Sunday, January 29, 2017

Monday, 3rd of Shevat, 5777

Sefirot Combination:

Monday is the sixth day of Week 18 and the twenty-seventh day of the cycle of Tiferet (Balance/Beauty), Yesod shebeNetzach shebeTiferet, Foundation within Victory/Endurance within Balance/Beauty.

Alef-Bet/Psalms:

Monday is also the fifteenth day of the sixth 22-day cycle of the year, related to the letters Kaf and Lamed. The following excerpts from Chapters 112 and 119 of the Book of Psalms are connected to the fifteenth letter, the Samech:


Psalm 112:


סָמוּךְ לִבּוֹ לֹא יִירָא

His heart is steadfast, he will not fear


Psalm 119:


סָלִיתָ כָּל שֹׁגִים מֵחֻקֶּיךָ כִּי שֶׁקֶר תַּרְמִיתָם:

You trampled all who stray from Your statutes, for their deceit is false.





Chumash:

15 They obscured the view of all the earth, and the earth became darkened, and they ate all the vegetation of the earth and all the fruits of the trees, which the hail had left over, and no greenery was left in the trees or in the vegetation of the field[s] throughout the entire land of Egypt.


16 Pharaoh hastened to summon Moses and Aaron, and he said, "I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you.

Tehilim:

4. The Lord is in His holy Sanctuary, the Lord's throne is in heaven, [yet] His eyes behold, His pupils probe [the deeds of] mankind.
5. The Lord tests the righteous, but He hates the wicked and the lover of violence.
6. He will rain down upon the wicked fiery coals and brimstone; a scorching wind will be their allotted portion.
7. For the Lord is righteous, He loves [the man of] righteous deeds; the upright will behold His countenance.
Daily Tanya:

Now this is a general principle in the whole realm of holiness: Holiness (קדושה) is only that which derives from Chochmah, called קודש העליון — “supernal holiness.”

Its very existence is nullified in the light of the blessed Ein Sof which is clothed in it, and it is not a thing apart — as explained earlier.

Therefore, this faculty is called Chochmah, which consists of the two words כ׳׳ח מ׳׳ה (the power of humility and abnegation).

This stands in direct contrast to the kelipah and sitra achra...


Rambam

It is a mitzvah to kill minim and apikorsim... When, by contrast, a Jew commits transgressions, but does not maintain his wickedness continually, merely occasionally sinning for his own personal satisfaction - e.g., one who eats non-kosher food for pleasure - it is a mitzvah to save his life, and it is forbidden to stand idly by when his life is threatened.

Hayom Yom

Torah Or was first printed in 5597 (1837) in Kopust (without supplements). The Tzemach Tzedek, in his letter of Sh'vat 3 that year, wrote:
The book Torah Or now printed...contains maamarim, most of them from 5556 (1796) until the end of 5572 (1812). Our Master,1of blessed memory, carefully examined and edited many of these and agreed to have them published. The book is comprised of two parts: The first is on two2 of the Five Books of the Chumash, Chanuka and Purim, with several discourses on Shavuot (time of Giving of the Torah) in parshat Yitro and a few for Pesach included in parshat Vayakheil. The second part (with G‑d's help, will be) on the last three Chumashim, Shir Hashirim, the Festivals, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur...The name of the author is fitting:Schneur, (literally, "two lights"), just as v'ahavta ("you shall love") in numerical value is twice that of the word or,3 "light."
Before the second part could be printed, informers had the government close a number of Hebrew printshops in Russia, including the one in Kopust where the Torah Or was printed. In 5608 (1848) the second part was printed in Zitomir with a different title, Likutei Torah.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tuesday, 26 Tevet 5777

Sefirot Combination:

Tuesday is the seventh day of Week 17 and the twenty-first day of the cycle of Tiferet (Balance/Beauty), Malchut shebeTiferet shebeTiferet, Kingship within Balance/Beauty within Balance/Beauty.

Alef-Bet/Psalms:

Tuesday is also the ninth day of the sixth 22-day cycle of the year, related to the letters Kaf and Lamed. The following excerpts from Chapters 112 and 119 of the Book of Psalms are connected to the ninth letter, the Tet:


Psalm 112:

Good is the man who is gracious and lends


Psalm 119:


Thick like fat is their heart, but I engage in Your Torah.
טוֹב אִישׁ חוֹנֵן וּמַלְוֶה




טָפַשׁ כַּחֵלֶב לִבָּם אֲנִי תּוֹרָתְךָ שִׁעֲשָׁעְתִּי:





Daily Tanya:

For the heart is also corporeal, like the other organs of the body which are the instruments of action.

The heart is, however, internal and is the organs‘ source of vitality.

