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December 12, 2017

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

VaYetze

Genesis, 28:10-32:3
This Week’s Torah Portion | 11 Nov – 17 Nov, 2018 – 3 Kislev – 9 Kislev, 5779

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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Chayei Sarah (The Life of Sarah) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Chayei Sarah2

Genesis, 23:1-25:18
This Week’s Torah Portion | 28 Oct – 3 Nov, 2018 – 19 Cheshvan – 25 Cheshvan, 5779

In A Nutshell

In the portion, The Life of Sarah, Abraham gives a eulogy after Sarah’s death at the age of 127. He buys a lot for the grave from Ephron the Hittite for four hundred shekels of silver and buries her in the Cave of Machpelah, in Hebron.

Abraham objects to Isaac marrying a woman from the Canaanites, and sends Eliezer, his servant, to Aram Naharaim to find a wife for his son. When Eliezer approaches a well, he meets Rebecca and asks her to give him water. She gives him water, and offers water to his camels, as well. Eliezer takes her offer as a sign that she is the right woman for Isaac, and so he brings her to Canaan.

After the death of Sarah, Abraham marries Keturah, who bears six children, which Abraham sends eastward. Abraham died at the age of 175, and inherits all that he has to Isaac.

The end of the portion elaborates on the generations of Ishmael and on his passing at the age of 175.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

We need to remember that the Torah speaks of what happens within, as one reveals one’s soul, the innermost part. The revelation of the soul is gradual, and manifests in the stories of the Torah. Abraham is the initial force with which a person reveals the soul and opens the internality to discover the upper world. He is the first force of overcoming, the force of bestowal, along with that force’s female, Sarah, which is suitable for the degree of Abraham.

To know with which desires we can work and with which we cannot, we must sort out our self-centered desires, leaving the degrees with which we still cannot work for the next degrees, for states where the desire is stronger. To scrutinize the desire called Isaac, we must first remove the desire with which we cannot work, and sort it with another female, with Hagar, from whom comes Ishmael, the Klipa (shell/peel) of the right.

The Isaac degree within us emerges only afterward, and is an extension of the Abraham degree. It is written about Isaac, “For in Isaac will your seed be named” (Genesis, 21:12), meaning that Abraham’s rise to a higher degree is named Isaac. At the Isaac degree, one should reexamine one’s desires, and sort out with which desires it is possible to work, and with which it is impossible.

A person cannot scrutinize alone, as that person (Abraham) comes from only one force, one side, from the force of Hesed (mercy). Abraham is still without Gevura, and must first acquire the degree of Isaac, which is the foundation of Gevura. This is the point where the force of Eliezer comes to the aid. Eliezer is like the upper light—scrutinizing the desires for a person, bringing one to the degree where one can sort the next stage of correction out of all of one’s desires. That stage is called Rebecca.

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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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