcosm, created in the image of G-d. A microcosm is a brilliant mechanism of connection, and interconnection. Man as a microcosm, or a small world, is connected with the past, the present and the future. We are connected with all people in the world, all consciousnesses of the world, and with all aspects of life, if we know how to press the right buttons to connect.
- A Garden of Eden source for connecting comes from the Fall from the Garden. While the Fall created disconnection and duality, such as light and dark, life and death, anything and it’s opposite. The connecting aspect, the way we get back into the Garden, is by getting into the oneness. This is what will happen when we get into the Messianic period.
- A Cycle of Life source for connecting comes from time, which does not exist in a vacuum, but in brilliant interconnections. For example, the weekdays are connected with the Sabbath, which is connected with the next weekdays. Rosh Hashana, the New Year, is connected to the whole year, in fact there’s an intimate connection. Our lives are connected to the post life; it’s all going to be reflected in that way. Our present life is connected to our past life and our future life as well.
These are Cycle of Life connections. The more we connect them, the more we can tap into the healing potential of making connections, which is what it’s all about.
- A Bashert source for connecting is available in our relationships. Bashert means “meant for each other,” and it comes from historical connections we’ve had with each other, root soul connections. When we discover those connections and actualize them, then we can live in a win-win relationship, or a bliss-bliss relationship where we are completely receptive to each other.
You could say we complete each other, we are each other’s soulmate or soul sibling, and we turn the “me” into a “we.” That’s the greater possibility for connecting in relationships.
- A Me/Myself source for connecting is often called, “finding your calling.” We find our calling in life with what we most resonate with when we’re “in the zone.” Or, we find the most difficult thing in our lives and endeavor to take care of it. We can project how we will take care of it by finding our inner voice and by going down a path towards actualizing ourselves. That’s what we call, “connecting to myself.”
- A Faith in G-d source for connecting is when we have faith and trust in G-d, and when we see G-d’s hand at work 24/7, in everything we do in life. It’s available by connecting our will to G-d’s will, with our entire heart and soul and might.
On the occasion of the yartzeit of Rabbi Yitzchak Issac Luria, the Arizal, I want to talk about him because he was such an incredible human being. These are some things everybody needs to know, to understand what it’s possible for a human being to become in this world:
- The Ari was mean to be a spark of a part of the reincarnation of Moses, of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, and possibly Moshiach ben Yosef (of the two Messianic presences, ben David and ben Yosef.)
- The Ari had the ability to look at another person with x-ray eyes, so to speak, and to see into their soul. He could look at a person and understand everything about them, just by looking at them. By sensing their aroma, he knew their essence. He could look at their forehead and understand their sins, and look at their eyes and see their soul, and bring it out to speak to it.
- The Ari could go to a graveyard and look at the souls of the people buried there. He was able to select a name from the Kabbalistic books he studied and speak a name from among the Sages, and that person would appear before him and answer whatever the Ari asked.
- The Ari could look at birds and understand their language, and look at trees and understand their language. He certainly was able to understand the language of Torah and, in fact, was a genius at understanding all of Torah.
- The Ari could look beyond the surface of a person and see what’s underneath, which may reveal that another soul is also inhabiting that person’s body. Not only in an evil, scary way, but also in a holy way. A person from a previous generation came to help another person along in this life, as a mitzvah. He could look at a student and stand up for them, because he understood that, as a result of their actions, they had the assistance of a Sage from 2000 years ago.
- The Ari was able to see, in a learning session during the day, where all the doubts came from. He would seek out these doubts, like a warrior in battle would seek out the enemy. Whenever he found a doubt, something that was unclear in the world of Torah exploration which is mean to be sort of a grey area, meaning not black and white, the Ari would seek out the doubt to destroy it. And that’s how he became a person of incredible clarity. Whatever he said, he said with absolute authority, unlike some of his students who had a harder time, and weren’t always clear about what he said, how much he said and what he meant.
- The Ari could draw down any soul from any time period, past or present, and bring it into the room.
- The Ari went up and visited the upper yeshivas when he went to sleep each night. He was escorted by angels to protect him on the way into Heaven, and he participated in the yeshivas of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and Moses and any other Sages of his choice. He was welcomed with open arms.
