Sunday, December 2, 2012

Vayishlach – Magic

Jacob... slept there that night,... prepared two hundred goats for his brother Esau,... and was left alone to fight with Esau's angel.”

The name of Esau's angel is Samael, with the gematria of 131. By giving his present to Esau, Jacob was effecting his ultimate removal from the world, by connecting it to the magic number of 130, as we will see below. In addition, Jacob called what he sent a present “shai,” with the gematria of 310. Combined with Amalek (240), the utmost hater of Israel, you get 550, and that is how many animals Jacob sent. In giving a present to the enemy, Jacob was following the Proverbs, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him, since with this you are pouring hot coals on his head, and God will repay you.”

How was all this accomplished? Their argument was about the letter “yud.” The real name of Jacob was “Ekev” - heel, but Jacob took for himself another letter, “yud”, to signify that he was the one to correct Adam's error, and became 'Yakov”. When Jacob crosses the river “Yabok”, he was left there alone, and since this river has all the letters of Jacob's name except the letter Ayin, then it was this letter that was left. Later, this letter will find its place in the blessing, “Israel will live alone just like (ayin) Jacob, securely”.  The gematria of this word “ayin” is 130, and this is what counteracts the Esau's angel above (1 is added for the word, as is common in Kabbalah).

The 130 is also connected to the “Voice – the voice of Jacob and the hands – the hands of Esau,” since “voice” – “kol” is exactly 130 (k-l), since in the Torah it is spelled without the extra letter vav in between. Normally it is written with the "vav", to indicate that the voice of Jacob, when it is present, conquers the hands of Esau. That is the meaning of “the angel saw that he could not win over him (Jacob). “ This word, “him,” is spelled “lamed-vav”, and it is this “vav” that the angel of Esau could not overcome. Now, when the angel saw that he could not damage Jacob's body, represented by the letter vav, he touched his thigh, “kaf”, the place where Evil forces have hold. Jacob foresaw that too, since he returned to collect small vessels with oil, “pach” – same letters as “kaf,” only reversed. Finally, the angel was forced to concede victory, and told Jacob that he will not be called “Yakov,” with yud contested, but “Yisrael”, where the letter yud is connected to “rosh” - head – and now stands uncontested. Jacob was thus acknowledged as the one who corrected the mistake of Adam, and everything else together with it.

Art: Michel I Corneille - Esau and Jacob

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The “lives” of Sarah

And Sarah lived a hundred, and twenty, and seven years.”

The lives of Abraham and Sarah are intertwined with the spiritual changes in the Universe. In particular, the life of Sarah is the beginning of the revelation of Strength, when one requires spiritual perfection of himself and of others. It is well known that the name Sarah means “Princess,” and therefore she is connected to the level of the Crown, or Perfection. That is indicated by the letters of her name spelling “Rosh”, or “Head,” meaning the head of all. That is the symbolism of the 100, the letter yud (10 sefirot, with Keter, Crown being the highest) times yud (10*10).

Sarah’s twenty years represent Wisdom (Chochmah, starting with the letter chet, or 8), and Understanding (Binah, starting with the letter Bet, or 2). Since these are found in Crown, represented by the letter Yud, 10, we have twenty.

Seven are the six sefirot represented by the human body. Since they are lower than the Crown, the Crown’s ten is not added to them, but instead it is only 1, representing their unity.

Initially these years were called “Sarah’s lives,” because she was destined to live this lifespan. However, after she has lived them out, with everyday’s spiritual intensity, they were now called “years of Sarah’s life,” because in the whole world these were now years colored and influenced by her presence.

Art: Peter Paul Rubens - Portrait of Princess

Friday, October 26, 2012

Lech-Lecha – Your land, your birthplace, your father's house

“God said to Abram, 'Go away from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you....'”

Why is this idea repeated three times? We have discussed here, here, and here that the forefathers, and especially Abraham, embody the five spiritual entities of our world, who are in turn influenced by Abraham's deeds. These entities are hidden and imperceptible, and they further hide within each other, but they are the ways of God's interaction with the physical world.

Kindness (Chesed), which Abraham represents, has three foundations. The lowest of them is Victory (Netzach), which can be also translated as Eternity, and it corresponds to “your land,” because it is the closest to Rulership, representing the land and the female.

The next, higher level of Kindness is called “your birthplace,” because it is hidden in the so-called mouth, opening, of the 'ever', member, denoted by the letters A-V-R of Abraham's name", and is connected to birth. “Your father's house” is a hint to Wisdom, and to the Supernal Father.

