Monday, March 24, 2014

Seeds First


The Talmud comments about the first verse in this week's Torah portion that if a woman seeds first, the child will be male and if the man seeds first, the child will be female. This would seem to indicate that a couple's bedroom practices can be used to determine the gender of a child. However, it is blatantly obvious that such efforts would be pretty equivalent to flipping a coin.

Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch noted this and re-explained the Talmudic passage as follows:

The Talmud is not referring to a child's biological gender at all. Rather, the Talmud is referring to a child's soul level and is using the terms "male" and "female" as code terms to mean higher and lower soul levels. By a "male" soul, the Talmud means a higher leveled soul and by "female" soul, the Talmud means a lower leveled soul. Accordingly, in this sense there can be biological females who have a "male" souls and biological males that "female" souls.

What the Talmud is really saying is that a couple's bedroom practices can determine what level of soul is drawn down into a fetus. Drawing down a higher soul mostly depends on the man's spiritual refinement and consideration for his wife. If he reigns in his passions and selflessly holds off until his wife has been properly satisfied then a higher soul ensouls the fetus. If he's not holding on this level, then a lower soul does the ensouling.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Both Hands


On the one hand, the Creator did not create the universe to totally flow by the predictable laws of nature. This would leave us with the impression that our world is unconnected and self contained. Such a notion that could open a door for atheism.

On the other hand, He did not create the universe to totally flow by the unfathomable spiritual forces. While the constancy of such open miracles would overwhelm us with His reality, it would leave us with no means to relate to Him. A relationship presupposes communication on a shared level.

To be in a relationship with us, the Creator combined both approaches. Thus, avoiding the downside of each. Mostly the universe flows naturally, to provide us with a means to grasp His ways. Yet, every so often He throws in the unfathomable - to keep us from being lulled away from Him by nature's facade of self containment.

~ paraphrased from "The Knowing Heart" by Rabbi Luzzatto

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Opposite Within - a Purim thought

During the ritualized public reading of the "Book of Esther" on Purim, its customary for the reader to chant several select phrases in the doleful dirge of the "Book of Lamentations", a text read on the 9th of Av. These select phrases are passing reminders of sad events, slipped into a story with very happy overtones. Yet, the “Book of Lamentations” does not reciprocate. On the 9th of Av, there are no verses in the "Book of Lamentations" intoned to the cheerful chant of the "Book of Esther".

In the Creator’s creation everything has to incorporate something of its opposite in order to endure. There are many examples of this pattern. For instance, male typically contains a drop of female and female typically contains a drop of male. This is why in the yin/yang symbol, the white half has a black dot and the black side has a white dot. Since male/female is a cosmic pattern, throughout creation one finds this pattern of containing an opposite.

Without containing an opposite, dimensionality cannot develop. It’s in the dialogue with an inner opposite that an entity matures. Otherwise, it struggles for an elusive balance upon a single rickety leg of an extreme - a situation which is ultimately untenable.
Based on this pattern, for true tragedy to endure it must contain a drop of it’s own opposite, a drop of happiness and similarly, for true happiness to endure it must contain a drop of tragedy. Since we really want the celebration of Purim to endure, we allow it a touch of tragedy. Hence, we sprinkle the ritualized Purim reading with a few drops of dirge. However, since we do not want the tragedy of the 9th of Av to endure at all, we weaken its structure by excluding it’s opposite. We leave it as an unrealistic extreme - a stick figure with underdeveloped dimensionality. By reducing tragedy’s sustainability, we open a space to swiftly allow in the sweet lights of the Messiah.
Party on! Happy Purim to all :)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Worth It!

A Tidbit from the Zohar on this week's Torah portion:

When God wanted to create man, there were some heavenly politics. The angels asked in protest, "Who is man that you should be mindful of him...?" (Psalms 8:5) What they were saying was that man can be so flawed that he's not worth creating. Thankfully, God did not heed their protests and man was created.

At the beginning of Leviticus the Tabernacle was newly built and God called to Moses, inviting him to enter. The Hebrew word for "And He called" is "Vayikra". The Zohar notes that if you scramble the letters of "Vayikra" a new word appears, "Okir", which means to honor.

In keeping with the protocol not to honor a person to his/her face, when God openly said "Vayikra" to Moses, secretly He communicated "Okir" to the angels. With this he was telling them, "Look at the greatness and holiness of Moses. He ought to be honored. Wasn't man worth creating after all?"

Shabbat Shalom friends

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I The Writer

Thank You for this opportunity to spend some time with You. 

A musician has one kind of keyboard and I have another kind, but I am no less an artist. He pierces the heart with beautiful sounds. I pierce the heart with beautiful words. Either way, another has tasted enhanced emotional resonance. 

As he thanks You for his divine gift, I thank You for mine. He the musician. I the writer.

~ O ~

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Session of Thanks


Dearest Sweet Beloved Divine Parent,

Happy Rosh Chodesh Adar Sheni!

Thank You for a beautiful Shabbat. Thank You for special time with the children. Thank You for Your constant kindness. Thank You for the constant experience of Your kindness. Just getting out of bed and feeling healthy is already an amazing experience of Your kindness. The seemingly simple is not so simple. The older we get, the more we appreciate it. There was a classical musician who composed a musical moment in a piece to represent sunrise in his youth and a second time in old age. The second representation was much grander than the first. Obviously, his appreciation of something that seems like it’s naturally on “automatic pilot” grew with age.

However, I feel that possibly the youth are blind or at least not too sensitive to the constant miracles of existence that comprise “normal life” because You want youth to be youth. You want their attention and focus elsewhere. They are in the stage of building their interests and life passions. They are in a stage where they’re building life skills - including interpersonal skills. Also, such appreciation of simplicity may require some life experience, which develops over the course of time.

So thank You for the seemingly simple things of life. Maybe, I don’t need to have deep cosmic knowledge to offer You thanks. There’s plenty to thank You for with the everyday around me that I see, feel, hear, taste and touch. There’s plenty to thank You for about the people in my life who care for me and love me. There’s plenty to thank You for about the simple physical, emotional and intellectual pleasures I experience. There’s plenty to thank You for over the technology that enhances my life - even for something as simple as indoor plumbing, let alone the internet. There’s plenty to thank You for regarding having a livelihood. There’s plenty to thank You for regarding having children.

I’m sure there’s plenty to thank You for regarding the cosmically higher realms and all they contain. However, I certainly have not exhausted thanking You for the miracles of life right within my perceptive proximity. Please help me thank You more for these and not escape off into the beyond. Ultimately, my interest in Jewish mysticism is about “regular people” learning the mystical knowledge necessary to usher in the messianic era in a state of love, without suffering. It is not an intellectual “ivory tower” quest of the rare Talmudic scholar or the initiate into the mysteries. So my interest in Jewish mysticism should be more on the user friendly side and incorporate a huge dose of daily regular life - just appreciating it more deeply.

Thank You for a session of thanks.

Love and Kisses ...