- The Ari was able to come back and report what he learned. The accumulated wisdom, his entire body of knowledge communicated by the transcribers of his wisdom was collected from his age of 36 to 38. And that’s what he gave to the world, and it encompasses a body of knowledge which is huge. Every book of Torah you can find includes something from the Ari.
- The Ari was able to share just a fraction of all he actually knew, which became apparent when one of his students snuck into his room while the Ari was napping on a Shabbat afternoon, and he saw the Ari’s lips moving very fast. Afterwards, he was told that during the minute or two he saw the Ari moving his lips there was conveyed so much information through him that it would take 80 years to share with others.
- The Ari was simply a man of increbility, in every sense of the word… a man who knew the root soul of every person, where they were on their path, what they were supposed to be doing in the present and also in the future, and what they need to fix up in their lives.
- The Ari could take a soul out of a person and interview it, and find out where it’s going and where it needs to go.
- The Ari was incredibly humble. He never killed any living thing, although he could have done so at any moment.
- The Ari was speaking with angels at all times. And he understood the language of the body, physical features and facial features, their eyes, nose, mouth, ears and lines on their face. Doing so he could read the person’s reincarnations throughout their past lives.
- The Ari revealed to us methods and systems of Kabbalistic learning which answer the deepest questions ever asked by humans, all the paradoxes included. His account of the constriction of G-d’s presence and revelation in Creation, and his system of Sephirot are good examples. The Ari said he didn’t get anything of his own except what he gleaned from the Zohar of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, and which he put into a system for others to understand.
- The Ari answered some of the biggest dilemmas regarding reincarnation, why bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people… he understood all that.
Those are just a few points outlining a truly amazing person, who emanated this access to wisdom every single minute of his life. He was a shining example of the extraordinary. From the Ari, we see the possibility of what a human can do and can be. He came here to fix the world, and teach through his main student, Rabbi Chaim Vital, who was prepared to be the Moshiach, but it was not the time in his generation as they were not worthy, so it didn’t happen yet.
We still have more work to do, but in the Arizal we can see what a human being can actually become.
This is part seven of the Restoring the Jewish Glory series. I call this one, The Light At The End of The Tunnel People, or maybe The Tunnel-lighters. Here’s the concept – We are known as people who, no matter where you throw us, we’re going to come out ok, one way or another. We may be hurt, killed, tossed-around, wounded, but as a people we are going to survive. We’re going to come through. We’re going to find the light at the end of the tunnel.
We learned that truth from our 210 years in Egypt, which was only a model of our final exile. Our Sages say that just as we came out of Egypt, we will come out of the final exile and experience a redemption.
King David talks about it when he says that for every bit of suffering and torture we experience, we will have recompense for all of it. And, deep in our souls we know that everyone who is part of Israel has a part in the World To Come.
It may take a long time to get to the place to earn it, but there is the light at the end of the tunnel. As King David says in a verse that is universal, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil because you are with me, G-d.” Even in that valley of death, Gehennom, or wherever it happens to be, G-d is will us and He will pull us through.
We have a subconscious task or destiny which includes us, but it also includes G-d, who is in the exile along with us, so to speak. He’s in there with us, and He’s going to come out of the exile with us, too. That’s true in a larger sense, but also in a day-to-day sense in our personal lives.
Whenever we are hurting, we know that G-d is hurting, too. When we focus on that idea, we know it’s not just about my pain, but also about G-d’s pain, because G-d is suffering what I’m suffering. We know that G-d is eventually going to get out, and we’ll be there with Him.
We are in a period right now called The Three Weeks of The Narrow Straits, which is the same time period when the greatest cataclysms have occurred throughout history. Underneath that reality, we have a subconscious realization that these darkest of days hold the highest of lights. They hold the ability to get out of the darkness entirely, by bringing the Messianic Light directly into that place and time.
We are a nation of holy skeptics, which means we are more skeptical than gullible. We won’t buy into something immediately because we won’t settle for second-best. We know that there’s perfection waiting for us and we’re better than that. That’s why we’re skeptical in a holy way. It comes from the knowledge that there is holiness awaiting us, ultimately.
As a people, we know that the deeper we are found inside this tunnel, the deeper the darkness around us, every small step we take to extricate ourselves is equal to gigantic leaps and bounds in easier times. We are not afraid of where we are, because we know there is a pay-off, a compensation for it eventually.
