Lecha Dodi

Go forth my love to meet the bride.

Shabbat’s reception has arrived!

Commentary to Lecha Dodi in italics

Dedicated to the Embrace Shabbos women, Nachlaot, Jerusalem, Feb 2020

~

לְכָה דוֹדִי לִקְרַאת כַּלָּה. פְּנֵי שַׁבָּת נְקַבְּלָה:

Come out my Beloved, the Bride to meet;
The inner light of Shabbat, let us greet.

We are approaching the cosmic Shabbos, the 7th millennium feminine phase [1]

Of pleasure and bliss when the moon’s regained light will defy human gaze [2]

שָׁמוֹר וְזָכוֹר בְּדִבּוּר אֶחָד, הִשְמִיעָנוּ אֵל הַמְּיֻחָד. יְיָ אֶחָד וּשְמוֹ אֶחָד. לְשֵׁם וּלְתִפְאֶרֶת וְלִתְהִלָּה: לכה

“Observe” and “Remember” in a single word,
He caused us to hear, the One and Only Lord.
G‑d is One and His Name is One,
For renown, for glory and in song.

On Shabbos “Observe” and “Remember” come as one, equal and aligned, [3]

This represents the feminine and masculine in consummate meeting refined 

לִקְרַאת שַׁבָּת לְכוּ וְנֵלְכָה. כִּי הִיא מְקוֹר הַבְּרָכָה. מֵרֹאשׁ מִקֶּדֶם נְסוּכָה. סוֹף מַעֲשֶׂה בְּמַחֲשָׁבָה תְּחִלָּה: לכה

To welcome the Shabbat, let us progress,
For that is the source, from which to bless.
From the beginning, chosen before time,
Last in deed, but in thought – prime.

As woman was created last of all [4]

Last to appear but in God’s Thought she stood tall 

Come out my Beloved, the Bride to meet;
The inner light of Shabbat, let us greet.

מִקְדַּשׁ מֶלֶךְ עִיר מְלוּכָה. קוּמִי צְאִי מִתּוֹךְ הַהֲפֵכָה. רַב לָךְ שֶׁבֶת בְּעֵמֶק הַבָּכָא. וְהוּא יַחֲמוֹל עָלַיִךְ חֶמְלָה: לכה

Sanctuary of the King, city royal,
Arise, go out from amidst the turmoil.
In the vale of tears too long you have dwelt,
He will show you the compassion He has felt.

We have cried all our tears, through diminishment [5] and curse

But when things turn around, what was least likely to peak is revealed as first [6]

הִתְנַעֲרִי מֵעָפָר קוּמִי. לִבְשִׁי בִּגְדֵי תִפְאַרְתֵּךְ עַמִּי: עַל יַד בֶּן יִשַׁי בֵּית הַלַּחְמִי. קָרְבָה אֶל נַפְשִׁי גְאָלָהּ: לכה

Arise, now, shake off the dust,
Don your robes of glory – my people – you must.
Through the son of Jesse, the Bethelemite,
Draw near to my soul, set her free from her plight.

The story of Dovid is the story of Malchut and the moon [7]

The lowness of dust becomes a redemption tune

הִתְעוֹרְרִי הִתְעוֹרְרִי. כִּי בָא אוֹרֵךְ קוּמִי אוֹרִי. עוּרִי עוּרִי שִׁיר דַבֵּרִי. כְּבוֹד יְיָ עָלַיִךְ נִגְלָה: לכה

Wake up, wake up,
Your light has come, rise and shine.
Awaken, awaken; sing a melody,
The glory of G‑d to be revealed upon thee.

No rewording here:  this is our song:

Wake up, wake up,
Your light has come, rise and shine.
Awaken, awaken; sing a melody,
The glory of G‑d to be revealed upon thee.

Come out my Beloved, the Bride to meet;
The inner light of Shabbat, let us greet.

לֹא תֵבוֹשִׁי וְלֹא תִכָּלְמִי. מַה תִּשְתּוֹחֲחִי וּמַה תֶּהֱמִי. בָּךְ יֶחֱסוּ עֲנִיֵּי עַמִּי, וְנִבְנְתָה עִיר עַל תִּלָּהּ: לכה

Be not ashamed, nor confounded,
Why are you downcast, why astounded?
In you, refuge for My poor people will be found,
The city will be rebuilt on its former mound.

The path of humility has paved the way thus far [8]

Above shame and confusion we come out over par [9]

Come out my Beloved, the Bride to meet;
The inner light of Shabbat, let us greet.

וְהָיוּ לִמְשִׁסָּה שֹׁאסָיִךְ. וְרָחֲקוּ כָּל מְבַלְּעָיִךְ. יָשִׂישׂ עָלַיִךְ אֱלֹהָיִךְ. כִּמְשׂוֹשׂ חָתָן עַל כַּלָּה: לכה

May your plunderers be treated the same way,
And all who would devour you be kept at bay.
Over you Your G‑d will rejoice,
As a groom exults in his bride of choice.

As women we represent the inner essence of mankind [10]

And receive Hashem’s love forever protected, sublime[11]

Come out my Beloved, the Bride to meet;
The inner light of Shabbat, let us greet.

יָמִין וּשְׂמֹאל תִּפְרוֹצִי. וְאֶת־יְיָ תַּעֲרִיצִי. עַל יַד אִישׁ בֶּן פַּרְצִי. וְנִשְׂמְחָה וְנָגִילָה: לכה

To right and left you’ll spread abroad,
And the Eternal One you shall laud.
Through the man from Peretz’s family,
We shall rejoice and sing happily.

The daughters of Peretz [12], the moon that bursts forth

In her roundabout melody, till infinity will now soareth [13]

Come out my Beloved, the Bride to meet;
The inner light of Shabbat, let us greet.

בּוֹאִי בְשָׁלוֹם עֲטֶרֶת בַּעְלָהּ. גַּם בְּשִׂמְחָה וּבְצָהֳלָה. תּוֹךְ אֱמוּנֵי עַם סְגֻּלָּה. בּוֹאִי כַלָּה, בּוֹאִי כַלָּה: לכה:

Come in peace, her Husband’s crown of pride,
With song (on Festivals: rejoicing) and good cheer. 
Among the faithful of the people so dear
Enter O Bride, enter O Bride;

A crown unto creation [14]… she enters, the bride 

The one who ushers in reality’s better side

O Bride, Shabbat Queen, now come here!

