fbpx

Pre-Messianic (Geuladik!) Marriage Training in Boro Park

Original watercolor of my own chuppa

Dedicated to my husband, R’ Ari Taback, for being the world’s greatest pre-messianic husband (well, for me).  And its usually not in ways we expect.  (Well, never.)

One day I will interview him for all the men that desire to hear about pre-messianic marriage from a man’s perspective.

 

BS”D
These are the notes of Rochel Weiman, participant from the Malchus Retreat 12-1-19, in poetry. (Shortened and edited by me)

Rochel is the creator of “Women longing for Geula…” https://www.kavconnect.com/

I thank her for sharing her gifts with me and the world, and all the retreat participants for sharing themselves.  You are truly leaders.

~ ~ ~

 

 

 

 

We are not beautiful for what we are
But for what we are becoming.
We need a womb
And a guardian to keep it safe

The moon’s diminishment
The light will dispel the darkness
We are at the seashore of consciousness
Expanding 

Receptive
To the Torah’s light
Feminine.
Our glow
Grow

We are leaders
Generous with sharing the light
Like climbing a ladder,
Blessed with another rung of light
In abundance;
As we help others
Come into their fullness

A story of the terrible tailor…
Stretch your hand to make it fit… your leg…
“What a good tailor!!” they say
Am I pretty enough?
Am I a mother good enough?

Hashem is the tailor!
He created you!
Maybe your not belonging
is the problem with the container.

What is my “Ani”?
Ani is one of the Divine Names
What is my essence?
My agent of transformation

Why are women prone to getting all bent up?
We are Bina: we take things in
We absorb
We take our own energy and weave it against ourselves

That’s why we need to support each other
To help the Shechina rise
And say, to one another;
“I wish you can see yourself through MY eyes.”

Chava was not a messianic name
More like the “messy”-anic
We hold her tikkun
In order to get her to where she…
Where we … are going

She was created twice
Onkelus: “chivia”/ snake
Chaya > Chava > Chedva (23 – 19)
She regains what she lost
To Chedva
The 4 that she lost
The journey is the hidden
De-light

Nachash = Moshiach (358)
Lili-t = Layla
Rising above it
Bringing light to dark
That is how we do it
Coming out of the cocoon
Is how the butterfly becomes
Itself

We are afraid to be vulnerable
To share our struggle
Is it safe?
Is it noble?
We are ashamed
Why do I struggle so?
Isolated

And yet together
We are weaving the story
Of femininity

When malchus is low
Torah is low
Shechina is low
That’s when the evil
Can suckle from her

We focus on the tza’ar (pain)
Of the lost Princess
But the one who suffers the most
is the King, Hashem

When we want to transform
We need to know what is possible.

When you look for validation
You have already shrunk.
You no longer exist in a boundless space of truth
But are limited by the dimensions
Of another’s perception.

Inside of you is the whole truth
Stand in your wholeness
Make it somatic knowing
Unshakable
Stand in your crown

If compliments fuel you
Criticism will crush you!!!

Lightning then thunder
Male and female
So much joy in not already being perfect
And evolving

It is all unfolding
Just in time
Perfectly placed in your life
Embrace it!

Malchus is about co-creation
Hashem is perfect;
He has chosen to make Himself vulnerable
So we can grow to meet Him.

There are 7 stages of a woman’s life
Collectively, individually
Hashem gives us real power to make choices
Real power

Take back your power
where you have given it away
I HAVE CO-CREATED THIS
through MY INNER MATRIX OF BELIEFS;
Who or what have I been blaming?
Wow, there’s something I’m doing to create this story

Turn from receiving the situation to acting upon it
Where am I dis-empowered?
Where am I not in truth?
Perceive my essence of love and nurturing
Isolate the faulty code
and re-script

How do we heal the hurting feminine?
It was the pain of rejection;
She was a high woman
We incorporate her essence
She has a place
Right here
Right now

Dishes, homework, supper.
Chava shnia (second)
Chava shelishit (third)
Messianic Woman
Build the vessels and fill them with light
Be in-joy
Expand

Reclaimed yourself in all dimensions
From Daughter
to Partner
to Mashpia

She had a false belief
That Adam had to receive her
She didn’t know
That she’s the influencer

Woman will be the
Crown of her Husband
Stop looking for validation
She thought she was either below or equal
Yet she is
Above

How are you going to show up
WITH YOUR OWN SCRIPT…
Wearing your crown?

It doesn’t matter if I’m praised or criticized
I am stable in my crown
and my light;
This is my identity.

 

Malchus Affimations:
I am worthy.
I am enough.
Honoring healthy boundaries is peaceful.
I don’t need to be afraid of others.
I only fear Hashem.
I am safe, Hashem is with me.
I can put on my crown.
I have permission to have the light contained in my own keylim (vessels)
I am shepherding my own soul.
.

 

Often the thing that I fear becomes active
In the act of my fearing it.

Gevurah is crafting the vessels
My gevurah is not mean but kind.

I can exude the love in my heart

~

Extracted from the first series, Chava, at The Nexus School of Transformational Torah for Women.

“Rise into your Feminine through Women in Torah”, unlocking your potential as a woman living in the footsteps of Moshiach.

The next cohort of Chava, is starting on Dec 22nd 2019. Join HERE. Join with a chavrusa for the chavrusa special.

To connect to the community email info@thenexus.org

The School is continuing on Feb 12th 2020 BeH with the Imahos. Chava is a prerequisite.

If you need help to pay tuition because you are in Klei Kodesh or you require financial assistance for other reasons, you can apply for a Torah discount.

Malchus Retreat, Nov 30 – Dec 1, Pomona

Reflections

As the first snow of the season fell around Tzivia Chaya’s house on Tamarack Lane in in Pamona, Monsey, we sat ensconced in the warmth of a womb of becoming.

The women who carved the time out to travel from the surrounds of New York City were both curious and courageous.  Curious to see what is possible when we seek to bring light to vessel, and courageous to expand into a “new” Torah paradigm, to identify where they personally found themselves on the map of feminine potential, and to share their breakthroughs with others traveling a similar journey. 

It is impossible to fully describe the terrain we traveled in our twenty-two hour immersive dive into the secrets of the feminine in the scope of this blog.   Though one thing is clear:  we are joining forces, all of us, to redeem the lost princess, the beloved feminine child, Hashem’s only daughter and the King’s “seventh child”.  (See my talk at the AMEN group HERE for more on this). 

The lost princess is sometimes called the Torah (Shmot Rabba Parashas Teruma) and sometimes called Shabbos (see the Lecha Dodi prayer).  Shechina and Malchus are both apt names too (perhaps preferred by the mystically inclined).  As Jewish + Women, our femininity is the mashal for “the lost princess” and our Jewishness is our mandate to free her.  That means that as women, we are both representing her as well as actively involved in her redemption. Thus, our story of growth runs completely parallel to the approach of the messianic era.  For this reason, Rashi asserts that “women are close to Geula”  and chazal state prophetically, “in the merit of the righteous women in that generation (of moshaich) we will be redeemed”.

What was so special about the retreat was our quest to rise together as Jewish women into our fullest potential.  Since the feminine archetype is compared to the moon, a moon aglow represents the pinnacle of feminine spiritual achievement.  However, the glow of the moon will be so great (Isiah 30:26), perfectly reflecting all the light of the sun without losing even a drop, that it will indeed emit light like a sun.  When that happens, the night itself will become no more.  Hence, the complete recovery of the moons’ diminishment will herald in another era – one that our sages describe, in the same passage there, as being filled with da’as of Hashem as water fills the sea. 

