Kabbalistic Healing Tools

Weekly MMM – Tikkun During the 3 Weeks

This week’s MMM is sort of a continuation of last week’s theme. It, too, is about healing, but it’s a specific type of healing called Tikkun, or rectification, healing of the broken vessels.

Healing broken vessels is really healing broken people, and we all fall into the same category.

It’s a timely choice of topic, because this past Sunday was a long fast day, and the beginning of a three-week period during which the worst cataclysms in Jewish history occurred in the past. It’s a time designated for breakdown and breakage, more than usual, during the rest of the year.

This three-week period has that kind of energy, even in the climate. The days are the longest and hottest, which represents, in human terms, an overabundance. It represents our inability to take in so much input that’s coming into our lives. That inability leads to dire circumstances.

The Kabbalistic story of the breaking of the vessels, in its simple version, is this – the vessels were immature and the light was overwhelming. The light broke the vessels on different levels, depending on the level of maturity.

The rest of history is all about fixing up what’s broken, fixing the broken pieces. That repair can happen in various ways, but the basic idea is this – there has to be a harmony, a synchronization between the cosmic receiver and the cosmic giver. The giving must be matched-up with what is able to be received. If the giving and receiving isn’t matched up, things break down.

In more human terms, for us to be proper vessels and to receive the lights in the proper proportions, we have to participate in teamwork. That teamwork involves other people who can do what we cannot do alone, and it also describes what happens inside each of us when we “team up” all our different talents, characteristics and powers we have inside us.

So, one of the ways to hold a lot of light is teamwork.

Another way to avoid the breakdown is to have selflessness. The more ego or selfishness we have the more fragile we become, the more vulnerable we become and subject to becoming broken.

The rectification, to receive the light, is to become very, very selfless and humble. Also in our lives, we have to be able to see that what we receive is not only just for us, but it’s meant to be channeled into everything related to us. We live in interdependent worlds. Even within ourselves, what we receive has a parallel world which is shared by our body and integrated into it.

So, too, our mind will have a resulting, parallel effect. The body and the mind have the effect, and so, too, will the soul. When our soul has the effect, so, too, will the other souls in our environment, and eventually we affect the whole world.

It’s not only teamwork, but we’re in a world that’s microcosmic and macrocosmic, where everything is connected to everything else.  And to that extent, there is Tikkun. To the extent things are disconnected, to that same extent there is breakdown.

The Messianic world will be the ultimate connection. That’s where everything will be connected, and what we consider “parts” will become whole. We are moving in this direction now.

To be connected, a person needs to have compassion for others, to identify their own need for others, and the ability to relate to others in the proper way. The coming of Messiah is dependent upon our interconnectedness with each other.

We are in a world of Tikkun, which means that even though we are free-will beings, and we decide what gets fixed-up, we still have to realize that G-d is doing it for us, through us and to us, in his own way. Everything is getting better and everything is moving towards Tikkun.

But we cannot jump out of the hierarchal world of Tikkun into everybody-is-equal-and-everybody-is-the-same, and everybody is independent, which will be the reality in the future world (which we saw in Parsha Korach lately) but we will ultimately be in that kind of world, when everything is repaired.

In this fixing, we need to see that we are lacking something and we all have something that others do not have. To become whole, we have to give to each other. This is how we build up the vessels of interdependence and connection and love. That’s how we can see the abundance that’s coming our way.

Weekly MMM – Looking at the World Through the Sephirot

This has to do with do with looking at the world through a Kabbalist’s eyes. It focuses on the Sephirot, so I call it Looking at the World Through the Sephirot.  And there’s a lot to say on that topic.

It starts with understanding the essence of what the Sephirot are all about, which is a bridge between G-d’s articulation and our human articulation of the world. When we look at the world through the Sephirot we are looking through G-d’s eyes with a Divine interpretation.

We see the essence of things. It’s like we put on “essence glasses,” and we can see things differently when we re-frame processes and structures as Sephirot.

We move nouns into verbs. We take structures and watch the Sephirot turn them into processes. So, that’s what makes this have a process focus.

When we see the world through Sephirot, we are also able to see how things interact with each other Sephirotically. By definition, the Sephirot are all about harmony and interconnections.

Once we understand the whole Sephirotic structure, you understand how one thing can exist in a vacuum by itself, but also it exists in conjunction with other Sephirot.

According to the Arizal’s understanding, the Sephirot are not only individual entities, but they are always a part of the whole.

A professional basketball player, or football or any sport, if you interview one player you’ll hear that person say, “I did it for the team. I don’t do it for my own glory,” whether it’s true or not. But that’s the way it works, and that’s the way Sephirot work.

You look at each of them to see how they match up with all the other Sephirot, and it’s why they are also holographic. Each part has all the other parts within it.

 

Looking into a person, we are also holographic. We have a micro-cosmic view of everything outside of us on the inside of us.

 

When a Sephirotic master looks at the world, it’s like a physicist who understands that the source of matter is energy. Sephirotically, we understand that the source of matter is Divine energy.

 

Sephirotic consciousness is something that, as we become more fluent in our description of it, and as we translate everything we see and hear into a Sephirotic template, the more we have the ability to have a conversation with everybody and anybody.

 

Their occupation doesn’t matter, nor their interests or problems. I have a Sephirotic template bridging me from the world to the G-dly world. And with that Sephirotic template, I can connect with anyone.

 

We also have to understand that Sephirot are not fixed and frozen. It’s not that kind of situation. Instead, it is a live world, full of experience, like a person.

 

Therefore, when I look at the Sephirot in the proper way, it’s like the difference between looking at music scored on a piece of paper and hearing that same music, or playing that music. That’s the Sephirot also. It’s not a frozen photograph or portrait.

The Sephirot are alive, more so than we are. If you understand that there’s an experiential aspect of the Sephirot you’ll put on your Sephirotic Glasses and see them as a rich expression of what life has to offer.

