This Week’s Torah Portion | December 8 – December 14, 2013 – Tevet 5 – Tevet 11, 5774
In A Nutshell
In the portion, VaYechi [Jacob Lived], Jacob and his sons join Joseph in Egypt. When the time of Jacob’s death draws near he calls on Joseph and swears him to bury him in the land of Israel and not in Egypt. Joseph asks him to bless his two sons, Ephraim and Menashe before he dies. Jacob blesses them and says that they will be as his sons, Reuben and Simeon. Subsequently, Jacob blesses the rest of his sons and orders them to burry him in the Cave of Machpelah in the land of Israel.
Following Jacob’s death, Joseph receives special permission from Pharaoh to go and bury his father in the land of Israel. Jacob goes to Canaan with his brothers and all the elders of Egypt, arrives at the Cave of Machpelah, buries Jacob there, then returns to Egypt.
Along the way, his brothers fear that he will take vengeance against them for selling him to slavery, but Joseph soothes their fears. He promises them that he will always remain their brother and not their enemy.
Jacob’s blessing comes true and Menashe and Ephraim have many children. Toward the end of the portion Joseph is about to die. He summons his brothers and tells them that the Creator will bring them and his sons out of Egypt, and orders them to take his bones and bury them in the land of Israel.
Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman
The Torah teaches us how to develop our souls. Initially, we have only the point in the heart. It appears when a person begins to ask about the reason and the meaning of life. Through this question, one begins to see that life is not meant only to live here in this world for seventy or so years. Rather, this life was given as an opportunity to develop the soul.
The soul develops from the evil inclination, opposite which is the “light that reforms.” In other words, if we correct the evil inclination using the light that reforms, we thus develop the soul. This is how the evil inclination becomes the good inclination.
This correction does not relate merely to having good human relations. Rather, through the light we also begin to experience the spiritual world, Godliness, as it is written, “You will see your world in your life.”
The portion deals with the three primary forces: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which are Hesed, Gevura, and Tifferet. These forces exist in the soul of each of us, or in the general soul called Adam. Abraham and Isaac are two opposite lines—right and left, Hesed and Gevura—while the Jacob quality in us, the senior patriarch, includes Abraham and Isaac within it, and is the middle line, called Tifferet. Using the quality of Jacob, meaning the two forces that exist in it, directs us for the first time toward the proper manner of the correction of the soul.
Death is a state of departure of the light from the soul. This does not refer to the death of our protein body, since the Torah does not deal with the life of the physical body but with the soul, with the filling of the light. Our desire is filled with the upper light, called “life.” The departure of the light is called “death.” People in our world are detached from life. This is why it is written that the wicked in their lives are called “dead.”
However, those who obtain the soul using the wisdom of Kabbalah, who draw the light that reforms, are the ones who achieve Arvut (mutual guarantee), the love of others. They have a Kli (vessel), a receptacle in which to discover the upper light, Godliness, which is life.
A blessing is the force of bestowal that a person receives, through which one begins to sense the upper world. The spiritual world is all blessing, all Bet (the first letter in the word Beracha [blessing]), all Bina. This is why the Torah begins with the letter Bet, with Beracha.
A bed is a state where one ceases to work with one’s Rosh, Toch, and Sof (head, interior, and end, respectively), meaning in an upright position, when one has lights that develop from above downward. When the Rosh, Toch, and Sof are on the same level and the lights NRNHY depart, what is left is only “a pocket of life.”
The connection between Bina and Malchut is called Machpelah. The will to receive and the desire to bestow stand together at the degree of Malchut, and there is the entrance to the upper world, the world of Bina. Therefore, on the one hand it is burial, and on the other hand it is the door to eternity.
What is the spiritual root of Hannukah? Why do we light candles, and who were the Maccabim, anyway?
Hannukah candles symbolize the Light of Mercy one attains when one has reached the spiritual world. The light gradually increases during the holiday, hence the lighting of an extra candle each day.
The festivities we celebrate stem from a complex relationship between varying situations in our soul.
The Greeks are the desires that oppose the person’s spiritual development. They tell the person that it is unreasonable to go beyond the law of nature, to commune with the upper world. They claim it has no rationality. The Greeks weaken Israel’s strength using logical arguments that originate in one’s accumulating experience in this world.
