Due to Blogger Format Changes
31 July 2022
If you read Rabbi Winston on the Parsha below, you will like this:
THE GOOD OF THE LAND OF ISRAEL - TUV HAARETZ BY RABBI SHAPIRA
This is a Sefer - book that describes many aspects of the spiritual concept of the Land of Israel and what it means both spiritually and physically. It is a series of classes that will be reading from this book and will be quite meaningful to understand on a personal level what it means when a leader of the Jewish People calls on the Jewish Nation to return to the Good Land of Israel.
TUV HAARETZ: Tuv HaAretz
Author: Rabbi Nathan Shapira
By David Slavin -the Translator and Commentator of this book
Rabbi Nathan Schapira published this holy book in 1655. Rabbi Schapira made the arduous journey to Eretz Yisrael from Cracow during the second quarter of the 17th century. He was the son of one of the most prominent leaders of the community of Cracow. He himself was one of the rabbinical leaders of that city as well. His uncle was a famed kabbalist of the same name who is famous for his Magnus Opus, the "Megale Amukot”.
According to testimonial writings of the times, we find that Rabbi Schapira was considered a venerable scholar upon his arrival in Eretz Yisrael. He learned together with two other rabbis who themselves were deeply involved with disseminating the writings of the Arizal, namely, Rabbi Yaakov Tzemach and Rabbi Meir Paparush. Through them he had free access to a vast array of manuscripts of the Arizal that they had been safeguarding.
Rabbi Schapira became the chief Ashkenazic Rabbi of Jerusalem, shortly after his arrival. He assumed the responsibility of providing for his constituents both spiritually and materially. Therefore, when the health and finances of the community deteriorated to an overwhelming level, he took upon himself the onerous burden of Rabbi telling throughout Europe to raise the funds necessary to rehabilitate the city.
The financial straits were caused by a lack of donations from Eastern Europe. This was due to the mass destruction and annihilation of Jewry throughout the Polish and Russian communities in 1648-1650, by Bogdan Chmielnetsky and his revolution. Therefore, the Rabbi fled to Italy, France, Germany, The Netherlands and possibly England to raise the funds.
It appears that this holy book was written during his first journey to Italy. There he was encouraged and assisted by the Ramaz (Rabbi Moshe Zaccuto) to print this treatise. The Ramaz not only edited the book but raised the finances as well. It stands to reason that the Ramaz felt that this very book would encourage people to contribute generously to allay the difficulties in Eretz Yisrael.
Our translation and commentary is by R. David Slavin.
UNIQUENESS OF THE LAND
Chapter One, Part 1
By Rabbi Nathan Schapira; translation & commentary by David Slavin
"Hearken to the word of G-d". Lovers of intellect, fashioners of reverence, flee for yourselves from "Keziv" until "Amana". These are names of biblical cities. chanoch adds: See below: These concepts are befitting for the tables of kings, "Who are the kings? The sages". For I shall say poignant statements, and I will make known the veracity of the true words based on the foundations of the reliable Kabbalistic teachings emanated from the mouth of the "ark of faithful testimony", "great of biblical light", "the revealer of great depths", "the great honored holy wondrous rabbi", "as an angel of G-d": Rabbi Yitzchak Luria Ashkenazi, known as the Arizal. And from his successor, the father of wisdom, who fulfilled his task as the faithful student "The one who emanates G-dly light" the honored Rabbi Chaim Vital, of blessed memory.
My words shall flow with the pleasantry and harmony of both together. "Hearken yea, and rejuvenate your souls" (Isaiah 55:3) with the words of the Arizal regarding the greatness of the Land of Israel. From just the edge of them you shall see visions of G-d. For are not his words based upon the passage from the Holy Zohar, "In the firmament above the Land of Israel exists a portal called G'vilon; under it exists seventy other portals with seventy guards at a distance of 2000 cubits, and they don't approach the main portal. G'vilon extends upwards until it reaches the Divine Throne. From that portal towards all directions, until the gates of opening, is referred to as Megadon, where the end of the firmament of the boundary of the land of Israel lies.”
Each Name of a location in the Tanach has many levels of information and connection. In our study of the animal called lion we read a verse from Job which has this same name of a city "Amana". It is spelled in Hebrew like this אמנה. Please note that the word Amen - Aleph Men Nun is the shoresh or root of this city name. Amen as we know represents a center or middle point that connects the spiritual and physical worlds. Keziv translates as "like brightness". This word also means "deceitfull.”
The above paragraph includes a flowery description of the soul of the ARIzal and His student Rabbi Chaim Vital. This is quite normal for the way Kabbalists speak of the Arizal and his student. we in this generation find it difficult to understand how a human being can be referred to as "The Godly Rabbi Isaac". Yet this is something that is necessary for a student of the ARIzal to develop within themselves - How High is the ARIzal relative to the last few generations. Also how important this type of information that was revealed by the ARIzal is to our generation.
