A comprehensive website about emunah and core Torah concepts, with analysis and explanation of the writer’s personal growth experiences in Avodas Hashem and understanding of our relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu.
“We are all in the process of becoming. This process requires us to make decisions and to wean out options. In the end, given that we have been granted free will, within certain limits, it is up to us to write the story of our life through our decisions and through the meaning we ascribe to the events we experience.
The process of making decisions, of asking ourselves what we want and what we should do and getting the answers from within ourselves can be seen in the Urim and Thummim described in this week’s Torah portion, Tetzaveh. The Ba’al Shem Tov taught how this process is relevant to us today, and how seeing the question and the answer in the mind’s eye, and making decisions, concentrates our energy and is instrumental in our ability to write our life’s story.
On the way, we look at how Moses himself wrote the Pentateuch as his own life story and how it was possible for him to write the final eight verses which describe his own passing with a surprising explanation from the Ba’al Shem Tov. We also talk about the importance of writing in helping us arrive at an objective understanding of our surroundings.”
May we all see through the veils of nature that confuse our perception of the truth of Hashem’s total and constant love for us, and in so doing, remove the mask of nature from our hearts so that our soul and His Love intermingle in the movement we feel within us as our lifeforce, and may our creating this space positively impact and rectify the root elements so that Hashem is revealed.
Each one of the Jewish people was asked to make a donation to the tabernacle, but the donation was left up to each individual, what would be donated as well as how much.. “From each person whose heart moves him.”
Our donation was an expression of each individual’s feelings about his relationship with Hashem. Thus, donating (which literally means elevating) is a deep spiritual experience.
The Arizal, when discussing the spiritual dimension, makes frequent use of the male/female metaphor. The basic concept of creation is is Hashem Echad Who has created a world that appears to exist outside of Him. This concept sets up a tension – Hashem assumes the role of male and the creation that of female, in order for the ultimate union of Hashem and creation to occur. The world was created for the purpose of this ultimate union as Hashem envisions it.
The Arizal explains how the two hei’s in the name Havaya, yud k vav k, which are each 5, are subdivided by 10 according to the sefiros chochma bina daas chesed gevurah tiferet netzach hod yesod and malchus, making each hei really fifty, the letter nun. From the nun and the final nun, the Arizal explains the feminine role.
The nun has a bent segment at the bottom. The final nun extends below the line. The feminine aspect of creation “is that which draws the Divine energy into the task of rectifying and elevating the created world.” The Arizal explains that this entails a certain danger, since through prolonged contact with aspects of reality that are not conscious of holiness, the perspective of those aspects might rub off onto the feminine aspect and cause confusion regarding the pure intention. The feminine aspect of the upper hei is binah, the intellect is able to withstand the impurity. The feminine aspect of the lower hei is malchus, expression, is bent upwards signifying the need for malchut to refrain from going too far in its task of refining “reality.”
Thus, with our Divinely given intellect, we may analyze and evaluate the insight of chochma, purifying chochma from any subjectivity we may have due to imperfections in our ability to perceive and recognize the truth behind the insight. Bina functions with judgment and severity. Likewise, gevrauh limits the indiscriminate giving of chesed in order to bestow goodness according to merit. Malchut then defines these in the lower and limited and constricted world.
What we are being taught here is that when it comes to expression in this world, we are to recognize how far our physicality may safely proceed in refining reality based on our bina, because going too far in our efforts can derail the original intention of the feminine aspect of creation, which “is that which draws the Divine energy into the task of rectifying and elevating the created world.”
How do we draw the Divine energy into the task?
We do this through ratzon. Will. We do this with will to follow the Torah and emulate Hashem’s Compassion. With our expression, our prayers, constantly facing upwards, and our bina, our intellect, clinging to Torah and chochma, describing to Hashem everything to the last detail that we are perceiving, and with our hearts loving Hashem, we are empowered by Hashem to use our life force, the movement we all feel inside of us, to run to Hashem what seems imperfect, angry and painful and beseech Him to return to us a healed essence of our inner being that we may stabilize in our hearts so that our speech and deeds bring Hashem’s Will into the “reality.” Our role is will. We have no ability to touch one aspect of the creation except through will and prayer. Hashem has an entire spiritual world through which He is Omnipotent. But He gives us real free will. And emunah. And the creative power of speech.
May we begin finding where we blast past the valves from safety to danger in our pure desire to rectify the world. May we realize that our movement to run and return through will and prayer is a far more effective use of our powers. We can catch ourselves when we see our negative patterns. And if we blast past that reflection, and heaven forfend, we suffer a painful consequence, we can still catch ourselves and do teshuva.
And may we all experience the simcha of our inner being as Hashem finds a home in our hearts.
Chazal tell us that at the end of days, we will be in the galus of gaiva but within that galus, it will be a galus of taiva within that gaiva. In other words, our desires will have an imbalance in water that flood us and push us to grab onto a strength that has an imbalance in fire.
From the shiurim from Rabbi Moshe Weinberger on Rabbi Itamar Schwartz’s Da Es Midosecha, we learn that the root elements of air, water, fire and earth were formed in that order….gas, liquid, radioactive and solid.
The two roots that are at odds with each other are water and fire, liquid and radioactive. These are opposites that seemingly do not co-exist. Yet gas/air, which is movement, is able to bring the moisture from the water and the warmth of the fire to a balance. This balance is called tiferet, Yaakov Aveinu who brought the chesed of Avraham into balance with the gevurah of Yitzchok and who struggled with the soul of Esav and prevailed, for which he is given the name Yisroel.