That means, if you are adding this all up with me, that rising as Jewish women is synonymous with coming into our full consciousness.  Indeed, when the dark side of the moons is illuminated through sheer proximity to its own reflected light, it becomes dark no more.

Because nexus is designed to heal ourselves… and because nexus is the meeting point between light and vessel… we did this in real time.  The incredible group, through the supportive culture we had all co-created, was able to identify the transformations they were seeking that would shift them in a deep place inside, from where they could continue to navigate their lives in the real world aligned more with their essence.  Each of us were able to isolate the area or dark spot in our beings where we were operating out of unwittingly and then illuminate it with the light of Torah.  Though the love between us was palpable, the day was actually permeated with the quality of truth.  When we are in truth, we automatically iron out the creases and repair our internal frays.  If we were to keep applying this principle of bringing light to our darkness continually… we would continue to expand in consciousness and heal into the wholeness of what Hashem created us to be.  This was the melody of the day and the Torah we shared kept us thinking big and feeling supported by Hashem Himself in our quest to come closer to Him.

Of course, each woman’s growth was precious and personal.   If you want to get a feeling for the sorts of subconscious blocks that other women broke through, you can read Rochel’s poetic notes where she noted them in stunning simplicity, called “Malchus affirmations”, HERE (read to the end).  You will still be able to pick out a new tune that is starting to play through all of our hearts.

~

I wasn’t sure what to call the retreat when I invited you to it.  Looking back, its name is clear.  It was the Malchus retreat.  Malchus is the esoteric quality associated with the moon, and though the moon is said to “have nothing of her own” (she is merely the transmitter of the sun’s light), ironically, her qualities are many.  Some things we have wondered as women though we may not have given voice to are:  how do we rise and remain humble?  How do we shine and not evoke the jealousy of others?  How do we find and connect to our own light and not need to be pumped up from the outside?  What is motivating us?  How do we trust ourselves through-out our journey of ascent when we are so prone to self-doubt? What can we look forward to at the end, as it says in Aishes Chayil (Mishlei) “she who laughs on the last day”?  Indeed, the moon will share one crown with the sun as she initially intuited she would (Arizal, sha’ar mi’ut halevana).  But this will not be an expression of ego as it may have been originally.  These and others are the lessons of Malchus.  As you can infer, Malchus is so internal that it aligns with everything our teachers always taught us about tznius (modesty) and coming into our inner essence. And yet, paradoxically, Malchus is also the essence of leadership. 

Of course. 

~

What I discovered is that meeting live in person, as wonderful as that is, requires the lining up of so many logistics.  Food, lodging, transportation, and baby-sitting.  The great news is that the teachings from the retreat were all extracted from the first series  at the Nexus school, Rise into your Feminine through Chava, and you can connect with them and the entire Nexus community by joining (HERE), learn in your own place and at your own pace, and fit it into your life. 

The next cohort of Chava, is starting on Dec 22nd 2019.  It is your chanuka present!  Join HERE.  Join with a chavrusa for the chavrusa special.

To connect to the community email me at info@thenexus.org

The School is moving on!  Feb 12th 2020 BeH with the Imahos so stay tuned.  Chava is prerequisite.

If you need help to pay tuition because you are in Klei Kodesh or you require financial assistance for other reasons, you can apply for a Torah discount.

Based on the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh

It is the day after Isru Chag, the “binding up” or in-gathering of all the “light” that we were privy to over the Chag.   With Breishis, we start to manifest the potential that has been bestowed upon us for the year to come.  We need to create vessels to hold it, and as you know, we ourselves are the ultimate vessels.

So, what happens now?  Where do we go from here?  How do we not fall into the trap of depression as the Yamim Tovim fall behind us?
 
             The Ohr Hachayim Hakadosh offers twenty interpretations of the first few verses of the Torah, on the very first word, “בראשית”. The twentieth one is poignantly beautiful and sums up our purpose on earth.  It also makes clear that the period of closeness is for the sake of what’s to follow as we embark in our own process of integration.  As we move from Tishrei into our routines we are essentially moving into a space of “nexus”, where light meets vessel.  He says: 

         The creation of the world itself is in fact a hint to the creation of man, since the purpose of the world is man.

         “In the beginning Elokim created the Heavens and the Earth” – man is comprised of two components, body and soul, hinted to in the words “Heaven” and “Earth”, since his body was taken from the earth and his soul was blown into his nostrils by Hashem.
 
        The purpose of man’s creation is that he may convert his “earthiness”, i.e. physicality, into into G-dliness and ruchniut (spirituality)into “Heaven”. When he succeeds in transforming his body’s dense physicality into holiness and light, he is called a tzaddik (or tzadeekes!) and satisfies the purpose of all creation.
 
        The other alternative is for man to allow his precious and holy soul, the component called “heaven”,  to be pulled into the muck of his “earth”, his courser existence.  This is the choice of the reshaim, the wicked.
 
        Let’s see how this plays out in the ensuing verses!
 
“And the land was tohu and vohu – emptiness and chaos.” The land refers to man’s body, the base animalistic layer of his unrectified humanity.
 
“And there was darkness…” This is the yetzer hara, since the evil inclination is called “darkness”…
 
On the face of the deep.” The Evil inclination at this stage rules the body with a supreme monopoly.  Like a black hole, the body just absorbs more and more of the evil one’s darkness into an imploding abyss devoid of Hashem.
 
“And the Spirit of G-d hovered on the face of the water… the spirit of Hashem, prohibited from entering the body of man, cannot penetrate to redeem him with its simple force of goodness.
 
        Until…
 
“And G-d said, “let there be light”.  Hashem sends the only possible agent of change into the darkness of the body to transform it – the soul, carrier of light, itself hewn from the throne of Glory and a piece of G-d Himself. In this way, we do not have to drown in the mire and muck of our baser natures.
 
“And G-d saw the light that it was good.” What was previously an impossible set-up now has a fighting chance. We can succeed in this world and the story of creation WILL have a good ending.
 
“And G-d separated between the light and the darkness…”  But He didn’t remove the darkness.  In order for us to truly earn the highest good, the battle remains.  Evil will only be neutralized on the day that history is complete, with the coming of Moshiach.
 
“And He calls the light “day” and the dark “night”” – let us not get confused between them. Let the chaos and emptiness of a purely physical existence be infused with our light and thereby become transformed.  We can only achieve this when we have clarity, know what is what, and call it such.
 
“And it was evening, and it was morning, one day”.  Together the darkness and the light set the stage of our lives and are ultimately One in creating the most perfect world – a rich inner world, for us to transform the darkness into light.  

 

A Deeper and Surprising Look at Femininity…

Femininity Redeemed!

 

Dedication

He sat there, slumped in his chair.  The date was September 11th, 2001 and the twin towers had just fallen.  R’ Moshe Eisemann, author of “Shelter in the Shade”, lyrical thoughts on Kohelles and the festival of Sukkos , didn’t turn me away from his door when I sought his guidance on that surreal afternoon.  The place was Yeshiva Lane, Baltimore.

“Why is Koheles a Megilla?”  I asked him, several years later, after our first meeting. 

“That’s a good question,” he said. 

~

15 years later, I met his daughter, Miriam Kosman on her trip to South Africa as a guest speaker at the world-acclaimed Sinai Indaba conference for Torah thinkers.  Only, we wouldn’t have recognized each-other had we met again after that first evening, even though I was hosting her in my home.  The electricity was off. 

