Posts tagged Torah
Here are my comments on events in the Parsha and on events in the calendar, as this is a big time of transition right now.
This week’s Parsha is Vayikra, and together with that we are moving into a new year of Creation, a new creation, basically. There’s a Spring creation and there’s also a Fall creation, which is Rosh Hashana and all those Holy Days.
The Spring creation is happening already, in two different ways. There’s a Creation time which began on the 25th of Adar, and there’s another new creation which begins on the 1st day of Nissan, next Tuesday. It’s a big day of transition, when we move out of the old and move into the new. So, I see the common denominator in all these creations as the act of receiving. We need to be receptive.
We are moving into a receiving period. Beginning now, for the next 72 days, until Shavuot, which commemorates the giving of the Torah, we are influenced by Chessed. 72 is the numerical value of Chessed. It represents the time zone we’re in right now and it also represents G-d giving us what we need, with us having to do anything about it.
I wrote a poem about receiving without effort – effortless receptivity. The only thing keeping us from living in that world, besides righteousness, because sometimes we fall off in that way, but the main thing is our inability to believe we deserve and can receive from G-d.
G-d is constantly telling us, so to speak, “I’m here to give you anything you want. You’re a child in a candy store, and it’s just a question of how much you want to receive.” So here are some of things to consider during these 72 days, especially as Nissan starts on Tuesday.
Nissan is the beginning of the new year that’s measured by months. The 12 months of the year begin with Nissan. In this Parsha we talk about Rosh Chodesh, or the beginning of the new month. It’s really “the beginning of the beginnings,” or the power to know what we can do with beginnings in our lives. There’s opportunity in any kind of beginning, which gives us the ability to step into a whole new paradigm, a whole new reality.
So, this new beginning is a transition time, moving from the Winter to the Spring, from an old year to a new year, from a paradigm of hiddenness to one that is revealed. The order of the name of the month refers to the different orders of the four letters of the name of Hashem. The four letters are arranged as we see them in Torah only in the month of Nissan, this new month, which indicates that Divine Providence is there for us to receive.
In Nissan, we don’t have to fight to get past blocks in order to receive the energy. We are stepping up into that flow now. Nissan is like the father of the 12 months. The word for Spring in Hebrew is Aviv, which is also an acronym for “father” (Av) followed by Yud Bet (the 12 months of the year). The first 12 days of Nissan represent the months. Each day represents one month of the year.
For those who have the magnified, prophetic eyes to see and the ability to receive, it’s possible to know what’s going to happen in each of the upcoming 12 months of the year. Just like a father figure is somebody who conceives the rest of the family, the way he goes is the way the rest of the family will go, the month of Nissan has that power as well.
It’s also that time when we receive what we receive from above without having to receive it. That is, to some extent, what the holiday of Passover is all about. Pesach is not only commemorating but also reenacting, reliving G-d giving us an incredible amount of wellbeing. It’s mostly a question of, “Can we believe it so that we can receive it?”
If we can believe it and receive it, we get out of Egypt, even though we have to go through the counting of the Omer afterwards. “Easy come, easy go, “you might say of it, and we do have to put in the effort to get it back. But overall, it’s all about receiving.
It’s about receiving G-d’s bounty at all times, and it’s what Parsha Vayikra is all about. Understanding the sacrifices, the korbanot, requires a lot of explanation to understand. Most of the world would not think of sacrificing animals as spirituality, but in fact it is.
Korbanot is a play on the word “kiruv,” which is “getting close to G-d.” This idea needs a lot of explanation, hopefully next time I post.
But, the time zone we’re in right now is electric with potential for transforming our lives, and going through a transition time from dark to light, from Winter to Spring, from cold to warm. It is a beautiful, abundant, receptive time zone.
This is about Parsha Terumah. I found a common denominator (as I’m always searching for one that reflects personal growth opportunities) in Parsha Terumah, and it’s called The Lion In Me. In other words, My Inner Strengths. I found ways to reveal hidden, inner strengths inside of me and inside of everyone.
First of all, Parsha Terumah is my father’s yartzeit. And my father’s name was Yaakov Aryeh, which is Jacob the Lion, and I found my father in me, which is the lion in me. That’s sort of an esthetic, poetic part of the Parsha for me, but also a very real part of it, too.
Also, this is the beginning of the month of Adar, which brings Purim, and Purim is all about inner strength. We are usually not aware of our inner strength and Adar is a month of G-d hiding himself from us, so we find ourselves discovering and reviewing our inner strengths. That’s a big part of the mysterious month of Adar, which looks like the opposite but shows us that out of nowhere the good guy wins the battle in the end. This is also part of the Lion In Me.
As of this week, we have finished the last of the Shovavim period, which is a period of rectification of the spilled seed of Adam, a theme found in all the parshas of that period. We are rectifying and thereby reconnecting with our souls, and discovering inner strengths in that way. We are going to start the harvest of the six-week period we’re finishing up right now, and next week as well.
In Parsha Terumah, G-d talks about the Holy Temple in a very interesting way. He says, “I am going to dwell in them,” not “in it.” That means us, his people. The Holy Temple is inside of us, and those strengths need to be discovered inside ourselves. Once we have this perspective, it opens up a whole new way of seeing life.