In the beginning of Abraham's life the spiritual image of Cosmic Man, or Zeir Anpin, was young, and his brain was not fully developed. Therefore, Abraham was causing supernal unions solely through his Kindness. However, as Abraham's life progressed, he caused the Cosmic Man to mature and acquire Wisdom. Abraham is the forefather who is connected with Kindness, and kindness has the quality of never deteriorating as it descends through the spiritual worlds. This caused him to receive an additional letter “hei” in his name, whereas Isaac and Jacob did not additional letters.

Art: Willem Bartsius - Abraham Pleading With Sarah On Behalf Of Hagar

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Vayelech – One suffers for many

God said to Moses, 'The time is coming for you to die. Summon Joshua and let him stand...”

The first letters of the words “Joshua and let him stand” (את יהושע והתיצבו באחל) spell out the name of Job (איוב). Also in the phrase “And people will see God and believe in Him” (את יהוה ויאמינו ביהוה), the first letters again spell out Job (איוב). What is this a hint to?

One can compare it to a shepherd who saw a wolf, took a large goat and gave it to the wolf, but in this way saved all of his flock. So God took Job and gave him over to the accuser, in this way saving the Jews from annihilation in the future. So too Moses – everything that happened to him, including not being able to enter the Land of Israel – was for the sake of saving Israel in the future.

Art: Philip Reinagle - Birds of prey, goats and a wolf, in a landscape

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ki Tavo – Evil is a mirror image of Good

Previously we explained how bringing the first fruit to the Temple helps protect the Cosmic Female from Evil Forces. We also saw that the eleven curses pronounced on the mount Eival are related to the eleven spices burned in the Temple, and how both reflect the Sefirot of Good and of Evil.

Now we can discuss the structure of the forces of Evil in more detail. The phrase, “Cursed is the person who makes a sculptured or cast idol” is related to the Erech Anpin (Long Face) of the Evil forces, or the Husks. So far, we've seen the Erech Anpin (Long Face) as one of the higher spiritual forces (called Parzufim) in the world, as related to the ways of God's interactions with the world. Since the evil forces are an (almost) mirror image of the good ones, now we are looking at the evil force named in the same way.

That is why the Torah says that one will “places it in a hidden place” – hidden place is the reference to the hidden force of Erech Anpin, who is concealed beyond and with the help of the highest world of “Nearness”- nearness to God. If one counts the words in this phrase (אָרוּר הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה פֶסֶל וּמַסֵּכָה תּוֹעֲבַת יְהוָה, מַעֲשֵׂה יְדֵי חָרָשׁ--וְשָׂם בַּסָּתֶר), from the beginning to the word “[hidden] place,” he will find exactly thirteen words. That is in reference to another name of the Long Face, or Atika Kadisha, the Ancient Holy One. His beard has thirteen strands, hints to the highest secret of the world, revealed by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai to his students in his lecture called "Idra Rabba", "Large field."

The next phrase, about a man who curses his father and mothers is in reference to the Supernal Father and Supernal Mother. After this come the next five curses, and they correspond to five Sefirot of Zeir Anpin, the Cosmic Man, and then comes the “cursed is the man who sleeps with his sister” - in reference to the Cosmic Woman, the beloved of the Cosmic Man, for she is indeed his sister. Still, the Evil forces are subservient to the Good, and are not a complete mirror image, hinting at Good's final victory.

Art: Philipp Otto Runge - The Artist's Parents

Monday, August 20, 2012

Shoftim – Peace

If a true solution is hidden from you, in matters of blood (capital punishment), legal regulations,leprous marks ... a dispute in your gates (courts), then you must go up to the place that God your Lord shall choose.”

To explain what this phrase really means, the Arizal quotes the Zohar talking about the destruction of the Temple. At this time, the angels asked God, regarding a phrase in Psalms, “The impudent dug pits for me, which is not according to your Torah.” They said, why should the wicked prosper? Why should the righteous who observe Your Torah suffer? They continued with three specific claims.

First they said, Master of the World, You wrote in Your Torah that during ritual slaughter “One covers the blood with dust.” Your servants are not only careful to eat only kosher animals and birds, and to observe the laws of shechitah, but they also fulfill Your commandment to cover the blood of the killed birds with dust. Nevertheless, the impudent enemies “They spill their blood as water.”

