This Week’s Torah Portion | December 1 – December 7, 2013 – Kislev 28 – Tevet 4, 5774
In A Nutshell
In the portion, VaYigash (Judah Approached), Joseph asks his brothers to leave Benjamin, having discovered the silver goblet that he himself hid in his belongings. Judah explains to Joseph that he cannot leave Benjamin behind because he is responsible for him and he promised his father to bring him back safe. Judah tells Joseph that they had already lost one brother, not knowing that Joseph is the one managing the event behind the scenes.
Joseph decides to expose himself to his brothers. He tells them how his selling for slavery turned out for the best, and that now he can support his family because he is in charge of all of Egypt. After the reconciliation, Joseph sends the brothers to Jacob with carts and goods, and asks Jacob to come to Egypt.
At first, Jacob cannot believe the story. But once the brothers present him with Joseph’s gift, he is delighted and wants to go to Egypt to see Joseph before he dies. On the way to Egypt, Jacob stops and offers sacrifices. The Creator appears to Jacob and promises him that his descendants will be a great nation in Egypt, and that eventually they will all return to the land of Israel.
Jacob and the brothers arrive in Egypt, in the land of Goshen, where Joseph meets them. He bursts in tears when he sees his father after all those years. Joseph tells them that Pharaoh wants to meet them.
To prepare for the meeting Joseph tells the brothers and Jacob to say that they are shepherds and wish to live in a separate place from the Egyptians, in the land of Goshen. Joseph introduces his father and brothers to Pharaoh, who agrees that they will live in the land of Goshen.
The hunger continues and Joseph provides for everyone. The Egyptians and all the others give up their money and eventually themselves as slaves to Pharaoh.
Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman
The portion describes both the internal process of man’s development, and the general process in the correction of the world. Man and the world are one, the particular and general are equal.
This is a special portion, which is still pertinent. It deals with the spiritual force entering an ordinary person and beginning to correct that person.
For the purpose of connection, a person needs both the physical force and the spiritual force, like heaven and earth. The two forces—of the Creator and of the creature—conjoin, and the human will grow out of them. This is really the purpose of our development, to connect the material substance with the human form, which is similar to the Creator.
It is not simple to make those two forces meet. Creation consists only of these two forces—the giving force, the Creator, and the receiving force, the creature, which the Creator created on purpose as a replication of Himself.
The two forces have to join so the creature becomes included in the Creator, and the Creator becomes included in the creature, where there is understanding, a connection between them. In that connection, the creature can present requests to the Creator, who understands them and bestows upon the creature through the mutual connection, through the part of the Creator that is in the creature, so the creature, too, can understand the Creator.
It is similar to relationships between people. Assume that we have no connection between us. But when we begin to tell each other about ourselves and sympathize with each other’s feelings, each of us receives a part from the other. The connection between us was made through the parts we share in common.
In the material world, too, we must regulate instruments to make them work on the same wavelength, so they “understand” one another. For example, for one computer to “understand” another, there needs to be a modem with certain limitations, certain registrations, and so forth.
It is likewise with the connection between the Creator and the creature. The whole purpose of creation is for the creature to ascend in Dvekut (adhesion) to the degree of the Creator. They achieve Dvekut according to their equivalence of form, equivalence of their qualities. In the end, the human must have the qualities of the Creator.
“The inclination in a man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21). We are Pharaoh; it is our nature, our “self.” The first quality of the Creator that appears in us is called Abraham. This is why he is called “the father of the nation,” meaning the quality of bestowal in a person.
Subsequently, out of the line of Abraham, the right line, the line of Hesed, emerges the quality of Gevura, Isaac. Finally, the quality of Tifferet—which is Jacob—comes out.
Jacob is the beginning of the formation of the right connection between Abraham and Isaac; this is what makes him the most special of the fathers, the senior one. He can combine the two forces, bestowal and reception, and arrange them within him in the middle line.
However, it is not enough. We must learn by ourselves how to implement these three lines that comes to us from above, from our creation. The portion describes how the upper force gradually permeates us like water percolates into the ground to get to the place where it is dry, to Egypt.
The heart of the problem lies in Jacob’s qualities, which are in his sons. With the exclusion of Joseph, they do not understand what they must do. Joseph understands that there is a need to unite all the sons. He tells them: “You will all bow to me because I am the Yesod, the foundation that unites all of you.” But they do not understand.
Although we contain all the qualities, and begin to connect them together, we do not understand how to do it. This is why the selling and buying teach us how to work with those qualities within us.
The wisdom of Kabbalah does not deal with historic events. Rather, it deals with man’s correction from within. Our whole process of work is about correction. First we absorb the quality of bestowal, love, affinity to others. Accordingly, we draw nearer to the Creator, we change, and we correct ourselves.
The portion tells us how things unfold, beginning with the selling of Joseph to Egypt. Joseph is the force of bestowal, while Egypt is our vessels of reception, the desires to receive. The desires to receive can work only as simple farmers, but Joseph is a quality that already knows how to exchange tools with others, how to sell and buy. He gives crops and receives something from the outside in return, from people who produce, such as instruments.
Through negotiation, giving and receiving, it is possible to connect, to gain wealth, and to ascend in degrees. The quality of Joseph enables it because it knows how to connect egoistic parts that cannot otherwise connect. This is what happens in the Egypt within us; this is also what happens in the physical Egypt.
We can see it throughout history. Jews who lived among the nations worked and operated in education, culture, but especially in commerce, which is a connection of all the nations. Once they developed commerce, they began to develop industry, just as it happened in Egypt, which suddenly began to thrive. Along with prosperity came a problem—the more you grow, the more you are prone to decline, to fall, to reveal the new evil.
This is where the years of abundance and the years of hunger come from. Only the force of bestowal within us can manage them. The more we advance in our correction, the more we go through the process in a good and proper manner. In this way, all the previous qualities of bestowal, the house of Jacob, move into Egypt, into the will to receive, which is enriched by them to the point that when Jacob comes with his family to Egypt, Pharaoh understands how much he gains by it.
When we begin to work with the vessels of bestowal—I help you and you help me—our ego develops. One who knows how to connect with others and exchange with them, similar to what happens within us, knows how to work with the force of reception and the force of bestowal together.
At first, this work is called Lo Lishma (not for Her sake), since a person is still profiting and thinks that all is going well, and therefore works with both forces. When the upper forces are included in a person, one begins to discover the development of the process, which leads to the sensation of exile and the exodus from Egypt.
This happens despite the fact that for the time being the two forces—force of bestowal and force of reception—work in us in favor of the ego, and Pharaoh is gaining riches. In other words, the part of Malchut, the fifth part of out of Keter, Hochma, Bina, Zeir Anpin, and Malchut, is truly being filled.
Our ego receives twenty percent of the general profit, and thus grows. It is the same for all the Egyptians, our egoistic qualities—they live and grow. The house of Jacob grows, too. It multiplies by adding to itself more of the Egyptian’s ego, the will to receive.
We add to the ego, growing and advancing, as preparation for the process of correction. A person who studies the wisdom of Kabbalah while still in this world enjoys this world as well as the spiritual world, gaining from both. While in this world, a person comes to understand and to feel what is happening to him or her, and seemingly rises above others. Such a person gains also from the wisdom of Kabbalah, thus feeling that one has profited from both worlds. However, it changes after some time.
For now, however, both the house of Pharaoh and the house of Jacob are gaining riches. The profit goes to the qualities of the Creator and to the qualities of the creature; the will to receive and the desire to bestow mingle and work together. There is a great connection between them until they come across a crisis point that does not let them continue.
This is where the whole world currently stands. Until now we have been using the force of bestowal to develop technologies, techniques, instruments, and so on. We are in a global network of industry and commerce in almost every realm. And yet, we have reached the recognition of evil—the understanding that we must be better connected among us in order to advance further. But our egos prevent it from us.
This is what the children of Israel discovered in Egypt—the point that was to push them further, to a higher level, to the land of Israel. Our world, too, will have to emerge from this crisis and into the level of the general land of Israel, for everyone.
The world is now moving into the years of hunger, yet the majority of people refuse to recognize it. Where is today’s quality of Joseph, the quality that says we must collect during the good years so we have something to keep us through the years of famine?
At the time of abundance everything was great. Joseph was in Malchut, in Egypt. But when the hunger begins, begins the second half of the exile and in Egypt, and we are feeling the exile. This is when Joseph completes his role, he is no longer here.
The nine Sephirot—Keter, Hochma, Bina, Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, and Yesod—are the descent of abundance from above downward. Joseph is the ninth; he collects the previous eight Sephirot and brings them to Malchut. This is why he is called Joseph (from the Hebrew word Osef [collecting]). Malchut is our entire ego, the will to receive, the quality of the creature, us. Joseph includes all the previous qualities, the qualities of the Creator, abundance and light for all.
What does it mean that “a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph” (Exodus 1:8)?
It is the beginning of the process toward Moses. There are several stages in the process: first, the children of Israel discover that they are in Egypt. There is a difference between one’s personal work and the general process in the world; they are very different.
What is happening in the world today?
The current situation in the world is that we are at a tipping point. We must understand that henceforth Pharaoh takes control, so we will experience states of hunger and states of abundance. Joseph comes and says to Pharaoh that he has no choice but to establish a new order in Egypt, where everything is under his complete control. However, he must give them seeds and take twenty percent in taxes from them, and divide it so that Israel are poor.
In other words, our egoistic desires need to feel poor, that they have nothing other than belonging to the ego, for their mere survival, and what maintains them is the connection with Joseph. Joseph gives them seeds, the sustenance, life, and receives from them the tax. This is how we, too, must feel—that only our force of connection throughout the world unites us into one and allows us to advance, live, revive our souls, and that otherwise we are doomed.
First we must study these things. We must go through this entire process and advance toward the revelation that we must correct ourselves, including the Pharaoh in us. We must rise above him and escape from Egypt. The whole process aims toward escape.
The correction of Egypt entails two states: if we want to correct a certain quality in us, we must first stop working with it completely. Afterward we can advance toward it and work with it in a new way; perhaps less than before. For example, if we are forbidden to eat salt for health reasons, we first avoid salt completely, then resume eating small amounts of it.
We must escape Egypt so we can truly and finally unite. We cannot unite while in Egypt. Within Egypt, only the children of Israel can unite, and only in a certain manner. When we are in our egos and we try to build ourselves properly, to be in accord with nature, we suddenly discover that we are building Pithom and Raamses. Everything we build is swallowed up in the ego, the will to receive, so we never gain anything. Today we are seeing how everything we have built throughout the world is under a threat of tsunamis that will leave no trace of our work, and we have no guarantee as to the future of our children and grand children.
Can we know where this will lead?
Yes. After all, we can learn from studies that there is no point having children anymore. If there were no plan from above in that regard, one that we trust, it would really be so.
Joseph gave a special treatment to his family. He planned what they should say and how. This shows that he cared for them personally. In the spiritual world, is there such a thing as being “the favored one”?
Egypt cannot exist, and the world cannot exist without the children of Israel. Likewise, we personally cannot exist without contact with the upper abundance, and we are truly about to feel it. Only by joining everyone together, including the Egyptians, meaning the entire world, will we be able to advance.
Joseph says that the children of Israel should live only outside of Egypt, in the land of Goshen. It is so because to advance, a person needs to separate one’s vessels of reception from the vessels of bestowal. Otherwise, one might find that one is working only for the ego and will never be able to come out of it.
To manage Egypt properly, the qualities of bestowal must be outside of Egypt. This is why the children of Israel, who are in the land of Goshen, outside of Egypt, work in jobs that seem undignified in the eyes of the Egyptians, such as shepherds, since with them they seemingly nurture the qualities of bestowal in the qualities of reception. The Egyptians work in such a way that all the qualities of bestowal are good to fill the qualities of reception in them, the ego. For the Jews, the work is different; their entire ego, the qualities of reception, work to develop the qualities of bestowal.
It seems as though Joseph favored his family, as though he gave them preference.
This is correct, but even Pharaoh understood that it was for his own good, until the moment when they separate. As long as they are both in the will to receive, it is worthwhile for a person. It is a period called Lo Lishma. You have a part, and I have a part. You may have some more and I may have a little less, or the other way around, but we get along. We cannot do without each other.
This is how we advance until we reach a crisis, a barrier we must cross with effort. That transition will happen at the foot of Mt. Sinai, where the human is born.
From The Zohar: Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama
“Then … approached him” is the approaching of world in a world, the approaching of the lower world, Nukva, Nefesh, Judah, to the upper world, Yesod de ZA, Ruach, Joseph, so that everything will be one. Because Judah was a king and Joseph was a king, they approached each other and united in one another.
Zohar for All, VaYigash (Judah Approached), item 22
There are many discernments throughout the process of Joseph, beginning with his selling, his arrival in Egypt, the sending away of the brothers and the reacceptance. In this process we connect within us the two qualities, that of the Creator and that of the creature.
The problem of connecting the qualities of bestowal with the qualities of reception in a person is not so simple. We see it in our friends, especially among beginners. We see how difficult it is for them to accept these spiritual qualities, which they have never felt before. They begin to feel that there is bestowal, love, and connection here, a new way of perceiving the world, through new “spectacles,” and it is not so easy.
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Crop is a plant that grows out of the still. It is the ability to rise from the will to receive, our egoistic desire, which is the still. If there is a seed in the still and you give it water, minerals, and the proper cultivation, a plant will grow out of it—the next degree in the evolution.
Everything emerges from the still. The will to receive is the general substance, and the forms that come out of it—vegetative, animate, and speaking—are forms of the desire to bestow together with the will to receive. The will to receive gives all the substance. If, for example, the form is vegetative, its next form will be an animal, followed by the speaking form.
The blessing is the upper force that comes from Bina. Bet is Beracha (blessing). Without this upper force, there is no growth. It is similar to water, which represent the force of Bina in our world.
