Is the akeida an example of how the conviction of our pain becomes the new skin that closes and heals our wounds?

A continuation of the topic from

How to heal our broken hearts – a call to action

Is the akeida an example of how the conviction of our pain becomes the new skin that closes and heals our wounds  This important information may be  extractable from the akeidas Yitzchok we read every day:

And it came to pass after these things, that God tested Abraham, and He said to him, “Abraham,” and he said, “Here I am.”
2And He said, “Please take your son, your only one, whom you love, yea, Isaac, and go away to the land of Moriah and bring him up there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains, of which I will tell you.”
3And Abraham arose early in the morning, and he saddled his donkey, and he took his two young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for a burnt offering, and he arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
4On the third day, Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar.
5And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go yonder, and we will prostrate ourselves and return to you.”
6And Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering, and he placed [it] upon his son Isaac, and he took into his hand the fire and the knife, and they both went together.
7And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father, and he said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8And Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And they both went together.
9And they came to the place of which God had spoken to him, and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and he bound Isaac his son and placed him on the altar upon the wood.
10And Abraham stretched forth his hand and took the knife, to slaughter his son.
11And an angel of God called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”
12And he said, “Do not stretch forth your hand to the lad, nor do the slightest thing to him, for now I know that you are a God fearing man, and you did not withhold your son, your only one, from Me.”
13And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and he saw, and lo! there was a ram, [and] after [that] it was caught in a tree by its horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
14And Abraham named that place, The Lord will see, as it is said to this day: On the mountain, the Lord will be seen.
15And an angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven.
16And he said, “By Myself have I sworn, says the Lord, that because you have done this thing and you did not withhold your son, your only one,
17That I will surely bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand that is on the seashore, and your descendants will inherit the cities of their enemies.
18And through your children shall be blessed all the nations of the world, because you hearkened to My voice.”
19And Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beer sheba; and Abraham remained in Beer sheba.

 

Avraham struggled internally for the three days before the akeida to be able to take his only son from Sara, Yitzchok, as an offering.  Avraham was known for lovingkindness, chesed.  He represents the expression of Hashem’s lovingkindness.  After all the years of being childless and then having a son with Sara that would fulfill Hashem’s promise that Avraham would be the father of the Jewish people, surely his natural intelligence and natural love for Yitzchok presented conflicting messages to him regarding Hashem’s instruction to take Yitzchok for an offering.  What might that have felt like?

 

Imagine the conviction with which the conflicting messages might have presented themselves…the feelings of love for his son, the concern for the impact on Sara, the lack of clarity regarding how Hashem would bring His promise to Avraham, and perhaps more. Plain instinct.  Nothing evil really.

Nevertheless, because Avraham had total clarity that Hashem instructs Him to bring Yitzchok, and because Avraham had total love for Hashem and for serving Hashem Who is all lovingkindness, Avraham was able to garner the conviction of the conflicting messages for the akeida.  Once he had that conviction with the goal of serving Hashem, Avraham was ready to serve Hashem and some say actually did cut Yitzchok.  But Hashem stops Avraham.

10And Abraham stretched forth his hand and took the knife, to slaughter his son.
11And an angel of God called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”
12And he said, “Do not stretch forth your hand to the lad, nor do the slightest thing to him, for now I know that you are a God fearing man, and you did not withhold your son, your only one, from Me.”
13And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and he saw, and lo! there was a ram, [and] after [that] it was caught in a tree by its horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
14And Abraham named that place, The Lord will see, as it is said to this day: On the mountain, the Lord will be seen.
15And an angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven.
16And he said, “By Myself have I sworn, says the Lord, that because you have done this thing and you did not withhold your son, your only one,
17That I will surely bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand that is on the seashore, and your descendants will inherit the cities of their enemies.
18And through your children shall be blessed all the nations of the world, because you hearkened to My voice.”

 

When we are able to truly put Hashem in the center of our moment, despite the natural forceful emotions and reactivity that may be flying around us, we have in that moment on our level brought the forces of lovingkindness and gevurah into a harmony of opposites in order to serve Hashem.  Being able to do so means that we have somehow emotionally integrated a knowledge of Hashem into our hearts.  Emotionally felt knowledge of Hashem is called daas.  It is integrated wisdom.

 

Our natural wisdom has integrated into it the judgments and advice of the nachash.  That is the consequence of having eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  And because we are all one soul, the soul of Adom, we are all responsible for the fixing of this confusion of mind.  The confusion of mind is that we listen to the advice integrated into our natural emotions, which is the advice using the wisdom of the nachash.  Thus, clinging to Hashem’s lovingkindness and yearning to feel His pure love and mercy so that we may reveal His love and mercy instead means that we are asking Hashem that the conviction with which we feel like following our natural instincts instead become the vessel for expressing His love and mercy.  And for this choice, when Hashem grants success, that conviction heals our hearts from the confusion of mind.  We are able to more and more see ourselves as a beam of light that is made in His Image, walking past the temptations of the suggestions of our natural instincts, to instead find solutions based in Torah and Hashem’s lovingkindness.  Each time we do this, we grow in emunah.

The efforts of Avraham and Yitzchok at the akeida brought them to a new level of emunah.  Together, their efforts created an emunah that we inherit and is within us, although it may be latent.  We have this emunah!  It may be latent but with effort, we too are capable of growing in emunah and being close to Hashem through our effort to emulate Him by wooing to the side of holiness the convictions with which we initially feel like acting on our instinctive reactions.  Those convictions are our gevurah.  Freeing them from the judgments of the wisdom of the nachash by seeing the falsehoods that cause us to fall through kina, kavod or taiva is THE effort that is 100 percent in our control.  When we plead with Hashem to please help us connect to His love and mercy instead, we are offering that gevurah within us as the means to reveal Hashem in this world.

And that is what we are created to do.  We can choose to make an effort to harmonize the opposing forces within us for the sake of revealing Hashem’s love and mercy.  In making this effort, we are making the effort to unify His Name and to bring the tohu through our hearts to rectification.  Success is up to Hashem. However, our prayerful efforts in this are causative of positive influence and there is an effect, even if we do not see it.

Let us unify in our efforts to make this repair.  No one is “off the hook” on this because we are all one soul who were present when Adom ate.  Together, we can bring healing to the world.  May Hashem grant the light of redemption for our efforts.  Today!

Rabbi Asher Freund on Tisha B’av – translated

 

 

Rabbi Asher Freund on Tisha B’av – translated

This is a translation of a written article by Rabbi Asher Freund on Tisha B’av.

 

Thanks to Gittie Illes for re-recording a translation of this shiur.  For more translations see recordings of the weekly ongoing endeavor here:

The Derech of Emunah -Rabbi Asher Freund readings UPDATED

Yearning for a Yom Tov this Tisha B’av?

Emunah Zoom

Lights of Emunah – New Phone Chabura

How to heal our broken hearts – a call to action

Let’s take a closer look at shame.

Rabbi Mendel Kessin has an entire shiur on free will and the bread of shame.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIVFH9XACo4&t=5s

His description is vitally helpful in comprehending our basic existence.

 

What is the pain of the bread of shame that we are here to live in a way that will inoculate us from that pain?  It is a pain the angels feel as a creation that as great as Hashem made them, they cannot be Hashem.  How do we understand how that feels, to be who we are and not someone far greater, someone we can never reach?  For starters, watch toddlers fight over a toy.  What are they perceiving when a different child has the toy?  Even if there is a roomful of the exact same toy, the child feels pain that they do not have THAT toy.  So we understand what the pain is.  It is inborn, it triggers us, and our imagination then goes after that pain into jealousy that can even generate hatred and an urge to kill.

 

When the nachash told Eve that if she eats from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she would be like Hashem, she ate.  Man wants to be Hashem.  That is our wish.  And as a creation, that is a total impossibility.  A creation is not the Creator.  We have a Creator.

 

Here is what happens though.   The potential for shame in realizing that we are not Hashem is NOT something that we feel naturally.  We feel the shame but we do not know that it is because we are not Hashem and can never be Hashem.  At least if we understood that much, it could save us from falling into feeling shamed by our beliefs being ridiculed or not respected.

