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December 11, 2017

Miketz (At the End) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Miketz

Genesis, 41:1-44:17

This Week’s Torah Portion | December 10 – December 16, 2017 – 22 Kislev – 28 Kislev, 5778

In A Nutshell

The portion, Miketz (At the End), begins with Pharaoh’s dream about seven healthy and well-fed looking cows coming up from the Nile, followed by seven meager and malnourished looking cows. In a second dream, Pharaoh sees seven plump and wholesome looking ears of grain, followed by seven ears that were thin and scorched, and the thin ears eat the plump ones.

None of Pharaoh’s counselors could solve his dreams. The chief cupbearer, who was saved, remembered Joseph and his gift for deciphering dreams. He took the opportunity and asked to bring Joseph out of prison. Joseph came and solved Pharaoh’s dream. He said that there would be seven years of wealth and abundance in Egypt, immediately followed by seven years of hunger, and that Pharaoh should prepare for them.

Joseph also suggested how Pharaoh should prepare for them. Pharaoh appointed Joseph in charge, second only to the king, so he would set up the warehouses.

Indeed, the seven plentiful years were followed by seven years of famine, and the entire nation turned to Joseph to relieve their hunger and help them through it. Everyone, including Jacob’s sons, who were in the land of Israel, came to Egypt due to the hunger.

Jacob’s sons came to Joseph and did not recognize their own brother. At first, Joseph thought they were spies. Afterward, he sent Simeon to prison and said to his brothers, go back, but without Simeon. Joseph hid a goblet in Benjamin’s belongings and declared that if the thief who stole the goblet is caught, he will be put to death, and everyone will be punished.

The brothers returned to Jacob and told him of Joseph’s request that their brother Benjamin should go down to Egypt with them. Initially, Jacob refused to send Benjamin back to Pharaoh because he has already lost Joseph and Simeon, but he finally agreed to let him go.

The portion describes the different predicaments that Joseph puts his brothers through, causing them to separate, but the brothers reinforce their unity.

The portion ends with everyone being in Egypt, Benjamin is accused of stealing the goblet, and Joseph decides to keep him as a slave.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

These stories represent different states that we must go through as we advance in the correction of our souls. The Torah tells us how we must perform the correction.

There is no need to correct our bodies because they are part of the animal kingdom and exist as do all other animals. Our souls, however, we must beget out of the current state, and this portion narrates how we should approach the correction and achieve the birth of our souls.

It is written, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created for it the Torah as a spice.” In other words, our foundation is the evil inclination, our ego. When we recognize the ego and begin to work with it, we experience first hand the entire process the Torah describes.

The previous portions dealt with the point in the heart that awakens and develops in a person. This portion deals with how that development takes place. We all come from a broken Kli (vessel), which must be corrected, connected. This is the correction by which we achieve the rule, “love your neighbor as yourself; it is the great rule of the Torah,”[1] inferring the connection of all of us into a single Kli, when all the people are as one.

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VaYeshev (And Jacob Sat) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

VaYeshev

Genesis, 37:1-40:23

This Week’s Torah Portion | December 03 – December 09, 2017 – 15 Kislev – 21 Kislev, 5778

In A Nutshell

In the portion, VaYeshev (And Jacob Sat), Jacob dwells in the land of Canaan. The protagonist of this portion is Joseph, Jacob’s youngest son. Joseph was gifted with a knack for prophetic dreams. In one of them, he sees himself ruling over his brothers. He tells them about it and turns their envy against him.

His brothers lead the cattle to Shechem to graze there, and his father sends him to them. On his way he meets a man and asks him about his brothers: “I seek my brethren” (Genesis 37:16). By the time Joseph finds his brothers they are already conspiring to kill him because of their envy. Reuben manages to prevent them from committing the murder and the brothers decide to throw Joseph in a pit, instead, in order to sell him to the Ishmaelites. A convoy of Midianites that passes by takes Joseph with them down to Egypt.

When Joseph arrives in Egypt, he hides in the home of Pharaoh’s captain of the guard, Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph but he refuses. She avenges by saying that Joseph tried to force himself on her, and he is thrown to the dungeon.

In the pit, Joseph meets Pharaoh’s two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker. He also discloses his gift for prophetic dreams. He predicts that within three weeks the chief cupbearer will be released, and the chief baker will be hanged. Joseph asks the chief cupbearer that upon his release he will go to Pharaoh and tell him that he, Joseph, is jailed for no reason and that he should be released.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

This portion contains a profound spiritual message. It narrates the correction of the soul, which is man’s purpose in life, and the reason why the Torah was given. Initially, the evil inclination appears, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination, I have created for it the Torah as a spice,” for “the light in it reforms it.” “Reforming” means returning to a state of “love your neighbor as yourself.” That is, it brings a person back to the quality of bestowal, similarity with the Creator. This is what we should achieve, as it is written, “Return, Oh Israel unto the Lord your God” (Hosea 14:2).

The Torah demonstrates how the ego, the will to receive, keeps changing until it is corrected. In the example shown in this portion we see how all our qualities connect, then separate, manifesting imbalance among them until they beget more advanced qualities, closer to bestowal.

Jacob is the beginning of the quality of bestowal within us. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are the three patriarchs. Jacob is actually the senior, containing both the desire to receive and the desire to bestow within us, as it is only possible to elicit the middle line using both. The middle line, Jacob, is still not attributed to the level of execution in us, but to the level of decision making.

The expression of Jacob’s execution level is his sons, from Reuben, the eldest, to Joseph, the youngest. And precisely in this hierarchy do the qualities within us hang down. This is how our ego, in all its (still incorrect) forms, is corrected. The one who completes them is Joseph, the righteous. He gathers all the previous qualities into the quality of Yesod (foundation), which is called “the righteous Joseph,” or “a righteous, the foundation of the world” (Proverbs 10:25).