Come out my Beloved, the Bride to meet;
The inner light of Shabbat, let us greet.

Wake up, wake up,
Your light has come, rise and shine.
Awaken, awaken; sing a melody,
The glory of G‑d to be revealed upon thee. [15]

~

[1] Chazal tell us that the six days of creation parallel the six millennia.  The seventh day, Shabbos [a bride, i.e. feminine], corresponds to the messianic era

[2] the moon was originally created as an equal luminary to the sun but then lost her full capacity for light.  Isaai 30:26 tells us that in the end of days she will regain her full glow.

 [3] Zachor (like the Hebrew word זכר) represents the male in that it is an active behavior.  Shamor represents the female in that it is a negative behavior (observing the לא תעשה). Zachor and Shamor coming at once represents their total union. (see Shevuot 20b:9, below)

[4] The archetype woman is synonymous with the Shabbos bride, the Shechina, and Hashem’s Malchut i.e. revelation in the world (see sources below)

[5] As Hashem told the moon, the symbol of the feminine archetype, לכי ומעטי את עצמך – “go and make yourself small”.  This coincided with the klalot to Chava after the fall. 

[6] ההפכה means turning around, or flip – reminiscent of the verse (psalms, Hallel) “אבן שמאסו הבונים היתה לראש פינה” – the stone that the builders rejected will become the cornerstone 

[7] Dovid is the “seventh shepherd”, the last of the seven embodiments of the middos of Hashem (also called ushpizin), named “malchut”, kindship.  See the Kiddush Lavana liturgy to see the connection between Dovid and the moon. (See the school HERE)

[8] Everything Hashem does is for the good.  Klala, as translated as curses, misses this important point.  Tikkun is a more helpful term to understand the diminishment.  The secret to growing through the curses/ tikkunim is to embrace them with love.  This brings closer the time when they are no longer needed than does resisting them.

[9] When the primordial serpent contaminated Chava and subsequently Adam, in addition to ingesting the fruit, the shame and disgrace which was not part of our makeup lodged itself within.  The only way to emerging out of shame is to through connection to Hashem.  There will come a time when our skin bodies will return to the light bodies they originally were, and nakedness will carry no smidgen of corruption. 

[10] The Jewish people are likened to a woman in relation to G-d, in their being receptive and in need of His beneficence. (Song of songs) As such, womankind is a symbol for humanity itself vis a vis her lover, Adam, analogous to G-d Himself.  The numerical value of the name of Chava before her diminishment, Chaya, is 23.  The is the numerical center-point to the name of Adam, which is in gematria, 45.  Hence femininity is the inner essence of humanity and has much to bring to the ultimate healing of mankind. 

[11] In the future, the archetype of all femininity, Chava, will become Chedva, which means joy and gladness.  There is no joy other than receiving Hashem’s flow of Loving-Kindness and light.  The goal and path to our development as women is to rise above the shame and open up to Hashem’s love, and receive it directly.

[12] Peretz literally means to “burst forth” and depicts the moon’s waxing and waning nature.  Peretz’s twin brother, Zerach, means to shine, like the son.  The line of Jewish monarchy comes from Peretz.  (Kli Yakar on the Torah)

[13] The medrash (shir hashirim) says that all redemptions before the ultimate coming of moshiach are called shira, in the feminine, but the ultimate harbinger will be called a shir, in the masculine.  This is because women conceive and carry pregnancies, and when they deliver (their offspring) once again conceive and thus go into another period of “exile” in need of redemption.  But the ultimate redemption will be final and is thus called a “shir”, as all potential will have become actualized at that time.

[14] See the Chava course for an in-depth description of what the attainment of our crown could be referring to https://thenexus.org/school-2/

[15] Interestingly though, on shabbos, this relationships inverts and we as the Jewish people are compared to the Groom of the Shabbos, who becomes our bride. (See source from the sefer HaPliah, below) Thus, it can be said that Hashem’s Shechina (feminine Presence) becomes receptive to our influence.

~

Sources and references for Lecha Dodi, (Sefaria )

שבת קי״ט א:ב׳

רבי חנינא מיעטף וקאי אפניא דמעלי שבתא אמר בואו ונצא לקראת שבת המלכה רבי ינאי לביש מאניה מעלי שבת ואמר בואי כלה בואי כלה

Shabbat 119a:2

  1. Hanina would cover himself [in a cloak] and stand towards the beginning of Shabbat and say: Come, let us go out to greet the Sabbath queen. R. Yannai would wear a [special] garment on Sabbath eve and say Come, bride; come, bride.

שיר השירים ז׳:י״ב

(יב) לְכָ֤ה דוֹדִי֙ נֵצֵ֣א הַשָּׂדֶ֔ה נָלִ֖ינָה בַּכְּפָרִֽים׃

Song of Songs 7:12

(12) Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages.

Shlomo Alkabetz on Shir HaShirim:

Here this verse specifies the necessary condition for prophetic inspiration – namely, the need for self-imposed solitude (hitbodedut). For anyone who wishes to unite (dvekut) one’s soul with supreme spiritual forces, must remove distractions and go out to the field for that is a place of meditational solitude.

Sefer HaPeliah I 36b

Just as the Kallah arrives before the Hatan, dressed beautifully, with jewelry and perfume, So Shabbat arrives before Israel dressed beautifully with jewelry….

Just as the Hatan is dressed in magnificent attire, so a person should dress magnificently for Shabbat. Just as the Hatan enjoys pleasures all seven days of the wedding,

so a person should indulge in pleasures on Shabbat.

Just as the Hatan takes off from work, so does person refrain for work for Shabbat….

One should not eat on Shabbat afternoon so as to enter Shabbat with an appetite,

just as the Hatan fasts from food and drink on the day of the wedding.

So a person should be very careful to sanctify Shabbat with wine,

Just as Hatan is careful to sanctify (kiddushin) his bride [with wine].

