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Nehora School presents the Kabbalah of Rabbi Ashlag

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The Kabbalah of Rabbi Ashlag

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The Kabbalah of Rabbi Ashlag

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Cover image of Nehora School presents the Kabbalah of Rabbi Ashlag

Nehora School presents the Kabbalah of Rabbi Ashlag

Latest release on Jun 22, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail about 1 month ago

Rank #1: I am for my Beloved, and my Beloved is for me.

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Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag teaches that the language of the Kabbalah and much of the Talmud is dealing with relationships between spiritual roots, albeit using words familiar to us in our everyday speech. A literal interpretation thus causes distortions of understanding. A classical misunderstanding applies to the saying of the Sages of the Talmud relating to Rosh Hashanah,

The Talmud states that on Rosh Hashanah three books are opened, on book for the righteous, who are straightway listed for life, one for the wicked, who are straightaway listed for death and one for those in between whose fate is undecided until Yom Kippur.

In order to understand this in its true sense we need to first know that this entire statement applies to aspects within us. The righteous within us is the will to give goodness and compassion to our Creator and to our fellow-man. This is the aspect we wish to keep alive and list in the book of life.

The aspect of the wicked within us is our selfishness and our ego- orientated desires. We indeed would like to let these die.

But how to come to these decisions? These are not simple decisions to make! Can we say such a thing and really mean it? This is the work of Elul the month we are in now.

From an oral talk by Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag, the Baal HaSulam to his students in the month of Elul. HaShem Shamati Shimecha Yareiti vol. 2

Other talks for Elul:

Forty days of love: From Elul to Yom Kippur

Enjoying the month of Elul

Shame is a precious feeling

Sep 08 2014

19mins

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Rank #2: Root and Branch: The Language of Kabbalah

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When we read books of kabbalah, as for example English  translations of the Zohar , or look at diagrams of the Sephirot, we often end up more puzzled than enlightened. This is because Kabbalah actually uses a specific language.

As we know, every discipline has its own language. We wouldn’t expect to understand a book on  engineering unless we had already mastered the terms used. So why do we get so surprised when we don’t fully understand what we’re reading in the Kabbalah?

The answer is based on the way the Kabbalah sees reality. Every element in this world comes from the spiritual worlds above. It is a branch, the root of which is to be found in the higher spiritual worlds. Therefore, the sages found that by using ordinary, everyday language that pertains to elements in this world, they could in fact reference their roots in the higher spiritual worlds. Of course, the sages would have a clear perception of the relationships between the elements of this world — the branches— and their equivalent roots in the higher spiritual worlds.

So we find that the sages of the Kabbalah used our  everyday language, but in a way that we, ordinary mortals, who don’t have direct perception of the higher spiritual worlds, can easily be misled by.

That’s why we were so fortunate in our generation to have had   a great Sage like Rabbi Yehudah Leib Ashlag who acted  as translator. He translated  from the language in which the Zohar and other Kabbalah texts are written in and and brought their meanings into our ordinary spoken language. In our generation, we have been so blessed to have had this great Sage in our midst, to open for us wisdom that through its code had been locked for centuries.

This shiur, is dedicated in loving memory of Feiga bat Shmuel and Rvikah and for the elevation of her soul.

The material for this shiur is taken  from  the forthcoming book, “ The Master of the Ladder, the Life and teachings of the Baal haSulam, Rabbi Yehudah Leib Ashlag, by Rabbi Avraham Mordecai Gottlieb, translated and edited by Yedidah Cohen, Nehora Press. 

Nov 23 2017

14mins

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Rank #3: The hidden beauty of the spiritual night

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The Zohar that we traditionally learn on the festival of Shavuot is called, “The night of the Bride”. In beautiful imagery, it pictures the community of Israel joining together with God, as Bride and Bridegroom under the wedding canopy, at the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

The night of Shavuot is spent studying the Torah, rectifying the vessel so we will be fit to join with God and receive the Torah on the following day.

However , this enactment each year of the Giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai on the festival of Shavuot has a parallel meaning. Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag, in his great commentary on the Zohar, called the Perush haSulam teaches that the festival of Shavuot, the giving of the Torah has the same energy as that of the redemption, the gmar hatikkun. The day of the giving of the Torah is the same energy as the day of the completion of God’s creation in the ultimate way, when His goodness and love will be openly manifest to all.

