Thursday, June 27, 2013

Week 42: Machsiah, Standing in Truth and Malchut shebeYesod

Machsiah means G-d is my refuge, my haven. In the first of the three weeks of mourning, it's good to know our one and only address to be comforted. We should also remember that any difficulty we have comes from G-d, and he gives us these perceived difficulties so that we can lead a life of truth and meaning, of kingship within foundation (Malchut shebeYesod).

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Another Source Text for Today: Malchut

From Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh, at  For a very good and thorough introduction to the Sefirot, click here: Rabbi Ginsburgh is not only an authentic source. He's one of the Kabbalah masters of our time.

Malchut is the last of the ten sefirot, and the final emotive attribute within Creation (or, more precisely, the power to express one's thoughts and emotions to others).

Malchut appears in the configuration of the sefirot at the bottom of the middle axis, directly beneath yesod, and corresponds in the tzelem Elokim to the "crown" of the procreative organ (the corona in the male; the labia in the female), or to the mouth.

Malchut is associated in the soul with the power of self-expression. Kabbalah identifies three basic "garments" (levushim) of the soul which enable it to achieve expression: "thought" (machshavah), by which the soul is revealed inwardly; and "speech" (dibur) and "deed" (ma'aseh), by which it is revealed outwardly.
Malchut as a whole is often referred to as "the world of speech" insofar as the spoken word represents the essential medium of self-expression, allowing one to not only reveal himself to outer reality but to guide and influence that reality as well. Hence, speech allows one to exercise authority and "kingship," the literal meaning of malchut.

Malchut also serves as the means for establishing an identification with outer reality. Exercising kingship requires utmost sensitivity to the needs of the realm which one seeks to rule. Hence malchut demands that every agent of influence within Creation assume a recipient posture vis a vis the Divine source of all authority, for only then can the ultimate good of the mundane realm be assured.
The soul, in its meditation of Divinity, can only perceive and ascend to the higher sefirot through the "pane" and portal of malchut. "This is the gate to God, the righteous shall enter through it" (Psalms 118:20). In one's devoted service to God this means receiving upon oneself, in total commitment, "the yoke of the kingdom of heaven."

Malchut = 496, the sum of all numbers from 1 to 31. In addition to being a "triangle" (as are as well the two sefirot of tiferet and hod, as described above), 496 is a "perfect number" (a number which equals the sum of all of its divisors. The first four "perfect numbers" are 1, 6, 28, 496). Thus the ten sefirot end (reach their consummation) with a "perfect number."

The union of the last two sefirot, yesod (80) and malchut (496) = 576 = 24 squared.

The beginning, middle and end of the sefirot (all along the middle axis), keter (620), tiferet (1081), and malchut (496) = 2197 = 133.

The sefirah of malchut develops to form the partzuf of Nukva d'Zeir Anpin. Beginning as a single point, Nukva d'Zeir Anpin receives all of its 9 higher sefirot from the individual levels of malchut contained within each of the higher sefirot (the malchut of chochmah becomes the chochmah of malchut, etc.).

The spiritual state identified in Chassidut as corresponding to the sefirah of malchut is that of shiflut (humility).

Source Text for Today's Class: Mechsiah and Standing in Truth

From Rabbi Noah Weinberg,, available at

Way #41: Getting Into Reality

Life is breathtaking. Wouldn't you rather experience love than watch it in a movie? Get out of the illusion and into reality.

Too many people today are living an illusion. They'll escape into the fabricated world of a movie, or into a virtual reality experience.

But isn't the most beautiful reality the one that's real? Isn't it better to see a fantastic sunset than watch it in a movie? To experience the thrill of adventure rather than simulate it in an amusement park? To achieve greatness rather than hallucinate you're Cleopatra?

Everyone has a sneaking suspicion there's something truly breathtaking about life.

So why are so many people miserable? Because they're not focused on reality. A person can create the impression that his act is together, though in reality he's deluding himself. Reality itself is absolute. At any moment, it's either night or day. You can sleep through reality, and choose not relate to it. But that's still what it is.

Way #41 is ma'amido al ha'emet – literally "set him into truth." Don't live a life of illusions. Get into reality. It's the real thing.

You Can Find Truth
There are many different theories on "the purpose of life." This indicates how easy it is to delude oneself. You have to know what your "purpose of life" is based on. Intelligent decisions are built on evidence. What is the source of your information? What is your evidence?
Two people can be neighbors for years, play golf together, share barbecue dinners, and consider themselves the best of friends. They only argue over one issue: God. The most fundamental issue of life – which colors our thinking on virtually everything – and these two can't even agree if He exists!

"Co-existence" is not the same as living in the same reality. So who's reality is true?
Become a truth seeker. Be ambitious to know what life is really about. Constantly look for evidence to either substantiate – or contradict – your ideas. Always be open to new information that will enable you to hone your understanding of the truth.

Know the Evidence
In our generation, people often don't bother seeking truth, because they don't believe it exists. "Everyone is right. It's one opinion against the other." So we accept living in confusion. People are even afraid to debate deep issues because they say, "You're going to brainwash me. I won't be able to determine if what you're saying is right or wrong."

Fight this insanity in yourself and others. We need to have confidence that truth exists and it can be found. That's the starting point for all reality.

Gain confidence in your ability to distinguish right from wrong. For example, you know you have 10 fingers. But what if somebody says you've got 74 fingers. What's your proof that they're wrong?

The sum total of all your senses and prior experiences says you've got 10 fingers. It is an unshakable conviction.