The words / names G'vilon and Metadon also need to be analyzed Kabbalistically. Unfortunately i do not have access to the Hebrew spelling of these Names. This is why it is so important to read books on Torah that have both the original language and a valid translation.
returning to the reading
The Arizal explains that in the middle of this gate and opening, which is in line with Eretz Yisrael, there is a large opening. Around that opening there are seventy openings from which the seventy nations of the world receive their sustenance (which is only a fraction of the divine influence that flows from that large gate). In that very gate there is a holy curtain which prevents the forces of the Other Side from being nurtured from the influx, as is mentioned in the Zohar (Teruma 141a). This curtain is a garment as well, rather, being that it is holy, therefore the holiness is not revealed in our time.
The Parasha of Teruma deals with the subject of the Mishkan and the creation of the physical world. This paragraph is explaining that the flow of Shefa goes through the land of Israel. This Shefa fulfills all nations as well as the Children of Israel. When someone is in exile they are being fulfilled using a different route for that flow of Shefa.
ERETZ YISRAEL EXISTS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLD
The opening is in the middle of the firmament and consequently influences the land underneath it. Yet there is another curtain which functions as a preventative, so that the Other Side shouldn't gain entrance to Eretz Yisrael.
Notice that the word for protection is "curtain". What is the difference between a curtain - window - and a wall? Nothing gets past a wall. A window lets certain energy through and allows someone to peer out. A curtain moves with the wind only when the window is open. A curtain always moves back to block the flow of the wind. the curtain is flexible and adjustable. How many curtains are there? On the physical level the Van Allen Belts of energy is a physical metaphor for the curtain mentioned as a protection shield. There are 7 van Allen belts.
This entrance is in line with the middle of all the firmaments until it reaches the level of "yesod of malchut", The yesod of malchut is the ninth particular sefira of the general sefira of malchut, which is the tenth of the general system of sefirot. the holy essential point of all the realms up to the Holy Throne; this is the very path that all souls upon sleeping and prayers use to ascend. Even though the Zohar states elsewhere that "prayers ascend in the east and west", that is in regards to the ascension through the airspace until they all meet under this portal. These firmaments are not moveable. They are permanent, therefore their openings are constantly aligned directly over Eretz Israel. Yet the heavenly bodies do rotate around in the firmaments.
We find that our meaning of a "permanent firmament" refers to the one in which exists that portal. When we refer to the rotating bodies, the rotating is done by the bodies not the firmament. Rabbi Yishmael and Rabbi Eliezer focus not on the path of orbit, rather the star that follows the path. For they have said, "the astrological zodiacal planetary force has a cycle, not the firmament". For the orbit and planet on its path are referred to as the planet alone. For the planet is the point of the orbit - its soul. The orbit itself is of the aspect of the "Secret of the Igulim (Circles)" The concept of Igulim is a realm of a rather constant, enveloping divine influence; it is vaguely similar to what is known as "Or Makif". Most of the Kabbalistic literature seems to pay little attention to it, rather focusing its explanations of the realm of Yosher (hierarchical divine influence). of each world.
There are two kinds of lights - Direct light and Returning light. There are two kinds of vessels - Ohr Makif and Ohr Penimi. There is a relationship between these two different metaphors as well as the concept of Line and Circles. This is a third metaphor. To truly study these requires a discussion of the ten luminous emanations by Rabbi Ashlag.
Rabbi Chaim Vital z"l wrote, "Know that Eretz Yisrael exists in the middle of the world (civilization). Corresponding to it, in the firmament above it in its middle, there is a large opening the size of the land of Israel. It is named G'vilon. From that opening downward there are another seventy gates, totaling 71, which corresponds to the 71 head rabbis of the Sanhedrin. These 71 gates are known as "Shaarei Tzedek (gates of righteousness)", and they are holy gates, for they are not of the portion the nations. Surrounding these gates is a space measuring 2000 cubits [a cubit is a measurement equal to a handbreadth] in each direction, at which point the boundaries of that firmament end. These 2000 cubits are the root of the rabbinic injunction of the city limits.
The Rabbis established the limits of the boundary of a city to extend 2000 Cubits past the last home of the town in each direction. Within those limits one was allowed to walk on the Shabbat, yet walking past those limits would be a violation. At the end of this firmament there is a door that closes off the firmament over Eretz Yisrael; it is open and closed by the Holy One blessed be He. The name of this door is Megadon.
The Hebrew words G'vilon and Megadon need to be explained as said above. we have not done this yet. The 2000 cubits relate to a spiritual law associated with the Holy system and the impure system. i can not say more at this time.
[When Joshua entered the Land of Israel he passed through this door and established one of the blessings in the "grace after meals" known as "Hazan" which concludes "Upon the Land and sustenance". The numerical value of 'sustenance' ("hamazone" = 108) equals Megadon. Numerical value is a system of assigning a number value for each letter, aleph = 1, beit = 2,…yud = 10,chaf = 20…kuf = 100,reish = 200 This is the secret of the verse "The name of G-d is a tower of strength, through it a righteous man shall race and be strong" (Proverbs 18:10). The last three words beginning letters spell the word tzvi (deer).