This is the promise that Joseph was given that he would be able to come out of Egypt. The big problem is how to work with our egos and be certain that it does not “swallow” us down the line. This is why Joseph was told, “Go down to Egypt for a certain time and then return to the land of Israel with great substance.”
Weeping is a state of Katnut (smallness/infancy), when one shifts from state to state. In between, one must be “small,” like an embryo, or like a newborn baby that is crying. These are signs of Katnut. At that stage, a person still has no Mochin (Light of Wisdom); one still does not understand where one is or why one exists. Such a person is in regret, in plight, in a narrow place where there are insufficient Hassadim (mercies), hence the crying.
A slave is our desire. In general, we always speak only about the desire. The whole of creation is but one will to receive divided into 613 desires. A slave is one of those desires, which is under the complete control of below. It is below either on the side of Pharaoh or on the side of the Creator. that is, either it is a servant of the Creator or a servant of Pharaoh. It cannot be in the middle.
From The Zohar: Take Wagons … for Your Little Ones
Israel were under the rule of this heifer for REDU (Gematria, 210) years when they were in Egypt. …It was only in order to scrutinize that wagon, which is VAK of the left, that Israel were under the Klipa of Egypt for several times and several years, as more than this measure, called “wagon,” is forbidden to take out of Egypt.
Zohar for All, VaYigash (Judah Approached), item 112
Our exile was to last 400 years, like four Behinot (discernments), but we spent only 210 years in exile. This is the root of all the other exiles.
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This Week’s Torah Portion | December 1 – December 7, 2013 – Kislev 28 – Tevet 4, 5774
In A Nutshell
The portion, Miketz (At the End), begins with Pharaoh’s dream about seven healthy and well-fed looking cows coming up from the Nile, followed by seven meager and malnourished looking cows. In a second dream, Pharaoh sees seven plump and wholesome looking ears of grain, followed by seven ears that were thin and scorched, and the thin ears eat the plump ones.
None of Pharaoh’s counselors could solve his dreams. The chief cupbearer, who was saved, remembered Joseph and his gift for deciphering dreams. He took the opportunity and asked to bring Joseph out of prison. Joseph came and solved Pharaoh’s dream. He said that there would be seven years of wealth and abundance in Egypt, immediately followed by seven years of hunger, and that Pharaoh should prepare for them.
Joseph also suggested how Pharaoh should prepare for them. Pharaoh appointed Joseph in charge, second only to the king, so he would set up the warehouses.
Indeed, the seven plentiful years were followed by seven years of famine, and the entire nation turned to Joseph to relieve their hunger and help them through it. Everyone, including Jacob’s sons, who were in the land of Israel, came to Egypt due to the hunger.
Jacob’s sons came to Joseph and did not recognize their own brother. At first, Joseph thought they were spies. Afterward, he sent Simeon to prison and said to his brothers, go back, but without Simeon. Joseph hid a goblet in Benjamin’s belongings and declared that if the thief who stole the goblet is caught, he will be put to death, and everyone will be punished.
The brothers returned to Jacob and told him of Joseph’s request that their brother Benjamin should go down to Egypt with them. Initially, Jacob refused to send Benjamin back to Pharaoh because he has already lost Joseph and Simeon, but he finally agreed to let him go.
The portion ends with everyone being in Egypt, Benjamin is accused of stealing the goblet, and Joseph decides to keep him as a slave.
Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman
These stories represent different states that we must go through as we advance in the correction of our souls. The Torah tells us how we must perform the correction.
There is no need to correct our bodies because they are part of the animal kingdom and exist as do all other animals. Our souls, however, we must beget out of the current state, and this portion narrates how we should approach the correction and achieve the birth of our souls.
It is written, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created for it the Torah as a spice.” In other words, our foundation is the evil inclination, our ego. When we recognize the ego and begin to work with it, we experience first hand the entire process the Torah describes.
The previous portions dealt with the point in the heart that awakens and develops in a person. This portion deals with how that development takes place. We all come from a broken Kli (vessel), which must be corrected, connected. This is the correction by which we achieve the rule, “love your neighbor as yourself; it is the great rule of the Torah,” inferring the connection of all of us into a single Kli, when all the people are as one.
First, the people of Israel will achieve unity. Subsequently, it will serve as “a light for the nations” and will connect everyone to that Kli. Thus, “They shall all know Me from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Jeremiah 31:33). Knowing means attaining, as it is written, “And the man knew Eve, his wife” (Genesis 4:1). This is the goal we must reach, and it is achievable only through unity.
When we connect, we discover how wicked we are, how undesirable connection is to us, and how we prefer to avoid it. Who among us thinks these days about brotherly love, about “love your neighbor as yourself”? Although it is written in the Torah, although it is the great rule on which the entire Torah stands, no one engages in actual implementation of it.
We have virtually forgotten that single rule without which the whole Torah is meaningless. The portion explains how we should approach the correction stage by stage. All the Mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah are but internal corrections of ourselves toward achieving the principle that is the great rule of the Torah, and shift from love of man to love of God, as Baal HaSulam wrote in Matan Torah (the Giving of the Torah) and The Arvut (the Mutual Guarantee). Love of man is the Kli within which appears the Creator’s upper light, and the revelation of the Creator to the creatures is the purpose of creation, as it is written, “And they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.”
Whether we want to or not, we go through states in which we descend to a state called Pharaoh. In that state, the ego appears. Pharaoh, the ego, appears precisely when we want to unite, when we understand that the purpose of creation is to obtain the connection, the unity. The more we try to accomplish it between us, the more we discover Pharaoh within us. Pharaoh is a great and important degree in our progress toward attainment of the spiritual degree, the human level.
Life as we know it is on the animate level. To reach the human level we must be connected like Adam HaRishon (Adam, the first man) who included the whole of humanity within him. Adam’s soul divided into 600,000 souls, which then multiplied so that in each of us there is a spark of Adam HaRishon. The human level is the level of collecting those sparks in each of us. However, we are still on the animate level and must elevate ourselves by ourselves from the animate level to the speaking level.
The portion explains that we can rise to the speaking level by recognizing Pharaoh within us, with the egoistic desire that wants only to receive, and to give nothing. We approach it and come to know it precisely when we are in a state that he “feeds” us and we are helpless against him.
It is the same in our lives today: if we leave our egos, we will have nothing to eat. If, for example, we abolish all competitiveness between us, the envy, lust, and pursuit of power and respect, the world will stop developing. Therefore, we need these forces, as it is written, “Envy, lust, and honor deliver man out of the world.” These forces deliver us from this world, and into a higher, more spiritual world.
We must come to know Pharaoh, our ego, in a deeper sense. We must bring ourselves to want it although we naturally do not. That desire contradicts our natural inclination.
If we aim toward connection with people, understanding that the purpose of creation is to achieve love and connection, we seemingly oppose it. Therefore, the ego necessarily appears in us. On the other hand, the ego understands that we must use all of our good qualities.
This situation instigates a split into two forces—the force of Jacob and the force of Pharaoh, or the force of Joseph and the force of Pharaoh. Gradually, we learn to discern between those two forces in us and understand how they complement one another, how Joseph mingles with Pharaoh, and how Pharaoh mingles with Joseph.
Joseph is “the righteous Joseph.” He is Yesod, who collects all the good, all of our good qualities of bestowal—the giving and the love. Pharaoh is the correction of all the bad, egoistic qualities. These two qualities must unite in order to complement one another so the bad qualities become as good ones, so the evil inclination becomes as the good inclination, as it is written, “The angel of death is destined to become a holy angel.”
These processes happen within us. We notice that we are confused, like to Pharaoh, who is confused by his dream. A dream is a very high degree in one’s progress. It occurs when a person is confused and disoriented. In the transition from state to state, a person does not understand what is going on, having left the previous state but not yet reached the recognition, the new understanding, and therefore one is confused.
Anyone who engages in self-scrutiny, or even in more superficial research, experiences periods where one is still not in control of the new perception. At the same time, the researcher must leave the previous perception or he or she will not be able to rise to the new level. This is why that state is called “a dream.” Similarly, in our world, between each two days there must be night, darkness, departure of the intellect, reason. The dream comes to help us prepare to perceive what the new day holds in store for us.
Here we can see the mingling that exists between spiritual qualities, the qualities of the Creator and the qualities of the person, the creature. The qualities of the Creator, who aims only to bestow, are called “the right side.” The qualities of the creature, who aims entirely to receive, are “the left side.” The connection between them occurs when Jacob and his entire household go down to Egypt.
Jacob is in Egypt and mingles with the Egyptians in order to later elicit from there all the Kelim (vessels), to elicit all the power from the ego, except for the ego itself. This state is called “And afterward they shall come out with great substance” (Genesis 15:14).
The entire portion deals with the descent into that state. A person may have good desires but will still be unable to progress with them because these desires are too thin.
When we begin to study, we uncover a desire to advance and understand ourselves, to know the reality that governs us, the upper reality. On the one hand, we feel we do not have this power. On the other hand, we feel that the process we are going through is preinstalled in us, so it is inevitable that we should discover the evil inclination, Pharaoh within us. Our good qualities are included in our egoistic qualities, and this is called, “for the famine was in the land of Canaan” (Genesis 42:5). Therefore, we have no choice but to go down to Egypt.
When we do not see spirituality as a strong foundation, we become included in our will to receive. The will to receive then grows and becomes crueler and more intense, to the point that it seems as though it is about so swallow us. But when we advance in the right direction, we find Joseph that already exists within our will to receive.
Joseph is already in Egypt, and through it, a person becomes included in the ego. This is why there is always a kind of partition between the qualities of bestowal and the qualities of reception.
Joseph says to Simeon that the brothers are spies, and sends the rest of the brothers to their country. However, they have no choice but to return to Egypt. It happens because we have no choice but to work with the ego, the will to receive, or there will not be any progress.
Our ego is help made against us. If we do not invert it to work in order to bestow, we will not be able to enter creation and discover the upper world.
In fact, we work only with our own qualities. This is why this wisdom is called Hochmat HaKabbalah (the wisdom of reception), since we nonetheless receive within the vessels of reception, the Kelim that were once cruel. We will feel the spiritual world only after we correct our Kelim.
As just said, the brothers return to Joseph for the second time. However, this time Joseph gives them a Kli, his goblet. What he received from Egypt, the goblet, he hands over to the house of Jacob, thus pulling all of them back, and all the children of Israel go down to Egypt. Joseph connects to Egypt in a special way—in the quality of Yesod that characterizes him. This quality concentrates within it all the upper qualities that enter Malchut—our will to receive—through it.
Joseph marries the daughter of one of Pharaoh’s spiritual advisors, Osnat, and has two sons, Ephraim and Menashe. This means that with the entrance of the children of Israel to Egypt, Pharaoh begins to change. It seems as though a connection is made that works in Pharaoh’s favor, since the whole world comes to him, to Malchut—the only one who can provide nourishment. But this nourishment is actually received from the first nine Sephirot, not from Malchut.
The first nine Sephirot are included in Malchut because they first have to be included in Pharaoh, Malchut. A person absorbs these qualities as one who acquired new good qualities and good behavior, and uses them in order to receive. Such a person uses what he or she has acquired in one’s own favor—deceiving people, penetrating good environments and stealing wherever possible.
We must go through such a period when our the good qualities are “captive.” And although we use them for our own pleasure, they still gradually work on us, just as with the children of Israel in Egypt. When the children of Israel came to Egypt, they connected to Pharaoh so that afterward, when the plagues would come over Pharaoh, they would still feel that they can no longer stay with the general will to receive and work in favor of their egos, and then they would run with great substance.
The connection is between the qualities of the Creator and the qualities of the creature. The nine Sephirot of the Creator enter the tenth Sephira (singular for Sephirot), Malchut, the quality of the creature, our ego, but it does not happen instantaneously, but gradually.
In this portion, Joseph tests his brothers, separating them. They overcome it and reunite, then he separates them again. It seems that currently the world is in a similar situation: we understand that we have to connect, but we can’t, due to our egos. What can we learn from this portion about the direction that the world should take today?
This portion serves as a big warning sign, especially to the people of Israel. The people of Israel have to come down to Pharaoh. That is, we must go out to the world and help it rise. If we fail to do it, it will be bad because this is not the way of Torah.
We must direct all of our teaching, all the light, toward disseminating the wisdom of Kabbalah throughout the world. It is called the “Messiah’s horn.”
It is written in The Zohar that only through the power of The Book of Zohar will the children of Israel come out of exile. However, we are still not in exile; we must first enter it. Exile is a state where we want to connect but do not know how to do it because something is stopping us. We search for the ego, which is stopping us, and we must find the Pharaoh within us and between us. This is why we must first connect among us as much as we can, as in “all of Israel are friends.”
We must circulate the Integral Education of “love your neighbor as yourself,” throughout the nation and explain in a scientific manner everything that Kabbalah discloses—that we must obtain unity and mutual guarantee or our situation will truly be desperate. We must convey to the world the same message, too, or the whole world will come to us with demands. They will not even know why, but they will be right because it is according to the laws of nature. This demand of the world is “the war of Gog and Magog,” the war of the end of days.
This is why the house of Jacob goes down to Egypt, and this is what we, too, must do. We should begin with connecting among us, with feeling our inner Pharaohs, and begin to tend to them. Through the light that reforms we must study the Torah in such a way that it becomes to us a reforming light. In other words, we will draw light through our desire to unite.
When we study Torah, we aim only for connection. We do not aspire for knowledge or wits, but only for unity among us. It is the rule that the Torah requires of us, “love your neighbor as yourself; it is the great rule of the Torah.” It is the only reason why the Torah was given.
“I have created the evil inclination; I have created the Torah as a spice because the light in it reforms it.” We must observe it, and today the whole world demands it of us.