Also, if you understand the Sephirot, you’re interested in the language of Kabbalah, which is spoken in the Holy Zohar and in everything, really. They always translate non-Kabbalistic teachings into Kabbalistic teachings by means of the language called The Sephirot.

Once we understand all of that, we have incredible power to heal, to bring things that are out of alignment back into alignment and to help people see their dreams come true with the Master Template of how the world works.

It brings life, and color and music to what might otherwise be a very drab existence.

 

Weekly MMM – Get Yourself Free on Pesach

This week’s MMM is about Pesach, and I’m calling it Get Yourself Free. It’s about making the most of the holiday. I’ll start with some of the basics, what happened at the time of the first Pesach, the practices of Seder night, and then move into the mindset about how to achieve freedom.

From the perspective of Kabbalah, Pesach is based on a 130-year time period when Adam, separated from his wife, spilled seed. Adam was the composite of all humanity, and the seed was incarnated into complete generations, and ultimately made it into the generation of the slaves, Bnei Israel. They went into Egypt and were enslaved for 210 years, which served to rectify the seed spilled by Adam, with a lot of purging and suffering involved.

Their story reveals a slave mentality for 209 years, and people sunk into a lot of tumah, the 49 gates of evil. Then, G-d planted in them a desire to get out of their situation, because people in such a dark place usually don’t know there’s a way out.

Their desire for freedom expressed itself with primal screams, and non-verbal articulations asking for help. G-d told Moses, “I heard their screams,” although he had instigated their circumstances, he also heard their cries. Then G-d told Moses to speak to Pharoah and say, “Let my people go.”

Moses deliberated long and hard about whether he was worthy to be the messenger, but in the end, he did it. And what followed was about a year’s worth of open miracles, which the world has not seen since then, and probably won’t see until the Messianic times. It will be sort of an emulation of the coming-out-of-Egypt process once again.

The Pesach miracles were all about revealing G-d’s presence in the world, and in a people who really didn’t understand G-d’s presence for what it is, who weren’t deserving of it or ready for it. But G-d wanted it to happen at this particular time, because it was rock-bottom, so to speak. And G-d has a timetable for bringing in salvation.

The seed of a plant, decomposing in the ground, must deteriorate to a certain point in order to grow, but can’t go too far or it won’t sprout, grow and blossom at all. So, too, with the Israelites. They had to get to a certain point of slave mentality, and then they had to be brought out in above-nature, miraculous ways.

Miracles of the 10 plagues and miracles of crossing the Red Sea are miracles “on the ground,” but there were also miracles of the spirit. Those spiritual miracles involved people raised up into expanded levels of consciousness, having and extraordinary, inside perspective, which went far beyond all their preparations. They received pure gifts from above.

In a nutshell, that’s what happened. The Israelites got themselves free, and they got out just in time. Not all of them got out, in fact, most of them did not get out. Some got out, and that became the Bible story.  We know from the study of Kabbalah that the Bible stories are just the bare bones of what happened, a remnant of the real lesson we’re supposed to apply to our lives.

On Seder night, we get together and talk about the historical story of what happened on the first Pesach, but also to get a sense of our own journey coming out of slavery into freedom, on our own lives.

We go through it, and we set our table with signs of both freedom and slavery, matzah and maror, the yetzir ha tov and the yetzir ha ra, expanded and restricted consciousness. We retell the story, year after year, and we speak our way into consciousness.

Our Sages say that the more one talks about it, the more praise-worthy it is. The very words we say are down-loading belief in G-d into our souls, especially on Seder night, but also at all times. It’s a very special, very elevated night. And the discussion around the Seder table is not just for the highest intellects, it’s for everyone in the family.

It’s a family affair, and the family has to go through the normal channels of father to son, mother to daughter, etc. The home is one of the most sanctified places for the Jewish people, and the Seder is one of the most sanctified ceremonies we have in our home. It’s not done in the synagogue, and it wasn’t done in the Holy Temple, although people came there for the days of Pesach, but the Seder is conducted at home.

Home is where the heart is, where the faith is, and it’s where G-d is, so that’s the foundation. That’s where we drink the cups of wine and eat the matzah of freedom, and we tell the story of freedom. Basically, we are downloading freedom into our souls. Pesach is the holiday of freedom.  That’s the essence of the holiday – to get ourselves free.

According to Jewish teachings, Pesach is not the only time we are to speak about freedom. We’re supposed to do it twice a day, every day, with special mentions on other holidays and on Shabbat. This is such a basic thing a human being is supposed to do, to break free of those things that are holding us down.

That’s what this world is all about. So, I put together some original tools I use to get myself free:

  1. I give it over to G-d. Whatever I can’t do for myself, I say, “G-d, please do this for me.”
  2. I choose to want what I do have, instead of what I don’t have. I embrace what I do have.
  3. I detach myself from things involving the senses, seeing, tasting, touching. I close off some of those senses to free up my spiritual senses.
  4. I keep a conversation going with G-d at all times. Ask G-d questions and receive the answers. Ask G-d for favors and receive the favors, the gifts. Open yourself up to the gifts. Be an active, best friend kind of partner with G-d, and watch how reality develops for you.
  5. I see Torah as G-d’s word, filtered down so we can grasp it, and the more we connect with it the more we become free.
  6. I expect to have active faith in G-d, bitachon, trust in G-d to come through for me. The more I have it, the more free I become, because I’m not afraid of the consequences. Even when it seems there’s no way through, I trust G-d and expect to make my way through.
  7. I often choose to give up the struggle, to Let Go and Let G-d. When it’s all said and done, it’s G-d who is getting things done, even through my decisions, choices, innovations and motivations. But G-d is the one who is planting those things inside of me. So, where I let go of the struggle and let G-d come through, that’s when I become the most free that I can be.

Coping Tools of The Patriarchs

patriarchs

I’m giving over a list of the coping tools…. Coping with difficulty, exile, confusion, darkness, mundaneness in life… These are tools that our Patriarchs and Matriarchs gave to us. I think it’s exactly the right time to do this now, before we finish off the first of the five books of Moses which is all about the Patriarchs, and get into the second book which is all about exile.