In the dark, she handed me a copy of her book Circle, Arrow Spiral, about gender in Judiasm. “This is for you.” I thanked her.

“I’ve always wanted to write a book about women and Torah” I confided in her.

“You’ll write the next one,” she said.

~

This blog is dedicated to those who open their homes to others, and those who enter the homes of others, and build those others that they find there.

Special thank you to R’ Nir Menussi for his inspiration.

~

I am writing this blog during Chol Hamoed Sukkos.  Tomorrow I am back in the kitchen.  I thank my husband for giving me the time to pen these thoughts. 

Indeed, why is Koheles read on sukkos?  For the festival that is dubbed “zman simchaseinu”, the time of our joy, our sages couldn’t have chosen a more seeming depressing sefer. In fact, it is recorded that the sages considered keeping the scroll of Koheles under lock and key, and while reading it, there is something different about it…. It doesn’t feel like Torah.  I know this is a weird thing to say, but it’s true.  Torah is filled with hope, with meaning, with spirituality, with relationship to the Divine, and not so this scroll, at least on the surface.

Here are the first few lines.

“The words of Kohelles (also known as Shlomo), son of David, King of Jerusalem. 

Futility of Futilities!  Said Koheles – Futility of futilities!  All is futile! 

What profit does a man have for all his labor which he toils beneath the sun?

A generation goes and a generation comes… the sun rises and sun sets…. The wind goes around and around…. All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full….

Whatever has been is what will be…. There is nothing new beneath the sun!”

R’ Nir Menussi, in his blog HERE, calls Koheles the poison in the medicine chest.  There are times when the patient is so sickly that the doctor needs to call out his most toxic medication, the “schedule 6” prescriptions that would nearly kill a healthy person.  Since Torah is the ultimate healer, there are times when the other books of Tanach aren’t enough to drive home its message and create a turnaround for our spiritual health.  That is when and why Koheles is read.

What is its message?  Why do we need it now, on Sukkos?  How does it tie into all the other themes of the Sukka and why does this make any sense when we are in the peak of our joy, newly born after the intensity of Yom Kippur and the thorough spiritual cleansing that we have undergone?

And of course, let me not forget my original question to R’ Eisemann, why is Kohelles a megilla?? What even IS a megilla?

~

Distinct from the other books of Tanach which are written and stored on a double scroll, the megillos are written and stored on a single scroll.  Hence, the word “megilla” means to unroll and reveal its contents.  The other megillot of the set of five are Esther (which we read on Purim), Ruth (read on Shavous), Shir Hashirim (Pesach), and Eicha (Tisha B’av).  As a teacher of “Pre-Messianic” women’s Torah, when looking at the other four megillot, it is clear to me that the theme “woman” traces through all these other scrolls.  I wonder if perhaps that is the theme that unifies them all and gives them, in part, their identity as Megillot[1].  In Esther and Ruth, the main protagonists are women, and in Eicha and Shir Hashirim, the allegory of the Jewish people as Hashem’s bride follow this theme.  It would then appear that Koheles is the odd one out, as there appears not to be a theme relating to womanhood.[2] Sometimes, a correlation is even deeper than we realize and surpasses a specific character playing a particular role in a story.  Koheles is ALL about womanhood, or rather, the lower feminine archetype or un-redeemed aspect of womanhood.  Sukkos is about the “higher feminine archetype”, a hint to the femininity that is emerging as we approach our Messianic future.  And I know that this doesn’t mean anything to you yet.  Let me explain.

~

“In the beginning, Hashem created the Heavens and Earth…” 

In the entire first section of the Torah, there is one letter that is mysteriously missing.  The “ס” or samech.  It’s first appearance is with the creation of woman, well into the second chapter of the Torah, in the verse, “ותסגר הבשר תחתנה” – “and He closed the flesh beneath her”.

Yet this letter, the “ס”, features quite prominently in Koheles, right from the beginning in the verses I just quoted for you.  סובב סובב – round and round, the world turns on its axis, the sun rise and sets, the winds blow and waters flow. 

The sefer closes with it as well.  In fact, the reason why the sages decided NOT to hide Koheles from us is because its second to final verse, סוף דבר הכל נשמע… “The sum total of the matter is that you must fear G-d, because that is all of man….” The tradition determines that the letter “samech” of the word “sum total, סוף” is written bigger than any other letter in the whole Megilla.  The Samech is  clearly the letter of this sefer.

Why is the samech missing in the creation of the world in all the six days and only surfaces with the creation of woman?  The commentaries explain that the “ס” is there letter where the Satan slipped into the world, and is in the fact the first letter of the name of the Satanic Angel, “Sama-el”. 

Why with the creation of woman??

R’ Moshe Shapira (as documented in the work of his Talmid, R’ Shlanger in Ohel Rachel) explains that the woman is inextricably linked to the sands of time.  She keeps time with her very body, and like the moon, the tides and all the cycles of life, she fundamentally understands the rhythms of life.  The repeating motifs of life and survival – or life and thrival, hopefully! – are her domain.  They are not meaningless or futile when they are serving her goals of nurturing Jewish continuity and making Torah possible.  This is the rectified woman, the Aishes Chayil.  But without a holy orientation, life in the essential lower feminine nature starts to feel futile.  We could easily play on the Koheles theme with something like this:  “and she shops.  And she cooks.  And she serves.  And she washes the dishes. And she shops again….” What is it all for? 

Indeed, later in the work, Kohelles lists the famous 28 “times” of contrasting experiences. 

“Everything has its season, and there is a time for everything under the Heaven:  A time to be born and a time to die.  A time to plant and a time to uproot the planted.  A time to kill and time to heal…”

Life, death.  Laughter, tears. Closeness, distance.  Silence, speaking, love, hate, peace, war.  Everything and its opposite is included to create a rich tapestry of experience which is the fabric of every life.  Such are the cycles of life… and the trap of femininity. 

~

It is here that I want to capture a teaching that I shared in my shiur at the beginning of this year, called “Miriam’s Circle Dance, Aligning to the Future.” Here we will be taking the next step.  The teaching of circles versus lines is foundational for an understanding of the special mission of the “Pre-Messianic Woman”.  Our sages teach us that the world is approaching a circle reality and that this shift is deeply related to our ability to dip into our feminine gifts and share them.  This is a special piece that we have to bring to the world at this time, but of course, first we need to know what they are.

There are two kinds of circles.  This first kind encloses and suffocates spirituality and the second kind is spirituality itself.  The former is what I call the lower feminine nature and the latter the higher feminine nature.  As pre-messianic women we are reaching up towards the higher expression of our femininity and as such we have an affinity with the second circle.  And if you haven’t figured out already… the higher feminine is expressed through a different sort of “ס”, samech, not the one that is the first letter of the Satan but the samech that is the first letter of the word Sukka.  Hence, the Sukka is an icon for femininity redeemed!

~

Over Yomtov, I was paging through the commentaries and verses of Koheles and came across the last line in the Vilna Gaon.  He equates the entire work with a verse you know well.  שקר החן והבל היפי אשה יראת ד’ היא תתהלל – Charm is false and beauty is vain, a woman who fears G-d, she shall be praised.  (See, I knew that the theme of this sefer had to be femininity!)  The Vilna Goan sees through the the never-ending cycles of life depicted in its verses and compares it to a woman.  Just like the whole book of Koheles is justified with its second to last line, “The sum total… fear G-d! Because that is all of man!”, the verse in Aishes Chayil that speaks about her vanity continues, “a woman who fears G-d, SHE shall be praised!” In both cases, there is a bemoaning of the futility of beauty and the pursuit of a temporal happiness, and then the remedying statement regarding the injection of the fear of G-d.  What is going on?