This implies that the tower of strength is called the "Land of the Deer (tzvi)", within which dwells the Name of G-d, which is the Shechina [The Divine Presence, usually connoting a feminine aspect]. And with it shall run yesod (the foundation) The ninth sefira, the precursor to malchut, the tenth., which is called the tzadik through the opening and door known as G'vilon Megadon whose numerical value (204) equals the value of tzadik (204). That is the secret of the verse "this is the gate for G-d, tzadikim (righteous people) shall enter it" (Psalms 118:20).]
It is important to realize that these spiritual descriptions are different than our perceptions of physical descriptions. Tzadikim are channels for HaShem to work through. This is the meaning of "Gate”.
Through these seventy one gates are nourished the inhabitants of the Land of Israel. They are in correspondence to the seventy souls of the house of Jacob. The secret of this is that they correspond to the seventy branches of the Etz Hachaim (the supernal tree) Literally the "tree of life", yet it alludes to a level of divine revelation of a very lofty nature.. Therefore, each branch has its own gate, and not all Jews are sustained through one gate. The most central opening is opposite the Shechina, which is referred to as "Righteousness shall lodge in it", whereas the remaining seventy are called "gates of righteousness".
The number 70 comes from the 7 lower Sefirot with a structure of 10 sefirot within each of the 7. The 12 Tribes relate to the 70 nations. The Shefa "feeds" the 12 Tribes of the Children of Israel which relates to the 72 Nations.
OVER ISRAEL THERE IS NOT ANY SHELL OR MEMBRANE SEPARATING G-D FROM US
Surrounding these gates is a space measuring 2000 cubits in each direction. At which point ends the boundaries of the firmament of Eretz Yisrael. There dwell the seventy overlords each in charge of a different gate. They derive sustenance for their countries from the remnants of the influence that Eretz Yisrael receives, yet they (these overlords) do not actually get close to the gates themselves. The rest of the firmament ends in seventy strips, each ruling force controls the strip for his country.
The firmament that corresponds to Eretz Yisrael and all the extensions are all one firmament, but the air-space directly over the land of Israel has those seventy gates around it. The same holds true for all ten levels of heavens all the way up to the Divine Throne. That being so, there is a direct channel open between the land and G-d's throne. This makes it easy to understand the verse that says; "The eyes of G-d are observing the land of Israel all year round" (Deut. 11:12). This implies that over Israel there is not any shell or membrane separating G-d from us. Through this very same channel ascended the incense sacrifice, as well as the scent of all the other sacrifices that were brought in the Holy Temple (may it be speedily rebuilt).
Understand the above paragraph well. My understanding is the following: there is a firmament which is an energy membrane. There are gates in this membrane which allow Shefa to flow down and prayers to flow up. This flow goes through a central pipe directly from the physical world of earth to the Throne of HaShem. Around this central pipe are 70 gates of 2000 cubits in all 6 directions which allow the flow to go directly to the Children of Israel who live in the Land of Israel. Outside of these Gates the Angelic Cheiftans receive the energy they need to provide for their children or nation. We will learn later that when a child of Israel is in exile he is receiving his Shefa not from HaShem but through the Angelic Messenger for the land and nation that that child of Israel lives within. The Child of Israel who lives in Israel receives his Shefa flow directly from HaShem through the Gates discussed above.
Please note that the Land of Israel is unique since the Shefa flows directly from HaShem through the Gates and to the Children of Israel who live in the Land of Israel.
29 July 2022
Recorded live in Baka, Jerusalem August 27 2022
if you wish a transcription of this shiur, recommended, go to https://www.torahthinking.org/post/rabbi-mendel-kessin-in-depth-look-at-the-divine-plan-of-creation
You hit the nail on the head which is something that isn't expressed as much as it needs to is that the action or the change of consciousness is the reward or punishment depending on the circumstance. If we do good that itself is the reward we are bound to that act or the converse if we do bad that is the punishment. But there is another element which is awareness of the ramifications of the act, for example a person who violates Shabbat needs someone to warn him that (a) this act is forbidden and (b) it is chayiv mitah and caret. Knowing that an action is wrong isn't enough that person needs to be aware of the ramifications. When it comes to the good it may not be like this completely but it does determine the quality of the mitzvah.
The main thing is the awareness but this awareness must be a true awareness as demonstrated by actions as you said. It's sort of a situation like the navigation system on airplanes do we trust our judgement of reality and trust our eyes, or do we trust the navigation system, our eyes represent our narrow perspective on reality and Torah is the navigation system, it tells us I know you are inclined to do x but really y is what's good for you. Another thought on olam haba is that really in the beginning G-d only created the possibility of olam haba and which is the purpose of creation but it was left. For us to create.
Existence equals G-d and therefore nothing else can exist unless it emerges from G-d and this isn't a fundamental problem, the problem exists when it comes to man, because man is chelek elokit, and elokit has the desire to be a real cause and this makes it difficult for co existence because of the concept of bread of shame, this is satisfied through giving us borrowed existence in this world where we are allowed to make choices and create a world where we can live. Without the shame this is olam haba. In this world we are sub zero in existence however once we are judged we are brought to zero and if we have any merits left than that gets transferred into olam haba in surplus existence. It's much like the electromagnetic spectrum and interactions of electromagnetic energy.
