|Week of December 27, 2009 Shabbat Vayechi Tevet 16, 5770|
Sunday December 27 is the 10th of Tevet. This is a fast day (sunrise to sunset) throughout the generations. What is this about?
On the physical level it "commemorates the day the wall of Jerusalem was breached by Nebuchanezzer. So what! It was 19 months later on the 9th of Av that the Temple was destroyed. So Why fast in Tevet. In Kabbala we do not "commemorate" physical actions because they are not the cause of anything - only the effect. To change something eternally we must go to the cause.
So what is the cause for this effect - The Physical Destruction of the Temple?
For centuries before this destruction we have prophecies telling us that the Temple will be destroyed. The Prophets did tell us that to continue on your path will cause you to loose the benefit of the Temple and its ability through personal Sacrifice and Avodah to balance the negative actions of all 70 Nations, especially the Children of Israel. We did not change! We continued on this same path. The path that we continue to pursue. The Path caused by the desire to receive for one self alone.
The sages instituted this fast on the 10th of Tevet to give US PAUSE - to think about what we are doing that does not allow the Temple to be rebuilt. Our sages teach every generation that does not rebuild the Temple is like the generation that caused its "destruction.
Please take the time to reflect (even for 5 minutes or longer). How can i be a person who loves more and hates less? This is the purpose of the fast. How can i look at the beauty and pleasures given to us in this physical world and take them for granted. How do i learn to appreciate the plea sures of life as well as appreciate the problems in life that cause me to grow closer to the Creator!
There is no coincidence that this Fast day appears during the Parasha of Vayichi which translates "And He Lives". Please go to the Yeshshem Blog for more information.
The name of the Parasha is Vayechi which means "Lived". Actually the Hebrew grammer says it means "Will Live" - but due to the leading Vav it changes from future to past tense. The leading Vav can indicate two different aspects in Biblical Hebrew. One is to change the grammar tense of the word and the other is to indicate a connection between the last verse or story in the preceding Parasha and this Verse or story in this Parasha. In this case it indicates both.
I suggest you reread the last verse from last weeks Parasha of Vayegash which refers to Israel living in Goshen, Egypt, and the First Verse in this weeks Parasha of Vayechi which refers to Jacob living in the Land of Egypt. Both Names, Israel and Jacob can refer to the same man. Israel is a higher level of consciousness yet the Torah states that Jacob lived in Egypt 17 years. 17 is a code for the word Tov which means good. So another question can be Why does it tell us that living in Egypt at the lower consciousness is good? I will leave you to think about these questions and answer them for yourself.
One of the things i learn from this connection is as follows: Our sages teach us that it is a Mitzva to live in Eretz Israel. Yet, others of our sages teach that only the Mashiach will tell us when to return to Israel. These two verses teach that it is good to live in the Galut (exile - outside of Eretz Israel). Yet know that you are choosing to limit your spiritual growth and your connection to HaShem by doing so. This comes from the use of the different names Israel in Eretz Israel (Parasha of Vayegash) falling to Jacob in Eretz Mitzraim (Egypt) (Parasha Vayechi).
This is also the last Parasha in the book of Beraishit (Genesis). There is a custom for the Kahal (Congregation) to stand at the end of this Parasha and say Hazak! Hazak! Venitnasek! which means Be Strong! Be Strong! and May we be Strengthened!
The Mekubalim teach a slightly different Minhag or custom. They teach that it is reccomended to say Hazak! 3 TIMES NOT TWICE. The reason being that Hazak has a Gematria of 115. When we say a Hebrew phrase we actually are saying many different things on many different levels. In this case by saying Hazak! 3 times we say the Name Moshe (Gematria 345) and by saying the last word Vayitnasek (Gematria 565) we are saying a phrase from the Prophet Isaiah Chapter 26 Verse 4 (Ki BeYa HaShem Tzur Olamim - Because Ya HaShem is a Rock everlasting). This can also have the consciousness of Avraham (Right-sharing), Itzhak (Left-Receiving), Yaacov (Central-Balance), and Malchut (our physical world). If your congregation does not say it 3 times whisper the 3rd HaZak in your own mind. Remember your congregation is inclusive of every other Congregation including the Mekubalim Congregations - so you are in unity with all.
There are 12 spaces in this Parasha. Since Jacob is blessing his Sons which we constantly refer to as the 12 Tribes of Israel, these spaces relate to the 12 Tribes. Most people never ask the question Why did HaShem create 12 Astrological signs which manifest in the chariots of Jacob's sons as leaders of the Tribes. The Mekubalim teach us the answer is in the 4 Letters of the name HaShem (Yood Kay Vav Kay) times the three columns of right (sharing), left(receiving), and center (balance). So these spaces connect to the Tetragramaton on the Right, the Tetragramaton on the Left, and the Tetragramaton within the Central.
