Sunday, December 25, 2011

Miketz - The Second Dream of Pharaoh

He fell asleep again and had a second dream.

In the second dream, Pharaoh saw seven fat, good ears of grain growing on a single stalk, but now the river is not mentioned. Previously we discussed the meaning of Pharaoh's standing “on the river” in his first dream, but where is this river now?

The river Nile in the dream stands for Foundation, the life-giving force, the place of birth. In place of the river, in the second dream the ears of grain come from a stalk, kaneh (קנה). That, too, is a reference to Foundation. The gematria of the word stalk, kaneh, is 155. After you add to it 1, reprresenting the essence of the stalk, you get 156. That is the same gematria as the name of Joseph (יוסף). Joseph, too, was connected to Foundation: in the spiritual growth of humanity, he represented the Foundation of the Cosmic Man, Zeir Anpin.

This is where the second dream differed from the first. Now it was saying, “These things will come about through Joseph.” The ears were growing on a single stalk, literally “one” (אחד) stalk. This was the symbol of unity, and it is this that allowed Joseph to state with certainty, “The two dreams are one, and there is no division between them.”

Art: John Anster Fitzgerald - The Artist's Dream

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Vayeshev – First Letters of the Words

These are the generations of Jacob, Joseph was 17...”

The first letters of this phrase are “ati yavesh” (אתי יבש), and the word yavesh (יבש), which means “dried-up” tells us that through the selling of Joseph, the upper stream of spirituality was destroyed and dried-up. That Joseph was 17 – a precise age which we don't need, since he is called “young lad” immediately after, is teaching us something else: the gematria of 17 is tov (טוב), or good. Joseph was that Righteous about whom the psalms say “Tell (call) the righteous that (he) is good.”

All generations, physical as well as spiritual, are created with the help of the Foundation. By stealing and selling Joseph, the brothers created a blemish in the upper spiritual Foundation. Joseph continued the spiritual stream of Jacob, and by being Righteous and by representing the Sefirah of Yesod (Foundation), he was in some sense their father, not brother. What the brothers ruined was the multicolored coat, or “ketonet pasim”. “Pasim” are the first letters of the phase “pitchon sigron yosef moshe” (opening, closing, Joseph, Moses), which is another name of the angel Metatron, and through the connection to the soul of Adam, Joseph and Metatron are one and the same.

Art: Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez - Joseph's Bloody Coat Brought To Jacob

Monday, December 12, 2011

Vayishlach – The Meaning of a Present

"...Jacob selected a present for his brother Esau from whatever came into his hand."

There are 310 worlds under the Throne of Glory, just as the numerical value of the word shai (שי) - present. Of these, 103 are the worlds of strictness; their influence ascends in the world after midday – the time of the influence of Isaac, the time of Minchah (offering, מנחה) prayer, whose numerical value is 103 = 40+50+8+5.

In general, all the judgments in the world come from the special five letters of mantzpach (מנצפך), and the first two letters of this group are the “man” (מנ) of minchah (מנחה). Following the “man” is the letter chet that represents the nose, and then the letter hei – the mouth of the Cosmic Man, and from these two come the sweetening of all judgments. At the end of days the mixed judgments of the minchah will change and become nechamah (נחמה) - consolation.

That is the meaning of the phrase “from whatever came into his hand”: Jacob took the strictness of the minchah, but with only one hand, and gave it to Esau, whose character was harsh, saying “Give him his due.” Esau hinted to Jacob that had he wanted to, he could draw strength from all of the 310 worlds, not only from the 103 strict ones, by noticing faults in others. Esau said, “I have (יש לי) a lot” hinting at shai (שי). Jacob pre-empted this, by enumerating his presents to Esau with the eight words that all end with the letter mem, hinting at the 8 unclean creepy crawlies mentioned in the Torah. Jacob also pointed out that there are eight words of holiness, used by the Torah to describe an offering (minchah) that also all end with the letter mem. Additionally, Jacob chose the word minchah to inflict a blemish (mum, מום) in the presents to Esau, so that they would not be fitting as idol sacrifices. And, so that the we would not think that eight worlds of holiness also received a blemish, he preceded to describe them as pure (temimim, תמימים).

Art: Auguste Toulmouche - Consolation

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Vayetze - Jacob Setting the Stage for the Future

"Jacob set off briskly, and headed toward the land of the people of the East."

Literally, “Jacob took up his feet” - with his actions, Jacob was setting the events in the relatively near future, and the distant one, at the end of days. His fast departure was creating for later an equally fast departure from Egypt. His going to the east later led to going to receive the Torah.

The meaning of the well in the field and the large stone on top of it can be explained as follows. The stone represents all the hard questions and the possible answers that one finds on his way to truth. Since there are so many questions and so many possible answers, everybody seems right, but the truth remains unattainable. With his single-handed rolling of the stone, Jacob represented later great thinkers who could illuminate the minds, making things crystal clear, and water the flocks. That was only true in their generation however, since repeated arguments and repeated answers again obscured the truth and again made it unattainable.

In the future Jacob will be reincarnated and this time he will break the stone as a hammer that splits the rocks. He will then roll off the stone from the mouth of the well, this time without any questions or hard-to-understand concepts, and all his explanations will be true.

This is also hinting to the phrase “I am God your Lord.” The four letters of God's name “Havaya” (יהוה), are hinted to by two stone tablets and the ten commandments on them. Each tablet thus contained five commandments. The size of each tablet was six by six hand-breadths, altogether third-six, and the two tablets measured 72 (עב). That is the secret of the phrase “God said to Moses, 'I will come to you in a thick (עב) cloud, so that all the people will hear when I speak to you. They will then believe in you forever.'

Art: Feodor Alexandrovich Vasilyev - Storm Clouds

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Toldot – The Supernal Unions and the Light of Chanukah

There are three Supernal Unions between the Cosmic Woman (Nukva) and the Cosmic Man (Zeir Anpin). The lower one is the union of the six directions of the body, higher than that is the union of the Intellect, and the highest is the union of the Crown, or Will.

The explanation of it is that the Cosmic Woman starts out young and grows. At first, she reaches only the six directions of the body, and that is a relatively light union, which we help achieve in the Amidah prayer said quietly, in whisper. This is the union of the letters of the names of God Havaya (יהוה) and Adonai (אדני). Together their gematria is 26 + 65 = 91.

When she grows up more and comes in contact with the intellect, or the brain of the Cosmic Man, she herself gets the name of Elohim. This is the union of the names of God Elohim (אלהים) and Havaya (יהוה). We help achieve it in the repetition of the Amidah prayer by the one who leads it. Their gematria is 86 + 26 = 112.

Finally, when she grows to the full height of the Cosmic Man, she comes in contact with his Crown, or his Will, and this is the union of the names Havaya (יהוה) and Ehyeh (אהיה) - I will be. Together they constitute 26 + 21 = 47.

The gematria of the three unions together is 250 (91 + 112 + 47. This 250 can also be written as נר, or the letters nun-resh, which means light, or candle, and this is the light of Chanukah. Now there is a rule that Shabbat candles are lighted before the Chanukah candles. As we have seen, on Chanukah the Cosmic Woman grows to her full height through the light of Chanukah. However, on Shabbat she achieves this by herself, being "in the bosom of her husband," and that is why it is better to light the Shabbat candles before the Chanukah ones.