We need to learn coping tools from the Patriarchs to cope with the long, dark night of our own exile, which we have been experiencing for ‘way too long now.

Without going into the sources, to save time right now, I’m just going to get straight into our forefathers’ coping tools:

  • First of all, go inside yourself before you give over to other people. Find out the essence of who YOU are.
  • Detach from all the definitions of who you were beforehand when you were setting out on a new mission in life.
  • Let go and Let G-d. He will take you there. You don’t have to worry about a thing. Watch how G-d is guiding your every step of the way.
  • Be a person who is looking out for his own posterity, who is taking the trouble now to help his posterity now and in the future as well.
  • If necessary, be a person who opposes everybody in the world. You stand on one side and everybody else stands on the other side, for the sake of doing the right thing.
  • Be a radical monotheist. Understand that there are no secondhand powers in life, that it’s just G-d. Try to life that reality as much as possible.
  • Live everyday as though everything coming to you now will never be lost, and it’s all extremely important, down to the last drop.
  • We have trials in life which are either testing or connection to G-d, or they are testing our natural inclinations to see how strongly we are grounded in it. So, hang in there.
  • There is a mirror effect in life, and to the extent we live extraordinary lives G-d will guide us in extraordinary ways.
  • Take counsel with G-d. When you’re in doubt, ask, “What does G-d have to say about this?”
  • We have connections with all of our children, but we need to recognize when one particular child is more connected, and we should not show favoritism, but we should pay attention to how we can take advantage of having this child perpetuate the ability to live in an above-nature way.
  • Be a person who is here to fix-up the world, and more specifically the fallout effects of Adam and Eve.
  • Understand the incredible wellsprings are at our fingertips at all times. We just need to dig to uncover them.
  • Holiness occurs when we go into the mundane and we find G-dliness, we reveal G-dliness where G-dliness is normally not found.
  • We need to get to the level of habitual living, to the point where our feet take us where we need to go in life, without even having to think about it.
  • We need to know how to cope with the particular exile we’re found in, and know it’s there for a reason, and study it and know how to respond to it.
  • When we have something that is extremely important we need to be able to share it, to help others who need it as well.
  • We need to separate ourselves out from the darker parts of ourselves, to reveal them, put them in their proper place and to be able to live a life without being enslaved to those darker parts.
  • To the extent that we are in connection, to that extent we are free from all negativity.
  • The future is right now, not only in the future, but it’s right now. When we live in future consciousness, we’re living in higher, expanded consciousness.
  • We need to know that sometimes we are higher and sometimes we are lower consciousness. We have to develop the tools and the wisdom to know how to live in both in a healthy way.
  • We may be a firey personality, but we have to hook-up with a child or a student or somebody else who can take our firey personality into a full-blown flame and blow away the opposition,
  • I need to know I’m a person with the ability to draw down endless abundance, depending upon whether I have a good eye, whether I’m unselfish, whether I see the abundance is coming from G-d, whether I trust it and don’t chase after lower things to get it. When I do those things I bring down abundance for myself and for other people.
  • I need to live with humility, with prayer and with gratitude for everything and everybody who has helped me.
  • I need to know that wherever I am, in whatever situation G-d is there with me, he’ll be there with me and he’ll bring me out of the situation, too.
  • We need to know how to transcend death. The forefathers teach us it’s possible, and it’s the lesson we need to learn in life.
  • We need to receive and give blessings that are so powerful and so appropriate to the people who receive them that the blessings will last a lifetime.
  • That which is the most important coping mechanism of very, very different types of people, and is the unified factor, is to know that G-d is with us all.
  • Even though we fall into the lowest of places from there we fall into the highest of places.

And that’s it from the Patriarchs.

 

The Experience of The Ladder of Souls – Experience of the Enlightened Ones – Rav Kook

Ladder

Experiences of the Enlightened Ones  – based on the ‘Lights of Holiness’ by Rav R.A. Kook ztz’l

Rav Kook taught us in a very articulate and elegant manner–what the experience of enlightenment is all about…..here, in my own humble language is a taste….

Experience the following Soul-stirrings and drives that are felt by those who are well on the their way towards achieving levels of perfection and expanded consciousness and enlightenment;

a…the inner Soul drive to know yourself and to react properly to your inner summons

b…the inner Soul drive to become so clear and enlightened, that you know that a similar awakening of the masses is sure to follow

c…the inner drive to purify and intensify all of your intentions , until you see that most all of your intentions manifest in reality

d…the inner awakening and knowledge that the true experience of enlightenment is not something that you anticipate to experience in the future, but rather something that you constantly are immersed in now

e…the inner awareness that your unique essential self or Soul spark must be completely free to express itself with maximum originality and authenticity

f…the inner drive to liberate your unique ability to create without any interference

g…the inner wisdom to distinguish when to detach yourself from others , in order to strive for deeper enlightenment—–and when to get involved with others–those who need you, though they be on a much lower spiritual level than you are

h…the inner drive to be in a constant state of amazement and celebration of all of the Divine wonder that emanates at all times

i…the inner consciousness of knowing that all there is, is in a state of continual becoming

j…the inner concern for the well-being of the whole Universe and everyone in it and everyone that you personally encounter

This this second part is given to commemorate Rav Kook’s 81st yartzeit. He was an enlightened man, and what I’d like to get across is the brilliance and inner understanding of his enlightenment, and what it’s all about.

So, in my own words I’m paraphrasing what Rabbi Kook got across, the experience of a real Soul Man and what a Soul Person is all about. It’s about the enlightenment of being connected to the soul as a Soul Person.