The night spoken of, is thus, not only the night of the festival of Shavuot, but it is the time when the forces of separation rule over us, separating us from our Creator .

Yet it is just in this time,  the Zohar assures us, that the Bride joins with Her Husband, it is in the night, when God’s light is concealed, that the soul unites with Her Creator.

From the ma’amar Leilah de Kalah Perush haSulam vol 1 Zohar,

With grateful thanks to Dvorah Hoffman and the chevrutas in Tsfat for enabling this learning. 

May 17 2015

12mins

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Rank #4: Not taking Torah literally!

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Zohar:

Rabbi Shimon said: Woe to the man who says that the Torah comes to tell literal stories and stories of people like Esau and Laban and such like. For if this were so, even in these times we could make a Torah out of the words of ordinary people — even nicer stories than these.

If the purpose of the Torah were to show the matters of the world, even the rulers of the world have more excellent matters than those in the Torah. Then we could go after them and make from them a Torah, in the same way.

But all the words of the Torah are high matters and are of the highest inner meanings!

Rabbi Ashlag, when he came to the Land of Israel, originally thought to join with the Kabbalists of the Holy Land. But he was bitterly disappointed to find that they were occupying themselves only with the external forms of the writings of the Zohar and of the Ari, without trying to understand them at al. Indeed, they were laboring under the apprehension that it wasn’t necessary to try to understand these writings at all. They even thought that such understanding wasn’t meant for humans.

Rabbi Ashlag felt the injustice being done to the Torah. His disappointment renewed his desire to bring wisdom and understanding into this crucial, but so neglected part of the Torah.

In this podcast we hear his impassioned outburst, his determination and his yearning. It is a fire we can kindle within ourselves too.

This shiur, is dedicated in loving memory of Feiga bat Shmuel and Rvikah and for the elevation of her soul.

The material for this shiur is taken  from  the forthcoming book, “ The Master of the Ladder, the Life and teachings of the Baal haSulam, Rabbi Yehudah Leib Ashlag, by Rabbi Avraham Mordecai Gottlieb, translated and edited by Yedidah Cohen, Nehora Press. 

The picture is the Returning Light Meditation by Avraham Loewenthal of Tsfat, with grateful acknowledgement.

Jan 26 2018

18mins

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Rank #5: Rabbi Ashlag: What he learned when he reached dvekut with God.

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One evening in 1892 in a suburb of Warsaw, a seven-year-old boy was lying in bed when, suddenly, a book fell off the bookshelf, hitting him on the head. The boy picked it up and started to examine it. His father, hearing the sound, came in, and seeing the book in his son’s hand, took it from him and replaced it on the shelf. “This is a book for angels, not for you,” said the father. But the boy argued, “If it has been printed, it must be meant for everyone.” “No,” insisted his father, “it is not for you.” But the boy’s curiosity had been aroused, and he started to study it. It was a book of the Kabbalah and its light illumined his heart.

The child was Yehudah Leib Ashlag who, one day, was going to change the way we see spiritual consciousness.

Rabbi Ashlag had , even for those days, an unusual dedication to his studies. He had a tremendous quality of truth. Truth for him meant inner truth, being totally true to himself, and thus when he studied a book of musar, he never left it until he felt he had completely put into practice all tha the book demanded of him.

With this intense labor on himself, in his regular Torah study, his study of the Kabbalah and the work on his own virtues, he came to the incredible spiritual level of dvekut with God, unity , and enlightenment at an extremely early age.

In the normal way we would not have access or any record of such a great Rabbi’s personal life or spiritual achievements.  Our great tzaddikim hid their spiritual achievements preferring modesty. . True to this tradition of modesty, in the last year of his life Rabbi Ashlag requested his devoted assistant, Rabbi Moshe Baruch Lemburger, to make a pile of his personal papers and burn them. However, others, who were present, contrived to save the papers from the fire.

Among these papers is a piece of writing in which Rabbi Ashlag describes his thoughts and his feelings when he had the merit to receive the great light of God, the Or d’Chochmah. This is the great light that God wants to give us according to His purpose in creation. A person receives this great light only when he has finished his personal tikkun (rectification of his soul).  At the time of the redemption, all humanity will receive this great light.

In this document we have a record, unique in Jewish spiritual literature, of the development of the tzaddik on his receiving an experience of enlightenment while in affinity of form with the Creator. It was an experience that was to change the direction of Rabbi Ashlag’s life.