Thus, we will finally arrange our nation. Our nation was founded on the unity of exiles from Babylon around Abraham. Maimonides writes that they connected based on the rule, “love your neighbor as yourself,” and that this is why they became a nation. Once we have lost that principle, we have stopped being a nation. Instead, we have become a collection of exiles. We are still in exile, in a kind of collection, so we must circulate these words and notify everyone as quickly as we can.
If we circulate through all the nations the method for connecting everyone in mutuality, as nature requires, as the current crisis is demanding, according to the wisdom of Kabbalah, we will see how differently everyone begins to relate to us. They will be willing to connect and to help.
What do years of abundance and years of hunger mean, and why is the number seven mentioned twice?
It is a process we must go through, in ascents and descents, once on the animate level and once on the vegetative level. It is similar to the shattering of the two Temples. In a descent from above, from the degree of Jacob, we need to descend once on the level of Mochin of Haya, and once on the level of Mochin of Neshama. It is the same as with the two Temples, the first Temple and the Second Temple, the same as the ruin that happened to us in the spiritual world, the world of Nekudim.
Will every person have to experience it personally?
To an extent, each and everyone experiences this process. But when we advance together toward connection it is not a problem; we can go through this entire process with joy.
If we disseminate the wisdom and the world hears and understands, will it still be necessary for the world to go through this process?
It is the recognition of evil. This is how we come to know our disease. Just as a physician uses diagnosis to determine a person’s illness and prescribe the proper medicine, we rise to a higher degree. Therefore, we need not be afraid. If we all march toward mutual guarantee, toward unity, we will have no problems along the way because even things that will seem undesirable will work toward our attainment of the degree that has been prepared for us— Yashar El (straight to God), toward unity.
Years of abundance and years of hunger are the ups and downs that we must go through, which divide into years. The number seven represents the Sephirot Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, and Malchut.
These years connect Zeir Anpin, which contains six Sephirot, with Malchut. This connection creates a new Kli between the qualities of the Creator and the qualities of the creature.
The wisdom of Kabbalah refers to the six qualities as “the Holy One blessed be He.” The seventh quality is the Shechina (Divinity), which is currently Pharaoh, also known as “Divinity in exile.” After the correction, Pharaoh becomes a holy place—in order to bestow—the place of our souls, the place of connection between us.
The sagacity of Egypt is called “external wisdom.” It maintains that you need not change within in order to obtain all the good in this life and in the spiritual life, that you can settle for the intellect. Study without changing; don’t think about the correction of the heart, about your ego, that you need to change; study a couple of pages and you will be happy. This, in essence, is the wisdom of Egypt, as it is written, “there is wisdom in the nations—believe.”
Hunger is a sensation of the will to receive that cannot satisfy itself. The grain matches the degree of hunger from which you are suffering. This refers to two degrees—the degree of Mochin of Haya, and the degree of Mochin of Neshama.
Brothers means connection. When the desires to receive connect in common intentions and common Masachim (screens), when all wish to unite in order to obtain the sublime goal, they are called “brothers.” This is why there is Malchut, Egypt, Pharaoh, and above it the entire house of Jacob. The symbol of the house of Jacob is the twelve brethren, HaVaYaH times three lines, four letters times three lines, which are the twelve brothers.
The filling of the Kli happens when there is food and drink. As on Purim, it requires two portions. This is all the light, the flavors that spread from the Peh (mouth) of the Partzuf downward. The inner light that spreads through the Partzuf is called “a meal.” If we do it in Partzufim that are integrated together, it is like the law of communicating vessels, where everyone fills up to the same level, which is called “a meal of brothers.” This is why it is the only condition where the term, “When brothers also sit together” (Psalms 133:1) holds true.
From The Zohar: And the Men Were Afraid because They Were Brought into Joseph’s House
“The good inclination needs the joy of Torah, and the evil inclination needs the joy of wine, adultery, and pride. This is why man needs to always anger it from that great day, judgment day, the day of account, when all that protects a person are the good deeds that he does in this world so they will protect him at that time.”
Zohar for All, Miketz (At the End), item 198
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This Week’s Torah Portion | November 17 – November 23, 2013 – Kislev 14 – Kislev 20, 5774
In A Nutshell
In the portion, VaYeshev (And Jacob Sat), Jacob dwells in the land of Canaan. The protagonist of this portion is Joseph, Jacob’s youngest son. Joseph was gifted with a knack for prophetic dreams. In one of them, he sees himself ruling over his brothers. He tells them about it and turns their envy against him.
His brothers lead the cattle to Shechem to graze there, and his father sends him to them. On his way he meets a man and asks him about his brothers: “I seek my brethren” (Genesis 37:16). By the time Joseph finds his brothers they are already conspiring to kill him because of their envy. Reuben manages to prevent them from committing the murder and the brothers decide to throw Joseph in a pit, instead, in order to sell him to the Ishmaelites. A convoy of Midianites that passes by takes Joseph with them down to Egypt.
When Joseph arrives in Egypt, he hides in the home of Pharaoh’s captain of the guard, Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph but he refuses. She avenges by saying that Joseph tried to force himself on her, and he is thrown to the dungeon.
In the pit, Joseph meets Pharaoh’s two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker. He also discloses his gift for prophetic dreams. He predicts that within three weeks the chief cupbearer will be released, and the chief baker will be hanged. Joseph asks the chief cupbearer that upon his release he will go to Pharaoh and tell him that he, Joseph, is jailed for no reason and that he should be released.
Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman
This portion contains a profound spiritual message. It narrates the correction of the soul, which is man’s purpose in life, and the reason why the Torah was given. Initially, the evil inclination appears, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination, I have created for it the Torah as a spice,” for “the light in it reforms it.” “Reforming” means returning to a state of “love your neighbor as yourself.” That is, it brings a person back to the quality of bestowal, similarity with the Creator. This is what we should achieve, as it is written, “Return, Oh Israel unto the Lord your God” (Hosea 14:2).
The Torah demonstrates how the ego, the will to receive, keeps changing until it is corrected. In the example shown in this portion we see how all our qualities connect, then separate, manifesting imbalance among them until they beget more advanced qualities, closer to bestowal.
Jacob is the beginning of the quality of bestowal within us. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are the three patriarchs. Jacob is actually the senior, containing both the desire to receive and the desire to bestow within us, as it is only possible to elicit the middle line using both. The middle line, Jacob, is still not attributed to the level of execution in us, but to the level of decision making.
The expression of Jacob’s execution level is his sons, from Reuben, the eldest, to Joseph, the youngest. And precisely in this hierarchy do the qualities within us hang down. This is how our ego, in all its (still incorrect) forms, is corrected. The one who completes them is Joseph, the righteous. He gathers all the previous qualities into the quality of Yesod (foundation), which is called “the righteous Joseph,” or “a righteous, the foundation of the world” (Proverbs 10:25).
On the one hand Joseph is using all his previous qualities—Keter, Hochma, Bina, Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, and Yesod—but on the other hand he needs to lead them into Malchut. Malchut is the egoistic will to receive, Pharaoh, Egypt, symbolizing the entirety of our ego.
Once a person has reached a state of discovering within these qualities of bestowal—from Abraham, the quality of Hesed, through Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, and through Yesod, who is Joseph—it is time for one to part from the fathers and belong to the will to receive. First, one needs to permeate the will to receive, and then the will to receive permeates the person.
Once we are permeated with both qualities—reception and bestowal—we must see that first the quality of bestowal enters the quality of reception and begins to correct it. Only then does it begin to take out of the quality of reception, the part of the will to receive that can be corrected.
It is similar to an educator working with a band of criminals. He can take several of the more advanced members of the group, who are willing to work with him, and bring them out to correction. In other words, when entering the will to receive, it is exile. And when exiting it, one comes out with “great substance,” meaning with several “felons” who desire correction and consider it redemption. Once they are corrected, a person has “great substance” because one has acquired additional power in the general quality of bestowal.
Thus, through all those exiles and redemptions we correct the entire evil inclination. This is also how we understand the whole process, how we come to know the plan of creation, and how we become similar to the Creator. Joseph the last of the qualities of bestowal, goes through many processes in order to detach from the quality of bestowal and prepare to enter the quality of reception, i.e. Egypt.
This is the reason for his contention with his brothers. They hate him and reject him because they cannot understand what he wants. They do not understand how the youngest son can be the greatest. But Joseph is different from them.
Banim (sons) is three times Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey, in three lines. These are the twelve sons. Not only is he the greatest because he is willing to connect with them, but they also bow to him, surrender to him. As long as they do not enter Malchut, while he is already mingled with Egypt, they accept it because they see how that situation will later be realized in the will to receive for the purpose of correction. It follows that we go through stages that seem to us completely incorrect and bad, just as we do not understand the brothers’ conduct with Joseph.
Jacob is suffering but is helpless. The brothers wish to kill him and lie to Jacob, and strangers save Joseph from the pit, albeit their intention is to sell him. This is how we become detached from our previous qualities. We accumulate those previous qualities within the qualities of Yesod, the quality of Joseph, and we separate ourselves from using them. Put differently, we leave the land of Canaan and enter Egypt.
In Egypt, when we come in contact with the will to receive, when the quality of bestowal enters the will to receive, the will to receive immediately senses how much it can gain and profit from it. If it were just another form of reception it would not matter all that much. But if you can bestow in order to receive, as well, then you are like a merchant. You calculate every manner of bestowal that you add to the will to receive by connecting to everything, and through negotiation you can gain profits from them for yourself.
In this manner we discover that the quality of Joseph can be very lucrative to the will to receive. Such a person feels that he or she becomes shrewder, more powerful, more useful, and more successful than others. One does not behave aggressively in order to receive, but rather obtains by deliberation: “I will sell you this and you will sell me that.” It is a development of the ego.
This is why when the quality of Joseph mingles with our will to receive, as Joseph mingled with Egypt, it brings great profits to those who are with him in Egypt, according to the story, or to the person, meaning to one’s self-centered form.
In fact, the profit is so great that a person develops a desire to use it in order to receive, but the human in us cannot agree to it. This is what happened when Joseph arrived at the house of Potiphar. When he arrived at his house it was fine, but with his wife it was past the limit because here the human in us sees there is a desire to exploit it in order to receive, meaning to cut the person from one’s foundation, and this is something to which one cannot agree. When a person disagrees with it, one feels helpless, imprisoned, incarcerated.
That sensation lasts a long time and grows through the alien “forces,” the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, in the state of being in prison. These qualities within us are in touch with the Joseph in us. They bring him to Pharaoh and accompany him. The quality of the chief baker is destroyed because it belongs to the ego’s forces of bestowal, with which Joseph understands he cannot work. But the ego’s forces of reception—the chief cupbearer, which is tantamount to wine—are the ones that awaken. The chief cupbearer does not save Joseph right away, but only after a person awakens from the fall, from the descent.
In order to rise from one degree to the next, we dream. A dream is a state of losing the previous state and attaining a new one. A person needs to be inverted, to be reborn.
There are three states in a person: laying down, sitting, and standing. Laying down is the state of dreaming. When in that state, the head, body, and legs are all on the same level, indicating that a person has neither intellect nor wisdom. But it is precisely in this form that one acquires the Kelim (vessels) of the next degree and becomes inverted, just as a newborn baby emerges from its mother’s womb: while in the womb it is with its head up, toward birth it turns upside down, and once it’s out, it turns upward once again.
Laying down means losing all the Mochin (light of Hochma, wisdom) within a person. It is in this way that one should transfer from one state to the next. On the one hand, the previous degree is lost, and on the other hand, one begins to acquire the next degree, which becomes a whole new world for that person. This is the inner vision with which one begins to understand the meaning of “tomorrow,” the next degree to which one enters.
It is nothing like the dreams in our world. Rather, here the Torah is telling us about the entrance to a higher level. In the dream state, one sees oneself in more advanced forms, knows how to use such qualities as the chief cupbearer, the chief baker, and Pharaoh, and can advance with them because they are already formed within.
In the end, when Joseph is incarcerated because of Potiphar’s wife, he discovers within him the qualities of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker. Precisely because he kills the chief baker and nurtures the quality of the chief cupbearer, he arrives at the house of Pharaoh.
Throughout the evolution of the generations there is hatred between brothers—between Cain and Abel, between Isaac and Ishmael, and between Jacob and Esau. This hatred is defined as Klipa (shell/peel) and Kedusha (sanctity/holiness). In this portion, there are twelve brothers, Jacob’s sons, which are man’s qualities, but there is such hatred among them that they are willing to kill the quality called Joseph.
However, the hatred is only toward Joseph. They understand one another. Each of them represents a different quality within us. We have many qualities, but no knowledge how to integrate them together in the middle line. We cannot understand how to work with the various qualities together, meaning with our egos, our will to receive.
The interesting thing about Joseph is that he tells his brothers, “A person has an egoistic desire, not the qualities of bestowal that you have. That is, I can connect your qualities to the egoistic desire; I know how to do it.” Therefore, each one who represents a certain quality knows that through bestowal he will achieve something, from the right or from the left—to Hesed, to Gevura, to Tifferet, to Netzah, to Hod, except for Yesod.
The entire structure of twelve brothers, twelve sons of Jacob, is that they all work above the ego, above the will to receive, bestowing in order to bestow. It is so because the middle line, Jacob, who still belongs to the Rosh (head), to the degree of the patriarchs, begets all the qualities of the brothers except for that of Joseph, and they are all in bestowal, too, from below upward.
Questions and Answers
So why did Jacob understand it and even love Joseph?
What does it mean that each brother represents a certain quality?
The twelve sons of Jacob are qualities that relate to bestowal. Actually, they are eleven because Joseph has no quality; he is merely a collection of those qualities.
