Archive for the ‘Translations’ Category

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.


The Gift of Shavuot

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Click here for Hebrew text.

Shavuot‘s Sefirah is Gevurah. Gevurah is understood as God’s mode of punishing the wicked and judging humanity in general. It is the foundation of stringency, absolute adherence to the letter of the law, and strict meting out of justice. It is Yitzchak‘s time and the day of giving Torah, (Eruvin 54), “From the mouth of the Gevurah” we heard when the mountain was picked up and held over our heads.

On Shavuot, the Sefirah of Binah shines in its fifty gates within the attribute of Gevurah. An attempt to access Binah‘s light is humbling because she encompasses every combination from Chesed Sheb’Chesed down through Malchut Sheb’Malchud along with one that is beyond these.

So receiving Torah from Gevurah is somewhat like a Hebrew school teacher who hits you on the back of the hand when you did something wrong; not like Pesach where you had chesed chinam, freely bestowed love. You are like a Kindergarten child and God is stripping down the Torah to make it accessible to the small portion of which you may be capable.

We learned that on Shavuot the entire Torah was given, but we also learned that the light of Binah delivered by Gevurah was condensed into ten Commandments, so everybody can relate: 1) Anochi, deal with this, God, a presence. 2) You shall not have other gods, just stick with Hashem, don’t be swayed or distracted. 3) Don’t take the name in vain, what’s in a name(?), but okay. 4) Keep the Shabbos, makes good sense. 5) Honor your mom and dad, really(?), well, if you say so, will do our best. 6) Don’t murder, ok. 7) Don’t commit adultery, Check.  8) Don’t steal, Yes, feels wrong. 9) Don’t bear false witness, 10) Don’t covet, we have done this; we will do our best. That’s the way it is given, condensed into the ten and, the Shechinah was also condensed.  She usually flies all around creation but for an instant on Shavuot she is focused between the two staves of the ark, and gives revelations to us.


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.


With Time’s Passing, Satisfaction

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Here is a link to the Hebrew text.

You shall not take from him interest or increase, and you shall fear your God, and let your brother live with you. (Lev 25:36)

(Psalms 91:16) “With the length of days I will satisfy him and I will show him my salvation.

Whether we are a lender or a borrower, as time passes, the loan participant feels differently about the passing of time depending on the role: If we’re the borrower, we want time to slow down because we are reluctant for the payment date to come.  On the other side, if we are the lender, then we want time to speed up to get that extra money.  Therefore, “You shall not take from him interest or increase,” because if you can remove this from your time-baggage then you will be able to better live with a sense of satisfaction.

(Leviticus ibid) “And the ones you are close with are with you,” you are not alone in dealing with a feeling of time-pressure. And you are not alone in wanting to feel satisfied with the passing of time, to feel an alignment between your desire to live a long life, your enjoyment of living and the goal of “With the length of days I will satisfy him,” that their years will be satisfying ones.


For May Day

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Click here for the Hebrew text

If one with whom you are close has become destitute and is now under your control in a hierarchical way  – עמך –  then you, too, must have fallen when he did.  (Leviticus 25:39)

How could it have happened that one with whom you were close has lost dignity, felt desperate, powerless, without resources and is now under your control?

The answer is that something got in the way of the rich person’s feeling like helping.  He didn’t take action.  He could have done something to prevent this from happening.  Had he stepped in with generosity, then the one with whom he is close wouldn’t have plunged to the depths.

And therefore you have fallen.  And therefore, you don’t have a right to put him to work doing something for which he is not suited.

Beauty’s Joyful Excitement

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Here is a link to the Hebrew text:

When we count the Omer starting with Chesed of Chesed and ending with Malchut of Malchut, then Lag B’Omer, the thirty-third day, is Hod Sheb’Hod. Hod represents “beauty“, “a sense of perfection“, “balance“, “symmetry” and “aesthetic“. For an entire week this is our theme and, as we go through the days of the week we arrive at Hod sheb’Hod on the fifth day of our Hod-focused work. It is that part of the work in which we are remembering that we need to be sensitive to the level of “affect” in the way that we present the Hod on which we are working. Hod is to be presented in a way that is respectful of its non-verbal impact on the receiver, of how it is felt, and of the sense of beauty one feels when it is handed over. So Hod Sheb’Hod is “the beauty of the beauty”.

In Genesis 32:26, after the angel wrestles with Jacob and Jacob prevails, the angel injures Jacob’s left leg, (when the Sefirot are mapped to the parts of the body, Netzach and Hod are associated with the right and left legs respectively), and his left leg is dislocated from its socket. Here is the interpretation on a symbolic level (cf Pardes Rimmonim Shaar 17:1):


You Shall Count Sefirot For Yourselves

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

The following is based on a Hebrew Text from Reb Zalman’s Sefer, Yishmiru Daat.  Click here for Reb Zalman’s text in Hebrew. (Freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman)

(Leviticus 23: 15):

You shall count Sefirot for  yourselves / וספרתם לכם

i.e., your preoccupation should be one of bringing within qualities of inner light for inner shining,

following the example of Shabbos / ממחרת השבת

i.e. the kind of holiness you have on Pesach should spill forth into the days that follow,

from the day you bring the Omer as a wave offering
/ מיום הביאכם את עומר התנופה

to raise up the cattle food (meaning you’re raising up your Nefesh HaBehamit / animal soul), – whoever does this gives something of a brightness to the inner self.  From the day (Pesach) on which you raise yourselves from the world to Him Yitbarach,

there will be seven weeks with qualities of simple wholeness,
                                                        / שבע שבתות תמימות תהיינה

the weeks will become seven shabbosim which are going to spill over into the other days of the week,

until the day after the seventh week then you’re counting fifty days
                                         / עד ממחרת השבת השביעית תספרו חמישים יום

it’s likely that you will catch a glimpse of the fiftieth gate and then you will have acquired a receptivity for the holy Torah (on Shavuot).

Talk Gently

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

The following is based on a Hebrew Text from Reb Zalman’s Sefer, Yishmiru DaatClick here for Reb Zalman’s text in Hebrew. (Freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman)

(Leviticus 21:1) While the Torah frequently uses language such as DaBeR / speak to the Children of Israel – in this week’s Parashah it says EMoR / talk gently to the priests. (According to the Talmud, if you can talk gently to God the impact you will have on this plane is increased to such an extent that you will accomplish what you said you would Nedarim 29). To a priest, who already comes from a place of chesed / lovingkindness, (for this comes with the territory), you can just say it simply and quietly with a gentle tone, (cf Rashi, Exodus 19:3 where he says that you sometimes need to speak harshly and the implication is perhaps that this is required if the people are not from a place of chesed). But the essential element of saying something is the content of the message you are trying to get across which is not what is emphasized in (Psalms 47:4) “yaDBeR / He is speaking to the nations as though they are below us.” This latter is more about ordering around and dominating those who are stubborn. (But even for the stubborn ones, if you want to cut below their defenses and make a lasting impression, you are better off going to the deeper level, letting them open to change and this will only happen if you are gentle in the way you say your angry or critical message.)