So, everything that’s brought in this parsha reveals the inner, Holy Temple parts of us. For example, Betzalel, the one who physically created the Temple, had the ability to see the entire universe. He could see the creative ones and zeros of the universe-creation system, just as someone might see the creation of a computer system. He could see the roots of it all in a micro-cosmic way. We have access to this perspective, too, if we choose to plug into it.
In the Temple we have the Cherubim, standing on the Holy Ark, which is the Torah part of ourselves. The Cherubim represent the prophesy, and the place between them, as they face each other, is the place where all prophesy and all wisdom came from. It’s a very inter-included, transcendent place of inner strength inside of ourselves. It’s the focal point for the interface, from which all aspects of our world interface with the higher world.
That’s an incredible strength to rediscover inside of ourselves.
And we have the menorah, the candelabra made of pure gold, holding the burning candle stick which serves as a seat for the soul. The wick holds up the soul. It helps us find our soul and lights it up for us so we can feel it.
And we have the middle bar which holds together the whole construction of the sanctuary, the Temple, which extends from one end to the other. This parallels our will, our ratzon, which extends from the highest aspect of ourselves all the way down to the lowest. When we discover and reveal that ratzon, then nothing stands in our way.
We have an all-encompassing healing going on, which happens in the court surrounding the Tabernacle and in the Tabernacle itself, in the hangings and all they represented. The courtyard represents the body, which encompasses and surrounds the inner organs, as well as the all-encompassing, surrounding entities. So, we have the ability to rediscover and reveal the body/soul connection, and the body’s physicality inside ourselves.
There are also many more levels of inner strength that we can access and explore within ourselves.
This week is Parsha Mishpatim, and I discovered a common thread running through everything I gathered for it. It is a common thread regarding transcending mind noise, or in a positive expression, it’s mindfulness. It’s about transcending mind noise, and I’ll show how events in this Parsha fit into that category.
First of all, Parsha Mishpatim talks very directly about staying away from shekker, which means deceit or lies. Our Sages come up with all kinds of recipes and definitions of what that means in our lives, part of which are transcending the mind noise created by the actions and lies of others people toward us.
Another aspect this Parsha talks about is to not take bribes. Bribes create a mind noise which makes a person fail to see objectively any more, even a righteous person. We have to stay away from that mind noise, the Parsha tells us.
We have to stay away from the noise of doubt. When the people said, “We will do and we will hear,” they kicked doubt out of their mindset. That’s the most profound mind noise-ridding we have in the Parsha, because that got them back to the level of the Garden of Eden when they said, essentially, “Sight unseen, G-d, we’re jumping in and doing whatever you say!”
At that, the Israelites were blessed with zero mind noise, unlike all of us living in these not-yet-Garden of Eden times who are struggling constantly, in every situation. Staying away from doubt is probably the biggest mind noise trap of all.
But, there’s more… There’s the mind noise we spoke about in the previous Parasha which is a preemptive strike. It has to do with one person coming into another person’s house in order to steal from them. They are coming into that house with the assumption they may be killed, so they will probably be locked and loaded, and ready to shoot first.
We have to be able to pre-empt that thing when they come in, and to shoot first in that situation. And that’s a way of dealing with the evil inclination as well. When we deal with the Evil Inclination as our own inner struggle by pre-empting the battle, we win. When we don’t, we don’t. That’s a huge transcendence of the mind noise happening to us as well.
In Parsha Mishpatim it talks about the righteous convert. So, another type of mind noise transcendence is compassion. It is to look at a person, as the Torah tells us to do, and to have compassion on that person, who may be a stranger, or a convert. Many people fall into the trap of cruelty as opposed to compassion.
We have the mind noise of people in our lives whom we hate. The Torah tells us, “You’ve got the mind noise of hate in your mind? Help the hated one. If you see a person who is bent down with some kind of burden, drop what you’re doing and go help him. That will help you get rid of you get rid of your mind noise as you help him. It gets rid of the horrible mind noise called hating.
Another mind noise is taking pleasure in G-d. There are passages that say G-d is going to help us get rid of our sickness, and so forth, because we will get to a place where we are taking pleasure in what’s happening in the world and what’s happening in our lives. That’s a mind noise inside ourselves. And we need to take pleasure in G-d and the role he’s playing in our lives instead. That’s a pleasure that is sort of the opposite of worldly pleasures.
Moses going up the mountain for 40 days is one of the scriptures here. It represents freedom from mind noise in the form of detachment. He was detached enough to not eat or drink or probably even sleep for 40 days up on the mountain. He was a human being, but he had such a high level of detachment that all the mind noise of, “I need this, I need that…” was removed from who he was.
Perhaps I’ll find other examples of mind noise cancellation, maybe in this Parsha and maybe in my life. But it opens up a very big topic, the idea of the mindfulness of getting rid of mind noise.
The theme of Parsha Yitro, as I see it, is transcendence of Torah, and the power of receiving Torah. It happened in and around the receiving of Torah, which is in Parsha Yitro.
Yitro is the name of Moses’ converted father-in-law, who had tasted every aspect, every flavor of every religion in the world before he came to realize and accept upon himself Judaism as the one, true religion. In doing so, he made a great sanctification of G-d’s name in his life.