The second claim: You wrote, “Don't kill the mother and its offspring in one day.” Your servants now only fulfill this commandment, which teachers them mercy, but the seller of the mother tells the buyer of the offspring, "Keep in mind that I sold its mother today, and wait with your slaughter till tomorrow." Nevertheless,  You allow them to be killed, parents and children together, as the Psalms say, “And the sons are slain.”

Thirdly they said, You wrote, “And the Kohen will examine the house and command to clean it out.” You punish your children with the sickness of their houses, which teaches them to be generous and not stingy (the leprosy of houses is the punishment for stinginess), and moreover, they ask a Kohen to examine their house, and obey his decision. In reward, you allowed the enemy to destroy Your House, as the Psalms say, “They destroyed Your House.”

To all of this God answered, “Is there peace between them? And if there is no peace between the people, they cannot rely on any of the promises.”

All this is hinted to in the phrase above: “matters of blood” - that is covering blood with dust; “legal regulations” - that is the laws of mother and its offspring; “Leprous marks” - that is the Kohen who examines the house. Why is all this? - Because of the “disputes in your gates.” What is the answer then? – Go to the place that God has chosen, study the Torah and through that you will become as one, and this will put peace among you.

Art: George Peter Alexander Healy - The Peacemakers

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dvarim – Moses Cannot Find Men of Understanding

Moses asked the tribes, “Designate for yourselves men who are wise, understanding, and known to the tribes” , but all he found was “I selected wise and well-known men from among your tribal leaders, and appointed them as your leaders”. Why is it that he found nobody who could “understand things?” Even though they were wise?

There was a need for this in the spiritual worlds. One cannot acquire either wisdom or understanding unless he already has some of it in himself. As it says in the Torah about Betzalel, who was building the Temple, “Betzalel ... to whom God has granted the wisdom and understanding", and about his helpers, "Skilled individuals upon whom God had bestowed a natural talent.” Those who already possess wisdom and understanding can increase it, through study or prayer, and expect that they will be given more. Only adding to one's capacity is possible, but not giving it where there is none. However, these people will indeed be given in great measure, they will be “filled with the spirit of wisdom and comprehension”. Still, the Torah mentions only “comprehension” that Moses' generation had, but “understanding” was missing.

The spiritual entity of Supernal Mother was connected to “comprehension,” but it lacked “understanding”. Thus, her essence, or foundation, was not revealed in the world, and did not lead to her union with the Supernal Father. Instead, the foundation of the Supernal Father was extended and revealed, to achieve the union. That union led to the creation of the generation of Jews who were absorbed in spiritual matters in the desert for forty years. That is why they are called “Generation of Knowledge,” even though “understanding” had to be absent from the mix. Instead, this understanding was left for later, to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, his companions, and to the later students of Kabbalah.

Art: Vasily Polenov - Portrait of an Old Jewish Man

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Balak – Rachel Stole Lavan's Fetishes

"Rachel stole the fetishes that belonged to her father."

Earlier we discussed Balam and the Evil in the world, as well as Balak and the hatred they both had toward Israel. We also mentioned the connection of both, through reincarnation, to Lavan. The explanation of this goes back to Rachel stealing the fetishes (terafim) of her father Lavan.

But first, why did she do it? Some say that she wanted Lavan to stop worshiping idols, others – that she did not want him to use them for divination, to find out where Jacob was (and indeed, he did not know). Josephus says that she did it to gain her father's pardon.

What does this all have to do with the story of Balak?

Rachel and Leah are not only sisters, but they are also spiritual entities that complement each other in the spiritual worlds. Leah has a connection to strict judgment (her daughter was called Dinah, which means Judgment), and this is most manifest in the spiritual world where Leah's domain ends and Rachel's begins. This is Leah's heels, the place of least sensitivity and reduced light. They push and pierce through (“bolkim” in Hebrew), and reach the head of Rachel.

Evil forces immediately cling to the reduced light and have some hold in Leah's heels. They thus can push and pierce through into the head of Rachel. That evil force, hinted by “bolkim” is Balak. Thus he finds the place to dwell and to try to achieve dominion. The place where Leah's feet  go into Rachel's head is called "Terafim" or fetishes. When Rachel stole the Terafim, she took away this area, all to herself, and now the Evil could not enter there and could not cause trouble.

But why is it Balak who waits for diminished light between Leah and Rachel? Balak is in some sense a descendant of Jethro, he is connected to the bad side of Cain, and his name contains multiple hints to the highest spiritual universes. The evil is thus connected to good, has its root in good, and good itself cannot be without evil existing in the world also. Our task is to recognize that, but to limit the power of evil by adding to the good forces through our study, and especially the study of Kabbalah.