How late can one light the Chanukah candle? While “the foot has not disappeared from the street' – that is, while there are still people passing by who can see the candles. The gematria of the word foot, “regel” (רגל) is 200 + 3 + 30 = 233. This is the same as the two names of God, one of 72, the expansion of yud-hey-vav-hey with letters yud (יוד הי ויו הי), and another of 161, the expansion of Ehyeh (אהיה) with yud (אלפ הי יוד הי), and 233 = 72 + 161. Once the Cosmic Woman reaches that highest union, hinted to by the phrase "until the foot disappears," this means that the lower unions are already in place, and all external influences are subdued.

Art: Godfried Schalcken - A Lady holding a Candle

Friday, November 18, 2011

So who wrote the Zohar?

There are unusual references in the Zohar to Sages who came much later than Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. There are mentions of Rabbi Yochanan and Resh Lakish, who lived a few hundred years later, and even to the Sages called Geonim (geniuses) who lived almost a thousand year after Rabbi Shimon.

Here are some explanations that I've read at 5:30 AM, a very right time for such things, waiting to board the plane back to Houston.

After Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his students died and entered Gan Eden, they kept a running commentary on the Zohar, adding to it as they saw fit. The book was in the possession of a few select Sages, but they kept discovering new things in it. This is no doubt real magic, but why this should not be the case, since they were all wizards during their lifetimes? (Mikdash Melech)

Rabbi Shimon kept revealing secrets to his students after his death. That is the “later composition” as opposed to “first composition” mentioned in the Zohar. The parts about the later Sages were added when these Sages were already living (Sichot HaRan, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov).

Rabbi Abba, who was tasked by Rabbi Shimon with writing down the teaching, lived for 300 years. He transmitted the book to Rav, when Rav traveled to Babylon, where he revealed it to select Sages, and later it came into the hands of the Geonim. They kept adding commentaries into the text, because the nature of the teaching is that it is a living book (some find problems with this explanation, because of the lack of attributions).

The complete Zohar was authored by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, no excuses, but he knew the future and wrote the teaching of the Sages who were to come later. For Rabbi Shimon, there was no difference between the past and the future, and he quoted from both (Rabbi Chaim Vital). (My commentary: it was important for the book to be hidden all this time, because it should not exert undue influence on future events that are described in it.)

These explanation are from the book “Shaarei Zohar” by Rabbi Daniel Frisch, who in his translation of the Zohar called “Matok MiDvash” (Sweeter Than Honey) prefers the practical explanation, and marks stories from later time (such as those of Rabba bar bar Channah) as external additons.

Art: Louis Charles Moeller - Stubborn

Monday, November 14, 2011

Vayera – Bring Joy to Father and Gladden Mother

God appeared to Abraham in the Plains of Mamre...

The only improvement and correction that we need to do in the world is to help the Cosmic Man (Zeir Anpin) and the Cosmic Woman unite – since all of the good influences and our souls themselves come to us from them, and they are our Father and Mother. As Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai explained, “Your father will rejoice and your mother will be glad” is talking about the Holy One Blessed Be He and the Community of Israel.

As Rabbi Shimon warns, we should have no doubt about the unity of God, even when we learn about different spiritual entities, but understand that they are God’s ways of interacting with us, and creating ways for us to reach out to God. Thus, the "Holy One Blessed Be He" refers to that manifestation of God called the Cosmic Man, whereas God himself cannot be determined or grasped at all, and is instead called “Ein Sof” or “No End”.

The Cosmic Man and Woman achieve unity only at specific times and through our efforts, but the Supernal Father and Mother are higher entities who never separate from each other. However, even that is not exactly true. The verse about sending away the mother bird, “You will send away, send away the mother” is in the spiritual sense talking about the Cosmic Woman and the Supernal Mother, and both are at times separated from their male counterparts. Rather, there are two categories of the supernal union, and it is the higher one that never stops. Thus, out task is to make all spiritual entities ready to be united. The essential step of bringing about the supernal union was Abraham’s circumcision, prior to which the union was prevented. That is reflected in the names of Abraham’s confederates. The letters M-N-Z-P-CH represent the judgement that needs to be sweetened, and it was Mamre, whose name has the same gematria, who gave Abraham the advice.

Art: Tivadar Kosztka Csontváry - The Lovers Looking at Each Other

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lech-Lecha – Three Unions

I will make you into a great nation.

Previously we discussed how Abraham was able to create joy in the Universe, and how his name hints at the union of the spiritual Cosmic Man (Zeir Anpin), and Cosmic Woman, which he helped achieve.

With the giving of the Torah, the opportunities for such unions became more readily available. They are achieved, in different fashion, on New Moon, Rosh HaShana, and on Three Holidays. Abraham was able to achieve this in his days, but since his own main characteristic was kindness, it followed that he supplied mostly Kindness to the union, and the Cosmic Man, who benefited from it, grew mostly in his Wisdom, which is connected to Kindness. That is what God told Abraham, “I will make you into a great nation,” emphasizing “you” personally, with your unique qualities.

Isaac, too, was able to achieve this union, and his contribution came from Strength, which was his main part, resulting in the Cosmic Man's growing in Understanding, which is connected to Strength. However, something new happened in the days of Jacob. His quality was that of Balance, which is alternatively called Beauty, Truth, and Completeness. His bed and progeny was complete (twelve tribes), and he was able to reconcile Kindness with Strength. For the Cosmic Man it meant that Knowledge was added to his brain. The balance was greater than the some of its part, because now a complete whole could emerge.

Nevertheless, it was Abraham, who received an extra letter “hey” in his name, and his “hey” hints at Understanding, “Binah,” which is mostly responsible for the Cosmic Man's maturity. Its lower-level manifestation starts in Victory, Glory, and Foundation, which in a human body correspond to the right leg, the left leg, and reproductive organs, and from there the Understanding proceeds to the brain. That is why, after Abraham merited to arouse the Upper Union, he was given the letter “hey” in his name. In truth, Isaac and Jacob did not heed an extra letter manifestly, because they already received this influence from Abraham.

Art: Frederic Bazille - Family Reunion

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Noah – Pleasure and Rest

These are the chronicles of Noah: Noah was a righteous man, faultless in his generation. Noah walked with God.”

Noah is the first person who is mentioned as being righteous, and this is the first time that the concept of righteousness is mentioned at all. The concept of righteousness was implicit in the creation of the world from the very beginning. For example, God said, “It is not good for a man to be alone, I will make a wife for him.” Thus, it was implicitly made clear what God considered "good": for a man to get married and establish a family.

The next righteous person mentioned is Adam's son Seth, about whom it says, “And Adam had a son in his likeness and form,” that is, just as perfect as Adam when he was created, but again, this is implicit. Actually, all ten leaders of the generations, mentioned between Adam and Noah, were righteous – and that is why they are mentioned – but the concept that a man is created to be a “philosopher”, a “decent person”, a “moral person”, mentioned in various philosophical and religious teachings, is made obvious here for the first time. Why is this?

