Archive for the ‘Torah Portions’ Category

Don’t Diminish From Torah Its Renewal

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Click here for the Hebrew text which comes from Yishmiru Daat, page 73.

Do not add to the word, etc., nor diminish from it, (Deuteronomy 4:2).

[We are invited to collaborate and participate in defining our Jewish practice in ways that are meaningful to us and yet, our text is clear: We are not to add to what was heard from Moshe and we are not to diminish from it. What gives here?]

Moshe Rabbeinu ah is saying, “When God commanded it to me, I said it to you, and now you wish to take what I said and hand it over to someone else referencing me as the source, then, Do not add to the word which I command, etc.

Although according to the statement (Yerushalmi Megillah 28a) that everything taught for all future times by an advanced Torah scholar was already given on the level of Moshe on Sinai, regarding something that Moshe did not himself say and which the Torah scholar subsequently innovated, these are handed over in the name of the innovator, because he innovated, sorted it out and removed anything negative from off of the new Torah / teaching that he innovated.

And the person who says something in the name of the one who first said it (Mishneh Avot 6:6) brings into the world the freeing of humanity from bondage. And the person who hangs something which Moshe didn’t say off a tree as tall as Moshe Rabbeinu does the reverse, he enslaves humanity. And another case, whoever says a thing in the name of Moshe the faithful shepherd only saying a part of the thing, for example, hishamru lachem pen yifteh livavichem / beware lest your heart be misled [terrible things will happen to you], but he doesn’t say kimei hashamayim al haaretz / “Heavenly days right here on Earth” [if you follow the Mitzvot], this person is transgressing the commandment that you shouldn’t diminish the word.

For when you say the words of Moshe in their context without omissions and in the way they were meant to be understood, they are the Torah. And similarly (Tikkunei Zohar 114), the teachings of Moshe are not to be diminished in any generation, God forbid,  from the second side of truth and the seventy faces of the Torah (Zohar I 47) forwards and backwards.

[Innovations based on Torah of Moshe together with perspectives of shifted paradigm, reality maps and our Emet / Truth as experienced in the present time are Torah from us.]

Stages of Prayer

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

Click here for the Hebrew text which comes from Yishmiru Daat page 72.

[Moshe begins to pray to God to reverse the edict that he would not be allowed to cross over into the Promised Land.]

(Deuteronomy 3:24) “O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your beneficence and Your strong hand

הוי’ אלקים / YHVH Elokim / “YHVH God” is the way it’s heard. ‘אדנ”י הוי / ADNY YHVH / “O Lord YHVH” is the way it’s written.

[The second word is written with Shem Hamephorash, YHVH, pointed (voweled) like Elokim and therefore read aloud as “Elokim” instead of its  usual way of being read, Adonai. Thus, one hearing it would normally assume the word is written as it sounds, “Elokim“. The first word Adonai is written out and read as written, but if one hears it, one would assume the word written is the Shem Hamephorash YHVH.]

YHVH Elokim, (the way one hears it when it’s read aloud), seems straightforward for this text because YHVH (Chesed) is associated gadlicha / Your beneficence (Chesed), while Elokim (Gevurah) is associated with yad’cha hachazaka / Your strong hand (Gevurah). But according to the way it’s written, ADNY YHVH, there’s a question as to what’s going on here.


Moshe’s Lesson for Us

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Click here for Hebrew text

Vaetchanan / I entreated YHVH at that time, saying… (Deut 3:23).

[Moshe is praying that he not die in the land of Moab, but that he be allowed to enter the Land of Israel with the rest of the Israelites.]

The word, אתחנן / etchanan / I entreated, is written in the reflexive case which means that the object of the verb is also the subject. So in the case of prayer, it means that Moshe prayed himself. A reflexive in this instance functions as an intensifier with respect to the impact of the action, which is the experience Moshe has in praying. We may think of prayer as consisting of the one who prays and a God to whom one prays. But by putting the verb in the reflexive, it creates a feedback loop; the praying has more effect on the one who prays.


Moshe Empowered You Too!

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Click here for Hebrew text (freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman)

Since we left Sinai, we’ve been moving towards the Land. Moshe is near the end of his life. He begins his address which is the book of Devarim / Deuteronomy:

On that side of the Jordan, in the land of Moab” (Deuteronomy 1:5), Moshe is outside of the Land.

From outside the Land, הואיל משה / hoil moshe / “Moshe commenced” (ibid).

And this phraseology, hoil Moshe is uncommon. The targum / Aramaic translation is sharei moshe which means that he gave his permission. He gave permission that the ones who come after him, after his passing, for all future time, could explain it each in his own way just as he’s about to do in Devarim. Moshe is explaining the Torah and as he does so, he’s setting an example and giving permission for the rest of us that we are welcome to explain it following his example so that it should be a source that will strengthen itself over time.


Leaders Who Can Open Doors to Teshuvah

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Please click here for Hebrew text.

“… to the heads of the tribesIf a man makes a vow” (Numbers 30:2-4)

And why, specifically, was the commandment of releasing vows introduced by saying that Moshe spoke to the heads of the tribes?

When a person does something three times, the doing of it and the repetition functions as a vow, (albeit a non-verbal one). In effect, it demonstrates that the behavior is being permitted for the person, that it is allowed to be done. So it is a de facto oath, undertaken by the creation of a habit.

These oaths are very difficult to annul because of the habit that has been established. In the case of addictions, the body and its cravings will sometimes overrule authority and reason. There are some situations in which even if the person decides to do what is right, he is unable to do so. The vow continues to hold sway on the person; annulment does not work.

The person needs someone who can help him and, those who can do so in such tricky situations are, from an empirical perspective, our leaders, the heads of our tribes.

