GOOD MORNING! Were you ever interested in Kabbalah, mysticism? If there is a God, people would love to have a spiritual connection, a feeling of awe and holiness permeating their lives. Most people would love that connection right now without having to study or work for it. Give me a few quick mantras or exercises and connect me up! However, like most things in life, there is no quick fix for a spiritual connection. It does take study, contemplation, effort and action.
Torah is compared to a meal -- the 5 Books of Moses and the Talmud are the bread and the meat, and Kabbalah is the wine. One is supposed to be 40 years old, married and a Talmudic scholar before starting to learn Kabbalah. If one drinks wine before consuming the staples there can be problems.
The Talmud (Tractate Hagigah) tells the story of 4 people who entered the Pardes ("Orchard" -- a code word for studying Kabbalah). One died, one became a heretic, one went insane and the fourth, Rabbi Akiva, went in and came out unscathed. Be that as it may, there are some legitimate efforts to bring practical wisdom under the framework of Kabbalah. It tends to intrigue people if the wisdom is packaged as Kabbalah, mysticism.
Rabbi Max Weiman, an Aish alumnus, created a website, KabbalahMadeEasy.com. Rabbi Weiman writes, "Kabbalah is Jewish mysticism. It has many aspects and has been around as long as there have been people in existence. God taught Moses things He wanted written down. That's the Written Tradition, or the Torah. God also taught Moses things He wanted to remain an Oral Tradition. Most of this is contained in the Talmud. Kabbalah is part of the Oral Tradition.
"Many insights into life's ultimate purpose can be understood through the concepts of Kabbalah. You can also learn invaluable things about yourself from studying these mystical concepts.
"The Torah and Jewish Law teach people how to relate to God. The Kabbalah teaches us how God relates to us. It's a description of the spiritual underpinnings of the universe.
"Even though much of this wisdom is kept among those that are on the level to understand and use it properly, there is an incredible amount that is open to the masses. Many people can gain tremendous insights and improve their lives and connection to the Infinite Being."
Rabbi Weiman shares with us a short list of ideas that I think are of tremendous value to keep in mind:
Torah Portion of the Week
This week's Torah reading is an architect's or interior designer's dream portion. It begins with the Almighty commanding Moses to tell the Jewish people to donate the materials necessary for the construction of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary.
The Torah continues with the details for constructing the Ark, the Table, the Menorah, the Tabernacle (the central area of worship containing the Ark, the Menorah, the Incense Altar, and the Table), the Beams composing the walls of the Tabernacle, the Cloth partition (separating the Holy of Holies where the Ark rested from the remaining Sanctuary part of the Tabernacle), the Altar and the Enclosure for the Tabernacle (surrounding curtains forming a rectangle within which was a large area approximately 15x larger than the Tabernacle).
* * *
from Twerski on Chumash by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.
The Torah states regarding the portable Sanctuary that traveled with the Israelites during the 40 years in the desert:
"You shall place the Table outside the Partition, and the Menorah opposite the Table on the south side of the Tabernacle, and the Table you shall place on the north side" (Exodus 26:35).
It would have been much more concise to say, "Place the Table outside the partition on the north side." What lesson for life is the Torah coming to teach us from the placement of these furnishings?
The Table and the Menorah represent two aspects of life. The Table and the Showbread (which rested on it) represent the physical aspect of life, the food we need for survival; the Menorah represents the spiritual aspect.
When life begins, the infant knows only his physical needs and their gratification. The juvenile mind cannot conceptualize or understand spirituality. We thus begin life with our physical and material drives being dominant. When one reaches the age of reason, the spiritual aspects of life sets in, and should achieve primacy. The physical needs should eventually become subordinate to the spiritual. Inasmuch as one cannot achieve spiritual goals unless one is physically healthy, one must provide the body with all its essential needs. However, this should not be as in childhood, when satisfying one's hunger or resting to overcome weariness were dominant.
This is why the Torah goes out of its way to describe the placement of the Table and the Menorah. The beginning of life is indeed with the Table, but at some later date, the Menorah must be given primacy. After that, the Table is still very much a part of life, but is now subordinate to the Menorah. Maturity is not limited to intellectual progress, but requires that spirituality becomes the goal of life while the physical requirements are only the means.
CANDLE LIGHTING - February 24
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Continuous effort -- not strength or intelligence --
is the key to unlocking our potential
-- Winston Churchill
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Rabbi Kalman Packouz
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