Noah represents the concept of Foundation, or Righteousness, of the Supernal Father (Aba Ilaa), a spiritual entity that God constructed out of the remnants of the initial souls that broke up, because they could not imitate God in doing good to others. Now the new spiritual entities could interact with each other, could mature, and thus could interact both with the humanity and the Creator. The righteousness of the Supernal Father is the reflection of the righteousness of God, and is the strong feeling of “right” and “wrong” that each human has inside.

The Foundation of the Supernal Father extends into and gives life to the Foundation, or righteousness, of the Cosmic Man (Zeir Anpin), which can be thought of as the sum total of human spirituality interacting with the Divine. The righteousness of the Supernal Father is shared with the Supernal Mother (Ima Ilaa), and it also is the source for the righteousness of the Cosmic Female (Nukva), who reflects God's presence in this world.

The name of Noah embodies the above concepts, because it means “pleasure” or “rest”, “menuchah” in Hebrew. On the physical level, the curse of Adam was lifted from the earth in the days of Noah, and Noah also invented the plow, to simplify the working of the land.

Art: Giorgio De Chirico - Love Song

Friday, September 23, 2011

Nitzavim – 370 Lights

After all these curses come upon you... God will collect you from the lands of all nations of the world, to which He had dispersed you... and bring you to the Land of Israel.”

This short passage contains the phrase, “God will bring you to the Land of Israel.” This is the 5708th phrase from the beginning of the Torah, and the year 5708 (1948) corresponds to the year of the establishment of the State of Israel. The passage itself consists of ten phrases, and each phrase the name of God Adonay (יהוה). Some of the phrases contain the name of God twice, making up 14 names of God, with the gematria of 14 * 26 = 364.

Further, God promises to increase the fruit (פרי) of your hands, your womb, and your animal, and these three fruits with their three letters yud (ייי) is one of the syllables in the 72-letter name of God. The first letters of the passage “God will again rejoice” (ישוב יהוה לשוש) constitute another syllable (ילי) of the 72-letter name of God. Together, these six letters complete the 364 and bring it to 370.

These are the 370 lights that anyone who turns away from bad and becomes good deserves, and the 370 lights are extended to him from Above. The source of these 370 is in the highest spiritual entity, Erech Anpin, or Long Face, hinted to in the phrase “God will again pity and love us.”

Art: Ignace Henri Jean Fantin-Latour - Fruits and Flowers

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ki Tavo – Eleven Curses

Cursed is the person who makes a sculptured or cast idol.”

This is one of the 11 curses that was given on the mountain Eival. The 11 blessings negating these curses were given on mountain Gerizim, and they were the complete opposite: “Blessed is the person who makes a sculptured or cast idol”. There were also 11 goat skins used in the construction of the Tabernacle, and 11 spices in mix used for daily incense burning. Why are there eleven? One would expect ten, since there are ten Sefirot, the ways of God in the world. As the Sefer Yetzirah insists, “There are ten sefirot and not eleven”. There is a spiritual rule, “One who increases diminishes.” How can it be violated?

In truth, just as there are 10 ways of Holiness in the world, or 10 Sefirot, so there are 10 ways of evil, corresponding to them. There is an additional spark of life of holiness that gives life to all the 10 ways of evil. The secret of this is in the phrase “And His Kingship is ruling over everything” that is sung of Rosh HaShanah. 



However, there is a difference between the 10 ways of good and the 10 ways of bad, in that the 10 ways of good are called Thusness and Essence, and they are also called Vessels. It is this Essence that sustains and makes the good alive, and being of the same kind, it is mixed with them, and this is represented by the 10 coverings of the Tabernacle. It is different with the 10 ways of evil, whose Essence, being good, does not mix with them, but hovers above them, and this makes the whole group consist of eleven parts. The eleven curses, goat skins and spices all work on the bad, to subdue and ameliorate it.

Art: Barbieri - The Spice Shop Paolo Antonio

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ki Teitze – Beautiful Woman Is Your Soul

When you wage war against your enemies, God will give you victory over them, so that you will take captives.”

As a child, man is given over to his evil inclination, as in “sin is waiting at the entrance to the world,” and he does not start on the road of self improvement – if at all – until he matures. That is the meaning of “when you wage war against your enemies,” who are your evil inclination and the members of your body, accustomed to self-gratification since childhood. However, “God will give you victory over them” – when one tries, he can indeed become better. Then “you will see a beautiful woman” - that is your soul. She will have to “trim the hair of her head,” that is, get rid of erroneous preconceived ideas. “She will have to pair her nails,” that is, to abstain from the overabundance of even permitted physical pleasures. And she will have to change the dress in which she was captured – that is the garment that the soul had created through her previous wrong deeds.

Now she will cry for her father – that is God, and her mother – that is the humanity. She will do this for a month – and that is the month of Elul, which precedes Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur. She will cry for a “month of days” - that is, the soul should rush as if she only has days, not years, in which to prefect itself.

Art: Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Blanzifiore

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Shoftim - Courts and Judgement

The Large Sanhedrin, or the Supreme Court of 71 judges, represents Understanding. Understanding, in turn, is the secret of the Supernal Judgment, as reflected in the name of God “The King of Judgment” which we use between Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur. Understanding and Repentance are spiritually synonymous, and these are the days when Understanding rules. The 71 judges in the Sanhedrin reflect the name of God Adonai (יהוה) with its gemetria of 26 plus the deep knowledge represented by the expansion of this name (יוד הא ואו הא), with the gematria of 45, and 26+45=71.

The Smaller Sanhedrin courts of 23 were first consulted on every matter, even that of capital punishment. The requirement for the 23 arises because the 10 are the minimum to acquit, two more are needed to find guilty, which gives 22, and since the court cannot have an even number of judges, they add one more.

However, there is a deep meaning for this number. The name of God usually connected to the quality of Mercy is Adonai (יהוה), and its expansions, for example, the one above (יוד הא ואו הא) have 10 letters. So 10 are needed to acquit. The name of God connected to strict judgment, Elohim (אלהים), has 13 letters in the expansion (אלפ למד הי יוד מם). Thus 23 judges can properly combine the Mercy and the Judgment and arrive at a just result.

Art: Charles Hunt - A Plea For Mercy

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Re'eh – Intentions for Kosher Slaughter

Previously we learned about kosher slaughter as a step in the soul's reincarnation from the animal to a man. However, there are also more specific intentions that a slaughterer must have in his mind at the moment of slaughter.

When he cuts, he must think that the place of slaughter is the neck, garon (גרון) the gematria of which is 259. This is equal to three time the name of God Elohim (אלהים), the gematria of which (plus the whole) is 86 * 3 + 1 = 259. These are the three aspects of consciousness of the Cosmic Man, Zeir Anpin, which he possesses in his youth. They are called “youthful, or childish consciousness,” and they need to be replaced by mature, or wise consciousness. They are found in the neck of Zeir Anpin, because this is what connects his body – behavior – to his brain – mind.