Therefore, because the heart, in its corporeality, is close to the other organs, and also provides their vitality, it can clothe itself in their actions, to be their “wings”, elevating them.

Tehilim:

110. The wicked laid a snare for me, yet I have not strayed from Your precepts.
111. I have taken Your testimonies as an eternal heritage, for they are the joy of my heart.
112. I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes, forever, to the last.

Hayom Yom

In the b'racha V'lamalshinim (p. 55, "Let thee..." in English), pause slightly between ut'mageir ("crush") and v'tachnia ("and subdue"), in consonance with the kavana that t'akeir ut'shabeir ut'mageir ("uproot, break, crush") refer to the three kelipot that must be completely eradicated. V'tachnia ("subdue") refers to kelipat noga that must be subdued, but can be purified.



Monday, January 23, 2017

Week 18 (Book 2): Achia HaShiloni and "Minimized" World Activity


HAAZINU: You forgot the [Mighty] Rock Who bore you; you forgot the G-d Who delivered you. (Deuteronomy 32:18)

Positive light: Rock [or Creator], they are your children; forget completely [our sins]; G-d delivers you.

HAFTORAH: He delivered me from my mighty enemy; from them that hated me; for they were too powerful for me. (II Samuel 22:18)

QUALITY TO ACQUIRE THE TORAH: Minimized World Activity (Miut Derech Eretz)

PROPHET: Achiah HaShiloni

LEVITICAL CITY: Mishal

On Week Eighteen, Rosh Chodesh Shevat, Haazinu’s verse speaks of how the Jewish people forgot about G-d, who bore and delivered them. Shevat is a month very much connected with nature – it includes the New Year of the Trees. It therefore seems appropriate that the verse speak of G-d’s relationship to us using the “natural” metaphor of giving birth. However, Shevat also represents the idea of being above nature, as well as the Oral Torah; it represents the idea of taanug (pleasure) and emunah (celebrating Tu B’Shvat in the midst of winter).

This week’s verse in Haazinu can also be understood more positively, as a prayer. “Rock [or Creator], they are your children; forget completely [our sins]; G-d delivers you.” The Haftorah’s verse also appears to continue the theme of prayer. The verse describes G-d’s intervention in the world in a way that is above nature.(See below about the Levitical City of Mishal, below, as well as the Grasshopper in Week 18 of Book 1).   

The quality for this week is minimized world activity (miut derech eretz). This seems to be a direct parallel with the Pirkei Avot teaching for this week in Book 1. When all of one’s affairs in this world are in a way of miut (humble and "minimized"), we see much more the Hand of G-d in all of our affairs.

This week’s prophet is Achiah HaShiloni. He, perhaps more than anyone, represents the idea of acting in a way that is above nature. He lived longer than any of the other prophets (as recorded by Maimonides, and taught Eliyahu HaNavi as well as the Ba’al Shem Tov. It was because of both men's minimized world activity that they merited to have Achiah HaShiloni revealed to them.

Achiah also told the Ba’al Shem Tov that he needed to reveal himself to the world. He directed him to be involved in the world, but in a way of miut, "smallness." Additionally, the Baal Shem Tov spoke of the importance of being a genuine and good person and having a simple connection to G-d. This seems related to both the idea of “Derech Eretz” – having good behavior and being a mentch, as well as the idea of taking care of the “Amei Ha’Aretz,” simple folk.


The levitical city for this week is Mishal, which means prayer, request. This is related to the song of the Grasshopper (Week 18, Book 1) , and to the Shmoneh Esreh, which has eighteen blessings. It is also related to ta’anug and to emunah, qualities of the month of Shevat. Mishal also has the same letters as Moshel, to rule. In prayer, we accept the notion that G-d is the ultimate Ruler.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Tuesday, 19th of Teveth

Sefirot Combination:

Tuesday is the seventh day of Week 16 and the fourteenth day of the cycle of Tiferet (Balance/Beauty), Malchut shebeGevurah shebeTiferet, Kingship within Might/Discipline within Balance/Beauty.

Alef-Bet/Psalms:

Tuesday is also the second day of the sixth 22-day cycle of the year, related to the letters Kaf and Lamed. The following excerpts from Chapters 112 and 119 of the Book of Psalms are connected to the second letter, the Beit:


Psalm 112:

who greatly desires His commandments.בְּמִצְו‍ֹתָיו חָפֵץ מְאֹד:





Psalm 119:


With the way of Your testimonies I rejoiced as over all riches.ידבְּדֶרֶךְ עֵדְו‍ֹתֶיךָ שַׂשְׂתִּי כְּעַל כָּל הוֹן:




Daily Chumash:

19They replied, "An Egyptian man rescued us from the hand[s] of the shepherds, and he also drew [water] for us and watered the flocks." יטוַתֹּאמַ֕רְןָ אִ֣ישׁ מִצְרִ֔י הִצִּילָ֖נוּ מִיַּ֣ד הָֽרֹעִ֑ים וְגַם־דָּלֹ֤ה דָלָה֙ לָ֔נוּ וַיַּ֖שְׁקְ אֶת־הַצֹּֽאן:

20He said to his daughters, "So where is he? Why have you left the man? Invite him, and let him eat bread." כוַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֶל־בְּנֹתָ֖יו וְאַיּ֑וֹ לָ֤מָּה זֶּה֙ עֲזַבְתֶּ֣ן אֶת־הָאִ֔ישׁ קִרְאֶ֥ן ל֖וֹ וְיֹ֥אכַל לָֽחֶם:

Why have you left the man: He recognized him [Moses] as being of the seed of Jacob, for the water rose toward him. [From Exod. Rabbah 1:32, Tanchuma Shemoth 11]
 
למה זה עזבתן: הכיר בו שהוא מזרעו של יעקב, שהמים עולים לקראתו:

and let him eat bread: Perhaps he will marry one of you, as it is said: except the bread that he ate (Gen. 39:6) [alluding to Potiphar’s wife]. [From Exod. Rabbah 1:32, Tanchuma, Shemoth 11]
 
ויאכל לחם: שמא ישא אחת מכם, כמה דאת אמרת (בראשית לט ו) כי אם הלחם אשר הוא אוכל:

21 Moses consented to stay with the man, and he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses. כאוַיּ֥וֹאֶל משֶׁ֖ה לָשֶׁ֣בֶת אֶת־הָאִ֑ישׁ וַיִּתֵּ֛ן אֶת־צִפֹּרָ֥ה בִתּ֖וֹ לְמשֶֽׁה:

consented: Heb. וַיּוֹאֶל, as the Targum [Onkelos] renders: (וּצְבִי), and similar to this: Accept (הוֹאֶל) now and lodge (Jud. 19:6); Would that we had been content (הוֹאַלְנוּ) (Josh. 7:7); Behold now I have desired (הוֹאַלְךְתִּי) (Gen. 18:31). Its midrashic interpretation is: וַיּוֹאֶל is] an expression of an oath (אלה), he [Moses] swore to him that he would not move from Midian except with his consent. [From Exod. Rabbah 1:33, Tanchuma, Shemoth 12]
 
ויואל: כתרגומו. ודומה לו (שופטים יט ו) הואל נא ולין, ולו הואלנו (יהושע ז ז), הואלתי לדבר (בראשית יח כז), ומדרשו לשון אלה, נשבע לו שלא יזוז ממדין כי אם ברשותו:


Daily Tanya:

ואף מי שבתורת ה׳ חפצו, ויהגה בה יומם ולילה לשמה
Even if one’s entire aspiration is in G‑d’s Torah, which he studies day and night for its own sake...

ולכן היה רבה מחזיק עצמו כבינוני, אף דלא פסיק פומיה מגירסא
For this reason Rabbah considered himself a Beinoni, though his mouth never ceased from Torah study,
ובתורת ה׳ חפצו יומם ולילה בחפיצה וחשיקה ותשוקה
and his desire was in [studying] G‑d’s Torah day and night, with a craving, desire and longing,
ונפש שוקקה לה׳ באהבה רבה, כבשעת קריאת שמע ותפלה
his soul yearning for G‑d with overwhelming love, such as that experienced during the recitation of the Shema and the Amidah.
During prayer, as mentioned above, the Beinoni’s heart is aroused to a love of G‑d so passionate that he does not feel the evil of his animal soul at all. Rabbah, however, experienced this arousal of love not only during prayer but throughout the day. Therefore, his animal soul was always dormant and he never desired mundane matters.
ונדמה בעיניו כבינוני המתפלל כל היום
It was therefore possible for him to consider himself a Beinoni, for he appeared in his own eyes as a Beinoni who prays all day, i.e., a Beinoni who throughout the day retains the level attained during prayer,
וכמאמר רז״ל: הלואי שיתפלל אדם כל היום כלו

Tehilim:

3. to proclaim Your kindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness in the nights,
4. with a ten-stringed instrument and lyre, to the melody of a harp.
5. For You, Lord, have gladdened me with Your deeds; I sing for joy at the works of Your hand.
6. How great are Your works, O Lord; how very profound Your thoughts!

Hayom Yomu

Chabad chassidim have a tradition from generations, instituted by the Alter Rebbe, that every day we study a parsha of Chumash of that week's sedrawith Rashi. This was done by the Rebbe'im, too.