Who is the Bride? Who is the Groom

בראשית רבה י״א:ח׳

(ח) ד”א למה ברכו, ר’ ברכיה ורבי דוסתאי ורבי שמואל בר נחמן, רבי דוסתאי אומרים שאין לו בן זוג, חד בשבתא, תרי, תלתא, ארבעתא, חמשא, ערובתא, שבתא לית לה בן זוג. . . . תני ר”ש בן יוחאי: אמרה שבת לפני הקב”ה “רבש”ע לכולן יש בן זוג, ולי אין בן זוג”, א”ל הקב”ה “כנסת ישראל היא בן זוגך”,וכיון שעמדו ישראל לפני הר סיני אמר להם הקב”ה זכרו הדבר שאמרתי לשבת כנסת ישראל היא בן זוגך היינו דבור (שמות כ) “זכור את יום השבת לקדשו”.

Bereishit Rabbah 11:8

Why did God bless Shabbat? Rabbi Berekiah says: “Because it has no partner. The first day of the week has the second, the third has the fourth, the fifth has the sixth, but Shabbat has no partner. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai taught: Shabbat pleased with the Holy One, Blessed be God saying: “Everyone else has a partner, but I have nothing!” God answered saying: “The community of Israel will be your partner.” God continued: “And when they stood before Sinai, God said to the Israelites: “Remember what I said to Shabbat, that the community of Israel is your partner, [in the words of scripture] “Remember Shabbat and keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8)…

ישעיהו נ״ד:ה׳-ח׳

(ה) כִּ֤י בֹעֲלַ֙יִךְ֙ עֹשַׂ֔יִךְ יי צְבָא֖וֹת שְׁמ֑וֹ וְגֹֽאֲלֵךְ֙ קְד֣וֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֱלֹהֵ֥י כָל־הָאָ֖רֶץ יִקָּרֵֽא׃ (ו) כִּֽי־כְאִשָּׁ֧ה עֲזוּבָ֛ה וַעֲצ֥וּבַת ר֖וּחַ קְרָאָ֣ךְ יי וְאֵ֧שֶׁת נְעוּרִ֛ים כִּ֥י תִמָּאֵ֖ס אָמַ֥ר אֱלֹהָֽיִךְ׃ (ז) בְּרֶ֥גַע קָטֹ֖ן עֲזַבְתִּ֑יךְ וּבְרַחֲמִ֥ים גְּדֹלִ֖ים אֲקַבְּצֵֽךְ׃ (ח) בְּשֶׁ֣צֶף קֶ֗צֶף הִסְתַּ֨רְתִּי פָנַ֥י רֶ֙גַע֙ מִמֵּ֔ךְ וּבְחֶ֥סֶד עוֹלָ֖ם רִֽחַמְתִּ֑יךְ אָמַ֥ר גֹּאֲלֵ֖ךְ יי (ס)

Isaiah 54:5-8

  1. For your Maker is your husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and your redeemer the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the earth.
  2. For the Lord has called you as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, but a wife of youth, Can she be rejected? says your God.
  3. For a small moment have I forsaken you; but with great mercy will I gather you.
  4. In overflowing wrath I hid my face from you for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on you, says the Lord your redeemer.

הושע ב׳:י״ח-כ״ב

(יח) וְהָיָ֤ה בַיּוֹם־הַהוּא֙ נְאֻם־יְהוָ֔ה תִּקְרְאִ֖י אִישִׁ֑י וְלֹֽא־תִקְרְאִי־לִ֥י ע֖וֹד בַּעְלִֽי׃ (יט) וַהֲסִרֹתִ֛י אֶת־שְׁמ֥וֹת הַבְּעָלִ֖ים מִפִּ֑יהָ וְלֹֽא־יִזָּכְר֥וּ ע֖וֹד בִּשְׁמָֽם׃ (כ) וְכָרַתִּ֨י לָהֶ֤ם בְּרִית֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא עִם־חַיַּ֤ת הַשָּׂדֶה֙ וְעִם־ע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וְרֶ֖מֶשׂ הָֽאֲדָמָ֑ה וְקֶ֨שֶׁת וְחֶ֤רֶב וּמִלְחָמָה֙ אֶשְׁבּ֣וֹר מִן־הָאָ֔רֶץ וְהִשְׁכַּבְתִּ֖ים לָבֶֽטַח׃ (כא) וְאֵרַשְׂתִּ֥יךְ לִ֖י לְעוֹלָ֑ם וְאֵרַשְׂתִּ֥יךְ לִי֙ בְּצֶ֣דֶק וּבְמִשְׁפָּ֔ט וּבְחֶ֖סֶד וּֽבְרַחֲמִֽים׃ (כב) וְאֵרַשְׂתִּ֥יךְ לִ֖י בֶּאֱמוּנָ֑ה וְיָדַ֖עַתְּ אֶת־יְהוָֽה׃ (ס)

Hosea 2:18-22

  1. And it shall be at that day, says the Lord, that you shall call me My husband (“Ishi”); and shall no more call me My master (“Baali”).
  2. For I will take away the names of Baalim from her mouth, and they shall no more be mentioned by their name.
  3. And in that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the birds of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground; and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them lie down safely.
  4. And I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in grace, and in mercies.
  5. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord.

שבועות כ׳ ב:ט׳

ומאי דבר אחד הן דבדיבור אחד נאמרו כדתניא (שמות כ, ז) זכור (דברים ה, יא) ושמור בדיבור אחד נאמרו מה שאין יכול הפה לדבר ומה שאין האוזן יכול לשמוע

Shevuot 20b:9

What is the meaning of the phrase “they are one” It means that they were said in one utterance as we find in the Torah Whereas in (Exodus 20:7) it says “remember”, its parallel (Deuteronomy 5:11) reads “observe.” This is to teach that both words were said in a single utterance, one that human mouth can’t utter, and one that a human ear can’t hear.

Tradition connects the two candles lit on Shabbat to the two forms of the Shabbat commandment found in the Torah: “זכור remember” and “שמור observe.”