 

Naturally, that potential within the soul built in to help us use free will to choose to be like Hashem and act in His Image so that we have the experience actually being like Hashem, gets pulled into the thoughts that we generate naturally, thoughts that are dominated by the integrated understanding of the egoistic part of us.  Take a closer look…we feel shame because we were not respected, or we did not have the same pleasurable vacation or car of our friend, or we became indignant over a wrong done to us.  Kina, taiva, kavod or a mixture are the root causes of the shame being held prisoner in the natural occurring circumstances.  Our soul that wants to serve Hashem and emulate Him and be like Hashem, that very soul that is capable of measuring whether we have acted in His Image, is instead serving the goals of the nachash.  This is how the eating of the knowledge of good and evil has confounded us – the shame intended to keep us close to Hashem is blinded and captured by yearning for belief besides the yearning to be like Hashem, close to Him, emulating Him, trying to connect with Him in personal prayer.

 

So shame is a big topic, you see?  It is our soul literally serving something besides Hashem because we believe doing so will keep us safe from harm.    What are we submitting to?  If we were in a dictatorship, it would be fear of annihilation by the dictator.  We would quickly do everything we could to make sure we were in compliance with the dictator’s decrees.  Subconsciously, our false beliefs become a spiritual dictator, telling us what terrible things will happen if we do not listen to the belief, a belief that is inherently false but that may be a consistent pattern in our lives.   We have to see and feel the pain of this connection to our false beliefs and the messages that we tell ourselves about how dangerous it is to let go of the belief in favor of trusting that our safety and survival depend only on Hashem.

 

All of that said, intellectually understanding this is NOT enough. Sorry.  We actually have to undergo a dynamic process that includes prayer and heartfelt love and awe of Hashem.  Our role is effort.  Hashem gives us prayer as a causative effort.  Built into the creation is that prayer produces an effect.

 

Hashem grants success or not; however, there is an effect whether or not we experience it.  What is that effect? The personal prayer, the love for Hashem, the recognition of the design of man as a creation here to rectify the fallen sparks from the world of tohu that animate our subconscious with messages of autonomous independent existence help us to nibble our way out of the cocoon of survival instincts.  The painful energy that feels like a bite from  the nachash can instead become the strong fiber that weaves from the actual elements of our physical existence new growth.  The new growth heals us – it closes up the openings in our thinking through which our imagination fell.  And again, there are three openings through which we fall. Kina, kavod and taiva.

 

This is a process of run and return.  We are in a fallen world and when we rise above our nature, it is inevitable that once again we will fall.  The reason is that it is doing the dynamic process of ratzo v’shov which creates our connection to Hashem.  We are given this opportunity to be like Hashem and use the raw materials with free will and speech to create our eternal identity, each time causing an effect.

 

It is our will to do Hashem’s will.  When we actively cry out and describe our feelings that are blocking our feeling Hashem’s love and mercy, we begin to nullify the false belief that the material and physical world has autonomous independent existence.  By loving Hashem and having awe in the design, we open the channel to actually feel Hashem’s love and mercy flow to us.

How?

Love Hashem and fear Hashem are mitzvahs of the Torah.  Commandments connect us to Him.  The act of loving Hashem and having awe is our effort that moves us toward the abstract spiritual world where our souls already know that everything Hashem does is for the good, that He is all lovingkindness.  This is not an intellectual exercise, something we can read and nod and then claim to understand as if it is now in our grab bag of choice.  Until we dynamically exercise these effortful steps, describing our darkness, feeling love for Hashem and awe in the design at the same time, holding it all in our hearts and recognizing that Hashem alone has all the power to heal us, our survival instincts will repeat the same patterns over and over throughout our lives and we will have no understanding to answer the question, “if we know all of this why does it keep happening?”  It keeps happening because healing ourselves and removing the effect of the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is not a spectator sport…it is something that our hearts must actively do in combination with our mouth and our mind. The good news is that when we see this as our unique opportunity to be like Hashem, the whole effort becomes so meaningful we are truly grateful to make the effort. Why?  Because we know with clarity that we are about to have an experience that will inoculate us against feeling shame for all eternity!

Our effort to do this means we have used free will to emulate Hashem, to be like Hashem, to act and speak in unity with Hashem so that His thirteen attributes  may be revealed in this world.

There are no words to stress how important it is to make this effort.  There are no shortcuts. But getting started on this path is itself impactful.  The path of growing in emunah and being able to emulate Hashem more and more is infinite, so just getting started is what we are all doing, even if we have been doing it for a lifetime…how far can any of us actually get?  Moshe Rebbeinu?  King David?  We don’t have to reach them.  But we have to make the effort.

 

Tisha B’av is to remind us that we are suffering because we do not have the temple, a place where the light of Hashem could be seen and then brought into our homes.  Now, it is the mitzvahs of love Hashem and awe of Hashem that are innate within us that bring us to connect with Hashem’s love and mercy in our hearts.  Our pain is our korbon.  The result is healing.  Our effort means we acted in His Image.

 

May we soon see a new light, a light that shines from each of our souls as we more and more are able to dialogue with ourselves and gain a harmonizing of the competing emotions within us, a harmonizing that now strengthens us to walk with safety from the pain of shame past the temptations of natural reactions for kina, kavod and taiva and instead reveal compassion.  Survival is in Hashem’s hands alone.  Let us put our trust where trustworthiness is. And let us become the vessels to bring compassion into the world, revealed light.

Emunah Zoom

Hashem loves us unconditionally but we are primarily here for our own legacy to have been a lovingkind creator like Hashem

Uplifting our shame responses and healing them through proper understanding of who we are and what we are here to do

Yearning for a Yom Tov this Tisha B’av?

This Shabbos is the ninth of Av, with the fast taking place on Sunday.  Why are we still sitting on the ground? If we ask ourselves these types of questions and seek it out, perhaps we might find what we individually (on a theme that collectively is findable for each unique soul) realize within ourselves that can possibly make a difference.

 

Please hear the first 14 minutes from Rabbi Asher Freund, translated (unfortunately the remaining 45 minutes did not record).

 

All too often when we feel hurt or angry, we feel drawn towards defensiveness and retorts to protect ourselves.  This is natural.  This is our survival mechanism.

 

What I want to suggest that we might consider, if we don’t want to continue sitting on the floor every year, is that we take a truer perspective on our lives and the powers Hashem has given to us by making us in His Image and giving us free will and the creative power of speech.

 

Consider what happens to our view of our lives when we deeply see ourselves as beams of light that have a persona and have force.  Notice the use of distinguishing terms.  Our truth is that we are a beam of light made in Hashem’s Image, constantly connected to Him.  We HAVE a force – the forces of nature – with which we are blessed with a body and free will.  We have a persona to through which we are gifted to be able to act.  The goal of this combination is so that we may nullify the natural drives that wish to express themselves due to our being given life in favor of expressing abstract spiritual reality, namely that all there is in the world is Hashem Who is all lovingkind, Who is the only Being that is actually alive, Who Creates us so that we may reveal His Lovingkindness into the world through our speech and deeds.

 

What inspires us to choose to reveal Hashem rather than the natural drives suggested by our survival instincts?  Instead of defending our persona with force and survival instincts, we can re-invest the strength of our survival instincts into emunah, Torah values halachas and emulating Hashem’s 13 attributes of mercy.  How does doing so help us to hopefully have a yom tov on Tisha B’av?

 

The goal of our free will is to give us the opportunity to actually make a creative choice that is as powerful as Hashem.  While only a miniscule drop of a miniscule drop of power, we are given real free will that actually is powerful enough to make a real change in the spiritual world as well as in this material and physical reality.  That change that we are given to make in our makeup can take the strength from our survival instincts and have that strength close the openings we often fall through into the dark…kina, kavod and taiva.  Whenever we feel despair, no matter how much our survival instincts tell us what to do, if we take the time to dialogue with ourselves, we will find that we fell through a famous opening within us – famous for being one of kina, kavod or taiva that take us out of the world of connection and into the grips of the forces in the kelipas that wish to nurture off of our holy soul that is made in Hashem’s image.  We do not intentionally fall through these holes of kina, kavod and taiva.  But if we are honest with ourselves when feeling distress, then we can dialogue and view what is happening in these terms because we wish to use the strength of what we feel to heal our reactivity as well as close the door behind us on falling through these openings into the dark.  And when we choose to close the door behind us, because we are all one soul (only one soul, the soul of Adom, has ever been created) we actually close the door on kina, kavod and taiva for everyone.