The idea behind the quality of Joseph in us is that one can take all those qualities, merge them in different combinations, and use them with one’s ego. In other words, one can begin to work with the ego so it would work with those qualities, as well, so it would support them. In this manner one can correct oneself. These qualities do not understand how it is possible to steal in order to bestow.
What is a quality? Is stealing a quality or are anger and laziness qualities?
Hesed, for instance, is the quality of bestowal. In a state of Hesed, a person is in Hassadim (mercy). Such a person gives, contributes, and does all that he or she can. This begs the question, “How can one’s ego join one’s Hesed?” A person can give but only if it is in order to gain profits. In fact, this is how Joseph is used in Egypt, first in Potiphar’s house, then with Pharaoh.
However, the qualities of bestowal themselves do not understand how it is possible to use the ego in order to support them. This is the essence of the contrast between Abraham and Isaac, who loved Ishmael because the pure quality cannot maintain its clean form and at the same time connect with Malchut, the will to receive.
There is a very special and complicated process here of hatred and misunderstandings between them. But Joseph can connect the qualities of bestowal to the will to receive so that eventually it will benefit the qualities of bestowal. The brothers—qualities of bestowal within us—do not understand how this is possible, so they object. We, too, do not understand how this is possible.
The wisdom of Kabbalah teaches us how to use the qualities of bestowal correctly in order to correct our egos. Besides Kabbalah, no one deals with it because no one has the three-line method. All religions, faiths, and methods are seemingly above the ego; we ostensibly rise above the ego as though we are not selfish and are all in bestowal.
Does that mean that the “self” lives between the two lines?
Yes, only the qualities of Joseph and Jacob. Jacob is in this quality in the middle line in the Rosh, and Joseph is at the end of the middle line, at the entrance to Malchut, because he is Yesod. In Joseph there is contact with the house of Pharaoh from the start, and then with Pharaoh himself. This is why he is misunderstood; the brothers cannot feel what he wants to do. They think that his contact with the ego, the will to receive, will harm them.
We, too, are the same inside, and so is human society. We can see that everyone hates the wisdom of Kabbalah. No one understands what it does, and no one even knows what it’s for because Kabbalah deals with strange things—man’s correction, the correction of the soul. It seems unreasonable for one to take those sublime qualities—bestowal and Godliness—and connect them to the ego, to the desire to steal, rape, to the worst levels of the ego. But it is for this reason that this method is called “the wisdom of Kabbalah (Heb: reception),” as it teaches how to use the worst will to receive in order to achieve love precisely through it.
All other methods cannot achieve man’s correction, a state of “love your neighbor as yourself.” This is why everyone forgets this rule of the Torah and do not deal with it. Only the wisdom of Kabbalah corrects us. We must remember that all those who work “above” the ego, every kind of religion and faith, do not understand how it is possible to correct man’s ego, so they perform superficial gestures without diving into the ego and genuinely tending to it. They do not deal with the essence: “I have created the evil inclination; I have created for it the Torah as a spice.”
In this portion we see for the first time how difficult it is to deal with it. Henceforth there will be a reason to all the ruins, transgressions, the problems in the desert, and all the wars. The problem that still remains is how to properly join the qualities of bestowal with the qualities of reception in us—to correct our egos.
Can we deduce from that regarding what is happening in the world today? After all today the world is also in a type of slavery—we are slaves to our egos. Who is today’s Joseph?
Today’s Josephs are those who have the method for correcting the ego, which is appearing in the world through the upper force. In other words, it is those who study the wisdom of Kabbalah, as it is written, “I have created for it the Torah as a spice” because “the light in it reforms it.” The method of the light is the wisdom of Kabbalah, and it is very difficult to explain it to the world. It is also difficult to accept that there is a way to correct the ego, the mutual hatred, the crisis we are experiencing, which is a result of our egos.
Joseph was not trying to explain anything; he was simply sold to slavery, went into Egypt, and mingled there. Why do we need to explain it today?
Today this is what we need to do—explain by disseminating the wisdom of Kabbalah, which is called “the Messiah’s Shofar (horn).” We must circulate it and spread it throughout the world because by that we become included in the nations of the world like Joseph in Egypt. In this manner we sow the sparks of bestowal that will make everyone begin to understand the reason for all the troubles until they, too, can rise.
The troubles are intensifying and there is no way to avoid them because our hanging down, our evolution, is continuing. There will be many more troubles we will not be able to avoid. The present state of affairs is a cause for war. The war of Gog and Magog stems from the same reason, as do all our wars. We are standing at a tipping point, and this portion is very pertinent and meaningful.
The focal point of the problem is hatred among brothers (unfounded hatred), and this is the state we are in today. On the one hand, it seems as though there is nothing we can do; hatred exists among people, as well as toward the wisdom of Kabbalah. Moreover, it is expected to intensify because it is hard for people to understand the wisdom of Kabbalah despite all the explanations. On the other hand, this very point reveals the two opposites within us: the soul and the body. It is impossible to disconnect them, and Joseph is the point that connects them.
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Joseph is Yesod, a quality that summarizes all the good qualities in us, the qualities of bestowal. It is a collection of all the qualities of bestowal, and because it has nothing of its own but the collection of prior qualities, it can connect with the quality of reception.
This quality can connect within it all the qualities of bestowal in its higher part, and all the qualities of reception in its lower part. It is Joseph because it collects all the qualities within it.
Joseph is also called “the foundation of the world” because the world truly appears in this quality, which is a collection of two forces—bestowal and reception—where the Creator and the creature meet.
The striped tunic is three stripes, which are actually two, seemingly black and white, because it is made of wool, which is both black and white. However, out of the black and the white emerges a middle line that does not really exist. It does not exist in the tunic, but it is the human who makes it. When wearing the striped tunic, a person becomes the middle line between the two stripes.
Joseph understands that without the power of all the qualities above him—his brothers—he will not be able to handle Egypt. This is why when he meets them in Egypt he says, “how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to also sit together” (Psalms, 133:1). It means that now it really does become apparent how good it is that they are mingled in Egypt, and that an opening for the correction of Egypt has been opened, a door for the correction of man’s ego.
From The Zohar: And a Man Found Him
“Joseph was the upper covenant, Yesod de [of] ZA. As long as the covenant, which is Joseph, existed, Divinity existed as it—should, peacefully in Israel. Since Joseph, the upper covenant, left the world, for he was sold into slavery, the covenant and Divinity and Israel were all exiled.”
Zohar for All, VaYeshev (And Jacob Sat), item 104
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This Week’s Torah Portion | November 10 – November 16, 2013 – Kislev 7 – Kislev 13, 5774
In A Nutshell
In the portion, VaYishlach (And Jacob Sent), Jacob wants to make peace with Esau after running away from him and being with Laban for many years. Esau sends angels to Jacob, and they inform him that Esau is headed toward him with four hundred men.
Jacob is alarmed by the looming encounter, and at night, an angel appears before him. Jacob struggles with it and defeats it, but is hurt in the thigh sinew. The angels alert Jacob that his name has changed as of that moment from Jacob to Israel. When Esau comes, they embrace and make peace, and Jacob moves to the area of Shechem.
Later, the portion speaks of Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, who is abducted by Shechem—the son of Hamor, the Hivite—who wants to marry her. Jacob’s sons allow the marriage on condition that all the men in the city perform circumcision. Once they perform the circumcision, Jacob’s sons kill all the men, bring Dinah back, and loot the city.
The Creator instructs Jacob to move to Beit El, where the Creator blesses Jacob with many descendants and the inheritance of the land. At the end of the portion Rachel dies when she delivers her second son, Benjamin. Isaac also dies and is buried by his sons, Esau and Jacob.
Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman
This portion deals with very deep scrutinies that one makes within the soul in order to correct it from the intention to receive, from its egotistical form. We need these scrutinies for the soul because it was broken in a process known as “the breaking of the vessels,” the ruin.
Once a person achieves the degree of Jacob, which is still a degree of Katnut (infancy), a person discovers that it is impossible to move forward. Having risen above the ego, above the will to receive, and having reached a state of Katnut, called Galgalta and Eynaim, leaves one nothing with which to advance. In order to advance, one must find within oneself additional inclinations, additional broken Kelim (vessels). Upon their correction, the person will be able to rise along with them. In other words, whenever we are in a certain state, we must first descend, mingle with the negative, and only then rise to the positive.
The portion speaks of precisely that state. That is, a person who reaches Jacob’s state and cannot advance further must reconnect with the Esau within—the evil inclination that is still not corrected. Such a person heads toward it despite fearing that the egotistical desire might suddenly overpower, that perhaps he or she will not be able to come out of that state.
This calls for a special preparation. The text narrates that Jacob divides everything, the women, the children, and all the people with him. In other words, one sets one’s desires straight, arranging all of one’s qualities in an internal preparation for the disclosure of the flaws within, in order to properly cope with them.
Questions and Answers
It is written that Jacob comes out with a gift, a prayer, and with war. He prepares every tactic.
True, he divides his entire household. He is told that Esau is headed toward him with four hundred men. Four hundred is a complete measure, four Behinot (discernments), and each Behina (singular of Behinot) is a hundred fold its power.
On the one hand, Jacob fears such power. On the other hand, he knows he has no choice. To advance toward Dvekut (adhesion) with the Creator, he must go through those stages.
At night, Jacob struggles with Esau’s minister and undergoes a special correction, which seems in him as a flaw in the thigh sinew. But he discovers that that flaw actually keeps him. For this reason, he receives a blessing that all the revelations he will have from the part of Esau in him—symbolizing his negative qualities—will appear only in a manner of cause and consequence, to the extent and in the form he can correct without failing. Although additional failures await ahead, such as with Dinah, he is guaranteed that in the end it is precisely the big ego that the Creator has created in him that will assist his progress.
Therefore, following the meeting with Esau, Jacob moves to Shechem equipped with greater forces, and is now about to rise from the degree of Jacob, which is the Katnut of the soul, having only vessels of bestowal, to Gadlut (adulthood), to Israel.
Israel means that all of one’s desires, all the qualities that have appeared thus far are aiming straight to the Creator. One who aims to resemble the Creator, to cling to the Creator, and therefore performs actions in Jacob’s Ladder, reaches a state called Yashar El (straight to God), Ysrael (Israel). Going by another way will be as it is written, “They are all as beasts” (Psalms, 49:13). If we do not engage in correction of the soul using the wisdom of Kabbalah, we are all as the “nations of the world,” as Esau, uncorrected.
Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, is already connected to the next degree. This is why Shechem finds her so attractive. There is rape here, coercion, which means that vessels of bestowal come under the vessels of reception. Although she is in Din (judgment) as her name, Dinah, implies, this great will to receive comes over her. This is why there are only two corrections that Jacob’s sons can perform: the first is the circumcision of Shechem’s sons; the second is killing them, meaning departure of the upper light from within those Kelim, which renders them dead.
What does the looting of the city imply?
A city is a place of the will to receive in Kelim that compel you to detach the will to receive from the light of life. Otherwise you will not shift into correction of the will to receive. In our world, if you kill someone it is considered a felony. In the spiritual world, when the upper force takes all the pleasures from our desires, from our Kelim, removing the sensation of life and vitality, and we feel as though we are dead, that sensation of death helps us achieve life. In this life we connect to the upper light and fill ourselves with eternal pleasures, in attainment of Godliness, and we feel our eternal, complete life.
The killing mentioned in the portion relates to the question why we are killing. It is similar to a person with cancer. That person fights to kill the tumor. Therefore, it depends what type of killing we are talking about, to which discernments within us we relate. In this case, the killing of the city is in one’s best interest; it is a correction.
Would it not be enough to settle for the circumcision?
No. Circumcision is when you divide your desires into good and bad. If after the circumcision there are still desires that cannot be corrected, you must detach them for the time being from the light, and this is the killing. By that you save Dinah, who must be connected to the middle line for the time being, to Jacob, by which he ascends to Beit El (the house of God).
The Creator says to Jacob, “Now you are ready to rise to the next degree, called Beit El.” When Jacob comes there he receives the blessing, vessels of bestowal, the forces with which he can maintain the degree and achieve the revelation of spirituality on that level.
Jacob receives the blessing that the whole earth, the entire desire, will be his. That is, in the end he will gradually be corrected, and then “the whole earth is before you” (Genesis, 13:9). Thus, even if the desires are by and large dominated by other nations, meaning they are not connected to bestowal and love of others, it is still possible to correct them into having the aim to bestow.
The end of the portion speaks of the death of Rachel and Isaac.
Both Esau and Jacob take part in Isaac’s burial. This is the correction of the previous degree, which must be buried. Burial is the construction of the next degree atop the previous one.
Jacob and Esau are conflicting qualities; what does it mean that they embrace?
There are many levels of connection between qualities, even among conflicting qualities. Nearing means an embrace of the right, an embrace of the left, a kiss, a high Zivug (coupling), and a low Zivug, such as “His left is under my head, and his right shall embrace me” (Song of Songs, 2:6). In other words, there are many kinds of correction of the evil inclination.
Jacob is willing to embrace with Esau, to come in contact with him after the corrections he has undergone at night. One who goes through these corrections—in very complicated situations, at night, with Esau’s minister—is ready to cope with the evil inclination, to sort it, and to correct those parts that one can now correct and rise to a higher level.
There are always exits and entrances, like Jacob who leaves and returns to the land of Israel, who escapes Esau, has experiences, and is now strong enough to cope.
What did Jacob go through in Laban’s house?
This is how we come out, degree by degree. If a person is on a certain degree and needs to climb up to the next spiritual degree, that person must take some more of the ego, of one’s will to receive, and correct it into working in order to bestow. The newly corrected desire joins the soul, and thus a person ascends a degree. In the degree that has now grown, a person receives additional revelation of Godliness, greater connection with Godliness, and the ascent continues until a person reaches the final state, where one’s entire soul is corrected.