  1. The Soul Person has a link to G-d, with all his will, mind and emotion.
  2. The Soul Person has a knowing that all his interdependence, all his significance, all his limitlessness comes from his link with G-d.
  3. The Soul Person is a channel for light and life, for everyone.
  4. The Soul Person is in a state of Always-ness. In other words, he’s always in an expanded state of mind, always coming from his soul, always creating. There’s no such thing as, “waiting to get some inspiration,” because it’s always happening, 24/7.
  5. The Soul Person’s spark must be absolutely free. His personality must be free and original and expressed and pure and authentic in order for him to receive it and express it.
  6. The Soul Person must create works of imagination and thought, which are free from any kind of limitation or confinement.
  7. The Soul Person’s creativity is not his alone, but only a transfer, channeled through him.
  8. The Soul Person is always experiencing the richness of existence.
  9. The Soul Person is always desiring or aspiring with love, for the good of the entire universe.
  10. The Soul Person sees the world as constantly “becoming.”
  11. The Soul Person knows that the greater the person is, the more he or she must be alone to discover himself or herself.
  12. The Soul Person longs to be good and compassionate to everybody.
  13. The Soul Person does not hate anybody or anything, because everything manifests G-d’s grandeur.
  14. The Soul Person knows that the place of peace is in G-d, and in G-d only.

The Experience of the Ladder of Souls – Part 2

Ladder

There’s no way I could complete the topic of the soul last week, so now I’ll talk a bit more about what the soul is, but also what it feels like, experientially.

Let’s start with some definitive understanding:

  • One of our sources tells us that our soul is part of the Divine, above. That may be a quote from Job, I’ll have to check that out. But the idea is this – our soul is Divine, although this seems like a contradiction in terms because the Divine is infinite, and there’s no such thing as a “part” of the infinite. I don’t have an answer about how to deal with that discrepancy, but our souls are partly inside of us and partly outside of us, making us part Divine and part human.

Our soul is a part of the Divine, so that gives us a big hint as to what our soul is all about. Its natural home is in the Divine realm. Everything that we can do to connect with the Divine will connect with our soul.

  • The soul can be measured and expressed according to different criteria:
  1. According to soul-type teachings, the esoteric, Kabbalistic teachings. The more it grasps those, the higher the level of soul.
  2. The soul can be expressed and rectified by the way that we express holy words, such as prayers, studies and devotions. That expression is an expression of our soul.
  3. The soul can be identified and realized by taking note of the smoothness level of different aspects of our life, relationships, events we go through, our personal drives, words of Torah and mitzvoth that we express. To the extent that they are smooth, the soul being expressed is rectified.
  4. The soul can be measured by the clarity of way we can view the four letters of the Divine Name in our mind’s eye. That’s a meditation of the Arizal, and there’s an entire analysis that can be done by picturing the four letters of the Divine Name, the Yud and the Hei and the Vav and the Hei. According to the brightness, clarity, size, animation, aliveness, etc., that’s a reflection of the level of a person’s soul, determined by what they see.
  5. The soul can be identified and perfected according to the drives and the values we naturally have. That’s a mirror reflection of what our soul is.
  6. The soul can be measured and perfected by the level of concrete or abstract articulation. The more abstract and multi-meaning concepts we give expression to in our lives, usually the higher kind of soul we have.
  7. The soul can be measured by the degree of G-dliness that invades our lives, and if we’re driven all the time towards it our soul is at a higher level.
  8. The soul can be measured by the degree of self-actualization. The more we do what we’re here for in this world, the more we are soul-ing, to turn that word soul into a verb.
  9. The soul can be measured and realized to the extent that we can relate to others, or that we have others inside ourselves. The greatest example of that is Moses, who had everybody inside himself, and could relate to and counsel everybody, not only in his own time, but for all generations to come as well.
  10. The soul can be measured according to the level that we prepare our post-life in this life. If we’re truly concerned, if we’re truly “soul people,” we will be prepared for what’s coming afterwards. The soul can be measured and realized by the way and to the extent that we are primarily motivated in all our life choices, to return to the infinite, to return to G-d. Our soul is part of G-d, so to the extent we make our connection to G-d real and important in this life, that’s what we will experience.
  11. The soul can be realized also, to the extent that we feel, inside ourselves, a feeling for the highest levels, to the extent that we experience what is our “summons” in life. To the extent that we experience what it is that we are here to do to make it better for the rest of the world, and what we’re driven to do to manifest our own purpose in life, and to the extent we experience our complete immersion in the here and now, and to the extent we express our unique, individuated selves, and to the extent that we are living in a state of amazement of all that is Divine in the world, that is the level to which we can realize our souls.

Also, I believe that it’s when we’re able to feel deeply, to be a healthy, deep-feeling person, that’s when we become a powerful soul person.  We see and feel a strong desire to have nothing to do with what’s going on now, a strong yearning for something that’s not going on now, but for an ability to do the extraordinary instead. It’s a desire to do things which are completely out of our range, but yet we do them effortlessly.

These are soul expressions, soul experiences and some of the soul drives we need to know understand our own soul.

Kabbalah 101: Gilgulei Yisrael (Reincarnation)

BSTsynagogue

I want to get started talking about some of the basics of Kabbalah, sort of a Kabbalah 101, if you will.

And I figure that a good way to start is discussing the topic of reincarnation of the soul. I’m drawing from a booklet of notes of my work with R. Dardik on Gilgulei Yisrael. He took notes the whole time we were working together, and created a booklet on questions and answers on the topic.

You could think of it as Reincarnation Made Simple. So, let’s get started…

One of the first, fundamental questions is about the ego, going back to Adam. Adam was a container of all souls, basically, and before the original sin, according to the Arizal and others, there were only good souls within him.

The fallout or result of his sin, was a mixture of souls, some of which were not so good. Our task now, and previously, throughout history, is to unmesh or unmix the bad ones from the good ones.

A bad soul is a person who is not yet rectified, very distant from G-d, but in some cases redeemable unless the level is so bad, as defined by the Tanya for example. Unredeemable spirituality is comprised of those things actually forbidden to us. And that’s why they are forbidden, because they are unredeemable.

Potentially redeemable, however, are the notoriously evil rulers and other figures we’ve faced throughout history. This would include Pharoah, Lavan, Esav, all of whom, somewhere along the line in their reincarnations, made the wrong choices and headed down a very, very hard path. Part of their redeemability involves the part each of them played in Jewish history.