The slaughterer should also think that the “childish consciousness” often results in the wrong behavior, and thus represents the judgments found in the world. He should bring down the wise consciousness, also in three aspects, thus sweetening and correcting the judgements found in the neck of Zeir Anpin, represented by the neck of the animal. The result of this is the combination of the name of God Adonai (יהוה) and Elohim (אלהים) three times, which (together with 1 for the whole) have the gematria of (86 + 26) *3 + 1 = 337, the same as the gematria of “kosher slaughter”, or “shechitah” (
השחיטה).

It is well known that the name of God Adonai represents Mercy, whereas the name Elohim represents judgment. By combining the two, the slaughterer achieves sweetening of the judgments found in the world, thus effecting cosmic changes through his actions.

Art: Sir Anthony Van Dyck - Youthful Self-Portrait

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ekev – All That Mitzvah

All that mitzvah that I am commanding you today – you must guard and keep it.

The grammar seems not to fit here, and it should say “All those mitzvot” instead. However, this teaches us a rule. A person who started a mitzvah must finish it, because a mitzvah is ascribed to the one who finishes it. That is why the Torah said, “All that mitzvah” – and not part of that mitzvah.

Another way to understand this is to connect it to the prohibition discussed just prior – to distance one from idol worship. One who denies idol worship – which is defined as ascribing spiritual powers to any physical object or spiritual entity, as existing on its own, without being sustained and empowered by the Creator of all things – such a person is considered as if he observed perfectly the whole Torah.

Yet another way to understand “all that mitzvah” is to say that we are talking about the study of Torah. That is why it says, “All” – to include the Talmud and other oral teachings, which were later transcribed into writing. Then “guard and keep” means “learn and do and be careful not to forget what you learned.”

Art: Paul Seignac - Learning To Count


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Vaetchanan – Moses Returns to His Youth

At that time, I (Moses) pleaded with God.” Moses knew a special way of prayer that is delivered directly, through the passageway we've described before. “But God had turned Himself against me because of you.”

As is known, Moses has moments of immaturity and maturity. This is also true for all souls, and in this they are similar to Zeir Anpin, the Spiritual Man, who passes through the stages of pregnancy, youth (immaturity) and wisdom (maturity).

God gives wisdom to the true leaders of the generation, but only in accordance with the merits of the generation. When the generation of the desert worshiped the Golden Calf, they caused Moses to regress and go from maturity back to immaturity and further into the state before being born. He lost all the Lights of Wisdom that he previously possessed, and returned to his immature youth. The state of before-being-born of Zeir Anpin is in the womb of Ima Ilaa, the Supernal Mother. That is the secret of the phrase, “But God turned Himself (vayitaber) against me,” literally, “made me return to my pregnant mother.” For just as the wrongdoings of the generation cause Zeir Anpin (the spiritual sum of the humanity) to regress and return to immaturity, so too it applies to the leaders of the generation.

Art: Paul Gavarni - Pregnant woman with her mother

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dvarim – The Limited Blessing Of Moses

When Moses said, “May God, Lord of your fathers, increase your numbers a thousandfold, and bless you as He promised”, the Jews objected, “Are you putting a limit (admittedly large) on the blessing?” To this Moses answered, “It is in my possession, a thousandfold blessing, and that I am giving to you. Beyond that, the blessings should come from the level of Aba Ilaa, Supernal Father."

Moses himself is on the level of El Shaddai. This is the name of God Who gives blessings until your lips begin to say “Dai,” or “Enough.” The gematria of Moses (םשה) is 40+300+5=345, and the gematria of El Shaddai (אל שדי) is 1+30+300+4+10=345.

If you spell out the name of El Shaddai (אלפ למד שין דלת יוד), you will get 1000 (1+30+80+30+40+4+300+10+50+4+30+400+10+6+4=999, plus 1 for the complete word). A thousand in Hebrew is Aleph, and the Hebrew alphabet, which starts from Aleph-Beth is a different way of saying Aleph-Binah, Beginning of Understanding, or Learn to Understand. That is how far the power of Moses reached – to the level of Ima Ilaa, or the Supernal Mother, who represents Understanding. Beyond this is the level of the Supernal Father, and that is where Moses asked that the blessing will continue.

Art: Franz Marc - Portrait Of The Artists Mother

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pinchas – Jealousy

As learned earlier, the word Jealousy appears three times in the introductory verse of the Pinchas Torah portion, and there is a meditation from Baal Shem Tov, closely connected to the name of God “Jealous”. In principle, it works like this.

It is known that Evil exists only in the lower spiritual worlds, but that in the upper one, called Atzilut, or the World of Nearness, all is Good. By taking the subject of prayer and lifting oneself together with it into the World of Nearness, one comes to the state where Good and Bad are indistinguishable, because the Bad there is also Good. Then on his spiritual descent into the physical world, one finds that the necessary changes have been accomplished.

Even the meditation itself, without the use of a mikvah, is beneficial to the person, and even without accomplishing any other results. Some say, even no meditation is beneficial.

Art: Claude Oscar Monet - Meditation - Madame Monet On The Sofa

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Meditation of Baal Shem Tov



Taken from Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's "Meditation and Kabbalah" - with gratitude

Arizal's Meditation for Friday Afternoon, Requires Immersion in a Mikvah




Taken from Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's "Meditation and Kabbalah" - with gratitude

Monday, July 11, 2011

Balaam – Why is Evil Given So Much Power?

Previously we learned the story of reincarnations of Cain, Abel, Jethro, and the family of Abraham, leading to Balaam and Balak. They had great powers, Balaam being a prophet equal to Moses, and Balak – a magician who exceeded even Balaam. Why were they granted such powers?

Balak is called the son of Tzipor, and Jethro's daughter, whom Moses married, is called Tziporah. In some spiritual sense, Jethro is the father of Balak. Jethro's place in the spiritual hierarchy is very high: he is in the foundation of the Supernal Mother, and he is also the spiritual essence of Cain. The Foundation of the Supernal Mother is the name of God “Ehyeh” (אהיה). If you spell this name four times: two times with the letter yud 161 + 161 (אלפ הי יוד הי, אלפ הי יוד הי), once with aleph, 143 (אלפ הא יוד הא), and once with hei, 151 (אלפ הה יוד הה), you get the gematria of Jethro, 616 (יתרו).

Balak, who was in a sense Jethro's son, is thus also derived from Supernal Mother. Next to him (and in the spiritual universes "next" means in some way similar) is Leah, who represents the Rulership coming out of the Supernal Mother, extending until her feet. The lights that extend from the Supernal Mother to Leah, rooted in Zeir Anpin, Cosmic Man, are four, all expansions of the name of God Adonai(יהוה), and the numerical values of the expansions are 72, 63, 45, and 52, which together constitute 232, the gematria of Balak (בלק).

Leah, whose daughter was called Dinah, which means "Judge", represents the harshest judgements. Her feet (symbolizing the final purpose) push against the head of Rachel. The word "push" is (בולקים), and this is the root of Balak. Thus, because of their need for making spiritual progress, the spiritual forces give birth and prominence to evil, which is granted big powers on the way to final good.

Art: Jacopo Tintoretto - Two Prophets

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Chukat - You have to make the good out of the bad

“You have to make the good out of the bad because that is all you have got to make it out of” from “All King's Men” by Robert Penn Warren seems to ring true, but it is hard to understand how the good can come out of the bad. In fact, Warren's book is a proof that this is not possible. However, mystics are all talking about the same things, and it must be true in some other worlds.