Now let's try a more difficult example. Is it more important to be happy or to be rich? Most people will say "happy." And what if somebody says, "It's alright to be miserable and isolated, as long as you've got loads of money!" Who's right and who's wrong? Do you know?
What if you were born in Germany and they said, "Kill all the Jews, the plague of mankind." When they put you on trial for war crimes, why can't you claim innocence, that your opinion is as valid as any other? Because we know that certain things are objectively wrong. And every human being has the responsibility to know that reality.

Get clear on the evidence for your out¬look. It'll keep you from being dragged around by passing fads… or worse.

Attitude Adjustment
Reality is largely a function of attitude.
Imagine a young woman flying from Chicago to attend a friend's wedding in New York. She has a beautiful gown, custom-made especially for the occasion. Then, just before leaving her hotel for the wedding, a clumsy bellhop spills a tray of room service all over her dress. Catastrophe!
Instantly, her mind races through all the possibilities: look for an emergency dry cleaner, try to borrow another dress, or simply skip the wedding. She's got to make a decision!

She concludes that the best option is to go to the wedding with a dirty dress. This triggers another whole series of decisions, because when someone asks, "Why is your dress all dirty," what will she answer? She can simply say, "It doesn't really matter, the important thing is that I'm here to enjoy my friend's wedding." Or she can say, "poor me" – and spend the whole evening commiserating exactly how it happened and how she is crestfallen and what a disaster it is!

If you decide: "The world's a mess and it's a drag to be here," then that's how you'll live. If you decide: "Life is good and it's a pleasure to be here," that's how you'll live.

If it's good to be alive, you need to know: What's good about it?

Frequently, the real problem is that a person doesn't know what he wants. If you don't know what you want, you can't drive full force to get it.

Once you know what you're living for, there's no holding you back. You'll jump out of bed every
morning with childlike wonderment at life's great thrill.

If there's ugliness in the world, you have two choices: either complain, or clean it up. It's all in the attitude. Don't sit there and say "I wish the world was different." The beauty of life is that you can change the ugliness. You have the potential – if you choose to use it. There are always 10 different ways to go. Life is your decision. Nobody else does it for you. So ask: Am I using my potential? Why not? What's holding me back?

Fight Insanity
Judaism says that ignorance is the most terrible, painful, destructive disease of all. People may even commit suicide out of ignorance. They lose money in the stock market and suddenly feel that life is no longer worth living. What happened? They severed their connection with reality.
"Sanity" means more than just not getting locked away in an insane asylum. Sanity clears your mind of fuzziness and allows you to see the beauty of creation. Sanity is energizing, expansive, awesome.

Insanity is contagious. Imagine we lock you up in an asylum where everyone sees snakes crawling on the walls. After six months, it's almost guaranteed you'll believe there's snakes on the walls.
People accept the most ridiculous things because everyone else accepts it. Fashion trends and mass marketing operate on this principle.

What's the best way to survive an insane asylum? Cure your fellow inmates. Otherwise you're bound to be influenced by them.

Look for the Root
We've all tried to help someone with a problem – a friend, a roommate, a colleague, a cousin. The guy is all muddled and depressed – "I'm no good, I'm weak, I'm nothing." You support him, cheer him up, get him ready to tackle life, and then... he's down again the next morning.
The problem is you did not set him firmly into reality. You did a patch job – and the patch came off.

To align someone with reality, don't just look for cosmetic solutions. Get to the root of the problem. Find the gap in knowl¬edge which leads to the negative action. What is the core issue holding him back? Look for the single strategic move that will turn him around, release his potential, and get him moving in the right direction. This will make your solutions more effective and permanent.

Imagine the father of a teenager, frustrated that his son is not listening to parental advice. There is constant tension and fighting. What's the solution? Get the father to realize a basic principle: "You can never tell anyone what to do. You can only show him why it's meaningful and to his benefit." This helps the father reframe his approach.

And how do you reframe the son, who's convinced that his father hates him? Focus him on the following case:
You're travelling through Europe, get hit by a car and wind up in the hospital. Who's going to travel 5,000 miles to see that you get the best treatment? You know who will come – your father. Yet you say he hates you!
Focus his attention: His parents are totally devoted to him and can't possibly hate him. You've now given him clarity. At least until the next time his father calls him a dumbbell…

Personalized Problem Solving
Realize there are no "pat" solutions. Just as every person is unique in appearance, so too everyone has different motivations and needs. One person may be driven by idealism, another needs security, another wants material possessions, another is in pursuit of honor. So even if you've found one solution, it may not be universally applicable.
(On the other hand, there are certain universal drives: the desire to be good, to actualize potential, to help others, etc.)

The best solution to a problem is the one that someone comes up with on their own. Because when someone understands the obstacles that interfere with their own fulfillment, they'll devote themselves more fully to that solution.

Setting a person on the straight course doesn't mean being a "solution-wiz" dispensing answers. It means being a facilitator, showing others their mistakes, and guiding their personal exploration of correct solutions.

Don't forget to tackle your own problems. Because in order to get someone else into reality, you first have to understand it yourself. So strive to resolve your own issues, to free yourself to look beyond the little box. And the more "perfect" you become, the better leader you become for others.
In some instances, however, if you do hit an impasse with yourself, one way out is to try solving other people's problems. With yourself, you're all boxed up. With others, you're more objective. So once you experience success in external problem-solving, you can then apply it to yourself.

God and the Jews
You're walking down the street and see a child running into traffic to chase his ball. A car screeches to a halt. The driver yells from his window about the child's foolishness. Some of the bystanders shake their head, others wag an accusing finger in his direction. But one person runs after the kid, chases him five blocks, grabs him, and smacks him across the behind. Who is that man? His father. everyone else says, "He's going to get himself killed one day, what a pity." But only the father cares enough to make sure he's scared stiff not to do something like that again.

