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July 16, 2024

Archive for December, 2016

VaYigash (Judah Approached) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion


Genesis, 44:18-47:27

This Week’s Torah Portion | January 1 – January 7, 2016 – 3 Tevet – 9 Tevet, 5777

In A Nutshell

In the portion, VaYigash (Judah Approached), Joseph asks his brothers to leave Benjamin having 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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Enter the Zohar to Build Your Soul

Enter The Zohar to Build Your Soul

The structure of the soul is reception, bestowal, and the middle line, which is the proper combination between them.

In our relationships we deal with the forces of bestowal and reception. They are both forces of nature. When I combine them in the right way, then the middle line or the soul is formed out of them. The Zohar shows us how to build our reality out of them so we are above the force of bestowal and the force of reception. The Zohar brings the middle line to us from Above. While reading it, we have to try to become included into that line. Then we are tuned to the same wave through which the Light comes to us and returns us to the Source, the Creator.

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Miketz (At the End) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion


Genesis, 41:1-44:17

This Week’s Torah Portion | December 25 – December 31, 2016 – 25 Kislev – 2 Tevet, 5777

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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The Miracle Of Hanukkah

It is the lovely and sublime season of the year when our days are filled with giving light, perhaps reflecting a general sense that light is associated with the Creator. The wisdom of Kabbalah talks about the inner celebration of Hanukkah, what the story and the practices of the celebration mean. This holiday period stands out among all the others because by immersing ourselves in it, we create the miracle inside ourselves and ultimately in the world. Here is the story:

In 170 BCE, the Greeks, led by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, captured the Temple. There was a division between the adherents of Greek philosophy and religion and those who remained loyal to the concept of a single Creator.

Some priests, including the high priest (Cohen Rishon), supported the Greeks. The Jerusalem Temple was desecrated and turned into a sanctuary of Zeus. Severe persecution and forced Hellenization of the population led to the Maccabean revolt, led by Matityahu Hashmonay who issued the call, “He who is for God, follow me!”

The uprising ended with the victory of the Maccabees. Having entered the Temple, they found that the pure oil to light the Menorah candles would last for only one day. But a miracle occurred. The candles burned for eight days and so is called the miracle of Hanukkah.

It is a rebellion against egoism. The Maccabees (love and bestowal) had successfully united the people, as they had been once before when following Abraham, and the Greeks (ego) disagreed with this, so set about destroying that unity. The miracle of a one day’s supply of oil lasting for eight days exemplifies the enormous force of love and bestowal against which the idols of the ego become helpless.

Today’s idols are abundant and we are cleverly and relentlessly drawn to them by the power of marketing and the greed of the elites. Our ego loves these idols with which we endlessly entertain ourselves.

The season of Hanukkah reminds us that we are bombarded with opportunities to create the miracle inside of us—stronger and stronger enticements to suck our pleasure from the idols. All we need to overcome this egoistic magnet is to wish for it, i.e. desire it. If we want to rise above egoism in our unity, then a completely new upper force will be manifested within us, and we will be able to create the same miracle in the same way as did the Maccabees.

Through their unity, the Maccabees attracted the Light that gave them the opportunity to stay in the state of bestowal, love and connection until they began to pull new masses of people towards themselves.

The desires of people who connect with each other in one whole symbolizes the oil, and their gathering in spite of their egoism symbolizes the wick. They burn in their desire to get closer, and when they unite somehow, a light appears within them that support the fire of their desires.

If they begin to be engaged in even greater dissemination and draw towards themselves greater masses of people, then the lamp will burn continuously.

The time is now. The time the Kabbalists wrote about, when humanity is called to follow the example of the Maccabees—to unite among us and move into the Light.

Hag Sameach! Happy Hanukkah!
By Annabelle

Photo credit: “The Eight Light” by Andrew Ratto on www.pikiwiki.org.il under CC BY 2.5


Holiday Spice

Don’t you just love the environment at Christmastime? Even as a young child, I still remember it: the chilled air, the smell of pine, colored lights and the expectation of something wonderful. My brothers and I decorated a tree, made lists, left out milk and cookies and believed, without a doubt, in the wisdom, justice and mercy of Santa Claus.

Santa was the smiling giver of good things to those who did good. Santa could see every person in the whole world, all at the same time. And he knew everything too, including whether you had been naughty or nice.

I believed in God as a child too, and I knew that God was somehow different from Santa Claus, but I wasn’t quite sure how. So it wasn’t until I was about eight years old and I found out that “Santa” was a lie that I looked deep inside myself and attempted to separate the truth from the fiction.

Finally coming to what I intuitively knew to be true, I decided that God, unlike Santa, was very real. He’d made the world. He’d made the sun, the moon and the stars, He’d made the animals, and all of nature. And he’d made us, me and my brothers. He was the Creator, the Maker of all things. And God was magical too, because not everyone knew He was there.

As a grown-up I’ve been blessed to discover the science of Kabbalah and to have one of the most revered teachers, the great Kabbalist of the 20th century, Yehudah Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) verify my childhood insight. As he explains in his article, The Solution: “There is nothing more natural than coming into contact with one’s Maker, for He owns nature. In fact, every creature has contact with his Maker, as it is written, ‘The whole earth is full of His glory.’”

As this holiday season unfolds, consider that the delightful (but untrue) myth of “Santa Claus” can be transformed into a true metaphor of the Creator, who really is omnipotent and omnipresent, the maker and giver of all good things on earth.

Studying the wisdom of Kabbalah allows us to discover the Creator and how we can receive and share His many blessings. I invite you to learn more.

By Wendy Barker

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