Yosef HaTzaddik is known by this name because of the test he had regarding the yesod, where he overcame a strong desire because of his devotion to Hashem. Seeing an image of his father’s face – the face of Yaakov, who brought gevurah to be balanced by chesed into tiferet – aligned Yosef with Torah to rise above the urges and desires of his drives.
Torah is what frees us from gaiva as well as taiva, teaches the Vilna Gaon.
When we were released from slavery, our freedom began when we received the Torah, a tree of life that helps us to lift ourselves out of the two kelipas, taiva and gaiva, that formed when we ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When we uplift our souls through Torah, we embark on a pathway of the tree of life, one that unifies us with Hashem and each other.
When we are caught up in our desires, especially our desire for honor, we might grab whatever strength we can to assure that our needs will be met. This is often because we have intellectual awareness of Hashem that does not give us the heartfelt sense that if we trust in Him, in ein od milvado, our bodily needs might not be met. Thus we turn to blame and shame and wielding words and power. But if we take the time, we might notice that we are listening to an inner message that is “bearing false witness” or “kidnapping” and if we see how our strength might be running to these do not category commandments, we can take a moment and reflect further…do I see that Hashem is One Who Loves me? Am I worshipping something other than Hashem if I follow this message? Once we see that our inner message is running at full speed into the dark and headed for something that puts up a wall between Hashem and our soul, we can stop and cry out and return….and THIS is what Hashem wants from us, to recognize we are a creation, He the Creator, and that without Him we are unable to do anything. Yet at the same time, He is placing us in contact with the actual elements of creation, earth wind water and fire, giving us the opportunity of a lifetime to use our real free will to ask Him to positively impact and bring into balance these four elements so that He may be seen in this world through our speech and deeds.
With emunah and mature spirituality, our ruach is capable of asking Hashem to please help us rise above our urges and impulses, as did Yosef HaTzaddik, that it is our want to NOT want the strength we are using to try to secure our desire and that instead, we ask that the strength become part of the simcha of our inner being in being connected only to truth, to Hashem’s lovingkindness, so that we may feel and reveal only His Compassion and Torah.
When we love Hashem and increase our love as much as we can, inspired by Yaakov Aveinu and Yosef HaTzaddik, our own ruach (inner movement, wind) is now drawing the moisture of Hashem’s love to quiet the dryness of the imbalance in the element of fire we may be experiencing.
As we intentionally intertwine the root elements, we form an integration of the elements and house them in our hearts, the flesh that is made from the earth. Our prayerful requests and love for Hashem and willingness to dedicate the purity of the faith in our hearts to Hashem alone and no other is the effort that stands as our eternal identity. Because we have come closer to Hashem in this way, the emotions that we feel shift as well, because these are branches of the root elements.
The shiurim from Rabbi Moshe Weinberger on Rabbi Itamar Schwartz’s book Da Es Midosecha discuss in depth how earth wind water and fire are the root of the sefiros that we know through the seven weeks of the omer.
To draw our interest to listen, here is what I have learned:
The middos themselves that we are familiar with are on the right, chesed and netzach, and on the left, gevurah and hod. The right is water, chochma and the left is bina, fire.
The order of the root elements as they are created is air(wind/movement), water(nurture, chesed), fire(gevurah, strength), and earth (sadness, depression, laziness)
The air, movement and wind, is ruach. With our soul’s ruach, we are able to balance and form the middle axis, tiferes, compassion and yesod, the foundation, the proper bonding of all the sefiros. Tiferes is Yaakov. Yesod is Yosef. What Yaakov and Yosef overcame due to their love for Hashem that formed tiferes and yesod in the middle axis is there for us to draw on, to internalize, in order to quiet the kelipas of gaiva and taiva.
Comprehending our personalities and bringing balance into our lives is our essential task. We are here to regulate our emotions! But we have to do this at the heart level, the level of our urges and impulses.
Our emunah is key here. We have real free will, emunah, and the simcha of the inner being as our soul powers.
When we love Hashem and tell Hashem that we want to not want where our middos are glued – trapped in the confusion of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – and instead that we want our soul and our urges and impulses to feel His Love and Mercy so that we may reveal it, and we love Hashem and ask for His Love, we are actually balancing the movement within us, borrowing love from the side of chesed and the warmth from the fire to bring water and fire into balance in our words and actions, our tongue and our yesod. By loving Hashem as Yaakov and Yosef did, we open Hashem’s love and draw into our essence the moisture to balance the dryness of the firy angers and fears we get trapped by in our hearts’ natural state. The love for Hashem that brings down Hashem’s love burns the straw that is stored in our urges and impulses, making room for Hashem’s love to reside there in its place. It is up to us to recognize that what is holding us back is our clinging to something subjective and mortal and that we want to “excrete” what is gluing us to that and replace it with something objective and eternal, and holy.
The place where we have our free will is not the same for everyone. Yet, there is a central theme that can help us. That central theme is – if I listen to this message, will it take me into the dark and feed the darkness or will it bring me to eternal life? And if towards the dark, what is the falsehood embedded in the message?
Finding that falsehood then gives us the access to use our real free will. We can then see if it is an imbalance in fire, water, wind or earth….anger/fear/honor, love or lusts,] heated speech, or sadness and laziness. When we see how Hashem really has empowered us to use our emunah to re-balance the very elements with which He Creates the world, we understand how it is fixing for the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and with all of our soul we choose to go above our natural reaction in order to bring all of our soul back to revealing Hashem’s pure compassion, the truth of the world.
Many thanks to Rivka Leah for her kindness in translating these written answers from Hebrew to English. It is greatly appreciated!!!