In many respects the Red Heifer features the opposite side, “the back” of the good. This is not the complete bad, only second best, but compared to the real thing, it is the “back” of it.

The Red Heifer is burned not in the Temple, but on the Mount of Olives, opposite the Temple. The person supervising the burning is not the High Priest but the one next to him; in the original formulation in the times of Aharon, it is not him, but his son Elazar.

As we learned before, the Red Heifer is the “back” of holiness, and as such it can lead to complete purity – provided that it itself is completely annihilated, and only its ashes remain.

The “Malchut,” or Rulership is the lowest Sefirah, and it represents the “back” of the highest expansion of the name of God (יהוה), when it is spelled with the letter yud, thus forming the name whose gematria is 72 (יוד הי ויו הי). If we then take the “back” of that name, substituting each letter with the previous one (טהג דט הטה דט), we get the name whose gematria is 62. If we continue and take the back of the other three expansions, with gematrias of 63, 52, and 45, then their “back” expansions, totaled, give the gematria of “parah adumah,” Red Heifer.

Thus the Red Heifer is all composed of the secrets of the “back,” or second best, and perhaps for that reason it escaped the understanding of the first among the Sages, King Solomon. The reverse order of things is reflected in the description of the cow, as follows, “cow” is Rulership, “red” is Glory, “pure” is Foundation, “without a blemish” is Strength, and “which never had a yoke on it” is Understanding.

Art: John Frederick Herring, Jnr. - A Bull And Cows In A Wooded Landscape

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Korach – Cain Acknowledges that He Was Wrong

As we learned before, Korach was a reincarnation of the bad part of Abel. Moses, who was Abel's complete reincarnation, kept Korach in check, until the soul of Cain attached itself to Korach, after which Korach felt himself empowered to rebel against Moses.

Moses' counterpart, Jethro, was the reincarnation of Cain. That is the meaning of Jethro being the head and priest of the Midianites – who represent Cain. At this time, Jethro threw Moses in prison for ten years, and Tsiporah was the one to saved Moses. Later, when Jethro made peace with Moses and aligned himself with him, the soul of Cain left Jethro and attached itself to Korach. That is the meaning of “and Korach took” - he took the soul of Cain.

Now Korach and his followers “rised up against Moses” - parallel to Cain rising up against Abel. Further, God said to Cain, “The blood of your brother and of all his unborn descendants scream against you from under the ground.” Parallel to this, Korach went down under the ground. While there, every month Korach and his followers proclaim, “Moses is true and his Torah is true, but we are false”- in parallel to what Cain had said that there is no Judge and no Judgment, when he killed his brother.

Art: Pierre Louis Cretey - Cain Slaying Abel

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Shlach – It was the season when the first grapes begin to ripen

God spoke to Moses, saying, 'Send out men for yourself to explore the Canaanite territory that I am about to give the Israelites.' ... It was the season when the first grapes begin to ripen.

Why did the Torah say, “And those days were the days when grapes begin to ripen?” Why “those days were the days?” The answer is that the words “those days” refer to the special days that we already know about, the six days that correspond to the six directions in the spiritual image of Zeir Anpin, the Cosmic Man, or in some sense the Humanity. The time when he has only six spiritual components are the days of his youth and immaturity, without the influence of the intellect, which he will receive from the Supernal Father and Mother.

All the six days and the six directions were mixed in the Tree of Knowledge, with which Adam made his mistake, and this accords well with the opinion that this tree was the vine. Wine is connected to Rulership, and it was also there that Adam made his mistake – by his attempt to fix it and to take its first fruit before proper time.

Sources: Rabbi Daniel Frisch, Moshe Cordovero, Mikdash Melech, other commentators.

When the spies tried to pick up a cluster of grapes, the cluster, sensing their bad intentions, refused to be picked up. The spies then asked Joshua and Caleb to lift the cluster, which they were able to do. Being upset, the spies decided to kill Joshua and Caleb. Joshua spoke to the cluster and told it, "If you will be the cause of our death, we will not inherit the portion of the land in which you grew." The cluster then relented and allowed itself to be carried by the other spies.

Source: Meam Lo'ez.

Art: Raphaelle Peale - Still Life With Grapes And Dish

Friday, June 10, 2011

Behaalotcha - When You Come to Light up the Lights

God spoke to Moses, telling him to speak to Aaron and say to him, 'When you light the lamps, the seven lamps shall illuminate the menorah.'

To explain this, Rabbi Yehudah quoted from the Psalms, “Mighty sun is like a bridegroom coming out of his marriage canopy,” and to explain this in turn he said “Happy are those who learn the Torah of God, which is the Tree of Life.” One who grabs it inherits this world and the World to Come. To grab it and to go up on it, one needs to learn it, and to constantly meditate and repeat it so as to remember – because this is called “grabbing.” The gematria of “The Tree of Life” is 233, and this is the same gematria as “Remember”.

Now, the Tree of Life is the Spiritual Man, Zeir Anpin, who inherits his mind from Supernal Father and Supernal Mother, and he transmits this light to the whole creation below, and that is the mighty sun who sends his light to his queen, the Female, Nukva, and in doing so illuminates everything. Through their contact, they light the lights of the Female, or the Rulership, and that is the meaning of "When you come to light up the lights."

That, in turn, is compared to the Torah, which is called “Beauty” - because beauty is ideal proportions and perfect balance. In the spiritual words it is achieved by studying the opposing tendencies of Kindness and Judgment and by finding a new entity, Beauty, where both Kindness and Judgment are equally balanced.

Art: Winslow Homer - Sunlight And Shadow Oil Painting

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Naso – The Spiritual Makeup of the Tribe of Levi

"God spoke to Moses, saying, Also take a census of Gershon's descendants by families."

Levi the son of Jacob had three sons, Gershon, Kehat, and Merari. They were to play a unique spiritual role in the community of Israel and therefore were not to be counted together with the other Jews. That is because the tribe of Levi represents the spiritual quality of strength and strict judgment. Why is this so and why is it important?

Levy represents the middle matzah at the Seder, and it is the one that gets broken. Strict judgment should be never allowed to act with full force. That is why Abraham, who represented Kindness, was asked to bind his son Isaac, who represented Judgment. Similarly, the tribe of Levi was broken into two parts, the Kohahim and the Levites.

The Levites carried the pieces of the Tabernacle - quality of Strength – and in the Temple they sang, which also represents Strength. How so?

The words “song” (שיר) is connected to the name of God Elohim, representing Judgment, because the letter ש is the same as the gematria (300) of Elohim spelled אלף למד הי יוד מם. The letter יר is 200, and that is Elohim spelled א אל אלה אלהי אלהים.

Power itself extends in five directions, represented by letters which change their shape at the end of the word – מנצפ"ך. Each of the three families Levi has the five aspects of strength, and all three are connected the the spiritual entity of a Cosmic Female, which also represents Strength in the Woman-Man relationship. The first of the family of Levi is the brain of the Female, which is formed before all else, and which has an indelible influence on her. The second aspect of strength comes from her relationship with the Cosmic Man, or Zeir Anpin. The third one is what gives her the power to conceive and give birth. The letters מנצפ"ך taken twice give the numerical value of the family of Gershon גרשון, who started the count. Thus this count helps and advances the development of the spiritual entities of the Cosmic Man and the Female, of which we all form a part.