Now for the central teaching that will unlock the puzzle and answer our questions.  The mystics take us back prior to the creation of the world in order to help us understand how an Infinite Being, Hashem, was able to create finitude as the platform for life, and how it is precisely through our mortality that Hashem interacts to us.  Two stranger lovers you couldn’t find if you tried – Hashem in His Divinity and ourselves in our utter and feeble humanity.  And yet there can be no greater love.  How did Hashem do this?  How are we simultaneously a part of Him while en-clothed in bodies that are so distinct from Him?

The mystics teach that originally, only G-d’s presence filled existence.  In order for Hashem to create man, He needed to first create a “womb”.  This is what our sages refer to when they speak about “tzimtzum” – the act of constriction that Hashem employed to suck His light out of a predesignated area that would become the the universe.  Hashem contracted His essence so that this circumscribed place would become a vacuum and could ultimately contain a world that appears separate from G-d.  Imagine this area of clearing as a womb, feminine and circular.  Once there was a place that was not filled with Him, He used a kav, a line, or beam of His Light, to reoccupy the profoundly empty space of the primordial hollow and inject its sustenance, sort of like an umbilical chord.  This enabled just the right amount of G-dliness to permeate the space and conceive creation. 

Once creation was “conceived”, human beings could encounter the Divine within the world of nature through one thing only: Torah.  Torah is like the ultimate umbilical chord leading out of the circle of the natural world.  In fact, the very word for nature, teva, is a similar word to the Hebrew “טבעת”, ring.  Imagine all of nature and everything you can perceive with your five senses lining the internal periphery of the circle.  It goes round and round ad infinitum and leads you only to more of itself.  The inside of the circle are the verses of Koheles! 

However, there is a catch phrase, that, thanks to Rashi, medrash and chazal (our sages), provides the key to the book of Koheles and reveals its true essence as one of Torah and as such, blasting the concept of “futility” right out of the water.  That is why the simple meaning of the verses sound foreign on Torah ears because, of course, they are not true.  “Hevel Havalim, vanity of vanities… “  This does not describe a life of Torah and mitzvot?  How can this book be included in Tanach?  “All is vain under the sun”…. in the world of nature, yes, that’s true!  It is a cycle that moves from birth to death, blossom to wilting…. And ends in the grave.  “But!”  say the sages, “this is only true for those who live inside the circle!  Who live under the sun, vulnerable to the inevitable vicissitudes of life.  Not so for the realm above the sun!  For above the sun, that is the realm of Torah, and the home for all that is spiritual.  There, nothing is Hevel, nothing is futile.  Eternity is built by every kind word, every mitzvah, every word of Torah! 

This is akin to drowning in nature[3] and falling into the abyss of the circle and the lower feminine.  It is why the Satan was created with woman, because a circle without a line is a physical world without Torah. The Aishes Chayil is married to the Torah scholar and the higher feminine is in relationship with the masculine, with Torah and with Hashem.  Her circle is not futile.  It is a circle with a line and is forever redeemed.

~

Once we grab onto the rope, the kav, the line leading out of the circle, we enter into a new world.  Just outside the circumscribed space that was the scene of Hashem’s tzimtzum and set the stage for reality to unfold still exists His infinite Light. By grabbing onto the line of Torah, up and over into the realm of above the sun, we encounter another circle.  It is a taste of the world to come, a circle consciousness that is dripping slowly but surely into our beings as we approach the end of the six thousand years culminating with the arrival of Moshiach.  Once we poke our heads above the clouds of the tricky illusions that seem so real, we are once again surrounded, this time, not by “Mother” nature, but by G-d Nature.  We have stepped out of our homes of brick and mortar and find ourselves in a Sukka.  The Zohar says that the Sukka is none other than Hashem’s embrace.  It encircles us on all sides and becomes the new normal for the period of the 7/8 days of Sukkos.[4]  Chassidic texts describe the infinite expanse outside of the circle that demarcates our physical world as the aspect of Hashem that is called סובב כל העלמין – the One who encircles all of creation[5].  This is the “ס” at the end of Sefer Koheles, written in big, “The sum total of it all.  Fear G-d!” 

Grab onto the line that He has cast you and pull yourself up and over.  Hashem’s embrace is the most eternal love of all. 

~

Hevel.  Vanity of vanities.  This is a “schedule 6” remedy for the soul.  Shlomo Hamelech speaks with accuracy what we would rather not admit to be the state of our human psyches without Torah.  It jump-starts us to contemplate the true nature of our lives and our strivings.  When we find the kav, the line, the ray of Light coming from the outside of the circle penetrating inside, we step into the reality that only what is above the sun is real, only the Sukka is real, only Hashem’s love is real.  And that, indeed, makes us very, very happy.  Our sages couldn’t have chosen a better time to read the book of Koheles.  It is hard to understand this with our minds only.  But to our soul, it makes perfect sense.[6] [7]

~  ~  ~

For more on the lower and higher natures of femininity and how to tap into your own feminine attributes in these extra-special times, join me HERE

~ ~ ~

[1] The word “megillah” can mean both to reveal and to conceal, a concept that is key to developing the feminine midda of tzniut, defined as selective revealing. (thank you Ruthie Halberstadt for this beautiful definition I learned from you!)

[2] The verse that blatantly mentions womanhood is one that doesn’t put women in a good light at all!  “For I have found woman more bitter than death…”  For an explanation of the four levels of femininity, visit my school for the pre-messianic woman. Obviously, this bitter description of femininity is the dark and fallen manifestation of womanhood and not a reflection of femininity in its entirety.  

[3] the other word that is etymologically linked to the Hebrew word for nature is to drown!  As such is the trap of the physical world

[4] In fact, the Talmud describes how the very letters that make up the word סכה indicate the halachic requirements of what is considered a Kosher Sukka, i.e. how intact and completely surrounding the walls need to be, whether like the ס, the כ or the ה.    

[5] Also called אור מקיף – the surrounding Light

[6] The Ramban describes the word הבל as “vapor”, not vanity.  Just like vapor is fleeting but exists for a short period do our lives and everything physical.  The secret is to capitalize on the reality of the vapor and turn in into something eternal.  This can be likened to sparks that peter out within a few moments.  Were the sparks to light a barrel of hay, we certainly wouldn’t call the sparks “futile”, but its fleeting nature was combined with something much more lasting.  That is the combination of Torah with our physical lives.

 

A peak at what’s coming in 2020

Our school launched this past year, and with thanks to Hashem, over 80 women bli ayin hara have assembled from all around the world with the most awesome intention of rising into the fullest expression of our femininity by which we can contribute everything we have to our people at this incredible time in Jewish history.  

We initiated the school with going in depth into Chava, the archetype of all femininity, through all the layers of Torah b’siyatta dishmaya, as inspired by the writings of R’ Nir Menussi in his soon to be released sefer on the rising nature of Jewish femininity in the footsteps of Moshiach.

Now I am in a solidifying stage, as a second intake of women are going through the 10 sessions and the community is integrating.  I am so grateful to be a part of this giant circle with the beautiful and brilliant women I have met and I feel deeply nourished.   What we are all feeling in our own lives is being amplified and focused through our gathering around the central point of Torah. 

