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November 12, 2018

Toldot (These Are the Generations) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Toldot2

Genesis, 25:19-28:9
This Week’s Torah Portion | 4 Nov – 10 Nov, 2018 – 26 Cheshvan – 2 Kislev, 5779

In A Nutshell

The portion, Toldot (These Are the Generations), begins with the wedding of Isaac and Rebecca. After twenty years of infertility, Rebecca conceives and the Creator tells her she will have two sons. The first was Esau, and the second, which was holding unto his brother’s heel, was Jacob. Esau became a hunter, and Jacob studied Torah.

The first confrontation between the twins was over the selling of the birthright. Esau returned empty handed from a hunt, and Jacob offered him lentil stew in return for the birthright. Esau agreed. After some time Esau discovered that Jacob deceived him.

Later in the portion, Isaac digs two wells, both of which are taken by the Philistines. A third well remains in Jacob’s hands, and he calls it Rehovot. Finally, Avimelech and Isaac make a covenant between them.

The second confrontation between the twins happens when their father wished to bless them. Isaac wanted to bless Esau, his firstborn, and Rebecca asked Jacob to dress as Esau in order to receive the blessing of the firstborn. When Esau discovered that Jacob received his blessing, he wanted to kill him, so Rebecca sent Jacob to Haran, to her brother, Lavan.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

The drama before us is in fact the process of man’s spiritual development. The story deals with man’s most fundamental forces, although it can be, and has been, turned into a novel.

The Creator created the will to receive. That desire is the entirety of the substance of creation. It is possible to use the will to receive for one’s own favor, or in favor of others. In fact, the whole of creation is prone to using the desire in favor of others, as it is written, “love your neighbor as yourself; it is a great rule in the Torah.” [1] This is the law of the whole of reality, the whole of Nature.

On the one hand we must use the will to receive and satisfy it however we can. On the other hand, the act of satisfying, in which we draw everything to ourselves, must be for the benefit of others. This seems contradictory. Using the ego, the will to receive, must be solely in a direction that is good for everyone. We cannot understand that contradiction, which is why we cannot understand the Torah, making its meaning hidden from us.

The portion seemingly explains it by saying that although Abraham loved Ishmael, he sent him away. Isaac, who loved Esau—the will to receive, all the substance of creation—acted similarly, though Esau is our entire nature, which we need and use in everything we do in life.

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Chayei Sarah (The Life of Sarah) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Chayei Sarah2

Genesis, 23:1-25:18
This Week’s Torah Portion | 28 Oct – 3 Nov, 2018 – 19 Cheshvan – 25 Cheshvan, 5779

In A Nutshell

In the portion, The Life of Sarah, Abraham gives a eulogy after Sarah’s death at the age of 127. He buys a lot for the grave from Ephron the Hittite for four hundred shekels of silver and buries her in the Cave of Machpelah, in Hebron.

Abraham objects to Isaac marrying a woman from the Canaanites, and sends Eliezer, his servant, to Aram Naharaim to find a wife for his son. When Eliezer approaches a well, he meets Rebecca and asks her to give him water. She gives him water, and offers water to his camels, as well. Eliezer takes her offer as a sign that she is the right woman for Isaac, and so he brings her to Canaan.

After the death of Sarah, Abraham marries Keturah, who bears six children, which Abraham sends eastward. Abraham died at the age of 175, and inherits all that he has to Isaac.

The end of the portion elaborates on the generations of Ishmael and on his passing at the age of 175.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

We need to remember that the Torah speaks of what happens within, as one reveals one’s soul, the innermost part. The revelation of the soul is gradual, and manifests in the stories of the Torah. Abraham is the initial force with which a person reveals the soul and opens the internality to discover the upper world. He is the first force of overcoming, the force of bestowal, along with that force’s female, Sarah, which is suitable for the degree of Abraham.