One other point of learning about the spaces. The last space is the 4 line space between the Book of Genesis (Beraishit) and Exodus (Shmot). It is reccomended that during the Hagba (Raising of the Torah) one attempt to connect to that large space visually. If not this week than next week. These 4 lines relate to the 4 worlds of Emanation, Creation, Formation, and Action. The spiritual law says that one must reconnect to the Creator at each step in the Creative Process. That is what we do when we connect with that large space between each book.
The spiritual laws taught in this Parasha seem to be Esoteric. After all the Zohar portion is one of the longest in the whole Zohar. This would indicate that there are a number of esoteric aspects being taught in this Parasha. Lets try to simplify it to just one very important Spiritual Law which is the Law of Cause and Effect. This Law teaches us that to change anything one must go to the Beginning. The initial cause and change things there in order to make lasting change in our lives today.
The Talmud asks the question "What is the difference between man and God?". One of the answers it gives is the following: Man builds a pot and then puts the water into the pot. HaShem creates the water and builds the vessel second. To truly understand this mashal (metaphor) one must ask the question which is cause and which is effect?
Elsewhere the Talmud and the Halacha discusses the method to Kosher a clay (porcelin) vessel that has become Tamay (impure). It is necessary to break it to make it Kosher. Of course How can you use a broken clay vessel? read on.
During this Parasha Jacob becomes sick, plans his exit from this world and then dies. What is cause and what is effect? Most of us will say that he died from his illness. The cause being the illness. The effect death. The Zohar explains it differently. The cause is a consciousness (energy) called death. The effect is consciousness called illness.
The spiritual law being taught in this Parasha is what we call Mind over Matter. Mind is a code word for consciousness which is a code word for Desire to Receive. To control the physical world we must control our minds. The tool to control our minds is restriction. The Hebrew phrase taught by Rabbi Ashlag is Zevug D'Hakaah. This actually translates as Striking and Binding or Binding by Striking. This paradox is why one will need to reread this paragraph a few times. or you can always send me a question by email.
When was the last time you prayed to have your tooth not hurt? When was the last time you prayed to be sad? When was the last time you prayed for the snow to stop and the winter to be over?
Your Mind (what you choose to allow into your mind - which thought you don't throw out) controls your life movie. Those thoughts come from your higher self - both the good side and the negative side. You have the choice to think about only positive things. Yet we all will say, i have tried to do that and those negative thoughts keep coming. What can i do? Just keep sending those thoughts away. Keep focusing on positive thoughts and remember the difference between Man and God. Strive to be God by knowing that the chaos that comes to break your vessel makes you a higher level of Kosher because HaShem creates the fullfillment first and then the vessel to hold it. If your vessel is too small for the fullfillment HaShem wants you to receive, his mercy causes the current vessel to break. After all we are made of clay (earth). Know also he will help you rebuild your Kosher larger vessel to hold the Goodness he wants you to receive.
One spiritual law the Torah teaches is to learn from everyone and everything. To this purpose i ask you to think about the following paragraph.
I have asked a question about this week's Parasha since i first read it 20 years ago. Why is it necessary for Jacob and Joseph to be embalmed. One answer that is given by the sages is that they would be worshiped by the idol worshiping Egyptians. This does not satisfy me because the Talmud asks a similar question about other idols like the Sun, Moon and Stars. Why create them if they will become Idols. The Talmud answers that HaShem creates useful things and he should not have to destroy them because people choose to make them idols. I do not yet have the answer that satisfies me; if you do have an answer please send it to me.
The above questions comes fom the last verse in the Parasha. It is Genesis Chapter 50 verse 26. It has 11 words and 46 Letters. 11 connects to the Ketoret or Incense which brings one closer to HaShem. 46 is the Gematria of the Name ElYA spelled in Hebrew Aleph Lamed Yood Hay. This is a combination of Names dealing with the upper worlds. Also another aspect of this verse is the fact that the sum of the integers (whole numbers) from 1 to 46 is the Gematria of Tipheret. The Central Column Sephirot.
From this one can get the idea that embalming brings us closer to the upper levels of God in a balanced way. I just do not understand this when it is against Jewish law to embalm. ONe of the reasons for this is that the Egyptians through the knowledge of embalming and mummification, both lost arts and knowledge, were trying and actually achieving the idol worship of the body. Perhaps one of our readers can help. PLease!
I am also wishing you a Happy Secular New Year! as well as the Full Moon of Tevet. Be Careful this week. Don't Drink and Drive! Look all directions before taking actions this week especially on Thursday Night and Friday which is the 15th of Tevet (Full Moon Day).
Enjoy the Reading!
P. S. I really suggest you read last years email to help you understand this years. The link is on the left near the top. It will help you to understand what is written here.
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Announcement 3: This is a weekly e-letter about the Parasha. Sometimes there will be all of the links - sometimes due to time limitations there will not be be all of the links.
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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