During this break period, my goal has been to prepare ahead and if I have extra time, to start capturing something of the “pre-messianic women’s teachings” into writing.  I cannot wait to share the light that Sarah sheds on the paradigm-shifting lessons that we absorbed from Chava, calibrating the different aspects of our femininity so that they play a harmonious melody in real life.  Rivka will take us into the still deeper waters of prayer and now, in these days of aseret ymei teshuva (ten days of repentance), I am currently preparing the last of the four Imahot, Rachel and Leah.  Next year, beH, we will go straight through uninterrupted! If you are not part of the school yet please join now, as I will not be able to open up the Imahot and the incredible teachings derived from them to those who have not received the initiation and frameworks that Chava provided us.  Over the next few weeks I will be compiling letters of blessings from mentors so that you can relax into the school knowing BeH that yes, this is mainstream and a gift for you just when you needed it as well as collecting some of the letters and responses from the women who have done the Chava course for you to read.

I was so moved by the opening of the Rachel and Leah section that I just couldn’t wait until next year to share it with you (especially since it is going to be deep into the year as we will do Sarah and Rivka before we can get to Rachel and Leah!). And it is such a perfect message for right now, these ten days of repentance of Aseres Ymei Teshuva.

I shared it with my husband, and he so pithily connected it to what we just davened on Rosh Hashana during the blessing of the Kohanim while they were chanting “May Hashem bless you and safe-guard you….”, and we whispered fervently, “חלום חלמתי ואינו יודע מה היא…” – “I had a dream and I don’t know what it is….”  

~ ~ ~ 

Did you ever wonder why, at the pinnacle of Mussaf on Rosh Hashana and on festivals, we start talking about our nightly dreams?  Of all things to bring up at the time of the blessing of the Kohanim, when Hashem’s beneficence is being channeled towards us…. and we’re praying about our dreams??  

Most of us assume this is referring to the dreams we dream while we slumber.  Of course, the prayer is obviously referring to those dreams.  And yet, on a deeper level… if this isn’t the time to dream, when is?

We are still seeding our year, at the “crown” of it, and all of our intentions for what is to come are beginning to taking root.  Nothing has yet made its way into the worn grooves of reality, nor cascaded into existence.  Our will, our hopes, and our dreams is the stuff of our prayers now.  It is at this time of piqued holiness that we say, “I had a dream and I don’t know what it is…”

What is this dream that we don’t know what it is?  

Our dreams are the highest possibility for our lives.  They are so great, so high, so holy and pure, that our limited intellectual capacity cannot contain them.  So instead, we give it over to Hashem, and we say to Him, I have a dream, I have a potential, I do not even know what it is.  But You do.  And you will give me the year that I need for this dream to slowly, easily, and please G-d without pain, make itself know to me.  May it be good and sweet!

~

Here is an excerpt from R’ Nir Menussi’s still unpublished work. It is exactly about these sorts of dreams that we cannot even begin to realize their magnitude. Only Hashem knows how to manifest them through us, if we are committed enough to watch them unfold, and relaxed enough to trust as they do. 

Those dreams are called our Reality.

Let me explain what I mean with his words from R’ Menussi’s introduction to the section on Rachel and Leah (translated into English, in italics)…

~  ~  ~

As truth is stranger than fiction, so is reality more wonderful than fantasy.  When it feels as if our dreams have been shattered, they have!  While we hold the shards of shattered dreams in our hands, cutting our flesh and breaking our hearts, it is only because we haven’t yet realized that our dreams weren’t big enough.  Broken dreams are a sure message that Hashem has better plans.  Those other dreams that we held so dear were in fact rooted in our limited human minds, and by their dissolution, the space is made for dreams with a capital D! to emerge.  Those are the Dreams that are rooted in Hashem’s knowledge of our fullest potential, that will only be known to us on our final day, as the Aishes Chayil (woman of valor) is described, “and she will laugh on the last day”.  Were that we would be able to perceive this as Truth as we assuaged our grieving hearts from our shattered dreams, and know that in fact it is in those moments that we are closer to realizing our Dreams than we have ever been.  The new and G-d version of those dreams have a different name.  They are called: Reality.

In Hebrew, the word “reality” is מציאות, and means, literally: “that which is found”, that which is unfolding in front of our very eyes despite our wishes that things would be different.  “חלום חלמתי ואינו יודע מה היא – I had a dream and I don’t know what it is…” It is these Dreams, the ones we are not consciously aware of and cannot possibly grasp at the get-go that are the seeds of our greatest potential… the dreams that we don’t even know we have.  And where can they be found? How do we realize those dreams?  We realize them through our Reality.  Precisely where our dreams lay shattered, where our fingers holding its fragments are still bleeding and Reality is rearing its horrific head, we catch our Dreams peering through at us.  As we meet Reality herself, we come to know what Hashem really had in mind for our greatest evolution and potential.  And we will always be surprised at the greatness that Reality evokes.

I must interject and tell you something funny 🙂  In South Africa, we are blessed (blessed? :)) with domestic help.  Just recently, shortly after my daughter’s Bas-Sheva’s birth, I was looking for some extra help.  An applicant for the job walked into my kitchen and told me her name.  It was Reality.  I hired her on the spot!  I knew this was Hashem beckoning me on and in.   

Reality is an under-rated friend.  It is through her that we get an inkling into those dreams we don’t even know we have.  It is only when our smaller human-level dreams dissolve that the G-d generated ones can take root.   And our real growth begins.  

These are the dreams that are constituted from the deepest places in our lives and souls. Because they are so high they “hide” in the shadows of our normal waking consciousness. We get used to this state and settle with a faded version of life, one in which we are not in touch with our truest dreams.  We need Reality  – Hashem’s “trick” that He uses to ensure that only the best ensues – to return to ourselves purer, clearer and more connected than we have ever been.

May this year be one of the sweetest of Dreams.

~ ~ ~ 

How do we learn this from Rachel and Leah?  On a simple level, Yaakov dreamed about Rachel and the Reality Hashem gave him was Leah.  We will go into this at depth at the school, as well as see in what way this is true in our own lives.  We require a very safe space to explore at this level of depth.  I invite you to see what I mean.  Enroll HERE 

Original watercolor/collage, painted in תשס”ט

“Yitzchak and Rivka”

 

There are many mothers mentioned in the Rosh Hashana prayers… From Sarah to Chana, who were both remembered on Rosh Hashana for their miraculous deliverance from childlessness, to Rachel, sobbing on High for her children ensuring their ultimate redemption, from Hagar on behalf of a dying Yishmael, to the hundred sobs of the mother of Sisera while he was fighting a precarious battle. There is another mother hidden deep within our prayers that I would like to expose in order to inspire us to realize the power and importance of feminine prayer.

Near Nishmat, the usual ashkenazi nusach (prayer syntax) adopts the Kabbalistic version and rearranges the verbs in this short poem so that the inner letters spell out Rivka:
בְּפִי יְשָׁרִים תִּתְרוֹמָם
וּבְשִֹפְתֵי צַדִּיקִים תִּתְבָּרַךְ
וּבִלְשׁוֹן חֲסִידִים תִּתְקַדָּשׁ
וּבְקֶרֶב קְדוֹשִׁים תִּתְהַלָּל

“In the mouths of the upright You will be exalted,
with the lips of the righteous You will be blessed,
through the tongues of the devout You will be sanctified,
In the midst of the holy You will be praised”

This secret embedding on the feminine power of prayer accompanies the more explicit allusion to masculine prayer on the part of Yitzchak, as the first letters of the names of the Ba’alei Tefilla correspondingly spell out Yitzchak.