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VaYishlach (And Jacob Sent) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

VaYishlach2

Genesis, 32:4-36:43
This Week’s Torah Portion | November 26 – December 02, 2017 – 8 Kislev – 14 Kislev, 5778

In A Nutshell

In the portion, VaYishlach (And Jacob Sent), Jacob wants to make peace with Esau after running away from him and being with Laban for many years. Esau sends angels to Jacob, and they inform him that Esau is headed toward him with four hundred men.

Jacob is alarmed by the looming encounter, and at night, an angel appears before him. Jacob struggles with it and defeats it, but is hurt in the thigh sinew. The angels alert Jacob that his name has changed as of that moment from Jacob to Israel. When Esau comes, they embrace and make peace, and Jacob moves to the area of Shechem.

Later, the portion speaks of Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, who is abducted by Shechem—the son of Hamor, the Hivite—who wants to marry her. Jacob’s sons allow the marriage on condition that all the men in the city perform circumcision. Once they perform the circumcision, Jacob’s sons kill all the men, bring Dinah back, and loot the city.

The Creator instructs Jacob to move to Beit El, where the Creator blesses Jacob with many descendants and the inheritance of the land. At the end of the portion Rachel dies when she delivers her second son, Benjamin. Isaac also dies and is buried by his sons, Esau and Jacob.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

This portion deals with very deep scrutinies that one makes within the soul in order to correct it from the intention to receive, from its egotistical form. We need these scrutinies for the soul because it was broken in a process known as “the breaking of the vessels,” the ruin.

Once a person achieves the degree of Jacob, which is still a degree of Katnut (infancy), a person discovers that it is impossible to move forward. Having risen above the ego, above the will to receive, and having reached a state of Katnut, called Galgalta and Eynaim, leaves one nothing with which to advance. In order to advance, one must find within oneself additional inclinations, additional broken Kelim (vessels). Upon their correction, the person will be able to rise along with them. In other words, whenever we are in a certain state, we must first descend, mingle with the negative, and only then rise to the positive.

The portion speaks of precisely that state. That is, a person who reaches Jacob’s state and cannot advance further must reconnect with the Esau within—the evil inclination that is still not corrected. Such a person heads toward it despite fearing that the egotistical desire might suddenly overpower, that perhaps he or she will not be able to come out of that state.

This calls for a special preparation. The text narrates that Jacob divides everything, the women, the children, and all the people with him. In other words, one sets one’s desires straight, arranging all of one’s qualities in an internal preparation for the disclosure of the flaws within, in order to properly cope with them.

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VaYetze (And Jacob Went Out) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

VaYetze

Genesis, 28:10-32:3
This Week’s Torah Portion | November 19 – November 25, 2017 – 1 Kislev – 7 Kislev, 5778

In A Nutshell

The portion, VaYetze (And Jacob Went Out), begins with Jacob leaving Beer Sheba and heading for Haran. He stops for the night and in his dream he sees a ladder “set up on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it” (Genesis, 28:12). The Creator appears before him and promises him that the earth on which he is lying will be his, that he will have many sons, and that He will watch over him. The next morning, Jacob sets up a monument in that place and calls it, Beit El (House of God).

Jacob comes to a well near Haran, where he meets Rachel and her father, Laban the Aramean, who offers him to work for him for seven years in return for permission to marry Rachel. At the end of the seven years Laban deceives Jacob and gives him Leah instead. He compels Jacob to work for him seven more years, after which he gives him Rachel and Jacob marries her.

Leah has four sons from Jacob, while Rachel is barren. Rachel gives to Jacob her maidens, who give birth to four more of his sons. Leah delivers two more sons, until finally Rachel conceives and gives birth to Joseph.

Jacob asks Laban to pay for his work. Laban gives him some of the flock, although they had a different agreement. Jacob shows the flock the troughs, and they conceive and deliver. Some of the lambs are born striped, some are speckled, and some are spotted.

Jacob feels that Laban is not treating him as before. At the same time, an angel appears before Jacob and tells him to return to the land of Israel. He leaves without notifying Laban, and Rachel steals the idols. Laban chases them in search of the idols, catches up with Jacob on Mount Gilead, and rebukes him for fleeing and stealing the idols.

Finally, they make a covenant on the mountain. Jacob is preparing to enter the land of Israel, he sees angels accompanying him, and he calls the place, Mahanaim (two camps).

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

Kabbalah always interprets stories as stages in a person’s inner growth, according to man’s purpose in this world—to discover the Creator, to achieve His degree, meaning to achieve Dvekut (adhesion).

Thus far, all the portions related to man’s initial point, Abraham, which is scrutinized through study, the group, connection with the teacher, and the books of Kabbalah. Subsequently, a person discovers the next stage, Isaac, followed by Ishmael, and then by Esau.

The portion, VaYetze (And Jacob Went Out), speaks of Jacob, who is the middle line. Abraham is the right line, and Isaac is the left line. Jacob is special in that the middle line contains all the qualities, the good, as well as the bad. In the middle line, the evil inclination and the good inclination merge in order to achieve the degree of the Creator, our goal.

The work in the middle line is done entirely in faith above reason, in bestowal, above the ego. This is the quality of Jacob in a person, and this is how it develops. Jacob leaves Beer Sheba, meaning a certain place, an inner state, and heads for Haran, which is another stage along the way. On the way there he must shift from state to state through the day and the night. In other words, Jacob experiences internal, spiritual ascents and descents.

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

Toldot2

Genesis, 25:19-28:9
This Week’s Torah Portion | November 12 – November 18, 2017 – 23 Cheshvan – 29 Cheshvan, 5778

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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