He was also a man of vision and insight into people. So he was the one, maybe the only one qualified to successfully give advice to his son-in-law, Moses, the greatest scholar and prophet of all time. He was able to tell Moses that he needed to allocate the various responsibilities of helping and guiding the people to many others, along with himself. This shows, retroactively, that he was able to go down to the essence of every person, and to see who they were and what their essence was, because Moses’s soul was an over-soul. He was able to see the essence of everybody inside of himself, and thereby he’d know exactly what to tell them.
Another transcendent aspect that comes through in this Parsha is that Moses was able to see other people’s essence and greatness, not only by identifying it inside his own self, but also, as the Zohar goes to great lengths to explain, to see how each person’s body reveals deep secrets about that person. That includes lines on the face, the distance of eyes, ears, nose and mouth from each other, the color of the eyes, the entire arrangement of the face. These are things we may feel intuitively, but the Zohar goes into great detail about knowing the essence of a person, based on his or her physical make-up. It reveals what the spiritual personality is all about. It’s another transcendence, inside-information resource about humans.
The whole of Parsha Yitro is leading toward coming to the mountain, which is probably the most transcendent experience mankind has ever had. Even before they got to the mountain, their openness to accept whatever G-d offers them, sight unseen, puts them at the level of Adam before the sin. It earns them the level of transcending sickness, aging and death because they were living on the level of accepting unseen whatever it was that G-d would bring out for them. They lifted themselves up to angelic reality, where they would not age, become sick or die.
Another transcendent point was that all the Ten Commandments were given in one word. In one word, they got the entire Torah, which is a very hard thing to understand. Their experience, as they received the Torah, were also very, very extraordinary. They were actually able to see the audio and to hear the visual. They rose themselves up to a place beyond space and time and normal understanding.
Another extraordinary point is that Torah was downloaded into each person who accepted it at that time. The Zohar talks about how the Torah and the Israelites and G-d are all one. When you get to the level where you connect to one of them, you connect to the other two as well. Torah, G-d and the Neshama, the soul… that’s the level the Israelites achieved at Mt. Sinai as well.
One extraordinary thing is how we hear a story. Parsha Yitro begins with the words that Yitro (Jethro) heard. You could have a thousand people, and 999 of them hear something one way, but that one, rare person hears it in the proper way, and that completely changes the reality of how we understand. So, we learn from that how to hear. Yitro heard from the cosmic happenings, what was happening to the Israelites, and understood, “I have to come. If that’s what’s happening to them, then they are my people.”
Within the Ten Commandments the Israelites received there are 620 letters, which equals the numerical value of the Sephira Keter, which shows they are G-d’s will. All of the letters of the Ten Commandments are hints to the entire Torah as well. Another hint is that 620 is 613 mitzvoth plus another seven mitzvoth from the rabbis. So, it’s Keter, and it’s all the mitzvoth and the entire Torah just waiting to be expounded upon.
Parsha Yitro also talks about the idea of Torah itself being the culmination of the Israelites’ entire experience in Egypt, coming out of Egypt, and in preparing themselves to get to Mt. Sinai. The Torah they received is the ultimate, transcendent aspect of life. It showed them G-d’s will in any particular situation, but Torah, in itself, is a type of a cure-all. Connecting to Torah lifts a person above any negative effects in nature and any other way.
My teachers have told me, and they got this from our Sages… if anything is bothering you, just turn up the volume of Torah. Turn up the intensity, and turn up the quantity of Torah you’re learning. You’ll find healing in that.
So, it’s an interface with G-d, the fact we learn it now and that they received in the past it as well.
This is a collection of some ideas about Parsha Shemot.
First, we begin a whole new energetic period of time called Shovavim, which is the weekly Parshas beginning with Shemot and ending with Mishpatim. This is a period of time when we, and of course the people in the Bible times, are coming to rectify something that began with Adam, who was separated from his wife in the Garden of Eden fall-out. Their separation caused scattered seed, which means scattered life energy, and the goal of this period of time is to bring the scattered energy back together.
That’s what we’re going to be doing for the next six weeks, and it parallels the stories about bringing back energy, about interconnected energy. So that’s one thing that begins in Shemot. Essentially, we’re going from the Patriarchal period into an Exile period, which is followed later by a Redemption period. The Israelites were pretty civilized, but tended to sink into slave mentality during the 210 year period of forced slavery.
One of the things that comes up during this period is that the Israelites were rapidly reproducing, and the more Pharaoh tried to oppress them, the more they reproduced. It’s an interesting phenomenon… You leave it to G-d to take care of you, and you can rely on that, no matter what the opposition tries to do to you. So, the Israelites reproduced in great numbers, which ultimately formed the nation of Israel.
G-d promised to Jacob that He would make of us a great nation, and that He will be with us and take us out of slavery also. So, the hand of G-d is operating, even in the midst of the darkness of Egypt, the lowest and most depraved of nations. G-d’s there with us and the miracles are happening, maybe on a more subtle level.
