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” (

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