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January 19, 2018

Archive for December, 2017

Shemot (Exodus) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Shemot

Exodus, 1:1-6:1

This Week’s Torah Portion | December 31 2016 – January 06, 2018 – 13 Tevet – 19 Tevet, 5778

In A Nutshell

The portion, Shemot (Exodus), begins with the demise of Joseph and all of his contemporaries, “And a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph” (Exodus, 1:8). Subsequently, Moses is born in Egypt and his sister hides him in an ark. She places the ark in the Nile and follows it. Pharaoh’s daughter goes down to bathe in the river, finds the ark, and takes the baby. Moses’ sister offers to help her find a Hebrew nursing women and brings Moses’ mother as a nursing woman.

Moses grows in Pharaoh’s home forty years. One day he sees an Egyptian beating a Hebrew. He strikes and kills the Egyptian and buries him in the sand. When he realizes that one of his Hebrew brothers saw him in the act, he fears being told on and escapes to the desert.

In the desert he meets Jethro, priest of Midian. He marries his daughter and sees the burning bush, where he is told he must return to Pharaoh and to the people of Israel, and tell them it is time to go out of Egypt.

The portion ends with the children of Israel complaining to Moses about their poor situation. Moses turns to the Creator who says to him, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh, for by a strong hand shall he let them go, and by a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land” (Exodus, 6:1).

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

The stories deal with man’s soul. The Torah tells us how to correct ourselves in order to develop the soul within us, how to open it up to the upper light, to the revelation of the Creator, and how to feel within it the upper, spiritual world.

The process begins with a special desire called Abraham, which awakens and asks about the meaning of our lives, leading us to open up our souls. The developing desire must escape Babylon, the sum of our great ego.

Subsequently, that desire procreates another desire, Isaac, which begets yet another desire, Jacob. These three desires form the foundation of the soul.

Jacob, which is a special desire, has twelve sons. This is a development of the third desire, which achieves equivalence with the upper force—the Creator—who is pure bestowal. The exodus from Babylon symbolizes our desire to achieve that same level of bestowal. Jacob is the first to actualize that desire through his sons, particularly through Joseph, who assembles all the qualities of bestowal of the corrections that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the rest of the sons have made. Joseph is the only one who can descend to his ego with all the corrections and begin to work with the ego that is called Egypt.

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VaYechi (Jacob Lived) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

VaYechi

Genesis, 47:28-50:26

This Week’s Torah Portion | December 24 – December 30, 2017 – 6 Tevet – 12 Tevet, 5778

In A Nutshell

In the portion, VaYechi [Jacob Lived], Jacob and his sons join Joseph in Egypt. When the time of Jacob’s death draws near he calls on Joseph and swears him to bury him in the land of Israel and not in Egypt. Joseph asks him to bless his two sons, Ephraim and Menashe before he dies. Jacob blesses them and says that they will be as his sons, Reuben and Simeon. Subsequently, Jacob blesses the rest of his sons and orders them to burry him in the Cave of Machpelah in the land of Israel.

Following Jacob’s death, Joseph receives special permission from Pharaoh to go and bury his father in the land of Israel. Jacob goes to Canaan with his brothers and all the elders of Egypt, arrives at the Cave of Machpelah, buries Jacob there, then returns to Egypt.

Along the way, his brothers fear that he will take vengeance against them for selling him to slavery, but Joseph soothes their fears. He promises them that he will always remain their brother and not their enemy.

Jacob’s blessing comes true and Menashe and Ephraim have many children. Toward the end of the portion Joseph is about to die. He summons his brothers and tells them that the Creator will bring them and his sons out of Egypt, and orders them to take his bones and bury them in the land of Israel.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

The Torah teaches us how to develop our souls. Initially, we have only the point in the heart. It appears when a person begins to ask about the reason and the meaning of life. Through this question, one begins to see that life is not meant only to live here in this world for seventy or so years. Rather, this life was given as an opportunity to develop the soul.

The soul develops from the evil inclination, opposite which is the “light that reforms.” In other words, if we correct the evil inclination using the light that reforms, we thus develop the soul. This is how the evil inclination becomes the good inclination.

This correction does not relate merely to having good human relations. Rather, through the light we also begin to experience the spiritual world, Godliness, as it is written, “You will see your world in your life.”[1]

The portion deals with the three primary forces: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which are HesedGevura, and Tifferet. These forces exist in the soul of each of us, or in the general soul called Adam. Abraham and Isaac are two opposite lines—right and left, Hesed and Gevura—while the Jacob quality in us, the senior patriarch, includes Abraham and Isaac within it, and is the middle line, called Tifferet. Using the quality of Jacob, meaning the two forces that exist in it, directs us for the first time toward the proper manner of the correction of the soul.

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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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