We know that when we get the end of this exile, when we get to the redemption, we’ll be shown, just as the brothers of Joseph were shown, why everything had to happen as it did. When he said, “I am Joseph,” they could see how it all happened, how it came together like puzzle pieces and began to make sense.
G-d is going to tell us, “I am G-d,” and all the hidden puzzle pieces will come together for us, and we’ll see it was all preparation to get out of the tunnel. It will all come together and it will all make sense. We’re going to see it clearly, retroactively.
We are the children of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. For an example, Jacob is called, “the holy Jacob,” because he planted inside us this survival skill. We have the ability to go into the deepest, darkest, most deceptive places and come out shining. After 20 years Jacob came out of the house of his father-in-law, Lavan, the most deceptive man in the world, and he came out shining, he came out whole.
He came out holy, which is when a person goes into an anti-holy place and comes out having maintained his own holiness and having planted holiness in that anti-holy place. That’s the ultimate light at the end of the tunnel. It’s where you lit up the whole tunnel
Napoleon, during these same three weeks, 100 years ago, saw a bunch of Jews sitting on the ground and mourning the loss of the Holy Temple. He actually came into Israel, sometime in the 1800s, and he saw this happening. He asked someone, “How long ago did the event they are mourning happen?” And he got the answer, “About 1800 years ago.” Napoleon was astonished, saying, “1800 years ago? If that’s true and they are still not satisfied, but they still have hope, then I guarantee this people will have its Temple again one day.“
Those grieving Jews understood there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how long that tunnel is. And that’s our legacy, too. We are the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel people. And no matter what situations we are tossed into, we live our lives with the knowledge that there’s going to be a light at the end.
This will be number six in our series, Restoring The Jewish Glory. My subject is this – our legacy in history is as “raisers of Holy Sparks,” because that’s what we are as a people.
As a background understanding, what does it mean to “raise up Holy Sparks”?
Kabbalah explains that there was a breakdown, a cosmic breakage of reality, which means there was too much Light, and not enough vessel to receive that Light. So, the vessels of reality were shattered. And now we have a scattered collection of vessels, each with a little bit of Light. This is what we call “sparks,’ hidden inside of reality.
This shattering process happened over and over, during the fall of Adam and cataclysms, holocausts and other situations, personal and collective. But, that’s the basic process. And it means that reality is sort of set up in a way that’s not fixed. Instead, it’s all in a broken condition.
That’s why we need somebody who knows how to fix up, or automatically, organically knows how to find the Divine hiding inside the secular, of what seems to be “non-Divine.” The purpose is to raise up the hidden sparks by identifying the Divine and raising up reality to a Divine level, which is where it was originally.
We have this legacy, as a people, to trace it back on a collective level. When Adam fell from the Garden of Eden when he ingested the knowledge of Good and Evil he mixed good souls and bad souls, good energy and bad energy, into all of reality.
You can look into Adam, into the map of the world, like a map of the world showing population density, both now and throughout history, and you can say, “The fall out of the arms or the legs is in North and South America, for example…” Or the fall out of this is in this part of Europe or this part of Asia perhaps.
With the right glasses you can see the fall out of Adam, with an admixture of good and bad, and how it ended up in all these different nations. And our legacy, we who are the Jewish sparks-raisers, is exile. We are exiled throughout history, to the right time and the right place, according to what our personalities are like and the need of the particular country in need of raising sparks at that time.
So, American Jews are thrown out into the exile of America and European Jews into the exile of Europe, all of us in the right place at the right time. We sent out by force into exile, to raise up those sparks that are the most in sync with who we are in our time in history. That’s the cosmic picture, and that’s who we are – cosmic, historical sparks-raisers.
We do it by just being Jews, basically. We don’t have to go anywhere and do hocus-pocus and abracadabra just to raise sparks. We don’t know how to do that because there is no such thing. We accomplish that by simply being ourselves, by being who we should be, if we are choosing to be who we should be. If we are holding to our tradition and we’re connected to G-d and to Torah and to Judaism then we’re going to raise the sparks. And we’re going to bring the potential converts who are not necessarily in their place back to their place, because we happen to be there to arouse them and awaken them.
This is what we do. It’s our historical legacy, our job. Our mission lasts until Moshiach comes and all the sparks will be raised up. That’s the cosmic, the big picture of what we do as sparks-raisers.