Rabbi Ashlag starts by asking a question: He is in this experience in which his whole being is totally illuminated in the light of God. So he wants to know what does his service to God  consist of, now that he no longer has to give faith or belief in God, because he is in a state of knowing God?  So he sets out to visit his teacher, the Rabbi of Belz. But when he arrives at the Beit haMidrash, he finds that the Sage’s response to him in his state of enlightenment is not encouraging, to put it mildly, but treats him with sarcasm and shows his displeasure. Rabbi Ashlag finds himself in a quandary: on the one hand he believes in his experience, on the other hand, he has faith in his Rabbi. Perplexed, Rabbi Ashlag has to resolve this seeming contradiction for himself.

For Rabbi Ashlag’s description of how he resolved this dilemma,  listen to the rest of the podcast!

This shiur, is dedicated in loving memory of Feiga bat Shmuel and Rvikah and for the elevation of her soul.

The material for this shiur is taken  from  the forthcoming book, “ The Master of the Ladder, the Life and teachings of the Baal haSulam, Rabbi Yehudah Leib Ashlag, by Rabbi Avraham Mordecai Gottlieb, translated and edited by Yedidah Cohen, Nehora Press. 

Dec 25 2017

24mins

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Rank #6: The Name of God on Seder Night

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As we move through Seder night, we drink the four cups of wine and we relate to the elements on the Seder plate, we are not usually cognizant of the fact that both these central components of Seder night, actually represent the four-letter Name of God, YHVH

Pharaoh said, “Who is YHVH that I should listen to His voice? “

Actually, Pharaoh was cognizant of God acting through nature in the name of ELOKIM because that is how he acknowledged God to Joseph.   And even if we are talking about a different Pharaoh, one who did not know Joseph, nevertheless he would have heard of the story. But YHVH was unknown to Pharoah.

 It is when God makes himself known to the Children of Israel through the Name YHVH that the four expressions of redemption occur.

2. God spoke to Moses, and He said to him, “I am  YHVH 3. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob with [the name] El Shaddai [Almighty God],  but [with] My name YHVH, I did not become known to them. 4. And also, I established My covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojournings in which they sojourned. 5. And also, I heard the moans of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians are holding in bondage, and I remembered My covenant. 6. Therefore, say to the children of Israel, ‘I am YHVH, and I will take you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will save you from their labor, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7.  And I will take you to Me as a people, and I will be a God to you, and you will know that I am the Lord your God, Who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8. I will bring you to the land, concerning which I raised My hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and I will give it to you as a heritage; I am YHVH.’ “

Exodus 6: 2-8

What is the significance of this new name? This name, YHVH, which we simply call HaShem, meaning the Name, is the name of God that is compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. Even though we, the Children of Israel had sunk down to the forty-ninth level of uncleanness, nevertheless, HaShem had mercy on us and took us out. Then, as He does now.

Just as we were exiled in the historical Egypt, we all suffer different aspects of exile wherein we are in exile from our inner selves. Connecting with the name of God, HaShem helps us put our trust in God, helps us forgive ourselves and others and helps trust that HaShem will release us from the bondage of our inner Pharoah, as indeed He does.

As we say on Seder night,

In every generation a person needs to feel as if he or she is taken out of Egypt.

Haggadah of Pesach

This podcast comes from an edited class given on the inner meanings of Seder night. It is dedicated to the ilui nishmat of Feiga bat Rivka z”l and Aharon and Sara Kotler z”l

Material used in class from Zohar and haggadah
( Hebrew only)
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Apr 15 2019

27mins

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Rank #7: All the People Saw the Voices

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Have you ever wondered what standing at Mount Sinai felt like? Tradition teaches that all the souls of the Jewish people, past, present and future stood together and heard the voice of God. So what did we actually experience?

The Torah states:

“And all the people saw the voices and the torches, the sound of the shofar, and the smoking mountain, and the people saw and trembled; so they stood from afar.”

The Zohar picks up on this statement:

” Surely the Torah should have said that the people heard the voices. However, we learn that these voices were engraved in the darkness, the cloud, and the fog, and appeared within them. The voices appeared in form just as an actual body appears. It was from this vision that we saw that we were illuminated with the highest illumination and we knew what no other subsequent generation knew.”

