Friday, March 24, 2017

Ascending

Ascending

Beyond
Just one
Human 
Being

I voice
Millions
Of their
Feelings

And sing
With the 
Dead and
Living

A song
That has
Been here
Since the

Beginning.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Friday, 26th of Adar, 5777

In Memory of My Grandmother, Chanah Miriam bat Pinchas

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

3rd day of Week 26 and the 31st day of the cycle of Netzach (Victory/Endurance), Tiferet shebeHod shebeNetzach, Balance/Beauty within Glory/Acknowledgement within Victory/Endurance.

Alef-Bet/Psalms (Cycles of 22 days):

2nd day of the 9th cycle. Beit within the cycle of Peh and TzadikBeit-Tzadik, Tzadik-Beit

בֹּץ
mud ; (colloquial) muck, trouble

בֻּצַּר
to be fortified

צָב
turtle, tortoise

צָבָא
the military ; army ; host, multitude

צֶבַע
color ; paint, crayon ; dye

צְבִי
gazelle ; (poetic) splendor


Lamentations:

She weeps, yea, she weeps in the night, and her tears are on her cheek; she has no comforter among all her lovers; all her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.

בָּכוֹ תִבְכֶּה בַּלַּיְלָה וְדִמְעָתָהּ עַל לֶחֱיָהּ אֵין לָהּ מְנַחֵם מִכָּל אֹהֲבֶיהָ כָּל רֵעֶיהָ בָּגְדוּ בָהּ הָיוּ לָהּ לְאֹיְבִים:


Hayom Yom:

With three instruments of service - love of G‑d, love of Torah and love of Israel - must young students of Torah approach their Avoda in the vineyard of the L-rd of Hosts,to bring the hearts of their brothers closer to observing practical mitzvot and to designating regular time for Torah study. They must do this without paying any attention to the affliction of factions. The absolute truth is that the heart of Israel is a wellspring, a source of living waters, and there is a "covenant" with effort and publicity - that they shall never be fruitless.

--

All that is sacred to the nation of the G‑d of Avraham and is fundamental to the house of Israel - in establishing and rearing an upright generation, kashrut of food, the sublime pure holiness of Shabbat, was entrusted by awesome and revered G‑d - for preservation and development - to the woman of Israel.

The woman who fulfills her obligation and destiny in the life of the family, in conducting the home, and in seeing that the education1 be according to Torah, this woman is the subject of the verse, "The wisdom of women constructed her home."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Thursday, 25th of Adar, 5777

In Memory of My Grandmother, Chanah Miriam bat Pinchas

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

2nd day of Week 26 and the 30th day of the cycle of Netzach (Victory/Endurance), Gevurah shebeHod shebeNetzach, Might/Discipline within Glory/Acknowledgement within Victory/Endurance.

Alef-Bet/Psalms (Cycles of 22 days):

1st day of the 9th cycle. Aleph within the cycle of Peh and TzadikAleph-Peh, Peh-Aleph

אַף
anger, wrath; also, even; nose

פֵּאָה
sidelock, sidecurl; sideburn ; wig ; side, face ; (biblical) corner, edge ; (Jewish law) a form of charity - the corner of a field, vineyard or orchard left unharvested for the poor to come and take what they need


Lamentations:

O how has the city that was once so populous remained lonely! She has become like a widow! She that was great among the nations, a princess among the provinces, has become tributary.

אֵיכָה | יָשְׁבָה בָדָד הָעִיר רַבָּתִי עָם הָיְתָה כְּאַלְמָנָה רַבָּתִי בַגּוֹיִם שָׂרָתִי בַּמְּדִינוֹת הָיְתָה לָמַס:


Hayom Yom:

Hoshi'einu (p. 76) is said after the Song of the Day on weekdays, Shabbat, Festivals, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

--

The chassid, R. Mordechai Horodoker, related: The first aphorism we heard from the Alter Rebbe when we arrived in Lyozna was: What is forbidden is forbidden, and what is permitted is unnecessary. For some three or four years we labored with this until we integrated this manner (of service) into the various aspects of our lives. Only then did we enter into yechidus, to ask for a path in avoda.


Comments/Perspectives: Much of the theme of the texts and words for today seem connected to Gevurah - Hashem withholding kindness from us, and we knowing how to withdraw from the pleasures (and property) of this world. 