God cares about the Jewish people more than any parent cares about his child. The Jewish people are the transmitters of Torah values and God will not allow us to disappear. That's why He has to keep us set into reality. Even if we say, "We don't care about being Jewish, we want to assimilate." The Almighty says: "No way. I have a deal with Abraham and you are too precious to get lost. If I have to teach you the difference, you'll learn."

God never "punishes." It is always instructive, setting us on the path of reality.

Furthermore, the Almighty does not take revenge on His children. Imagine if your son was doing awful things, putting his life in danger and causing you terrible suffering. Then one day he comes back and says, "Dad, I'm sorry. I made a lot of bad mistakes. Please forgive me." Now what are you going to say – wait, I've got to get some blood out of you? Or will you break down crying, hug him and celebrate.

A parent doesn't take revenge on a child. That's the principle of our Father in Heaven.

Why is "Getting Into Reality" a Way to Wisdom?
  • Never stop asking: Is it good to be alive? What am I living for?
  • We need to be good. Helping others straighten out their lives is not just part of living; it's what living is about.
  • Get to the root of the problem. Cut it out and release the latent potential.
  • Ask yourself: "Do I really want to live in reality?"
  • Make decisions about the wisdom you learn: "Am I going to live with it, or ignore it?"
  • Live in the real world. It will make you yearn for sanity

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Kabbalah of Time, Week 42: The Hound and Rabbi Eliezer Ben Shamuah

This marks the first of the three weeks related to the mourning of the destruction of the Temple, G-d's home in this world. The Hound is the first of three domestic animals mentioned. The Hound also symbolizes the message of Rabbi Eliezer: loyalty and looking positively at those around you - the constant theme of the month of Tammuz.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Haazinu Verses and related Torah Portions

39. See now that it is I! I am the One, and there is no G-d like Me! I cause death and grant life. I strike, but I heal, and no one can rescue from My Hand! (Deuteronomy 32:39)  

Torah Portion of Chukat describes the Red Heifer, which is the only way Hashem prescribes for purification from contact with the dead; portion also contains Miriam's death, lack of water, punishment of Moshe and Aaron, and attack from Amalek; furhermore, the portion contains the plague from fiery serpents and the cure through looking at copper fiery serpents, whose healing power came solely from Hashem.

40. For I raise up My hand to heaven, and say, 'As I live forever.' (Deuteronomy 32:40)

Torah Portion of  Balak describes Balaam's attempt to destroy the Jewish people, which Hashem prevented, a sign of the eternality of the Jewish people; Pinchas also raised his hand to Heaven and saved the people from total destruction from the plague caused by the sin of Bal-Peor.

Another Source Text from Yesterday's Lesson on Judging Favorably: Likutei Moharan #282

The following is a translation from the Breslover website "Azamra," available at:

Empowerment through good points

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov's teaching of AZAMRA (Likutey Moharan I:282)