When we received God’s voice, face to face, at Mount Sinai it changed us and the world forever.

This podcast is dedicated for a refuah shelemah , a perfect healing for Virginia Veracruz, the  daughter of Mary Salas, and also in loving memory of Feiga bat Shmuel and Rivka and for an ilui nishamatah, the elevation of her soul.

The material for this podcast is translated from the Zohar Perush haSulam ma’amar, vkol ha’am roim hakolot.

Jan 30 2019

16mins

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Rank #8: When God’s light is hidden from us

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Many of us go through difficult times in our lives, times of loss and sadness. In such times our connections with God can be painful. We ask Him where He is? Is this what He really wants? That we suffer? We wonder, why is He acting like this towards us, towards me?

David, the sweet singer of Israel, actually had a life polarized in its extremes. It was certainly a life in which, as well as joy, he  experienced persecution and suffering.

Psalm 63 was composed by David at a time of great trouble. By analyzing the precise words of this psalm, the Zohar teaches us a great lesson in how to respond when God’s light is hidden from us. It transpires that God’s light is only hidden, it is not absent. Our sorrow and our suffering are real, as David’s was, but his faith was strong and enabled him to feel in full consciousness both the hidden aspect of God and give thanks and praise together.
In this lesson we will learn from the Zohar the inner meanings contained in the very first words of this psalm that David wrote in the Judaean Desert when running away from his son Absalom.

1.A song of David when he was in the Judaean desert.

2. O God, My God, You, I seek You. My soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You, in an arid and thirsty land without water.
3.  Yes I saw You in holiness, seeing Your strength and Your glory.

4. For Your kindness is better than life; my lips will praise You.

Psalm 63

From Rabbi Ashlag’s commentary on the Zohar, Terumah, Perush HaSulam paragraphs 253-259

With grateful thanks to my chevruta Meirah Rachel , who inspired and joined me in this learning.

Photo credit: Efrat Weiss

Dec 11 2014

19mins

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Rank #9: Taking it personally: Cain and Abel

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Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag teaches that through the light of the Torah we can come back to the way of affinity of form with the Creator. This light is most easily accessed in the stories of the revelation of God to our forefathers; stories whose energies can be found within ourselves.

The epic story of Cain and Abel appears on the surface to be a rather sordid story of fraternal jealousy and murder.

But if we look at the underlying elements we find that they indeed are to be found within us.

By considering what the basic identity and makeup of Cain and Abel was,  we can find how they are in fact elements represented in  each one of us. Once we have identified them,  we can ask ourselves the most important question of all: How do we stop our inner Cain “murdering” our inner Abel?

From Rabbi Ashlag’s essay, Torat Hakabbalah Umahutah; the Netivot Shalom on Bereishit, the Zohar Bereishit A and Bereishit B

Picture credit: From the National Geographic Channel ( Video series)

Oct 27 2014

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Rank #10: Keeping faith in good times and bad

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We all have moments of connection with our soul, with the Divine within us,….and we all have moments when we feel sad or depressed or spiritless. How do we keep ourselves from falling into the grip of the will to receive for ourselves alone and ending up separated from our soul, from God?
Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the compiler of the Zohar, discussed this question more than 2000 years ago. Giving us an example from the Scriptures, he teaches us how the Torah, which shares the same essence as our soul, helps us to keep centered.
In this podcast we will learn a piece of the Zohar with Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag’s commentary and discover that Rabbi Shimon’s advice is just as useful today, in our present day circumstances, as it was when he gave it.
From the Hakdamah LeSefer HaZohar, Ma’amar Oraita VeZaluta

Jul 16 2014

16mins

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Rank #11: Exile followed inner descent

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In a letter which Rabbi Ashlag wrote to his students whilst he was away in London, he bemoans the fact that some previous students had fallen away from the group. In looking at the question as to why this had happened, he shows how outer change actually follows a prior inner change.

This we learn from the story of the exile in Egypt. It was an inner change in the spiritual consciousness of the children of Israel that enabled their outer reality to change from being guests in a welcoming host country, to one of slavery and servitude.

The Torah describes this change in one terse sentence. “And a new king of Egypt arose who did not know Joseph.”

Ostensibly this sentence is describing a historical change in the outer reality of the Children of Israel; but Rabbi Ashlag shows how the inner meaning of this sentence actually refers to a prior  inner change. —If the children of Israel had remained connected with Joseph the Tzaddik, as they were in his lifetime, then for sure, the power of the Tzaddik would have protected them.

