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September 22, 2018

Archive for February, 2018

An Examination into the Age-Old Question about the Meaning of Life

What Is the Meaning of Life - Infographic

What is the meaning of life? Is it to be happy, to love, to be free, powerful, to have goals and dreams we’re working toward, to survive, evolve and reproduce, to be good people, to worship God and enter heaven in the afterlife? Or does life have no meaning? Should the question about the meaning of life better be ignored, i.e. if there’s no clearly attainable and provable answer to the question among all people, then maybe it causes division and pain when raising it, so maybe we should just learn to survive as best as possible and not deal with the meaning of life? Or maybe life is just plain bad, and we’re destined to make our way here, each one on the ruin of others, as best as we can while we’re here for a numbered amount of years?

The wisdom of Kabbalah has existed for thousands of years as a method for answering the question about the meaning of life. We interviewed Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman to answer questions in relation to the age-old existential question. Read the interview here: What Is the Meaning of Life? – An Examination

  

Ki Tissa (When You Take) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Ki Tissa

Exodus, 30:11-34:35

This Week’s Torah Portion | 25 Feb – 3 Mar, 2018 – 10 Adar – 16 Adar, 5778

In A Nutshell

The portion, Ki Tissa (When You Take), begins with a request of each one of the children of Israel to donate half a shekel for the building of the tabernacle. The portion mentions some other details about the tabernacle such as the anointing oil, the table, and the menorah and its vessels, appointing Bezalel, son of Uri Ben Hur, as chief craftsman, Ahaliav Ben Ahisemech as his assistant, and commanding the children of Israel to observe the Sabbath.

Later, Moses ascends to Mount Sinai to receive the tablets of the covenant but delays in his return, so the children of Israel seek proof that the Creator exists and demand of Aaron to build a golden calf. Aaron agrees, takes their gold vessels, melts them, and builds the golden calf.

When Moses returns from the mountain and sees it, the tablets of the covenant break. The Creator wishes to destroy and ruin the entire people of Israel, and Moses pleads for their souls.

Moses speaks to the Creator “face to face,” and wishes to conceal himself.

At the end of the process, the Creator agrees and makes a covenant with the people of Israel. The Creator also promises Israel that they will enter the land of Israel, and repeats the commandment of the three Pilgrimage festivals (Shalosh Regalim) and the prohibition of idolatry.

Moses stays with the Creator on Mount Sinai forty days and forty nights, writes on the tablets, and comes down from the mountain. It is written, “And it came to pass when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tables of the testimony in Moses’ hand … that Moses did not know that the skin of his face beamed while He talked with him” (Exodus, 34:29). It was so much so that he had to hide himself from the people once more because they feared speaking with him.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

Those who do not know the language of Kabbalah will find it hard to understand that the text actually discusses a person’s inner development. It concerns our nature, which is the will to receive, an egoistic desire that requires correction. The Torah speaks only of the correction of the desire, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created for it the Torah as a spice”[1] because “the light in it would reform them.”[2]

The purpose of the correction is to transform our evil (egoistic) inclination, which aims only toward self-gratification and exploitation of the entire world for itself, and turn it into love of others, as in “love your neighbor as yourself.”[3]

The Torah speaks of a process that is not simple, but which all of us experience. The general crisis we are in will cause us to come out to the light, to correction, similar to the exodus from Egypt. Today we are all standing before Mount Sinai with a huge ego, with all the Kelim (vessels) we have taken from Egypt. During the millennia of development, humanity has accumulated a massive ego; now we have no clue what to do with it, other than escape it.

When we are drawn toward Mount Sinai we discover a mountain of hate between us. Only the point within us, called Moses, pulls us forward toward connection with something higher, a higher degree—human degree of similarity with the Creator.

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Tetzaveh (Command) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Tetzaveh

Exodus, 27:20-30:10

This Week’s Torah Portion | 18 Feb – 24 Feb, 2018 – 3 Adar – 9 Adar, 5778

In A Nutshell

In the portion, Tetzaveh (Command), the Creator provides Moses with additional details regarding the tabernacle, and commands the children of Israel to take olive oil to light the everlasting candle in the tent of meeting outside the veil, so it may burn from dusk to dawn.

The Creator instructs Moses to appoint Aaron and his sons, Nadav, Avihu, Elazar, and Itamar to be his priests. He elaborates on the commandment of preparing the holy garments “for honor and glory” (Exodus, 28: 2): the vest, fringe, coat, and the rest of the garments of the priest.

Afterward comes an explanation on the sanctification of Aaron and his sons for their role in the tabernacle, including the offering of an ox and two rams on the altar of the incense that will be positioned inside the tabernacle before the veil, and how the incense is to be made. Finally, the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is mentioned, which is to take place once a year.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

The portion, Tetzaveh (Command), is very matter-of-fact, short, and pragmatic. The whole of the substance of creation is the desire to receive. This is the solid basis from which we should begin. We feel the will to receive within us divided into four levels: still, vegetative, animate, and speaking. All our desires are divided in this manner, and we give them the shape of bestowal, namely to aim them toward giving. All desires must be aimed toward our connection “as one man with one heart,”[1] with love of others, as in “love your neighbor as yourself.”[2]

To the extent that we correct each one of our desires, we shape the image of man—becoming similar to the Creator. This is Adam HaRishon (the first man), who shattered and divided into myriad souls. Our purpose is to reassemble those souls into that single soul. We achieve this by annulling our egos and connecting all our desires. The connection is on the levels of still, vegetative, animate, and speaking. In these degrees we gradually reconnect everything into the new reality that the Torah narrates.