There is a concept that energy cannot be created or destroyed but can only change this is the law of conservation of energy, certain interactions cause new energies that didn't exist before to satisfy this conservation law, this is olam haba God created the spiritual world and the physical world the neshama which is really a derivative of God himself, the neshama cannot be its own separate entity it must merge with God without allowing it to have its own perspective, therefore God garbed the soul in spiritual and physical garments to have independent perspective, but the problem is neither the physical or the spiritual are nitziut or eternal or permanent only God is and the neshama that derives from God.
When the soul interacts with the spiritual and physical worlds to do mitzvot they create a new garb for the neshama, this garb is eternal because it comes from the actions of man and with this garb the neshama lives with his own perspective to a higher respect for ever with God without completely being absorbed into God. Which isn't the case with those who do not create this garb, they simply cease to exist, not really they are absorbed into God and lose their self identity. I also enjoyed what you said about existence, how we are going to experience different levels of being, this I believe is what Moshe was asking God, if I have found favor in your eyes let me see your glory, to that God said you have surely found favor in my sight but no man can see me and live but I will let you see me from behind. Man cannot experience this ultimate level of being without having the vesels otherwise the are absorbed into God immediately and this isn't what God wants he wants us to be in olam haba, so he said I will show you my ways and with this you can emulate these anhagas and create the vessels. So much to talk about not enough room lol. I enjoy your shiurim.
Years Ago I was fortunate to have come across the sefer called Tuv HaAretz. It was written by Rabbi Noson Shapira in the 1600s, completely based upon the teachings of the Arizal specifically about Eretz Yisroel. Rabbi Shapira was the chief rabbi in Cracow (Poland), before making aliyah and becoming the head rabbi in Jerusalem.
I would never have known about the sefer except that a close friend of mine found it on microfiche at Hebrew University, and then reset and republished it. Aside from being filled with absolutely remarkable concepts, it is a game changer when it comes to the discussion of aliyah at any time in history. If, of course, you hold of the Arizal.
Too bad the people of Gad, Reuven, and the half tribe of Menashe did not have the sefer in their time. They would never have chosen to live outside of Eretz Yisroel if they had. Or maybe they would have, so strong is the pull of materialism over spirituality. This is mentioned in Tuv HaAretz:
The same type of transformation [to a more spiritual being] will occur for the…Jews who remain alive [in Eretz Yisroel when Moshiach arrives], and their bodies will be like those of Adam HaRishon before his sin and Moshe Rabbeinu. They will become so spiritual that they will be able to fly like eagles, which will astound the redeemed exiles. Seeing this, the Diaspora Jews will become upset and complain to Moshiach, “Are we not Jews like them? Why do they merit to fly and live in an elevated spiritual state, and not us?”
Moshiach will answer them, “It is known that G–D deals with a person measure-for-measure. Those who lived in the Diaspora and made efforts and sacrifices to elevate themselves by moving to the Holy Land merited purity of soul. Not concerned about their finances and health, they traveled over vast lands and crossed seas, ignoring the possibility of drowning, being robbed along the way, or being taken captive by a foreign ruler. Since they valued spirituality over materialism, they merit, measure-for-measure, to be elevated to this lofty spiritual plane. You also had opportunities to go up to Eretz Yisroel but instead were hesitant and reluctant. You were more interested with material status, which was a higher priority than spiritual growth.” (Tuv HaAretz, The Advantage of Living in Eretz Yisroel When Moshiach Arrives)
So what, right? Wrong. We always tend to downplay important things we do not relate to, especially when they might mean having to give up something less important that we happen to like a lot.
Besides, the Messianic Era seems so far off, and who knows if we’ll even be alive at that time. In the meantime, why worry? Why give up something intangible like angel-flight when we can enjoy more tangible pleasures in the Diaspora, like good salaries, nicer homes, fancier cars, all of which makes mitzvah doing so much more pleasant?
Firstly, the Messianic Era is not so far off, as I have written now several times with plenty of important mainstream sources to make the point. Secondly, why sell off the future for a more comfortable present which will end and become a far less comfortable future? And third of all…
More About Me: The Ongoing Lifelong Search For Your Essential Self.
Tell Me More: A book about thinking and asking questions.
All books are available through Amazon
and the thirtysix.org online store.
AS THE NOTE says above, I just published a new book called, More About Me: The Ongoing Lifelong Search For Your Essential Self. To answer the question above, I am going to share the final chapter of the book called “Land of Soul,” minus the footnotes and diagrams. You’ll have to get the book for those.
THE FIRST THING you have to know is that if something exists in the physical world, good or evil, pure or impure, it has a spiritual counterpart. It is this spiritual counterpart that gives the physical thing its existence, and if it disappears, so does the physical thing.
Furthermore, the holier something physical is, the higher up its spiritual counterpart has to be. Holiness is a function of divine light, and every spiritual counterpart can only access divine light according to the level it is on, and vice versa.
There is only one holy land, and not because no other land has been called this, but because there literally is no other holy land. Every land outside the borders of Eretz Yisroel is considered to be impure. The border between Eretz Yisroel and Chutz L’Aretz may be but a line on a map, but cross it and you will have either gone from pure to impure or impure to pure, depending on your direction.