From a kabbalaistic View, זכור represents זכר (male). The sephirot (system of divine attributes) calls this masculine falice yesod יסוד. The word שמור represents שכינה, God’s female attribute, also called מלכות. On Shabbat, the two unite together, bringing about the offspring of redemption and holiness.

Lecha Dodi Biblical

ירמיהו י״ג:י״א

(יא) כִּ֡י כַּאֲשֶׁר֩ יִדְבַּ֨ק הָאֵז֜וֹר אֶל־מָתְנֵי־אִ֗ישׁ כֵּ֣ן הִדְבַּ֣קְתִּי אֵ֠לַי אֶת־כָּל־בֵּ֨ית יִשְׂרָאֵ֜ל וְאֶת־כָּל־בֵּ֤ית יְהוּדָה֙ נְאֻם־יְהוָ֔ה לִֽהְי֥וֹת לִי֙ לְעָ֔ם וּלְשֵׁ֥ם וְלִתְהִלָּ֖ה וּלְתִפְאָ֑רֶת וְלֹ֖א שָׁמֵֽעוּ׃

Jeremiah 13:11

  1. For as the girdle fits tightly to the loins of a man, so have I caused to hold tightly to me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, says the Lord; that they might be to me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory; but they would not hear.

שמואל א ט׳:ט׳

(ט) לְפָנִ֣ים ׀ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל כֹּֽה־אָמַ֤ר הָאִישׁ֙ בְּלֶכְתּוֹ֙ לִדְר֣וֹשׁ אֱלֹהִ֔ים לְכ֥וּ וְנֵלְכָ֖ה עַד־הָרֹאֶ֑ה כִּ֤י לַנָּבִיא֙ הַיּ֔וֹם יִקָּרֵ֥א לְפָנִ֖ים הָרֹאֶֽה׃

I Samuel 9:9

(9) Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, thus he said: ‘Come and let us go to the seer’; for he that is now called a prophet was beforetime called a seer.—

ישעיהו ב׳:ה׳

(ה) בֵּ֖ית יַעֲקֹ֑ב לְכ֥וּ וְנֵלְכָ֖ה בְּא֥וֹר יי

Isaiah 2:5

(5) O house of Jacob, come and let us go in the light of the LORD.

משלי ח׳:כ״ג

(כג) מֵ֭עוֹלָם נִסַּ֥כְתִּי מֵרֹ֗אשׁ מִקַּדְמֵי־אָֽרֶץ׃

Proverbs 8:23

(23) I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, Or ever the earth was.

שופטים ה׳:י״ב

(יב) עוּרִ֤י עוּרִי֙ דְּבוֹרָ֔ה ע֥וּרִי ע֖וּרִי דַּבְּרִי־שִׁ֑יר ק֥וּם בָּרָ֛ק וּֽשֲׁבֵ֥ה שֶׁבְיְךָ֖ בֶּן־אֲבִינֹֽעַם׃

Judges 5:12

(12) Awake, awake, Deborah; Awake, awake, sing a song; Arise, Barak, and lead your captive son Avinoam free.

Zohar:

עור with an ׳ע׳ represents the number 70 for the 70 nations of the world that rule over Israel during our exile from the Garden, from Jerusalem. In the exile we are protected from these 70 wolves by skins of holiness, the Tefillin which are made of animal skins. Yet on Shabbat we have no need of the Tefillin. We are protected by observing Shabbat in such a way as to make amends for the sin in the Garden. In place of the skins we wear Shabbat clothes…

ישעיהו מ׳:ה׳

(ה) וְנִגְלָ֖ה כְּב֣וֹד יי וְרָא֤וּ כָל־בָּשָׂר֙ יַחְדָּ֔ו כִּ֛י פִּ֥י יי דִּבֵּֽר׃ (ס)

Isaiah 40:5

  1. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.

ישעיהו נ״א:י״ז

(יז) הִתְעוֹרְרִ֣י הִֽתְעוֹרְרִ֗י ק֚וּמִי יְר֣וּשָׁלִַ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר שָׁתִ֛ית מִיַּ֥ד יי אֶת־כּ֣וֹס חֲמָת֑וֹ אֶת־קֻבַּ֜עַת כּ֧וֹס הַתַּרְעֵלָ֛ה שָׁתִ֖ית מָצִֽית׃

Isaiah 51:17

  1. Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, who has drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury; you have drunk to the dregs the bowl of staggering.

שיר השירים א׳:ד׳

(ד) מָשְׁכֵ֖נִי אַחֲרֶ֣יךָ נָּר֑וּצָה הֱבִיאַ֨נִי הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ חֲדָרָ֗יו נָגִ֤ילָה וְנִשְׂמְחָה֙ בָּ֔ךְ נַזְכִּ֤ירָה דֹדֶ֙יךָ֙ מִיַּ֔יִן מֵישָׁרִ֖ים אֲהֵבֽוּךָ׃ (ס)

Song of Songs 1:4

  1. Draw me after you, we will run; the king has brought me into his chambers; we will be glad

דברים ז׳:ו׳

(ו) כִּ֣י עַ֤ם קָדוֹשׁ֙ אַתָּ֔ה לַיהוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ בְּךָ֞ בָּחַ֣ר ׀ יי אֱלֹהֶ֗יךָ לִהְי֥וֹת לוֹ֙ לְעַ֣ם סְגֻלָּ֔ה מִכֹּל֙ הָֽעַמִּ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הָאֲדָמָֽה׃ (ס)

Deuteronomy 7:6

  1. For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a special people to himself, above all peoples that are upon the face of the earth.

ירמיהו ט״ו:ה׳

(ה) כִּ֠י מִֽי־יַחְמֹ֤ל עָלַ֙יִךְ֙ יְר֣וּשָׁלִַ֔ם וּמִ֖י יָנ֣וּד לָ֑ךְ וּמִ֣י יָס֔וּר לִשְׁאֹ֥ל לְשָׁלֹ֖ם לָֽךְ׃

Jeremiah 15:5

  1. For who shall have pity upon you, O Jerusalem? Who shall bemoan you? Who shall go aside to ask you how you do?

ישעיהו נ״ב:ב׳

(ב) הִתְנַעֲרִ֧י מֵעָפָ֛ר ק֥וּמִי שְּׁבִ֖י יְרֽוּשָׁלִָ֑ם התפתחו [הִֽתְפַּתְּחִי֙] מוֹסְרֵ֣י צַוָּארֵ֔ךְ שְׁבִיָּ֖ה בַּת־צִיּֽוֹן׃ (ס)

Isaiah 52:2

(2) Shake off the dust; Arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem; Loosen yourself from the shackles, O captive daughter of Zion.