The technique or technical “how-to” of it is that every day every person experiences lack. We all lack things, and when we encounter our lack, whether it’s through learning, or relationships, eating, sleeping, walking, talking or anything else we may do, we discover what is driving us. We find out what we want and what we need, and we know we’re resonating with those particular things because they are sparks. When we engage these things we resonate with, the things we lack, and when we do it in a holy and proper way we raise up those sparks.
That’s how we do it. You might way that we are human vacuum cleaners, pulling up the dust and the dirt from all over the place and making everything clean again. We are sent into the world for this purpose, exactly this purpose.
The super-stars of this process were our forefathers. They came with their “days, “ as they said at the end of their life story. Every single day they raised up sparks, and in every encounter in lie they were raising up sparks. Our Patriarchs are Matriarchs are showing us the way, how to do that.
There is nothing that is perchance, or coincidental. We are placed in certain situations individually as well as nationally, because G-d has providentially put us there to raise up that which has fallen. This reality fills us up as well.
Back to the collective idea… As long as we’re in a country of exile and as long as we still have work to do, we’re going to be in that country. Usually, we may find ourselves as leaders in our country. The politicians, the scientists, academicians and financiers are the people who are making that country work.
Once the sparks are all lifted up, the non-Jews will kick us out of the country, in either a nice way or another way, not so nice. Basically, there’s nothing more for us to accomplish over there because the sparks are all lifted up. That’s what’s happening in our time, right now. We are experiencing this incredible influx of exiles from all over the world, because there is no more restoration of sparks needed where they had been living.
We’re in the middle of the influx here in Israel right now. We’re watching the miracle unfold every single day of our lives!
So, that’s our legacy. That’s what we do on an individual and collective basis from the various places of exile where we’ve been sent, and depending on our personalities, who we are.
If you bring all of that into this particular 3-week period we are in right now, called The Narrow Straights, where an uncanny collection of cataclysms have happened to us throughout time, sparks-raiser Jews need to remember, “the higher they climb, the harder they fall.” In other words, the harder and darker things may appear, the greater is the Light underneath.
The Messianic Lights are right beneath this period of time right now. The biggest, the greatest sparks in the dimension of time, not just space, are found right now. This is when and where we really have to shine. We really have to chase after the sparks, as the verse in Jeremiah says, “All those who chase after her will catch her in the Narrow Straights.” It’s referring to our trials during this time of the year. But it also means that everyone who chases after G-d during this period will find G-d.
If you chase after those sparks you couldn’t find the rest of the year, you will find them now. The danger and the opportunity is incredibly great right now. But, that’s our legacy as sparks-raisers.
What I’m going to talk about now is The Ladder, bridging heaven to earth.
“… And a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached up to heaven.” Genesis 28:12
Based on this quote you can find a lot of different interpretations of what “the ladder” means. With regard to our topic, it’s a description of our people returning to our glory as “ladder people,” or people who bridge the spiritual with the physical, people who bridge heaven to earth.
The glory of the Jewish people is restored by virtue of the fact that we have a special connection between our souls (heaven) and our bodies (earth). The way that we bridge those two is the message we have to give to the world.
So, I want to explore three small but significant dimensions in that bridging of the spiritual with the physical.
The first dimension is how we bridge the infinite to the finite. Here are a few examples of Soul Bridges:
- Bridging the creation process, which established the fact that G-d is hidden, and his presence is constricted. This gives us greater and greater revelation in all aspects of life.
- Bridging normal, daily actions we perform (mitzvoth) to the Divine Will. This brings the infinite into the finite as well.
- Bridging a mystical outlook, one that defines thought as having a connection to the infinite, because our souls are plugged-into our thoughts. Our thoughts are connected to our source.
- Bridging our will to G-d’s will, which is infinitizing our will, basically.
- Bridging all processes and all structures to a template called the Ten Sephirot. This means we categorize all processes and structures in terms of a Divine-based model.
- Bridging that which is broken to an infinite rectification, an infinite-based tikkun. That’s our job, our Tikkun Olam.
- Bridging our core desires to the main, core desire of all core desires, which is to return to Hashem, to return to the infinite womb, so to speak.
- Bridging the time after the fall from the Garden of Eden, back to the pre-fall period. This puts us in a pristine state of being where we can go back to the Garden, to the infinite value of what the Garden really is, which is not the tree of knowledge, but the tree of life.