Art: Raphael - Portrait Of A Pregnant Woman

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bamidbar – Counting the Tribes in Multiple Passes

"This was [the result] for the descendants of Reuben, Israel's firstborn."

All of the tribes are recounted in this manner: for the tribe of Shimon..., for the tribe of Gad, but the last tribe of Naftali is special, and it is counted without the word “for,” that is, “the tribe of Naftali...”

This letter (lamed) in the Torah tells us what algorithm they used for counting. First they went through every tent and wrote down “so-and-so, son of so-and-so.” In taking this first raw count, they did not divide the people into tribes. It was a complete, unsorted count.

Then they went through the same book again, twelve times, one time for each tribe. Thus, they were counting “this man goes for the tribe of Shimon.” Then they would mark off his name on the margin of the list, to indicate that he was already counted.

When they came to the last tribe, there was no need to direct the scribe to which tribe the men belonged, because they all belonged to the last tribe, the tribe of Naftali.

We see that when dealing with one's name, it is proper to concentrate only on this name. When dealing with one tribe, it is proper to count members of only that one tribe. Each individual's name is of utmost importance, to the exclusion of everything else, since the name is the essence of this person, and each person can claim “for me the world was created.” The same is true for a group, like a tribe, and each has its own unique importance.

Art: Lambert de Hondt - The Creation

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Meditation for Lag B'Omer – Gratitude ad Infinitum

The Sefirah associated with Lag B'Omer is Glory witin Glory (Hod shebe Hod), or gratitude inside gratitude. When a man is grateful to God, he should add that he is grateful for the possiblity of standing in front of God and being grateful. He thus completes and perfects his gratitude with gratitude.

However, he does not have to stop there. He can now be grateful for his capacity of being able to be grateful for being grateful. This chain has no end. It is reminiscent of God's desire to create the world, which had to be preceded with a desire to have a desire, and so on, also ad infinitum.

Compare this to Littlewood's idea of gratitude with potential infinity.

“The following idea, or coda to the series, was invented too late (I do not remember by whom), but what should have happened is as follows. I wrote a paper for the Comptes Rendus which Prof. M. Riesz translated into French for me. At the end there were 3 footnotes. The first read (in French) 'I am greatly indebted to Prof. Riesz for translating the present paper.' The second read 'I am indebted to Prof. Riesz for translating the preceeding footnote.' The third read 'I am indebted to Prof. Riesz for translating the preceeding footnote,' with a suggestion of reflexiveness. Actually I stop legitimately at number 3: however little French I know I am capable of copying a French sentence.” (Littlewood, Mathematical Miscellany).

Why does Littlewood stop at 3 while we continue ad infinitum? Obviously, because he is grateful not for the quality of being great, but for translating his gratitude. It is because our gratefulness is for gratefulness itself that we get into the infinite loop – which is better at stretching the mind than the finite.

Art: Gustave Courbet - Eternity

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bechukotai – Why is God Promising Physical Reward

If you will follow My statutes... I will give you rains in their proper time.”

We need to understand these words, for it seems that God is greasing Israel with words, and is trying to convince, almost to seduce them, by saying “If you will do so-and-so, you will have this and that.” Another thing that we need to understand is why God is promising only physical blessings.

However, here we have a hint to the reincarnation. As is known, the reincarnated soul may begin in two inanimate states, silent (earth) and sprouting (vegetation). Then it may become a living animal and if it deserves, a human, and in that state it can achieve perfection, in its appointed time.

That is why the Torah said, “If you will follow my statutes, I will give rain in its proper time, the earth will produce vegetables, and trees will grow fruit, and you will eat and be satisfied.” The souls that are found in nature will ascend and be elevated to the level of man. That is why the Torah continues, “and you will eat bread to satiety, and you will live securely in your land.” The wise student will understand.

Art: Paul Gauguin - Tropical Vegetation

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Behar – Seventh Day and Seventh Year

It is God's sabbath during which you may not plant your fields, nor prune your vineyards.” 

There is the seventh day called Shabbat, but there is also the seventh year that is called “Shabbat for God” and “Shabbat for the Land.” Why is the seventh year called Shabbat, indicating some similarity between the two, and what is the difference between them?

Shabbat is the time when all the spiritual worlds transform and go upwards, compared to their weekday position. For example, the Sefirot of Victory, Glory, Foundation, and Kingship of the lowest world, the World of Action, ascend to the place of Mercy, Strength, and Beauty. In their turn, Mercy, Strength, and Beauty go up to to the place of Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge. These upper three Sefirot, Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge, leave their World of Action and are transported into the next world, World of Formation, and so on. Even the highest world, the Long Face of the World of Nearness, goes yet higher, and the Supernal Father and Mother take its place, as is known.

The seventh year is called Shabbat, because it shares this quality with Shabbat that on this year the spiritual worlds also ascend to higher levels. However, the seventh year is different in that only the first three worlds, Worlds of Creation, Formation, and Action, go up. The upper world, the World of Nearness, stays in its place, and we too have no power to uplift it, and only on Shabbat does this world also experience an uplifting.

Art: Felix Edouard Vallotton - The Artist's Parents

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Emor – Yom Tov is Imma, Shabbat is Abba

These are God's festivals that you must call out as sacred holidays at their appropriate times.

The words “These are the festivals of God” (Eleh moadei Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey) spell out the word “Imma” with their first letters. Thus on a Festival the spiritual entities of the Cosmic Man and Cosmic Woman rise only to the level of Supernal Mother, but no higher. In addition, the Mother is represented by the expansion of God's name with aleph, like this: yud-vav-dalet, hey-aleph, and so on, with the gematria of 63. With the 10 letters of the expansion it makes 73, or the gematria of Yom Tov (Holiday) itself.

However, when you call out Holidays with your prayers, you allow the children (Man and Woman) to rise higher and come to the Supernal Father also. Thus the first letters of “them in their times,” (otam b'moadam) make the word Av (Father). On Shabbat the children go higher, to the Father, just because of Shabbat, “because it is holy.”

What is the meaning of all this? God has created the five spiritual entities in the world, of which we and our souls are a part. We allow them to find each other, and are blessed in return.

Art: Jozsef Rippl-Ronai - My Father And My Mother 1897

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Kedoshim – What to Do on Shabbat

"Every person must respect his mother and father, and keep My Sabbaths. I am God your Lord."

One who learns Torah on Shabbat, understands new things, says new insights, and perhaps even learns Kabbalah on that day, causes great respect for his mother and father.

Everyone is given an additional soul on Shabbat. It is this soul that makes his Shabbat learning special. When Shabbat ends, the additional soul returns to Heaven, and the righteous there ask it, “What did you learn? What new thoughts and insights have you suggested?” The soul retells everything it did, and its words bring this extra honor to the person's parents.

That is why the two subjects are connected in the Torah: one shows great respect to his mother and father by observing Shabbat, that is, by learning Torah on that day.