It is our belief in God and in his true Sages that help shape our reality.

From Igarot haSulam , Igeret 12,  Published by Or Hasulam foundation.

With grateful acknowledgement to my chevrutas, Dr. Susan Jackson, and Dr. Shmuel Iger-Kinyan

Jan 12 2015

15mins

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Rank #12: Inner slavery / inner redemption

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We all find ourselves making good resolutions— intending to live, from now on, according to our deepest values. Yet when faced with the choice in actual practice our actions very often fall short, and yet again we find that we seem unable to follow through. There seems to be a disconnect between our ideals and our practice. We try different tactics but none of them really seem to make much of a difference. We often berate ourselves, not realising that we are up against a greater foe than we had realized.

Within ourselves is a Pharoah, just as intransigent as the one in Egypt and indeed , his inner equivalent. This is the aspect of the ego which blocks the Divine light from flowing from the head  to the body; from  the potential to the actual. Pharaoh takes our work and hijacks it for his own.
Just as in the Biblical story  only He could take the Children of Israel out of Egypt with His outstretched arm, so, we too need HaShem  in our life to take us out of our inner Egypt, to overcome our inner pharaoh.

Lesson adapted from a letter Rabbi Ashlag wrote to his pupils Parshat Shavua Shemot (Igarot HaSulam 12) 

With grateful thanks to my chevrutas, Dr. Shmuel Iger- Kinyan, Dr Susan Jackson, Pamela Mond, Yehudit Goldfarb  

Jan 25 2015

16mins

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Rank #13: Give us the truth of Ya’acov: true intentions disguised by actions.

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On this week of the Parasha Toledot, we read the story of  Ya’acov and Esau. This story is such a perplexing one when we read the simple bald recital of the events as they took place  as described in Bereishit, the book of Genesis.  So many questions arise!

Ya’acov refuses to give Esau soup until he sells his birthright to him.  On the surface, this looks like a callous act, to put it mildly. Yet how can this be?  Ya’acov,  is described as a dweller of tents, meaning that he dwelt in the tent of Torah. How could he behave in this way? To get an answer to this, we need to go deeply into the reasons and intentions that lie behind the outer acts.

These we find in the  Kabbalah, which teaches us that although on the surface, it appears that Esau was  hard done by, in fact, he hid his true nature. Esau  came in from the field, exhausted, close to death because he had just murdered Nimrod, and taken his garments. These were garments that had come to Nimrod from Adam, but , unlike Adam, he used them in an evil and wrong way. Esau coveted them.

This day, Ya’acov was making lentils, because it was  a dish given to mourners, and this was the day that Avraham died.  Esau, rejected the legacy of Avraham, which was not a legacy of riches and material possessions, but a legacy of faith in God.  He despised his birthright and wanted none of the obligations and responsibilities that it invoked.

Ya’acov, by taking on the birthright, for himself and his descendants took on the faith in God, with all the responsibility that it involves, rescuing the vessels that belonged to Esau  bringing  them with him into the framework of holiness. Similarly his  action with the blessings was a work of great tikkun.

By learning the Zohar on this story our difficulties with the literal interpretation of the story melt away and we come into a deeper appreciation of the need to see the Torah, in all its aspects, the Pshat, Remez, Drash and Sod as a whole.

Here are  re-issues of two  previous podcasts, looking at different aspects of this story of the birthright and the blessings

http://traffic.libsyn.com/nehoraschool/Yaacovs_truth.mp3

Here is another podcast  I gave regarding the difference between outer actions and inner intentions, with respect to  Ya’acov, focusing on the   blessings of Yitzchak. We look at why God hid from Yitzchak who Esau was and why it was correct that Yaacov got the blessings disguised as Esau.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/nehoraschool/The_truth_of_jacobs_intention.mp3

Last year at this time  I  had the privilege to  give some live classes in the Beit Midrash in Tsfat going into the story of Ya’acov and Esau from the Zohar in much more detail, which you can see on Youtube. Here are six lessons on a playlist Ya’acov truth or deceit? 

I hope that  these teachings  help us all value our holy fathers, and thus value ourselves.