The second dimension is more about expansion. We need to understand that what characterizes spirituality in mystical Judaism is the ability to see things that are partial as being part of something whole. Here are a few examples:
- We can look at things that may grow old, or tiring or boring and we can bridge them to a type of experience which never grows old. It is our legacy to bridge this way.
- We can bridge a narrow mindset to an ever-expanding mindset of ideas. That’s another type of bridging something partial to something whole.
- We can bridge many seemingly unconnected ideas into a whole unit, where each idea is inter-included with every other idea. This is another type of bridging of body and soul we are obliged to accomplish in this world, too.
- We can take a situation of constriction and tap into it to harness expansion. That’s another type of bridging.
- We can take something about which we are unclear and with which we have a lot of doubt and we can experience the power of no choice, which is a transcendent power. That’s another way we can bridge.
- We can walk through life in a haphazard way and we can figure out what our mission and calling in life may be. That expands our possibilities as well.
- We can take any situation of not knowing and we can get answers, just by asking G-d. That is another type of expansion of knowledge.
- We can take a situation of partialness, whatever it might be, and take that partialness to join all the puzzle pieces together, into a situation of wholeness. That’s another example.
- We can take our own actions in the world, when we’re motivated in a general way, and become motivated with laser-like precision with what we have to contribute. That’s how we can personally expand the world.
- We can take a situation of restricted consciousness and expand it through our connection. That is something we can all do.
Finally, the third and last dimension is about going back to the mystery, going back into the “not knowing,” or the Ayin, which is where miracles can happen. We can bridge ourselves to totally transform reality. Here are a few examples:
- Knowing there is nothing in this world but G-d. If we can reframe all the causes and effects from being natural to being supernatural, where there is nothing else but G-d, that’s when we are bridging ourselves to the mystery and changing the reality.
- Knowing we can change our ratzon, our will, to G-d’s will, what G-d wants, when we can make those connect, that’s when we step into the miraculous as well.
- Knowing we can take our faculties, our senses, and fuse them with G-d’s senses… “G-d is seeing through me, hearing through me, etc.” that’s when we take it up to a miraculous level as well.
- Knowing we can take our power of free choice and say, “I have no choice but to do what G-d does,” that’s when we become sort of human angels.
- Knowing we can take our incapacity, our vulnerability, our helplessness, and we say, “I cannot do this, but G-d CAN do this through me…” that’s when we take our lack straight into the miraculous.
- Knowing we can do things that are invisible to the world, in doing so, we bring blessing to those things. Blessing is where the eye does not rest.
- Knowing we can do things not because it’s good for us or it’s not good for us, but from a place of equanimity, that’s when we step into the miracle.
- Knowing we can use our senses in another way besides directly, physically, such as seeing, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling, which is when we can plug into the deeper spiritual senses, and that’s when we tap into the miraculous and bridge that which is physical to that which is spiritual.
I’m calling this post The Healing of The Chosen Nation, and beginning with two quotes:
כִּי-קָרוֹב אֵלֶיךָ הַדָּבָר, מְאֹד: בְּפִיךָ וּבִלְבָבְךָ, לַעֲשֹׂתוֹ.
But the word is very close to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, so that you may do it. Dvarim 30:14
I will take you from among the nations and gather you out of all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle on you clean water… I will give you a new heart, and I will place in you a new spirit; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and will give you a heart of flesh… I will put my spirit within you… and you will be my people, and I will be your G-d. Ezekiel 36:24-29
What comes up here is that G-d is going to heal us, because in order to be the chosen people we need healing. Part of the healing we need is the healing of believing in ourselves.
We have a very strong destiny and task at hand. It may even be too strong… It’s cosmic and world-changing task we have to live up to, and we have no choice about it. We have to live up to it, one way or another.
We are on a threshold of history right now, so we need to look inside ourselves to see if we’re up to the task. Part of preparing for it, for being up to our assigned task, is to be healed by G-d and to be ready for it.
There are three types of healing I want to talk about, and the first one is Being Beloved, which means feeling how much Hashem loves us. We have to feel that we are something special. We have to feel that we deserve to be something special. We have to feel like we know what our specialness is all about.
And even if we don’t know, we believe that it will be revealed to us, and that it’s real. We have spent so much of our history trying to be more American than Americans, and more British than the Brits, rather than being more Jewish. We don’t seem to understand how we can be completely Jewish.