Art: John Frederick Peto - Still Life With Candlestick And Book

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Kabbalah of Sefirah

There are fifty days from going out of Egypt till receiving the Torah on Sinai, and one counts them as he counts the days to his birthday, for on that day the world was created, at least according to one view.

There are two reasons for this counting (sefirah): to arouse in oneself the love for Torah, and to purify and prepare oneself for the receiving of the Torah. In each of these days one can reach a completely new spiritual level, since each of these days has the power of eight. Thus they are are a blueprint for the year. Everyone may encounter in these days difficulties corresponding to his spiritual nature.

The key to each day is in the Sefirot that it represents. For example, today is the fifth day of the counting, Hod in Chesed, or Praise in Love. On it one should concentrate on praising God, making up for others who do not do so, and this will bring him to love God. Thus he is correcting Love through Praise.

Art: Louis Charles Moeller - The Appraiser

Friday, April 15, 2011

Acharei Mot – The Torah Spoke of the Four Sons

"God spoke to Moses right after the death of Aaron's two sons, who brought an [unauthorized] offering before God and died."

The letters of the name of the son who died, Nadav, constitute the words “four sons” - “dalet,” four, and “ben” - son. The Torah spoke about four sons, that is, Adam and his three sons, and their souls were all collected in Nadav and Avihu. The name of Avihu is also a hint at Adam, because it can be read “avi hu” - he is the father.

Whatever Adam did wrong, these also did wrong. And what was it? - Strange fire, the other woman, that is, the first Eve, called Lilith. Adam was united with Lilith before Eve, and that is why he said about Eve, “She will be called a woman” - she, but not the other, Lilith.

The Sages called Adam “restoring his circumcision” because of his prior connection to Lilith, with whom he gave birth to multiple demons. A man (ish) and his wife (ishah) constitute real fire of love together – if God puts his name between them. But without God's name, it constitutes just fire, “ash,” and this is the strange fire of Adam.

Naduv and Avihu were the greatest people of their generation, but they repeated Adam's mistake, and did not get married. In addition, they were drunk with wine – and that again was the sin of Adam, on the opinion that Eve gave him grapes from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad, having made it into wine. Wine has a dual nature, but Adam leaned on the physical side of it.

Additionally, Adam tried to bring everyone, good and bad, into God's presence, and this was a mistake which caused his own exile, and later also other exiles. In this he was not alone, for Moses and King Solomon also tried to bring too many people to God.

Art: Adriaen Jansz. Van Ostade - An Elderly Man Seated Holding A Wineglass

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Nissan as the Month that Has It All

This month will be to you the head of all months...”

Just as the head has in it the image of the complete body and controls it, so too the month of Nissan has in it all other months. Each month has a “key phrase
 that corresponds to one of the 12 permutations of the Name of God. This is reflected by the Gematria of the Nissan key phrase and the Gematria of the names of all other months combined being one and the same, 1952.

This was the gist of the complete exposition that came to me from Rabbi Menachem Kranz, whose lectures on Kabbalah can be found at the Jewish Heritage Foundation site. So here it is.

Mark, I thought you would enjoy this דבר תורה, I am amazed by how well it fits so I have said it by my Shiur before פרשת החדש for a number of years already, so enjoy.

We read on this שבת the פרשה of ראש חדש and the תורה says as follows, החדש הזה לכם ראש חדשים ראשון היא לכם לחדשי השנה I saw in the ספר אור מלא a beautiful רמז to how we can see that this month of ניסן is the ראש, head of all the months, the head has inside of it all the of the of the rest of the body inside of it, but only on the potential level, so somehow we have to be able to see in the month of ניסן a hint to all of the rest of the months.

If you look in a lot of סידורים in נוסח ספרד, like the Artscroll all hebrew siddur, by מוסף for ראש חדש you will see that it brings down to have in mind a different one of the 12 permutation for the שם הוי"ה by every month, (a 4 lettered word should have 24 permutations but since there are 2 of the same letters so it cuts the amount in half, and that's why there is only 12 permutations for the שם הוי"ה)  and they come from different פסוקים from their acronym. The first three all start with the letter י, the next three ה, the next three the letter ו, and the last three permutations start with the letter ה.

The month of ניסן it says comes from the acronym of the פסוק: ישמחו השמים ותגל הארץ ירעם הים ומלאו, the first letters of the first four word spells out השם's name in order, but yet in here is a רמז for all of the rest. As follows, if you start from the second letter and count the first letters it comes out in the order of הוהי and from the set that begins with the letter ה which corresponds to the month of תמוז that's the order of its permutation. Now if we start counting from the third letter we get a permutation in the order of והיה which is the permutation that is for the month of תשרי which is the first of the ones that start with a ו, and lastly if we start from the fourth letter we have the order of היהו which is for the month of טבת the first of the last three which start with the letter ה.  So all in all we have seen the a רמז here for the four main month, they are also the four month that the seasons are called by like תקופת ניסן and so on, as they are the heads of the permutations that begins with the different letters. Now if we would add up the גימטריא (numerical equivalence) of the those four months they equal to 1944, add to it another 8 to represent the other 8 months that aren't the main ones, it all equals up to 1952 which is the גימטריא of the   whole פסוק.  ישמחו השמים ותגל הארץ ירעם הים ומלאו. So we see here how the month of ניסן is the ראש of all the חדשים and they are all hinted in the פסוק that represents the month of ניסן.

We'll go word for word,

ישמחו=364
השמים=395
ותגל=439
הארץ=296
ירעם=320
הים=55
ומלאו=83

Together they equal 1952

Now let's count the four main month ניסן=170
תמוז=453
תשרי=910
טבת=411


Altogether it equals 1944, now add 8 to it which represent the other 8 month, and you have exactly 1952.


For someone to come up with this it had to be with רוח הקדש. It amazes me every time I go through it, it just fits so perfectly. May we finally see the גאולה as it says בניסן נגאלו ובניסן עתידין לגאול!

Art: Alfred Sisley - The Small Meadow In Spring

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tazria - Seven and Eight - Originals

Here are the pages of the original for reference, click on them to see full-size.




Tazria - Seven and Eight

When a woman conceives and gives birth to a boy, she shall be ritually unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during the time of separation when she has her period.”

Adam was created from the earth outside of the Garden of Eden, and later God brought him in. Why is this so? Would it not be better to create Adam from the earth of the Garden, which was obviously of better quality? However, the reason for this is that Adam was destined to make a mistake that would cause him to be exiled from the Garden. Had Adam been created from the earth of the Garden of Eden, then later, after his mistake and exile, he would not be able to repair the damage he has done.

When the Snake seduced Eve, he injected in her bad spiritual qualities that led to a mixture of good and evil. Now she would give birth not only to righteous individuals, like she and Adam, but also to evil people. There are connections between the seventy nations of the world, the seventy members of Sanhedrin, the seventy years of exile, the seventy years of the “spiritual sleep” of the exiles, and seventy or eighty years of a man's life, hinted to in the psalms, “the life of a man is seventy years, and with strength – eighty.” They deal with the mixture of good and bad, and that explains why circumcision happens on the eight day, which is free from the influence of seven/seventy.