To know with which desires we can work and with which we cannot, we must sort out our self-centered desires, leaving the degrees with which we still cannot work for the next degrees, for states where the desire is stronger. To scrutinize the desire called Isaac, we must first remove the desire with which we cannot work, and sort it with another female, with Hagar, from whom comes Ishmael, the Klipa (shell/peel) of the right.

The Isaac degree within us emerges only afterward, and is an extension of the Abraham degree. It is written about Isaac, “For in Isaac will your seed be named” (Genesis, 21:12), meaning that Abraham’s rise to a higher degree is named Isaac. At the Isaac degree, one should reexamine one’s desires, and sort out with which desires it is possible to work, and with which it is impossible.

A person cannot scrutinize alone, as that person (Abraham) comes from only one force, one side, from the force of Hesed (mercy). Abraham is still without Gevura, and must first acquire the degree of Isaac, which is the foundation of Gevura. This is the point where the force of Eliezer comes to the aid. Eliezer is like the upper light—scrutinizing the desires for a person, bringing one to the degree where one can sort the next stage of correction out of all of one’s desires. That stage is called Rebecca.

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VaYera (The Lord Appeared) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

VaYera

Genesis, 18:1-22:24
This Week’s Torah Portion | 21 Oct – 27 Oct, 2018 – 12 Cheshvan – 18 Cheshvan, 5779

In A Nutshell

The portion, VaYera (The Lord Appeared), begins with the story of the three angels that came to Abraham and told Sarah she would have a son. Sarah laughed because she could not believe that she would have a son at her age. Yet, she did have a son, whose name was Ytzhak (Isaac) named after her Tzhok (laughter).

The angels continued on their way to destroy the cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, due to the many sins being committed there. Lot and his family were allowed to escape, but Lot’s wife did not obey the angels’ orders, turned around to look, and became a pillar of salt. Lot and his two daughters made it to a cave. Lot’s daughters were certain that they were the only survivors in the world, so they tricked their father into having children with them.

Later in the portion, following Sarah’s request, Abraham expels Hagar and Ishmael to the desert; the Creator commands Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, and in the last moment, an angel stops the execution. Abraham takes a ram that he found caught in the thicket and offers it instead of his son.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

In “A Preface to the Book of Zohar,” one of Baal HaSulam’s introductions to The Book of Zohar, he offers a special explanation of our perception of reality. The explanation details how we perceive the reality we live in, and how the place where we are is depicted in us as an image of emotions, which are portrayed as solid, as gas, as liquid, etc.

The Zohar and the wisdom of Kabbalah explain that due to the way in which we perceive reality—with our qualities and senses—we react to something outside of us, which we do not know, and which we turn into various colors and materials. However, we need to acquire additional senses and rise to a higher perception of reality, above our senses. This is how we will discover the upper world.

The Book of Zohar speaks to us in the “language of the branches,” using the terms of our world. It tells us how we can obtain and be impressed with the new form, which is higher than our world. Sometimes our concepts seem real to us, such as a pillar of salt, the upheaval of Sodom and Gomorrah, or the story of the three angels, etc., since “a verse does not extend the literal” (Masechet Yevamot, 24a). Yet, we should strive to see these concepts as relationships between us in the common soul.

The events of the portion are not merely historic tales; they are sources that deal with the connections between us. The role of these sources is to teach one who wishes to advance and rise to the new perception of reality how to scrutinize one’s desires, qualities, forces, and the connections between them, in order to design from them the perception of reality that is called, for instance, “the portion, VaYera.”

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Lech Lecha (Go Forth) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Lech Lecha2

Genesis, 12:1-17:27
This Week’s Torah Portion | 14 Oct – 20 Oct, 2018 – 5 Cheshvan – 11 Cheshvan, 5779

In A Nutshell

The portion, Go Forth, begins with Abraham being commanded to go to the land of Canaan. When Abraham reaches the land of Canaan, the hunger forces him to go down to Egypt, where Pharaoh’s servants take Sarai, his wife. In Pharaoh’s house, Abraham presents her as his sister, fearing for his life. The Creator punishes Pharaoh with infections and diseases, and he is forced to give Sarai back to Abraham.