Azamra l'Elokai be-odee!
"I will sing to my God as long as I live!" (Psalm 146:2)
Find the good in others...
KNOW that you must judge all people favorably. This applies even to the worst of people. You must search until you find some little bit of good in them. In that good place inside them, they are not bad! If you can just find this little bit of good and judge them favorably, you really can elevate them and swing the scales of judgment in their favor. This way you can bring them back to God
This teaching is contained in the words of King David in the Psalms: "And in just a little bit (ve-OD me-at) there's no sinner; when you think about his place, he won't be there" (Psalm 37:10). King David is teaching us to judge everyone favorably. Even if you consider someone to be totally bad, you must still search until you find some little bit of good in him. There in the place of this tiny bit of good, that person is not bad! This is the meaning of the words, "And in just a little bit there's no sinner..." In other words you must seek out the little bit of good that is still in him. For in that place he is not a sinner. Maybe he's a bad person. Even so, is it really possible that he is totally devoid of even the slightest modicum of good? How could it be that all his life he never once did anything good? By finding one tiny good point in which he is not bad and thereby judging him favorably, you really do raise him from being guilty to having merit. This will bring him back to God. "In just a little bit there's no sinner!"
By finding this little bit of good in the bad person, this place inside him where he is not wicked, through this "...when you think about his place, he won't be there." When you examine his "place" and level, "he won't be there" in his original place. For by finding some little bit of good in him and judging him favorably, you genuinely raise him from guilt to merit. And "when you think about his place, he won't be there". Understand this well.
Find the good in yourself
You must also find the good in yourself. A fundamental principle in life is that you should always try to keep happy and steer well away from depression. When you start looking deep inside yourself, you may think you have no good in you at all. You may feel you are full of evil, and the negative voice inside you tries to make you depressed. Don't let yourself fall into depression. Search until you find some little good in you. How could it be that you never did anything good in your whole life?
When you start examining your good deed, you may see that it had many flaws. Maybe you did it for the wrong reasons and with the wrong attitude. Even so, how could it be that your mitzva or good deed contains no good at all? It must contain some element of good.
You must search and search until you find some good point inside yourself to give you new life and make you happy. When you discover the good that is still in you, you genuinely move from being guilty to having merit. Through this you will be able to come back to God. "And in just a little bit there's no sinner; when you think about his place, he won't be there."
Earlier we saw that we have to judge other people favorably, even those who seem totally bad. We must search for their good points in order to swing the scales in their favor. The same applies to the way you look at yourself. You must judge yourself favorably and find the good points that still exist in you. This way you won't fall into despair. The good you find inside you will give you new life and bring joy to your soul.
The Melody of Life
In just the same way you must carry on searching until you find another good point. Even if you feel that this good point is also full of flaws, you must still search for some good in it. And so you must continue finding more and more good points. This is how songs are made.
In essence, music is made by sifting the good from the bad. The musician has to find the "good spirit" and reject the bad. A musical instrument is basically a vessel containing air. The musician produces the sounds by causing the air to vibrate. His task is to move his hands on the instrument in such a way as to produce good spirit, "good vibrations", while avoiding the "bad vibrations" - the dissonant winds of gloom and depression.
When a person refuses to allow himself to fall into despair but instead gives himself new life by finding and gathering his positive points, this makes melodies. He can then pray, sing and give thanks to God.
When a person recognizes the wrong he has done and how grossly materialistic and impure he is, it can make him so depressed that he becomes completely unable to pray. He simply cannot open his mouth to God. This is because of the deep sorrow and heaviness that come over him when he sees the overwhelming distance that separates him from God.
But finding your good points can give you new life. Even if you know you have done wrong and caused damage and that you are far from God, you must search until you find the good that is still inside you. This will give you new life and make you truly happy. You are certainly entitled to feel the greatest joy over every good point you find in yourself, because each good point comes from the Jewish soul in you. The new life and joy you will have from following this path will enable you to pray, sing and give thanks to God.
Azamra l'Elokai be-odee, "I will sing to my God as long as I live". The phrase "as long as I live" is a loose translation of the Hebrew word be-ODee, which refers to the good that still (OD) remains in me. For as we saw earlier, "In just a little bit (OD) the sinner is not." In virtue of this good point I can sing and give thanks to God. I will sing the songs and melodies that are created by collecting my good points, as explained above.
[Rabbi Nachman's closest student, Rabbi Noson, writes:
The Rebbe told us emphatically to go with this teaching. It is a major foundation for all who want to draw closer to God and not lose everything, God forbid.
Usually when people are far from God, the main reason is because of sorrow and depression brought on by the negative view they take of themselves when they see the damage caused by their behavior. Each person knows his own inner pain. Some people take such a low view of themselves that they fall into complete despair. As a result they put no effort into prayer and do not even try to practice what they are still capable of.
One must fight this in every possible way. When a person takes a poor view of himself, it may well be true that this is because of bad things he really did. But the depression that comes over him as a result is nothing but the work of the devil, who tries to weaken a person's resolve until he throws him down completely. You must therefore be very firm and always go with this teaching of AZAMRA and search for your good points at all times. This is the way to give yourself new life and make yourself happy, knowing that God will help you. You will be able to pray and sing and give thanks to God and return to God with all your heart, as the Rebbe explains.]
The Prayer Leader
And know that the one who can create these melodies by finding the good points in every Jew, even the worst, is fitted to be the prayer leader. The leader of the communal prayers must represent the whole congregation. He must find and gather all the good points in each of the worshippers. All these good points must be joined together in him so that when he stands before God in prayer he comes with the power of all this good. The prayer leader must have the power to attract all this good and gather together all the good points so that they are joined together in him.
When a Tzaddik has the power to make melodies by judging everyone favorably, even the worst, through constantly searching for their good points, this Tzaddik is fitted to be the prayer leader. For he has what is needed to be a truly fitting representative of the people. The good in them is drawn to him, for he has the power to gather all the good points in each and every Jew, even the worst.
A Holy Sanctuary
And know that every generation has its shepherd, who is the Moses of that generation. For Moses was "the faithful shepherd". This shepherd makes a sanctuary. And know that little schoolchildren receive the undefiled breath of their mouths from this sanctuary.
When a child first learns to read and starts studying the Torah it is customary for the child to begin with the words, "And He called to Moses" (Leviticus 1: 1). The reason why the child begins here is because the book of Leviticus opens at the point when the building of the Sanctuary (as described in the book of Exodus) was complete. It was then that God called Moses and started speaking to him from the Sanctuary: "And He called to Moses." The children begin studying from here because it is from here that they receive the breath of their mouths. This is where they start to read, therefore, and enter into the study of Torah.
And know that each and every one of the tzaddikim in each generation plays the role of this shepherd. Each one is a Moses, and each in his own way builds a sanctuary from which the little children receive the breath of their mouths. Every tzaddik according to his nature and the nature of the sanctuary he builds has children who receive from there. Each tzaddik has a certain number of children who receive the breath of their mouths from him - each in accordance with his nature.
But to know all this – to know of each and every Tzaddik, which are the children who depend upon him and how much they must receive from him, to understand all that is involved in this and the generations that will come from them until the very end – know that the one who can compose melodies can comprehend all this.
Rabbi Noson adds:Understand these words well. It is impossible to explain everything. Each person's life is unique, but this teaching is universal: it applies at all times in life, in youth and old age. The lesson of AZAMRA can always revive us. Happy are those who take it to heart.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Kabbalah of Time, Week 41: Serayah and Judging Favorably

Tammuz is about fixing our sense of vision, and a key element of that is seeing the good in others and yourself. By shifting judgment away from the Jewish people and towards our oppressors, the prophet Serayah brings us comfort during this difficult time. Serayah's name means "minister (or angel) of Hashem," a name of G-d connected to mercy.

