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December 17, 2017

VaYigash (Judah Approached) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

VaYigash

Genesis, 44:18-47:27

This Week’s Torah Portion | December 17 – December 23, 2017 – 29 Kislev – 5 Tevet, 5778

In A Nutshell

In the portion, VaYigash (Judah Approached), Joseph asks his brothers to leave BenjaminJanuary 1 – January 7, 2016 – 3 Tevet – 9 Tevet, 5777having discovered the silver goblet that he himself hid in his belongings. Judah explains to Joseph that he cannot leave Benjamin behind because he is responsible for him and he promised his father to bring him back safe. Judah tells Joseph that they had already lost one brother, not knowing that Joseph is the one managing the event behind the scenes.

Joseph decides to expose himself to his brothers. He tells them how his selling for slavery turned out for the best, and that now he can support his family because he is in charge of all of Egypt. After the reconciliation, Joseph sends the brothers to Jacob with carts and goods, and asks Jacob to come to Egypt.

At first, Jacob cannot believe the story. But once the brothers present him with Joseph’s gift, he is delighted and wants to go to Egypt to see Joseph before he dies. On the way to Egypt, Jacob stops and offers sacrifices. The Creator appears to Jacob and promises him that his descendants will be a great nation in Egypt, and that eventually they will all return to the land of Israel.

Jacob and the brothers arrive in Egypt, in the land of Goshen, where Joseph meets them. He bursts in tears when he sees his father after all those years. Joseph tells them that Pharaoh wants to meet them.

To prepare for the meeting Joseph tells the brothers and Jacob to say that they are shepherds and wish to live in a separate place from the Egyptians, in the land of Goshen. Joseph introduces his father and brothers to Pharaoh, who agrees that they will live in the land of Goshen.

The hunger continues and Joseph provides for everyone. The Egyptians and all the others give up their money and eventually themselves as slaves to Pharaoh.

At the end of the portion Joseph establishes a system of taxation by which Pharaoh holds all the assets; he provides the Egyptians seeds for their crops, and they give him one fifth of the crop.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

The portion describes both the internal process of man’s development, and the general process in the correction of the world. Man and the world are one, the particular and general are equal.

This is a special portion, which is still pertinent. It deals with the spiritual force entering an ordinary person and beginning to correct that person.

For the purpose of connection, a person needs both the physical force and the spiritual force, like heaven and earth. The two forces—of the Creator and of the creature—conjoin, and the human will grow out of them. This is really the purpose of our development, to connect the material substance with the human form, which is similar to the Creator.

It is not simple to make those two forces meet. Creation consists only of these two forces—the giving force, the Creator, and the receiving force, the creature, which the Creator created on purpose as a replication of Himself.

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Insights to Deepen Your Understanding of Hanukkah [Infographic]

When you think of Hanukkah, do you think of crossing the barrier between the corporeal and spiritual worlds? When you think of the war between the Maccabees and the Greeks, do you think of an inner war within the person, between the desire to love and bestow, and the egoistic desire for personal benefit? When you think of the miracle of Hanukkah, do you think of us being granted an intention to bestow upon our egoistic desire to enjoy? If you do, then you’re thinking in terms of the deeper explanations of the meaning of Hanukkah’s customs and concepts that the wisdom of Kabbalah provides. As a method to discover the higher reality of love, bestowal and positive connection while we’re alive in this world, Kabbalah describes all phenomena in Kabbalistic texts, including all of the Jewish holidays, in terms of a person’s spiritual development. In this infographic, you can get a taste of a few of the deeper meanings behind common Hanukkah customs and concepts, to start perceiving them as inner phenomena and processes each person can encounter from now onward on their spiritual progress to discover the higher reality.

Hanukkah Meaning Infographic

  

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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