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May 29, 2017

Nasso (Take) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Naso

Numbers 4:21-7:89

This Week’s Torah Portion | May 28 – June 03, 2017 – 3 Sivan – 9 Sivan, 5777

In A Nutshell

The portion describes the children of Israel’s preparations to set out on a journey from Mount Sinai to the land of Israel. The bulk of the work revolves around the tabernacle. The census in the tribe of Levi continues, and there is a description of the distribution of duties between the families of Levi, Gershon, Kohat, and Merari. The Creator gives an order to send the impure people outside the camp as preparation for the inauguration of the tabernacle.

Afterward the portion narrates different situations in which the people need the help of the priests and the tabernacle. The incidents are connected to negative acts such as stealing, a person swearing in the name of the Creator in vain and must offer a sacrifice, and a woman who strayed and is suspected of committing adultery and is therefore brought to the priest. There are also positive incidents, such as the story of the hermit, detailing the laws that a person who makes a vow takes upon himself, and the blessing of the priests, the blessing that the priests bless the people.

The end of the portion discusses the gifts of the presidents and the great celebration—the inauguration of the tabernacle. The portion ends with the conclusion of the preparations, when the people of Israel can set out to the land of Israel.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

The Torah speaks only about our soul and how we should correct it. We do not correct the body because the body is an animal and acts according to its nature. We must reinstate the “portion of God from above” (Job 31:2); this is the soul.

We do it as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created for it the Torah as a spice”[1] because “the light in it reforms.”[2] When we begin to connect to others under the condition, “love your neighbor as yourself,”[3] we find how repelling we find this act. We do not want to see anyone, only use them for our own benefit.

This is our nature, as the Creator said, “I have created the evil inclination.” However, the more we study and try to draw closer to each other, and discover how utterly impossible it is, the more we feel our nature as bad, as ill will, evil inclination. Then we need a means to correct it, and this is the light that reforms.

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BaMidbar (In the Desert) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

BAmitbar

Numbers,  1:1-4:20

This Week’s Torah Portion | May 21 – May 27, 2017 – 25 Lyar – 2 Sivan, 5777

In A Nutshell

The portion, BaMidbar (In the Desert), begins with the Creator commanding the children of Israel by tribes to bring men who had served in the army and were at least twenty years old, and appoint them as heads of tribes and presidents. Following the nomination, Moses is requested to explain to them where each tribe should be during the journey and while stopping in the desert, how to arrange themselves by tribes and banners according to the four directions, with the tabernacle in the middle.

The portion reiterates the role of the Levites, who are to serve in the tabernacle. The tribe of Levi is special because it has no place or lot of its own; it is to serve everyone and help everyone, especially the priests in the tabernacle. The role of the Levites is to assemble and disassemble the tabernacle at each stop during the journey of the children of Israel. They must follow strict rules that explain what to do with each part of the tabernacle and how to keep the vessels of the tabernacle.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

The Torah is divided into two parts: external and internal. The external Torah is the one we read and know. It is the Torah that our fathers (ourselves in previous incarnations, since our souls reincarnate from generation to generation) observed in the past. However, there are things to sort in it. The Torah describes the journey of the children of Israel in the desert and how they should conduct themselves there. It details how to build the tabernacle, divide into priests, Levites, and tribes, how to set up the camp, and how to continue the journey where each one moves from place to place under the tribe’s banner up to the boundaries of the land of Israel and the onset of its conquest.

The inner Torah is actually the main thing. Through it we correct and adjust ourselves internally in order to discover that upper force from which we receive the Torah in actual fact. That is, it is about revealing the Creator to the creatures. Here we are talking about man as a small world, where all that is described in the Torah—priests, Levites, Israel, and the twelve tribes—is within us as replications. The inner Torah touches each of us and instructs us what we must do in order to discover the upper force here and now.

One who has not corrected him or herself is certainly immersed in the ego, the evil inclination, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created for it the Torah as a spice.”[1] That state is called a “desert.” The sensation of the desert is the place of the Klipot (shells/peels), meaning uncorrected desires. While in that feeling we have nothing to revive us, to give us spiritual life. Even if we have material abundance we still feel that we are in the desert.

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Anti-Semitism Is a Phenomenon of Nature

Throughout our lives on this planet, we observe and feel within ourselves the perennial and unyielding cycles of nature. Anything that exists adheres to those laws. During the lifetimes of many of us, we have seen anti-Semitism sprout, grow into its most horrific manifestation, then abate again. And it seems that now we are on another upswing. Is another Nazi-like regime possible? Is this an inevitable outcome that can’t be prevented or overcome?

Nature is a vast system where harmony, altruism, interdependence, and interconnection thrive. These are principles that when carried out maintain the exquisite balance of the universe.

When the human level emerged out of the inanimate, vegetative, and animate phases of evolution, we came endowed with ego, a quality not present anywhere else in nature. Through the misuse of ego, we have developed into a society that creates incalculable separation through our exploitation of nature and each other in the quest for satisfaction of our desires. 

In the days of Abraham, the Jews understood that the only way to manage egoism was to rise above their egos and unite in that upper space. When Jews unite above all the disputes and disagreements, the positive force that can do wonders spreads in the world.