I’ll leave it at that regarding bad souls mixed-in with Adam.

Another point I’d like to make here is the fact that we are all old souls. In contemporary culture you have this general conception that uses the phrase, “old soul” to describe a higher, more evolved human being. But, according to the Arizal, we’ve all been here before and we’re back because we have unfinished business, and we have to go through life to finish up our business here.  Hopefully, we resonate with what we need to fix up, and then fix it up.

Unlike this popular concept, we are all, in fact, old souls. Maybe there’s one every so often, across many generations, that’s actually a new soul, meaning one that’s never been here before. And the Arizal is a good example, and also the Baal Shem Tov. New souls don’t have unfinished business to go through, and they can get rectified very quickly. So, what popular culture teaches about old souls is an entirely fallacious idea.

It’s similar to another concept I even hesitate to bring up, and will deal with fully another time. It’s the concept of Rest In Peace – RIP. In reality, there’s not a lot of rest for people immediately after they pass away, no matter who they are.  Especially if they haven’t been too good.  Rest In Peace is simply a mistaken notion. So for now, I’ll just say RIP to that whole concept.

The third fundamental soul concept is another deep one, and it is about the souls of converts to Judaism. Up until the last couple generations the usual definition of a convert involved a person who is not Jewish in their root soul, but have a natural drive to become Jewish. That natural drive is called The Soul Of The Convert, or the Nefesh Gair. It’s a person who is driven to become Jewish, even though they were not born Jewish.

In our generation however, according to some very astute Kabbalists, things are different. Of the many souls who want to convert there’s a good chance they are Jewish at their roots, and in previous incarnations they were Jewish. And for various reasons, in this lifetime they were born as non-Jews. That’s one important idea about converts.

Another is that there will be a pre-Messianic blitz of souls who want to convert. They want to join the Jewish people, which, it should be noted, will not be possible once Moshiach comes. Everyone will see the wisdom of being Jewish then, and we won’t be able to trust their motives for conversion at that point.

An authentic convert makes the decision based on their inner drive, not because things will go better for them when Moshiach comes.  In fact, we understand that a converted Jew is deserving of even more tender loving care, and regard and compassion than a born Jew, because it was a choice.

We are all converts at the root level, but converts are Jews by choice, similar to but not the same as a baal teshuva. The Jew by choice is coming for the most altruistic reasons and we need to respect that. It can be a bit embarrassing to us, as regards our wrong choices, compared to a Jew by choice.

Finally, here’s one more reincarnation soul fundamental principle – use of Torah to perfect your soul. It’s very appropriate now, at the time of receiving of Torah, which is Shavuot,

There are there or four different versions about how Torah and mitzvoth come to fix up different parts of our souls, and all but the last are attributed to the Arizal. The first version is by performing actions, doing mitzvoth, we can fix up our Nefesh, our lowest level of soul. And by learning the Oral Torah we can fix up our Ruach, our second level of soul. And by learning Kabbalah we can perfect our Neshama, the third level of soul.

The second version is this – by performing positive mitzvoth, even without the proper intention, we fix the Nefesh. By doing Torah without the proper altruistic intention we fix up the Ruach, and by doing mitzvoth or Torah with the proper intention we fix up our Neshama.

The third version says that by doing mitzvoth we fix up the Nefesh. By doing the revealed Torah altruistically we fix up our Ruach, and by doing Kabbalah we fix up our Neshama.

The hardest part to fix is our Nefesh, because it’s closest to the evil inclination and it’s farthest from G-d, in the lowest world. The Baal Shem Tov, whose yartzeit is just after Shavuos, teaches us that we can gauge the three levels of soul. Our Nefesh is connected with our possessions, and if we are good and altruistic and straight with our possessions we can fix up our Nefesh.

The Ruach is connected with our spouses and the people in our lives, and the Neshama is connected with the level of thought.

That’s a little run-down on the way Torah and life itself serve to promote and fix-up these different levels of our souls.

 

TREE OF LIFE MEDITATIONS – LIFE APPLICATIONS OF THE ‘AITZ CHAIM’ –THE ARIZAL’S CLASSIC KABBALISTIC WORK – Part 1

TreeOfLife

 

 

The following meditations represent a lifetime collection of  ‘Pnimiyut’ (spiritual  life applications), which are translations of the otherwise very technical Creation Principles comprising the important Kabbalistic Classic—the Eitz Chaim—the Tree of Life.

These translations are in the form of meditations in order to best internalize and be impacted by them. This is the first of several posts with Creation Principle meditations.

 

  • GIGULIM\ CIRCULAR PROVIDENCE INTERTWINED WITH YOSHER \  LINEAR PROVIDENCE 

Know that you have access to G-d in a  transcendent and in an immanent fashion. Experience G-d’s transcendence, His Infinite Presence being beyond your fathoming, beyond any limitations at all, while at the same time, experience G-d’s immanence, His intimate presence inside of you, nurturing you, loving you, guiding you, knowing you better than anyone in your life.

Know that in order for you to grow into becoming the best person that you can become, you need two seemingly contradictory approaches to life. First, draw down into yourself a certainty and a clarity that all is now perfect as is along with a knowing that nothing is perfect and you have the responsibility to improve and perfect everything that comes your way.

 

  1. THE PARRALEL INNER AND OUTER LIGHTS OF ADAM KADMON \ PRIMORDIAL MAN

Know that your life is a blend of information you’re aware of, knowledge that’s accessible to you and also knowledge that’s beyond you. The way you grow spiritually is to draw down into yourself that which is beyond you.

This is called, “the outer lights,” or sometimes it’s called, “the surrounding light.”

Focus on what you know, in your life. Focus on it in conversation, in learning, in facing challenges. In any aspect of life, identify that which is known to you and that which is not known to you.

And make it a point to try and grow in your spirituality by stepping up into the world of the outer lights, the great world of the unknown. And ask G-d to send you the information, and wisdom and the knowing that it will take to fathom and to become familiar with that which is beyond you in life.