Source Text for Today: Book of Jeremiah, Chapter 51

59. The word that Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah the son of Mahseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah to Babylon in the fourth year of his reign, and Seraiah was the prince of tribute. נט. הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה | יִרְמְיָהוּ הַנָּבִיא אֶת שְׂרָיָה בֶן נֵרִיָּה בֶּן מַחְסֵיָה בְּלֶכְתּוֹ אֶת צִדְקִיָּהוּ מֶלֶךְ יְהוּדָה בָּבֶל בִּשְׁנַת הָרְבִעִית לְמָלְכוֹ וּשְׂרָיָה שַׂר מְנוּחָה:
60. And Jeremiah wrote all the evil that would befall Babylon in one scroll, all these words that are written concerning Babylon. ס. וַיִּכְתֹּב יִרְמְיָהוּ אֵת כָּל הָרָעָה אֲשֶׁר תָּבוֹא אֶל בָּבֶל אֶל סֵפֶר אֶחָד אֵת כָּל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה הַכְּתֻבִים אֶל בָּבֶל:
61. And Jeremiah said to Seraiah, "When you come to Babylon, you shall see and read all these words. סא. וַיֹּאמֶר יִרְמְיָהוּ אֶל שְׂרָיָה כְבֹאֲךָ בָבֶל וְרָאִיתָ וְקָרָאתָ אֵת כָּל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה:
62. And you shall say, 'O Lord, You have spoken concerning this place to cut it off, that it have no inhabitant, either man or beast, but it shall be forever desolate.' סב. וְאָמַרְתָּ יְהֹוָה אַתָּה דִבַּרְתָּ אֶל הַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה לְהַכְרִיתוֹ לְבִלְתִּי הֱיוֹת בּוֹ יוֹשֵׁב לְמֵאָדָם וְעַד בְּהֵמָה כִּי שִׁמְמוֹת עוֹלָם תִּהְיֶה:
63. And it shall come to pass that when you finish reading this scroll, you shall tie a stone to it and cast it into the Euphrates. סג. וְהָיָה כְּכַלֹּתְךָ לִקְרֹא אֶת הַסֵּפֶר הַזֶּה תִּקְשֹׁר עָלָיו אֶבֶן וְהִשְׁלַכְתּוֹ אֶל תּוֹךְ פְּרָת:
64. And you shall say, 'So shall Babylon sink and not rise, because of the evil that I bring upon her, and they shall weary." Until here are the words of Jeremiah. סד. וְאָמַרְתָּ כָּכָה תִּשְׁקַע בָּבֶל וְלֹא תָקוּם מִפְּנֵי הָרָעָה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מֵבִיא עָלֶיהָ וְיָעֵפוּ עַד הֵנָּה דִּבְרֵי יִרְמְיָהוּ:

Gimmel Tammuz and Yud-Beis/Yud-Gimmel Tammuz

The Previous Rebbe wrote, "Yud Kislev marks the birth of a chassid, and Yud-Tes Kislev is the bris (circumcision)." (Likkutei Dibburim, p. 976; more info here)

There are nine days between Yud Kislev and Yud-Tes Kislev. On Yud Kislev we celebrate the liberation of the Mitteler Rebbe, the 2nd Lubbavitcher Rebbe, which also marks the date of his birth and yahrzeit (9th of Kislev). Yud-Tes Kislev is the liberation of the Alter Rebbe, the 1st Rebbe, as well as the yahrzeit of his teacher, the Maggid of Mezeritch. 
There are nine days between Gimmel Tammuz and Yud-Beis/Yud-Gimmel Tammuz, which is today. On Gimmel Tammuz, we celebrate the beginning of the liberation of the Previous Rebbe, the 2nd-to-last Lubavitcher Rebbe, which also marks the yahrzeit of the last Rebbe. Yud-Beis/Yud-Gimmel Tammuz marks the complete liberation of the Previous Rebbe, as well as his birthday.

When the Previous Rebbe had his bar mitzvah, his father, the Rebbe Rashab, made a seven-day celebration like that of a wedding (sheva brachos). Therefore, perhaps we can say as follows, "Gimmel Tammuz marks the wedding of a chassid, and Yud-Beis/Yud-Gimmel Tammuz is the sheva brachos."

Kabbalah of Time, Week 41: Yesod shebeYesod

The end of the video got a bit cut off, but is provided (in writing) here: On the 17th of Tammuz, when the walls of Jerusalem were breaches, we had a big blow to our foundation and our ability to withstand our enemies' attacks. Yet this week also marks Yud Beis/Yud Gimmel Tammuz, when we celebrate the freedom of the Previous Rebbe, and his ability to hold his ground against Soviet oppression.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Haskama for "The Kabbalah of Time," from Rabbi Aryeh Citron, Dean of Yeshiva LeSmicha

From the desk of Rabbi Aryeh Citron
Dean of Yeshivah LeSmicha, Aventura, Florida
8910 Carlyle Ave., Surfside, FL 33154

Erev Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, 5773
To Whom It May Concern,
I have known and studied with Rabbi Daniel Kahane for many years and hold him in high regard.
The book he has written together with his mother-in-law, Ann Helen Wainer, presents deep Kabbalistic concepts in a straightforward and readable manner. The parallels it draws between the Jewish calendar, the Divine Attributes, the Songs of the Animals and the teachings of the Ethics of the Fathers are original insights and are quite remarkable.  I’m sure that readers will gain inspiration and knowledge from this well-written work.
I wish them both continued success in their personal lives and in their further literary works.

Rabbi Aryeh Citron

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Kabbalah of Time, Week 41: the Fall of the Temple and the USSR

This week, Rabbi Yochanan HaSandlar speaks of what make structures last in the long run.