משלי י״ב:ד׳

(ד) אֵֽשֶׁת־חַ֭יִל עֲטֶ֣רֶת בַּעְלָ֑הּ

Proverbs 12:4

(4) A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband

 

 

 

Chanuka Sameach!

It is the first night of Chanuka… and a new light is filling the world.  

It is a quiet light, a secret light, borrowed from another world.

Everything else about Chanuka stays the same, save some festive foods and games.

Yet the light builds.  Day one, day two…. until the miraculous 8th day, taking us above time and space.

Do you know that if you add up all the candles we light on Chanuka, it equals 36 lights? 

36 is the number of hours that the world was filled with another type of light before the first darkness descended on Adam and Chava, on the first motzai shabbos, and they plummeted from their place in Gan Eden. 

36 is also the numerical value of our foremother, Leah.  (lamed = 30, aleph = 1, heh = 5 = 36.)

What is the significance of that? 

~

The answer to that is the same answer to the following 6 questions that I shared with you a few months ago.  

I will refresh your memory.  I wonder if you relate to any of these.

They are: 

🔸 Do you feel shame inside you because you feel that you don’t fit into a standard traditional woman’s role despite how much you try?  

🔹 Do you feel that most shalom bayis classes or marriage courses don’t quite resolve conflict or a lack of fulfillment you are experiencing in your marriage?  

🔸 Have you been single for a while and though you desperately want to get married, you can’t seem to find your man?

🔹 Do you feel apathetic about your Judiasm and leave religious issues to your husband? Or … 

🔸 Do you feel connected to Hashem but disappointed that your husband isn’t as spiritual as you?

🔹 Are you in the middle of your child-rearing years and feel like there’s a part of you that you don’t know how to nourish to keep yourself vibrant and happy within all the demands of life?

~

The answer to all of these is the contents of the Chava course. 

But I will tell it to you anyway, because the way secrets work is that only when you understand them do you understand them, so I don’t mind saying it right here.

The answer is that its time to introduce the “higher feminine” into our archetype.  

This is new territory and we can only explore it with the guidance and sages of the Torah. 

It’s what I formerly alluded to with the term; “Pre-messianic” woman.

It is not a concept.  It is a shift.

And this is your Chanuka present.

~

So…. here’s what I did.  

With tremendous gratitude to the ladies in the group, who showed up, shared themselves, and will make you want to move to South Africa just to be their friends, I have decided to open the first session for the duration of Chanuka so that you can peak what’s inside the school.

You are welcome to share this with anyone (women only). 

It is called “Meet Your Archetype” and contains some of the foundational pieces for the journey ahead. 

Here’s a quote from the session; “the way that archetypes work is that according to what you believe is possible is what you are able to achieve..”  In other words, if we are lacking information and are aligning instead to an inner archetype that is not 100% correct, we are limiting our potential in those places. 

You will be inspired hearing the feminine archetype of this group.

Here’s how you access the first session for free:  

Go to the school (HERE) and sign in.  

You can select to watch the highlights of the whole course (11 min), the intro session, or session 1 called “Meet Your Archetype”.  Select Session 1: “Meet your Archetype”

~

So here’s the great news!

Since class 1 is the free intro (called The Lost Princess) and session 1 I have opened up for you for free, there are only 8 sessions left in the first series, Chava.

I know that you will want to join us next year as we move ahead to the Imahos with Hashem’s help as we explore the deepest and most relevant secrets of Jewish womanhood, from light to vessel, from Torah to application.   

Without having the foundation of what we cover in Chava, you won’t be able to join us.

SO – I am making an opportunity for whoever can join us now for Chanuka to hop on at $79 for the whole course.  

That’s about 50% off!  

It is Torah and it wants to be shared.

Fees are there to make it viable for us all…

This is just for Chanuka in honor of the great light.

Price will go back to normal in 8 days.

I can’t wait to meet you in person.

In this course you will: 

~ learn the secrets of the archetypal story of femininity encoded into the creation of the first woman

~ discover how we fit into the collective greatness of all the women that have lived before us through 65+ classical, Chassidic and mystical sources, including diagrams and translations

~ receive a new paradigm with which you will be able to understand yourself better

~ realize and develop your inherent feminine gifts

~ learn about the four levels of femininity and be able to track yourself on the map of growth 

~ Understand what took place in the Garden of Eden in a way you haven’t before – and what that means for you 

~ Become immune to rejection! and how to put on your crown! 🙂

~ Go on a healing journey to bring light to your darkness and greater perspective to your pain

~ Be inspired to become a leader and empower other women to rise! 

~ Learn the subtle art of feminine influence 

~ and more

I am shy to share the following pieces of “praise”, though when they come in, they mean so much to me, so I will.  To each one of you (also those not mentioned here) – we are circle dancing. 

“Biggest paradigm shift in healing I’ve had…” Shaindel from LA, from a live webinar

“This course was like hearing my name when I had forgotten who I was…” from a now dear friend who probably doesn’t want me to mention her name, from the UK

“Guiding us on a Geula Journey…” – thank you so much to author and teacher Nechama Sara Nadbourney – Burgman, you too are doing the same… 

“Unlocked a new dimension of living for me…” – Rebbitzen and so much more, Wendy Hendler, South Africa

“Deep.  Practical.  Transformative.”

To join, click HERE

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 

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 jump-starts 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[1]. 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 [2]. 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 [3]. 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. [4]

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. [5]

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” [6]. 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 redemption [7] .

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!