You’ll find that the very question itself, and the very request itself, when done earnestly, will bring the response, the answers, and the ability to fathom that which is beyond you.

 

  1. AKUDIM \ THE PRIMORDIAL BANDED PHASE OF THE CREATION PROCESS

Know that there is a future consciousness, a world of reward, where there will be reflected to us the reward of all we have done well in our lives. In that reward world, we will see how all of the wonderful things we accomplished, and the choices we have made result in their power. We will see their power ad infinitum, forever.

Step into that world right now. Experience how there is a result, there is a birthing of all the good things you think, feel, think and do. Step into the other side of your choices and your actions. Set that as a primary focus in all that you do, and you’ll find it all becomes primordially potent and effective.

 

  1. MATEI AND LO MATEI \ THE ‘TOUCHING AND NOT TOUCHING’ PRIMORDIAL CREATION PHASE

Know that ladder leading from one world into the other world is a ladder that cannot be climbed head on, or directly. It must be climbed as the angels approached infinity in the prophetic visions we learn.

We must connect to that which is higher to us, by taking a step forward, touching it, then taking a step back and not touching it. Then we repeat it… stepping forward and touching it, then stepping back and not touching it.

Experience reaching out for that which is beyond you this way. But when you reach out for that which is beyond you, touch and grasp and engage and encounter and embrace that unknown area for just a short moment. Then stop and come back to where your base line is located.

Consider how it felt to extend yourself, and when you feel ready, go back and touch it again.

You’ll notice the more often you go forward and touch, and then stop and go back again, the more you’ll be ready to step into the new reality.

 

  1. THE WORLD OF NEKUDIM \ POINTS

Know that the world, before it was in a state of Tikkun, or Rectification, was in a state of Tohu, or Chaos. The main reason for that is because the light, the influence of life, was so incredibly powerful that the vessels could not properly contain them. Know that in a future time we will re-engage these primordial lights in such a powerful way that we will be able to harness the most powerful energy, which today would be considered animalistic or criminal.

At that time in the future we will have the ability and the capability to contain them and to hold them.

Step into that future time, and experience a more powerful light force than you have ever experienced before. And visualize your ability to contain that, and to harness that and to hold that, and to step into a whole new levels of inner, positive, beneficial power.

 

  1. SHVIRA \BREAKDOWN AND TIKUN \ RECTIFICATION

One of the keys to rectification of all that is broken is to build a proper foundation. It’s to have a vessel that can contain whatever light or life force is being directed at it.  One to of the ways to accomplish this is by using teamwork. Two heads are better than one, and three are better than two.

So, step into a community. And search out the strengths of each individual member of the community, and unite the community by sharing that particular strength that nobody else has, and pool those strengths into some kind of single-minded directive or goal that can only be accomplished by a group, instead of one person alone.

 

  1. THE DIVINE NAMES –‘MAH’ AND ‘BEN’

Know that in the world as we know it now, in its march towards perfection and rectification, one person can be an influencer, a healer, a rectifier, and another person will be the influenced, the healed and the rectified.

Step into a reality where you completely accept, with full peace of mind, that relative to any particular person in your life, you are the one to be influenced by that person. While you will be, relative to a different person, the influencer.

When you accept and embrace this dynamic, then life becomes very rich and full and effective.

 

  1. THE DOUBTS OF THE UNKNOWN HEAD

Know that the core of reality is the understanding that we don’t understand. It’s the knowing that we don’t know. It’s the mystery.

Accept the fact that the deepest levels of your processing of life, and of your knowledge, is a mystery. And have the humility to accept that, as much as you know, there’s much more that you don’t know. That very humility will draw down an incredible amount of knowledge to you, which you wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.

 

  1. SEFIROT VS. PARTZUFIM \ PERSONAS

Know that we all have certain traits which dominate our personalities. One person might have the character trait of transcendence. Another person might be an enabler or empowerer.

But know that on a deeper level we are holistic beings. We are personas, containing all of the Sefirot. Engage and empower and enliven all of the traits of your personality, until they are all shining as powerfully as possible.

 

  1. ATIK – THE ANCIENT OF DAYS

Know that the highest of the Sefirot is the bridge between that which is above and beyond, and that which is within time and space.

When you step up to be a person with the ability to remove yourself from your own, natural limitations, you step up into the place which is beyond.

The way you do that is to leap straight into it.

Tools of Divine Service of the High Holidays -TSHUVA

Teshuva

Now what I’d like to speak about has to do with the High Holidays, which are almost upon us.
I’d like to discuss a few tools of Divine Service, so here are a few introductory points:

I think it’s important to know about these tools called Teshuva, Tefila and Tsedaka, Penitence, Prayer and Charity, the “big three” that are so prominent in the High Holiday prayer books. Those are the three things we are told to do in order to avert the harsh decree.

My intention is to know and to teach the pshat level, the simple, straightforward understanding, on the one hand. Much of it comes from my own background and also Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s Handbook of Jewish Thought. And I bring to it the deeper, inner understanding of Kabbalah and Chassidut, to round out the tools.

I’ll start with Teshuva, or a righteous return to G-d and to ourselves. Here are a few points explaining what the mitzvah of Teshuva is all about, beginning with a person having an assumption, an understanding that there is a divine source of morality and truth with the ability to pardon wrongs done within that morality and truth.

As opposed to other approximate levels of morality and truth, including the popular conceptions of Western society and other religious beliefs, as a believing Jewish person I have an absolute truth to rely on, G-d’s word to rely on, which of course has been interpreted many ways.

But the fact that divine morality exits allows me to measure myself against that and try to return to that, pardoned from wrongs by the G-d that brought us all into existence. All of this would be lacking if there was no absolute truth, only approximate truth that changes with the times and necessities of society.

The power of Teshuva is in the fact that it was created before Creation itself, implying that it’s more important than Creation in some ways, and also it has the ability to return us to the purpose of Creation. Teshuva has the ability to override the divine trait of strict justice because G-d is looking for our good and the good of the world. G-d, therefore, is very long-suffering and patient, waiting for us to re-enter the realm of morality and truth as he sets it out.