So, we reproduced a lot, and we did that in spite of Pharaoh’s efforts to the contrary, meaning he worked us and he baited us. He promised to come out into the fields with us, and pay us well and take care of us. Pharaoh was the first of the real politicians, saying one thing with his mouth while thinking and planning something else entirely. It was said of Pharaoh, “he had a soft mouth,” meaning he could be very convincing, and in fact he seduced most of the Israelites into doing his bidding, with the exception of the tribe of Levi. The Levis never became slaves, and they learned Torah instead, for the entire 210 years of the Eqyptian exile.
This is an incredible lesson because, spiritually speaking, the spiritual heirs of the tribe of Levi are the Torah students of all generations. So, when other people get seriously seduced into the traps of society (and there are so many of them) the person who sticks to his guns inside of Torah is impervious to that whole influence, as was the tribe of Levi in Eqypt.
Pharaoh induced the Israelites into slavery, and then approximately eighty years after the exile began Moses was born. They looked at him and knew there was goodness there, and there was a whole reincarnation thing going on with Moses as well. It was a reincarnation rectification of Adam. Moses was born good, something recognized through the daughter of Pharaoh, Batya, who adopted the baby Moses. She took him out of the Nile River and she raised him, and even though he was raised in the Egyptian environment, because of his inherent goodness (and Batya’s goodness) Moses kept the pure side of himself. He could see through the façade of the Egyptian royal family all along, and he eventually escaped the kingdom after an episode with an Egyptian taskmaster who was beating up an Israelite slave. Moses killed the Egyptian, so he knew he would be in trouble and that’s when he left and went to Midian, in the desert.
In Midian Moses met his future father-in-law, and he met up with G-d, and the burning bush, with Mount Sinai and with his task of saving the Jews from Pharaoh. All this occurred because Moses began to hear the wordless grunts and screams of the Israelite people. Moses said, “I heard their screams and told Pharaoh, ‘Let my people go.”
At first, Moses displayed a reticence to do that. He thought, “Who am I? Certainly not a man of words…” At this, G-d told him, essentially, “What do you mean you’re not a man of words? Who is asking you to save the Israelites? I’m not a politician, I’m G-d. I’m hooking up my mouth to a human being. I can put the words in your mouth.”
This is an incredible lesson, really, because G-d can do anything, to the extent that we let Him in. The basic question people ask is, “Where is G-d now?” and the answer is, “Wherever we let Him I,” which applies on many different levels. If we let G-d in to do miracles in our lives He WILL do miracles in our lives. But most people cannot believe that because they’re blinded by nature.
Moses was told, “You’re the leader. You’re the one who is going to bring them out, so you’ve got to believe in Me. You’re a stutterer.” And he was. Moses was a stutterer because the Israelites were slaves, and people in that kind of slave mentality were not articulate people. And what happens with the people happens with Moses, their leader. He is a mirror of them and they are a mirror of him. They stuttered, he stuttered. They couldn’t talk, he couldn’t talk.
Moses said, “How am I going to talk? How am I going to be their leader?” And G-d said, “You don’t understand. I will speak through you, for you. We’ll start off by letting Aaron do the talking for you. Your big brother, 3 years older than you is a better speaker.
So, Moses asked G-d, “What do I tell the people about who sent me? I could tell them several different names of G-d. Which one do I tell them that they will truly believe?
And G-d told Moses, “I will be who I will be.” It’s “will be” in the future tense, a Divine Name symbolizing the ability to have patience and wait, the ability to trust that things will work out, the ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the ability to hope, (which happened in last week’s Parsha when Jacob was blessing Dan he said a prayer, “For your salvation I hope all day long.”) Hope is the key to Geula, to Redemption.
G-d told Moses to talk to the Israelites about hope, about how it’s a done deal and that they will bring it by hoping and by waiting for Me. And that’s ultimately what happened with the Israelites, as Pharaoh kept kicking and fighting and questioning, “Who is this G-d that Moses should hear His voice?” Since Pharaoh help himself up as a deity and knew nearly everything about spiritual matters in the world at that time he was disturbed because he didn’t know about this Divine Name, this G-d of Moses. Or, maybe he did know, but he denied it. There are commentaries from our sages from both viewpoints.
So, that’s the set-up of this week’s Parsha and the beginning of plagues next week, and the exodus from Egypt the following week, and coming through the Red Sea the following week. The state is being set this week in Parsha Shemot.
What I want to share is about the soul and mindfulness. It’s my theme for the week for MMM, but it’s also what the soul is all about. Our souls come into our bodies to improve, expand and soul-ize our bodies, but also to restore them to be souls, to be more spiritual, to get back to the level of Adam’s body prior to the fall in the Garden of Eden. Adam’s body was more like our souls today.
The soul is inside our body, and it’s functioning maximally when we are the most mindful, and it has a natural drive to get back to that, meaning to “escape,” like a flame leaping up on a candle wick. Our soul is trying to get back that place, to be restored, and mindfulness is what helps it get back to that place.
So, here’s a list of tools we can use to increase the mindfulness of life and enable our soul to live in its proper environment.
Instead of the normal consciousness of _______, let’s go to a mindful consciousness of the following:
- Instead of the normal consciousness of moving our bodies through the day, with all the different mundane movements involved, let’s make all these movements – sitting down, standing up, walking, etc. – soulful and mindful opportunities. Let’s be soulful and mindful by resonating on the deepest level with what that message means for us.
