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On the night of Shavuot 1948, Rabbi Yehuda Leib Ashlag the great Kabbalist gave this teaching: When we think about the giving of the Torah which took place at Mount Sinai, we’re not talking about a historical event, which took place only at one time and is not taking place now. But according to the principle that once a spiritual event has happened…
 
Seder night is the night in which the greatest light of God, the light of redemption, comes into the world. It is the night in which God delivered the children of Israel from Egypt. And this energy, this great light comes into the world again every year. How will we receive it? How will we relate to it? In this podcast we are going to look at this …
 
Most of us try to push away the dark side of ourselves by denying that it even exists, or we cover it up with fear, shame, and guilt. Feelings that are too painful for us to penetrate. We feel that we are somehow split in two. We often feel that the face we show to the outer world has very little to do with our inner world. When receiving praise or…
 
The story of Joseph and his brothers is a story filled with passion, anger and reconciliation. Most of all, it is a story that describes the search for and the development of the quality of brotherhood. Interestingly, although other brothers have been described in the Torah, the quality of brotherhood has not, until now, been one sought for. Ever s…
 
Why is it important for ourselves to know what we are made of? What we really are? Can such knowledge help us live our lives in an authentic way, and not just live our lives on a superficial level? The truth is, if we don’t know which aspects of ourselves are positive, supportive to our path, and helping us to fulfill our potential, or conversely, …
 
Many people contact me and ask me if Judaism has a spiritual path. What they have in mind is the connection with the soul. The spiritual wares of other religions, for example, Zen or Tibetan Buddhism, Hindu Yoga, or Sufism from the Islam tradition seem somehow to be more accessible than is the Jewish path. These paths advocate meditation, ascetic p…
 
Drawn to the study of Kabbalah from a very early age, Rabbi Ashlag understood the Kabbalah’s unique integrating function of heart and mind, of feeling and thought, of faith and of service to God. He penetrated the technicalities of the Torah of the Ari, showing that the Sephirot and their pathways are simply the pathways of love between God and our…
 
When we visit Jerusalem today, we see a thriving city, one of the most beautiful in the world: bustling and busy, filled with people, old and young, living their lives. So what does it mean for us today to sit on the floor on the ninth day of Av and mourn the destruction of the Temple and the devastation of Jerusalem?? Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag, the…
 
Our world, both politically and culturally, is in turmoil. Our value systems are being turned upside down. Freedom of speech in the West is no longer guaranteed. Our economic systems serve only a few with the majority suffering under huge burdens. And, in more than one country, democracy itself and the freedom of the individual are under attack. Al…
 
When the Holy Blessed One gave the Torah, the bird did not sing, the eagle did not fly, the ox did not low, the Ofanim did not stir, the Seraphim did not praise, the seas stopped their motion, no creatures spoke, but the world was silent, Then the voice came forth, I am the Lord Your God.” ( Midrash) This is the incredible moment which we experienc…
 
I remember when I still lived in my parent’s house in London, my father, who was a religious man, taught us that it was forbidden to learn Kabbalah. Because at that time the Kabbalah was still concealed from the general community. But now we can find Kabbalah everywhere. What has changed? Rabbi Ashlag in his great introduction, the Panim Meirot uMa…
 
A podcast from the Zohar The Zohar teaches us that when we act in holiness, that is in giving unconditionally, we cause blessing and holiness to flow back to us. If God forbid we act or speak negatively, with only our self-interests involved, we bring a spirit of uncleanness into the world. With this in mind, it examines the differences between wor…
 
The code of Jewish law, known as the Shulchan Aruch, states that we need to prepare the prayers of the High Holy days in advance so that when it comes to the actual moment to pray on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we are fully prepared and familiar with the prayer. Of course, this sounds totally reasonable. After all, when preparing for an important …
 
This piece of Zohar is traditionally read studied during the night of Shavuot when we stay up in the night studying the Torah in order to prepare for the Receiving of the Torah on the festival of Shavuot. “Rabbi Shimon was sitting learning Torah throughout the night. This is the night when the Bride (that is the Malchut) joins with her Husband (God…
 
As we move through Seder night, we drink the four cups of wine and we relate to the elements on the Seder plate, we are not usually cognizant of the fact that both these central components of Seder night, actually represent the four-letter Name of God, YHVH Pharaoh said, “Who is YHVH that I should listen to Hisvoice? “ Actually, Pharaoh was cogniza…
 
Have you ever wondered what standing at Mount Sinai felt like? Tradition teaches that all the souls of the Jewish people, past, present and future stood together and heard the voice of God. So what did we actually experience? The Torah states: “And all the people saw the voices and the torches, the sound of the shofar, and the smoking mountain, and…
 
Tu Bshvat is the New Year for trees. But why should trees have a new year? There seems to be a comparison made between the tree and the human being by our sages: “For a man is as the tree of a field.” It transpires that this comparison goes much deeper. Like the tree we also have fruit to give, the fruit of our lives and of our labor. What type of …
 
