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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pesach Sheini (The Second Passover)

Pesach Sheini (The Second Passover)
I'm constantly haunted
By the overwhelming
Feeling that whatever
I'm doing is not enough,
That I'm not meeting
My most basic obligations
And that the day of reckoning
Will come and I will be
Forced to admit it.
So I admit it now.
What I give certainly
Does not compare with
What I take.
I do not deserve what I have,
And am still very far, relying
Completely on His mercy.
So now that I've gotten
All that off my chest
And set all pretensions aside
I can go back to work
Because it's never too late
To burn off the yeast and bring
The proper sacrifice
With humble bread and bitter herbs
In order, to be free.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Two Levels of Love for G-d: Explaining Chassidic/Kabbalistic Concepts Based on the Writings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Continuing the Chassidic discourse (Ma'amar) for the 29th of Iyar, 5712, Shabat Mevarchim Sivan, Parashat Devarim: 

In love (Kesef), there are two levels: Ahavah Zutta (small love) and Ahavah Rabbah (great love). Ahavah Zuttah is a love that is based on reason, when a person reflects on the fact that G-dliness is something good, and through this such love is born in his/her heart. This kind of love is measured and limited, since the love is born from reason, and is therefore limited by intellect that brought it into existence. It is also based on the comprehension of G-dliness that is in this world, which itself is limited. This kind of love is not related to the concept of Kalut HaNefesh (giving up/nullification) of one's soul, which is above measurement and limits. Also, this lower level of love is related to the comprehension that G-dliness is good to the person (meaning it is still somewhat self-centered).


Ahavah Rabbah is a love that is above reason and above any limits or confines. It comes from above a person's own love, but rather comes down from the level of love that Hashem has for Israel, and is a hidden love, which can be found deep within every Jew. It comes after a person has completed his/her own service, and achieve what one could achieve based on one's own limited efforts. Within Ahavah Rabbah there are two levels: (1) a flaming fire (Ahavah K'Rishpei Esh), which is thirst for G-d, from below to above, and (2) Ahavah B'Ta'anugim, a love of delights, which is from above to below.


These two levels, Ahavah Zuttah and Ahavah Rabbah, are related to whether the love (Kesef) comes before (Meshicha - moving the object acquired, Ita'aruta deleTa'ata: arousal from below), or whether it comes afterwards. If it comes before, then it is Ahavah Zuttah, based on a person's own limited intellect. If it afterwards, as a consequence of everything a person was able to achieve on his/her own.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Yom Yerushalayim

Yom Yerushalayim

Chega o dia que cansa
Ser manso, pacato
Sensato, puxa saco
Chega a hora que explode
A força enforcada
Feroz e selvagem
Com garras, coragem
Jumento tornado
Tigre de fogo e carvão
Reconquista por fim
O próprio coração
Cidade da paz
E temor.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Forgetting Thee

Forgetting Thee
It's clear to me
I must return
And make a "kli"

And if I don't
Remind us now
Shabbat will come
To then refresh
Whatever's left
In memory.

"If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy. Remember, O Lord, against the children of Edom the day of Jerusalem." (Psalm 137. Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, is the 28th of Iyar).

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Spiritual Acquisition: Explaining Chassidic/Kabbalistic Concepts Based on the Writings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

In the Chassidic discourse (Ma'amar) for the 29th of Iyar, 5712, Shabat Mevarchim Sivan, Parashat Devarim, the Rebbe discusses the statement found at the end of Pirkei Avot: "G-d acquired five acquisitions in His world. These are: one acquisition is the Torah, one acquisition are the heavens and the earth, one acquisition is Abraham, one acquisition is the people of Israel, and one acquisition is the Holy Temple." (6:10) 

The Rebbe begins by giving the traditional explanation of this verse: these important elements are described as acquisitions to show their importance to G-d. When a person acquires something, he gives of his own money, which otherwise could be used towards providing for his sustenance. The elements listed are in chronological order, since the Torah was created before the heavens and the earth, which in turn was created before Abraham, who was created before the people of Israel, who came into being before the Temple.

This explanation, however, leaves us with several questions. If the verse were meant just to show the importance of these elements, the verse could have read "G-d has five acquisitions." Why is it necessary to state that Hashem acquired them. Also, why does the verse state, "in His world." It seems completely superfluous, as we all know all these things are found in the world, and that the world belongs to Him. This is particularly difficult to understand given that the heavens and the earth (ie. the world) are one of the five elements listed.

The Rebbe then explains that when the verse reads, "in His world," it is describing a world where there is absolutely no room for there to be any doubt as to His rulership over it; where there is absolutely no possibility of making the mistake that the world runs on its own, or that G-d forbid there is more than one authority [such as the Zoroastrian belief] that there is a ruler above and one below, G-d forbid. In order for these elements to be raised to such a world, there had to be an actual action from Hashem, and that is why the verse states that Hashem "acquired" them "in His world."

The idea of an acquisition is not the creation of something from nothing (Yesh M'Ayin), but rather it is a transfer from the domain of the seller to the domain of the buyer. It is not an action of creation, but rather it is taking something from the realm of the hidden to the realm of the revealed.

Acquisition, Kinyan in Hebrew, applies specifically to the World of Atzilut, as can be found in the verses of Kiddush Levanah, the sanctification of moon: "Bauch Konech, Baruch Borech, Baruch Yotzrech, Baruch Osech," (blessed is your Acquirer, blessed is your Creator, blessed is your Former, and blessed is your Maker). The latter three related to the lower three worlds: Beriyah(Creation), Yetzirah (Formation) and Assiyah (Action). Kinyan (acquisition) refers to the highest world, the World of Atzilut(Emanation).  In the world of Atzilut, Emanation, the act of creation does not apply. In that world, there is more of a revelation of G-d, serving as an intermediary between the Emanator and His creations.

Hashem's spiritual acquisition also applies to the idea of elevating something from the lower worlds to the level of the world ofAtzilut.

In Jewish law, there are two components of a physical acquisition: Meshicha (moving) and Kesef (silver, money). There is a debate in the Talmud between two of the most prominent rabbinic authorities as to what actually takes place during an acquisition. One opinion is that moving a physical object is actually a Torah requirement, and that once the buyer moves the object it now actually belongs to him, and he become obligated to pay the seller. The other opinion is that the monetary exchange is actually what makes the acquisition takes place, and once that is done the seller is obligated to give the object the the buyer. The moving the object would then be solely a rabbinic decree.

The practical difference between these opinions is that regarding first opinion the acquisition requires a change of domain of the object, while the second one requires absolutely no change in the object itself.

The same is true on a spiritual level. Everything in the world was created requiring a Tikkun, a "fixing." That is why the verse state, "Asher Barah Elokim La'asot," which G-d created in order [for us] to do. When we perform a Tikkun, we are taking something out of its present domain and bringing it into the domain of holiness, the private/unique domain (Reshut HaYachid) of the Yechidoh shel Olam (the "One and Only" of the World), which is connected to the world of Atzilut, which is called "His world," as explained above.

This spiritual acquisition has two ways of being performed: Meshicha and KesefMeshicha, moving, is when the elevation comes from the way in which a person behaves regarding all worldly matter, moving them to the realm of holiness and Divine service. This is Ita'aruta deleTa'ata: arousal from below, where man initiates the relationship.

Kesef (silver) is rooted in the word Kesufim, desire, and reflects our longing and love for Hashem once He reveals himself to us first. This is called Ita'aruta dela'Eilah: arousal from above.

The Ma'amar then begins a discussion of two levels of love (Kesef)... (b'Ezrat Hashem to be continued at a later date)

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