Art: Charles Le Brun - Daughters of Jethro

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Korach - Argument Between Heaven and Earth

Korach had a confrontation with Moses

To understand the argument between Korach and Aaron, we need to go back to the creation of the world. God created the sky, to separate between “Upper Waters” and “Lower Waters.”  The first represents Mercy, which the second – Judgment. Mercy wanted to justify everyone, even the bad. Strictness wanted to judge everyone, even the good, and be as exacting with them as a hair's breadth. God created a “firmament,” or the sky, to separate and to reason. The sky represents Beauty, the quality of proportionality and balance.

Shakespeare hints at this argument in his sonnet, “Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war.”  There, the heart represents Mercy, and is connected to Wisdom. Eye, on the other hand, represents Judgment, connected to Understanding. The argument is decided by “a quest of thoughts, all tenants to the heart.” It would seem unfair, at first glance, that the mediator would live in the quarters of one of the contestants. However, Mercy must be superior to Judgment, for them to function well together.

As a result, Judgment agrees to spare the righteous, while Mercy has to give the bad ones over to punishment – on the condition, however, that it serves as correction. In the course of the disagreement, Judgment gets argumentative and angry, which manifests in the creation of the Gehinnom.

Korach represented argumentative Judgment, while Aharon, who never said a bad word to anybody, represented Mercy. Moses, who saw them argue, immediately recognized this as the argument that had already happened at the creation time, and decide to intervene, since he represented balance and Beauty, as his mother saw when he was born, “the boy was good,” meaning, “completely good, beautiful and balanced.”

However, it all depends on how people argue. If they are at war with each other, in order to find the higher truth, then they will see it, when it presents itself in the words of their counterpart. Such were the arguments between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai, who respected each other, studied the other's point of view, and were at times convinced. Korach was not a perfect reflection of Judgment, but was in it for his own honor, and he did not heed to Moses at all. That is why he had to fall into that same Gehinnom that was created by Judgment. Still, there was some good intention on his part also, and he has a corresponding place in the Future World.

Art: François Brunery - A Delicate Balance

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Kabbalistic Diet

Rav Avira said (sometimes he said it in the name of Rabbi Ami, and sometimes in the name of Rabbi Asi – because he heard it from both): Ministering angels said to the Holy One Blessed Is He, “Master of the World! In your own Torah you have written, 'Do not show favoritism, and do not take bribe,' but you show favoritism to Israel, as you yourself say in your Torah, 'May God show favor to you and turn His face to you.'”

God answered, “What can I do? How can I not show them favor! I told them in the Torah, 'You will eat and be satisfied and bless God.' I told them to eat their fill, and only then bless God, and they are exacting with themselves, and bless Me when they eat an olive volume, and an egg's volume. The person's body is not satisfied until he eats his fill. However, these righteous understood 'and be satisfied' as 'be a little satisfied,' and interpreted My words as in regards to the soul, not the body. Do you remember how we created the world? I was for it, and you were against, and really you, the angels, were right: I should not have created the world. However, I saw the souls of the righteous, fell in love with them, and created the world against logic. How can I not show favor to them now?”

We see from here that when a person eats little, and understands a minor satisfaction as being enough, this causes the awakening of God's favor for him.

Art: Jozef Israels - The Frugal Meal

Friday, June 8, 2012

Behaalotcha – Face to Face

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.'”

The subject of the Menorah was started in the portion of Tetzaveh. There we said that the Menorah represents the Cosmic Female, and explained the meaning of the beating of the olives to prepare the oil. More specifically, the Menorah represents Rachel. This means that the spiritual qualities of the world that were embodied by the Matriarch Rachel, were later found in the Menorah. Rachel is the Female companion of the Cosmic Man, who is also called Zeir Anpin (Small Face).

At earlier times, the Cosmic Man and his Female were standing face to face with each other. Then the Menorah was not needed. However, later the Cosmic Female and the Cosmic Man stood back to back to each other, because they were afraid of the Evil Husks who would attack the Female. The Menorah in the time of the Temple rectified the situation.

The seven branches of the Menorah represent the lower seven Sefirot  (God's manifestations in the world) of the Female, from Kindness to Rulership. They are arranged in groups of right (Mercy), left ( Judgment), and center (Beauty, or balance and proportionality). The branches are endowed with the five aspects of Strength, characteristic of the Female, who limits and shapes the world.