Ninth Set of 22 Days: Peh and Tzaddik, Thick and Light Clouds

The 25th of Adar begins the ninth set of 22 days of the Jewish calendar, which parallels the letters Peh and Tzadik, as well as the Thick and Thin Clouds in Perek Shirah. This 22-day period begins during the time of Passover preparations, and runs through the first days of Passover.

Peh means "mouth," which is one of the primary symbols of Passover itself. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev states that Pesach stands for Peh - Sach, a mouth converses, as it is a special mitzvah to recount the miracles of our liberation during the Passover Seder. The Megaleh Amukos states that Pharaoh stands for Peh Rah (evil mouth). (Raskin) 


The shape of the letter Peh is a combination of the Kaf and a YudThe Yud stands for G-dliness, and therefore the Peh symbolizes the revelation of G-dliness. Also, the Yud is like a tooth inside the mouth. In the Haggadah of Passover, we learn that the we must "break the teeth" of the evil son, so that he may become a Tzadik, revealing his potential. 


The next letter, the Tzadik, stands for righteousness. The Tzadik is also a combination of letters: a bent Nun and a Yud. The bent Nun symbolizes humility, the trait most associated with Moshe, of whom the Torah testifies that he was the most humble of men. Humility, destroying one's spiritual Chametz (leavened bread, ego) is certainly one of the main themes of this time as well. It is also through humility that we reveal the Yud, G-dliness.


A similar theme can be found in the Perek Shirah verses of the Thick and Thin Clouds:



The Thick Clouds are saying, “He made darkness His secret place; His pavilion around Him was dark with waters and thick clouds of the skies.” (Psalms 18:12)

The Light Clouds are saying, “Also He burdens the thick cloud with overflow; the [light] cloud scatters its light. (Job 37:11)

The thick, usually dark, clouds symbolize the potential for tremendous rain. This overflow of water (which is always a metaphor for the Torah itself) is very much connected to extensive recounting of the Passover story, as well as the potential the evil son has to bring tremendous good and blessing to the world.


The light clouds also spread the knowledge of G-d, "scattering His light." The clouds' lightness also appears to symbolize humility. It is their very lightness that allows them to have such strong reflective powers. The same is true for all Tzadikim and the Jewish people as a whole. They are a reflection of G-d's light.


In Hebrew, light clouds are called Ananei HaKavod, "Clouds of Glory," the term used for the clouds that protected the Jewish people during the the time of the Exodus from Egypt and the Passover story. The clouds were given to the Jewish people in the merit of Aharon's righteousness. After Aharon passed away, the clouds disappeared. They were later reinstated in the merit of another Tzadik, Moshe Rabbeinu. 







Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Week 26 (From the Book): To Be Humble and Let G-d Guide Us

The sheep [and goat] is saying:[1] "Who is like You among the might ones, G-d, who is like You, mighty in holiness, awesome in praise, worker of wonders." (Exodus 15:11)

Rabbi Yishmael would say: Be yielding to a leader, affable to the black-haired, and receive every man with joy.

Hod shebeNetzach (glory and gratefulness within the context of victory and endurance)

In the twenty-sixth week, that of Rosh Chodesh Nissan, in Perek Shirah, the small pure (kosher) domestic animal proclaims that no one is as strong, awesome and miraculous as Hashem (Exodus 15:11). The small pure domestic animal is a reference to the sheep (the month of Nissan corresponds to the zodiac sign of Aries), as well as to the goat. Rosh Chodesh Nissan marks the inauguration of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, in which sacrifices of pure kosher animals, such as the sheep and goat, were brought.
Nissan is the month of redemption and miracles. The relationship of shepherd and flock is one of the most important metaphors for the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people. G-d is far above our comprehension, just as the shepherd is also completely beyond the understanding of his flock. At the same time, like sheep, we have total humility and faith that our Shepherd will lead us in the right path, despite perhaps having to face foxes and lions along the way.

The goat is also used a symbol for the Jewish People in the famous song that is sung by many Jews on Passover night, Chad Gadya. The song’s name means “One Goat,” and also appears to be phonetically similar to the word Haggadah, the text that is read during the Passover Seder. Chad Gadya is similar to Perek Shirah, in that it also includes many animals and natural elements. The animals in Chad Gadya function primarily as symbols for various exiles we have endured and the different nations that conquered the Land of Israel. The cat that eats the goat is a reference to Assyrians; the dog that eats the cat is a reference to Babylon; the stick is Persia; the fire is Macedonia; the water, Rome; the ox, the Saracens; the slaughterer, the crusaders; the Angel of Death, the Turks. At the end, G-d saves us from all these enemies and returns us to our Land.[2] The two zuzim, the coins used to purchase the goat are said to be a reference to the two tablets containing the Ten Commandments given to Moses at Mount Sinai,[3] but also appear to be a reference to the two Temples that were destroyed, and its people exiled. Zuz means to move, to change places. The Third Temple, however, will not move, it will be everlasting.