- Instead of the normal consciousness of a sort of “ho-hum” life, let’s Paradise our lives, being soulful and mindful of maximal personal expression and also maximal divine expression.
- Instead of the normal consciousness with regard to which aspects of our awareness we engage the world with, let’s be soulful and mindful by engaging the world with our Allness.
- Instead of the normal consciousness of accumulating and accessing wisdom, let’s open up our Da’as, our knowing, and thereby know things in a soulful, mindful way.
- Instead of processing the thoughts in our minds, in a semi-unconscious way, let’s do it in a mindful/soulful way by watching our thoughts or actually taking notes of them. Do it in an objective, watch-the-movie way.
- Instead of the normal consciousness of jumping around from one thing to another in our lives, let’s have a soulful, mindful engagement of any present thing we’re doing, to the exclusion of anything else. Have complete, hyper-focus on whatever it is we’re doing at the moment.
- Instead of the normal consciousness of taking in the world through the 5 senses as usual, let’s engage the soul and the mind in a much, much more enhanced way of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching.
- Instead of the normal consciousness of engaging the world in a happenstance, coincidental way, let’s see how G-d is talking to us and leading us exactly where we need to go, at all times, in a soulful, mindful way.
- Instead of the normal consciousness of engaging wisdom on a surface level, let’s engage wisdom according to the depth of what we can understand and receive about what that wisdom means for us. Consider its associations, meaning what we know about it and what we can reveal and discover about it.
- Instead of the normal consciousness of understanding life through our own eyes, let’s understand and process life through the eyes of G-d, in a soulful and mindful way of seeing the past, present and future implications, movement and unfolding of every situation.
- Instead of the normal consciousness of connecting to topics we are exploring in a by-the-way manner, let’s completely immerse ourselves for an entire day, week or month in nothing but that particular topic, in a completely soulful and mindful way.
- Instead of the normal consciousness of understanding the world is just populated by us and by other people, let’s open up our minds and souls and become aware of the root souls, the angels, the sparks and other souls that are with us, all around us.
- Instead of the normal consciousness of connecting to the world in terms of what we want by just wanting it, let’s completely embrace the wanting from our lower soul to our higher soul, and want it so much that it actually manifests in our lives.
I’m going to talk again about the soul, because it’s an endless topic. But this time I’m going to focus on a different angle, the interpersonal angle. Meaning, how can I bring out the soul in other people, and what kind of tools can I give for people to bring out their own souls and also help others? This is the interpersonal vantage point of Soul-ing.
I’ll start by talking about people who are blocked-up in some way. First, I’ll start with a tool I learned from the Baal Shem Tov called, Bzuyah, which comes from a verse in Proverbs. It says, “The wisdom of this poor, disadvantaged person is put down, it’s devalued.”
But the Baal Shem Tov turns it around as he often does with this type of verse, and translates it, “The wisdom of the disadvantaged and put-down person is Bzuyah,” which means, “in this you find G-d.” This means you have to pay attention to the person who is really hurting because they understand when they see G-d in their personal, unique situation, the one they are in right now, that’s their unique gift to the world, to find G-d even in their disadvantaged situation.
This is one way to convey to a disadvantage person that they have a special “take,” or a direct access to G-d that nobody else has. Another way to open up a soul perspective to another person with difficult circumstances comes from the teachings of Rabbi Nachman. It involves developing a hyper focus on only the good inside that person, and pretty soon all the negativity will disappear, leaving only good.
Another soul tool for a blocked-up person is to understand that many, many people – this is almost like a creation principle – have to hit rock bottom in order to find there’s nowhere to go but upwards. Many people have made huge turnarounds in their lives because of that, and by connecting to a soul of such a person and pointing out that G-d loves them you can offer help at a time when they don’t think G-d loves them, whether or not they are aware of it.
To the extent they know that G-d DOES love them, because they are a soul and that G-d loves them, then they can completely turn their lives around. That’s one level of interpersonal souling.
Another level is to connect a person to their calling in life, to their mission in life. You can do that by having a person listen to their own inner voice, their own soul voice. They’ve been there and done that in almost every situation in their lives. You need to go down deep into your soul and listen to your own wise counsel. That’s one way to open up their soul.
Another way is to look at the events of their life and to figure out, based on those events, what it is that G-d is directing them to do.
Another way is to reduce your whole being to a short phrase, or one word if possible. It should describe who you uniquely are in this lifetime. The more you cling on to that core part of yourself, the more you’re connecting to your soul and the more you’ll break through walls at all times.
And the next category in interpersonal Soul-ing is, as opposed to a win-win connection with another person, realize you may very well have a root soul family relationship with that person. And even if you’re not, you can act as if you are in that type of relationship. Instead of thinking win-win with any significant person in your life, your soul relationship can be a bliss-bliss situation instead. His or her success is good for you, and vice versa. That’s a bliss-bliss relationship.
Another interpersonal relationship is to step out of yourself and step into them, into the other person’s perspective. See them from their vantage point, not from your own. That’s really a soulful way of relating to another person because you’re going into their soul and the way they see things.