This is why Eretz Yisroel has so many special privileges and laws. The Talmud sums it up like this:
All those who live in Eretz Yisroel are like those who have a G–D, and all those who live outside the land are like those without a G–D. (Kesuvos 110b)
Really? Why? Because G–D said so:
I am G–D your G–D Who took you out of the land of Egypt,
to give you the land of Canaan, to be G–D to you. (Vayikra 25:38)
The answer may not be so obvious down here on the physical plane, which is why so many people get fooled, like the spies in Moshe Rabbeinu’s time, for example. It is a beautiful place, but there are other more beautiful places in the world. It has mountains, but there are more majestic mountains elsewhere. And Eretz Yisroel lacks some of the most important natural resources that are in abundance in other countries.
Imagine having to choose a partner to work with at the company that employs you. As you look around the room to survey your choices, you notice the well-dressed, the organized, and the ambitious. Then you notice one fellow employee who seems average next to everyone else and you do not give them a second thought.
About to make your choice, someone happens to mention that that laid-back, more casual-looking employee happens to be a close nephew of the boss. Everyone else in the room is just another worker trying hard to get to the top of the corporate ladder. The nephew is already closely connected to it and can be your ticket there as well.
Physically speaking Eretz Yisroel is not the most attractive land in the world. Financially speaking, it is not the most successful. Security-wise, it has some serious issues with five basically hostile neighbors on all sides of it, including the Mediterranean. Politically speaking, it is a disaster. Why would anyone want to live there while the living is still good in the Diaspora?
The question never gets off the ground if you read Rabbi Noson Shapira’s Tuv HaAretz. Page after page makes it increasingly clearer why Eretz Yisroel is the only place for a Jew to live. Page after page it becomes increasingly clearer why living in the Diaspora for a Jew is, well, let’s just say very undesirable.
One thing for sure is that a Jew cannot be their essential self in Chutz L’Aretz. Spiritual growth for a Jew is limited there, which is why it is called exile. If the only difference between Eretz Yisroel and the Diaspora was the kind of restaurants they have, or the governments that run them, it would not be so big a deal to live outside the land. It only makes a fundamental difference if Eretz Yisroel is fundamentally better for a Jew to be a Jew, and to be themself.
If you think about it, most people are most comfortable at home. That is where they can most be themselves. It’s nice to get dressed and play parts now and then. But when it comes to life in general, we want to be, we need to be ourselves. That’s what makes home home, and the moment home interferes with being who we are in essence, we go off and make a new one.
After thousands of years of exile, Jews have been born and have grown up in different places around the world. The land today boasts an international population of Jews who, as prophesied in the Torah, have come from the four corners of the earth. They may be Israelis now, but they will never be Sabras, indigenous Israelis.
Physically. Spiritually, it is another story:
Every land was granted to the nation that was best suited for that location, as hinted to in the verse, “And I will give the land of Ar to the children of Lot as an inheritance” (Devarim 2:9). This implies that the land was destined for the children of Lot. Similarly, G–D allocated Har Seir to Eisav, as it says, “I have given the Mount of Seir as an inheritance to Eisav” (Devarim 2:5). Chazal explain that just as Eisav was ruddy, so too is his land reddish, indicating how the land is appropriate for those destined to dwell on it.
The suitability of a land to its nation is because of the compatibility of its ministering angel to that particular piece of land. As well, the souls of those people come from the klipah (source of impurity) that represents that parcel of land. Concerning the Jewish people and Eretz Yisroel, the level of their souls, their Torah, and their relationship with G–D, is dependent upon their being in Eretz Yisroel. For the very soil of Eretz Yisroel is holy, the Jewish people are holy, their souls are holy, their Torah is holy, and G–D, their Minister is holy. (Tuv HaAretz, The Future Advantage of Eretz Yisroel)
Why does one person gravitate to one part of the world more than another, while another person wouldn’t even consider it, and is miserable if they are forced to go there? Because though our physical bodies may be born or move to certain places in the physical world, our souls come from their spiritual counterparts. And the soul of every Jew comes from the level of the upper Eretz Yisroel, the spiritual counterpart of the physical one.
What exactly does that mean? This:
The height of Eretz Yisroel is the 10 sefiros of the Nukvah of Zehr Anpin of Atzilus, [which is] the lower half of the Tifferes of Zehr of Atzilus, until half of the Netzach of Beriyah. (Sha’ar HaPesukim, Mattos)
Not very helpful, right? Well, at least not without the necessary background information.
Until now we have spoken about spiritual counterparts, but what we really mean is levels of sefiros. Those are the basis of the spiritual chain of command that G–D created before everything else to implement His will and filter His light. G–D’s light is infinite and unfiltered it leaves no possibility of anything to exist, let alone have free will.
Much of Kabbalah is consumed with discussions about tzimtzum, the constriction of G–D’s light, and what it might actually mean. The idea of tzimtzum raises more questions than it answers, but being finite beings with limited ability, we can’t expect to know even close to everything.