We’re like a neglected child that never got the basic foundations needed to build up healthy self-esteem. So, that’s the first thing, feeling the love of who we are, inside and outside.
THE HEALING MEDITATION
Experience yourself as being a proud member of the most special family\nation that has ever existed… experience yourself as being very beloved in the eyes of Hashem now, in your own eyes and ultimately in the eyes of the world… Feel Hashem’s deep, deep love for you—so deep that we are referred-to as His daughter, his sister, his mother, so deep that He reveals Himself to you in all situations –even when we are stuck in the deepest lows… feel the presence of the guardian Angels that Hashem sends to watch over us—every step that we take. Be aware that the whole world was created solely for your sake… know that we are compared to a dove, that though they may fly away—they always come back to their mate—so too, that describes us with Hashem and Hashem with us… we are refereed-to as his Holy ones, his Chosen ones, his Priestly ones, his lights to the world, his righteous ones … in light of all of this love, realize that the when we are targets of hate, it comes from jealousy, and the love and high esteem with which we are regarded from Above will serve as the springboards of our recuperation and our incumbent reclaiming of the unique global standing which is our birthright.
The second type of healing is this – Healing Our Character.
There are several points to make on this:
We have a hard time believing in ourselves. We are not aware of our strengths, and we are brain-washed into believing vicious lies about being lustful money-grabbers.
We are divisive, and have a very difficult time uniting under one leader or one banner.
We are great actors and imitators of other peoples, in the many exiles into which we have been cast. We think we don’t have our own character in depth, so we reach out to grab the cultures and belief systems of other peoples, other cultures and faiths that have, ironically, received their traditions from our own.
THE HEALING MEDITATION
Experience yourself as being a proud member of the most special family\nation that has ever existed.
Know that we are the nation that has done more than all others to give the world values and a conscience (derived from our Holy Torah). Know that you are part of a nation that bears both sides of a paradox and comes through shining. Know that you are part of a people of deep and rich character, and despite this character and greatness, the more that we have, the more that we make ourselves small, usually attributing it all to Hashem
Experience your unique trait of being a holy skeptic, knowing that there is always something bigger and better than what is being offered. Know that you have an inherent brilliance both intellectually and emotionally. Know that we are compared to olive oil and therefore don’t mix with other nations, but rather rise to the top. Know that though we are compared with the sands of the sea, and when we fall, we fall all the way, but at the same time we are compared to the stars in the sky, and we rise, we rise all the way to the top.
Experience being similar to the palm tree—a tree that is useful in all of its aspects—so too are we. Experience being like the lily of the field which blooms despite being burnt by the sun. Know that when all is said and done, the nations of the world will seek to imitate and emulate us and not vice versa.
And finally, the third type of healing is Being Intimately Connected To G-d.
Here’s the challenge we have with this healing – we are a broken people, broken by thousands of years of being tossed around, in exiles and sufferings, and we have a hard time seeing the full picture, the inter-connectedness of it all. A broken people has a hard time believing that G-d is the leader, the healer, the guide and THE ANSWER.
A broken nation, thinking it has nothing of its own, nothing valuable, clutches at straws. We embrace cults and worship idols, fake ideologies and power positions and obsessions and schemes. We tend to go after everything, except that which exists in our own backyard.
THE HEALING MEDITATION
Experience yourself as being a proud member of the most special family\nation that has ever existed. Know that you are a monotheist—you gave this idea to the world, you have inborn faith—you are a believer, the child of believers… you are a Y-E-H-U-D-I, a person whose essence is G-dliness.
You are a part of a people who bridge Heaven to Earth in every detailed aspect of life. You are a person who is constantly seeking to unify everything and to see everything brought to perfection, rooted in our people’s drive towards an ideal, globally-unified messianic vision. You are an inheritor of Tefilla and Torah –a constant dialogue to and from Hashem.
You are a witness to the world of Hashem’s existence, your deepest will is at one with Hashem’s will. You are a soul that is a part of Hashem, and therefore beyond space and time and all other limitations. You are G-d’s mouthpiece to the world when you are connected to Hashem, you are indestructible and impervious to all harm. You are an inheritor of eternity and infinity, and the great liberation that these grant to you. You are one with Hashem and one with the Torah, so step up and shake off the dust of the apparent exile that you are dwelling in, and that dwells inside of you. Lift up your hands to the Heavens and reclaim your glorious heritage!