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July 24, 2017

Devarim (These Are the Words) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Devarim Parsha
Deuteronomy, 1:1-3:22
This Week’s Torah Portion | July 23 – July 29, 2017 – 29 Tammuz – 6 Av, 5777

The portion, Devarim (These Are the Words) begins with a long speech that Moses makes before the people of Israel just before his death. The portion contains a historic review of the forty years in the desert, which Moses describes to the people of Israel.

The portion also deals with appointing the presidents of the tribes and the judges, the sin of the spies and the punishment, the relationships between Israel and Edom, Israel and Moab, and Israel and Amon, as well as the wars with Sihon and Og. Moses reinforces Joshua, son of Nun, as the next leader of the people of Israel, who is to lead them into the land of Israel.

Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

From the cascading of the spiritual degrees and what we learn about the perception of reality, we know there is no world outside of us. All that exists are the spiritual states we go through, states that are depicted within us. Everything is within us, as it is said, “man is a small world.”

We move from state to state. Each state emerges out of its predecessor and is included in it. This is called a Partzuf (face). Each state contains what exists in the previous one, the Reshimot (recollections), impressions, and memories out of which it is born, and which it must now implement. Nothing comes out of thin air; everything relies on what precedes it.

These are the stages by which one ascends from the degree of the desert to the degree of the land of Israel. The degree of the land of Israel contains all the previous degrees, from Adam HaRishon (the first man, Adam), with whom the Torah begins. This is why we find that the Torah always repeats states described in previous books and extends them to the next, higher degree.

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Matot (Tribes) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

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Numbers, 30:2-32:42
This Week’s Torah Portion | July 16 – July 22, 2017 – 22 Tammuz – 28 Tammuz, 5777

In A Nutshell

In this portion Moses alerts the heads of the tribes about the commandments connected to the making and untying of vows. The portion also speaks of Pinhas, who leads Israel into a war with Midian and emerges triumphant. Following the war, the text details the division of the spoils (some of which are dedicated to the Creator) as well as the commandments to make the Kelim Kosher, detailing the process of dipping and immersing them in boiling water.

At the end of the portion, the tribes of Gad and Reuben ask to stay on the Eastern bank of the Jordan River because of its good soil for their voluminous cattle herds. They infuriate Moses because he thinks they are seeking to avoid the war for the conquest of the land. In the end they commit to participating in the war and Moses grants their wish for a lot outside the land of Israel.

Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

Kabbalists attain the forces and discernments of the spiritual world. These are the forces that operate and manage our world, including the still, vegetative, animate, and human, each of which has a force that runs it. This is why it is impossible to ask anything of people who are not Kabbalists, as they have no free choice, as it is written, “They are all as beasts (animals).” When we read a story in the Torah that seems to be happening in this world, we need to understand that its roots are in the spiritual world, in the network of forces that governs the world.

Today we already feel and understand that we are approaching the network of the forces of the integral nature, which closes in on us and compels us to behave accordingly. It is the appearance of Godliness, which is gradually nearing us.

We see that we can no longer manage the world. Each day we are feeling more and more clearly that nothing in the world depends on us. We are losing our ability to manage the world because we can no longer act in life using our egos.

Kabbalists discovered the upper network and told us how it manifests on the upper level. They did so using words and stories of this world, our world, because everything that exists in the upper one descends to the lower one.

During the forty years in the desert, and even before, Moses wrote his five books, the Pentateuch. Through his attainment, Moses wrote part of the Pentateuch about the times preceding his own. He wrote it in the language of the branches, in the connections between upper and lower. Moses wrote about everything that takes place in the upper world and how the forces are managed. He spoke of them as results, as “marionettes” that move about our world and change.

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Pinhas Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

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Numbers, 25:10-30:1
This Week’s Torah Portion | July 09 – July 15, 2017 – 15 Tammuz – 21 Tammuz, 5777

In A Nutshell

In the beginning of the portion the Creator thanks Pinhas for stopping the plague and gives him a “covenant of peace,” and a “covenant of an everlasting priesthood” to him and to his descendants. All the while, the children of Israel are preparing to fight the Midianties.

Following the instructions of the Creator, Moses divides the land into lots, following censuses held in the people by tribes and by families. At the conclusion of the censuses, the daughters of Zelophehad, from the tribe of Menashe, complain to Moses that their father died and as women, they did not receive their lot. Moses looks into the matter and the Creator rules that to do justice, the daughters of Zelophehad will be given a lot in the land, which will be named after their father.

The Creator commands Moses to climb up the Mountain of Avarim to see the land of Israel, which he will not enter, and to appoint Joshua, son of Nun, as his successor.

At the end of the portion there is a detailed description of the offerings that needed to be sacrificed each day and on different occasions during the year.

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Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

According to The Book of Zohar, the portion, Pinhas, is profound and evokes many questions. The story tells of people such as Pinhas, who are seemingly greater than Moses. The Creator blesses and praises him that he is as great as Joshua, that he is replacing Moses, who is climbing down from center stage. There is also the issue of women’s rights, some of whom can be as the men, receiving a lot.