[1] Triple beat as applied to the seder as heard in the name of R’ Dov Ber Pinsun

[2] Berachos 17a

[3] Rashi, Vayikra 19:2

[4] Rashi, Bereishis 18:4

[5] This year perhaps we have started this step through focusing on the essential by our being secured in our own homes

[6] Tehillim 126:5

[7] Shmos 2:23-25

~ This blog is dedicated to my husband R’ Ari Taback for his unfailing support.  ~

Based on “As Dawn Ends the Night” by R’ Akiva Tatz

Before I continue, let us review our questions.

  1. Why do we celebrate the miracle of chanuka when if fact since then, the “lights have completely gone out” – there hasn’t been an open miracle SINCE the chanuka story and in fact, Jewish history is peppered (ok, drenched) with exile, persecution and heartache. How do we connect to living on a miraculous plane when Hashem’s revelation is so profoundly hidden in our times?
  2. Why is chanuka not referenced to in the Torah?
  3. Why do we observe chanuka and purim without any cessation of melacha, constructive work, like Pesach, Shavuos, Sukkos but continue on with our regular activities?
  4. What is lighting the candles “doing” for us on a spiritual level?
  5. Why is our commemoration of the Judo-Greek battle still so relevant?
  6. Where are we situated now in the big picture of history?? What can we do to expedite the promised good of the messianic era?
  7. I’ll add another one – special for nexus – What does all this have to do especially for women? This is my favorite question 😊

~

The key to all these questions lies in making a distinction between the two phases of history, a distinction that the Arizal helps illustrate with his mysterious reference to Chanuka and Purim as the two “legs” of history. This of course ties into the archetypal feud between Yaakov and Esav in which the spiritual essential being of Esav mortally wounded Yaakov’s thigh. We mentioned that intriguingly,  “And he smit him on his leg” equals Chanuka and Purim in gematria. Each of the questions we started with enters the territory of a central teaching that will not only provide the answers but display new facets of beauty of this teaching.  Let’s begin with getting a grip on miracles.

The first phase of history was a phase of unimaginable revelation and miracles.  The world shone with a knowledge of the Divine that we cannot fathom in our day.  Prophets abounded (there were over a million – though not all their prophecies were recorded in Torah if they weren’t relevant for the long haul).  Direct encounter with Hashem on a constant basis by these prophets changed the air that everyone breathed.  The question wasn’t whether to believe in a Divine Being or not, but rather whether one wanted to serve G-d directly or negotiate with His intermediaries instead (in the form of idol worship) for personal interest.  Although temptation for the forces of evil was great (as demonstrated by the villains of that era) it was not the pathetic materialism, atheism, and ignorance that we have today.  The stakes were high because the spiritual voltage of that era was high.  It was clear to all that the material world was energized from an unseen but uncontested source world above it. Let’s call this stage of history phase one – it includes the splitting of the sea, the giving of the Torah, the prophets and miracles, and spanned up until the destruction of the first temple and the sealing of the written Torah (the 24 books of Tanach), at which point the world started to transition into phase two.  In phase one, although the miraculous was wondrous, it naturally fit into the spiritual worldview that dominated the minds of people.  Miracles were to those who saw them merely a temporary suspension of the laws of nature by He who designed them in the first place, in the context of a relationship with G-d that was as real as relating to flesh and blood.

The gemora (yoma 29a) says that “as dawn ends the night, so Esther ends [the era of] miracles”.  The stories of Chanuka and Purim were both the last vestiges of a supernatural mode of existence in a world that was going dark – Chanuka saw the burning of one day’s oil for eight days – a bending of the laws of nature one last time – and Purim saw the Hand of G-d as He saved the people from certain annihilation within the laws of nature.  At this time, prophesy was ending, Tanach was being sealed (the book of Esther was the last book to be included), the Men of the Great Assembly were institutionalizing formal prayer and standardized blessings to ensure that we would still know how to connect to G-d in the dark, and a new era began.  Goodbye to searing clarity, to intimate and direct experience of Hashem, to miracles and prophets.  And welcome…  Greeks.

Who were the Greeks?  With the rescinding of a supernatural light the Greeks were able to lay down a new operating system into the psyche of man called “reason”.  Reason is the elegant and hard to argue with mental tool that allows you to observe the evidence and draw logical conclusions.  Reason is the father of science, the grandfather of art, culture and aesthetic beauty, and the great uncle of technology.  Reason innocently sees what it there to be seen and in a backwards way divorced from any higher knowing, constructs a new paradigm of what we are living for.  Greek ideology could never have taken hold or elicited such allure in a world with open miracles – it would have been blown right out of the water when the evidence for the spiritual was experiential.  But when that faded to memory and Hashem removed His revelation, the mind-frame of reason appears the most plausible description of reality and how to engage with all that is.

Esav, Rome, and Edom [all names for the same empire] is a regime of brute force that when paired with the genius of Greece capitulated the Greek value system into the rest of world history.  Our battle with western ideology is in fact a battle with Greece at its core.  What’s worse is that we are fighting this battle within our own psyches without recognizing who is the enemy.  The logic and appeal of empirical ways of knowing tug at our western trained faculties and we struggle to recognize them as foreign because we have become them. 

Phase one, Hashem’s light pours into the world.  Phase two, it has gone dark.  And Chanuka is at the crux between them – a final display of other-worldly light that is to escort us into the long haul.  But wait!  The gemora about Esther, the heroine of Purim,  Chanuka’s “twin sister” festival which also escorted out the era of miracles and transitioned us into the new phase, doesn’t make sense …

“As the dawn ends the night, Esther ends [the era of] miracles”.

As the Dawn ends the night???  If we are using the imagery of light and day as our metaphor, shouldn’t the gemora say as dusk ends the day???  When Hashem shines Himself into the world – shouldn’t that be compared to DAY and our impossibly long exile compared to night?  Why is Esther likened to the morning star, Ayelet HaShachar, when she, Purim, and Chanuka bring us to a new phase in history when miracles are not present and prophecy has long since been silenced?

