Sunday, June 29, 2014

Balak – The son of a bird

And Balak saw all that Israel had done...” – what did he see? Balak was a wizard, who saw things, just as Avimelech was able to see what happened inside the house of Isaac. The fact that Abimelech looked “through the window” is impossible – did Isaac “enjoy with his wife” during the day? And with open windows?” – Rather, this “window” is a name of wizardry. Balak used the same.

Balak is called the son of a bird, because he had this magic bird with iron wings who would fly around the world and tell him the news. It got these news from Aza, one of the two fallen angels. This time, however, the bird was late in coming back, and when it did come, it had its tail singed with fire. It also argued with Balak. He would say “a certain people came out of Egypt,” and it corrected, “They are called Israel, which means “Isra El,” prince of God. He said "big," and the bird corrected him, "great." That is what made Balak and his nation very much afraid.

Art: Open Window Lilacs Study by Valentin Aleksandrovich Serov

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Chukat – What does the letter “vav” mean

And (“vav”) this is the law of the Torah – to burn the red heifer.

To explain this, Rabbi Yose started by praising the words of the Torah and those who study them. Moses said, “Today you are becoming a nation, since you have the Torah.” But really, the Torah was given forty years ago, what did Moses mean? – Rather, this teaches that the Torah is beloved to those who learn it, every day just as the first time.

Now he could continue: the letter “vav,” which means “and,” joins subjects together: the Torah, which is symbolic of the community of Israel, and the Holy One Blessed be He, which usually denotes the Zeir Anpin, the “Supreme Man,” or the communication between God and this world. These are all united with the letter “vav.”

Those who read the daily prayers remember one of the phrases in the beginning, “All and some detail and then all again – the last 'all' includes only those things that were mentioned in the detail.” That is a rule of the understanding the Torah, but it is also a means of connecting the Knesset Israel and God – since Malchut (or Shekhinah, God's presence) is called “All,” and Beauty is called “detail,” since it “details” the six directions of Zeir Anpin. Thus one does not exist without the other, and the other does not exist without the first one.

Art: Rabbinical Students In A Classroom by Edouard Brandon