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February 17, 2019

BeShalach (When Pharaoh Sent) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

BeShalach

Exodus, 10:17-17:16

This Week’s Torah Portion | Jan 13 – Jan 19, 2019 – 7 Shevat – 13 Shevat, 5779

In A Nutshell

In the portion, BeShalach (When Pharaoh Sent), Pharaoh sends the children of Israel from Egypt following the ten plagues that he and the Egyptians suffered. The Creator does not lead the children of Israel directly to the land of Israel because it means they will have to go through the land of the Philistines and the Creator does not want the children of Israel to fear war and escape back to Egypt. Instead, He sends them through the desert.

Moses takes Joseph’s bones. The Creator walks before the people, lighting the way for them with a pillar of cloud—during the day, and a pillar of fire during the night.

When Pharaoh learns that the children of Israel really did escape from Egypt he changes his mind and decides to chase them. He assembles 600 chosen chariots that chase the children of Israel all the way to the Red Sea.

The children of Israel find themselves with the sea before them and Pharaoh behind them. This is when the first miracle takes place: Moses strikes the sea, it is cut in two, and the children of Israel pass through dry land. When the Egyptians try to pass, the water closes on them and they all drown. In gratitude to the Creator for the miracle, the children of Israel sing the Song of the Sea (Exodus, 15).

Moses leads the children of Israel through the desert on the road to Shur. When the people grow thirsty they arrive at Marah, a place where the water is bitter so they cannot drink. Here another miracle occurs and the water becomes fresh (the Torah writes “sweet”). Moses and the people continue to advance toward Eilam where they discover twelve springs of water and seventy dates. They park there then continue toward the desert of Sin.

The people complain that they have run out of supplies and the Creator performs two miracles: in the first, manna comes down from the sky. In the second, quails came over the camp of Israel so they will have meat in the evening.

The children of Israel receive the first commandment—to observe the Sabbath. They are told that on Sabbath, no manna will come down from the sky and that on the sixth day they must collect supplies for two days. The children of Israel continue from the desert of Sin and arrive at Rephidim. Once again there is no water and the Creator performs another miracle: Moses strikes a rock and water gushes out of it.

Toward the arrival at Mount Sinai, Amalek appears and fights against Israel. When Moses raises his hands, Israel win; when he lowers them, Amalek wins. Finally, Israel defeat Amalek and the Creator tells Moses to write in a book of remembrance that the memory of Amalek must be blotted out from under the heaven.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

Man is born with an inherently egoistic desire to receive. However, when ascending over it, one’s perspective changes and he no longer thinks only of himself. From the moment we are born we want to use the whole world for our own benefit. This is the Amalek in us. AMALEK is an acronym for Al Menat LeKabel (in order to receive). We turn the will to receive into a spiritual quality that aims toward bestowal through a process in which each of us works on his or her self using the light that reforms.[1] The light that reforms is a force that awakens in a person who studies Kabbalah correctly, together with a group. That force awakens and a person feel the changes constantly happening within.

These are the changes that the Torah describes in this portion. Pharaoh really does send the people of Israel. That is, our ego is under stress, suffering, in a conflict between the forces operating on it to the point that it “allows” us, throws us away from itself.

In fact, we are only observing the unfolding—the Creator’s war against Amalek (Exodus, 17:16), the Creator’s war against Pharaoh, and the entire process (Exodus, 10) of hardening Pharaoh’s heart, “go on to Pharaoh,” and “come to Pharaoh.”

When the children of Israel escape from Egypt with all the Kelim, meaning desires, a person rises above the ego, but the egoistic intentions remain. In the process of development, one gradually rids oneself of them through the numerous changes one goes through in the process of exiting Pharaoh’s rule and coming under the rule of the quality of the Creator—the reign of the quality of bestowal and love of others.

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Bo (Come) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Bo

Exodus, 10:1-13:16

This Week’s Torah Portion | Jan 6 – Jan 12, 2019 – 29 Tevet – 6 Shevat, 5779

In A Nutshell

In the portion, Bo (Come), the Creator—through Moses—tells defiant Pharaoh he must let the people of Israel go. The Creator casts two more plagues over Pharaoh, Locust and Darkness, and Pharaoh says to Moses, “Go away from me! Beware; do not see my face again for in the day you see my face you shall die” (Exodus, 10:28). Moses replies, “You are right; I shall never see your face again” (Exodus, 10:29). Indeed, Moses keeps his word.

The Creator tells Moses that after the final plague Pharaoh will let the children of Israel go. The children of Israel begin to prepare for the tenth plague, the plague of the first-born, and borrow from the Egyptians silver and gold vessels, as well as garments, preparing for their release.