 

Each one of us is capable of doing a repair on the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Despite our self-interest in the moment, through inner dialogue, we can take the time to reflect on who we truly are – a beam of light made in Hashem’s Image with a mission to come and fix the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – and with inner dialogue, come to an expanded judgment and interpretation that permits us to nullify the seeming reality in favor of abstract spiritual truth.

 

We have the ability to act in the same manner of creating ourselves over again as Hashem.  When we stop in the moment, feel our disconnected anger or fear or pain and also feel love for Hashem and awe in the design, we literally are bringing the attribute of Hashem, love, through the mitzvah of loving Hashem and the mitzvah of having awe in Hashem as our intention and, by speaking the words that describe our survival instincts requesting that we do not want to feel this but rather to reveal His love and mercy, we are nullifying natural reality and instead acting as Hashem.  This effort is emulating Hashem.

 

By emulating Hashem, through pulling back our natural reality, we make it possible for His love and mercy to be seen through our speech and deeds.  We can further ask that the previous strength with which we felt the pain be used to close the doors of kina, kavod and taiva through which we fell.  When we close these pathways to darkness off, we make that strength available for each other, for others who are seeking to also do this effort and walk past their darknesses and survival instincts towards the truth of abstract spiritual reality of Hashem Echad.

Emunah Zoom

Keeping Hashem in the picture – Emulate Him and do not fall into the traps of expressing what is automatic to us

Not being or intending to be a political writer, what I am trying to express here is not on any issue.  The matter being discussed is the tone and character with which influence and opinion are being expressed. When we discuss an issue, is the subject matter being held to a standard of ethics in the Torah or is the subject matter popular because of the emotional reactions that can be evoked?

 

It used to be that we felt emotional about matters of concern to Hashem.  To the degree that continues, we are on the path of closeness to Hashem.  To the very degree that we feel emotions for matters of concern to any other ideology, it is imperative to inquire into our reasoning to explore which doorway out of closeness to Hashem lured us into the dark.

 

We are a beam of light in a material and physical world and nervous system/body that totally obscures natural awareness of Hashem.  It is with emunah that we begin to realize that the persona that we have is not our essential self but is rather the raw material from which our lifetime is potentially able to help us reach an eternal identity of closeness to Hashem.

 

The general mood became at some point that hearing what the Torah has to say on a topic is “preachy.”  What a term!  Automatically the Torah is placed in a reactive word that appeals to our natural instinct to remain safe and secure in our own individual understandings without having to be on a spiritual journey defined by Torah.  It becomes my opinion versus yours. Without the absolute truth of Torah – with Torah principles categorized as “preachy” – the emotional system feels that it may concretize its natural resistance to closeness and keeping Hashem in the center of our thinking in every moment by favoring the “me” in the center of our every moment.  The natural doorways away from closeness to Hashem are totally available for us to walk into a comfort zone where we do not have to accept challenges to who we perceive ourselves as. All we have to do is deceive ourselves with the thoughts that we can grow closer to Hashem through the ways we find enjoyable rather than the pathways He describes as pathways to peace and pleasure.  While we are able to have gratitude for Hashem in doing activities we enjoy and appreciate Hashem for mundane enjoyment and relaxayion, have we really put Hashem ‘s will in the center of our every moment, which Torah teaches is the pathway to peace?

 

Recently, in Israel, incendiary devices were attached to hawks and sent over the fence into Israel, with the expectation that the birds would deliver the fire attached to the bird and create a hazardous fire in Israel.   This action was explained in the article on the basis of showing the hypocracy of people who stand up for animal rights in so many ways but wondering if those same sources against animal cruelty would have this incident on their radar screen.

 

The reality of the discussion being whether or not the animal activists would reach out to Israel and help stop such practices could have instead been a Torah discussion of cruelty to animals.   From an emunah perspective, it seems as though the discussion along the lines of a call for action to activists to oppose the fires set ny hawks could have instead been a discussion of cruelty to animals and a prayer asking that Hashem not allow birds or any other delivery system to bring destruction along with efforts for teshuva.

 

The level of the discussion reveals the heart.  Which do we feel most?  Love for Hashem and the yearning to have His Torah and its statutes well known, defended, and implemented, or the alternative, which is to come out swinging  in self- defense when people take a self-deceptively defensive action that dangerously (with potential impact on our mortality as a  consequence) lashes out at another?  The process we use to reach our goals is what we are creating for our eternal identity.  It is arriving at our eternal identity that we long for!  It is to continue to come closer to Hashem so that we may continue to build our eternal identity out of the raw materials and the innate love and awe that is built into our souls.

 

What quenches the thirst we have for feeling loved and cherished, deserving of mercy and an outpouring of all good things?   How much closer to Hashem do we feel when lashing out?  Is our feeling beloved to Hashem real?  Obviously the point is that we allow our discussion and personal powers and light to become more and more snared in matters that will never give it the happiness of closeness to Hashem that it seeks.

Why is it that when we learn Torah and listen to its teachings that we might still feel drawn to a confrontational and belief-stripping verbal attack that triggers the survival mechanism in the other party?  Is it because we believe in the power of words to keep people “in their place?”  Is shaming and blaming the way to happiness?

No.  Sharp one liners, jokes, clear verbal messages have been learned as a primary way to assert ourselves.  But asserting ourselves as a primary interest insulates us from inter-including our ideas together and seeing the shelamos that is possible to build and wanting that shelamos as the greatest pleasure there is.

 

We are used to blaming, shaming, criticizing, and giving rebuke as always to exercise power toward our goals.  Are we or are we not tired of galus?  What would it take for us to forgo a blaming shaming criticizing use of our life force in favor of a prayerful moment beseeching Hashem to give us a heart of flesh, not stone?  What example shall we set for the next generation?

What we do models for our children what they might choose.  Who do we want our children to be?

We want geula.  We do not want the galus.  Right? So what are we willing to do?

Hashem loves us unconditionally but we are primarily here for our own legacy to have been a lovingkind creator like Hashem

The topic today are the three things that pull us away from closeness to Hashem.  Defining closeness to Hashem as our effort to feel love for Hashem and understand the design and derive a sense of Hashem’s love and mercy that we feel from which we then may act, there are three doorways that interfere with our clinging to Hashem.  These three doorways that close off the feeling of Hashem’s love and mercy are jealousy, desires, and the craving of honor for our egos.  Kina, taiva and kavod.

Most parents have heard that when a small child needs correction, the parent is best advised to make a clear distinction between the behavior and the child herself.  In other words, what we want is for the loved child who is always loved to turn toward a behavior that is kinder, gentler, not hurtful.  What we want is for the child to feel that her essence is pure and that she can communicate her needs or pursue solutions in a more refined manner.

 

The same is true with Hashem and His Nation.  He trusts that we know that we are His Nation, beloved, who understand the role that He has built into the world – the Jewish people, Torah and Hashem are one – that the Jewish people should, like the moon, reveal Hashem’s lovingkindness into the world over our natural responses.

 

Yet the natural responses are a full contact sport – our neurology is built so that we experience emotional storms based on our interpretations of the stimuli around us.  We become more and more wise when we recognize that the interpretations that we are listening to are the false beliefs developed by being a limited being and a dependent child in a material and physical world.  We develop coping mechanisms and strategies we believe will keep us safe from harm.  Yet, upon investigation, there is a deeper movement occurring within our emotional world  That deeper movement is the closing off of our hearts from feeling the pleasure of Hashem’s outpouring of love and mercy because WE have held in our mind a judgment and interpretation that somehow in our subconscious walked through one of three doors – jealousy, desire or craving of honor.  The problem is that we do not realize that any of these three are what is cutting us off.  Rather, we move towards blame, shame and rationalizations for why we are entitled to do something damaging to protect ourselves.

 

Hashem loves us totally.  He wants us to know that He loves us despite our continued struggle with finding and shoring up the doorways in the subconscious realm that lead us astray.  Nevertheless, He has given us real free will and the power of speech to be like Him for the very purpose that we should use these powerful gifts to ask Him to please heal our souls so that we are no longer susceptible to falling through to the darkness that these doorways away from Him lead.

 

In the moment, when we have a challenge, it is not the challenging circumstances that Hashem wants us to focus on.  He wants us to find the doorway we fell through that has led to our feelings of distress so that in prayerful sincerity with love for Hashem and awareness of the design, we beseech Him to please take the spiritual force from the lure of jealousy, taiva and/or honor and seal that pathway in our subconscious mind so that we are protected with that very same strength to remain connected to Him.