Why is Jacob certain now that he will have the strength to cope with Esau?
Jacob received a blessing from Esau’s minister; he connected to that force in a similar manner to the story with Laban. He received that strength from the left, and he can correct it into working in order to bestow. It is called a “blessing.” A blessing means that alongside the revelation of the ego comes the upper light, helps a person sort out the will to receive, the new, corrupted desire, and scrutinize which part of the desire can be added to the new state, and which part cannot. Then, with the new addition, a person achieves a new degree.
The Creator blesses Jacob with many children. What does it mean in spirituality?
Many children means that the Creator blesses a person with correcting all of one’s desires, which will rise out of the big Malchut, Malchut of Ein Sof (infinity), out of the entire creation, so one may correct them into working in order to bestow. This is why he is called “Israel,” Yashar El (straight to God), actually dominating the whole of creation, in a tendency toward mutual bestowal.
You Shall Not Plow With an Ox and an Ass
“The only desire of the degrees of impurity is to attack the holy degrees. They all lurked and attacked Jacob, who was holy, as it is written, ‘and Jacob came whole.’ First, the serpent bit him, as it is written, ‘he touched the hollow of his thigh.’ It is said about Esau’s minister that he was riding a serpent. Now the Hamor [ass] bit him, Shechem the son of Hamor, which is the Klipa of the right.”
Zohar for All, VaYishlach (And Jacob Sent), item 146
We must always consider the negative forces as an opportunity to rise to the next degree. There is no evil in the world, not even now with all the troubles and problems that are emerging. The important thing is to know how to use these forces correctly, as the Torah teaches us. Our problem is that we are not working according to the Torah. If we acted according to what the wisdom of Kabbalah explains regarding how to perform these corrections, we would see the world as nothing but opportunities for better states.
Who makes the correction, the Creator or the surrounding light?
The surrounding light makes the correction but the person needs to draw it. Why did we receive this instruction? After all, Torah means instruction. Although the light in it reforms, it follows our drawing, according to our understanding of how we need to be corrected. We must do all the acts of scrutiny, division, and sorting with ourselves and with the general reality, and then ask for the correction. Although we do not have the power of correction, we, like little children, must constantly exert to understand and sort things out as they should be. This is our work.
If angels are forces, what does it mean to struggle with an angel? Is it a person fighting gravity, magnetism?
A person is told—as is written in the abovementioned excerpt from The Zohar—that an angel comes to a person either from the right or from the left. There are different angels that a person must deal with in a certain manner in order to add them to the middle line, called Adam (man).
The important thing is how we relate to the states, correct?
What else is needed? We are in Nature, which in Gematria is Elokim (God). The laws of Nature or the commandments of the Creator are one and the same. The Torah teaches us how to use everything within us, all the elements, qualities, the internal, as well as the external.
Especially now, we are in such a confused world that no one knows what to do; we have no idea what tomorrow will bring and it seems vague and threatening. If people knew what is written about it in the Torah they would understand that we have an opportunity to rise to the next degree, to a completely different level, to the revelation of Godliness. The world is already quite close to a great and special correction.
Is it up to the Creator or up to us?
It is up to us. There is one goal before us, and two ways to get there: the left way is the path of suffering. The right (side) way is the path of Torah, the path of the light that corrects. The left way means going with the rod that develops us and compels us to advance. The right way means drawing the light that reforms.
In any case, our ego, the will to receive, the evil inclination in us, must be corrected. How it will happen depends on the way we will choose and on our understanding that everything that appears is only so we may correct ourselves, meaning to make us draw the light that reforms.
This brings us back to the wisdom of Kabbalah, which we must use because it is the interior of the Torah, the law of truth, the law of the light. And precisely by using it correctly, we can draw the light that reforms. This path will spare us blows because we will advance nicely and easily from degree to degree up Jacob’s ladder.
And Jacob Sent Angels
“‘For He will give His angels charge over you, to keep you.’ When a person arrives in the world, the evil inclination immediately comes along with him and always complains about him, as it is written, ‘sin crouches at the door.’ Sin crouches—this is the evil inclination. ‘At the door’—the door of the womb, meaning as soon as one is born.”
Zohar for All, VaYishlach (And Jacob Sent), item 1
This is how we are born, with a small, self-centered will to receive. Even after we develop, we are still little animals, as it is written, “They are all as beasts” (Psalms, 49:13). Although it appears to us that there are very wicked people in the world, this is not considered wickedness. Wickedness appears when a person truly wants to harm the public, to harm humanity. An ordinary person is neither good nor bad; he is inconsequential. Such a person is operated by Nature, and there is nothing that comes inherently from the person.
Today this evil inclination is appearing throughout the world because Elokim, which in Gematria is Nature, is showing us that the whole world is interconnected, therefore we, too, must be connected. Through this connection we will reach equivalence of form, Dvekut (adhesion) with the Creator. If we resist that connection and act to the contrary, egotistically, becoming more closed within and removed from others, this is precisely how we become wicked.
The evil inclination first appears when the world begins to manifest itself as circular, connected, integral, global. Yet, we have not “jumped in”; we have not united and have not connected. We are still immersed in our egos, in the evil inclination, the exact opposite of the condition that the Creator is presenting before us.
We are at the threshold of destruction, yet people will not change their views.
This is the problem. This is why the wisdom of Kabbalah is surfacing after thousands of years in concealment. The idea is that through it the people of Israel will understand that it has a very important role to play, being “a light for the nations” (Isaiah, 42:6), and that it must correct itself. We are merely a transition for the correction of the entire world. If we do not realize the correction in time, the whole world will demand it of the Jews without even knowing why, and hatred toward Jews will intensify. Therefore, we should act fast.
What exactly is it that we need to correct?
We need to be a society that is conducted in mutual guarantee, living by the conditions that existed at the foot of Mount Sinai, where all are ready to unite “as one man with one heart.” Thus we will become a nation, and only under that condition will we continue to exist.
For now, we truly exist by the grace of God, “on probation,” until we implement it, as mentioned in Baal HaSulam’s essay, “A Speech for the Completion of The Zohar.” But our time might run out and we will receive no further extensions, and then we will not be able to live in the land of Israel; we will have to flee because this land will reject us once again, as it is written in the Torah, in The Zohar, and in many other places.
Today we have a great opportunity, when we all demand the correction in the world. Although we do not know what it is, we, as owners of the method and as the ones in possession of the Torah, must reveal it to everyone, but first and foremost to ourselves. This is why we must unite, be “as one man with one heart,” connect together as a nation, connect to Yashar El, and be “the nation of Israel.” We need to grip to the middle line and begin to rise with it toward Dvekut with the Creator, toward greater and greater bonding between us in “love your neighbor as yourself,” brotherly love. Once we have lost that love, the Temple was ruined, so we must return to that state and pull after us the rest of humanity.
So is Jacob connection and Esau separation, and is our task to overcome separation through connection?
Precisely. These are two conflicting forces, and we need to “enthrone” the Jacob in us over the Esau in us, and do the same in our society. People need to understand the message, the essence, the purpose of this conflict, and act accordingly.
If You Faint in the Day of Adversity
“But one out of a thousand is the evil inclination, which is one of those 1,000 damagers, which stand at the left, because he rises up and takes permission, and subsequently descends and puts to death. Hence, if a man walks on the path of truth, that evil inclination becomes his slave, as it is written, ‘Better is he that is a lowly one who has a servant.’ At that time, he rises and becomes an advocate and speaks before the Creator in favor of the man.”
Zohar for All, VaYishlach (And Jacob Sent), item 185
 http://www.kabbalahblog.info/2013/11/glossary-vayishlach-and-jacob-sent-parsha-weekly-torah-portion/#“When Israel do not engage in Torah, the left intensifies and the power of the idol worshipping nations grows. They suckle from the left, rule over Israel, and inflict upon them laws that they cannot endure. Because of that, Israel were exiled and scattered among the nations” (Zohar for All, BeShalach (When Pharaoh Sent), item 306).
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The struggle is an internal one between the ego, which pulls us toward worldly pleasures such as food, sex, family, money, respect, knowledge, and power, and the purpose of life, which is to discover the upper realm, to which we need to rise, to a complete, eternal life.
Also, we need to do it now, as it is written, “You will see your world in your life” (Masechet Berachot, 17a). Here in our lives is where we discover the eternal life of the soul, which is why we live in two worlds. We need to come to a state where the death of the body does not feel to us as death at all, as if we have lost anything of ourselves. Rather, we remain because we discover that the upper degree of life is several times greater than the sensation of the physical life.
This is the goal we should achieve, and we can only achieve it through a struggle by a group, a society, by studying the right sources. To rise above the physical, corporeal life, we must not slight them, but use them in order to rise.
Reconciliation and peace mean that for now, we cannot cope with our evil inclination and turn it into a good inclination, using it in order to bestow, since we have to turn the qualities that existed in us as negative—which we were using only for our own pleasure and against others—into qualities of bestowal upon others.
Is there no conflict between the two qualities?
There is no conflict. It is written that the angel of death becomes a holy angel. We neither kill, nor slight or delete anything in ourselves; we only correct the way we use our qualities.
Ysrael (Israel) means Yashar El (straight to God). It means that a person aims directly to the quality of the Creator. The quality of the Creator is love and bestowal, and we constantly strive to reach it. We have several means to do that: the teacher, books, group, and friends. If I use them properly, according to the method explained in the books, the one that Abraham was the first to speak and write about, we can perform the corrections quite easily. In this way each of us, and all of us together will become Israel. A person from Israel is each of us, and all of us together are the people (or nation) of Israel.
A circumcision is like a covenant. When I perform a correction in my will to receive, I always put aside those desires that I still cannot correct, and deal only with those that I can add to Bina, to bestowal. Therefore, out of all my desires (which are divided into 620 desires), I cut off the part that is in order to receive—which exists in me for now, and which I cannot correct—and put it in the dust.
This act symbolizes our inability to correct that part. However, it will be corrected at the end of correction. It is the stony heart, which must be corrected, as it is written that we should actually perform the correction on the heart.
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1. A Teacher
The study of Kabbalah does not just include work in the books. Physical actions for the benefit of the group, organizing lectures and Kabbalah study groups are more beneficial than the study itself. Serving the teacher is also more beneficial than studying with him. In his “Speech for the Completion of The Zohar,” Rav Yehuda Ashlag quotes the following saying of ancient Kabbalist sages: “Make for yourself a rav and buy yourself a friend.”
In other words, choose a person whom you think is important and make that person your teacher. Then, try to please him or her. Your teacher is very important to you. By pleasing your teacher, you’ll get used to doing for others, and by the force of habit you’ll be able to do the same for the Creator. By being spiritually close to your teacher, you’ll receive the degree by which the teacher appreciates the Creator. That will give you a chance to do at least something for the Creator, and enter the spiritual world this way. At the same time, you will acquire the sensation of the greatness of the Creator and you’ll be able to advance to complete adhesion with Him.
Observing your teacher’s requests with the aim to fulfill them allows you to attain spiritual resemblance with them. You’ll be able to receive their thoughts and knowledge, and above all, attain their love and attraction for the Creator, which would give you the ability to develop and progress spiritually. However, studying with your teacher is always motivated by the desire to attain personal knowledge for yourself. As a result, the study does not bring with it spiritual nearness to the Creator. In other words, by doing things for the teacher, you attain their thoughts and by studying you will attain only their words.
You can only attain their thoughts if the motivation to serve the teacher stems from the desire to please the teacher, and not yourself. In the opposite situation, when our motivation is our desire to serve for self-gratification, studying is the goal and becomes more important than serving the teacher.
2. A Group Environment
If the environment around us does not praise the glory of the Creator, i.e. the exaltedness of the quality of love and bestowal, we will never be able to attain a spiritual degree. Therefore, it is always recommended that we as students regard ourselves as the lowest (spiritually) compared to our group. This enables the student to adopt the state of mind of the collective. Our environment is necessary to attain the purpose of creation, which is why you should “buy yourself a friend.”
Why do we study in a group? This enables us to utilize a very special means in Kabbalah. Studying the material with others of the same intent bonds us to the group’s desire. This bonding allows us to humble ourselves with respect, creating an entirely different kind of acceleration. A person who studies within a group can actually reach spiritual levels after only a few hours, while it might have taken them years of study on their own.
So we actually have two ways to accelerate the attainment of our goal. First is the study of Kabbalah, which moves our efforts towards our goal from a subconscious process to a conscious process. Then, we have the group, which dramatically accelerates the conscious process. Using such a combined technique, we can spiritually advance literally thou- sands of times faster than we could by taking the unconscious route.
When we study to attain spirituality, time is of crucial importance, as we must first grow accustomed to spiritual concepts and definitions, and then live in them. By “time,” we mean that changes occur in us consistently and at a great speed. We don’t feel them; in fact, we may feel as though nothing is happening. Only afterwards do we suddenly and very profoundly realize all the changes that have occurred.
This is a result of those little inner changes that we do not feel. Our sensitivity threshold is very high and only from a certain degree onward do we begin to feel those changes. Everything that goes through us leaves its mark on our souls, and after some time the change suddenly appears. Therefore, the most important thing to do is to read, all the time, no matter how much of the text we absorb.
There are texts that must be read and reread according to the general curriculum, and there are texts that one should read only when in the mood. Such are letters or articles about the feeling of the spiritual. It is said that when we ascend, when we feel close to the material, it is good to read just the things that touch our feelings; i.e., where understanding will come through our hearts. The problem in attaining the spiritual is that we do not have the correct senses to do so. The spiritual can be acquired slowly and gradually when the heart allows it. Thus, there is a time to use the brain, and there is a time to use the heart.
Sometimes when we simply hold a book of Kabbalah, we immediately get all sorts of disturbances that “crawl” into our minds, until we just want to drop our studies. But as soon as we are sent pain from above, we should take a Kabbalah book in our hand and then we will have no problem focusing on its words.