The Israel in the person must recruit the struggle of the power of faith against the Greeks’ arguments. Israel tell the Greeks that it is correct from a logical point of view, but Israel believes that it is possible to go beyond the barriers of reason, to the world of the causes. The stronger the Greeks grow, the more powerful Israel’s faith becomes. This war goes on and on until it takes a miracle for Israel to win. But then the miracle occurs and a beautiful, enchanted world appears, far more wonderful than one can imagine. Then one realizes just how true Israel’s road had been and why it is good to stick by it from now on.
The victory over the Greeks is the foundation of any person’s path in the spiritual realm. It allows one to perform corrections that will lead to the final frontier, that of Purim, the fight in which one succeeds in attaining the endless, eternal bounty that the Creator has prepared for all.
We’re happy to announce the 3 winning entries of the $50 gift voucher at KabbalahBooks.info in the ‘Share Your Experiences with Kabbalah’ contest!
The winners were chosen at random among a pool of very inspiring entries we received. One prize winner’s entry by Daniela Mitrovic has already been published here.
Here are the 2 other prize winning entries:
Eric and Alex Soto – Schiller Park, IL
A 41 yr old father and his 13 yr old sons’ journey together… ERIC (Father): “Why am I here and why do I feel like I’m searching for something?” This question has haunted me throughout high school and my marriage. I looked into religion, new age, family, my career, and many books for this answer with no success…until I stumbled on a video from the Kabbalah Revealed series with Anthony Kosinec on a spiritual website that had nothing to do with Kabbalah! Once I finished the series I found the hunger inside me for answers explode with delight! The Bnei Baruch website offered to continue my search for more with a complete library of books and videos online that would answer questions I didn’t even know I was yearning to know. This led me to sign up for free courses in authentic Kabbalah…which in turn led me to search for people to share my feelings with, both within a physical and virtual group. Now less than one year later I am sharing the love I have gained from Kabbalah with my family, who has supported my search, and have the honor to share my studies with my middle son, Alex, who is just beginning his studies this winter on the EC website after attending the last Congress of North America in Nov 2013 with me. If I were to give someone just one reason for ‘Why’ to take advantage of all the Bnei Baruch website has to offer (especially the online courses), it would be… “ANSWERS”!
ALEX (Son, age 13): Just like my father, I too felt a need for answers to questions like “What is the meaning of my life?” I felt this nagging feeling of confusion that I knew I needed to solve. Then after aimlessly roaming on the internet in hopes of figuring life out, I came across some of my father’s PDF books on his E-Reader about Kabbalah. Even though my father never pushed his ideas onto me, I was still curious to read some of his books, and from the moment I started reading, I knew this was something that made the most sense about why I am here and the meaning of my life. After talking more with my dad, I decided to accompany him to his physical group and shortly after, to the North American Congress. My experience with the Congress helped me connect on a personal level with many of the EC instructors and staff, which encouraged my choice to join the Fundamentals class this Dec 4th an easy one. Together we are walking the path of authentic Kabbalah, each at his own level, but together united with a newfound love that surpasses any race, language, sex or age. We both ask you NOT to believe our testimonials alone, but to SEE for yourself what authentic Kabbalah is all about and let your heart decide! – Eric & Alex Soto (father & son)
Cindy Hatok – Pittsburgh, PA
I was brought to Kabbalah through a class, it was a subtle introduction but it interested me because I was going through a lot of turmoil in my life. My only child had died, my boss at work was hassling me, I was becoming more depressed and wound up hospitalized for my depression. I knew that I had to change something, despite all the problems I had experienced I was here for some reason, but what was that reason? This was a question I had asked myself my whole life. I’d studied other religions, but never found a satisfying answer. I was lost. Then I began taking the courses on the Education Center. None of it was the scary stuff I had heard about, no weird number stuff, no red strings or anything like that. There was a real structure and explanation for why I am here. I’ve found a home, a place where others have felt the same feelings as I do, who accept me and have the same goal as I do. It’s been the best thing for me. Everyone around me has noticed the changes in me.
The entries we received were incredibly inspiring and moving, and we will publish many more of them in future Kabbalah Blog posts. You can subscribe to future Kabbalah Blog posts here if you haven’t already, to make sure you don’t miss out on these inspiring stories of us spiritual seekers finding what we had been looking for – a path to attain spirituality.
Also, if you haven’t already, sign up to the Kabbalah Fundamentals course starting this coming Wednesday, December 4, and we’ll look forward to seeing you in our new course with 1,000s of seekers joining from all around the world!