 

Our task is to feel love and awe as our intention, and, because words are causative, ask Hashem to please help us reveal His Love and Mercy.  What did we just do?  We took His attributes of love and mercy (felt by us as awe in the design) and enclothed this creative spiritual energy in words of prayer.  What does that remind us of?  Hashem spoke and the world came into being. He is the soul of the world.  He spoke and myriads of material objects appear.  We are not Hashem but Hashem gives us a small way that we can be like Hashem in truth, and that is to be the cause of an effect that heals the subconscious doorways through which we fall and chas v’shalom act hurtfully.

 

Hashem loves us no matter what with a love that cannot be broken.  But He creates us to be like Him for our own sake – for the pleasure now as well as the future pleasure of knowing that we had and properly used our lifetime to act like Hashem acts. When we cry out to Hashem with love and awe in our hearts describing strength of the pulls we feel towards damaging actions, and instead choose and tell Hashem that instead we want to reveal His Love and mercy and please help us, that effort of forming with words filled with love and awe produces spiritually healing effects.  While the success and the actual effects are not up to us, the effort IS and is always causative of some good effect, even if we do not see it.

 

It is unpopular to blame the one suffering for their own pain, and nothing in this post is intended toward that.  The intention is to show an entirely different re-frame of what is happening and where our efforts, with proper understanding, can bring Hashem into the picture so that we remain connected and protected from harm.  The default alternative is that we accept the darkness that we fall into as “the way it is” and use the tools of the material and physical reality to attempt to protect and guard ourselves.  Since most of us live in this way, what is important is to begin to notice it.  Just being able to notice it and to count the number of times we do it could lead to us actually expanding our judgments and interpretations so that more and more we may choose to be more like Hashem in the moment.

 

Bringing us back to the circumstances that trigger us, everything Hashem does is good.  We accept whatever the outcome that He sends.  Doing this process over and over slowly, with love for Hashem and gentleness towards ourselves, we are able to come to see like a slow motion frame by frame movie exactly how our thoughts are what takes us out of the world and our judgments and interpretations what hurts us.  When we are willing to see the re-framed picture and to understand that our behira point, our free will point, is ultimately able to be set at a very deep place within us, our ability to experience the pleasure of revealing Hashem’s love and mercy expands and what is important to us begins to shift so that we do not forcefully fight for lower pleasures that in reality are fleeting, egoistic and ultimately false in that they do not satisfy the deepest need that we have to feel close to Hashem and safe in His arms.

 

And in case we make the mistake of thinking that we are mature enough to not engage in jealousy, desires or the craving for honor, just read Parshas Balak.  Here is a shiur by Rabbi Tzadok Cable that describes how these three inherent imperfections within us were used by our enemies.

More from Rabbi Cable at www.thebinahtree.com

Looking for ways to build emunah using a dynamic process ?

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Lights of Emunah – New Phone Chabura

 

 

Below are some excerpts regarding the teachings of the Arizal, whose yahrtzeit is today 5 Av.  May we see the wisdom in his teachings and trust them and build ourselves to the level of His Nation that Hashem has in mind, and may our effort to do so bring redemption.

http://ascentofsafed.com/cgi-bin/ascent.cgi?Name=ari-soul

Classical kabbala identifies four levels of the soul – called nefesh, ruach, neshama and neshama l’neshama. Nefesh is the animating principle of the physical body and the senses; ruach is the force vitalizing the emotions; neshama is the vitality of intellect; and neshama l’neshama is the essence of life of the human soul. The Arizal refers to this fourth level of soul as chaya, signifying its function as the essence of life. However, all these four aspects of the soul he regarded as mere extensions of the essence of the soul, which he called yechida.

…Between the Creator and the created (i.e., the aspect of spirituality1 in general) there is an intermediate level – regarding which it states, “You are children of G-d your Lord…,” for our Sages have declared, “the Patriarchs are the merkava.” The intention here is that a tiny spark of G-dliness, drawn from the lowest level of the Creator, clothes itself in a single spark of the created in potentia, which is an extremely ethereal soul. Within this soul-spark, called yechida, are the roots of all the other four levels of spirituality – nefesh, ruach, neshama and chaya.2

In other words, the soul is both part of the Creator and at the same time it is created – its luminous essence is “a tiny spark of G-dliness,” and the sheath in which it is clothed is a created being, albeit a spiritual being and not physical. As the soul emanates from the Ein Sof – the Infinite One – eventually to be clothed in the physical body, the soul descends via the four worlds mentioned above, leaving a root in each of the worlds3 – chaya in the world of Atzilut, neshama in the world of Beria, ruach in the world of Yetzira, and nefesh in the spiritual dimension of Asiya.4 All of this is then enclothed within a physical body.

The soul enclothed within the body is a reflection of the Divine Form, called the tzelem, or tzelem Elokim. This tzelem Elokim may be described as the human mold of man’s physical form, linking his body and soul. This mold derives from the configuration of the sefirot, which form the structure of the worlds through which the soul descends on its journey down into the body.

At the same time that the soul’s outer dimension reflects the configuration of the sefirot, the inner dimension of the soul reflects the Infinite Light that illuminates the sefirot. This reflection is called the demut Elokim (the Image of God).5 Thus man includes all of creation within him, from the loftiest spirituality to the most mundane physicality.6

From the perspective of man’s service of G-d, these levels of soul may be described as five ascending levels of awareness of, and communion with, G-d. Regarding these levels of soul, Zohar7 states that when a person is born, he is given a nefesh from the world of Asiya, the lowest world, representing the greatest concealment of G-d. If, through his divine service and proper action, he makes himself worthy, he is then given ruach on the plane of Yetzira. With greater effort, he can earn the revelation of neshama, paralleling the world of Beria. If he purifies himself greatly, he may be able to attain the level of chaya paralleling Atzilut, and even yechida – the G-d-consciousness of the level of Adam Kadmon and beyond. (“Beyond,” because the level of soul called yechida in essence transcends all the worlds, since it is never separated from G-d. It is described as being “truly part of G-d above,”8 the “spark of the Creator clothed within a spark of the created” described earlier.)

This setup puts man in a unique position, for through his spiritual and physical composition (soul and body) he is bound up with all levels of creation. His actions and behavior are therefore capable of affecting all the worlds and all the sefirot. Thus man is a microcosm of creation and his actions have cosmic significance.9 He is able to affect the balance of the universe, both spiritual and physical, by his kavanot (mystical intentions) and yichudim (unifications of the sefirot). The Arizal revealed an elaborate system of kavanot and yichudim designed to achieve this very purpose.

Notes:

. As opposed to physical creation.

  1. Etz Chaim, shaar 42, chap 1.
  2. See R. Chaim Vital’s Shaarei Kedusha, part 3, ch. 5; ã”ä éåðúé áçâåé äñìò in Likutei Torah, Shir Hashirim, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi.
  3. Shaar HaGilgulim, hakdama 1.
  4. See Zohar I, 37a-b; Zohar II, 70b; Hashmatot p. 265a; Pardes, shaar 31, ch. 4.
  5. Pardes, shaar 4, ch. 10.
  6. See vol. II, p. 94b; vol. III, p. 24b-25a, 70b; vol. I, p. 62a, commentaries; Pardes, shaar 31, ch. 3.
  7. Job 31:2; Tanya ch. 2.
  8. R. Chaim Vital, Shaarei Kedusha III, 2-3.

 

http://www.inner.org/sefirot/sefketer.htm

 

Keter, or Crown, is the first of the ten sefirot and corresponds to the superconscious realm of experience. Thus, the image of a “crown,” which suggests an aura surrounding one’s consciousness.

In the configuration of the sefirot, keter appears at the top of the middle axis.

The Zohar states: “the supernal crown [keter elyon] is the crown of kingdom [keter malchut].” The first, highest of the Divine emanations–keter–is thus linked to the last–malchut (kingdom).

The gematria of keter (כתר) is 620. This is the full number of God’s commandments to Israel, the 613 mitzvot of the written Torah together with the 7 mitzvot of the Oral Torah. The Torah text of the Ten Commandments possesses 620 letters, for all of the 620 mitzvot are included in the Ten Commandments. In Kabbalah, the secret of the 620 commandments is that from keter (=620) are projected “620 pillars of light” which serve to connect the ceiling of keter to the floor of malchut. These pillars of light encompass the souls of Israel that devotedly fulfill the will (keter) of the King of Kings (malchut).