If we use these three basic tools, the teacher, the group and the authentic books according to our maximal ability, we will safely remain on the path and advance spiritually as fast as possible.
“3 Things You Need to Make Spiritual Progress” is based on the book, Wondrous Wisdom: Everyone’s Guide to the Study of Authentic Kabbalah by Michael R. Kellogg.
We cannot live without pleasure. After all, our very essence is the will to receive delight and pleasure, and the purpose of creation is the attainment of perfect pleasure.
There’s nothing wrong with the pleasure itself; we must correct its objective, not the desire itself.
So what do I do with my desires? I want a big, beautiful house; though a small one will do just fine. I want a new car, though the old one still runs. As for my job, I’m still interested in one that bears more responsibility. Do I have to clear out these desires in order to make room for more study?
Driven By Necessity
Anything in our lives—our choices, the steps we take, our preferences, and the way we evaluate our lives—is defined by how necessary we feel these things are. It is said that “All that a man hath will he give for his life” (Job 2:4). On the one hand, this quote can be interpreted this way: a person would sacrifice everything for life, health and the possibility to go on living. On the other hand, you can say that one would give everything away (life included) for something without which one’s life would be pointless. We can find examples of this throughout history. Even in our materialistic time, everything depends on our appreciation of both material and spiritual values. These values change with our development, making self-coercion unnecessary.
Drawing the Reforming Light Instead of Asceticism and Restrictions
In the “Introduction to the Study of the Ten Sefirot,” Rav Yehuda Ashlag explains that in the past, at the dawn of history, one who wanted to study Kabbalah and be introduced to spirituality had to restrict oneself and live on meager bread and water. But today, after corrections have been made in the world by more recent Kabbalists, along with the development of the souls from generation to generation, all it takes to reach the Upper World is the study of Kabbalah.
Therefore, the asceticism and restrictions that people used to practice are no longer necessary today. Kabbalists have drawn the Upper Light toward us, especially since the time of the Ari (16th century). As it says, “The Light in it reforms,” meaning the study of Kabbalah awakens an invisible illumination of Upper Light that corrects us.
Kabbalists explain that the study of Kabbalah awakens this illumination within the disciple more intensively than does any other study. Therefore, they advise anyone who wants to attain spirituality and the purpose of creation to study Kabbalah. Of course you can go on building houses, buying cars and giving expensive gifts, but it’s important to maintain regular studies, read any time you can, and read only the writings of genuine Kabbalists. That study will bring you new internal situations and new values by which you’ll make your future decisions.
The primary and the secondary interests in your life will gradually change, but this change must come from within you, not by coercion. There should be no coercion in spirituality, and the source of the coercion in our world is the shells. The answer is to keep studying Kabbalah and be yourself at all times. In time, your soul will guide you and tell you how much energy to put into spirituality and how much to expend on activities in this world.
Changing States with the Help of the Study
When we begin to study, sometimes we feel miserable because we don’t know how to change our aim. I have no clue how to invert this, so that none of the things I do will be for my personal gain. Such feelings are good at the beginning of our studies. They show that we’re progressing toward spirituality, toward the barrier, toward the sensations of the Upper World.
Each degree, each spiritual situation we experience, must die or disappear. In other words, we must discard the previous degree of growth as unworthy of our new state. The same applies to souls: new life begins only after death has occurred and the process of decay is completed.
Therefore, our current situation ends when it becomes intolerable. The desire to move on to the next phase is formed out of the intolerable present state. Disagreement with the present situation brings with it a new situation. Therefore, our solution lies in focusing solely on the quantity and the quality of our studies. We should read a lot (quantity) with the thought that each and every word should bring us new powers and change us from within (quality).
With the help of our studies we can draw the influence of the Light on us performing these necessary changes within, leading us closer and closer to our final purpose.
“Kabbalah: The Method of How to Receive Pleasure” is based on the book, Wondrous Wisdom: Everyone’s Guide to the Study of Authentic Kabbalah by Michael R. Kellogg.
When we study Kabbalah correctly, the surrounding Light that is awakened works our souls and initiates the next spiritual state. That state will arrive by itself and replace the present state. By making considerable efforts in the study of Kabbalah, a person can accelerate personal changes. That, in fact, is the only freedom of choice we have in this world.
Baal HaSulam writes in the “Introduction to the Study of the Ten Sefirot” that the Creator rests one’s hand on good fortune and tells him: “Choose this for yourself.” So where, then, is the choice? The choice is, in fact, that either we are pushed from behind, which we will feel as pain, or we run forward by ourselves, ahead of the pain.
This is our only freedom of choice.
Anything that happens in our world, anything that people do, is all predetermined, because all our characteristics and our environment, both internal and external, are predefined by the Creator. Freedom of choice exists only for those who crave spirituality and only by their personal efforts.
Every student wants to know how to accelerate his or her spiritual progress and in so doing, avoid the agony. You can do this in the following ways:
- Read the books of Baal HaSulam, Rabash, and Dr. Laitman. (Ed. These are all available for free to read in the Kabbalah Library).
- Join a group that aims to discover the objective of creation. Be active and do things for the members of the group and the spiritual leader. (Ed. The most recommended way to find a group is to join the Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education Center, and go through the courses that take students step-by-step through Kabbalah’s fundamental principles, basic concepts and lead into how to work in a group.)
- Begin to write everything you know about spirituality. That way, you can correct your current spiritual degree more quickly and create a need to attain the next degree.
- Take an active part in sharing the wisdom of the Kabbalah. This is the most effective means of all.
Understanding “Negative” States
People often have questions about so called “bad situations.” Actually, from a Kabbalistic point of view, bad situations do not exist. The Creator gives us everything for the sole purpose of correcting us. There is the Creator, there is us and there is what we receive from Him.
It is said “The Light of the Creator makes one weary.” The Light shows us who and what we are, that we’re only tiny egoists. However, it shows us our weaknesses—our enslavement to our ego—only to the degree that we can bear what we see. The more we develop and correct, the more obvious it becomes that we are lowly, and far different from the Creator. We are shown this to correct ourselves by simply recognizing our own nature, and then rejecting it. Each time we read the right books, we will realize more and more deeply who we are and who the Creator is.
Getting Closer to the Creator by Drawing His Force on Ourselves
What is the meaning of the study of Kabbalah? When we begin our studies, according to our progress in life, we begin to aim our actions toward the goal, which is to attain a spiritual contact with the Creator. We go under His private Providence exactly to that extent, which is the purpose of our search, though our search is still an unconscious one.
If we read only genuine books about the spiritual world, if that is what we find interesting, we are already under the private Providence of the Creator. The Creator guides everyone, but He guides us personally. Every soul receives the Light from Above with growing intensity, and there- fore develops in accordance with the purpose of creation. This is called “general Providence.” But when He takes us out of the ranks to promote us faster and pull us toward Him, it is called “private Providence.”
In a state of Private Providence, we begin to feel ups and downs. These will be expressed in our sensation of the Creator or its absence, according to our own attributes. We will stop looking at life as others do. While others say, “Thank God another day went by. I stayed healthy, I did a few things,” we, on the other hand, will start evaluating ourselves in greater detail.
We will ask ourselves, “Am I closer to the Creator today? Do I have a desire for Him?” Even if our answers are negative, they are nonetheless a testimony to our progress.
Contrary to all religions and philosophies, Kabbalah states clearly and unequivocally that spiritual ascent means increased pleasure. The beginning of the path includes the study of the Kabbalah, while the reader maintains a regular way of life without change or limitations. But since our desires influence our acts, if we want to achieve something sublime, we must act accordingly.
Thus, we see that the correction is a process involving the effect of the Upper Light on us. It is not a process of restriction by coercion. That is precisely the difference between Kabbalah and religion: Kabbalah activates the power of the Creator— it is not an oppressing force from the outside. Therefore, when we receive more and more strength from Above, it opens up the channels for greater desires, which can then be corrected and used appropriately.
“Studying Kabbalah: Its Purpose & Some Tips” is based on the book, Wondrous Wisdom: Everyone’s Guide to the Study of Authentic Kabbalah by Michael R. Kellogg.
Once you have recognized that burning question within you that demands you seek answers, you must also have an initial desire for the Creator. If it’s there, you need nothing more!
If you have been endowed with such a desire, the whole process is in your hands from that moment on, because all the forces you need are already in your soul.
All it takes is to develop them, and that’s your work. It is in your power to do so because your unique body was created specifically to allow you to attain the purpose of creation.
Therefore, no one can say that they were incapable, that circumstances prevented them from attaining the goal for which they were born in this world.
Start with Authentic Sources
If you’re in the initial stages of your studies, you should read a lot, but only what you can understand. Read a lot and don’t stop. Avoid difficult parts because what you can understand easily now will help you later to understand the harder parts.
The learning material in Kabbalah is divided into two parts:
1. A study of the creation of the worlds, the Partzufim and the Sefirot, the concatenation of the degrees of the concealment of the Creator. That part is crucial to our understanding of the system of creation and its activity. It is studied in the following order: “Preface to the Wisdom of the Kabbalah,” The Study of the Ten Sefirot, selected sections of The Zohar and The Tree of Life. This material must be studied systematically.
2. The ascent of the soul through the degrees of the spiritual worlds from below upward. A student must read and reread freely the parts that are of most interest. These are studied through the articles and the letters. They were not written in the same language as The Study of the Ten Sefirot, but in the language of emotion, ethics, analysis of actions and so on. It is not really the wisdom of Kabbalah, but how it is used for the ascent of the soul. You’ll read about it in the books of Baal HaSulam and Rabash, as well as in Dr. Michael Laitman’s books. The study is comprised of an acquaintance with the material, meaning a systematic scan of the material in order to be able to find references. This is done because people who study Kabbalah so they will ascend spiritually are under perpetual changes, and must pick the material they read according to the state they’re in at that moment.
Thousands of books have been written throughout the history of Kabbalah, but the instructions of Rabash were to study only through these sources:
* The writings of Rav Shimon Bar-Yochai
* The writings of the Ari
* The writings of Baal HaSulam
I suggest new students to start with studying these sources. Later on, when you have absorbed the material, you’ll be able to understand other writers. This will give you a solid basis from which to examine other sources to see if they suit you as well.
At the Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute, beginners are strongly recommended to use only a number of selected sources. This is because, although everything in the world does point to the Creator, we are unable to see it. In order to see, we must know the right direction, have a correct approach to reality, and learn the fundamentals of the universal design and the rules of its development, its goal, and the limitations of our perception.
How to Aim Oneself through the Study
Some do study Kabbalah for the knowledge alone. To aspire simply to “know” is wonderful, although it mustn’t be an aspiration for knowledge alone, but rather for attainment: in order to attain the studied material from within you, to discover who your “self” is and where within you lies the subject matter the books describe. After all, everything that’s written there is written from within, from the writers’ personal attainment.
No reasoning in the world will help us understand spirituality because it is above our reason and our minds. This is why we can’t feel it. Our senses can only examine things they can grasp and analyze, a knowledge that we generally refer to as “this world.” In order to feel the higher world we must acquire other senses, which we call a “screen.” Only with a screen can we feel what is above us, beyond our material sensations, which our natural senses cannot detect. When we are able to sense the Upper World, we also receive a different mind and a different reason.
First, we get the wisdom and the reason of the higher world. Then, we begin to feel it. The only way to acquire a screen is through the wisdom of Kabbalah.
Therefore, when we read books about Kabbalah, the authors speak to us from exactly the degree they are describing. There is no time in spirituality. As the greatest Kabbalist of our time, Rav Yehuda Ashlag says, “…but out of the great desire and yearning to understand what they are learning, they awaken upon themselves the lights that surround their souls” (“Introduction to the Study of the Ten Sefirot,” item 155).
Out of a great desire to attain what they are studying, the readers awaken in themselves a surrounding Light from the same spiritual degrees they’re reading about. What is important is the intent. But the problem is that we cannot force the right intent on ourselves. That aim should come from the heart, provided the heart really wants it. This will occur if there is a need to attain something higher, if our souls have developed to the point where they need the Creator, not the material things in this world.
“How to Begin Studying Kabbalah” is based on the book, Wondrous Wisdom: Everyone’s Guide to the Study of Authentic Kabbalah by Michael R. Kellogg.
Image: CollegeDegrees360. “Student.” Flickr. Yahoo!, 27 July 2012. Web. 30 Oct. 2013. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/83633410@N07/7658278494/>.
People often wonder if, by studying Kabbalah, they will become smarter. A person’s desires are very small at birth. Then they begin to develop to a slight degree. How much these desires develop determines how much the mind develops. The brain can develop only to the extent that it must in order to satisfy our desires. But when we embark on the study of Kabbalah, our desires grow and we become increasingly egotistical, and therefore smarter. But there is no need to worry: when you study, you will get everything you need for your development from Above. You will actually feel something new within you—a gift from the Creator.
Sometimes after years of studying Kabbalah, the goal of one’s life becomes “routine.” Those special thoughts seem to disappear, and it sometimes feels as if there is no movement or attainment. Sometimes the goal itself disappears. This is, in fact, temporary. It is when we feel absolute emptiness, which occurs only when we strive for attainment with all our might, that we make real progress.
Our struggle may be made under the most desperate of situations and after years of disappointments and the perpetual reawakening of our aspirations towards our goal. Then, gradually, it becomes clear that only the Creator can change our situations. Such change can occur only by our total devotion, despite the fact that the Klipot (shells), meaning our egoistic desires to enjoy the Light of the Creator, constantly tell us that we can still do things by ourselves. Only then, and without any warning, comes the help of the Creator, like a dream come true, at the least expected moment.