If this sounds very abstract it’s because it is. A kind of analogy might be a power grid. Every power grid starts with some very powerful source of energy. The energy is then channeled through a series of transformers and cables over great distances to supply neighboring cities with electricity. It’s all precisely calculated and calibrated to make sure the system doesn’t fail.
When it comes to the sefiros, the great source of energy is the Great Source of Energy, G–D Himself. The sefiros act like transformers to step down His infinite light, and cables to transfer the light to subsequent levels. Man, and the world in which we live is the “city” that depends upon that light not only to function but to continue to exist.
IN GENERAL THERE are 10 sefiros and spiritual levels as per the diagram (in the book). They make up all of Creation, physical and spiritual. It gets complex because each of these 10 sefiros has 10 sefiros, which have 10 sefiros, etc. There is sefirah for everything that exists.
Each of the Hebrew names of the sefiros indicates the level and function of the divine light on its level. They subdivide into five levels called partzufim—faces, or olamos—worlds, microsystems of 10 sefiros each. All of it is necessary for providing the perfect world for man to live in and exercise free will.
Keser as a family of 10 sefiros is the world called Adam Kadmon. Chochmah with its 10 sefiros is the world called Atzilus, and Binah with its 10 sefiros is called Beriyah. The next level, called Yetzirah, is different because it is not one sefirah with a subset of 10 sefiros, but the next six sefiros, Chesed to Yesod, with each of its 10 sefiros. The last world, Asiyah, is the Malchus and its 10 sefiros.
To provide some perspective, this sums up thousands of years of Kabbalah and as many works on the topic. It doesn’t even scratch the surface, to say the least. But it does provide enough of a picture to give an idea of the spiritual basis of the physical reality of Eretz Yisroel, and why it is the only place a Jew can get to the essence of who they are.
Dividing the second highest level of Chochmah into 10 sefiros, which is Atzilus, means that there will also be an Adam Kadmon of Atzilus, an Atzilus of Atzilus, a Beriyah of Atzilus, a Yetzirah of Atzilus, and an Asiyah of Atzilus. But these five levels have other names as well, partzufim names: Arich Anpin, Abba, Imma, Zehr Anpin, and Nukvah, the last two of which concern us now.
Where are all the other lands of the world? According to Kabbalah, far, far below, and on the side of impurity. More importantly, they are not the source of the souls of the Jewish people. That is the Malchus of Atzilus, which is the upper Eretz Yisroel.
A Jewish body can feel at home just about anywhere in the world. But a Jewish soul can only feel at home in Eretz Yisroel. It is truly the land of the soul, at least the Jewish soul. If you really want to find yours, you can only look there. When you do, it is amazing how life changes as well.
Ain Od Milvado, Part 11
IF YOU WISH me to continue with the addition of Ain Od Milvado, I would appreciate hearing from you at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise I will switch topics, b”H.
As mentioned above, the Torah says,
I am G–D your G–D Who took you out of the land of Egypt,
to give you the land of Canaan, to be G–D to you. (Vayikra 25:38)
Another way of wording this verse would be, “to give you the land of Canaan, so that you can properly fulfill Ain Od Milvado.” G–D fills the land and there is no place anywhere that He does not sustain. If He withdraws from anywhere, that place ceases to exist. Ain Od Milvado applies everywhere and at all times.
So what is so special about Eretz Yisroel regarding this idea? Something Kabbalah calls Hashgochah Pratis versus Hashgochah Klallis, personalized divine providence versus general divine providence. When we live in Eretz Yisroel, G–D personally tends to our needs, making life very interactive. It feels as if you are dealing directly with G–D, because you are.
When a person lives in the Diaspora, they live under the mazal and angel of that land. G–D still runs the show, but He does it more vicariously, both to hide His hand more, and to protect the kedushah (holiness) we live off of from feeding the side of spiritual impurity. It feels as if you are not dealing directly with G–D, making Ain Od Milvado more different to live by.
This is why G–D took the rejection of Eretz Yisroel by the generation of the spies personally. It wasn’t just a land that they turned their back on, but on a higher level of divine providence. And when we do the same thing, on whatever level we do it on (because you can live in Eretz Yisroel and reject it on some level too), we have the same problem.
Eretz Yisroel, the land of Ain Od Milvado. With Tisha B’Av heading our way, we should think about this—a lot. After all, as the Gemora says, it was the spies who initiated the day as one of destruction and mourning.
Wildfires are burning over Europe and North Africa, not to mention the United States. An unprecedented heat wave is also melting glaciers, resulting in floods, avalanches and further destruction.
We spent last Shabbos in Tiveria, on the shores of the Kinneret.
Tiveria, at 689 feet below sea level, is an extremely hot city. Temperatures there last Shabbos reached 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity makes the atmosphere incredibly heavy. Though a steady breeze provided some relief, it was a struggle to breathe. The heat in Tiveria seems too much for a normal person. It is like a blast from beyond this world, as if a giant oven had opened. You feel as if you need a miracle to survive in such a place.