The answer is that although we are in the dark, there is indeed a new light dawning.  There is a secret wisdom that we can learn that allows us to access the same place where the miracles came from during the first phase of history, while we are in the second phase of history.  This wisdom has to do with the brilliance of the sages who participate in generating a second-phase Torah called the Oral Law.  The commitment, passion and creativity pressed from them and all who engage in cultivating this spiritual mentality is nothing less than a display of love from those who seek Hashem.  It is a new kind of light, one that is reflected and refracted from the original blaze of prophecy and miracles yet scintillates in the here-and-now with an otherworldly glow.  Men – and women – who understand this have touched the inner essence of their own Jewish psyche.  Precisely because it is dark, we are in a new phase of history where Hashem has invited us to step forward and create a new Torah and therefore a new relationship, through our own spiritual attunement.  He is inviting us to see the lights of the Chanuka and know that just because something cannot be quantified or measured doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but in actually it is ALL that really exists and in fact is the generator of the world that we do see.  Chanuka is an invitation to climb above the confines of our own Greek mindset and find ourselves in a world of miracles.  Not miracles that we can see blatantly but that we sense into within the darkness, trusting that they are there and banking our lives on them.  To quote a friend, “we don’t just believe in miracles – we rely on them!” That is what it means to be Jewish.  We may be western in our acculturation but we will always be spiritual at our core.  On Chanuka we allow the core to chart our path and relate to everything in our world through those new-found, undeniably Jewish eyes.  It’s time to take off the Greek glasses.

Esav battled with Yaakov, dislocating his hip.  The Arizal says that Chanuka and Purim are the legs of the cosmic body of Jewish history.   Legs, as limbs, are not core to the body, just as Chanuka and Purim are not core to the written Torah.  However, without legs, the torso is immobile and cannot carry itself beyond itself.  So too, the written Torah and its festivals of Pesach, Shavuos, Sukkos are indispensable to Torah and celebrate the direct light from Hashem as was experienced in the Temple.  When the lights went out, it was Chanuka and Purim that literally walked us into the dark of night and will ultimately be the ones to bring us to yet another dawn. They give the first phase of history continuity and hope for the future and will bridge us to the third and final phase of history, the arrival of Moshiach.

Yaakov’s leg remained injured until Chanuka – this means, until we entered the second phase, Yaakov [the Jewish people] didn’t have the tools to propel himself to the end of time, because he was still in the light and that was not the purpose of that phase of history.  But when all that light withdrew and Purim and Chanuka signaled a new beginning, we began healing the broken thigh by carrying Torah into the exile as only legs can do.  Hashem had made space for us to shine by withholding the very light we craved – and that is the subtle light – our own light – that we are able to emit.  How proud is our Father in Heaven when despite the darkness around us, we ourselves glow like Chanuka lights. It is truly a new day – in the darkness we have the lofty role of stitching together the phases of history – a luminous beginning with the dawn of the redemption, through our ability to renounce the limitations of reason and choose to see the light of a world that is hidden. Living with miracles is our choice – and when we are sure of them, they begin to reveal themselves to our very eyes.

~

Let’s go back and answer our questions.

  1. Why are we celebrating miracles when there are none in our times?

A – Miracles are no longer revealed to us but through our faith and a Jewish worldview we are sensitized to living on the plane of subtle miracles.  Seeing Hashem’s presence in our lives is like looking at the chanuka lights in the dark of night.

  1. Why is chanuka not referenced to in the Torah?

A – The whole essence of Chanuka is that it is not referenced to the past but to the future, and is the epitome of the brilliance of our sages and their authority to create a festival for and relating to the exile.  This is the power of the second phase of history, that of the Oral Torah.

  1. Why do we observe Chanuka and Purim without any cessation of melacha, constructive work, like Pesach, Shavuos, Sukkos…

A –  Ditto to above. The holiness of the festival lies precisely in the mundane because it is the perfect spiritual ammunition to combat it.   Chanuka and Purim bring the light into the darkness forever and ever and therefore are celebrated in the domain of the secular, since, in essence, there is no such thing as secular anyway – it is just a (Greek) illusion.

  1. What is lighting the candles “doing” for us on a spiritual level?

A – It is imprinting into our neshamos everything we need to accomplish our role in history, to keep on glowing in the dark.

  1. Why is our commemoration of the Judo-Greek battle still so relevant?

A – Rome and by extension the entire western world is merely an extension of Greek ideology.  Therefore the battle between Yaakov and Esav is the epic struggle before the coming of Moshiach.

  1. Where are we situated now in the big picture of history?? What can we do to expedite the promised good of the messianic era?

A – We are far down the leg… close to the feet, about to usher in the final redemption .  We expedite the coming of the dawn by referencing ourselves to that reality and live supernatural lives within the natural.  Let us not be too surprised when the truth is revealed because we were already aware of it!

  1. I’ll add another one – special for nexus – What does all this have to do especially for women?

A – This is the subject for another time to do it justice (stay tuned be”H for the Pre-Messianic Woman programs!) Let it suffice to say that the realm of faith, intuition and living with miracles is a woman’s forte and important contribution to our nation.  She is at the nexus of light and dark, day and night, spiritual and physical, and is perfectly suited to be a key player to bring the redemption. 

 

Chanuka Sameach!

 

Chanuka – Claiming Miracles

Part 1

Dedicated to:

Emuna bas Zahava for speedy refuah shelaima

HaYeled ben Oriana Devorah for speedy Refuah Shelaima

~

וירא כי לא יכול לו ויגע בכף ירכו ותקע כף ירך יעקב בהאבקו עמו

Yaakov was left alone and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn. When he perceived that he could not overcome him, he struck the socket of his hip; so Yaakov’s hip socket was dislocated as he wrestled with him. Then he said, let me go, for dawn has broken. (Bereishis 32: 25-27)

 

Inspired by “As Dawn Ends the Night” by Rabbi Akiva Tatz (Targum 2018)

 

As Chanuka approaches I am pondering many things. 

Kislev is known as the month of miracles. 

And yet, we are so deep into the exile … it is so, so dark out there – even as the sun shines here in the South African summer.  When was the last time you saw a sea split or manna come down from Heaven?  Or heard the voice of a prophet?  (Or perhaps you heard prophecy yourself? I hope you don’t answer yes to that one 🙂 ) 

The era of miracles was long, long ago.   In fact, the miraculous burning of the oil for 8 days was the last documented miracle in Jewish history, a cut-off point so to speak from a previous era,[1] and since then it hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park.  Whether through threat of mortal persecution and annihilation or the smiling temptation to adopt a foreign ideology, the Jewish soul and body has been under threat for most of history since the Chanuka story.  So, what does it mean that kislev is a month of miracles – and most importantly, what does living with miracles mean for us today?  Is this something we can even hope for?