The sefirah of keter develops into two partzufim (personas). Its external partzuf, referred to as Arich Anpin (“the Elongated Face”), corresponds to the superconscious power of ratzon (will) in the soul. Its inner partzuf, referred to as Atik Yomin (“the Ancient of Days”), corresponds to the corresponding power of ta’anug (pleasure) in the soul.

The seven lower sefirot of Atik Yomin are enclothed within the partzuf of Arich Anpin, (thus introducing pleasure as a primary motivational force driving the will). The three upper sefirot of Atik Yomin, which are not enclothed within Arich Anpin, represent the unadulterated superconscious pleasure of emunah (faith)–deriving from the experience of one’s essential rootedness within Divinity.

Hence, Kabbalah speaks of the three Reishin (heads) of keter, referred to by the Zohar (III, 288a) and the Arizal as:

  • Reisha d’Arich (the elongated head), corresponding to the force of ratzon;
  • Reisha d’Ayin (the head of nothingness), corresponding to the force of ta’anug; and
  • Reisha d’lo Ityada (the unknowable head), corresponding to the force of emunah.

These three heads of keter correspond to the three meanings of the word keter in Hebrew. In addition to meaning “crown,” the root keter means both “to wait” and “to surround.”

The meaning “to wait” corresponds to “the unknowable head” of keter, for we wait, in perfect faith, for that level of God’s essential Divinity, absolutely hidden and concealed from the consciousness of this world, to become revealed in the consciousness of the world to come.

The meaning “crown” corresponds, in particular, to “the head of nothingness,” the source of Divine pleasure in the soul. The “crown” symbolizes the spiritual power to receive and integrate into one’s consciousness the pleasure of Divine revelation, as our sages express with regard to the world to come: “the righteous sit with their crowns on their heads and receive pleasure from the radiance of the Divine Presence” (Tractate Kalah Rabati 2:3).

The meaning “to surround” corresponds to “the elongated head,” the level of supernal will. The power of will “surrounds” all of the conscious powers of the soul (corresponding to the Divine emanations from chochmah to malchut). It forces them to manifest themselves in accord with its directions.

Three Reishin Force “Meanings” of keter Reflects God’s
Reisha d’lo Ityada Emunah “to wait” God is all. All is God
Reisha d’Ayin Ta’anug “crown” Omnipresence
Reisha d’Arich Ratzon “to surround” Omnipotence

The power of will, “the elongated head” of keter, reflects God’s omnipotence. Likewise, the Divine state of pleasure, “the head of nothingness” of keter, reflects God’s omnipresence (“the radiance of the Divine Presence”). Perfect faith, “the unknowable head” of keter, reflects the absolute truth that “God is all, all is God.”

 

5th of Av – Yahrtzeit of the Arizal Rabbi Isaac Luria

http://ascentofsafed.com/cgi-bin/ascent.cgi?Name=ari-soul

Classical kabbala identifies four levels of the soul – called nefesh, ruach, neshama and neshama l’neshama. Nefesh is the animating principle of the physical body and the senses; ruach is the force vitalizing the emotions; neshama is the vitality of intellect; and neshama l’neshama is the essence of life of the human soul. The Arizal refers to this fourth level of soul as chaya, signifying its function as the essence of life. However, all these four aspects of the soul he regarded as mere extensions of the essence of the soul, which he called yechida.

…Between the Creator and the created (i.e., the aspect of spirituality1 in general) there is an intermediate level – regarding which it states, “You are children of G-d your Lord…,” for our Sages have declared, “the Patriarchs are the merkava.” The intention here is that a tiny spark of G-dliness, drawn from the lowest level of the Creator, clothes itself in a single spark of the created in potentia, which is an extremely ethereal soul. Within this soul-spark, called yechida, are the roots of all the other four levels of spirituality – nefesh, ruach, neshama and chaya.2

In other words, the soul is both part of the Creator and at the same time it is created – its luminous essence is “a tiny spark of G-dliness,” and the sheath in which it is clothed is a created being, albeit a spiritual being and not physical. As the soul emanates from the Ein Sof – the Infinite One – eventually to be clothed in the physical body, the soul descends via the four worlds mentioned above, leaving a root in each of the worlds3 – chaya in the world of Atzilut, neshama in the world of Beria, ruach in the world of Yetzira, and nefesh in the spiritual dimension of Asiya.4 All of this is then enclothed within a physical body.

The soul enclothed within the body is a reflection of the Divine Form, called the tzelem, or tzelem Elokim. This tzelem Elokim may be described as the human mold of man’s physical form, linking his body and soul. This mold derives from the configuration of the sefirot, which form the structure of the worlds through which the soul descends on its journey down into the body.

At the same time that the soul’s outer dimension reflects the configuration of the sefirot, the inner dimension of the soul reflects the Infinite Light that illuminates the sefirot. This reflection is called the demut Elokim (the Image of God).5 Thus man includes all of creation within him, from the loftiest spirituality to the most mundane physicality.6

From the perspective of man’s service of G-d, these levels of soul may be described as five ascending levels of awareness of, and communion with, G-d. Regarding these levels of soul, Zohar7 states that when a person is born, he is given a nefesh from the world of Asiya, the lowest world, representing the greatest concealment of G-d. If, through his divine service and proper action, he makes himself worthy, he is then given ruach on the plane of Yetzira. With greater effort, he can earn the revelation of neshama, paralleling the world of Beria. If he purifies himself greatly, he may be able to attain the level of chaya paralleling Atzilut, and even yechida – the G-d-consciousness of the level of Adam Kadmon and beyond. (“Beyond,” because the level of soul called yechida in essence transcends all the worlds, since it is never separated from G-d. It is described as being “truly part of G-d above,”8 the “spark of the Creator clothed within a spark of the created” described earlier.)

This setup puts man in a unique position, for through his spiritual and physical composition (soul and body) he is bound up with all levels of creation. His actions and behavior are therefore capable of affecting all the worlds and all the sefirot. Thus man is a microcosm of creation and his actions have cosmic significance.9 He is able to affect the balance of the universe, both spiritual and physical, by his kavanot (mystical intentions) and yichudim (unifications of the sefirot). The Arizal revealed an elaborate system of kavanot and yichudim designed to achieve this very purpose.

Notes:
. As opposed to physical creation.
2. Etz Chaim, shaar 42, chap 1.
3. See R. Chaim Vital’s Shaarei Kedusha, part 3, ch. 5; ã”ä éåðúé áçâåé äñìò in Likutei Torah, Shir Hashirim, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi.
4. Shaar HaGilgulim, hakdama 1.
5. See Zohar I, 37a-b; Zohar II, 70b; Hashmatot p. 265a; Pardes, shaar 31, ch. 4.
6. Pardes, shaar 4, ch. 10.
7. See vol. II, p. 94b; vol. III, p. 24b-25a, 70b; vol. I, p. 62a, commentaries; Pardes, shaar 31, ch. 3.
8. Job 31:2; Tanya ch. 2.
9. R. Chaim Vital, Shaarei Kedusha III, 2-3.

http://ascentofsafed.com/cgi-bin/ascent.cgi?Name=ari

Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572), renowned as the greatest kabbalist of modern times, is commonly known as the ARI, an acronym standing for Elohi Rabbi Yitzhak – the G-dly Rabbi Isaac.  No other master or sage ever had this extra letter, standing for – Elohi – G-dly – prefaced to his name.  This is a sign of what his contemporaries thought of him.  Later generations, fearsome that this appellation might be misunderstood, said that this alef stood for Askenazi, indicating that  his family had originated in Germany, as indeed it had.  But the original meaning is the correct one, and to this day Rabbi Isaac Luria is universally referred to as the “Holy Ari.”

The Ari was born in Jerusalem in 1534. By the time he was eight, he was recognized as a wonder child, a prodigy who already outshone the greatest minds of Jerusalem.  At this tender age, he had already mastered the intricacies of the Talmud and committed dozens of volumes to memory.