Similarly, each animal in Perek Shirah that sings during Nissan represents a different exile, as well as a redemption from it. Sheep were G-ds to the Egyptians, our first exile, and the goat, Seir in Hebrew, is a reference to Esau, our last. It was in this month that we were redeemed from Egypt, and it is in this month that we will be redeemed in the future.

The Torah states unequivocally that Nissan is the head of all months, Rosh Chodashim. It is therefore represented by the Tribe of Judah, who was the leader of his brothers, and from whom King David descends. All legitimate kings of the Jewish people - including Mashiach – are descendants of King David and therefore of Judah. The word for Judah in Hebrew, Yehudah, comes from the word hoda’ah, which means acknowledgement. This is the same root of the word Modeh, as in the prayer we make when we first get up in the morning, the Modeh Ani, in which we acknowledge G-d as our King and thank Him for returning our soul. The tribe of Judah is characterized by self-sacrifice, acknowledgement, and thankfulness.

Because the Egyptians idolized sheep, it is extremely appropriate that it be the one to proclaim the absolute greatness of Hashem. The Sheep is the animal used in the Passover sacrifice, showing the Egyptians that G-d is far greater than any other god. On Shabat HaGadol (the “Great Shabbat,” which takes place right before Passover), we celebrate the miracle of how the Egyptians did not react negatively toward the Jewish people, when they tied sheep to their bedposts, and told the Egyptians that they were about to sacrifice their gods in the coming days.

Nissan is the month of Passover, and it is therefore appropriate that this week’s song be from the Song of the Sea, which was sung after the miracle of the splitting of the Sea of Reeds.[4]

The number twenty-six is the gematria of G-d’s name, “Hashem.” Twenty-six also equals two times the number thirteen, the gematria of the word echad, one, as well as ahavah, love.

Rabbi Yishmael in Pirkei Avot teaches us this week that we must submit to a superior (literally “the head”), and be courteous to a younger person, greeting every person with joy (III:12). Among the kohanim, Rabbi Yishmael was the head, the Kohen Gadol. In addition to his close connection with Hashem, Rabbi Yishmael, as Aaron before him, had a great love for each member of the Jewish people, independent of his or her status or stature. This verse also has a clear connection with Nissan, the head of the months.

The sefirot combination for this week results in hod shebenetzach. With humility and gratitude, self-sacrifice and acknowledgement, we achieve the miraculous victory and redemption that takes place during this month.

We learn from the sheep and the goat that our work of improving ourselves physically and spiritually must be based on our strong belief that only Hashem can truly redeem us.






[1] While Rabbi Slifkin translates this animal only as sheep, Rabbi Lazer Brody includes goats as well. The Hebrew term can be translated literally as “small/thin pure animal.”
[3]  Ibid.
[4] Exodus 13:16

Wednesday, 24th of Adar, 5777

In Memory of My Grandmother, Chanah Miriam bat Pinchas

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

1st day of Week 26 and the 29th day of the cycle of Netzach (Victory/Endurance), Chesed shebeHod shebeNetzach, Kindness within Glory/Acknowledgement within Victory/Endurance.


Alef-Bet/Psalms (Cycles of 22 days):

22nd day of the 8th cycle. Tav within the cycle of Samech and AyinTav-Samech, Samech-Tav

סְתָם
(colloquial) purposelessly ; (colloquial) simply, just

סָתַם
to seal, to fill, to plug, to stop up ; to block

סֵתֶר
hideaway, secret hiding place ; secret, mystery, unknown

סָתַר
to contradict; to refute ; (chemistry) to neutralize, to counteract ; (literary, talmudic) to muss, to make untidy (hair)

Proverbs 31:

Give her of the fruit of her hands, and her deeds will praise her in the gates.

תְּנוּ לָהּ מִפְּרִי יָדֶיהָ וִיהַלְלוּהָ בַשְּׁעָרִים מַעֲשֶֹיהָ:

Psalm 119:

I went astray like a lost lamb; seek Your servant, for I did not forget Your commandments.