Art: Francesco Curradi - The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pekudei - The Counts

"The 100 talents were used to cast the bases for the sanctuary and the cloth partition. There were a total of 100 bases made out of the 100 talents, one talent for each base."

Here we have the secret of the name of God Adonai and the number 100, as we have learned before.

Connected to this is the story of the four Sages who entered the Garden of Mysteries. Since Adam made a mistake, and we are still enjoying the fruits of it, these Sages decided to correct this. They may have wanted to correct the mistake itself, or they may have wanted to repair the consequences of it in the soul of Adam, which includes all souls of humanity till today.

The mistake of Adam was in giving the crown of Rulership to the Cosmic Man, Zeir Anpin, before he was ready for it, that is, before the consciousness of the Supernal Father was given to him. Therefore, the only way to fix it was to enter the consciousness of the Cosmic Man, elevate it, and fix his crown from the inside, thus fixing everything. Anybody who wants to effect this correction needs to interact with the four mentalities of the Supernal Father, possessing Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge.

Each of the four Sages wanted to correct one mentality, and this was wrong, since each needed to correct all four. The three of the Sages made a serious mistake while attempting this and got harmed in the process. Only Rabbi Akiva entered in peace and left in peace. He was in fact capable of correcting all four mentalities, but the angels pushed him away. God protected him from the angels – because Rabbi Akiva was able to correct all four mentalities, even though he only did one. Arizal goes on to explain the mistake of each of the Sages, the greatness of Rabbi Akiva, and the strength of God expressed in the number 100.

Art: Sandro Botticelli - Three Archangels

Monday, March 7, 2011

Joseph and Zuleika - the sources


People have asked about sources, and here are a few. "Medrash Says" talks about the story of Zuleika and her friends all falling in love with Joseph. (Jami has it in more poetic details).

Jami can be read on google books - I am showing the first page, and not all pages can be accessed anyway.

Gilgulei Neshamot by Rabbi Meir of Fano is the source for Zuleika/Rahav/Yosef/Yehoshua connection, but I could not right away find that place - so I am showing something else I found about Rahav. I have the original of that book also, but I am posting the translation.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Joseph and Zuleika

Jami (1414-1492) described the story in his poem Yusuf and Zuleika. The Medrash story about all Zuleika's friends cutting their fingers is retold as follows:

The poem now pursues the Scriptural account of the life of Joseph, or Yussuf, whose supernatural beauty is, however, described as being the especial gift of God, and recorded to have been so great that no woman could look on him without love. Zuleika, therefore, only shared the fate of all her sex. Some writers say the ladies who clamored so much against her for her passion were, when he first entered the chamber where they were all assembled, in the act of cutting pomegranates, some say oranges, and in their admiration and amazement cut their fingers instead of the fruit! Yussuf is considered the emblem of divine perfection, and Zuleika's love is the image of the love of the creature toward the Creator: some go so far as to say that we ought to follow her example, and should permit the beauty of God to transport us out of ourselves. The rapid change from prison to high estate of Yussuf they consider a type of the impatience of the soul to burst its fetters and join its Creator.
Yussuf was always surrounded with a celestial light, typical as well of the moral beauty and wisdom which adorned his mind. He is sold as a slave, and Zuleika becomes his purchaser, to the great rage and envy of all her rivals, amongst whom was included the Princess Nasigha, of the race of Aad. The beautiful Yussuf now enters her service, and, at his own desire, a flock of sheep are given to his special keeping, his admiring mistress wishing, by every indulgence, to attach him to her. The nurse of Zuleika is the confidante of the passion which she cannot control, and which, at length, in an imprudent moment, she discloses to its object himself. His father, Jacob, or the angel Gabriel in his likeness, appears, to warn him of his danger, and he flies, leaving his mistress in an agony of despair, rage, and grief. She thus exclaims: Is this a dream?—another dream,



Now continue with the poem,


Like that which stole my senses first,
Which sparkled o'er my life's dull stream,
By idle, erring fancy nursed?
Was it for this my life I spent
In murmurs deep, and discontent—
Slighted, for this, all homage due,
From gen'rous, faithful love withdrew?
For this, no joy, no pomp have prized;
For this, all honors have despised—
Left all my soul, to passion free,
To be thus hated—spurned-by thee?


The story of Yusuf and Zuleika ends when Zuleika, old and imprisoned, sees Yusuf in his kingly attire. She runs to him, and Yusuf, recognizing that she is the true love, marries her. Zuleika becomes young again through a miracle.


The Sefer Gilgulei Neshamot tells that the reincarnation of Joseph was Yehoshuah, and the reincation of Zuleika was Rahav, one of the four most beautiful women in history. Yehoshuah married Rahav, making the poet correct.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Vayakhel – Crime and Forgiveness

Moses said to the Jews: Look! God has selected someone to build a Temple for you, and that is Betzalel, the grandson of Chur.

Chur was the person whom the Jews had killed just a few days before for protesting against the worshipping of the Golden Calf. When Aaron saw the murder, he reasoned that he too might be killed, and made a Golden Calf. Now Chur's grandson, a boy of thirteen, was called upon not to avenge, but to gain forgiveness.

That is why Moses said, “Look!” - it will be a sign for you, a remembrance, that the son of the man whom you killed will be building a Temple to bring you forgiveness. The only way for you can achieve forgiveness is if the prosecutor becomes your defender. No further progenitor of Betzalel is mentioned, to emphasize this. Gold is mentioned before silver in all descriptions of the Temple to remind the Jews about the Golden Calf, even though everywhere else silver comes before gold, “Mine is silver and mine is gold, say God.”

In the future the Jews were to worship the Golden Calf yet again, in the time of Yeravam, in the portion of Dan, and Betzalel's helper, Oholiav from the tribe of Dan, was toiling to obtain forgiveness for them before this second worship occurred, in keeping with the rule that God creates a cure before the disease

Art: Honoré Daumier - The Defender

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ki Tisa – The Three Offerings

"When you take a census of the Israelites to determine their numbers... Everyone included in the census must give a half shekel."

The word “offering” is mentioned three times, to tell us that there were in truth three different offerings. The first one went to build the Tabernacle. The second one – to buy daily sacrifices to be brought in the Tabernacle. And the third one – to make the silver sockets where the beams of the Tabernacle would stand.

Concerning the daily offerings, which atone for people's transgressions, the Sages have said, “No man in Jerusalem would remain there overnight without having his sins expiated.” To this offerings the words of the Torah “redemption for your souls” apply. The sockets atoned for the sin of the Golden Calf, and these are described as “The offering of God, atonement for your souls.” The daily offerings, connected to 20 gerah coins, represent the expansion of the letter yud (יוד - יוד ויו דלת). In turn, the sockets, “adanim” are related to the name of God “Adonai”, and are connected to a complete 100 with the expansion of the expansion, as we have learned before – to recap,

1=א
ד=4
נ=50
י=10

אלפ דלת נונ יוד

אלפ למד פא דלת למד תיו נונ ואו נונ יוד ואו דלת

65+35=100

Art: The erection of the Tabernacle from the Figures de la Bible; illustrated by Gerard Hoet