On this week of the Parasha Toledot, we read the story of Ya’acov and Esau. This story is such a perplexing one when we read the simple bald recital of the events as they took place as described in Bereishit, the book of Genesis. So many questions arise! Ya’acov refuses to give Esau soup until he sells his birthright to him. On the surface, this lo…
 
This Saturday night starts the fast of Tisha B’ Av. This is a day in which we mourn the destruction of the Temple. But are we really mourning an historical event? When we use our Judaism as a living spiritual path we don’t mourn a heap of stones, but we ask ourselves what are we missing? What aspect is missing from our lives that we feel the need t…
 
Zohar: Rabbi Shimon said: Woe to the man who says that the Torah comes to tell literal stories and stories of people like Esau and Laban and such like. For if this were so, even in these times we could make a Torah out of the words of ordinary people — even nicer stories than these. If the purpose of the Torah were to show the matters of the world,…
 
One evening in 1892 in a suburb of Warsaw, a seven-year-old boy was lying in bed when, suddenly, a book fell off the bookshelf, hitting him on the head. The boy picked it up and started to examine it. His father, hearing the sound, came in, and seeing the book in his son’s hand, took it from him and replaced it on the shelf. “This is a book for ang…
 
When we read books of kabbalah, as for example English translations of the Zohar , or look at diagrams of the Sephirot, we often end up more puzzled than enlightened. This is because Kabbalah actually uses a specific language. As we know, every discipline has its own language. We wouldn’t expect to understand a book on engineering unless we had alr…
 
Why is it important to understand the language of Kabbalah? Many people learn about Kabbalah using terms such as light, Sephirot, the Tree of life, without really knowing what they mean. But this is a shame, because when we learn the meaning of these words terms accurately we obtain a precious key to the wisdom of our Sages, and to our own lives. T…
 
“Happy is the man who does not forget You and the son of man makes an effort in You.” In this happy and optimistic letter for the New Year that Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag wrote to his friends and students in the Beit Hamidrash for Rosh Hashanah, he teaches that the themes of Rosh Hashanah are actually advice the Sages are giving us in how to come c…
 
Rabbi Ashlag in the Perush haSulam, his great commentary on the Zohar, teaches: During the 12 months of the year we work on the tikkun of the Malchut. That is, we work on letting go of receiving for ourselves alone, and practice giving unconditionally, doing acts that are in affinity of form with the Creator. In this way we rectify the Malchut—the …
 
When we look back on our lives, we find many things we wish we had done differently. Yet ultimately everything that transpired did so according to the will of God. So what do we need to say sorry for? This question was asked by the great Kabbalist Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag. He considers a saying of the Sages of the Talmud, ” The evil inclination w…
 
The holy Zohar says, Rabbi Yehudah opened his discourse, “the Scripture says (Psalm 100:2), “Serve the Lord with happiness, come before him with song” and indeed we have learnt that we need to be happy in our service to God so as to serve Him with true desire. In this way our work will be whole. The questions is: How can this requirement of being h…
 
The Torah was given to the Children of Israel in the month of Sivan, in the third month of coming out of Egypt. The holy Zohar takes this to hint to us that the Torah itself comes forth in the middle line of consciousness, combining within itself both the consciousness of Chesed, lovingkindness, and of Gevurah, strength, and bringing forth a consci…
 
Each year as we sit down at the seder table we read in the Hagaddah, “In every generation every person is obliged to see himself as if he came out of Egypt.” Each year we need to celebrate the Pesach story, to see the hand of God Himself delivering us from our bondage, not just in the past but as an on-going process in our present. As Pesach approa…
 
Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag, in his teachings on the Parshat Shavua, Vayikra, wrote as follows: The Scripture says, “And God called Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting saying, “Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘Adam, when he offers from you a sacrifice to God; you shall offer your sacrifice from the domestic animals, from…
 
When the children of Israel arrived at Mount Sinai, the Torah says ” ויחן העם מול ההר. And the people encamped opposite the mountain.” But what you can’t hear in the English translation is the use of the word ” encamped” in a singular form. The great commentator of the Torah, Rashi, picked up on this word, and taught its inner meaning as being “as …
 
“In every generation, a person is obliged to see himself or herself, as if he or she is coming out of Egypt.” Passover Haggadah Rabbi Ashlag considers a person as a whole world in himself .Therefore, everything that is in the world is also represented within each and every one of us. It is in this spirit that he teaches the inner meanings of the st…
 
“Then Yehudah drew near to him, (Yoseph) and said: ‘Oh my lord, let your servant, I pray you, speak a word in my lord’s ears,'” (Genesis 44:18) It is with these words that one of the most moving and dramatic episodes of the Torah opens. “And Yehudah drew near to him”; the Zohar teaches,”in prayer”. There are many sad and broken people in the world,…
 
