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November 23, 2017

Archive for October, 2017

VaYera (The Lord Appeared) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

VaYera

Genesis, 18:1-22:24
This Week’s Torah Portion | October 29 – November 04, 2017 – 9 Cheshvan – 15 Cheshvan, 5778

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 | October 22 – October 28, 2017 – 2 Cheshvan – 8 Cheshvan, 5778

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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Noah Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Noah

Genesis, 6:9-11:32
This Week’s Torah Portion | October 15 – October 21, 2017 – 25 Tishrei – 1 Cheshvan, 5778

In A Nutshell

The portion, Noah, speaks of sinful people and the Creator, who brings a flood on the world. “Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generations” (Genesis, 6:9). This is why he was the one chosen to survive the flood.

But he did not survive alone. Rather, he was commanded to build an ark and move into it along with his kin, and pairs of all the animals, and to remain in the ark for forty days and forty nights until the flood stopped.

The Creator made a covenant with Noah and his family that the flood would never return. As a token of the covenant, He placed the rainbow in the sky.

The end of the portion speaks of the tower of Babel, about the people who decided to build a tower whose head reaches the heaven. The Creator decided to confuse their language so they would not understand one another, and then He dispersed them throughout the country.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

The portion, Noah, is long, intense, and contains many details and many events compared to other portions. As this portion takes place in the beginning of the Torah, it also marks the beginning of the spiritual path, the most important time in a person’s development.

These initial stages unfold quite quickly, unlike subsequent events, when one begins the actual corrections and corrects one’s qualities meticulously. Later on, the events are far more detailed, as we will see in the future events unfolding in the Torah.

Our development takes place entirely over our egotistical will to receive, which we must turn into bestowal. Today we are still in the midst of a process where the whole of humanity is to begin to work with its ego in the right connection between people. The work against the ego is always a big problem, and appears as waves of a great sea, called Malchut of Ein Sof (Malchut of infinity).

Each time, the ego surfaces more and more, and at first, a person does not know what to do, so the only option is to hide in a box, an ark. It is not merely an escape; it is a correction. A person builds a kind of bubble, the quality of bestowal, and hides in it from all of one’s terrible egotistical qualities, and this is how one advances.

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Beresheet (In the Beginning) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Bereshit2

Genesis, 1:1 – 6:85 This Week’s Torah Portion | October 08 – October 14, 2017 – 18 Tishrei – 24 Tishrei, 5778

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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