The Creator outlines to Moses the rules of the Passover offering that the children of Israel will need to meet: slaughter a lamb in the twilight, spread its blood on the doorposts (Mezuzot) and on crossbars, and eat the lamb that same night together with Matzot (unleavened bread) and Maror (horse-radish). The children of Israel follow suit.

At midnight, when a great cry rises in Egypt at the strike of the Plague of the First-Born, Pharaoh urges the children of Israel to leave Egypt in haste. The children of Israel leave taking the mixed multitude along with them, and flocks and cattle in great numbers.

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

The exodus from Egypt described in this portion is both very significant and dramatic. Each moment in our lives is a remembrance to the exodus from Egypt. This is the point at which the human in us is born, when we come out of our egos, of the will to receive.

We all begin selfish, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination.”[1] The evil inclination grows within us and causes us to be increasingly egoistic. Throughout human history we have been developing in this manner until we have come to a state where we feel that our entire nature is evil and we must exit it, get rid of it, and so we look for a solution. It is a process that unfolds in both individuals and in the entire human society.

When the Pharaoh in us grows, meaning our evil inclination, it does not let us live. The point in the heart, Moses in us, escapes from the ego in order to gain strength, then returns in order to fight it. Only once we understand how this “game” unfolds in us do we return to fight against the ego, much like Moses returns to Egypt to fight against Pharaoh.

When a person begins to discover the upper force, even a little bit, he or she discovers that everything happens from above, that “there is none else besides Him” (Deuteronomy, 4:35), and that includes Pharaoh, the Creator, and Moses who is between them. In this struggle, our inner Moses must decide who will rule over him, Pharaoh or the Creator.

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VaEra (And I Appeared) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

VaEra

Exodus, 6:2-9:35

This Week’s Torah Portion | 30 Dec – 01 Jan, 2019 – 22 Tevet – 28 Tevet, 5779

In A Nutshell

In the portion, VaEra (And I Appeared), the Creator appears before Moses and promises to deliver the children of Israel from Egypt to the land of Canaan. Moses turns to the children of Israel but they do not listen “out of impatience and out of hard work” (Exodus 6:9). The Creator instructs Moses to turn to Pharaoh and ask him to let the children of Israel go out of Egypt. Moses fears that he will not succeed in his mission and asks the Creator for a token. The Creator says to Moses that he will be as God to Pharaoh, while Aaron will be as the prophet who does the actual speaking, and the Creator will harden Pharaoh’s heart and shower plenty of signs and tokens over Egypt. The Creator gives to Moses and Aaron a staff, and when Moses casts the staff to the ground it becomes a snake. When Moses and Aaron come to Pharaoh, Moses is eighty years old and Aaron is eighty-three. There are many magicians and soothsayers around Pharaoh. When Moses and Aaron arrive, they throw down the staff and it becomes a snake. Pharaoh’s magicians do the same and their staffs turn to snakes, as well, but Moses’ and Aaron’s snake swallows the magicians’ snakes. Despite that display, Pharaoh remains defiant. This is when the ten plagues of Egypt begin. This portion mentions seven of the plagues: blood, frogs, lice, flies, pestilence, boils, and hail. After each plague Pharaoh goes back on his word and refuses to let the children of Israel go. 

 Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

While this depiction is graphic and picturesque, it actually conveys the interior of the Torah, the true law that instructs us how to get out of the Egypt within us. The Torah does not tell us to leave one physical place in favor of another, but rather how we can free ourselves of our egos.

The portion deals with a person who is working hard and discovers that he or she is in Egypt. It also deals with that person’s desire that does not agree with being in Egypt, the ego, the essence of evil. Therefore, that person escapes from there while arguing with one’s ego. Such a person cannot tolerate the ego, fearing it might bury or kill him. Therefore, that person rises above it and begins to part from it.

There are two forces in us. The first is the ego, which is Pharaoh and all of Egypt. The other is a “protruding” point called “the point in the heart.” All our desires that are in Egypt and are fed by it while there is a “famine in the land of Canaan” (Genesis, 42:6) create an internal struggle in us. This is the war from which we seek to escape, to rise above the ego with all our desires. In fact, only Moses, the point in the heart, escapes and rises above the ego, fleeing from Egypt to Jethro and to all that there is in Midian.

After forty years, during which we grow stronger in Midian working on enhancing the force of Moses, the Creator appears to us in the burning bush. Through our inner voice we hear and comprehend that we must return, fight against our ego, and get out of it, or we will not be able to attain spirituality. Read the rest of this entry »

  

Shemot (Exodus) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Shemot

Exodus, 1:1-6:1

This Week’s Torah Portion | 23 Dec – 29 Dec, 2018 – 15 Tevet – 21 Tevet, 5779

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 | 16 Dec – 22 Dec, 2018 -8 Tevet – 14 Tevet, 5779

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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