What is fascinating is that the combined numerical value (gematria) of the names “Yitzchak and Rivka” (515), feminine plus masculine prayer, equal that of “Tefilla” (515).

The essence of feminine prayer is that is emerges from the depth of the heart, as the letters of the name Rivka can be permuted to spell the Hebrew word קרבה, “kirva” – deep within, and her name itself is found deep within the words that contain her.

Although Rosh Hashana is not the time for lengthy personal requests, may the prayers that emanate from this deep inner and hidden realm within us this Rosh Hashana align us as conduits for Hashem’s greatest plans for creation, and May Hashem inscribe us in the book of Life, complete with everything we need to play His highest and most beautiful melody this year.

 

Extracted from The Nexus School of Transformational Torah for Women, exploring the role of the Pre-Messianic woman through the Women in Torah, “Rivka”.  Coming beH this coming year 2020, may it come upon us for good.  To View the highlights from the first course on Chava, visit www.thenexus.org/school.  

As a former art student, one of the essential exercises my instructors gave me was to create a scale of values (see image above).  This is done by adjusting the pressure that is applied through the medium onto the paper over a series of blocks to create a closed system of relative pigment saturation, that progresses ever so steadily to its full tonality.  It occurred to me while looking at the ten verses of Kingship that we are going to say during Mussaf on Rosh Hashana that the verses depict G-d’s Kingship on a scale of value that contextualizes the purpose of the world in general and the purpose of Rosh Hashana in particular.  The value in flux on this scale is called “Malchut”, understood colloquially as “Kingship”, an concept which needs far more understanding than a single word translation.  

What is fascinating about the attribute of Malchut – G-d’s Kingship – is that the sages say that at times it has been high, like during the time of King Shlomo when peace reigned in the world, and at times it is has been low as we so painfully experienced during the holocaust.  All the sages agree that there is something deeper happening in our historical panorama.  “Malchut” is rising as we progress towards our future and the final stages of our collective story.  When we read these ten verses on Rosh Hashana, blow the shofar and stand in awe on the day of judgement we become instrumental in its ascent. 

But what exactly is “Malchut”, Kingship?  Isn’t Hashem King no matter whether we “make” Him King or not?  What is this mysterious spiritual work that we do on Rosh Hashana?  What is this epic journey dubbed “the rise of Malchut” and how can we help her rise?

The first thing worth noting is that when it comes to the ten verses, the number ten is not an arbitrary one.  Every spiritual process, according to our sages, progresses through a ten step trail every time.  These ten steps are none other than the ten attributes or mechanisms that define all of Hashem’s interactions with His finite creation.  You may have heard of the ten sefirot, esoterically translated as “emanations”. Whatever these ten beats are, hard as they may be to grasp, we can be sure that they are perfectly reflected in everything Jewish (think ten plagues, ten commandments, ten utterances in the story of creation…).  Each one of these “sefirot” has its own “color”, expression, and when emulated by man, soul power.

Except, that is, for Malchut.  Our sages teach that Malchut, the final attribute of G-d, in contradistinction to all the other nine expressions of Divinity, has “nothing of its own”. It is but a funnel through which all the other attributes pass through, sort of like the screen that projects all the higher lights outward, making them visible to the world.  When Malchut is diminished, its limited capacity to receive does not allow the light of all the other attributes of Hashem to shine through. As Malchut becomes more developed, she becomes more and more transparent until she is completely see-through and Hashem is fully revealed.

The sages liken the sefira of “Malchut” to the moon.  An enormous rock, the moon’s beauty is not herself but within her ability to reflect the sun’s light and project it to the places that need it most – the deepest black of the darkest sky. It is no wonder then that just like the moon has phases, Malchut too has phases.  Hence the concepts of Malchut, the moon, and the feminine archetype are deeply resonant of each other. Sometimes Malchut is up and sometimes she is down, sometimes a sliver and sometimes a full disc.  She is also both a receiver and a transmitter of light depending on her orientation.   It is the purpose of the Jewish people to do whatever they can to help her rise, as her glow is none other than the glow of Hashem in our very mundane and physical world.  When we do this fully, the moon, or Malchut, will be able to reclaim her full capacity to shine until night turns to day, immediately calling an end to the exile.  Practically, this means we are able to be receivers and reflectors of Hashem’s light while it is still dark, a state referred to by the mystics as raising the Shechina (presence of G-d).  This is the mission of the Jew.

Culling more from the wisdom of the Talmud, we learn that not only does Malchut not own any of her greatness, but that “there is no such thing as a King without subjects” – i.e., G-d’s Malchut somehow needs others to activate and qualify it.  Since the beauty of Malchut is in her sharing of light, without others in need of her light her beauty is not real.  The nature of beauty is that it requires a beholder, and so it is with Hashem’s Malchut – without man to receive His Kingly transmissions, He is not a Melech, because Malchut requires a beholder.

Thus, Malchut is the essence of co-creation.  By not revealing the fullness of His light during our six thousand year-long odyssey, Hashem is inviting us to come forward and make Him King, precisely when there seems to be so much compelling evidence to the contrary.  Malchut subtly scintillates in the night sky and does not impose herself on her subjects but invites others to approach and behold her through their own will.  This is why the last of the ten attributes of G-d strongly echoes everything feminine – Malchut is unforceful, beautiful, evocative of will – and most importantly, receptive to our overtures.  Similarly, Hashem’s feminine expression is waiting for us to partner with Her[1] in bringing the world to its destination.  It is precisely because Malchut isn’t yet fully revealed that we are being invited to become a player in the story of redemption!  Together with Hashem, as fully-fledged partners, we will have a good and sweet new year.

This Rosh Hashana, know that although much of the world is blind to the glow of Hashem’s Kingship, it is His chosen people who open their eyes to see it.  There will come a time, when Malchut will have risen, that this will be obvious to all.

 

PART 2

 

Having understood the idea of Malchut and it’s unfolding through time, let us now track the evolution of Malchut through the ten verses through which we make Hashem king on Rosh Hashana, as the Talmud says[2]: “Say before Me Malchiot so that I will be made King over you.”

 

~ ~ ~

 

Verse 1:

יְהֹוָה יִמְלֹךְ לְעֹלָם וָעֶד  

“He will rule forever and ever”.

The verses begin with a taste of the end to direct the journey ahead – the final revelation of Hashem’s Kingship.

 

Verse 2:

 לֹא הִבִּיט אָֽוֶן בְּיַעֲקֹב וְלֹא רָאָה עָמָל בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהָיו עִמּוֹ וּתְרוּעַת מֶֽלֶךְ בּוֹ:

“He doesn’t look at the evil in Jacob or the iniquity in Israel, Hashem his G-d is with him and the affection of the King in present in him.”

 

Hashem loves us even with our imperfections.  This is the starting point from which we continue to better ourselves, evolve and flourish.

 

Verse 3:

וַיְהִי בִישֻׁרוּן מֶֽלֶךְ בְּהִתְאַסֵּף רָֽאשֵׁי עָם יַֽחַד שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל:

“And there is in Jeshurun a King, in the ingathering of the leaders of the nation when all the tribes of Israel are one.”