The Spiritual Screen that Leads Us to the Unknown
The most important thing in Kabbalah is to attain the screen that you begin cultivating on your own. The screen is born and develops in us without any intent on our part, because we don’t know what it is. All the new things that appear in us are solely the direct result of our studies.
We cannot know what will appear in us the next minute. It will always be something new and unfamiliar, so how can we know about it in advance? How can we anticipate it?
“New” means something from a higher degree than my current one. Therefore a screen cannot be cultivated intentionally.
How to Balance Mood Changes, “Ups and Downs” Along the Path
If after awhile you lack joy from your study environment, remember that it is a temporary state. Keep studying and your alienation from society will soon be replaced by the opposite situation: you’ll feel that there are more pleasures around you than you had ever felt before. Then, you’ll discover within you a greater will to receive than before. This will happen to give you something to correct.
When you feel a lack of desire for the spiritual hits, read a lot, and read only the material that your teacher suggests, those parts that your heart desires. At times such as these, my teacher suggested I divide the study between the “Preface to the Wisdom of Kabbalah” and articles and letters. Study whichever calls to your soul.
Moods often change along the way. This is natural and shows you’re making progress. The articles you’ll read will show you that your feelings and thoughts are typical of one who is making progress. In the morning, before work, study in The Science of Kabbalah (Pticha) for an hour, and before you go to bed read the letters and articles that speak of inner work.
When you, as a student of Kabbalah, feel a lack of excitement, what you are feeling is the beginning of your receiving new values and your reaction to this phenomenon. This period takes some time; you cannot perform significant changes all at once because your mind, your fundamental systems, your nervous system, and the reciprocal relationships with your environment make it very difficult for you to do so.
If you experience this, the good news is that you have already begun the initial process of inner change. Keep studying and asking questions. You’re just like any other person who feels the initial effects of correct study on your inner world. A person who studies Kabbalah does not descend from a previous state, but climbs to a higher one, so there’s no reason for despair, much less depression.
Living the Next Degree, Making It Real
There’s a law in nature called “the law of equivalence of form.” That law makes objects with similar attributes draw nearer, and objects with opposite attributes distance themselves from each other. When signs of spiritual attributes arise, that law begins to act on us to the degree that we have attained these attributes. If you study the material correctly, you’ll soon find that many tiny changes happen within you. You’ll find you are being led, that there’s a soul within you, and that something is affecting it from the outside.
You’ll find that your soul and the Light of the Creator, which affects it, are leading you, not your physical brain. Your mind contains knowledge of the present, whereas the future remains unknown. But even before the future is revealed to you, you want to do more than just fantasize about it; you want to act as if you are in it, as if you have risen to the next degree of awareness.
When we study Kabbalah correctly, the surrounding Light that is awakened works our souls and initiates the next spiritual state. That state will arrive by itself and replace the present state. By making considerable efforts in the study of Kabbalah, a person can accelerate personal changes. That, in fact, is the only freedom of choice we have in this world.
“How to Take Grip of Your Spiritual Path” is based on the book, Wondrous Wisdom: Everyone’s Guide to the Study of Authentic Kabbalah by Michael R. Kellogg.
This Week’s Torah Portion | November 3 – November 9, 2013 – Cheshvan 30 – Kislev, 6, 5774
In A Nutshell
The portion, VaYetze (And Jacob Went Out), begins with Jacob leaving Beer Sheba and heading for Haran. He stops for the night and in his dream he sees a ladder “set up on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it” (Genesis, 28:12). The Creator appears before him and promises him that the earth on which he is lying will be his, that he will have many sons, and that He will watch over him. The next morning, Jacob sets up a monument in that place and calls it, Beit El (House of God).
Jacob comes to a well near Haran, where he meets Rachel and her father, Laban the Aramean, who offers him to work for him for seven years in return for permission to marry Rachel. At the end of the seven years Laban deceives Jacob and gives him Leah instead. He compels Jacob to work for him seven more years, after which he gives him Rachel and Jacob marries her.
Leah has four sons from Jacob, while Rachel is barren. Rachel gives to Jacob her maidens, who give birth to four more of his sons. Leah delivers two more sons, until finally Rachel conceives and gives birth to Joseph.
Jacob asks Laban to pay for his work. Laban gives him some of the flock, although they had a different agreement. Jacob shows the flock the troughs, and they conceive and deliver. Some of the lambs are born striped, some are speckled, and some are spotted.
Jacob feels that Laban is not treating him as before. At the same time, an angel appears before Jacob and tells him to return to the land of Israel. He leaves without notifying Laban, and Rachel steals the idols. Laban chases them in search of the idols, catches up with Jacob on Mount Gilead, and rebukes him for fleeing and stealing the idols.
Finally, they make a covenant on the mountain. Jacob is preparing to enter the land of Israel, he sees angels accompanying him, and he calls the place, Mahanaim (two camps).
Commentary by Dr. Michael Laitman
Kabbalah always interprets stories as stages in a person’s inner growth, according to man’s purpose in this world—to discover the Creator, to achieve His degree, meaning to achieve Dvekut (adhesion).
Thus far, all the portions related to man’s initial point, Abraham, which is scrutinized through study, the group, connection with the teacher, and the books of Kabbalah. Subsequently, a person discovers the next stage, Isaac, followed by Ishmael, and then by Esau.
The portion, VaYetze (And Jacob Went Out), speaks of Jacob, who is the middle line. Abraham is the right line, and Isaac is the left line. Jacob is special in that the middle line contains all the qualities, the good, as well as the bad. In the middle line, the evil inclination and the good inclination merge in order to achieve the degree of the Creator, our goal.
The work in the middle line is done entirely in faith above reason, in bestowal, above the ego. This is the quality of Jacob in a person, and this is how it develops. Jacob leaves Beer Sheba, meaning a certain place, an inner state, and heads for Haran, which is another stage along the way. On the way there he must shift from state to state through the day and the night. In other words, Jacob experiences internal, spiritual ascents and descents.
Each ascent means that a person rises above one’s stony heart, above the stone he had placed under his head, and performs a special operation known as “sleep,” which means raising MAN. Subsequently, in a dream—in connecting to one’s higher degree—one discovers the ladder, “Jacob’s ladder,” which is the ladder of degrees. The ladder consists of 125 degrees that a person climbs up to the house of God.
While one still cannot see the entire ladder, one sees that it reaches the heaven. This is the discovery of the beginning of the way, obtained in the middle line. This is why the Creator appears before him and tells him that He is giving him an Eretz (land), meaning Ratzon (desire), with which he will now begin to work.
In other words, the whole of the desire will be sanctified, in order to bestow, to approach the Creator, and Jacob is guaranteed that he will achieve it. This is why Jacob sets up a monument in that place, at the foot of the ladder, and determines that this is the house of God (Beit El). Henceforth, he ascends directly to the purpose of creation.
As always, when a person begins to work with the desire, he or she begins to change. On the one hand, more of the evil inclination appears. On the other hand, the person corrects it through the good inclination.
An empty desire is called a “pit.” When it is full, it is called a “well.” We see in stories in the Torah that special states of ascent from state to state take place next to wells. This happens with Abraham, Isaac, Eliezer, Moses, and Zipporah.
From The Zohar: And He Looked, and Behold a Well in the Field
“When Jacob sat by the well and saw that the waters were rising toward him, he knew that his wife would come there. It is the same with Moses: when he sat by the well and saw the waters rising toward him, he knew that his wife would come there. And so it was: Jacob’s wife had come there, as it is written, ‘While he was speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep. … And it came to pass, when Jacob saw…’
“And so it was with Moses, as it is written, ‘And the shepherds came and drove them away,’ and his wife, Zipporah, came there, since the well caused them that. The well is the upper Nukva. And as they met in the upper Nukva, they met with the Nukva in this world.”
Zohar for All, VaYetze (And Jacob Went Out), item 95
The Zohar puts a special emphasis on the parallels between Jacob and Moses because here there is an extension of the middle line that has been built. In the previous wells that our fathers dug, they were still in the right or left lines. Here, however, they are in the middle line.
According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, Jacob’s arrival at Laban’s (in Hebrew, Lavan means white) indicates the upper whiteness, a very powerful light, literally the light of Ein Sof (infinity). Although it is written that Laban was wicked, it is because he appears opposite the whole of the will to receive before it has been corrected. This is why he is titled “wicked.”
Obviously, Laban is very interested in Jacob. He agrees, and he is very pleased because it is actually the governance of the Creator appearing from above, both opposite the good inclination, as well as opposite the evil inclination. That governance acts in everyone.
Laban, the upper light, the governance opposite the whole of the desire that the Creator created, wishes for the entire desire to be corrected in a person, not merely the small part known as Rachel, the small Nukva (female), but also Leah, the big Nukva. This is why Laban immediately goes for the entire desire, opposite his upper whiteness. This is the desire for which he seeks correction.
This is why he deceives; it is the governance of the Creator. This is how He tricks us each and every time, manipulating us, and we understand that this is precisely how we are straightened out: through ostensible deceits. The deceit is because we ourselves are “twisted.”
The result is that a person is compelled to take whatever is available, understanding that even if this is not the beloved Nukva, one must still take it and rise to it, despite the difficulty and the mismatch with one’s own degree.
Is Nukva a deficiency, a big desire?
Yes, Nukva is a deficiency. It is written  that a man’s wife is as his own body. The body is called a Nukva, the desire (in the soul) with which we work.
In the story about the striped, speckled, and spotted, it seems that Jacob knows how to set up the genetic process. The work here is in three lines—striped, speckled, and spotted—which are the three worlds.
“Striped” refers to the world of Adam Kadmon, the highest world, where Laban is most dominant. Then comes the “Speckled” (world of Nekudim), where the breaking took place. This is where the black dots over the white background come from. It is specifically through them that the revelation comes to a person. The “Spotted” is the world of Atzilut, opposite Adam’s soul. Through it, we correct ourselves and discover the entire Godliness.
Jacob, the middle line, set up his work in such a way that the evil inclination and the good inclination conjoin, meaning the intention to bestow with the egotistical desire to receive. Jacob can work on the stone, on the stony heart; he can connect within him all three worlds—striped, speckled, and spotted. Through this work in the middle line we truly ascend to Beit El, the house of God.
It is clear that in this manner, Rachel cannot bear children duet to lack of Hassadim, the lack of clothing for the light of Hochma. The light of Hochma cannot reach the small Nukva, only the big one, Leah. Yet, a person advances nonetheless, where by delivering more and more Kelim (vessels) on the current degree, one corrects one’s will to receive for the next degrees, called one’s “sons.”
Thus, Jacob has four sons from Leah, then more sons from Rachel’s maidens, and finally Rachel gives him Joseph.
When Jacob asks for the pay he deserves, he wants to receive the upper light in order to bestow into his Kelim, but Laban insists that everything is his. Indeed, the entire will to receive that was created, was created opposite the great upper light, which is Laban. Jacob is still not ready for it because he is still called “little Jacob”; he must fight and ascend many degrees before he becomes great and merits the name “Israel.”
Therefore, it is inevitable that Jacob and Laban will part. Jacob seemingly escapes from Laban, and Rachel steals the idols because they are her powers, her Kelim, which will have to be corrected.
What is the meaning of Rachel’s theft?
In spirituality, stealing means receiving what does not belong to me (in relation to my current state), but for which I will pay later. I cannot receive what I do not deserve. There is no bias in spirituality; everything works according to the rule, “They borrowed from Me and I collect.”  In other words, I can receive now and pay later because I cannot do it with my current strength. This is how we grow.
Children deserve to receive everything from the family, although they do not bring any income. In the next degree, when the children become parents, they repay.
Jacob flees and Laban catches up with him near Mount Gilead, where they eventually make a covenant. Although along the way Jacob follows the middle line, which is seemingly inconvenient for Laban because he wants disclosure in all the Kelim, it is clear that the disclosure must be limited, in small portions. This is why there was a conflict between Jacob and Laban, and why they made the covenant. Man and the upper force form a special system, in which we gradually advance until we achieve congruence with the upper force.
What are the angels that appear in the portion when they ascend and descend on the ladder, and when they accompany Jacob?
Angels are forces in a person on the way toward the revelation of the Creator in the corrected Kelim, according to the law of equivalence of form. We constantly acquire new forces over the will to receive, according to the ego, until we are corrected into aiming to bestow, from hate to love.
The way to reach the Creator is through “love your neighbor as yourself.” This is the great rule; it is our entire correction—love of others. A person who advances on this path and constantly ascends has assisting forces. On the Eve of the Sabbath we say (as written in the Sabbath service text), “Come in peace, angels of peace, angels of the Upper One.” This symbolizes the end of correction.
Is it a force from within or are these forces that the Creator operates?
These are forces that the Creator operates, which is why they are called “angels.” Angels are as the still, vegetative, and animate in this world, which help us sustain ourselves. An angel might be a horse or a donkey, forces that accompany us and help us carry out tasks, but which are managed by the human degree in us.
What is a discovery of an angel? When a person finds an angel, is it a discovery of the force that operates on the person?
A person discovers forces by which to continue rising from degree to degree.
The Creator seems to always appear in dreams. What is a dream?
A dream is a higher degree to which I currently cannot rise. However, I can connect to it by annulling my Kelim: my mind, my brain, and my emotions. It is as though I enter a state of Katnut (smallness/infancy), usually lying down, in order to achieve a higher degree.
When I put the stone under my head, I thus cancel all my perceptions and desires, and walk into a dream. That is, I enter a state of Katnut specifically in order to obtain a higher degree, since everything I have acquired in the previous degree is unfit for the higher degree.
In spirituality there is a gap between degrees. Each higher degree is the complete opposite of its predecessor. This is why there is the concept of going through the night, through a dream, and struggling with the angels, particularly with Esau’s angel. Each time, a person has to overcome one’s ego and sort out with what one should continue to the next degree, and what one should refrain from using in the meantime.