תָּעִיתִי כְּשֶׂה אֹבֵד בַּקֵּשׁ עַבְדֶּךָ כִּי מִצְו‍ֹתֶיךָ לֹא שָׁכָחְתִּי:

Comments/Perspectives: Tav means a "sign" and Samech, "support." What is a sign and support that a woman (or a man) is just? You look at her fruit (children, students, those she influenced) and you look at their deeds. Similarly, what is a sign or support that a person is lost and needs redirection? G-d's commandments.


Hayom Yom:

To R. Hillel Paritcher's question whether to review Chassidus even in towns where the people have no conception of Chassidus, the Mitteler Rebbe responded: "The soul hears words of Chassidus." It is written, "Flowing from Lebanon." Lebanon is spelled (in Hebrew) l'b nu'n. "Lebanon" thus represents chochma and bina of the soul. When the soul hears, from there issues a "flow", a "stream of droplets" into that "radiance" or ha'ara of the soul which vitalizes the body; this results in a strengthening of "do good" expressed in the 248 positive mitzvot, and of "turn from evil" expressed in the 365 prohibitions.

--

When saying Ana b'choach, look at - or picture in thought - the sheimot (Divine Names) formed by the acronyms of the words, but do not pronounce them.

Comments/Perspectives: Rabbi Hillel Paritcher's question arises from times in which a person is not given any sign that their actions are having the desired effect (kind of like this blog :) ), and the Miteller Rebbe comes to tell him that "the soul hears," and that there is a strengthening to do good and to turn from evil (Sur M'Rah - connected to the Samech-Reish combination from two days ago). Similarly, the Ana B'choach has Divine Names that are not to be pronounced, yet they still have their desired effect.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Tuesday, 23rd of Adar, 5777

In Memory of My Grandmother, Chanah Miriam bat Pinchas

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

7th day of Week 25 and the 28th day of the cycle of Netzach (Victory/Endurance), Malchut shebeNetzach shebeNetzach, Kingship within Victory/Endurance within Victory/Endurance.


Alef-Bet/Psalms (Cycles of 22 days):

21st day of the 8th cycle. Shin within the cycle of Samech and AyinShin-Ayin, Ayin-Shin

שָׁעָה
hour ; specific time

עָשָׂה
to do ; to make ; to produce, to create

Proverbs 31:

Charm is false and beauty is futile; a God-fearing woman is to be praised.

שֶׁקֶר הַחֵן וְהֶבֶל הַיֹּפִי אִשָּׁה יִרְאַת יְהוָה הִיא תִתְהַלָּל:

Psalm 119:


I kept Your precepts and Your testimonies, for all my ways are before You.

שָׁמַרְתִּי פִקּוּדֶיךָ וְעֵדֹתֶיךָ כִּי כָל דְּרָכַי נֶגְדֶּךָ:

Comments/Perspectives: The verses for today have much to do with appearances. Superficial qualities fade away with time, but moral and spiritual qualities are what G-d desires most, and those are always apparent to Him, and are what will ultimately be praised by others as well.

Ayin literally means "eye" and Shin means "tooth." The eye is used for seeing, but is also a "window" into the soul, while teeth are more superficial, used for biting and chewing, but also for smiling.

[As an aside, th verse from the Torah, famously mistranslated as "an eye for an eye," "tooth for a tooth," which in truth is about monetary compensation for losing an eye or a tooth.]


Hayom Yom:

Rabbis and scholars are called the "eyes of the community" and "heads of the thousands of Israel," and when the head is healthy, the body is then also healthy.

--

My father once said to a Rav, who labored in avoda and was an especially diligent scholar: A Rav must remember at all times and at every moment that he always stands on the threshold between being one of those who bring merit to the public and, G‑d forbid, one of those who cause the public to sin - the threshold between the loftiest of heights and the most abysmal depth. All issues must touch him at the innermost core of his soul, literally, because his very soul is at stake.

Comments/Perspectives: The Hayom Yom fits the same theme as above. It is about appearances. Actions that rabbis and scholars must take in order to "see" (and judge) things from the right perspective, and also appear to others in the same light as well, so as to be a sanctification of G-d's name, and not, G-d forbid, the opposite.

It's also worth noting that that the Hayom Yom includes "Ayin" (eye) and "Reish" (head/Rosh)

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