Another way is to understand that the whole reason you and that person are together right now is because you have something of that person inside of yourself. So, when you check down inside of yourself to determine what that person is saying, and you really understand it and relate it to your own life, to the YOU inside of that person, you see it in an entirely different way.
That’s the interpersonal category, and the last one here is seeing that person literally as a soul that transcends and goes far beyond their body. To relate to that person, and to help that person relate to others, to all people as souls… to the extent that you do that, you’re relationships with them will become infinitized, ‘way beyond what you are holding onto right now. The possibilities are endless because the soul is an incredible being. You’re looking at someone not as a body, but as a soul, whose power expands, and whose history and future and transcendence and above-nature-ness transcends our limited way of thinking. It’s a whole different way of looking at a person and seeing them as that kind of a soul.
And when you look at them that way you’re seeing them as someone who’s ultimately going to be perfected. When you see them in their perfected state or on the way to be perfected right now you can know they are on the path of that perfection. They have a whole history, previous lifetimes bringing them to the circumstances in their life right now. And therefore, you can have a huge amount of compassion for that person who is going through what they are going through because of their own, personal rectification process. You can understand them instead of judging them in a bad way.
And you can also see they are ultimately a person who’s every word and thought and feeling and movement and action and decision and way of relating to others is eternal, it’s infinite, and it goes on forever. So, take their words seriously and take who they are seriously. See only the goodness because the soul in its pure form is the essence of what purity is all about. The soul, we say, what G-d gave us, so we need to see it in its purity.
Hopefully, these perspectives on how you see yourself and others, as well as how other people do the same, in a soul kind of a way will lift up the whole way we relate to other people with compassion and dignity and respect.
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.
We are in the midst of a deluge, a flood, a metaphysical and very real plague-like flood here in the streets of Israel. And it seems, by the way things are possibly going, that in a short time the streets of the world as well, people want to kill Jews simply because we exist, for no other reason at all.
Don’t buy all that other propaganda about territorial disputes, including the Temple Mount, or any of that other stuff. It’s all just to play upon the diplomatic sensibilities of the world.
It’s simply that we are Jewish. That’s our cry. That’s why they want to kill us, and the same thing is true for Christians. It’s the Christian’s cry as well.
We’re at a time now where we have to pay attention to what the Torah, the Bible is telling us in this parasha of Noach or Noah. The energy of the parasha of Noah is to our advantage right now because as we all know, it’s about a flood Noah’s Ark was destined to save that seedling of humans and animals from being completely wiped-out by a worldwide flood at that time.
The parallels are strikingly clear right now, in Israel and in other countries around us, and all over the world, including Europe and America, everywhere. Right now, we ALL have to get ourselves into the Ark.
In the past, Noah’s Ark was a place of safety, a shelter from the storm, from the flood threatening to wipe out everyone and everything that wasn’t inside the Ark.
So, we need to figure out how to build our Ark and how to get inside it, to save our lives and to be protected from the flood. So, what I’d like to share with you now is a list of what I believe to be ways we can create Arks in our own lives, to save us from the flood. The Ark is the antidote to the dire danger these current floods are creating.
- We need to jump into the Ark of being constructive, as opposed to the flood, which is destructive. We need to build ourselves an Ark which is celebrating LIFE, as opposed to the flood, which celebrates death and murder. We need to get ourselves into the Ark of G-d’s real, true Word, as opposed to murder in the name of G-d.
- We need to get ourselves into the Ark of being in-sync with our Holy Land here, as opposed to being out-of-sync with it, which is the flood we have threatening us as well.
- We need to get ourselves into the Ark of Shabbat, and realize that everything that’s happening in our lives is coming from above, as opposed to the flood of thinking that the strength of our hands is really going to save us.
- We need to get ourselves into the Ark of Prayer, saying to G-d, “I cannot, Hashem… I can only do it if you help me.” We need to save ourselves from the flood of saying we are the ones who determine what will happen with our own fate.
- We need to get ourselves into the Ark of having true pleasure in the service of G-d, and in the life force of Torah and mitzvoth, as opposed to the robotic, mechanical service in the world of the flood.
- We need to get ourselves into the Ark of understanding, “I am a wealthy person, an immense treasure chest, full of spiritual gifts I have amassed over the last few weeks of holidays, as opposed to thinking now it’s just the same-old, same-old schedule of the past.
- We need to get ourselves into the Ark of knowing we are a member of an eternal, invincible people, as opposed to the mindset, the flood-type thinking that we are vulnerable to everyone’s whims and horrible designs against us.
- We need to get ourselves into the Ark of knowing that every little bit of goodness and overcoming of evil we do in our lives moves worlds and elicits the support of millions and billions of people rooting for us, as opposed to falling into the flood of despair.
- We need to get ourselves into the Ark of radical belief, 24/7, that G-d is running our lives, no matter what we think is the cause of everything that’s going on, and that it’s coming from us, as opposed to thinking everything is by chance.
- We need to get ourselves into the Ark of knowing that every minute of our lives is precious, as opposed to the flood of wanting to kill time.
- We need to get ourselves into the Ark of trust in G-d, and knowing that G-d will come through for me, just as he has endless numbers of times before, as opposed to thinking that it’s all happenstance.