We can see many connections here to the upper degree: a dream is a connection; the stolen idols are a loan for the next degree; Laban is a degree that is still unattainable; is everything a kind of connection here?
The connection happens specifically now, when Jacob wants to enter the land of Israel, when Malchut connects with Bina, when the will to receive connects with the intention to bestow, when such a great correction unfolds in the desire. It is therefore clear why he calls the place Mahanaim (two camps), a place where the Creator is already present, the actual beginning of the ladder, which one has reached through the angels called “angels of the Upper One.”
From The Zohar: And Behold a Ladder Was Set On the Earth
“A ladder implies that he saw that his sons were destined to receive the Torah on Mount Sinai, since Sulam [Ladder] is Sinai because Mount Sinai is, as it is written, ‘Set on the earth with its top,’ its merit, ‘Reaching to heaven.’ All the Merkavot [structures/chariots] and the camps of high angels were descending there along with the Creator when He gave them the Torah, as it is written, ‘And behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.’”
Zohar for All, VaYetze (And Jacob Went Out), item 70
We climb up the ladder of degrees only by using the ego, the will to receive, the hatred, Mount Sinai. The ladder is built according to the exact same principle as that of the Tower of Babel. It is the whole of the ego that the Creator created, because “I have created the evil inclination.” When we correct it, we rise above it through the “spice of Torah,” using all the Torah, all the light, Laban, meaning the upper whiteness, which we use in order to correct ourselves until we reach heaven, a state where our entire will to receive is as bestowal, love.
Does this portion relate to what is happening in the world today? Are we, too, facing a degree we do not understand?
Today, all of us, throughout the world, must understand that first and foremost, we are connected; there is no way out of it. Because we are connected, we must use all our powers. Also, we must understand that it is impossible to keep using only the left line, the egotistical line by which we have been growing thus far, and by which the entire world has been progressing. Rather, now we must also find the right line within us, and build the middle line out of the two. This is why the situation we are in right now is just as though we were standing at the foot of the ladder.
The compelling, on the one hand, and the dissemination of the wisdom of Kabbalah, on the other hand, will ultimately bring us to a state where we will finally feel that we have two angels, one on the right, and one on the left. This is when we will ask, “Come in peace, angels of peace.” We will ask that they will come and make peace and put some order between us, as well as turn the egotistical qualities in each of us into qualities of bestowal. Thus, we will be able to connect to one another through those angels. All the corrections are from above. When they arrive, our desire becomes the house of God, Beit El.
According to the story in the portion, it seems that things were easier in the past. There were only Jacob and his father. Today it feels as though there are many people and it is very difficult to communicate.
The Torah seems to present nothing but a story, which we must actualize in our world. The Torah narrates it as an allegory, and we need to know how to use it.
Do we have a place where we can act?
Today the whole world is one big Esau. Opposite that, we must “extract” those people who engage in the interior part of the Torah, who are from the right side. It is said about them, “For you are the least of all the nations” (Deuteronomy, 7:7). However, they are the ones with the method.
Those from the left should also be extracted, and from the two of them together, the middle line needs to be built, “For they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them” (Jeremiah, 31:33). We and the entire world must rise up to Beit El.
We see that there is another falsehood here. How can a Kabbalist know for certain that we are not being fooled again, tricked into the next degree? Or is this how it is should be?
Why not? Jacob places his entire reason as a stone under his head and wants to climb up in a dream. He cannot climb up the ladder except in Jacob’s dream.
Does this mean that otherwise the ego will not let it happen?
I dedicate myself to this ascent. This is how I rise to the upper degree because otherwise I will not be able to leave the previous one. It always happens under the force of bestowal from above, from the force of reception known as “faith above reason.”
When we study, it sometimes feels as though we truly are completely operated, but it is very difficult to feel it in our everyday lives.
This is why we have a means called a “group.” In the group we learn how to annul ourselves before others in the group, before love of friends, love of others. In this manner, we learn to dedicate, to leave our minds and hearts, and to connect with the others “as one man with one heart,” literally in one desire, until we cannot tell one’s own from that of others. We simply become one of everyone.
Can that state exist in a family or among spouses?
It can, provided that the whole world is drawn toward it. We learn how to act this way in a group because toward the group, we can measure it. A person can advance with people with whom one studies and works in mutual spiritual work. When everyone in the group strives for it, each acquires all the powers that exist in the group and can ascend. Any other way is impossible.
The post VaYetze (And Jacob Went Out) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion appeared first on Kabbalah Blog.
Jacob’s ladder is the middle line by which one should walk; it is the golden path. This is the line in which one connects all of one’s elements, the good and the bad.
In fact, nothing is bad. If a person knows how to use the bad correctly, one turns it into good and helpful. This is why Jacob’s ladder is our desires, which are initially the evil inclination, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination.” However, if we connect them to “I have created for it the Torah as a spice,” their combination creates the middle line.
On the one hand, we constantly correct worse and worse desires, since “one who is greater than his friend, his desire is greater than him.”  The more we advance, the more we discover how evil we are. A greater force comes to us, the force of the light that we discover, which we must expose and with which we correct ourselves. When the two connect in the degrees, we grow “richer,” both from the desire and from the light that corrects the desire.
Thus, the sum total of one’s soul grows (in the connection between them), and in it, the Creator increasingly appears. This is how we achieve attainment in the middle line, until we actually reach Beit El
Love means that instead of my own desire to enjoy, I take foreign desires and satisfy them. Love means using all my capabilities only to satisfy others. Love is self-annulment; I have no desire of my own, or anything that I want to do with myself, but only for others.
When we connect with each other in this manner of love, we acquire all the souls, all the other desires, which then become our own. When we satisfy them, we obtain infinity (Ein Sof).
Seven years means seven degrees: six degrees of Zeir Anpin, called “the Holy One, blessed be He,” and the seventh is Malchut. Together they are seven degrees that must achieve unity. Seven is always a complete number. There is also the number ten, which is Gadlut (adulthood), but usually, the structure consists of seven.
In our world, reward means that I satisfy myself. In spirituality, reward means that I have an opportunity to satisfy others.
From The Zohar: His Thought Was of Rachel
“If He set His heart upon man, He will gather his spirit and his breath unto Himself.” The will and the thought draw the extension and do the deed with everything that is needed. This is why in prayer, a desire and a thought to aim in are required. Similarly, in all the works of the Creator, the thought and the contemplation does the deed and draw extensions to all that is needed.”
Zohar for All, VaYetze (And Jacob Went Out), item 189
We cannot avoid thoughts, falls, disappointments, and mistakes altogether. It is introspection, similar to what we do at the beginning of each year. We need to always do it, and it is good that now we are going through such a process throughout the world. Humanity is finally beginning to understand how wrong its way has been. It is possible that from this state we will all rise to Beit El.
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Kabbalah is almost always studied in groups, over the Internet, in local groups, and even some international groups exist. A group study accelerates the spiritual progress of a person who studies alone millions of times over. One who studies alone can only use one’s own Vessel to receive the Light of the Creator, meaning spirituality.
People who study in a group create a kind of spiritual Vessel that consists of all the participants, and everyone begins to enjoy the group’s illumination. Let us assume that there are ten participants. The illumination that is received is not ten times as much as a single individual can receive, but millions of times stronger. The reason is the incorporation, meaning the soul of each and every one of the participants consists of 620 parts, with each part joining the others. The mixture of the parts together creates one collective Vessel.
Studying with a Teacher
Even more important, the group must have a teacher. Studying without a teacher is impossible. The teacher should explain about the spiritual structure, how it works, how to approach it and how to raise oneself to it. Teachers should also explain how we can lift ourselves to a higher spiritual degree and how to control that spiritual level. There has almost never been a case in history when someone rose without assistance. It was almost always a case of a teacher and a student working together.
It is often asked from the teacher, “How can you prove to me that you are the teacher I need?” This is a very good and just question. A usual answer given by Kabbalah teachers: “It is your life. It was given to you just once and you want to make the most of it. But how can a teacher prove to you that they are better than anybody else?”
Kabbalah has a very simple answer: one should study where one’s heart desires, where one feels one belongs. It should not be a place where you are being persuaded to feel that it’s “your place,” or that you’re being pushed to accept. When you detach yourself from persuasions, from anything external, from your upbringing and from everything that you have heard in your entire life, and feel in your heart that it is the place for you, then you should stay. That is the only test.
“Kabbalah Study in a Group and with a Teacher” is based on the book, Wondrous Wisdom: Everyone’s Guide to the Study of Authentic Kabbalah by Michael R. Kellogg.
Image at the top: Kopp, Cornelia. “Global Oneness Day – 24 Oct. 2010.” Flickr. Yahoo!, 24 Oct. 2010. Web. 30 Oct. 2013. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/alicepopkorn/5106827797/>.
The importance of studying this wondrous wisdom is that there is a great power in the study of Kabbalah that can be of benefit to everyone.
The principal law of the higher worlds is altruism. This law acts whether we are aware of it or not, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Disobeying that law produces disasters and tragedies, both individual and collective. That law is not canceled, although we are stopped as soon as we break it. We will only be able to understand when and how that law works by studying the wisdom of Kabbalah.
The result of our descent into this world is that we are completely dependent on the components and characteristics of that spiritual system. So in order to function according to its laws, we must study that system instead of roaming blindly through our world, beaten time and again but not knowing why. When we study Kabbalah, even if we do not understand anything we study, but simply have the desire to understand, we awaken within us an influence of the Light that corrects us.
A Practical Study for Everyone
Who can study this wisdom? Anyone who relentlessly asks, “What is the meaning of my life?” can study Kabbalah. This great wisdom can only be studied when there is an inner need, not through coercion.
When a person truly wants something, that person goes out and does it. Therefore, if your soul is ready for ascension, you’ll study Kabbalah.
Keep in mind that you do not find Kabbalah on your own; you are brought here from Above.
Bans regarding the study of the Kabbalah existed only until the time of the Ari. Kabbalists themselves enforced them because the souls did not yet need the Kabbalah to progress toward the purpose of creation. But since the time of the Ari (end of the 16th century), he and other Kabbalists have lifted the ban they had set up. It was done because souls have reached such a level of development that they’ve begun to feel within them the need for spiritual, exalted content.
If earlier people were still passive in the process, now we are compelled to partake in the process. The only condition is that we show a desire to partake in the leadership.
We should use the very means that we were born with to approach the Creator and to believe that in each given moment the means that are at our disposal are the very best there are. Despite that, we must never stop searching for better ones.
The Flavors and the Secrets
No secrets are taught in Kabbalah. The wisdom of Kabbalah is called “the wisdom of the hidden,” not because it is secret in and of itself, but because it reveals things that were hidden before we began to study. It reveals everything that surrounds us.
However, the wisdom of Kabbalah is comprised of two parts: “flavors of the Torah” and “secrets of the Torah.” The flavors of the Torah investigate the structure of the spiritual worlds, the soul, and how one should correct oneself. Everyone is permitted to study that part. Anyone can taste the flavors of the Torah.
The “secrets of the Torah” are the hidden part of the Torah. Nothing is written about this in any book. That part is taught only after a person has acquired the flavors of the Torah, attained the structure of the spiritual worlds, as well as one’s own spiritual structure. A person who has attained that level, where physical life and death do not exist, sees the entire process from beginning to end and is above our world. Then the secrets open up like innermost fountains, and we understand the rudimentary laws of that system.
A Safe Method without Special Preparations
People often ask if there is a prerequisite to studying Kabbalah. The simple answer is that you don’t have to study anything before you begin to study Kabbalah, because Kabbalah is contact with the Creator. A person who wants to study Kabbalah is like an infant emerging wet and naked from its mother’s womb. What would an infant need to know at that point? When we want to learn about the Upper World, we do not need anything that we learned in this world, because it is the Upper World we wish to enter.
Our genuine development from matter to spirit should evolve gradually, to the extent that we understand the world we live in. The more we discover the true situation in our world, the more we will be ready for an inner change.
We move through our world totally oblivious that anything outside of our perceived reality exists until we decide to study Kabbalah and attain the necessary knowledge to understand and work with the system of creation.
The method of Kabbalah prepares us to enter the Upper World with knowledge and powers, without harming ourselves or others. We enter the spiritual world only by the extent of our correction. Consequently, there cannot be a situation where a person enters prematurely and inflicts damage.
Kabbalah as a True Science
Kabbalah is a very real and accurate system by which we begin to gradually feel the Creator in mind and heart, to an even greater extent than we feel our current environment. The Creator is sensed a lot more clearly, without any self-deception, and through controlled and systematically repeated actions. This wisdom is subject to all the requirements that exact sciences are subject to.
We use everything we’re given in this world freely. We do not feel where and from whom it comes. If we were to feel the Giver, even slightly, we would instantly receive a different sensation, a different position, and a different relationship with anything or anyone. That would immediately place us in a completely different situation. Our whole problem is the absence of the sensation of the Creator. That is why the single most important goal in our world is to feel the existence of the Creator, to establish some sort of contact with Him.
After that, contact will become much easier. When you attain even a little bit of the sensation of the Creator, you hang on to it, and can return again and again to deepen and broaden it.
We can measure emotions and translate them to numbers; we can also conduct experiments, repeat them and transfer the acquired knowledge to others.
The wisdom of Kabbalah is a science and a way of life that enables us to live correctly. How long does it take to learn how to live correctly? That depends on the soul. But when we begin to study, we soon feel that we can no longer do without it, because life without our studies is so strange and narrow that without connecting life to the Upper World, to the soul, and to eternity, it loses its meaning. When we begin to feel like that, it is no longer possible to detach ourselves from Kabbalah and remain confined to our world.
“Kabbalah as Science” is based on the book, Wondrous Wisdom: Everyone’s Guide to the Study of Authentic Kabbalah by Michael R. Kellogg.