Shabbat shalom Yedidah

Nov 09 2018

24mins

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Rank #14: The truth of Jacob

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Zohar Toledot, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai:

The real truth is, Jacob never deceived anyone. He was incapable of deceiving anyone.  The Scripture testifies that he was Ish Tam a man of innocence, and thus we say in Micah 7, “Give us the truth of Jacob.”

The Torah gives us the bare record of the events in the early lives of Ya’acov (Jacob) and Esau,on the surface jacob seems to be the one who is deceitful. But the Zohar assures us this is absolutely not the case. What really happened? Why was the relationship between Jacob and Esau so difficult, and why did Jacob have to wear Esau’s garments in order to receive the blessings from Isaac?

In this portion of the Zohar we learn what the true natures of Ya’acov and Esau were,  their potentials and their limits. Ya’acov and Esau actually needed each other. We learn what  the blessings meant, and why both Ya’acov and Esau viewed them as being of the utmost importance. We learn why Rivkah intervened, and how Ya’acov took on a role he had not wanted, and in so doing saved the Jewish people and also mankind.

Ya’acov and Esau are the carriers of desires also to be found within each one of us. When we learn the real motives of Ya’acov and how he acted in truth, it helps us understand our own inner truth.

From the Zohar Toledot and Rabbi Ashlag’s commentary the Sulam on the Zohar

Photo Shmulik G.

Nov 25 2014

24mins

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Rank #15: God blessing Man, Man blessing God

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“…and He will love you, and bless you, and multiply you” ( Deuteronomy 7,13).

The Creator’s desire is to give all blessing and goodness to us. Actually this is all He does, as He is good and does good.

However, the Scripture continues, “And you will eat and be satisfied, and you shall bless the Lord, your God, for the good land He has given you.” How do we bless God? What does it mean for us to bless God and what does such blessing do?

This question is discussed in the  Zohar:

“It is written that you shall eat and be satisfied and bless the lord Your God.” It is with these blessings that a person brings forth, with these words, the bounty from the highest source, which is Binah, and then all the spiritual levels and sources of the Ze’er Anpin and Malchut are filled with light to give to all the worlds and all are blessed together.”

Thus what begins as one -directional;  man receiving  from God, becomes a holy dialogue, in which the goodness of God is acknowledged and thanked. This dialogue then becomes a fruitful conduit, for the  flow of God’s bounty,not only  to the one who blesses, but to all humanity as one.  Together.

From the Zohar on Ekev paragragh 1 and Rabbi Baruch Ashlag’s Al HaTorah Parshat Ekev
With grateful acknowledgment to Rabbi Avraham Mordecai Gottlieb who inspired this learning.

Aug 22 2014

14mins

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Rank #16: My soul, Jerusalem

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Jerusalem: the city of David, the epitome of beauty.  In the Kabbalah, Jeruslam is a representation of the soul, also called the Shechinah, the in-dwelling presence of God within us.  By looking at the concept of the city, as the source of governance, the focal point of the country, we can see how the soul also needs to be our own governing center.

In these three weeks, culminating in Tisha Be Av, when the historical Temple was destroyed, we mourn the fact that we are not governed by the soul. We are not allowing her to develop, to govern, to be our focal point;  and she also needs rebuilding. It is an opportunity to look within and see what our lives would be like both individually and collectively if we were governed by the soul.

Jul 29 2014

18mins

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Rank #17: The words, letters, and sentences that make up our lives.

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Why is it important to understand the language of Kabbalah? Many people learn about Kabbalah using terms such as light, Sephirot, the Tree of life, without  really knowing what they mean. But this is a shame, because when we learn the meaning of these words terms accurately we  obtain a precious key to the wisdom of our Sages, and to our own lives.

The light of God, the Creator, is one, One indivisible goodness. But we cannot grasp any aspect of it unless we want it.

Rabbi Ashlag the great Kabbalist gives this example:

Take a sefer Torah:  The light is the white of the parchment. It contains all the wisdom of the Torah,  But if it were not for the black letters, I would not know what this wisdom is saying to me.

Black is the absence of light. So the letters of the Torah, black ink on white parchment  are actually absences of the light… yet the letters catch the light within their spaces. In our own lives when we lack something we yearn for it. It is our desires that make up the letters, words and sentences of our lives.

Our question today is, are the sentences we are writing today, truly reflecting our deepest desires?

By learning the words of the Torah and of the Kabbalah , accurately  we can see our own desires, more clearly.