The  pathway to releasing a person from his addiction is to elicit something that will begin the process of teshuvah in him. Regret is the first of the stages. They are: Identifying feelings of regret, asking for forgiveness of God or the person wronged, choosing to change the behavior, and changing it. Teshuvah gives the person the ability to take charge of the thing which had a grip on him before. Helping a person to feel regret helps to get them onto this path.

In every generation there are heads of tribes, empathetic souls who open a gate and a doorway to regret for us, to the knocking on the door of Teshuvah. They are the ones who can work with people in these situations. That’s why Moshe specifically spoke about annulment of vows to the heads of the tribes.


There is a difficult question in this section: Why is it that a mother or wife cannot annul her son’s or her husband’s vow, respectively, in the same way that a father or husband can annul the vows of a daughter or wife?


Accessing Bnot Zelophehad Energy

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Click here for text in Hebrew.

It’s been a long journey getting to the Land. On the way, we received the Torah and along with it, lots of laws and rules. But were those rules and the guidance they provided really sufficient for all our future needs? Was it given complete to Moses for all time with us now simply using it as our guide for every situation going forward?

The following texts will give us clues for some answers:


Balak: Alienation and Curses

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Click here to read original Hebrew text.

The Israelites had recently destroyed the two Amorite kingdoms of Sichon and Og and were coming to the Land. The Torah says,

(‘ויגר מואב מפני העם מאד כי רב הוא ויקץ מפני בני ישראל, (במדבר כ”ב ג  / And the king of Moab felt like he had become an alien in his own land as Israel advanced and, he was stressed and felt that the end of his culture and traditions was imminent because Israel, that nation which had recently received the Torah, was nearby (Numbers 22:3). They had some new and powerful energy they were bringing with them.

The word used to describe how he felt, ויגר, is typically translated as “he became terrified“, but in terms of its root, it is also connected to the feeling of an outsider. One who experiences himself as an outsider is apt to feel paranoid or disoriented. One feels excluded from an inner circle. This is the feeling that Balak may have had.

כי רב הוא  / For they were numerous. Another interpretation is that their energy was powerful, that Israel was on its way and its culture and traditions were so great that those of Balak would be overrun. Balak was afraid of being invaded on many levels and he was concerned that he would feel as a marginalized non-Jew might feel in a Jewish land.


Away from Catastrophe and Toward Redemption

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Click here for the text in Hebrew.

Thirty years ago, Reb Zalman, while in the holy Land, composed this piece for Shabbos M’vorchim Tammuz. He weaves together themes for the month into a powerful prayer for repairing the world. Here are the themes:

  • Soon will be Rosh Chodesh Tammuz and on the seventeenth day we begin the three weeks of mourning remembering the destruction of the holy Temple.
  • In parashat Shelach lecha we read about the men who spy out the Land and whose report makes the people want to return to Egypt.
  • The mnemonic used to remember the divine name permutation for Tammuz: (Esther 5:13) “This is worthless to me,” spelling HVHY, the reverse of YHVH.
    • Here’s the scene: Haman leaves the palace and passes Mordechai sitting there. Mordechai‘s presence disturbs Haman to such an extent that he cannot enjoy his successes.
  • The month’s sign of the zodiac and its traditions:
    • Sign: Cancer the crab
    • Middah: Yesod
    • Element: Water
    • Theme: Housewife and Family
    • Letter: Chet
    • Sense: Hearing

When we bless the Rosh Chodesh, we pray for something better to come. If we can make the dramatic move from catastrophes of the churban, the spies’ report and Haman to a vision of redemption, then more modest moves such as individual petitions may feel more doable as well.

Spending time in the imaginal realm helps to increase the feeling of God’s presence and strengthens a God-field in this plane. The individual  enriches himself through thinking about and meditating on the metaphors, the symbols, the images embedded in this time in the calendar.

We want to be able to move in positive directions away from catastrophe and toward redemption.


Donning Neshamah Purity

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Click here for Hebrew text.

The Torah says that the Levites:

“Shall wash their garments and make themselves pure” (Numbers 8:7).

What’s this washing of garments about?

The Nefesh / life-energy dresses itself in garments of thought, speech and action.

Washing the garment of thought happens when I can count to ten before responding to someone who’s made me angry. When I equilibrate, I give myself a chance to use better judgment. If I respond with a knee-jerk reaction then I am likely to do something which will go against what I’m trying to accomplish. I will be more effective if I can put something out which the other will be able to receive and process. And deeper: Therapy for remnants of abuse; healing of pathological cognitions.


From Epiphany to Action

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Click here for the Hebrew text.

Make a count of the sons of, etc. (Numbers 4:2).

On the level of basic meaning, the text is talking about doing a census but the Hebrew used to express this, נשא את ראש also means to raise up the mind. What can we say about raising the head, raising the mind?

Raising the mind means that the intellect is ready to follow the neshamah‘s / the soul’s lead, i.e.,the neshamah is on a deeper level than the intellect, behind it, underneath it. The intellect becomes a kind of garment with which the soul dresses herself.

For this to happen, the intellect needs to be stretched and broadened a bit because in its natural state, it will want to stay independent from the soul’s prioritizations. How to do this? שאו שערים ראשיכם / You need to wake up the imagination, and the imagination will expand the mind. If you want to raise your mind, then you want to use your imagination to stretch out and broaden your intellect so that it can become a garment for your soul. Your soul is united with the spirit of the universe and that latter becomes known through expanded imagination. There’s a connection between the neshamah and the Creator.

The Creator sends light to us on a continual basis. That light is hard to capture. It’s ephemeral. It passes by and the intellect can’t grab hold of epiphanies, they don’t make their way into consciousness. In general the souls’ epiphanies don’t make it all the way into consciousness and awareness.