Rabbi Akiva, the Fox, and Other Key Animals in Perek Shirah

It is striking to note that several of the stories and teachings of Rabbi Akiva include animals that reflect teachings found in Perek Shirah.[1] It is no coincidence that there are opinions that claim that it was Rabbi Akiva himself who authored it. Below are a few examples of these parallels:

When the Romans decreed that the study of Torah be prohibited under penalty of death, Rabbi Akiva continued to study and to teach. When asked whether he feared the Roman decree, Rabbi Akiva gave the following example: Once the fox (animal of the week of the 17th of Tammuz in Perek Shirah, which represents the destruction of the Temple) was walking by a creek when it saw a group of fish (who represent the month of Adar, week 24, of Purim, and the ability to overcome material concerns even under great pressure). The fox asked the fish why they were all crowded in one spot, and the fish answered that they were hiding from the nets of fishermen. The fox then suggested to the fish that they should come to the dry land and stay with it. The fish responded by stating that they were not safe in the water, their natural habitat, outside the water would certainly lead to their death! Torah is our lifeline, just like water for fish.

In another fascinating parable found in the Talmud, at the end of tractate of Makkot, Rabbi Akiva again is linked to the fox, as well as to the destruction of the Temple. Once he was heading to Jerusalem with Rabban Gamliel, Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria and Rabbi Yehoshua, when they saw the mount where the Temple recently stood. When they saw a fox come out of where once was the Holy of Holies, the most sacred part of the Temple, they all tore their garments. Each one of them began to cry with the exception of Rabbi Akiva, who began to laugh. They asked him, "Why are you laughing?" Rabbi Akiva then answered their question with another question, and asked why they were all crying. The responded: "This place is so sacred that we know that anyone who would come near it would die. Now that a mere fox enters is, should we not cry?" Rabbi Akiva then said to them: "That's exactly why I am laughing.” Rabbi Akiva then explained to them how the Torah makes the prophecy of Zachariah dependent on the prophecy of Uriah, and then continued: “According to Uriah, it is written: 'Due to your guilt, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will be in ruins, and the Temple Mount will become a heap of stones lost in the forest.’ According to Zacharias, we learn that, 'Older men and women still sit in the streets of Jerusalem [when it is redeemed].’” Rabbi Akiva then concluded: "Now that the prophecy of Uriah has taken place, it is certain that the prophecy of Zachariah will take place as well." After hearing these words, the sages replied, "Akiva, you have truly comforted us!"

There is also another classic parable with Rabbi Akiva that illustrates the concept that everything that G-d does is for the good. This story involves Rabbi Akiva, a rooster, a donkey, a cat, and a lion. Rabbi Akiva was traveling when he arrived in a certain city. Although he was refused accommodation for the night, he famously stated, “Everything G-d does is for the good,” and went to spend the night in the countryside. He was accompanied by a rooster, a donkey and a lamp. The wind came and blew out the lamp, a cat came and ate the rooster and a lion came and ate the donkey! Despite all these apparent mishaps, Rabbi Akiva repeated, “Everything that G-d does is for the good.” That night, an army invaded and took all the inhabitants of the city captive. Rabbi Akiva then said to his disciples: "Did I not explain to you that everything G-d does is for the good? For if the lamp had not been put out by the wind, I would have been imprisoned by the enemy, if the donkey had brayed or the rooster crowed, the army would have found my hiding place, and I would have been captured!"


[1] Rabbi Akiva is a descendant of Yael, who killed Siserah during the battle led by Devorah, and who is praised in her song. Yael is also the Hebrew name of an animal: the mountain goat.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Kabbalah of Time, Week 41: The Fox

This is the week of the 17th of Tammuz, and also of the Chassidic holiday of Yud Beis-Yud Gimmel Tammuz. The Fox and its song are connected to both.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Our sages have taught that the portion of Haazinu encompasses the entire Torah. Nachmanides goes further and states that Haazinu contains everything that happens and everything that will ever happen in the history of the world.[1] Furthermore, Haazinu has 52 verses, one for each of the Torah portions that preceded it, starting from the very first one, Bereshit. The connection between these verses and the Torah portions is quite strong. These fifty-two verses also parallel the weeks of the year.
Furthermore, each verse of the Haftarah for Haazinu, the song sung by King David before his passing, in II Samuel, Chapter 22, also parallel the weeks of the year.[2] David’s song contains 51 verses, and it appears that the verse following the 51st verse, the first in Chapter 23, is connected to David’s song as well. The Haftarah also offers important insight into Haazinu. King David appears to have made his song in such a way that it would parallel Haazinu, both in form but also in substance.

[2][2] The first verse of the following Chapter is still very much related to the song, and can be counted as the 52nd verse. Weeks 1 and 52 both represent Rosh Hashanah. In fact, the first seven verses of Chapter 23 in II Samuel comprise of King David’s last song, and seem to parallel the 7 verses of the Rooster on Rosh Hashanah. There also appears to be a parallel with the opening and closing verses of Vezot HaBrachah, the words said by Moshe right before his passing.