The Ari’s father died while he was still a child. Under the pressure of poverty, his mother went to Egypt, where they lived with her brother, Mordecai Frances, a wealthy tax agent. The Ari’s brilliance continued to shine. The young prodigy was placed under the tutelage of Rabbi Betzalel Ashkenazi (1520-1592), best known for his important Talmudic commentary, the Shita Mekubetzet (Embracing System).  There is also evidence that the young lad also studied under the great Radbaz, Rabbi David ben Zimri (1480-1573) who was then the chief rabbi of Cairo. By the time he was fifteen, his expertise in Talmud had overwhelmed all the sages in Egypt. According to a reliable account, the Ari himself also wrote a large Talmudic commentary around this time. Had he remained nothing more than a Talmudic scholar, he would have joined the ranks of the greatest of all times.

At this time he married his uncle’s daughter. At age seventeen, he discovered the Zohar, obtaining his own manuscript copy. After, he spent fifteen years meditating, at first with his master, Rabbi Betzalel Ashkenazi, and then alone, reaching the highest levels of holiness. Eventually, he spent two years meditating in a hut near the Nile, utterly isolated, not speaking to any human being. The only time he would return home would be on the eve of the Sabbath, just before dark.  But even at home, he would not speak.  When it was absolutely necessary for him to say something, he would say it in the least possible number of words, and only in the Holy Tongue.

It is accepted that the Ari became worthy of ruach hakodesh.  At times, Elijah revealed himself to him and taught him the mysteries of the Torah. Every night his soul ascended to heaven. Angels would escort him, asking which academy he chose to visit.  Sometimes it would be that of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. He also visited the academies of Rabbi Akiba and Rabbi Eliezer the Great, and on occasion the academies of the ancient Prophets.

At the end of this period he received a command to go to the Holy land, from Elijah the Prophet. He arrived in Safed during the summer of 1570, and began by concealing  his gifts completely.  He was only there a short time when the Ramak (Rabbi Moshe Cordovero 1522-1570), head of the Safed kabbalists, died on June 26, 1570 (23 Tammuz, 5330). By identifying the heavenly pillar of fire that followed the great kabbalist’s funeral procession, the Ari established himself as the new leader.

The Ari passed away on July 15, 1572 (5 Av, 5332), barely two years after he had arrived in Safed.  During his brief stay there, he had assembled a group of approximately a dozen disciples, with Chaim Vital at their head, and they continued to review his teachings.  For the most part, it was Rabbi Chaim who put them into writing.  The main works are the Etz Chaim (Tree of Life) and Pri Etz Chaim (Fruit of the Tree of Life), as well as the Eight Gates, which deal with everything from Bible commentary to divine inspiration and reincarnation.

The Ari also authored the liturgical poems “Azamer Bishvachin,” “Asader Lisudata,” and “Benei Heichala,” sung at the three Shabbat meals respectively and included in nearly every Chassidic and Sephardic prayerbook.

The teachings of the Ari have been afforded status as a primary authority, on the same level as the Zohar itself.  Every custom of the Ari was scrutinized, and many were accepted, even against previous practice.  The great Polish codifier, Rabbi Abraham Combiner (1635-1683), author of the Magen Avraham (Shield of Abraham), takes the Ari’s personal customs as legally binding precedents.  In deciding disputes that had remained unresolved for centuries, he often cites the Ari’s custom as the final authority.  The fact that the Ari had acted in a certain manner was enough to convince this tough-minded legalist that this was the correct opinion.

There are a select number of individuals who live on a plane so high above the rest of humanity that it seems as if they are a completely different, higher species of being.  They teach, but we grasp but little, and from the few crumbs that we glean, we can build mountains.  Such a person was Rabbi Yitzhak Luria, the holy ARI, the Lion of Safed.

Rabbi Chayim Chaim Vital writes in the Introduction to Shaar HaHakdamot:

The Ari overflowed with Torah. He was thoroughly expert in Scripture, Mishnah, Talmud, Pilpul, Midrash, Agadah, Ma’aseh Bereishit and Ma’aseh Merkavah. He was expert in the language of trees, the language of birds, and the speech of angels. He could read faces in the manner outlined in the Zohar (vol. II, p. 74b). He could discern all that any individual had done, and could see what they would do in the future. He could read people’s thoughts, often before the thought even entered their mind. He knew future events, was aware of everything happening here on earth, and what was decreed in heaven.

He knew the mysteries of gilgul [reincarnation], who had been born previously, and who was here for the first time. He could look at a person and tell him how he was connected to higher spiritual levels, and his original root in Adam. The Ari could read wondrous things [about people] in the light of a candle or in the flame of a fire. With his eyes he gazed and was able to see the souls of the righteous, both those who had died recently and those who had lived in ancient times. With these departed souls, he studied the true mysteries.

From a person’s scent, he was able to know all that he had done. (See Zohar, Yenuka vol. III p. 188a). It was as if the answers to all these mysteries lay dormant within him, waiting to be activated whenever he desired. He did not have to seclude himself to seek them out.

All this we saw with our own eyes. These are not things that we heard from others. They were wondrous things that had not been seen on earth since the time of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. None of this was attained through magic, heaven forbid. There is a strong prohibition against these arts. Instead, it came automatically, as a result of his saintliness and asceticism, after many years of study in both the ancient and the newer Kabbalistic texts. He then increased his piety, asceticism, purity and holiness until he reached a level where Eliyahu/Elijah would constantly reveal himself to him, speaking to him “mouth to mouth,” teaching him these mysteries and secrets.

Uplifting our shame responses and healing them through proper understanding of who we are and what we are here to do

Whatever circumcising the heart otherwise takes, when people have undergone abuse, trauma or tragedy, often there is an extra covering of tuma, a veil that conceals Hashem’s presence even more than normal,  a layer that obscures the feeling of Hashem’s love and mercy in our hearts. Abuse and trauma are obviously not everyone’s experience, but, given the centuries of galus, as a people we surely have acquired more layers covering over our hearts that often keep us from remembering that we have an image of Hashem within that is of real value and is our essential identity.

 

We have real free will and the creative power of speech with which we may make a prayerful effort to respond to our life challenges out of a desire to connect to Hashem, to be glued to and interincluded with His attributes of love and mercy.  With emunah, because we truly know Hashem is there with us – despite our nervous system’s reactions – we have the tools to take the first step.  The first step is to make an effort to awaken the latent love for Hashem that is embedded within the innermost part of our hearts.  Usually when we are struggling, we are NOT feeling love for Hashem, right?  That is why it is the first effortful step. The step is taken from emunah – we trust that even though we are in an emotional storm, we know that Hashem is behind the scenes, ever-present, and all good. From here, we turn to the mitzvah of love for Hashem,  and we try to run (with the swirling emotions) into His loving arms.

What is the basis for the emunah that helps us take that first step? How do we know that within our hearts we have a latent love for Hashem? We know intellectually that we have a latent love for Hashem in our hearts because intellectually, we know the truth is that we are an emanation of His love and mercy.  It is because, with emunah, when we know that everything in the universe is filled with His absolute Oneness and He only creates good because His root characteristic is love and mercy, then we have that within us and although it is latent (hidden) and we are not in touch with it, we have the ability to know intellectually that we have the power of prayer with which to “blow” our speech in personal prayer and weeping over the coals of our heart using free will and redeem spiritual energy from being expressed as fiery and often painfully passionate burning embers of shame and hurt back into revealing the truth – compassionate connection.

What stands in our way are our survival instincts.  Our soul that has innate shame in not being Hashem Himself becomes further covered over when we have a naturally triggered negative response to some circumstance,  That innate shame which mis-identifies our identity as our material and physical image then energizes the judgments made by our intellect, and all that creative energy lodges in the covering over our pure and holy soul, mistaking the covering of the “me” for its true identity.  In other words, that covering is our ego, our kelipa, and which feels like our very identity.

Thus, it is important to keep in mind that our identity and intellect have been “stolen” by the yetzer hara due to the confusion of mind that eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil produced.  In true reality, we remain with personal powers that are given by Hashem – tools of real free will and the creative power of speech – with which to fulfill the purpose of the creation – to interinclude all spiritual energy back to His Oneness even if we do not comprehend that we have these personal powers.

What does it feel like when we feel lack?  Something hurts!   We are shaking.  Disempowered. Angry. Insulted. Reactive. Feeling shamed. We want to defend our honor or our property.  We want to lash out.

Let’s call this what it is.  A part of our soul is animating a part of the kelipa that we falsely believe is the real “me,” and we are ready to take strong action to defend ourselves from having whatever it is that we perceive is being taken away from us remain intact.  That is our survival instinct. Rabbi Nivin teaches how to identify these false beliefs, about ourselves so that we can substitute true beliefs, with emunah and Torah as the guide.