Essentially G-d turns a patient eye to our misbehaviors as we move towards Teshuva.

Teshuva has the ability to act retroactively. You might ask the question, “How can we undo the damage done by sin?” Some things cannot be undone.

For example, if a person is born of an illicit relationship, that child will be living testimony for that the rest of their life. But, the idea of Teshuva “undoes” the original intent. When we change ourselves we have a different intent, a different intention, and it relates back to our original intention, undoing it back then.

Since I’m a new me, you can’t judge the new me for a wrong intention I had back then as the old me. Only G-d can see that I’m a new person of course, since humans need to judge based on what they can see with their eyes only, with some consideration given to their capacity to change.

We also have to understand that the power of Teshuva is that a person can sin and be wicked their entire life and reverse their entire history in one minute. There’s a famous story of Rabbe Lazer ben, whose life was exactly that way. He did Teshuva at the very last minute of his life and became known as a Rebbe, because he did Teshuva in that way.

So that’s the power of Teshuva. It will always be accepted, and you can always reverse a situation whenever it may happen.

The practice of Teshuva involves four elements, basically.
1) It involves regret, which is shame. There is a place for feeling shame. There is a power, a healing power involved when it’s done in the right way.
2) The confession of what a person did has a certain power as well, the confession to G-d and the confession to people we have wronged.
3) And there is the resolve to not do the thing again. This is something we address on Yom Kippur, when we get to a place where G-d testifies, so to speak, that we won’t do it again. That is the place we want to reach.
4) And finally, there’s changing our ways. We put ourselves in a different environment so we won’t be influenced in the same way and tempted to be caused to do whatever we did once again. We might change our lifestyle and work on things that will hopefully influence others as well, bring others to G-d. That’s a big part of Teshuva.

Teshuva involves different kinds of intentions and different levels of intentions, on a scale of higher to lower. Probably the highest level of intention is Teshuva from love, meaning a person doesn’t change his ways because he’s afraid of punishment, of hell (which is another level of Teshuva), but because he feels bad that he didn’t take advantage of his relationship with G-d. This type of Teshuva elicits results which are much higher, raising up the sins a person commits to become merits instead.

There’s Teshuva that comes from the intention of having responsibility for oneself, owing up, recognizing the seriousness of going off the path, and recognizing that Teshuva is really my own chance to make a difference.

There are decreasing levels in the timing of Teshuva, meaning we might realize immediately what we did wrong and do Teshuva immediately. But some people spend their whole lives doing Teshuva; every day they think about what they did wrong and they go through those four steps, so they are constantly in Teshuva. That’s probably the highest level, in terms of timing.

When Teshuva is done with the same trial and tribulation that caused a person to go off the path in the first place it’s another high level of Teshuva. Also, it’s better to do Teshuva when young than when old.

Another level I’ve already mentioned is Teshuva done from fear of future suffering, and another is Teshuva done from the unbearable reality of present suffering, especially when one is old. Perhaps the lowest level is doing Teshuva right before passing away, due to the fear of what’s coming afterwards.

But all these levels of Teshuva are effective, 100% effective and acceptable.

There are many obstacles to doing Teshuva. One is when a person makes a choice to sin with this thought in mind, “I’ll sin now and do Teshuva afterwards.” Another is when a person separates themselves from helping out other people in the community, or disrespects people who are meant to be respected. There are also people who make fun of the commandments, and those who seek to get honor at the expense of others, gossip about them or suspect them. These are things that can keep a person from doing Teshuva, and they hold a person back.

Teshuva is something that needs to be done with an understanding that we should never give up, no matter how far they have fallen, no matter how deep the despair may be. We have to understand that we are in the place of a Baal Teshuva, a Master of Return, and even in the place a Perfect Righteous One cannot stand in such a place.

We’re meant to not remind a person who has done Teshuva that he or she was once a sinner. And Teshuva is something the entire Redemption will be dependent upon. That’s why all the prophets address themselves to having the nation come back to Teshuva.

So, that’s all pretty much the straightforward level of what Teshuva is all about.

In terms of a deeper level, Teshuva is a return to oneself. It’s a return to the essence of who you are. And it begins when a person realizes his life is somehow meaningless, or futile or just some form of personal exile. No matter how outwardly successful a person may seem to be, it’s all sort of a self-betrayal.

When you understand that you are living a contradiction and you see the absurdity of your world (a lot of great comedians make fun of us doing exactly that, and that’s why people love their jokes so much) you begin to realize that self-contradiction is wide-spread.

So when the Master of Return, the Baal Teshuva recognizes that and does something about it, they begin to reconnect to who they are and who they want to be. And their return is the return of a true master, a master of response, a Baal Teshuva, that’s the name given to them. And that type of person achieves unity of character, including their mind and their emotions and their actions unified with their eternal self, their G-dly self on the inside. That’s how they regain their self-integrity in the most beautiful and in the highest possible way.

In this way they open themselves up to what is probably the highest level of happiness that a human being can feel. And it’s why the happiest times of the year happen after Teshuva time, after the 10 days of Teshuva and then Yom Kippur, followed by Succot, the happiest time. It’s because you can regain your self-integrity, and regain yourself in the process.

We need tools to be able to get to that place, to figure out who you are, where you’ve been, what’s important to you, what you look like in the eyes of truth, the eyes of your future life and the eyes of your soul family, even your own eyes looking down and really seeing yourself. This is how we gain the perspective of authenticity, and focus on a higher level and what that level can be as you look at the essence of your life and turn it into something much, much higher, more YOU, more essential and more G-dly than ever before.

Ratzon

What I’d like to speak about now is another article I’d like to paraphrase, and throw in a little of my own, based mainly on another article by Tsvi Meyer Zilberberg. It’s an article about Ratzon, about Will.

You’ll see in the course of it how it applies to this particular time of year. And it begins like this:

Ratzon is a principle in life which is one of the most fundamental principles in spirituality in general. The idea of Ratzon is that it can get us through difficult situations as no other human characteristic can. And that’s why it’s connected, more or less, to these three weeks right now.