Today we look at the term zivug, which is the Kabbalistic term for the entry of light into the vessel and is also the term used for the relationship between a man and wife.

On a personal note I wish to give thanks to HaShem that after a long period of illness I am able once again to write and broadcast these short shiurim, and to  my dear family and chevrutas who all helped me with their encouragement and prayers. 

Jun 19 2017

15mins

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Rank #18: Purim then and now: A message for our turbulent times

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We are living in turbulent times; on the one hand the light of redemption is undoubtedly getting nearer and with it an increasing consciousness of the light of God in the world. Equally, the destructive elements of the world seem to be growing in strength. This is not the first time, the Jews have faced these huge polarization of energies. They did so at the time of Purim 3000 years ago.

Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag in 1948 gave an oral discourse on the inner meanings of the festival of Purim. Through his insight  into the inner meanings of Megillat Esther,we learn what choices were open to the Jews then and how we can learn from their experiences now, 3000 years later.

Not only in the scale of world events, but right in the small details of our lives, the choice of how we receive the light of God also applies in the small details of our daily lives. Let us give to God and to our fellow man according to the way of Torah, the way taught by  Mordecai the Jew, and thus each of us, in our own small way may contribute to the redemption of all mankind through the light of God.

This talk was inspired by the oral discourse taught by Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag at the festival of Purim 1948, recorded by his son Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag. Printed in Shamati and in HaShem Shamati Shimecha (with a commentary by Rabbi Avraham Mordecai Gottlieb).

With grateful thanks to the women of the Tsfat Beit haMidrash  and to my chevrutas, James Torrance,  Ilan Ben Gal, Ofra Dekel, Jodie Lebowitz Davis, with whom I learnt this article and who inspired me with their delight and enthusiasm.

Mar 04 2015

23mins

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Rank #19: The Succah of faith

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The Torah states

“In succot (booth)s you shall dwell for seven days all citizens of Israel shall dwell in booths. In order that your generations all know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I took them out of the land of Egypt, I am the Lord your God.”  (Leviticus 23, 42-43).

But surely it was only natural that the Children of Israel would construct some type of temporary shelters as they journeyed in the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt. But history is only part of the story, why does the Torah state that God made the Children of Israel dwell in them?

Indeed the significance of the succah is debated in  the Talmud: Rabbi Eliezer stating that the purpose of the succah  is  to remember  the Clouds of Glory that protected the Children of Israel in the wilderness; Rabbi Akiva said it refers to the actual physical structures themselves.

Rabbi Ashlag teaches that both Sages are relating to the attribute of faith, but from different perspectives. The succah is our refuge of faith. We build our succah  through our desire for faith in God, both in times when His light is revealed to us as it was in the Exodus from Egypt and at times when His light  is hidden from us, in times of trouble.

In this podcast we look at how the construction of the Succah reflects its true, inner  meaning, and how it can provide a refuge for us throughout the coming year.

From a letter by Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag written to his students one Succot festival

Oct 10 2014

11mins

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Rank #20: He keeps His promise

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Blessed be He who keeps His promise to Israel. (Haggadah)

Following the redemption of the children of Israel at the Red Sea when they saw the enemies drowned on the shore the Scripture states,

“And Israel saw the great hand which HaShem had wrought in Egypt. And the people had awe of Hashem and they believed in haShem and in Moses his servant.”  Exodus chapter 14.

In a remarkable and wide-ranging discussion, the Zohar makes some observations on this text that are pertinent for us today:

That the power of faith in HaShem can overcome even the mighty power of evil; that the innocent bystander is not in fact considered innocent if he doesn’t speak out in the face of evil, and that ultimately God’s promises to our forefathers are upheld.

In this time when again the words of the Haggadah, ring again with their truth

“And this is true for our forefathers and for us that not one only stood against us to destroy us, but in every generation they rise up to annhilate us , but the Holy Blessed One delivers us from their power.”

Our faith which was an essential part of the redemption then, will be an essential part of the complete redemption, may it come soon in our days, Amen.

In this podcast we study the text of the Zohar Beshalach,  paragraph 185 in the Perush HaSulam with grateful thanks to my chevrutas Dr Susan Jackson, Dahlia Orlev, Timna Segal, Leah Weinstein, Ofra Perl, Jodie Lebowitz Davis, and Mia Sherwood with whom I had the privilege of learning this article .

Apr 09 2015

13mins

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