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July 18, 2024

Ki Tavo (When You Come) – Weekly Torah Portion

Ki Tavo2

Deuteronomy, 26:1-29:8
This Week’s Torah Portion | Sep 15 – Sep 21, 2024 – 12 Elul – 18 Elul, 5784

In A Nutshell

The portion, Ki Tavo (When You Come), begins with the last part of Moses’ speech before the people prior to his death. Upon the entrance to the land of Israel, Moses orders the people to write the words on big, whitewashed stones, and to build from them an altar for the Creator.

Moses describes the blessing that will come to Israel if they keep the Mitzvot (commandments), and the cursing that will come to them if they do not. He describes the state of the blessing and the curse on Mount Eival, and on Mount Gerizim—who will stand on each side, what are curses and what are blessings, and how they should be said.

The portion also deals with the Mitzvot of the first fruit, and the tithing laws. At the end of the portion Moses summarizes the events through which the people went, the Creator’s help on every step, and the people’s commitment to keep the Mitzvot.

Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

Our soul consists of 613 Mitzvot (commandments). Initially, they are all as the evil inclination, meaning aiming to benefit ourselves. In each of our desires appears—in the best case scenario—concern for ourselves. In the worst case scenario appears how we lie, steal, and use others for our own benefit.

Even if we do not use others, we still feel that the worse off they are, the better off we are. By nature, we are built to compare ourselves to others.

And yet, there is no one to complain to about it because the Creator admits, “I have created the evil inclination.” It is a process that began in Egypt, where we received the big evil inclination, the will to receive.

We discovered it at Mount Sinai, where we agreed to be “as one man with one heart,” to bond. Although we were by a mountain of hate, we united around the mountain and expressed willingness to unite. Although we were unable to actualize it, we were prepared to go for it. That was enough to receive the force of correction called “Torah,” whose light reforms.

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Balak Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

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Numbers, 22:2-25:9
This Week’s Torah Portion | Jul 14 – Jul 20, 2024 – 8 Tamuz – 14 Tamuz, 5784

In A Nutshell

The portion, Balak, begins with the people of Israel conquering the land of the Amorites. Balak, king of Moab, understands that the children of Israel are nearing him, and prepares to face the nation that came out of Egypt. He sends messengers to Balaam, son of Beor—who was famous for his great wisdom and power of his curses—and asks him to curse the people of Israel.

Balaam leaves for the land of Moab having accepted the harsh stipulation to say only what the Creator will permit him to. Along the way his mare stops. Balaam beats her but the mare won’t move. Balaam cannot see the angel stopping the mare. The mare opens her mouth and speaks to him, and instead of cursing Israel he blesses them.

Balak is furious with Balaam. As a compensation, Balaam tips him that Israel has a weak spot: the daughters of Moab. Balak sends the daughters of Moab and the people of Israel fornicate with them so much that even Zimri, son of Salu, one of the presidents of the tribe of Shimon, takes a Midianite woman.

This situation leaves Pinhas, son of Elazar, with no choice. He takes a spear and stabs them to death, thus stopping the plague that has spread in the nation claiming twenty-four thousand lives.

Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

This story does not happen on the corporeal level. It is not about a process unfolding between two nations, but rather an internal correction process that one experiences. The story itself comes to show us how to correct the evil inclination. It is not a tale about children or grownups, nor is it a story about nations, countries, wars, prostitutes, or mares. All it describes is the correction of the evil inclination. It is the only thing that the Torah (Pentateuch) describes from the very beginning, from Adam—who began the correction—to the end.

The text speaks of a person who went through this path as Adam HaRishon (Adam), as Abraham, and as Moses, and who went through the whole process in Egypt and in the desert. During the gradual correction of the desire, a person gradually nears the land of Israel until one is faced with the “conquest” of the land.

The “desert” is a desire that a person still cannot use correctly, and therefore cannot see the fruits of the work with it. These corrections precede the ones known as the “land of Israel.”

The spies discovered that the land of Israel is a desire that, if aimed entirely at the Creator, yields beautiful fruits [Israel means Yashar El (straight to God)]. A person who approaches that correction initially acquires the land of the Amorites followed by the land of Moab, which is a higher degree. Man’s egoistic desire known as “the king of Moab,” Balak, begins to seemingly rebel against him because it does not want the corrections.

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Ki Tetze (When You Go) – Weekly Torah Portion

Ki Tetze2

Deuteronomy, 21:10-25:19
This Week’s Torah Portion | Sep 08 – Sep 14, 2024 – 5 Elul – 11 Elul, 5784

In A Nutshell

The portion, Ki Tetze (When You Go), details special and infrequent Mitzvot (commandments), such as the attitude toward a rebellious son, a firstborn son of the loved one or the hated one, and the commandment to send a bird from the nest and not harm it, when taking the bird’s eggs or nestlings.

The portion also details many Mitzvot that deal with everyday life, ethics, and social order, such as returning a loss, divorce, and the obligation to be considerate of others in vulnerable situations, such as poor, proselytes, orphans, and widows. Additionally, the portion mentions the importance of a just sentence. The last Mitzva (singular of Mitzvot) is to always remember what Amalek did to Israel when they came out of Egypt, when it jumped them when they were unprepared, and to blot out the memory of Amalek.

Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

The portion marks a stage in the spiritual development after the reception of the ego, the reception of the evil inclination from Egypt. First, the evil inclination in us should appear, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination.” That appearance happens when we try to achieve love of others, to come out of ourselves. When we attempt to do it, we discover how much we are actually immersed in self-love and hatred of others. At that time we determine that our hatred of others and our love for ourselves are what is called the “evil inclination.”