“The three components of the chanukah candle are the vessel itself, the wick and the oil. All three elements need to be present to receive the flame of Chanukah.” Thus Rabbi Baruch Ashlag starts an amazing letter on the elements that make up the equivalent of the Hanukkah candle within each and everyone of us. The light of Hanukkah is the revelatio…
 
On the surface of it all, it seems a dreadful story: A younger son cheating an older brother of what is rightfully his. So seems the story of Jacob and Esau, according to its literal meaning. However, when we learn the Torah only at the level of the Pshat, we get the outer shell, but we cannot attain the truth and wisdom of its consciousness in tha…
 
Rabbi Ashlag teaches, that when we come to build a house, we first have to start off with the vision of our final dwelling. We need to imagine for ourselves our bungalow, or our block of offices or our wooden hut in the woods. Only then we can start to make real plans and take the steps we need to fulfill our vision in actuality. Likewise, the firs…
 
Rosh HaShanah, the new year is a day of choice; a day when we are given the possibility of choosing again. This is an amazing thought. For so many of us, the days go by and we seem to have drifted into habits of thought, feeling and even actions, which on closer examination we may not in fact espouse. So what does this new choice consist of, and ho…
 
The streams of Teshuvah, both the individual and the general, rush along. They are like waves of flames on the surface of the sun, which, in an unceasing struggle, burst forth, go up, and give life to the multitude of worlds and to uncountable creatures. … Through Teshuvah everything returns to godliness. The reality of the power of Teshuvah that r…
 
When we come to Tisha B’Av, now, in 2015, we truly need to ask, Why are we mourning? For Zion is repopulated and the city thronged with people. Yet when we consider what the presence of the Temple meant 2000 years ago before the destruction we begin to understand what this day of mourning is really about. “Make for Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell w…
 
When I learn the work of Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag, the Baal HaSulam, I am struck by the joy and the love that is embedded in his work. Listening to some old recordings of him giving a lesson, we hear his voice ringing out with joy. He was clearly a man of both deep understanding and of rich feeling. Our feelings actually originate with the very Tho…
 
One of the qualities of Torah is its beauty; and its wonders, the inner beauty of a life led according to Torah. Sometimes we hear a teaching and we feel, ” Wow, that is beautiful,” and this fills us with joy. This is not a superficial feeling or something we should ignore, but a real appreciation of the beauty of the Torah. The holy Zohar teaches …
 
The Zohar that we traditionally learn on the festival of Shavuot is called, “The night of the Bride”. In beautiful imagery, it pictures the community of Israel joining together with God, as Bride and Bridegroom under the wedding canopy, at the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. The night of Shavuot is spent studying the Torah, rectifying the vesse…
 
Blessed be He who keeps His promise to Israel. (Haggadah) Following the redemption of the children of Israel at the Red Sea when they saw the enemies drowned on the shore the Scripture states, “And Israel saw the great hand which HaShem had wrought in Egypt. And the people had awe of Hashem and they believed in haShem and in Moses his servant.” Exo…
 
We are living in turbulent times; on the one hand the light of redemption is undoubtedly getting nearer and with it an increasing consciousness of the light of God in the world. Equally, the destructive elements of the world seem to be growing in strength. This is not the first time, the Jews have faced these huge polarization of energies. They did…
 
We all find ourselves making good resolutions— intending to live, from now on, according to our deepest values. Yet when faced with the choice in actual practice our actions very often fall short, and yet again we find that we seem unable to follow through. There seems to be a disconnect between our ideals and our practice. We try different tactics…
 
In a letter which Rabbi Ashlag wrote to his students whilst he was away in London, he bemoans the fact that some previous students had fallen away from the group. In looking at the question as to why this had happened, he shows how outer change actually follows a prior inner change. This we learn from the story of the exile in Egypt. It was an inne…
 
Many of us go through difficult times in our lives, times of loss and sadness. In such times our connections with God can be painful. We ask Him where He is? Is this what He really wants? That we suffer? We wonder, why is He acting like this towards us, towards me? David, the sweet singer of Israel, actually had a life polarized in its extremes. It…
 
Zohar Toledot, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai: The real truth is, Jacob never deceived anyone. He was incapable of deceiving anyone. The Scripture testifies that he was Ish Tam a man of innocence, and thus we say in Micah 7, “Give us the truth of Jacob.” The Torah gives us the bare record of the events in the early lives of Ya’acov (Jacob) and Esau,on the…
 
The fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob make up the Merkavah, a Hebrew word meaning “chariot” . In our modern language we could translate this as a vehicle for the light and love of God, receiving it and passing it on to others. Being their children, we also have within our potential, the vessels they brought to the Merkavah. The act of the Akedah, t…
 
And God spoke to Abraham. Since the flood, silence. God had not revealed himself to mankind again. What was He waiting for? On the finish of the Creation, the words of the Torah are, vayhal Elohim, “and God finished” But the Holy Or HaChaim, Rabbi Ibn Atar, tells us that these words also have the connotation of God “yearning” for Man. What was He y…
 
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