- We need to get ourselves into the Ark of knowing, “I am a soul and I have control of all the animal parts inside of me,” just like the animals in Noah’s Ark, as opposed to thinking, “I am a human animal who can only succeed with the laws of the jungle.
- We need to get ourselves into the Ark of encouragement and love for everybody we see and connect with in our lives, as opposed to the flood of hate and depression.
- We need to get ourselves into the Ark of seeing others with the eyes of G-d, with compassion and with vision of who they can be, as opposed to seeing others as infidels, not worthy of life.
- We need to get ourselves into the Ark of what G-d said to Noah, “Come into the Ark and make that light shine, meaning the teva, the holy words of Torah and prayer. We must make that shine by going deeply into it, as opposed to the flood of thinking that everything is purposeless and lifeless, recital without any meaning.
- We need to get ourselves into the Ark of seeing goodness into being, as opposed to the opposite, which is seeing evil manifest.
- We need to get ourselves into the Ark of unifying with all the good, as opposed to the opposite.
- We need to get ourselves into the Ark of the good inclination inside ourselves, prompted by the spice of Torah, to counteract that flood of evil inclination, the Yetzer Hara.
- We need to get ourselves into the Ark of the mikvah, of purifying ourselves, to counteract the flood of impurity.
- We need to get ourselves into the act of being givers, to save ourselves from the flood of takers.
- We need to get ourselves into the act of 40 days of shelter, of going into a process and sticking with it until it gets done, just like the 40 days of the flood, as opposed to being exposed to whatever may happen in our lives and not completing them.
- We need to get into the Ark of seeing the good in people, even if it’s one little, tiny piece of good that will outshine all the bad inside of them, as opposed to the flood of the opposite.
- We need to get into the Ark of making sacred space of who we are, when we are, how we are, with whom we are, as opposed to seeing the exact opposite.
- We need to get into the Ark of talking soul and heart talk to other people, as opposed to talking hate talk, talking senseless externalities.
- We need to get into the Ark of seeing people as souls, as opposed to seeing them as enemies and something to be killed.
- We need to get into the Ark of the house of study and the house of prayer, as opposed to the flood of the opposite.
- We need to get into the Ark of modesty, as opposed to the flood of flagrancy.
- We need to get into the Ark of knowing that there is nothing else in the world, except for G-d.
5. Seeing With The Eyes of G-d Healing [“…..Lecha Hashem hagedula vhagevura/yours Hashem is the greatness and the might….”]
See the challenge that you or others are going through as being one that is only problematic when you see it from the narrow perspective of the present, but just Hashem represents past, present and future all at the same time [He Was , Is and Will be]—so too when seeing with the eyes of G-d….whatever problem you or others face, there’s a past history to it that makes it understandable and even elicits empathy and compassion….and when you add to that the ultimate future rectification, healing and perfection that you or they are destined for—and you bring that into the here and now, then whatever problem exists now melts away…
This type of healing is based on the timelessness of the Divine. Timeless means that there is no beginning or end, no past, present or future, or that all of these exist at one time. The very name, the proper 4-letter Hebrew name of G-d is expanded to mean the past, present and future, “whatever He will be, He will be,” past, present and future, in other words.
This perspective, which we’re seeing in a G-dly way, and which is one of the most potent ways for us to connect with G-d. It is basically our key to drawing down what is called “The Hidden Light” or the Ohr Ganuz, which is expanded seeing, meaning our words, and our vision from one end to another, such as one end of our life to the other, from one end of Torah to the other and from one end of history to the other, etc.
That hidden light is the past, present and future as well, and seeing with the eyes of G-d in this way is what all of humanity will eventually step into. And the most potent aspect of the healing comes when we’re able to project and to radiate into the mind of the person we’re seeing in this way, that they are headed towards perfection, towards empowerment.
They are on a road of constant improvement, even with its twists and turns, but for a person to know that no matter how many left turns and bumps in the road there may be, the journey is cumulative. They are building their life in this way.
This is the most healing message a person can hear, connecting them with their future but also with their past as well. Their past has all been a preparation for where they are now.
When you frame a person’s life in that way you give them incredible courage and encouragement to keep on doing what they’re doing and not to feel afraid because G-d is leading them in the way they need to go.
That’s Garden of Eden perception and encouragement as well.
6. HELPLESS LIBERATION HEALING [“….Hoshiainu V’nivasheia/save us and we will be saved….”]
Express to Hashem all of the efforts that you have made to overcome a certain problem….keep going until you find that you’ve done everything you could and the problem is still there….at this point , experience your helplessness and in a very emotional way, scream out to Hashem, ‘I can’t do it anymore, Hashem—please do it for me’….follow up your session by processing how you feel now [usually realizing and giving over to Hashem your helplessness is a very healing and liberating feeling] and how this exercise affects your life Providentially [I’ve found that prayers are answered doing this, more than any other practice] as well is the effect it has on you long term [I’ve found that even the most insensitive and cold people become soft-hearted and loving doing this consistently over a period of time]…
For over a year and a half I had three on-going groups, probably at least ten years ago, of “helpless liberation healers,” sometimes called, “helpless emotional screamers,” among other names, and we all used this tool.