The five attributes of Kindness from the Mind of the Cosmic Man likewise descend to his seven Sefirot, and are manifest in the lights of the Menorah. The seven lights, with their fire and flame, coming from the wick, represents the seven qualities of the Cosmic Man.

Today, when there is no Menorah, the union can still be accomplished by the Cosmic Man and his Female ascending to their supernal Mother and Father, who shade and protect them for the time of their visit. Those who know do this in the prayer, through a “unification” mediation in Shema and in the Tachanun, where they enact the actions of the spiritual entities (Partzufim) mentioned above.

Art: Joseph Ritter Von Führich - Jacob Encountering Rachel with her Father's Herds

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Why One Should Not Sell His Copy Of The Zohar

Having described the chain of the printing of the Zohar, about seventy printed editions in Montoba, Livorno, Krakow, Amsterdam, and Vilna – some of them more correct and some with errors – “The Gates to the Zohar” concludes with the words of the Chida:

In one old manuscript I saw the following story. One Sage had an edition of the Zohar, which he sold. At night he was tortured by evil dreams, in which they called him an animal, “Behemah.” Next day he recounted his dream, and one Sage told him that they were reproving him for having sold the Zohar. And the word “Behemah” meant “I have removed the sacred portions from my house,” ("Biarti Hakodesh Min Habait"). He went back to the buyer, pleaded, and bought the books back. Thus far goes the story.

Of course, in the context this means good: the farmer has given all the charity presents that he was supposed to, and his house is now clean of these holy portions. However, the same verse may have a different meaning in a different situation.

Art: Louis Robert Carrier-Belleuse- Le Bouquiniste (The bookseller)

Friday, May 4, 2012


In his biography ofJoyce, Richard Ellmann describes the following scene, which took place when Joyce was fifty and Beckett twenty-six, and which could have come straight from the theatre of the No:

"Beckett was addicted to silences, and so was Joyce; they engaged in conversations which consisted often of silences directed towards each other, both suffused with sadness, Beckett mostly for the world, Joyce mostly for himself. Joyce sat in his habitual posture, legs crossed, toe of the upper leg under the instep of the lower; Beckett, also tall and slender, fell into the same gesture. Joyce suddenly asked some such question as, 'How could the idealist Hume write a history?' Beckett replied, 'A history of representation.'"

Saturday, April 21, 2012

On Reading The Zohar Without Understanding

“The learning of the Zohar is higher than any other learning, even if one does not understand what he is reading, and even if he reads the words with mistakes. It is, nevertheless, very beneficial for one's soul, because although all of the Torah is the Names of Holy One, blessed be He, it is related in the form of stories, and one who reads it, understands the stories and pays attention to the simple meaning of what he is reading. On the contrary, the Book of Zohar consists completely and openly of the secrets, and one who reads them knows that these are the secrets and the mysteries of the Torah, except that he may not completely understand them, because they are related in a dense manner, and because of his limitations.”

Chida, quoted by Shaarei Zohar of Rabbi Daniel Frisch

Sunday, April 15, 2012

There Is No Contradiction Between Multiple Opinions

There is no place in the laws of the Torah for a contradiction; when some Sages hold one opinion, and others hold a different one, all of these explanations flow and end up on one place, called “Kingship,” or better yet, “Qeeenship,” which is another name for the Oral Torah. Not only these opinions end up in one place, but they also originate in one source – the Foundation of the Cosmic Man, also called Zeir Anpin. What, then, is the reason for the disagreements? When an opinion comes out from the Foundation, it may lean more to the right, Kindness, or to the left, Strictness, but it invariably comes back to the same Kinghsip. Thus we have the rule about the disagreements of the early Sages that “Those and these are the words of the living God.” That is the meaning of King Solomon's, “All rivers go to one sea, all go to one place.”

If the secrets of the Torah are its inner essence and if they illuminate the other areas of learning, then why is the study of them not widespread? Rabbi Shimon explained it with this phrase of the Torah: “God formed every wild beast and every bird out of the ground... every living soul... but the man did not find a helper.” The wild beasts and birds symbolize people without knowledge. Since they lack understanding, they are no help for a man. Even those who are called “living soul” and who study the Law, they, too, are of no help for man in exile if they do not investigate the reasons and are not seeking for the secrets in their learning.