 

A few other questions:

  • Why is there no reference to Chanuka in the Torah?? As one of the key features of the Jewish year, we would expect to find it referenced in the Torah since every aspect of Jewish life obviously must be contained in the Torah. In fact, the laws and details of Chanuka aren’t even brought down in the Mishna!! All relevant discussion about Chanuka is found in the Talmud alone. What is this textually hidden festival of lights all about?

 

  • Why is Chanuka (and Purim, for that matter) not observed with a similar sanctity as the Biblical festivals like Pesach, Shavuos and Sukkos with the cessation of all constructive work? Many find it hard to “connect” to the festival when we continue all of our regular activities and mundane concerns for the duration of the eight days, save lighting the candles every night.  To put it cynically, how many latkes must one eat or draidels must one spin to somehow activate the latent spiritual potential in the chag? What is happening on a soul level and how can we tap into this consciously?

 

  • Who are we lighting for… the nations of the world? Ourselves?  In South Africa, no one places their menorah on the street since our houses are surrounded by security walls.  Thus it is clear that we are not lighting for the nations of the world.   Put differently, what is lighting candles each night achieving for each one of us on a soul level?

 

  • Why is our commemoration of our battle with the Greeks even still relevant? The dust has long settled since the rise and fall of the Greek empire… why is this battle still relevant? This one is Greek to me!

 

  • And finally… let’s get some context please. Where are we in the unfolding of history and to what destination are we headed?  And how do we get there??

 

~

Take a look at our opening verse from this week’s parasha.  There are deep undertones, as there are in every nook and cranny in Torah. For these verses, let us contemplate the possibility that perhaps the dawn is not only referring to the literal break of sunlight spilling upward from the horizon marking the end of Yaakov’s primal battle with the angle of Esav on that particular morning, but perhaps the dawn alludes to something much deeper and historic – the break of the dawn of redemption. Let’s plug that in and see what the verses are saying now.

“Yaakov was left alone and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn. When he perceived that he could not overcome him, he struck the socket of his hip; so Yaakov’s hip socket was dislocated as he wrestled with him. Then he said, let me go, for dawn has broken.” 

The wrestling of Yakov and Esav contained within it and foreshadowed the bitter and intense battle of empires over thousands of years.  But, as the verse tells us, once dawn has broken, it will all be over.

What’s of interest then is what happened as they pivoted in the dust in their match under the stars.  “When [the angel of Esav] perceived that he could not overcome him [Yaakov], he struck the socket of his hip…”, dislocating it.  Yaakov emerged unconquered by the Angel of Esav, but limped forever after that… well, until the Chanuka story when the injury began healing, as we will see. 

R’ Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld makes an astounding observation.[2]  “ויגע בכף ירכו” – “And he struck the socket of his hip” hints to the two festivals not of biblical origin, Chanuka and Purim, by using the method of investigation known as gematria, observing the similar numerical values of the letters of the words.  “Vayiga – and he struck” equals the numerical value of “Chanuka” (amazing!) and “kaf yereicho”, “the socket of his hip” equals the numerical value of Purim.  Wow!

What does this all mean?

The Arizal[3] provides the missing link between the battle of Yaakov and Esav and the festivals of Chanuka and Purim.  He divulges that  mysteriously, Chanuka and Purim are likened to the legs of the cosmic body of Jewish history.  The injury to Yakov’s left hip starts to fall into place (literally and figuratively) with the miracles that precipitated the festival of lights at the time of the epic Greek and Jewish battle.  This teachings holds the answers to all the questions we started with, and most importantly sheds light on how we can come to live with miracles too.  But before we can understand this, some other background is necessary.

TO BE CONTINUED BE”H

~

[1] Aside from the miraculous preservation of the dead of Beitar after the destruction of the Second Temple, a hint to the eventual resurrection of the dead at the end of days

[2] As cited on page 166 in R’ Tatz’s “As Dawn Ends the Night” – a title reflecting exactly our verse 

[3] Shaar Hakavanot; Meor Eynaim, Haazinu

תשע”ט 

Have you ever wondered why our sages teach us that the final seal on our judgment for the year is on Hashana Rabba? It certainly doesn’t seem like that when we pray with all our might at Neila on Yom Kippur – Neila in fact means the locking of the gates, the final seal. So, what is Hoshana Rabba all about? Why do we have until today to do tashlich and take care of any last threads of teshuva and spiritual repair? Why do today we pray so fervently and wish our loved ones a “good kvittel” – lit. “a good letter”?

Hoshana Rabba is the final day of Sukkot, the festival when we are judged for rain. We pray that the channels of water should open in shamayim and its abundance should start to descend into the vessels we have created during the past 21 days. In that sense, whatever cosmic changes we have made in the spiritual spheres we only start to experience once they reach us, much like one can only read a letter that is in one’s hands – not as it is being written or sealed by the sender. (On Rosh Hashana – the letter is written. On Yom kippur, it is sealed. And today on Hashana Rabba it is dispatched – may it be for good with Hashem’s abundant mercy.)

This, however, only happens through the power of prayer. Just like the first man in Gad Eden, the bounty and produce was positioned just beneath the surface waiting to burst through to visibility only when Adam prayed for it, our new year and its bounty is just “above” the surface of Heaven, so to speak, waiting for us to elicit its dispatch through prayer. (R’ Moshe Shapiro)

Rain is a channel, a passage way from above to below. The Hebrew word for blessing, ברכה, etymologically shares its meaning with the word בריכה, “pool”. The blessings Hashem wants to give us have collected so to speak Above and by the creation of a channel, they will begin their descent.

תשע”ט = ת”ש עין טובה! May it be a year that Hashem has a good Eye for us, that we have a good Eye for ourselves, for others and for the year to come.

Wishing you a good kvittel and bountiful, nurturing showers of blessing.