We elaborated in an emotional way, to G-d, that we are helpless. And the emotion is there because it’s the emotion that kicks it up to a whole different level. When you’re talking emotion you’re talking from your heart, and when you’re talking from your heart you’re talking about what you’re really here for, what you really feel.
You can bypass the rationalizations and justifications, the repressions and inner protective mechanisms that block us from truly feeling what’s going on inside us. So that’s why it needs to be emotional.
And when we got to that place of helplessness we knew there was no more therapeutic healing, releasing, heart-rendering-melting place. The feeling of “I’m helpless and I’m giving it to G-d who is going to help me…” getting to that place of helplessness is the source of this healing.
First of all, healing is flow. And allowing your helplessness to consciously come to the surface of your awareness is re-instating flow that’s been repressed, because of your helplessness.
Admitting your helplessness, submitting yourself and saying, “I can’t do it, G-d, please do it for me,” is the way to be released. The message you’re sending to G-d by saying and really meaning this in an emotional way is the essence of what prayer is all about, the essence of what G-d is all about.
Why do we pray? We pray to find out where we are, to say, “G-d, please do this for me,” but when we get to this essential prayer place of asking for help, like we would ask a friend, that is bringing G-d into our lives in perhaps the most potent way possible.
When we do that we find our prayers being answered, we find our trust level goes ‘way up, we see miracles happening in our lives, we see our hearts opening up, and we are more sensitive and responsive to others who are in need of help, as well as ourselves. And like everything else in spirituality, we see that it perpetrates more of the same.
7. LOWER SOUL INTEGRATION HEALING [“…..Bkhol levavecha/with all of your hearts…..”]
Connect with that part of yourself that you normally tend to repress —the ‘shadow’ part—the part that tends to sabotage your efforts, the more that you try to repress it—the part of you that is usually looking to be ‘done’ with responsibilities and to have fun [and a host of other questionable traits—not including those of the yaitzer hara\ the evil inclination driving you to go against Hashem—that’s not part of this approach] …..rather than continuing to repress it, integrate it…do this in any one of several ways—make a deal with it—win win—you give it it’s free reign as long as it does you no damage, or you replace it’s fallen traits from being destructive, to being helpful and empowering…..notice how the more that you positively integrate this lower part of yourself, the more energized and peaceful do you feel……
We all have many non-flattering parts of ourselves, and we repress them. These parts of ourselves that are repressed can come back to haunt us and sabotage us, at times and in places where they are not flattering. They rear their ugly heads and make us think and feel and say and do things that are NOT what we want to do.
As long as we hide and repress these parts, that’s exactly what will happen to us. The healing here is to liberate the non-flattering parts of ourselves by first identifying them, by admitting that there’s an ugly, dark, shadowy part of me that wants to be lazy, that wants to have fun at the wrong times, that wants to be a kid, that wants to do things that are not necessarily against G-d’s will for us, but definitely things we need to take care of.
That’s what we’re here for in this life, to take care of unfinished business. These parts are the expression of unfinished business from previous incarnations and whatever other sources, but we need to take care of them.
The best way to deal with an unflattering partner, which these parts are, is to talk it out, to make a deal, and make a win-win. It’s a negotiation, such as, “I will give you your expression of laziness if you will allow me my sense of accomplishment.” “I will give you your expression of interest in having fun if you will allow me my sense of being responsible.” Make it clear. Bring it out.
When we do that we not only liberate our lower parts but our entire self. When we do this we serve G-d, as our Sages say, “with all of our hearts.” We use our higher parts and our lower parts, and we are a complete person in that sense.
8. PERFECT AS IS HEALING [“…Ain ra yoreid min haShamayim/Evil doesn’t come from G-d”]
Repeat the phrase, ‘Perfect as is’ every 15 to 20 seconds repeatedly…..Allow your mind to wrap itself around all the imperfections and difficulties in your life….Sweeten all of these thoughts by accepting that they are personally sent to you from ABOVE by Hashem [and therefore have no intrinsic negativity] at this particular time , place and manner—because Hashem feels that it’s the best possible thing for you…..trust that Hashem has guided you and helped you overcome similar challenges in the past—so too now…..
This is the ultimate tool for transcendent living, for equanimity, for having a life which is going to allow you to embrace everything that happens to you and to have peace of mind.
Perfect as is means, when you say it every 15 seconds or so, feels as though everything in my own life, no matter how unflattering, is exactly what Hashem is sending to me. It’s exactly what the doctor ordered.
Even if I made a bad decision, with all the circuitry that’s been lit up here and all the decision-making processes and factors, and what happens in our day-to-day processing of living, we are saying, “this is exactly what is designated for me from Above.”
I accept that it’s perfect as is, it’s what I need to go through right now. Then I embrace life, I jump out of bed in the morning and have compassion upon every other person in the world who is flawed, like myself.
I am able to embrace the flaws and my little, tiny baby-step accomplishments. This is the key to transcendence. It’s the key to being able to say that whatever comes along it’s my life, as is. Of course I’m improving and G-d is helping me improve, but I am going to face the music of everything that is going on in my life as G-d – sent. When you see everything as G-d – sent then you are sweetening it ad infinitum.