Art: Eva Gonzales - Secretly

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Mystical Secrets Are The Essence Of Torah

The secret meaning is the real essence of the Torah teachings. The practical parts of the laws were only necessary so that the light of the Torah could be constricted and conveyed to us, for otherwise we could not bear it, because it would be too much. In the uppermost of the four spiritual worlds, the world of Nearness to God, the Torah is called “Kabbalah”. Is it also called “Pshat.” The simple meaning of the word “Pshat” is just that, “simple meaning.” However, this word comes from the Song of Songs, “Pashat'ti at kutonti” - I have taken off my garment – because in the world of Nearness the Torah is seen as its essence, without the physical garments hiding it. That – adds Rabbi Chaim Vital, the primary student of Arizal – is the main meaning of the word “pshat.”

Adam, the first man, was “working the garden and guarding it.” Working meant doing positive commandments of the Torah, while guarding referred to the negative ones. However, how is this possible? For example, how could he observe “do not plough with an ox and a donkey put together,” if he had no need to plough? The answer is that Adam had to keep the two spiritual husks, one called “ox” and the other “donkey” separate and not allow them to unite. Adam's Torah was Kabbalah.

The Song of Songs said, “The curves of your thighs are like jewels.” The word “curves”, “chamukei” stands for the first letters of a common teaching in the Talmud, “chasurei mechasra v chachi kotani”, which means “the Mishna is missing a phrase here, and here is what it really means.” The words of the Mishnah and Talmud are essentially secret codes, and in these cases the plain meaning had to give way to the necessity of phrasing the rule according to its secret meaning. Understanding these is the goal one should strive for, and it is the meaning of the prayer we say before learning the Talmud, “Unveil my eyes, so that I can perceive wonders from Your Torah.”

Art: Pierre Auguste Renoir - The Garden In The Rue Cortot At Montmartre

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Mystical Meaning Of Sacrifices – They Tie The Room Together!

God said to Noah, 'The end of all flesh has come before Me...'

What does this phrase mean? – “End of all flesh” is the name of a spiritual entity that came before God. It is also called “The Other Side,” or “Sitra Achra,” because it has the permission to pretend that it acts independently of God.

It is called “End of all flesh” because it desires to literally “End all flesh,” that is, to entice a human into worthless pursuits, until death. However, it desires the meat of the sacrifices as well. In that case, it enjoys seeing the destruction of the flesh of the sacrifices. In fact, the physical part of the sacrifices is indeed brought for its sake, whereas the spiritual part is for the sake of man and God.

However, even when the “Other Side,” or “End of all flesh” achieves its goal, and sees the death and rotting of a person – which is analogous to burning of sacrifices – it is only given control over the body, but the soul returns to Gan Eden, where it originally came from. Back to sacrifices, the desire and intention of the one who brings them are the spiritual element of the sacrifices, and, similar to the soul of a human, his intentions ascend to Heaven and tie all spiritual worlds together.

When a righteous person dies, his death is analogous to a sacrifice, and serves to elevate and achieve forgiveness for the world. The Other Side enjoys his body, and through this present it is bribed and has no more power to accuse the World. His soul, through its elevation, brings benefits to all the spiritual worlds. Each level of his souls is use to uplift the corresponding spiritual world, and in this way the righteous is a complete perfect sacrifice.

Another person, who is not worthy, and is not fitting to be a sacrifice – his body also goes to the grave and is given to the Other Side, but his soul does not ascend, and higher levels of the souls – he does not even posses them. He is analogous to a blemished sacrifice, which is not desired even if brought. Thus, the righteous atone for and improve the world, and are an atonement sacrifice for the world.

Art: Anne-Francois-Louis Janmot - On the Mountain - The Poem of the Soul

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tetzaveh – Clear Illuminating Oil For Menorah

The letters of the Name of God, which means, “I will be”, alef-hey-yud-hey (אהיה) can be expanded, that is, spelled out, in this way: alef = alef-lamed-pei (אלף), yud=yud-vav-dalet (יוד), and so on. Thus we get the expansion that consists of ten letters (אלף הי יוד הי).

In its turn, this expansion can be further expanded, and we will get a Name that consists of twenty-seven letters (אלף למד פי - הי יוד - יוד ויו דלת - הי יוד). Note that when given a choice of how to spell a vav, we spelled it with a yud, that it is vav-yud-vav (ויו). However, we could also spell it with alef, vav-alef-vav (ואו). If we do that, we will arrive at a different expansion of the Name of God, with alef (אלף למד פי - הי אלפ - יוד ואו דלת - הי יוד), and it, too, will have twenty-seven letters.