First, the oil for the lamp is a special oil, which must be lit in a special way. Subsequently, from the emitted light we can prepare the priesthood garments that clothe the will to receive.

The will to receive remains the same whether it strives to benefit others or itself. The difference lies in how we use it—for our own sake or for the sake of others. That is, do we want to use it to benefit ourselves although it is detrimental to others, or do we want to benefit others? There are two options with myriad variations.

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Teruma (Donation) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Teruma

Exodus, 25:1-27:19

This Week’s Torah Portion | 11 Feb – 17 Feb, 2018 – 26 Shevat – 2 Adar, 5778

In A Nutshell

The portion, Teruma (Donation), deals primarily with the building of the tabernacle. The Creator instructs Moses to tell the children of Israel, “And they shall take for Me a donation from every man whose heart moves him you shall take My donation” (Exodus, 25:2). The donations were intended for the building of the tabernacle and its tools—the ark of the covenant, the ark-cover, the showbread table, the Menorah (lamp), the boards of the tabernacle, the sockets, the veil, the copper altar, and the hangings of the court. The Creator also tells Moses how to build the tabernacle. The portion is called Teruma (donation) because of the commandment to donate.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

All we have is the building of the tabernacle. This is where the Creator is revealed, and this is where He resides. We must build it through a donation, and by raising the importance of the quality of bestowal and love of others (in Hebrew, the word Teruma (donation) also pertains to Harama (raising), as in, “raising the Hey”)[1]. The more we extol the quality of bestowal and use it properly, the more we correct our Kelim (vessels), namely our desires, which we currently use for ourselves, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination…”[2]

The building of the tabernacle explains the process of our correction from the easiest to the hardest as we gradually build the tabernacle from our lightest, to our heaviest, greatest, and most egoistic desires.

The donation to the tabernacle must come from the heart, which contains all the desires. Only one who is driven by impulse in the heart is permitted to offer a donation, and from this “investment” one builds one’s Kelim. The Kelim are the connections between us, which establish the tabernacle. In the tabernacle appears the upper force, the Creator, according to one’s equivalence of form. That is, we discover the Creator to the extent of our similarity to Him.

The Creator is a hidden force. We are not inherently born with tools to discover Him because we do not possess qualities that are similar to His. For example, we hear sounds because our eardrums react to certain frequencies. Likewise, we can tell different smells because we have olfactory neurons that detect them. These are our Kelim (in Hebrew, Kelim means both “vessels” but also “tools”). However, we are devoid of tools to “detect” the upper force, the Creator, the source of energy.

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Mishpatim (Ordinances) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Mishpatim

Exodus, 21:1-24:18

This Week’s Torah Portion | 4 Feb – 10 Feb, 2018 – 19 Shevat – 25 Shevat, 5778

In A Nutshell

In the portion, Mishpatim (Ordinances), the Creator gives to Moses a collection of laws and judgments pertaining to various topics: between man and man, Hebrew slaves, Hebrew maidservant, murdertheft, lending money, and others. The Creator also dictates laws concerning man and God, meat and dairy foods, the Sabbath, Shmita (year of omission, refraining from growing crops), etc.

Moses conveys to the children of Israel the message that the Creator will help them enter the land of Israel, and warns them about practicing idolatry. Moses reads before them from the book of covenant, and the people reply, “We will do and we will hear” (Exodus, 24:7). Moses builds an altar and offers sacrifices to the Creator, and a covenant is signed between the people and the Creator. Moses carries out the Creator’s command, ascends Mount Sinai to receive the tablets of the covenant, accompanied by his servant, Joshua, and stays there forty days and forty nights.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

In the portion, Mishpatim (Ordinances), Moses ascends Mount Sinai although he had already received all the laws and ordinances and the children of Israel had already kept the Torah and the laws regarding the offerings. This tells us that laws and ordinances are one thing, and the Torah is another.

The portion details all the laws of the spiritual world, everything a person needs to do. In order to be able to do it we must receive the Torah. The Torah was given because “I have created the evil inclination, I have created for it the Torah as a spice.”[1] That is, one is shown who one is compared to what one should be at the degree of “man,” in a state of loving others and connection among everyone, a state of correction of all the egoistic desires.

This is why the laws come first. One who begins to study the wisdom of Kabbalah understands that first one must correct oneself, one’s attitude toward the group, toward the people, and toward the world. There are many internal corrections of the evil inclination that one must perform. When one understands what one must do is when the time of reception of the Torah arrives. A person learns to receive the light that corrects one during the study.

This is how we gradually obtain the upper world, the Creator, the upper force that fills the upper world. This is why it was said, “We will do and we will hear”: first we must do, and then—in the corrected Kelim (vessels) that we build—we discover the Creator filling those Kelim.

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