Friday, July 30, 2010

Ekev – The Blessings Are From Balaam

God will love you, bless you and make you numerous.

All benefits that Israel enjoys in this world come from the blessings of the evil Balaam. Any merits that they accrue, however, are preserved and wait for them in the World to Come. That is the meaning of what the Torah said, “God will preserve you” - meaning, preserve your merits for you.

The Sages have learned this teaching about Balaam from the use of the same word "love." Here it says, “God will love you and bless you” and about Balaam it says “And God overturned the curses of Balaam and made them into blessings, since God loves you.” We do not find anywhere else in the Torah blessings next to love, except in describing the incident of Balaam and this “God will love you and bless you.”

Art: William Brassey Hole - Balaam blessing Israel

Friday, July 23, 2010

Vaetchanan – The Way of Prayer

At that time I pleaded with God, saying...”

There is an angel appointed to watch over prayers, and he brings them up from the Earth to the Heaven, in a spiritual journey of 500 years. The angel does this with the power of two letters in God's name, yud and hey, and it was with these letters that God created the world. The 500 years plus the letters yud and hey gives 515.

These angels are described as “their legs were straight (ישרה),” which has a numerical value of 515. This is why Moses said, “I pleaded (ואתחנן)” - which also has the numerical value of 515 – that Moses pleaded with the angels to bring up his prayer (תפלה) - which again has a numerical value of 515. “At this time” means at the time when the prayers go up with the help of the angels, who do this with the letters yud and hey.

Art: Salomon de Bray - Jacob's Ladder

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dvarim – The Secret of Eleven Days

Moses began to review the Torah when he was an “...eleven day journey from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea by way of the Seir highlands.

In this phrase, Moses hints at the initial breaking of the vessels. When the original souls, out of their desire to give and to emulate their Creator, burst, this good intention created Evil. There are eleven kinds of this Evil: seven are hinted to at the beginning of the Torah by the account of seven kings who died, and four more correspond to the other side of the Supernal Father and the Supernal Mother. The word “Horeb” has a connotation of desolation, thus “eleven days journey from Horeb.”

The “way of Seir” is a hint to Esav, who represents the chief evil. The word “way” always means a female, and together this is a hint concerning the angel of Esav (Samael), his female companion, and their cohorts. Here Arizal directs the reader to meditate on these concepts, to gain more understanding. This agrees with the way of the Kabbalah, which is taught only to “those who have initial knowledge of it, and even to them – only as hints.”

The Destruction (Horeb, Hurba) was needed so that “the day would give its light after the night,” that is, so that Good would exist on the background of Evil. This is the meaning of the teaching that God was occupied with creating worlds and destroying them, before He created this one.

The word “Kadesh” hints at the secret of the final redemption. As is known, Messiah will come when “all souls in the body (of Evil) are reincarnated and sanctified” - “until Kadesh” means “until they are sanctified.”

“Barnea” is a hint to multiple exiles: “Bar na v'nad” means constant uprooting and replanting – until the end of the exile, which should also be a subject of one's meditation.

Art: George Inness - Sunset at Etretat

Monday, July 5, 2010

Matot - The Secret of Oath

"If a man makes a vow to God, or makes an oath to obligate himself, he must not break his word." However, a Sage can annul his word. If a woman makes a vow, a Sage, her father, or her husband can annul it.

In the relationship between the Cosmic Man and Cosmic Woman, the Man represents Wisdom, and the Woman – Understanding. Thus, any vow or oath is expressed through Understanding, on the condition that it agrees with Wisdom. If it does not, the Sage can annul it.

The seven breaths that emanate from the mouth of the Cosmic Man turn into an all-encompassing light between him and the Cosmic Woman. These are the seven breaths that are mentioned by King Solomon, and they are the secret meaning of an oath, “shevuah” - seven. Thus there is a mitzvah to swear in the name of God.

One who swears falsely takes himself away from the seven breaths of holiness, and as if clothes the Truth in the seven garments belonging to Forces of Evil, about which King Solomon said, “That, too, is vanity (breath) and evil of spirit.

Art: Gabriel Metsu - Man and Woman Sitting at the Virginal