Being able to begin to recognize the look and feel of the survival instincts and how the yetzer hara is deceptively interpreting for “our good” is the very first step.  This can take a great deal of time.  Introspection on our deceptions  is the topic of elul, the time when we look inside to find what we choose to work on within ourselves, to bring ourselves out of slavery to freedom on Passover of that year.

It is important to remember that whomever may have triggered us probably was responding to a similar survival oriented feeling…and so we are able to understand how the clashes between people are really symptoms of not being able to inter-include one view with another.  These are signs of the tohu that is embedded in our subconscious, the tohu that we are here to bring through our hearts to rectification.  What does it feel like?  It feels like we are swimming in a pile of gook and thrashing around to do whatever we can to save ourselves/protect ourselves/ annihilate the cause of being a flood of negative reactivity.  What we forget is that the other person may also be exhibiting these same symptoms.  Understanding the overall picture helps us to remember Hashem and bring Him into the picture along with the innermost purpose of our lives…which is to inter-include everything back to Hashem’s Oneness.  We can “hold space” for the other person who may have lashed out and thereby help ourselves regain our footing as made in His Image rather than having a shame response.  We can pray and ask Hashem to please help all of us connect to Him and that the dross we unintentionally express and amplify should all fall off.

On Rosh Hashana, we ask for another year. We tell Hashem that we understand the design and where our soul is trapped in corrupted kelipas. In elul we find  the high Torahs that Hashem is One, all compassionate, the King in the field.  On Rosh Hashana, we ask for a good year and we understand and accept that we are here to bring the holy sparks of tohu embedded in the kelipas and unable to otherwise interinclude with other holy sparks, through our hearts to tikkun, to rectification.  We wish to remain loyal all year to the understanding of Hashem’s absolute Oneness as a lovingkind and merciful Being.  How do we demonstrate this loyalty?  We demonstrate it through our speech and deeds that reveal His love and mercy.  We ask Hashem for a good year  of health, money, and to have all our dependency needs for ourselves and our families and our community and people met so that  we are supported while we go about the effort of re-assigning the spiritual energy embedded in what conceals Hashem’s presence that causes us distress into strong, transparent windows that reveal His love and mercy, which as explained above, are latent in our hearts.

How do we do this?

When we are upset, we realize the opportunity at hand. Our choice is connection, clinging to Hashem and the abstract spiritual reality over the drives of the survival instincts and ego-driven thinking.

Make an effort to awaken the latent love for Hashem that is embedded within the innermost part of our hearts.

Speak out loud to Hashem, knowing that He is truly here. “I love You Hashem and I understand the design.”

I am not feeling Your Love and Mercy. Describe this “galus” to Hashem along with all the negative consequences of having our soul trapped in thinking that covers over His love and mercy, concealing from us the feeling of being in His loving arms.

Tell Hashem that we do not wish for the consequences of the covered over thinking.  Instead we choose geula –  make the effort to do the mitzvahs of loving Hashem and recognizing the design with awe, that Hashem creates everything just to give us this opportunity to be G-d- like, to use the latent love and mercy in our hearts as the starting point to speak from and to our broken hearts, weeping. We are making this effort to resist the natural drive to express our pain. The effort to feel love for Hashem and recognize the design does not come to mind naturally, However, the more we do it and see how there is a positive effect that helps us not fall into our natural drive, the more natural it becomes.  Our emunah grows and is more accessible in the moment. The “look and feel” of being in the survival instinct and seeing its futility and that we have a real choice we are given powerful free will and speech to make. Once that inner movement which is the effect of the prayerful effort is felt, we have more trust in the process.

We ask Hashem to please grant that the creative power of speech from our heart be accepted. We ask that Hashem re-form all the spiritual energy into an eternal identity for us as choosing to respond as someone made in His Image.    We ask that the spiritual energy trapped in the kelipa, that wants to fight back, to lash out, to hurt in order to protect, instead become the doorway through which the absolute truth of His Love and mercy be seen in the world.  We ask that our speech and deeds reveal Hashem’s love and mercy and not our natural drives.

How will this doorway reveal Hashem?  When Hashem grants success, the dross falls away and the life force that was animating the pain is now free to shine in its true form, a spark of Hashem’s absoute Oneness filled with love and mercy,  that is no longer hidden and covered by survival instincts.  What we falsely thought we had to do to protect ourselves falls away as the true self is now free to shine its true identity as made in Hashem’s image.

By using free will in this way, we basically are creating our eternal identity within love and mercy and by acting like Hashem – doing the mitzvahs of love and awe of Hashem – we inoculate ourselves from the bread of shame, that after 120 years we will remember that we did act like Hashem and use the creative power of speech with the free will choice He gives to be loving and create loving spiritual entities out of raw material.

Still feeling the distress, thank Hashem. Tell Hashem that we are not feeling HIs love and mercy in the deepest part of our nervous system, our survival instincts, and that we want to reveal His Love and Mercy so that we may serve Him, but in order to do so, we need to feel His Love and Mercy.  Ask Him to please help – our role is effort, and that is closeness.  We love You Hashem.  We understand how You have made us and why, we understand the design. We know success is only up to Hashem.

“ I love You Hashem and understand the design.  It is my choice to live connected to the abstract spiritual reality of the world, that Hashem is One and all good.  Please help me move away from the drive that is my survival instincts that wants to express itself with lashing out and physicality according to the material and physical world. Instead, I wish to reveal Your love and mercy.  Help me take the strength from this distress and connect it to You through my love for You and my awe in the design. Please give me that strength as a bonding to feel Your love and mercy so that i may reveal it in the world.”  Keep breathing with all the negative emotions side by side in the heart with real love for Hashem and with real awe for Hashem.  Holding all the emotion in the heart with yearning to reveal Hashem’s love and mercy and asking to feel that love and mercy to do so, keep breathing and speaking out loud to Hashem.

Something “chemical” happens in our heart.  It might feel for a split second like an opening.  Hopefully, there will be a calming, AND a healing.  the positive spiritual energy animating the negativity “jumps ship” to the real love for Hashem and awe we feel in our hearts and the dross falls away.  By feeling love for Hashem and awe for Hashem, we were like Hashem, Who is all lovingkind and merciful.  We start the ball rolling, so to speak, in order that we make a causative act – prayer – knowing that there will be some beneficial effect, because prayer is causative.  prayer is built into the creation as a natural cause for an effect.

When we do this, we are forming positive spiritual entities that are there for us the next time that situation presents itself and the hope and prayer is that we can remain loving and not revert to survival instincts and lashing out and negativity as solutions. and our survival instincts become reliant on Hashem for our survival which is the real emes.

We are enough to serve Hashem and make our lives meaningful.  We have powers of free will and speech to discover and use more and more. We peel off layer after layer – lovingly and gently as Rabbi Nivin coaches the chaburas. We build our eternal identity through our choice to make this effort, an effort that is 100 percent within our free will to chose..

May our efforts bring us out of galus and may the geula soon be revealed.

 

Emunah Zoom

Lights of Emunah – New Phone Chabura

 

Reflections on Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av

After listening to the above shiur by Rabbi Sitorsky on Parshas Matos Maateh, someone forwarded the link to inner.org, which details many of the same ideas regarding the month of Av, Rosh  Chodesh, and of course, Tisha B’av.

Perhaps the most moving message is Hashem’s total love for us that is never broken, the love of a Father for a child, Av.  While the relationship that Hashem wants for us is the chochma/binah, husband/wife, male/female relationship, He wants this because Hashem wants us to enjoy the relationship with Him for all eternity.  Since the destruction of the Temple, that relationship of husband and wife is in separation, galus.

 

What we hear from these shiurim is that our first step is to really realize that we do not want the galus.  What do we want?

 

We want to sincerely feel Hashem in our hearts so that we speak and act from love of Hashem with awe in the design.  But what if we don’t sincerely feel that?

 

We are still able to make the effort to feel love for Hashem and have awe in the design, even if only intellectually. We can tell Hashem with words that we love Him and have awe in the design and that we want is to feel His love and mercy so that it is natural to us, in our hearts, over what we are feeling naturally, so that we may repair the relationship by revealing His love and mercy into the world.  