It is the inner motivation or intention of all service of G-d, in all types of ways. It’s to have that inner juice or motivational motor that drives us through things that are difficult to have happen.

In Hebrew, the holy tongue, there are many, many similar words to Ratzon which show how central it is to Jewish mystical thought. So, I’m going to transliterate a few of these words in Hebrew to show you how many words are similar to it.

Besides the word Ratzon, we have the words “chafetz,” and “chashek,” as well as “tzimaon,” which sort of means “thirst,” but it’s also a type of Ratzon.

We have the word “kivui,” which is kind of a hope, which is a kind of Ratzon as well. We have “teavon,” which is also a kind of thirst.

We have the word, “cheshek, and “chamid,” and we also have many more to show how fundamental Ratzon is to the whole spiritual experience.

We have different ways of achieving Ratzon, and one way is to project something we intend to take upon ourselves, something we will make happen. It’s sort of like the idea of my graduation speech. And my once-a-week clearing, as well as once-a-month and once-a-year assessment of achievement. And also what I hope to achieve in different aspects of my life, such as faith and trust and Divine Providence and clinging to G-d.

Ratzon has to do with anything and everything we want to accomplish in our lives. We need to get that impetus going in order to have it. Ratzon can be accessed through studying the events, the highlights of our lives.

Ratzon is a very elevated aspect of spiritual work. It can break all the restrictions, everything that has to do with nature. When we connect with Ratzon in a deep enough way, there’s nothing that can stand in the way of our Ratzon.

We live in a place called the Olam, which is the world, and in Hebrew the word means “hidden.” The truth is hidden in this world, the truth of reality. So, therefore, in this world Ratzon has no value to most people. They can’t trade in Ratzon for monetary value, the value of their own work. With some exceptions, teaching seminars, etc, but in general, only the results speak, not the desire. In spirituality the exact opposite is true. Ratzon makes things happen, it is behind everything.

One of the reasons is because it is one of the highest of the Sefirot, and it’s what makes everything happen in the world Sefirotically. All of the Sefirot, all of the character traits one can experience will follow suit because of Ratzon. Both the inside of us and the outside of us is opened up when we open up Ratzon.

Since it’s so powerful in the spiritual world, therefore the Yetzer Hara, the evil impulse will do everything in its power to uproot it. The mortal enemy of the Jewish people, which is Amalek, does everything in his power to uproot Ratzon , also called the “beginning of all things.” Ratzon is the beginning of all processes and represents the root level, so that’s where destruction is aimed. That’s what they do and that’s what the Yetzer Hara, the evil impulse does as well. It’s because Ratzon is so important.

Our Sages tell us that a person who comes to purify himself receives help. And they say that in the way a person wants to go the person who wants to purify herself is helped “by them.” So, why does it say, “by them,” in the plural… Who are “they” that are helping? We learn an incredible lesson which reveals that every time we have a desire for a positive thing it creates an angel. So, a person should know that every new desire or will towards something positive is not there by itself, fending for itself alone. It’s actually something much more powerful than a one-time Ratzon.

It’s a Ratzon joined with all the other angels of all the other times we wanted to make something happen in our lives. Every Ratzon is joined with all the other Ratzons we have in that same area.

According to the SefirYetzirah, we are in the months of Tammuz and Av, which represent the two eyes. Eyes, among other parts of the body are seen to be instruments of Ratzon, of yearning, and of looking towards something beyond themselves. This is part of the time we’re in now. We’re in a time period of the three weeks when all those who chase G-d get to G-d during this time.

Everything is a function of Ratzon, of desiring as well. When we chase we get to what we need to get to. When a person declares that they will have something that they want, that falls almost in the category of a vow. When a person declares a vow they are co-creating with G-d a reality. Our Torah promises that everything that comes out of a person’s mouth they will make happen, or it WILL happen.

So, there’s power in that type of Ratzon as well.

A story is told of an incredible person who lived in Jerusalem in a previous generation, and it was not a well-known person, but there was a community of fairly simple people who wanted him to give them encouragement, and they wanted him to speak to them every erev Shabbat, every Friday afternoon.

He agreed, of course, and he loved to give and he enjoyed the opportunity to give them encouragement. The story took place in the middle of the summer, right around this time of year, that he showed up and nobody else showed up to hear him speak. But he said it was not his concern that nobody else was present, and he proceeded to give an incredibly powerful, impactful teaching to an empty synagogue. When he finished, there still was nobody present in the synagogue.

After a few months he saw a man who had totally gone off the path, to the point he sort of drove the teacher somewhat crazy, which caused him to avoid the man whenever possible. But that man ran up to the teacher, shook his hand and said, “Thank you for transforming my life.”

The teacher asked, “What do you mean by ‘transforming your life’?

“The day you gave that speech to the empty synagogue I was standing outside the window because I wanted to imitate you and make fun of you in front of my friends. But I saw how passionate you were and I understood your message. The words of your heart went into my heart, and they changed my life.”

So, we never know. Even though someone’s Ratzon is directed towards something that doesn’t seem to be helpful at all, we never know what’s actually going to come out of it at the end.

We need to know this is true and we need to know our Ratzon helps us build the Third Holy Temple, and that we have sockets which are collected from the half shekels, and the word shekel has the numerical value of the word “nefesh’, another synonym for Ratzon, as is the word “kesef” which means “money” in Hebrew. It comes from the word “kisufim,” another Ratzon word.

These monetary things we have in our lives also play upon the word Ratzon. G-d showed to Moses a half-sheckel in fire, representing Ratzon, and he wanted the Ratzon of everyone’s contribution. He wanted it to come from a place of Ratzon in order to build the Holy Temple. That’s how the Temple stands, in our Ratzon.

In our last generation here, when people’s ability to think and to know all aspects of humanity are very weak relative to earlier, stronger generations. Every little, tiny bit of Ratzon is very precious in G-d’s eyes.

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