We can only truly make Him King when we are a unified force, many spokes on a wheel connected to the central point.

 

Verse 4:

כִּי לַיהֹוָה הַמְּלוּכָה וּמשֵׁל בַּגּוֹיִם:

“To Hashem belongs Kingship as well as dictatorship to the nations”

 

A true King is one whose subjects recognize him as the essence of good and beneficence out of their own free will. Once the truth is revealed for all to see, it will be too late to come to this recognition and all those who haven’t yet made Hashem King while it wasn’t glaringly obvious will be “forced” by the sheer compelling nature of the Redemption.  The trick is to choose to make Him King while the illusion of there being other options is viable.

 

Verse 5:

יְהֹוָה מָלָךְ גֵּאוּת לָבֵשׁ לָבֵשׁ יְהֹוָה עֹז הִתְאַזָּר אַף תִּכּוֹן תֵּבֵל בַּל תִּמּוֹט:

“Hashem rules, He dons grandeur, Hashem dons might, girding and establishing the earth that it will never falter.”

 

Hashem hasn’t yet donned the cloak of His full strength which is why it counts for so much when we make the choice to crown Him.  As opposed to the masculine mode of expression that He will transmit in the future revelation that will accompany the redemption, He is now in a feminine mode of interaction, waiting to receive our gestures of approach.

 

Verse 6:

שְׂאוּ שְׁעָרִים רָאשֵׁיכֶם וְהִנָּשְׂאוּ פִּתְחֵי עוֹלָם וְיָבוֹא מֶֽלֶךְ הַכָּבוֹד: מִי זֶה מֶֽלֶךְ הַכָּבוֹד יְהֹוָה עִזּוּז וְגִבּוֹר יְהֹוָה גִּבּוֹר מִלְחָמָה: שְׂאוּ שְׁעָרִים רָאשֵׁיכֶם וּשְׂאוּ פִּתְחֵי עוֹלָם וְיָבֹא מֶֽלֶךְ הַכָּבוֹד: מִי הוּא זֶה מֶֽלֶךְ הַכָּבוֹד יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת הוּא מֶֽלֶךְ הַכָּבוֹד סֶֽלָה:

“translation”

This verse repeats on itself, indicating two times when the gates of the temple opened themselves to receive the King’s presence.  This is the magical moment when the king “moves in” to the structure that was erected to house Him and represents a culmination of the purpose of creation.  The indwelling and continual presence of the King is what we refer to as the Shechina, the Divine presence.

The first time the verse refers to the entrance of the King into the gates during the first Bait HaMikdosh.  The second time the verse refers to it is alluding to the third temple, coming soon with the ultimate redemption.  (The Second Temple was bereft of this presence and is therefore not included.)

Shechina – Divine Presence – is the result of our creating the vessel for it. Malchut is thus the powerful system of co-creation that Hashem employs through us.

 

Verse 7:

כֹּה אָמַר יְהֹוָה מֶֽלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל וְגֹאֲלוֹ יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת אֲנִי רִאשׁוֹן וַאֲנִי אַחֲרוֹן וּמִבַּלְעָדַי אֵין אֱלֹהִים:

“So says Hashem King of Israel and their redeemer, G-d of hosts; I am first and I am last and besides for Me there is no other god.”

 

 The world progresses as the other “options” evaporate and no longer cast their tempting allure.  G-d’s light starts to shine through.

 

Verse 8:

וְעָלוּ מוֹשִׁיעִים בְּהַר צִיּוֹן לִשְׁפֹּט אֶת הַר עֵשָׂו וְהָיְתָה לַיהֹוָה הַמְּלוּכָה:

“And the saviors will ascend on the mountain of Zion to judge the mountain of Esau and all Kingship will be G-d’s.”

Malchut is only complete when all obstructions, from without and within, are removed and the light now shines clearly for all to see.

 

Verse 9:

וְהָיָה יְהֹוָה לְמֶֽלֶךְ עַל כָּל הָאָֽרֶץ בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא יִהְיֶה יְהֹוָה אֶחָד וּשְׁמוֹ אֶחָד:

“And Hashem will be King on the entire land on that day it will occur that G-d and His Name will be One.”

 

G-d’s Name represents how He reveals himself, as opposed to His essential being which we cannot pronounce while Malchut is still crouching low.  At this second to last frame, Malchut will have risen completely and the gap between Hashem’s name and essence will have totally closed. He will be as He truly is.  This is the last time the word Malchut itself is used. [Note for the mystic: Hashem’s name will literally be “י-ה-י-ה, an indication that the final ה (Malchut) will have risen[3]].

 

Verse 10: 

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ יְהֹוָה אֶחָד:

“Listen, Israel, Hashem, Our G-d, Hashem, Is One.”

Here the world will have entered into the sweetness of the messianic future.  Since Malchut will be completely revealed, as a concept it will have become obsolete, because in essence, Malchut never had any-thing of its own.  It is but a carrier for the Oneness of Hashem, which will be fully expressed.  Malchut is fully revealed as we proclaim:  Shema Yisroel Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad. 

[1] Because we are speaking about Malchut we use the pronoun “Her” instead of the usual “Him” when referring to G-d

[2] Rosh Hashana 16.)

[3] The name י-ה-ו-ה is the name of G-d during the exile.  Because the 10th of His sefirot will have risen, the vav no longer has to keep itself extended to supply Malchut with her light, because in the times of moshiach she receives it directly from the source.  

Exploring the inner mystical depth and meaning behind the Seder’s 15 steps.

 

The traditional 15-step structure of the Seder is pregnant with inner meaning and significance. The rhythm and progression behind the Seder are an eternal template for the deepest transformation of the Jewish soul. On Seder night we are able to receive a spiritual influx from above which jumpstarts a whole new cycle of growth for the coming year.

Every process of spiritual awakening contains three stages: “Hachna’ah” – submission, “Havdala” – separation, and “Hamtaka” – sweetening. This triple-beat shows up here too and turns the Seder into a powerful process that brings deep healing to your own beautiful soul.

First, submission – this takes place BEFORE Passover

In Judaism, the journey is an essential part of the destination. This is a paradigm shift for our western minds that fixate on the achievement of our goals. It is how we travel our course that allows God to palpably enter our lives.

In this vein, the transformational power of the Seder actually begins before Passover arrives. In the weeks of cleaning and scrubbing, shopping and cooking, we are getting ready to live life without chametz, leavened products. Not only are we eradicating the actual substance that represents the puffed-up ego, but the act of adhering to the will of God itself dissolves our egos. Whatever false self we clutched onto now slowly melts away as we eagerly wipe and scrub our homes to remove all its chametz. Submission is the first step of the path of transformation, as we rise above our limited identities and find ourselves comfortably part of God’s world and in His value system. This submission enables us to tap into something greater than ourselves. The stage is set for redemption.

Second, Havdalah, separation – and the Seder Begins.

1. KADESH – SANTIFICATION

With the recital of Kiddush as the first of the 15-step journey, we sanctify everything to follow. In Jewish etymology, the concept of holiness suggests separating ourselves from all that is profane. Therefore, with Kiddush, we set out on a journey with our intent to transform ourselves.

2. URCHATZ – WASHING THE HANDS

The first thing that needs to happen is the removal of alien forces that hover around us during the regular course of life, that impede our growth. These dark forces represent the aspects of evil that have managed to masquerade themselves as good to our own eyes and have actually taken on some of our affections. With the simple act of washing our hands, we are able to see these negative forces for what they are, (be they thoughts, emotions, behaviors or affiliations) and make the separation between what is truly good and what is not, what is holy and what is impure.