The 52 Verses of Haazinu (and its Haftorah), Weeks and Torah Portions

Important dates taking place in week of year
Haazinu / Haftorah
Rosh Hashanah

Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! And let the earth hear the words of my mouth!
And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song, on the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul;
Yom Kippur

My lesson will drip like rain; my word will flow like dew; like storm winds on vegetation and like raindrops on grass.
And he said, "The Lord is my rock and my fortress, and a rescuer to me.
Lech Lecha

When I call out the name of the Lord, ascribe greatness to our G-d.
G-d is my rock, under whom I take cover; My shield, and the horn of my salvation, my support, and my refuge; [He is] my savior Who saves me from violence.
Shemini Atzeret

The deeds of the [Mighty] Rock are perfect, for all His ways are just[ice]; a faithful G-d, without injustice He is righteous and upright.
With praise, I call to the Lord, for from my enemies I shall be saved.
Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan
Chayei Sarah

Destruction is not His; it is His children's defect you crooked and twisted generation.
For the pains of death have encompassed me; streams of scoundrels would affright me.
First Week of Cheshvan
(Potential 3rd Temple Holiday)

Is this how you repay the Lord, you disgraceful, unwise people?! Is He not your Father, your Master? He has made you and established you.
Bands of [those that shall inherit] the nether world have surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me
Second Week of Cheshvan
(3rd Temple)

Remember the days of old; reflect upon the years of [other] generations. Ask your father, and he will tell you; your elders, and they will inform you.
When I am in distress, I call upon the Lord, yes I call upon my G-d: and out of His abode He hears my voice, and my cry enters His ears.
Third Week of Cheshvan
(3rd Temple)

When the Most High gave nations their lot, when He separated the sons of man, He set up the boundaries of peoples according to the number of the children of Israel.
Then the earth shook and quaked, the [very] foundations of heaven did tremble; and they were shaken when he was angered.
Fourth Week of Chesvan or Rosh Chodesh Kislev
Because the Lord's portion is His people Jacob, the lot of His inheritance.
Smoke went up in His nostrils, and fire out of His mouth did devour; coals flamed forth from Him.
Rosh Chodesh Kislev or 1st week
He found them in a desert land, and in a desolate, howling wasteland. He encompassed them and bestowed understanding upon them; He protected them as the pupil of His eye.
And He bent the heavens and He came down; and thick darkness was under His feet.

Yud Kislev
As an eagle awakens its nest, hovering over its fledglings, it spreads its wings, taking them and carrying them on its pinions.
And He rode upon a cherub and did fly; He was seen upon the wings of the wind.
Yud Tet Kislev
[So] the Lord guided them alone, and there was no alien deity with Him.
And He fixed darkness about Him as booths (lit. Sukkot); gathering of waters, thick clouds of the skies.
He made them ride upon the high places of the earth, that they would eat the produce of the field. He let them suck honey from a rock, and oil from the mighty part of the crag.
From the brightness before Him flamed forth coals of fire.
Chanukah/Rosh Chodesh Tevet
The cream of cattle and the milk of sheep, with the fat of lambs and rams of Bashan and he goats, with kidneys of wheat, and it [the congregation of Israel] would drink the blood of grapes [which was] as the finest wine.
The Lord thundered from heaven; and the Most High gave forth His voice.
10th of Tevet
And Jeshurun became fat and rebelled; you grew fat, thick and rotund; [Israel] forsook the G-d Who made them, and spurned the [Mighty] Rock of their salvation. (Yeshurun became full of oil (from Chanukah);
And He sent out arrows and He scattered them, lightning and He discomfited them.
Third Week of Tevet
They provoked His zeal with alien worship; they made Him angry with abominations deeds. Positive Light: They were zealous for him against alien worship; they were angry for him against abominable deeds.
And the depths of the sea appeared; the foundations of the world were laid bare, by the rebuke of the Lord and the blast of the breath of His nostrils.
Fourth Week of Tevet
They sacrificed to demons, which have no power, deities they did not know, new things that only recently came, which your forefathers did not fear.
He sent from on high [and] He took me; He drew me out of many waters.

Rosh Chodesh Shvat
You forgot the [Mighty] Rock Who bore you; you forgot the G-d Who delivered you.
He delivered me from my mighty enemy; from them that hated me; for they were too powerful for me.
Yud Shvat
And the Lord saw this and became angry, provoked by His sons and daughters.
They confronted me on the day of my calamity; but the Lord was a support to me.
Tu B'Shvat
And He said, "I will hide My face from them. I will see what their end will be, for they are a generation of changes [reversals]; they are not [recognizable] as My children whom I have reared.
And He brought me forth into a wide place; He delivered me because He took delight in me.
Fourth Week of Shvat
Ki Tissah
They have provoked My jealousy with a non G-d, provoked My anger with their vanities. Thus, I will provoke their jealousy with a non people, provoke their anger with a foolish nation.
The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; According to the cleanness of my hands He recompensed me.
Rosh Chodesh Adar
For a fire blazed in My wrath, and burned to the lowest depths. It consumed the land and its produce, setting aflame the foundations of mountains.
For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from [the commandments of] my G-d.
First Week of Adar
I will link evils upon them. I will use up My arrows on them.
For all His ordinances were before me; and [as for] His statutes, I did not depart from it.
They will sprout hair from famine, attacked by demons, excised by Meriri. I will incite the teeth of livestock upon them, with the venom of creatures that slither in the dust.
And I was single-hearted toward Him, and I kept myself from my iniquity.
Third Week of Adar