When Abraham returns to the Canaan, a fight breaks out between the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle and the herdsmen of Abraham’s cattle, after which they part ways.

A war breaks out between four kings from among the rulers of Babylon, and five kings from the land of Canaan, Lot is taken captive, and Abraham sets out to save him.

The Creator makes a covenant with Abraham, “the covenant of the pieces” (or “covenant between the parts”), which is the promise of the continuation of his descendants and the promise of the land.

Sarai cannot have children, so she offers Abraham her maid, Hagar, and they have a child named Ishmael.

Abraham makes the covenant of the circumcision with the Creator and is commanded to circumcise himself and all the males in his household. His name changes from Abram to Abraham, and his wife’s name changes from Sarai to Sarah.

At the end of the portion, the Creator promises Sarah that she would have a son whose name will be Isaac.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

All the stories of the portion before us happen within us. In the correct perception of reality, this world does not exist, and neither do history or geography, nor the story of the portion. All of them are occurrences that take place within us.

The wisdom of Kabbalah explains that perception of reality is a profound matter, relating to our innermost psychology, to our senses and to our physical structure.

The Torah speaks the truth about the way we developed, and all the people and events that it describes are our mental forces. Abraham, for instance, is the tendency to develop toward spirituality, the desire to approach and discover the Creator.

The story of Abraham in Babylon is really the revelation that only one force exists and manages the world, and the desire to discover that force. Anyone who feels the desire to discover who is managing one’s fate and why, or is asking, “What is the meaning of my life?” is at the same starting point of Abraham, and the force of Abraham is working within that person.

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Beresheet (In the Beginning) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Bereshit2

Genesis, 1:1 – 6:85 This Week’s Torah Portion | 30 Sep – 6 Oct, 2018 – 21 Tishrei – 27 Tishrei, 5779

In A Nutshell

Beresheet (In the Beginning) is the first portion in the Torah (Pentateuch). It tells the story of the creation of the world in six days, and the rest on the seventh day. It talks about the creation of the man, his arrival at the Garden of Eden, and the creation of the woman. The portion also narrates the story of the sin of the tree of knowledge, Cain and Abel, the generations from Cain to Lamech, the ten generations from Adam to Noah, the corruption that engulfed their generations, and the renewed hope that emerged with the birth of Noah.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

Beresheet contains more stories than any other portion in the Torah. In many ways it is also the deepest of the portions, as it discusses the basis of our being—the creation of the soul.

The common soul was created out of the will to receive delight and pleasure, or simply, “the will to receive.” That will is the soul’s core, and it’s affected by six qualities: HesedGevuraTifferetNetzahHod, and Yesod. These qualities penetrated the substance—the will to receive—and designed it in synchrony with the upper force, the Creator. The reason why man is called Adam is that the word Adam comes from the word Adamah, from the verse, Adameh la Elyon (“I will be like the most high,” Isaiah, 14:14), since he is similar to the Creator, the sublime bestowal, sublime love, to that upper force that gave birth to it.

Adam is the structure of the soul that is equal in form to the Creator and is in Dvekut [adhesion] with Him in the Garden of Eden. A garden means “desire.” The garden is the part of the creature, Adam’s substance—the will to receive. Eden marks the degree of bestowal, degree of Bina. Adam, who is on the degree of Bina, is in the Garden of Eden.

This does not pertain to our world or to the universe we know, but rather to the common soul that the Creator created. From the very beginning, the common soul undergoes a special preparation, the sin, because at its inception it was adhered to the upper force, which means that it had no authority of its own, nothing to its name, or any sense of independent existence. In a sense it is like an embryo in its mother’s womb—on the one hand it exists, on the other hand it is part of its mother, and each of its actions is ruled by its superior.

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