It is a powerful movement up the ladder of Jewish transformation, when we are prepared to take this honest look at ourselves and allow what is non-essential to be washed away.

3. KARPAS – VEGETABLE DIPPED IN SALT WATER

There is no authentic spiritual path without tears, dubbed the sweat of the soul. There is no joy of transformation without some degree of pain. Living a brave and authentic life takes courage and grit! While in the previous step we isolated our essence from all the non-essential layers of our beings and washed those away, in Karpas, we sow the seed of that new-found essence into soil and water it with the salt-water of our tears. As the psalmist says, “Those who plant with tears will harvest in great joy” (Psalms 126). These are the best tears we will ever cry as we are expanding our taste-buds/capacity for spirituality and are headed for nothing less than our greatness.

4. YACHATZ- BREAKING THE MATZA

The next step is the dissolving of that seed in the earth, the part of the process that appears the most devastating. Yachatz means brokenness, hinting that things might seem worse before they get better. We are finally letting go of whatever last vestige of ego remains as we confront the very vulnerable truth of what it means to be human. Staring directly at our vulnerability expands the little seed of perfect spiritual essence inside us, as we come into the coherent field of the simple truth that God is One and all that really is, and His love for us knows no bounds. Therefore, we can endure this breaking of the matza, since we know that the broken piece will become the crowning jewel at the end of the Seder, when it will reappear as the coveted Afikoman at the stage of Tzafun.

Third: Hamtaka, sweetening.

5. MAGGID – TELLING THE STORY

With Maggid, the real healing starts to happen. We tap into the characteristic energy of the month of Nissan, which according to the earliest mystical work Sefer Hayetzira is the energy of “holy speech”.

The gift of speech is the crowning feature of our humanity. With words, we are able to transcend even the most difficult of circumstances by expressing our desire for something different. The first stirrings of redemption came in Egypt when the Jewish people, persecuted, allowed themselves to groan. God heard their primal cries and knew they were ready for the first sprouting of their redemption1.

When we start to add words to that guttural expression, we are able to delineate the details of our story in the sequence in which they occurred. Maggid is a form of narrative therapy by which we begin to stitch all the details into one continuum within our hearts. This is the essence of the Kabbalistic idea called “sweetening”, as we suddenly realize that there was no piece of the story that can be excluded, and that somehow, amid twinges of pain and joy through its millions of nuances, there was always a higher order, an infinitely Great and Close Being, bringing all the parts together into one gestalt.

Through telling our story, we weave the bitter and the sweet into a tale of tension and pathos, of struggle and heroism, and most profoundly, of love. When we have the courage to view our lives in the way of a story, exploring our histories from their inglorious beginnings and everything we went through, unedited, we expose our deepest humanity and it is there that we find G-d. We realize that there was nothing extraneous and that, to our surprise, He was there all along. Perhaps the best part is realizing the emergence of our own resources, for as much as we have come to admit our imperfection, now we are able to admit to our greatness. Thus, our experience becomes integrated into our deepest identities and the good and the evil are no longer seen as two separate entities. This is the heart of the Seder and when the real transformation starts to take place, though it would not have been possible without any of the earlier steps.

6. RACHTZA – WASHING FOR THE MATZA

Now, we are ready to wash away whatever hasn’t been redeemable in our story, as well as the layers of our erroneous belief structures that only obscure our deepest truth. What is left is a re-kindled attachment to God, and we are now clear on our mission to move as His people in the world. The fragmentation and pull between good and evil that we may have felt at earlier stages is gone and replaced with the galvanization of all our inner resources.

7. MOTZI

8. MATZA – TWO BLESSING AND EATING THE MATZA

With this step in the journey, we are ready to imbibe the bread of humility into our very selves through the act of eating, for there is no ego left, only connection to God. Food has become sublime and the act of eating matza is the fulfillment of a positive commandment. We are ready to live with our commitment to our relationship with God as a natural part of our lives and to receive all that He wants to give us.

9. MAROR – THE BITTER HERBS

Maror is the “real-life” factor.

Ask yourself a question: what is more delectable, sugar straight from the bag or well-made chocolate? Sugar water or lemonade? Hot sweetened milk or coffee? In all of these pleasures, an intrinsically bitter component is added to the sweetness, and yields a far more pleasurable result than consuming the sweetness directly.

In a similar way, light is brighter when it is on a backdrop of darkness, and it is at this point in the Seder that we are able to relate to our suffering from a different place and extend our compassion to ourselves as well as to all those who suffer. For reasons we cannot fully understand, God in His infinite love adds painful challenge to the mix of life, and through it we are made great and our souls expand. A Seder without Maror lacks depth and beauty, and a heart without some pain lacks empathy. This is an advanced step and accrues the tremendous eternal reward of accepting our suffering with love. Ultimately, our pain brings us to an even more refined level of spirituality where we eliminate any vestige of impurity from ourselves and appear completely cleansed before God.

10. KORECH – THE SANDWICH

Here we are able to bear paradox and thereby go above the limitations of our minds. We lean like free men and make sandwiches as did Hillel in the time of the Temple. The sandwich is the ultimate mixture: the bread of freedom (matza) together with the bitter herbs (chazeres), dipped in the sweet mixture of the charoset symbolizing the mortar from the bricks of slavery. This is a real concoction, a sort of coda of the awareness we have been cultivating thus far, where we relate to our lives in a far deeper way than how they appeared to us at first. The bottom line: true freedom is derived from our relationship to God and gives our spirits the huge dimensions through which we can bear even the most intense paradox.

11. SHULCHAN ORECH – THE MEAL

At this moment, we have reached the level of sanctification where the act of eating our prepared feast is now the pinnacle of our Divine service. To prove that this is so, just before the main course begins, we actually say the first two paragraphs of Hallel, the praises King David composed to be said at our highest and most joyous moments. It couldn’t be clearer that the act of eating is not an interruption of the holy Hallel, but a continuation of our praises in the form of the partaking of our delicious meal. We praise God, fusing the physical and spiritual into one.

12. TZAFUN – REVEALING THE HIDDEN

Now, with a new relationship to our suffering, we are on the other side of any ordeal we have been through, and hold up our battle scars with hearts brimming with joy and eyes brimming with tears. In this advanced stage, we have a deeper understanding and see why it all had to be that way. Our souls are wide open. The hidden is revealed and we…

13. BARECH – GRACE AFTER THE MEAL

…move straight into the grace after meals, capitalizing on our joy which knows no bounds, as we identify God as the source of all the miracles that were unique to our journey. We are fully clear that both the difficult and the easy times originate from that very source.

14. HALLEL – PSALMS OF PRAISE

Now we utilize the power of our speech, which we have developed from the primitive groan of oppression to the brilliant articulation of our gratitude, into the realm of song. We master the art of turning our own lives into a song and we open our mouths to unashamedly sing that song that is uniquely our own. For this was the reason we came to the world in the first place.

15. NIRTZA – LONGING FOR REDEMPTION

We now come full circle, where all that is left to be heard is the scintillating silence after the song has ended its final notes and words are no longer necessary. The impression of our voices lingers in the still air while we bring our attention to our longing for the ultimate redemption. We pray that God receives all of our sincere offerings and grants us the ability to bring into reality all that we were able to touch within ourselves during the Seder. Next Year in Jerusalem!

recipe coming soon