Monday, 18th of Teveth

Sefirot Combination:

Monday is the sixth day of Week 16 and the thirteenth day of the cycle of Tiferet (Balance/Beauty), Yesod shebeGevurah shebeTiferet, Foundation within Might/Discipline within Balance/Beauty.

Alef-Bet/Psalms:

Tuesday is also the first day of the sixth 22-day cycle of the year, related to the letters Kaf and Lamed. The following excerpts from Chapters 112 and 119 of the Book of Psalms are connected to the first letter, the Alef:


Psalm 112:

1Hallelujah. Praiseworthy is the man who fears the Lord...אהַלְלוּיָהּ | אַשְׁרֵי אִישׁ יָרֵא אֶת יְהֹוָה 

Psalm 119:


1. Then I shall not be ashamed when I look at all Your commandments.ואָז לֹא אֵבוֹשׁ בְּהַבִּיטִי אֶל כָּל מִצְו‍ֹתֶיךָ:



Today was also the yahrzeit of the Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov, the Bnei Yissachar

Week 17 (Book 2): Obadiah and Minimized Business Activity


HAAZINU: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. (Deuteronomy 32:17)

Positive Light: Would they sacrifice to demons? No. [Their] power was G-d; they did not know new ones. They came from close by, [and] your forefathers did not fear them.

HAFTARAH: He sent from on high [and] He took me; He drew me out of many waters. (II Samuel 22:17)

QUALITY TO ACQUIRE THE TORAH: Minimized Business Activity (Miut Schorah)

PROPHET: Obadiah

LEVITICAL CITY: Gath-Rimmon

The seventeenth week of the year is the last in the month of Teveth. The verse in Haazinu continues to make reference to idolatry and their abandoning G-d. As mentioned previously, these are themes related to Teveth and the Tribe of Dan.

Again, this week’s verse in Haazinu can also take on a more positive note. It could be read in such a way that would indicate that they rejected idolatry and assimilation. Assimilation’s attraction, in the times of the Greeks as well as today, is that it is depicted as being something new and contemporary, while the values of the Torah are portrayed as being “outdated.” Another attraction of assimilation is that the attraction of other cultures is exactly related to those aspects that are closest to the Torah and to people that are like us. The Greeks and helenized Jews came from close, they championed values, such as wisdom and humanism, that were often quite close to Jewish ideals.

This week’s Haftarah verse is in line with the positive interpretation of the verse in Haazinu. Hashem remained connected to the Jewish people throughout their struggles. In times of many enticements, he drew them “out of many waters.” As mentioned in Book 1, “many waters” is a reference to struggles when making a living.

The quality of this week is minimized business activity, miut schorah. Business activity and the quest for money can easily become “idolatrous.” It can become an end in of itself, and we end up forgetting the whole point of why we sought to have money in the first place – to be able to better serve our Creator and provide for our families. That is why the Torah advises us to conduct our business affairs with “miut,” smallness and humility, remembering that ultimately our study of Torah and our service to G-d is what is most important.

This week’s prophet is Obadiah. Obadiah, like Michaia, prophecized in the times of King Ahab, in which idolatry became rampant. Ahab himself also exemplified the very lack of miut schorah – taking the field of another by force, and killing the owner. It was for this act that Ahab was punished with a Heavenly death sentence.

Obadiah, on the other hand, is perhaps the best example of “business activity” with humility and smallness before G-d. He used his money to keep alive one hundred prophets, and protect them against Ahab and his evil wife Jezebel.  It was this act that earned him prophecy. Obadiah’s name also hints to this quality, as it means the servant/worker of G-d. Obadiah understood that his main work was not for men, but for G-d.

Obadiah’s prophecy, recorded in the Tanach, is about how G-d loves Jacob and hates Esau – the message in the fight against assimilation. Much of what attracted the Jews to Roman culture and its ofshoots are their similarities with Judaism. Esau is Jacob’s brother after all. Like Jacob himself told Esau,

And he said to him, "My master knows that the children are tender, and the flocks and the cattle, which are raising their young, depend upon me, and if they overdrive them one day, all the flocks will die. Now, let my master go ahead before his servant, and I will move [at] my own slow pace, according to the pace of the work that is before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my master, to Seir. (Genesis 33:13, 14)

Jacob did not want to stay with Esau and have him be a bad influence on his family. Perhaps now it is also better understood why Jacob spoke of the flocks as well as of his children. Jacob did not want his possessions to be prey to Esau’s unending ambition.

The levitical city for this week is Gath-rimmon. It means winepress of pomegranites: Here again, when we are out in the world, engaging in business activity and facing its darkness, we have the opportunity to do many mitzvoth, and be full like the pomegranate. The pomegranate’s many seeds is also a reference to the ability to multiply, which is connected with Teveth.
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