In truth, Tiveria is an other-worldly place. We davened Friday night in a shul of many mekubalim dressed in white, which is the right color for a place this hot. In order to live in Tiveria, one must be a little bit in another world.
We davened at the kevorim of the Rambam and Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Meir Baal ha Nes, giants of Torah, beyond our comprehension. The fire of Torah burns in Tiveria.
Woe to the one who belittles the World of Hashem.
Some two thousand years ago at this time of year, the nations of the world set fire to our Holy Temple. They thought they had ignited the fire and they gloried in the “destruction” of the Holy of Holies in Yerushalayim. They believed that they had triumphed over the Master of the Universe.
Woe to the one who belittles the World of Hashem.
We read in this week’s Parsha, “They journeyed from Chatzeiros and encamped in Rismah.” (Bamidbar 33:18) The word “Rismah” suggests the loshon ha ra of the miraglim because it is related to the word “rosam,” the juniper plant. (Rashi)
What does the juniper plant have to do with loshon ha ra?
The coals of the juniper (unlike other coals) remain burning on the inside, even after they appear to be cool on the outside. This is compared to loshon ha ra. (Midrash, quoted in Artscroll Rashi on Bamidbar) The poison of loshon ha ra keeps burning on the inside, even when you think the fire has gone out. The evil talk of the miraglim kept burning until, hundreds of years later, a fire erupted in the Bais Hamikdosh.
Only because loshon ha ra was still smoldering among Am Yisroel was the Bais Hamikdosh able to be destroyed by our enemies. It has not been rebuilt – nebach! – because the fire is still burning.
The fire that our enemies lit is still burning. Lying hidden like the fire within the rosam, it is waiting to explode, as it is written, “[Hashem] will avenge the blood of His servants; He will bring retribution upon His foes and He will appease His Land and His people.” (Dvarim 32:43)
The fire is burning. “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the wicked people and all the evildoers will be like straw and that coming day will burn them up, says, Hashem, Master of Legions…” (Malachi 3:19)
No cooling salve can save those who light evil fire in the House of G-d. The heat emanating from before the Throne of Hashem is unstoppable. No one can stand in its way. There will come a day – with His help, soon! – when those who want to burn His Holy Temple will themselves be consumed.
He is warning us now. There is no protection for Hashem’s enemies and there is no end to the goodness in store for those who serve Him and venerate His Name.
“But a sun of righteousness will shine for you who fear My Name, with healing in its rays, and you will … flourish … and … trample the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on that day that I bring about says Hashem, Master of Legions. Behold, I send you Eliahu [ha Novi] before the coming of the great and awesome day of Hashem, and He will turn back [to G-d] the hearts of fathers with [their sons] and the hearts of sons with their father ….” (ibid 3:20ff)
May we see it soon in our days!
|Tiveria on the shore of the Kinneret|
|Map of Israel with the Kinneret|
(blue) in the north
Eliahu ha Novi: Elijah the Prophet
Kevorim: Burial places
Kinneret: The Sea of Galilee
Loshon ha Ra: Evil speech
Mekubalim: Jews who study kabala
Miraglim: The Jewish spies who entered Israel, most of whom brought back a bad report
BS”D Parashat Mas’ai 5782
by Rabbi Nachman Kahana | Jul 27, 2022
Three Stages of Redemption
This week’s parasha finds the Jewish nation standing on the shores of the Jordan River about to begin the next great phase of our history – the return to the Holy Land, not as individuals, but as a holy, great, and proud nation.
For our generation, it was almost deja vu when we returned from the bitter galut to re-enter our Holy Land to begin the last and greatest phase of our history. This is this week’s message. All the rest is elaboration or commentary.
The Gemara (Pesachim 56a) describes the last hours of Ya’akov’s physical existence in this world, when he gathered his 12 sons to reveal to them what lies in store for the Jewish nation at the “end of days”.
However, at the precise moment when their hearts and minds were at their peak attention, HaShem withdrew His Shechina (Divine spirit) from Yaakov and the revelation became obscured. The revelation was then transferred to Ya’akov’s sons in the form of six words that created three phrases: without the Gemara expanding on their meaning:
שמע ישראל // ה’ א-לקינו // ה’ אחד
“Hearken Yisrael // the Lord is our God // the Lord is One”
I understand the prophecy as follows:
The “Shema” consists of three phrases:
1) Shema Yisrael — Hearken Yisrael
2) HaShem Elokeinu — HaShem (the appellation describing His quality of mercy towards the Jewish nation) Elokeinu (the appellation describing His quality of absolute, even harsh, justice).
3) HaShem Echad — the Lord is One (when dealing with His creations with mercy).
So too will the future redemption of the Jewish people evolve in these three stages:
1)The initial phrase of “Shema Yisrael” appears without mention of HaShem. It refers to the initial stage of redemption with the ingathering of Bnei Yisrael from the far corners of the globe to Eretz Yisrael. They will return for a variety of reasons, but not necessarily religious ones. Most will come to escape antisemitism, totalitarian regimes, or to build a state based on secular socialist Zionism.
2) Phase two “HaShem Elokeinu” includes two names of HaShem: the ineffable (unutterable) YH… representing HaShem’s quality of mercy and compassion, and the name “Elokeinu” representing HaShem’s quality of absolute justice.