From outside, the sword will bereave, and terror from within; young men and maidens, suckling babes with venerable elders.
And the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness; according to my cleanness before His eyes.
Rosh Chodesh Nissan
I said that I would make an end of them, eradicate their remembrance from mankind.
With a kind one, You show Yourself kind. With an upright mighty man, You show Yourself upright.
First Week of Nissan
Were it not that the enemy's wrath was heaped up, lest their adversaries distort; lest they claim, "Our hand was triumphant! The Lord did none of this!"
With a pure one, You show Yourself pure; But with a perverse one, You deal crookedly.
First Day of Pessach
For they are a nation devoid of counsel, and they have no understanding.
And the humble people You do deliver; But Your eyes are upon the haughty [in order] to humble them.
Acharei Mot
If they were wise, they would understand this; they would reflect upon their fate.
For You are my lamp, O' Lord; And the Lord does light my darkness.
Fourth Week of Nissan
How can one [person] pursue a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their [Mighty] Rock has sold them out, and the Lord has given them over?
For by You I run upon a troop; By my G-d I scale a wall.
Rosh Chodesh Iyar/ 5 de Iyar
For their rock is not like our [Mighty] Rock. Nevertheless, our enemies sit in judgment.
[He is] the G-d Whose way is perfect; The word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield unto all them that trust (take refuge) in him.
Second Week of Iyar
For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the field of Gemorrah; their grapes are grapes of rosh, and they have bitter clusters.
For who is G-d, save the Lord? And who is a rock, save our G-d?
Pessach Sheini/ Lag Ba’Omer
Their wine is the bitterness of serpents, and the bitterness of the ruthless cobras.
G-d is He who has fortified me with strength; and He looseth perfectly my path.
Fourth Week of Iyar
Is it not stored up with Me, sealed up in My treasuries?
He makes my feet like hinds; And sets me upon my high places.
Rosh Chodesh Sivan/ Yom Yerushalayim
Vengeance is poised with Me, and it will pay at the time their foot stumbles. For the appointed day of their reckoning is near, and what is destined for them hastens.
He trains my hand for war, so that mine arms do bend a brass bow.
When the Lord will judge His people, and will reconsider His servants, when He sees that the power is increasing, and none is controlled or strengthened.
And You have given me the shield of Your salvation; And You have increased Your modesty for me.
Third Week of Sivan
Then He will say, "Where is their deity, the rock in which they trusted,
You have enlarged my step[s] beneath me; And my ankles have not slipped.
Fourth Week of Sivan
who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their libations? Let them arise and help you! Let them be your shelter!
I have pursued my enemies and have destroyed them; Never turning back until they were consumed.
Rosh Chodesh Tammuz
See now that it is I! I am the One, and there is no G-d like Me! I cause death and grant life. I strike, but I heal, and no one can rescue from My Hand!
And I have consumed them, and I have crushed them that they cannot rise; Yes, they are fallen under my feet.
Second Week of Tammuz
For I raise up My hand to heaven, and say, 'As I live forever.
For You have girded me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those that rose up against me.
12,13 of Tammuz/ 17 of Tammuz
When I sharpen the blade of My sword, and My hand grasps judgment, I will bring vengeance upon My adversaries and repay those who hate Me.
And of my enemies You have given me the back of their necks; them that hate me, that I may cut them off.
Fourth Week of Tammuz
I will intoxicate My arrows with blood, and My sword will consume flesh, from the blood of the slain and the captives, from the first breach of the enemy.'
They looked about, but there was no one to save them; [Even] to the Lord, but He answered them not.
Rosh Chodesh Av
Sing out praise, O you nations, for His people! For He will avenge the blood of His servants, inflict revenge upon His adversaries, and appease His land [and] His people.
Then I ground them as the dust of the earth, as the mud of the streets I did tread upon them, I did stamp them down.
Tisha B'Av
And Moses came and spoke all the words of this song into the ears of the people he and Hoshea the son of Nun.
And You have allowed me to escape from the contenders amongst my people; You shall keep me as head of nations; a people whom I have not known serve me.
Tu B'Av
And Moses finished speaking all these words to all Israel.
Strangers lie to me; as soon as their ears hear, they obey me.
Third Week of Av
And he said to them, "Set your hearts to all of the words which I bear witness for you this day, so that you may command your children to observe to do all the words of this Torah.
The strangers will wilt, and become lame from their bondage.
Rosh Chodesh Elul
For it is not an empty thing for you, for it is your life, and through this thing, you will lengthen your days upon the land to which you are crossing over the Jordan, to possess it."
The Lord lives, and blessed be my Rock; And exalted be the G-d, [who is] my rock of salvation.
First Week of Elul
And the Lord spoke to Moses on that very day, saying,
The G-d who takes vengeance for me; And brings down peoples under me.
Second Week of Elul
Ki Tetzeh
(Fighting the enemy. Extremely related to Haazinu and Haftarah and saying of Shmuel HaKatan, Week 49)
Go up this Mount Avarim [to] Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is facing Jericho, and see the Land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel as a possession,
And that brings me forth from my enemies; And above those that rise against me, You have lifted me; from the violent man You deliver me.
Chai Elul
Ki Tavoh
(Interpreting things for the best, just like interpreting that even Acher can do teshuvah)
And die on the mountain upon which you are climbing and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people.
Therefore I will give thanks to You, O' Lord, among the nations, and to your name I will sing praises.
Fourth Week of Elul/Slichot
(Everyone is one,  standing together, (heads of the people, carriers of water, wood choppers, etc., like the song of the Chuldah)
Because you betrayed Me in the midst of the children of Israel at the waters of Merivath Kadesh, [in] the desert of Zin, [and] because you did not sanctify Me in the midst of the children of Israel.
He gives great salvation to His king, and He performs kindness to His anointed; to David and to his seed, forevermore.
Slichot/Rosh Hashanah
For from afar, you will see the land, but you will not come there, to the land I am giving the children of Israel.
And these are the last words of David; the saying of David the son of Jesse, and the saying of the man raised on high, the anointed of the G-d of Jacob, And the sweet singer of Israel. (II Samuel 23:1)


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