|Week of November 2, 2008 Shabbat Lech lecha Ram Cheshvan 10, 5769|
This weeks portion is Lech Lecha spelled Lamed Caf (space) Lamed Caf! It has 126 verses and also the first of 10 portions that have a dot above a letter - this is in Chapter 16 Verse 5). Rabbi Avraham Azulai teaches that these 10 dots are connected to the 10 days of Awe between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. Is there some aspect of Tshuvah you would like to continue resolving - this week and next week are good ones to continue that process.
The translation of Lech Lecha is Go! To/for Yourself! There are many other understandings for this translation - yet this teaches an amazing spiritual law. Altruism does not work - which is why the political system called Communism did not work! In Kabbalah - sharing is not altruism and altruism is not the way to permanent fulfillment.
The memonic devices from the Sages for this weeks portion are Nun Mem Lamed Vav which means "His Harbor or Port" and Mem Caf Nun Dalet Yood Bet which is connected to the concept of wandering or migrating. It can be translated as "from a hand of the wandering 12".
The essence of this portion is "to improve yourself". What does that mean? It means take a spiritual accounting each week about "how did i treat other people"? Did i react to things they did to me? or did i strive to make myself a better person than i was last week! Did i grow spiritually or did i fall?
You improve yourself and grow spiritually just by asking these question!
I have found it very useful to take the suggested Metaphors from the Zohar and read the "simple stories in the Torah using the metaphorical understanding.
In Lech Lecha the Zohar teaches that Sarai represents the astral body of our soul before we come into this world. Avram represents the soul before it arrives in this world. Avraham represents the soul after it is born into the body which uses the metaphor of Sarah. The phrase "the place i will show you" in the first paragraph of the portion is a metaphor for our physical world.
Lech Lecha is always read during the month of Mar/Ram Cheshvan. This month of Bul (flood) can be difficult for many people. One way to allow one to handle the floods in their life is to perceive the truth in the following two paragraphs which come form an article by Rabbi Shaul Leiter of "Ascent of Safed".
There is a saying from the Breslever Chasidim that no matter how difficult things are, always respond to the question "How are things?" with the answer "Baruch Hashem, - Thanks to God!" A person is always led by the way he is going. If things are terrible, and we say "terrible", G-d looks down on us and says, "If you think this is terrible, I'll show you what's really terrible." If, on the other hand, a person answers that things are great, G-d will look down and say, "If you think this is great, let me really show you what is great!"
The were once two Chasidim; one was a master of crying , and the other, a master of happiness. Reb Abraham Ber explained their behavior like this: The first meditates about where the soul was in the height of spiritual heights and where the soul has now fallen in this world - and falls into depression. The second contemplates where the soul is now, in this lowly world, and compares it to where it will be in the Future, with all the accompanying revelations of the World to Come; he acknowledges that all is dependent on our behavior now, and he automatically wells up with joy. Reb Abraham Ber closed by saying that the master of happiness is spiritually greater.
I suggest you spend some time this week thinking about the lessons one learns from these metaphors.
One additional item of interest. The Zohar explains that the 318 men of Avram's House who went with him and helped defeat the 9 Kings were really a double edged code. The word Siach which is a form of prayer has a Gematria of 318 and Avram's servent Eliezer also has a Gematria of 318. From this we learn that Avram used the 72 Names of God (the same ones Moshe used to split the sea) to defeat the Kings. The spiritual lesson from all of this is to recognize and utilize the power of the Hebrew Letters which we learn from the story of the Tower of Babel during the Parasha of Noach.
If your are interested in learning about the Hebrew Letters and thier use - start listening to the recordings of the classes on the Spiritual laws - See the link above!
One spiritual action to take Motzei Shabbat this week is to light a candle in honor of Rachel Imeinu. Rachel our Mother who passed on the 11th of Cheshvan giving birth to BenYamin the 12th of the 12 tribes of Israel. Also reading the portions of the Tanach or Zohar that teaches about Rachel is a stronger way to connect to her Hillula or death anniversary. Some reccomended verses to read over Sunday are Genesis Chapter 29 to 33 and Chapter 35.
One can also read Beraishit Chapter 5 verse 21 to 27. This will connect you to Methusaleh the Grandfather of Noach whose Hillula is also Saturday night and Sunday. One note the Flood was delayed in honor of the Shivah of Methusaleh according to the Midrash.
Enjoy the Reading!
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One of the main purposes of the Mitzvah of Hearing the Torah on Shabbat Morning is to receive the Metaphysical Energy we will need during the next week. Please strive to hear the Torah Reading each week for this benefit.
Chanoch Ben Yaacov
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