As we know, the Torah does not speak of corporeal events or physical bodies, but of souls. The souls are what is important, the eternal part in each of us. This is why we need to understand that the text describes the “human within us,” which must experience all the portions of the Torah along the spiritual development.

This portion speaks of a very special point that awakens in us, a special desire called Pinhas. Read the rest of this entry »

  

Independence?

On the 4th of July holiday, I found myself reflecting on its meaning. So I Googled the holiday and discovered that the Second Continental Congress voted to declare independence from British rule two days earlier, on July 2nd. The Declaration of Independence, representing a formal statement of explanation, was approved on July 4th, and it is this day that we celebrate a national day of independence.

If you look up the definition of the word “independence,” you are likely to find something like this from synonym.com: “Freedom from control or influence of another or others.” Sorry, but now I have to laugh. (I have enough years on me to know better!)

Let’s try an experiment: Next time it rains, leave your umbrella behind and take with you a large, black plastic garbage bag. When’s it time to go out in the rain, put the bag on your head, tear out two holes for your eyes, and then go where you need to go. It works, at least to keep your hair dry. I know because I tried it.

Recently in a Panera Bread restaurant, I found myself without an umbrella as I needed to return to my car. So I did just that: I used a garbage bag as an umbrella. What reaction did I get? Can you guess? Several patrons laughed derisively while pointing their fingers at me, and subsequently my family became a tad bit mortified.

The point of this exercise is to highlight what you already know: Like it or not, we are all controlled by our environment. There are other factors, such as upbringing, but all in all, society largely determines what acceptable conduct is and isn’t. How, then, could we ever say we are independent, free from the control of another or others?

Ah, but what if you were at the top of the heap, so to speak, and therefore really could control others—through bribery, manipulation, influence peddling, whatever. Would you be free then? Think about it. Wouldn’t the desire to control others in and of itself be a taskmaster, in the same way that any desire of ours pressures for fulfillment? (I don’t think you have to be super rich to experience this, just a good egoist—or, at least to know one, and we all know at least one, right?)

There is a way to be truly free, but it’s not at all what you might guess or think. Kabbalah teaches us that it requires that we willingly give that control to another or others, relinquishing our own desires in favor of theirs. By doing this, we give no room for our own desires to enslave us by demanding fulfillment. Only then will we feel free from our personal ego, personal demands, and limitations.

The catch is that no one individual has the power to do this alone. The ego won’t allow it. But when we connect with others and practice doing this together, we awaken a special force that envelops us in a blanket of love. And from those feelings of warmth and love, we begin to feel that true freedom lies in connecting above our ego.

I was told that sharing a BBQ with friends is a good way to begin. I agree. Please, take your pick of the fixings, and have a happy 4th of July!

By Brenda Jones

  

Balak Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

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Numbers, 22:2-25:9
This Week’s Torah Portion | July 02 – July 08, 2017 – 8 Tammuz – 14 Tammuz, 5777

In A Nutshell

The portion, Balak, begins with the people of Israel conquering the land of the Amorites. Balak, king of Moab, understands that the children of Israel are nearing him, and prepares to face the nation that came out of Egypt. He sends messengers to Balaam, son of Beor—who was famous for his great wisdom and power of his curses—and asks him to curse the people of Israel.

Balaam leaves for the land of Moab having accepted the harsh stipulation to say only what the Creator will permit him to. Along the way his mare stops. Balaam beats her but the mare won’t move. Balaam cannot see the angel stopping the mare. The mare opens her mouth and speaks to him, and instead of cursing Israel he blesses them.

Balak is furious with Balaam. As a compensation, Balaam tips him that Israel has a weak spot: the daughters of Moab. Balak sends the daughters of Moab and the people of Israel fornicate with them so much that even Zimri, son of Salu, one of the presidents of the tribe of Shimon, takes a Midianite woman.

This situation leaves Pinhas, son of Elazar, with no choice. He takes a spear and stabs them to death, thus stopping the plague that has spread in the nation claiming twenty-four thousand lives.

Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

This story does not happen on the corporeal level. It is not about a process unfolding between two nations, but rather an internal correction process that one experiences. The story itself comes to show us how to correct the evil inclination. It is not a tale about children or grownups, nor is it a story about nations, countries, wars, prostitutes, or mares. All it describes is the correction of the evil inclination. It is the only thing that the Torah (Pentateuch) describes from the very beginning, from Adam—who began the correction—to the end.

The text speaks of a person who went through this path as Adam HaRishon (Adam), as Abraham, and as Moses, and who went through the whole process in Egypt and in the desert. During the gradual correction of the desire, a person gradually nears the land of Israel until one is faced with the “conquest” of the land.

The “desert” is a desire that a person still cannot use correctly, and therefore cannot see the fruits of the work with it. These corrections precede the ones known as the “land of Israel.”

The spies discovered that the land of Israel is a desire that, if aimed entirely at the Creator, yields beautiful fruits [Israel means Yashar El (straight to God)]. A person who approaches that correction initially acquires the land of the Amorites followed by the land of Moab, which is a higher degree. Man’s egoistic desire known as “the king of Moab,” Balak, begins to seemingly rebel against him because it does not want the corrections.

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