This second stage of redemption will be characterized by a bitter conflict between Torah leaders as to how to view the new-old Jewish political state (Medina). Religious-Zionist rabbis will see the Medina as the expression of HaShem’s quality of mercy and compassion for His people Yisrael.
The Medina is HaShem’s declaration that the Shoah was the last major test in the 2000-year period of anger and galut (exile), and the beginning of a new period of our renaissance leading to the fulfillment of all our prophets’ visions. Millions of Jews have returned, our sovereignty over Yerushalayim and the Temple Mount and the extraordinary military victories are undeniable signs that the geula (redemption) has begun.
In contrast, most of the Hareidi branch of Torah scholars will claim that the period of “Elokeinu” – absolute judgment – is still very much in effect, with the Medina just a stage in the natural development of political societies.
3) Phrase three “HaShem Echad (is One)”, is when HaShem’s quality of mercy and compassion to His chosen people will be undeniable, indisputable, unambiguous, unequivocal, absolute and conclusive; not less than when the nation “saw with their physical eyes HaShem’s articulation” of the first two commandments.
This will be a time when all rabbinic leaders will unite in the reality that the Medina is HaShem’s avenue for the advent of Mashiach and our final redemption.
We shall witness the miraculous demise of our enemies, as stated at the end of the first chapter of Tractate Berachot. We shall witness miracles far surpassing those of the exodus from Egypt.
HaShem will “shine His countenance” upon all those who are here to receive it.
May HaShem grant our gallant soldiers victory over the forces of evil: for the final redemption of our people will come about in the merit of the mesirut nefesh (self-sacrifice) of His loyal children residing in Eretz Yisrael.
LOVE HASHEM WITH ALL YOUR HEART
How do we explain the next three phrases in Kriat Shema which deal with loving HaShem:
בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך ובכל מאדך
“With all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might“?
A reasonable individual plans his steps cautiously, considering all the possibilities before him. Yet, certain situations give rise to immediate, involuntary physical and emotional responses.
For example, a young person can go on a hundred dates and not be impressed by even one of them, and then on the 101st date he finds the love of his life. This phenomenon occurs also with regard to lofty ideals; for while it is true that some people operate dispassionately, others feel an inner drive to achieve longed-for ideological goals.
Once people are smitten in either realm, the second stage is to deepen and develop that attachment – whether regarding matchmaking or ideals.
If matters advance, well and good. However, if there is no feeling of progress towards the goal and no positive response from the other side, that attachment can be abandoned or continued in hopes of improvement. If the couple continue and it turns out that this new love is turning into a nightmare or that the ideal to which they are devoting their life is causing unbearable suffering, they can back out or resume striving for success.
The Midrash relates that before the Sinai Revelation, HaShem offered the Torah to the seventy nations. When Esau’s descendants asked what the Torah contains and HaShem answered, “Don’t kill,” they rejected it. When HaShem explained to Yishmael’s descendants that the crux of the Torah is “Do not steal,” they too, rejected it. And so it was with all the other nations. In the end, HaShem offered the Torah to Israel, and our ancestors unhesitatingly responded, “We shall do and we shall obey” (Shemot 24:7).
The first expression, “with all your heart”, describes the spiritual passion Israel felt when HaShem drew near, and they were about to receive the Torah. It was a visceral reaction deriving from the depths of the Jewish soul.
For the past 2500 years, we have been serving HaShem with our bodies, hearts, and souls, seeking to develop the connection between us and to hear the voice of our Father in Heaven calling us – but to no avail. From the time of the last prophet, Malachi, 2400 years ago, HaShem has not made direct contact, and the feeling was that our relationship was one-sided.
At every point we had the option of abandoning that connection and becoming like all the other nations. Yet, the Jewish people stubbornly cling to our Creator, despite the absence of a clear and explicit communication from HaShem to us.
We continued, unreservedly, to worship HaShem in love and faith. That is the meaning of the second phrase, “with all your soul”. It is to carry on, despite everything, towards the fulfillment of all of HaShem’s promises to the Jewish people.
Clinging to HaShem brought us enormous suffering over 2000 years of exile, at the end of which we endured the worst experience imaginable – the Holocaust. All the same, we are carrying on without hesitation or weakness in our loyalty to HaShem. That is the intent of the third phrase, “with all your might”.
We lost many Jews on the way; many were murdered, it is likely that many chose assimilation among the goyim. We today are the remnant of the long and sad exile from our land caused by our unfaithful conduct against the Torah.
But we are here! We made it! We are the Yehoshua bin Nun and Calev ben Yefunah, the only two men among the 600,000 between the ages of 20-60 who left Egypt and survived to enter the Holy Land.
We and our children, and their children, living in Eretz Yisrael are the foundation stones of Am Yisrael’s guaranteed illustrious future.
May we all live to see the fulfillment of the prophecy of Zecharya that the fast days will turn into days of feast and joy.
Remember and do not forget JLMM – Jewish Lives Matter Most
Copyright © 5782/2022 Nachman Kahana
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