The fact is that the Jews were chosen to create unity among themselves, then teach the world how to do the same. The problem is that today Jews are not united. They are divided by geography, by internal polarization into liberals and conservatives, even in their loyalty to the state of Israel. In his article “Can There Be Nazism in America?” in The Jerusalem Post, Dr. Laitman says:

“If American Jews do not take their lives in their own hands and force themselves to unite above their mutual dislike, the Americans will force them to do so through bloodshed. There is no more time. The Jews must put aside all differences and unite because unity is the Jewish people’s sole salvation, and because when we unite, we are a light unto nations—giving the world what Abraham intended for humanity to have almost four millennia ago, and what the world so badly needs today.”

In another Jerusalem Post article, “The 2nd Holocaust—How We Can Prevent it,” Dr. Laitman tells us: “We can prevent the second Holocaust. All we must do is little-by-little, unite ‘as one man with one heart.’ We are still masters of our fate; the choice is still in our hands. Let’s not miss out again.”

In nature there is exquisite balance. As anti-Semitism rises again, like crocuses in the spring, Jews must restore balance by carrying out their role of becoming a light unto the nations, not only for themselves, but for the world.

“When the Children of Israel are complemented with the complete knowledge, the fountains of intelligence and knowledge shall flow beyond the boundaries of Israel and water all the nations of the world” (Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to the Book, Panim Meirot and uMasbirot,” Item 4).

By Annabelle

  

Let’s Connect for Our Children’s Sake

My daughter recently started kindergarten. No words can express the sensations a mother feels when she drops off her children for the first time in kindergarten or daycare. We worry, we fret, we want them to be safe, make good friends, and be happy.

The worry continues throughout our children’s lives and we experience the same trepidations as they begin dating, enter universities, and start their first jobs. We envelop them with as much love as we can muster and send them off hoping that they receive the support and nurturing they need to be happy and succeed.

From this perspective, the latest wave of anti-Semitism in the world is particularly troubling. Of course we always worry about our own safety and wellbeing, but when it comes to our children, parents would agree that it’s a whole different ballgame.

The sensations we feel when we know that our own children are alienated or ostracized, made fun of, or put in any sort of physical danger are sharp and painful. But this is exactly what I fear may begin to happen (if it hasn’t already).

As the world moves to more extreme forms of anti-Semitism as we are already seeing, everyone in our communities becomes a victim, and that includes our children. We see that community centers and universities are not exempt from the hatred the world feels towards us and it’s not long before our children become direct targets. My heart sinks at the very thought.

Is there anything we can do as parents and as a community to turn this around?

Yes.

As much as we would like, we cannot wipe out anti-Semitism overnight. However, we can take definitive steps to make it less aggressive and maintain it at a manageable, much less threatening level.

In order to understand the solution, we must first accept that anti-Semitism exists because of division, hate, and disconnection between Jews. Thus the remedy for it lies squarely in the hands of those who identify themselves as Jewish, in their connection. The more Jews work on their connection and the tighter their bond, the more it will become like a shield that protects them, guards and develops their children and strengthens their communities.

No matter what personal ideologies or belief systems, Jews have to connect with each other above everything and they must do this urgently or else, they risk putting themselves, and more importantly, their children in real danger.

The moment Jews start connecting, they will see how this threat dissipates, how news of anti-Semitism diminishes and how their children become happier and more confident in their dealings with the rest of the world.

Why not then start connecting for our children’s sake?

By Veronica Edwards

  

BeHukotai (In My Statutes) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

BeHukotai

Leviticus, 26:3-27:34

This Week’s Torah Portion | May 14 – May 20, 2017 – 18 Lyar – 24 Lyar, 5777

In A Nutshell

The portion, BeHukotai (In My Statutes), deals primarily with the topic of reward and punishment for the children of Israel according to their behavior—whether they follow the ways of the Creator. It is written, “If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and do them” (Leviticus, 26:3). The portion begins with presenting the reward: “Then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit” (Leviticus, 26:4). Opposite that is the presentation of the punishment: “But if you do not obey Me and do not carry out all these commandments” (Leviticus, 26:14), “I will appoint terror over you: the tuberculosis and the malaria,” (Leviticus, 26:16), and the worst punishment of all—exile.

If the people of Israel repent, the Creator promises to remember the covenant He has made with them and forgive them. It is written, “Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God” (Leviticus, 26:44). The portion ends with additional laws concerning vows, ostracism, tithing, and others.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

The issue of reward and punishment was not presented at the beginning of the Torah because it is impossible to understand it unless you are able to make free choice. Without this ability it is pointless to instructions on this issue. First you must learn the laws and judgments. Then, if you keep them you will be rewarded, and if not, you will be punished. You cannot punish in advance. First one needs to reach the spiritual degree of shifting from unfounded hatred to brotherly love, to “love your neighbor as yourself,”[1] which is the whole Torah. This is the way we must walk: we must correct our evil inclination and turn it into a good inclination through the light that reforms[2], by studying the wisdom of Kabbalah, the wisdom of light.

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