That revelation is profound inner work. It is no small task. There is a very good reason why it is written, “I have created the evil inclination.” “I have created” means that the Creator created. The recognition of the evil inclination in a person—that it is hatred of others and love of oneself—is precisely what brings us into contact with the Creator. From that recognition, a person marches on a path of hard work, trying to be good to others, as it is written, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Then a person discovers great internal obstacles, which actually come from above, from the Creator. This is man’s first contact with the Creator.

Following the initial contact with the Creator, a person begins to move along with Him, in partnership. This is when there is, “I have created the Torah as a spice,” and a person has someone to turn to, someone to help one correct oneself.

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Hukat (The Statute) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

Hukat Parsha

Numbers 19:1-22:1
This Week’s Torah Portion | Jul 07 – Jul 13, 2024 – 1 Tamuz – 7 Tamuz, 5784

In A Nutshell

The portion, Hukat (The Statute), deals with Israel’s continuing journey, with the Mitzva (commandment) of the red cow (heifer), the laws of the impurity of the dead, and the episode known as Mei Meriva (waters of Meribah [Heb: quarrelling]). In the episode, the children of Israel complain about the lack of water, and the Creator commands Moses to speak to the rock. However, instead of speaking, he strikes the rock. Moses and Aaron are punished for this act by being banned from entering the land of Israel. The people of Israel reach the land of Edom, and the king of Edom forbids them to pass through his territory.

Aaron dies, and Elazar, his son, succeeds him as the high priest. The people of Israel continue to complain about the difficulties along the way, and the Creator sends snakes to bite the people. Moses makes a copper snake and shows it to the people, and anyone who sees the copper snake is healed.

The people of Israel reach the boundary of the land of Moab and sing “the song of the well.” The people fight Sihon, King of the Amorites, and Og, King of the Bashan. Israel wins and inherits their land.

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Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

This story details the primary correction in the corrections of the souls. Because our souls are initially the desire to receive, to enjoy, in order to correct it we must invert the intention of that desire toward bestowal. We must correct our souls to have the aim to bestow, to love others, by which will resemble the Creator. This will endow Dvekut (adhesion) with the Creator—which is the purpose of creation—to each and everyone in the nation. This is why we need to mingle and become integrated with the force of bestowal, called Bina, and with the force of reception, called Malchut.

Connecting the two forces—the two Sefirot just mentioned—results in four options: Malchut in MalchutMalchut in BinaBina in Bina, and Bina in Malchut. When Bina is inside Malchut, it is the evil force because Malchut governs Bina, and when that happens, all the evil forces emerge.

While these forces may occasionally appear as good, they appear so only to lure and entice a person, leading toward the evil. It is a special Klipa (shell/peel), cunning and shrewd, which is in Malchut. This is how Malchut acquires Bina and uses it. This is also why it was said that evil can exist in the world only if it initially appears as good.

At first, the only forces that exist in man are the still, vegetative, and animate, meaning Malchut at the degree of still, vegetative, and animate. This is a straightforward will to receive. A person who possesses the power of Bina within the will to receive becomes very clever and very shrewd. Such a person knows how to appear as giving to others, as serving them, while in fact that person takes from others and uses them as much as possible. This is how the negative forces operate when the force of bestowal is “taken captive” by the force of reception.

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Korah Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion

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Numbers 16:1 – 18:32
This Week’s Torah Portion | Jun 30 – Jul 06, 2024 – 24 Sivan – 30 Sivan, 5784

In A Nutshell

The portion begins with the story of Dathan and Abiram, and 250 of the presidents of the congregation who rebelled against Moses and Aaron with what seemed like a just argument: Since the entire nation is holy, Moses and Aaron should have the same status as the rest of the people. The reply they received was that although they are all equal, Moses and Aaron are the leaders that can be in contact with the Creator. Following the mutiny, the ground swallowed the 250 presidents of the congregation, as well as Korah and his company, and the people suffered from a plague until Moses asked the Creator to end it.

The end of the portion debates the question of leadership in the nation. A test was held between all the staffs (rods) of all the leaders, and the only one that blossomed was Aaron’s staff, which signaled his unequivocal leadership.

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Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman

We can interpret the explanation of the Torah (Pentateuch) on two levels—the level of this world and the level of the hidden, spiritual world. On the level of our world, the story of Korah is very relevant even today.

For thousands of years, our world has been developing through our egos. 3,800 years ago we lived in what is now known as Ancient Babylon. This is when Abraham—the quality of Hesed (mercy)—rose, as well as the priests that followed him, who are also from the quality of BinaHassadim.

Abraham discovered that the whole world must develop and achieve a state of unity and connection, and shared his revelation with the Babylonians. While many followed him, they were only a handful compared to the majority that rejected his ideas. Abraham had to flee from Babylon, chased by Nimrod, the king of Babylon.

Abraham established a method for correcting human nature. Today we call that method, “the wisdom of Kabbalah,” whose purpose is to elevate man from the depth of egoism to the level of bestowal and love.

This ascent is in fact the goal of our development—to rise from the level of this world to the level of the spiritual world. Spirituality is bestowal and the love of others, by which we acquire eternity and wholeness. This is the meaning of the text in this portion, as well as in The Book of Zohar, which talks about freedom from the angel of death.

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