 

What blocks us is our unique personas and our survival instincts.  We have a kelipa over our divinely given soul, and it is built into our nervous system and intelligence.

 

What we can acquire is a trust that

  1. the creative power of speech and
  2. the built in cause and effect attributes of prayer that are completely within our free will to use

are all He is asking of us,  to reach upwards beseeching Hashem to restore the relationship, to help us feel His love and mercy so that we may reveal it over our otherwise naturally felt survival instincts and persona.  We want to make kiddush Hashem instead of kiddush “me.”

 

Today when I volunteered at the hospital the daughter of one of the patients who is in his nineties and very ill  told me that her father was anti-religious and that only a short while ago rode a horse.  When I expressed surprise, I was told that really he had hoped the horse would throw him off to his death.  Yet he wanted to be remembered by his family as someone who at that senior age rode a horse.

 

For myself, I want to be remembered as someone who tries so hard to rely on Hashem and rise above the arrogance and self-consciousness and fears that otherwise drive my heart.

 

We can make the effort to cry out to Hashem and tell Him that we love Him and understand the design – of being a holy soul made in His Image encased in a kelipa made from the zuhama, a husk over that soul and then having that soul inside a kelipa placed in a covering called a body so that we have real free will.  We have the ability to feel love for Hashem by evoking a moment of gratitude as well as for awareness of the beauty of the world.  Yet how do we know if our effort – asking to feel Hashem’s love and mercy so that we may reveal His Love and Mercy  – is being answered with a “yes”?

 

How do we know if Hashem is granting us our wish to circumcise our heart so that the kelipa opens enough to inter-include the zuhama’s hidden positive spiritual potential with the love and awe that we make the effort to cry out with, joining in with  and strengthening the yearning that is our connection to Hashem?

 

Just as a placenta breaks, so too when that “membrane” on our hearts opens, we may find ourselves in a realm of emotions and memories and confusion, swimming in what feels like a yerida into the dark and wondering what is going on.  Holding steady, remembering to love Hashem and understand the design, to cry out all the details of what is being experienced, may also bring up the imprints in our subconscious that have been dictating our survival tactics for so many years.  Holding steady means that we are inserting chochma, the wisdom of the Torah, the “male” attribute, into the mix of our will and our intellect.

 If we remember that we want to be remembered and seen by Hashem as someone who tries to rely on Hashem and rise above all this and we submit our emotional content to Him, beseeching Him that we instead be able to sincerely feel His love and mercy instead so that our survival instincts naturally realize that we are reliant on His Will alone,  that is an effort that takes us further towards the desired goal.

 

Perhaps calmness will be restored.  Perhaps more inner strength will be felt.  Perhaps less insecurity will surface when interacting with others.  Perhaps we will be more sincere when we walk through our day clinging to Hashem in the moment to see what it is that we might do to feel His love and mercy so that we may reveal it. 

 

Making any effort to put Hashem in the center of our lives and cling to Him because we no longer want galus but instead sincerely want geula is recommended at all times, but especially for the next nine days.

 

May this Av be the menachum Av of geula.

Emunah Zoom

Lights of Emunah – New Phone Chabura

On unconditional love, the power of prayer, and healing

One of the common themes of parenting classes is to help parents help their children to understand that there is a difference between their behavior and their essential selves.  What that means is that the child can come to understand that it is what they did that needs improvement, but that their relationship and position of love are secure, even if they make a mistake or do something intentionally naughty.  This is called unconditional love.

 

Mostly in the world at large, we see conditional love.  Do this and you get that.  Don’t do this, and this is what will happen to you.  Sometimes, without realizing it, we convey the same message to our children.

 

What happens internally when a child does not feel unconditionally loved is that the child’s survival instincts take over.  And when the child is disciplined, the child is receiving the discipline in fight or flight mode and is not able to learn any constructive lesson.  Rather, the child goes deeper with child-like interpretations that become associated with survival.  These child-like interpretations make it into the subconscious part of the mind and remain with us.  Does this give us a sense of understanding of why sometimes we react with such futility when we, as adults, feel flight or fight responses?

 

Let’s say we do.  What can be done?  The imprint is on our very basic nervous system.  Even if intellectually we understand this, if we try to just “change our minds”, generally speaking, our fight or flight response remains and is not turned off, meaning that we remain in a state of insecurity, scanning and imagining what we should do.  This can keep us up at night and very often, it is totally unproductive as the reaction being triggered may have nothing to do with the event that triggered it.  How do we heal?

 

Recognizing the design of a person and Hashem’s intentions in creating us in such a way is the first step.

 

Let’s look back to the first ever mistake, when Adom ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Chazal tell us that what the snake tempted Eve with was the dream of being like G-d, of being a Creator just like Hashem.  As great as Adom was, he recognized that Hashem was the Master, and he was a creation.  This inherent gap left a longing to be like Hashem, to be as kind, as creative, as powerful.

 

To understand how inborn the longing is, just watch two toddlers fight over a toy.  It makes no difference that there are two of the very same toys.  They both want the same one.  What is the toddler feeling?  Jealousy, longing, desire for what looks like it is better.  And that is what any created being feels when realizing it is not Hashem and can never be anything but a creation.

 

That essential lack is the very reason that Hashem creates us as He did.  By giving us this type of challenge along with real free will and the creative power of speech, we actually have the power of prayer with which we can cause an effect upon our nature and be like Hashem creating our eternal identity!!  Built into the universe is the power of prayer.  When the world was formed, it was barren until Adom prayed for rain.  With that prayer, rain came forth and the vegetation flourished.  Hashem did not leave us here with an unconscious and a subconscious without a real forceful tool to be a creator like Hashem with – Hashem builds into the creation the power of prayer and gives us real free will to use it (or not).

 

Our role is to make the effort to pray.  Yearning to feel Hashem’s love and mercy in our challenging moments when we do not feel Him IS causative.  In that moment, we are being “like Hashem,” creating our eternal identity.  And for that effort, we create an inoculation to the feeling of lack that we are not Hashem that will help us for all eternity to feel the pleasure of being with Hashem without feeling that we can’t be Hashem.  Why? Because while we are alive, we ARE being like Hashem, choosing His Love and Mercy over the natural feelings imprinted in our subsconscious.  In other words, our challenges are our opportunity to be like Hashem and re-create ourselves for all eternity, simply through the built in cause and effect force of the power of prayer.

 

The more we describe all that child-like interpretation that is stored in our subconscious, the more we yearn to instead feel Hashem’s love and mercy instead, the more we are connected to the reality of His Oneness, Whose inner penimius is lovingkindness.  By describing the confines in which we find ourselves, we are recognizing that a positive spiritual energy is confined in a covering in our nervous system and that, because we know that the inner penimius of everything is Hashem’s lovingkindness, our causative prayer to feel Hashem’s love and mercy in that positive spiritual energy dynamically asks Hashem to see that it is our will to inter-include love and mercy into it.  Inter-including love and mercy into the positive spiritual energy also extracts something from the negative spiritual energy that is trapping it, inter-including the inner penimius of that negativity into the love and mercy and depleting the negativity of its potency so that the dross falls away.  The falling away is the effect of the cause – the cause is our yearning to feel Hashem’s love and mercy.  In spiritual science, this is how the tohu receives tikkun, how the fallen sparks are repaired and elevated to inclusion with Hashem.

 

We want to love Hashem and understand the design of the world yearning feel Hashem’s love and mercy so that what will feel natural to us as love and mercy will be revealed in the world through our speech and deeds.  The yearningful prayer is the cause.  The inter-inclusion into lovingkindness as the inner penimius of everything is the effect that is built into the Creation.  It is important to remember that the effect is not being done by us.  We identify ourselves by recognizing Hashem, understanding the design of the world, and submitting to His Oneness.  These are the steps that are in our control and that keep us close to Hashem.  This is closeness to Hashem.  The effect is part of His Creation.  With the effect also often comes blessing.  We did not bring on the blessing.  Hashem is the only Bestower of Good.

 

Thus, how do we go about healing our subconscious?  Through the prayerful yearning to feel Hashem’s love and mercy, which we accomplish by hisbodidus and loving Hashem and understanding deeply the design and the knowledge of Hashem Who is the Creator.

 

In Rabbi Nivin’s Constant G-d Connection chabura, he is teaching this topic in great detail.  For more information, contact chaburapa@gmail.com

Emunah Zoom