These twenty-seven are the same gematria as the word “clear”, “zach” (זך). The two-thirds division is found in many places. It indicates to us that we are dealing with an entity that has three parts. For example, the Jewish people are composed of three groups, Kohanim, Levites, and Israelites. The Tanach is composed of the Torah, Prophets (Neviim), and Writings (Ketuvim). The Kohanim give people a three-fold blessing. And every week one should repeat the Torah portion of the week three times: two in the original Hebrew, and one in the Aramaic translation of Onkelos.

The two-thirds here, represented by the two expansion of the Name of God, and also by the words “clear,” hint to the two-thirds of the Beauty of the Cosmic Man, Zeir Anpin, which are revealed to his female counterpart, the Cosmic Woman. When they are made known to the Cosmic Woman through his Foundation, which acts as a seal of their union, the purpose of the oil, “to bring out the light” becomes known, and “Light” is the Cosmic Woman. The phrase “clear illuminating oil to bring up the light (in the Menorah)” is thus a hint to their supernal union.

Art: John Frederick Kensett - New England Sunrise

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Yitro – “I Am Your Brother!”

Yitro said to Moses, 'I am your father-in-law Yitro, come out and greet me'...”

We can ask, if Yitro is talking to Moses face to face, why does he need to say, “I am your father-in-law?” Moses can see who he is! In the words “I am your father-in-law”, in Hebrew “ani chotencha” the first letters constitute “ach” - “brother”. Yitro was a reincarnation of Cain, and Moses was a reincarnation of Abel, and Yitro was telling to Moses “I am your brother!”

In his previous life, Cain denied logic and judgment, when he said “Am I my brother's keeper?” In this life as Yitro he came to correct this, and this is why he said, “Come out and greet me” - to fix my previous lifetime. Fittingly, his contribution was to teach Moses about judgment, when he taught Moses how to select and appoint judges. The words “Cain” and “Din” – judgment – are also hinted to in the title Yitro, “Priest of Midian” - “Kohen MiDin.”

Soul's travels are more complex than the pattern of death and re-birth. A soul may be taken away from one and given over to another. The soul of a righteous may come and join one who is trying to do good. That is the meaning of the words “One who is trying to purify himself is being helped from Heaven.” Cain later came back as Korach. That is the meaning of the words “And Korach took.” What did he take? A bad purchase – the soul of Cain. That is why he “rose up against Moses” - just like he rose up against Abel in his previous life, and that is why he descended alive to Gehennom, from where he is brought up monthly to proclaim, “Moses is right, and his Torah is true, and we are deceivers.”

Art: Johann Anton Alban Ramboux - The Eberhard Brothers

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Beshalach – Jews Leaving Egypt As Soul Leaving the Body

A nice way to understand the story of Exodus is to see in it a lesson about soul leaving the body. “When Pharaoh sent the people away” is setting the stage, it means “When the soul (the people) is leaving the body”. Egypt – Mitzraim – means “boundaries,” and Pharaoh – Oreph (neck) – means body that is stubborn and stiff-necked. At this time, the Evil forces (the people's tormentors) are pursuing the soul (which is spiritual and thus never gets sullied), and want to harm it. These are the same materialistic evil inclinations that seduce the soul, they are the ones that cause its demise, and they are the ones that accuse it later on.

And God strengthened the heart of Pharaoh, and he pursued the people and overcame them, encamped at the sea, “chonim al ha yam” - means Gehinnom, and that is the “sea,” or the stream, by the name of Dinor. Now when the Pharaoh approached them, they “were very afraid of suffering and cried out to God.” They then said to Moses, “Why did you have to take us out of Egypt? Wasn't there enough graves there?” This means, “We don't want to die. We had enough trouble in this earthly existence, and now we are subjected to the cleansing in the grave! We were better off with in our known troubles during lifetime, than flying to others, that we know not of.”

On the contrary, the righteous always desire to die (that is, in this world, and to live in the next one, the world of Truth). With this, one can understand the three days of darkness, which correspond to the travel from “Migdol” to “Pi Chirot” - from “Tower” to “Freedom.”

Moses, who represents man's good potential, told them, “Do not be afraid (of the punishment), because it is for your own good.” Moses continued “You will not see your tormentors ever again” – they will stay in the sea – which is the stream of Dinor. After you are cleansed in Gehinnom, you will not see your bad part again.

Art: Ferdinand Hodler - A Troubled Soul

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Vaera - What Are We?

"God spoke to Moses and said to him, 'I am YHVH. I revealed Myself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as God Almighty (El Shaddai), and did not allow them to know Me by My name YHVH.”

The forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, originate spiritually from Supernal Mother, Ima Ilaa, which is the name of God with the gematria of 63 (יוד הי ואו הי). The three letters yud (ייי) found in this name are the three forefathers.

The first letters of their names, together with another name of Jacob - Israel are alef, yud, yud, yud, with the gematria of 31 (אל). That is the name “El,” and it explains the meaning of “I revealed myself as El.” Abraham, who is the first, is thus called “Chesed El” - the Kindness of God.

It is also known that the Supernal Mother is crying on her chair, and there her name is “El Shaddai” - “God Who has it in His power to fullfill His promise,” but this appearance to Abraham was only by way of substitution, in a vision, “bamachaze” - which is in Aramaic, and not Hebrew, that is, a substitution.

The last letters of the names of the forefathers, M, K, B, are SH, D, Y (Shaddai) but also by way of substitution, in the alphabet called “At-Bash”, where the first letter of the alphabet is substituted with the last one, and so on.

The gematria of the name Moses (Moshe - 345) himself is also El Shaddai - 345, but without substitutions, in the revealed manner. Moses encompassed all the powers of the forefathers. However, he also had an added name “Mah”, with the gematria of 45 (יוד הא ואו הא), when he said, “And we, what (mah) are we?” That was what he added over the forefathers, making him the greatest of the prophets.

Art: Domenico Fetti - Moses Before The Burning Bush

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Shemot – Childbirth

As we mentioned before, there are seventy ways to interpret the Torah, one of them is that Exodus is parallel to the soul being sent to Earth for spiritual growth. Another way is to view Exodus as an allegory of actual childbirth. Thus, the Ten Plagues become a parallel to this also.

The first of the plagues was the water of the Nile turning into blood, and similarly the beginning of birth is signaled by the breaking of the waters, which may also contain some blood. Without this, the child might suffocate. In the spiritual world blood is often connected to the Evil Impure forces, the power of which needs to be broken for the process of redemption to begin.

Then came the plague of the frogs (צפרד"ע), which can be read as (צפר ד"ע), meaning the “bird” (צפר), or the “voice” of 70 (ד"ע). These correspond to the seventy screams of birth, and to the seventy words in the psalm “God will answer me in the time of distress”.

The plague of darkness corresponds to the baby's distress during birth, when it begins to perceive itself as going from light to darkness.

Finally, the plague of the killing of the firstborn corresponds to a great number of evil forces that surround the child the at time of birth, all being killed. Still, the major Evil Urge remains alive. This is the meaning of the phrase, “And the first baby that came out was red, all covered with hair,” - first comes the Evil Urge. That is also the meaning of Pharaoh remaining alive of all the firstborn of Egypt. God wants man to be fighting with his evil inclination for the first thirteen years of his life, until the Good Inclination joins him at thirteen and one day.

The time of Redemption (birth) is the spring month of Nisan, when the "Ma'adim" (Red, or Mars) star achieves prominence. The seven stars (planets) are abbreviated as שצ'ם חנכל, the letter mem (ם) stands for Ma'adim.

Art: Nicholas Gysis - New Arrival

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Vayigash – When Two Kings Meet

"Judah walked up to Joseph and said, "Please, your highness, let me say something to you personally."

As we learned before, the meeting of the two brothers, Judah and Joseph, reflects some events that were happening in the spiritual worlds, namely, Judah represents Kingship, ruling the world, and Joseph represents Righteousness, or the Foundation of the world. Kingship is also related to the Female, and Foundation – to the male components of the world, which creates imbalance and tension.

This is described in the Psalms, “Behold, the kings assembled (to attack Jerusalem), they passed by together.” Now the Zohar gives it a different meaning: the two kings are Judah and Joseph coming together, and they “passed by” in the sense that they overlooked the mistakes people made (as in “God passes over and overlooks transgressions”), that is why they are “together” – in love and in unity.

Now we can better understand why the first word uttered by Judah was “please”, “bee” (בי) in Hebrew. The gematria of this word is 12 (2 + 10), and Judah was hinting at all the possible permutations of the name of God representing mercy, Adonay (יהוה), like this:


Judah said “Let me, who is your slave, or your servant (עבדך), talk to you.” He was following the construction of the phrase “God, we are Your servants, the creation of Your hands.” He was saying to Joseph, “I am your task (עבודתך) in the world” – from “your servant” to “your work” to “your task” – therefore, take me seriously and treat me kindly.

Art: Petrus van Schendel - A Servant Girl By Candle Light