Va'era - Revelation

Monday, December 31, 2018 · Posted in ,

Faith in G-d cures our spiritual blindness.

The name of the parasha, "Va'era", can be read two ways: "I showed Myself" and "I show myself" - both past and present.

Torah Ohr says that G-d's revelation of Himself was not an isolated incident relegated to the distant past but is happening now, too. We demonstrate our ability to see past the facade to spiritual truth every time we use the strengths we inherit from the Forefathers:

  • the kindness of Avraham in the world's "dog eat dog" mentality
  • Yitzchak's strength and self-control in a generation that demands abandonment of values
  • the mercy of Yaakov, in honest appraisal without self-aggrandizing influences.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe relates this to when G-d instructed Moshe to tell the people they will be redeemed, (Shemot 3:17), and Moshe answered, "But they won't believe me". (Ibid. 4:1) Moshe worried that after 210 years of exile, the Jews were not only physically exiled but also mentally stuck.

G-d answered, "I have shown Myself to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov" (Ibid. 6:3) "...I have also heard the groaning of the Jewish people". (Ibid. 6:5) G-d was saying that the children of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov are incapable of being stuck. All you have to do is tell them I am coming - "And I will take you out". (Ibid. 6:6)

We are no different even after this last exile of almost 2000 years. Deep down, we have not sold out. We just have to be reminded.



Parashat Va'era

Va'era - To KNOW G-d

Sunday, December 30, 2018 · Posted in , ,

Shemot 6:7 "And I will take you to me as My people, and I will be to you a G‑d; and you shall know that I am HASHEM your G‑d, Who brings you out from the under the oppression of Egypt." 
This commandment [to know G‑d] is the first of all the commandments. The knowledge of G-d falls into two categories hinted in this verse. First is the general understanding that there is one supernal force that supervises the world. Next is the realization that this supervision and influence devolves into the finest particulars of this world.

The beginning of every mitzvah is to know G-d in His generality. What is this generality? It is to know that there is a ruling force above Who is the Master of the world. He created all of the worlds [Atzilut, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah], the heavens and the earth and all of their forces. This is [knowledge of Him] in general [consisting of six parts]:

  • To know that there is [understanding this reality];
  • A ruling force [that commands all the forces of the universe];
  • Above [the higher reason to all reasoning];
  • Master of all the worlds [and active in them, not leaving them to secondary controlling forces];
  • Creator of all the worlds [from nothing to something - ex nihilo];
  • And all their forces. [Not to believe that the works of Creation are somehow self sustaining].

All this is the beginning to arriving at a true belief in G-d in general.

The end of all [knowledge and belief] is in the particular, to know Him in particular [details].

We find that a person in this world deals with the general and particular [in arriving at faith in G‑d]. In this world a person himself consists of the general and particular. [In generality he exists as a physical body made up of particular limbs]. This is the reason that the beginning of all is to know that there is a Controller and Judge in this world and that He is the Master of all the worlds. He made man from soil of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the soul of life.

In Hebrew the word for "man" is "adam"; the word for "soil" is "adamah"; the word for "breath" is "neshima"; the word for "soul" is "neshama". The act of breathing gives life to the body, which is the container of the soul, ultimately sourced in the original breath of G-d into the first man. In Hebrew, the actual words for "man" and "soul" clearly relate to these concepts. This is one of the reasons Hebrew is called the Holy Tongue, since the very letters and words express divine hidden meanings.

When the People of Yisrael left Egypt they didn't know G-d.

The deepest exile is not to know of the existence of G-d - in general or in particular. Egypt was the essence of all exiles and this lack of knowledge of G-d was the darkest aspect of that exile. We constantly remember coming out of Egypt because that was essence of the struggle in our own lives - to leave the darkness and to know G-d.

When Moshe came to [redeem] them, this was the first commandment he taught them as is written;

"And you shall know that I am the HASHEM your G d, who brings [note the present tense!] you out from under the sufferings of Egypt."
The word for Egypt in Hebrew is "Mitzrayim"; it is related to the word "maytzarim", meaning "constriction". The first commandment in leaving constricted consciousness is to recognize the Divine.

If it were not for this commandment, Yisrael would not have believed in all the miracles and mighty deeds that were done for them in Egypt. When they understood this in general, miracles and wonders were done for them [in particular].

From here we see that a person needs to understand and believe in He who is making history in order to merit the miracles connected with redemption from exile.

- Zohar, Parashat Va'era, pg. 25a; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister; Chabad


Parashat Va'era

Shemot - Shiviti - I Place Hashem Before Me Always

Monday, December 24, 2018 · Posted in , ,

shiviti Hashem l'negdi tamid
“I place Hashem before me always.”

Shemot 2:1 A man of the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi.

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Those who are the most connected, stay connected at all times. Waking up. Eating. Walking on the way. Learning. Interacting. Working. Sleeping. And yes, using the washroom [but not meditating inside!] 

We are promised that if we keep G‑d before us always, He will in fact do our will. If we see our lives as a microcosm of G‑d 's interactions, we can channel amazing blessings onto ourselves and others. It is a lot easier said than done. For we can quickly be trapped in the material world, with concerns slightly higher than animals, with despair and loss of faith when we are at our worst.

Moshe was a superior soul who came into this world perhaps largely because of the holy behavior of his parents. During their marital relations, the Zohar above describes, they saw their coupling as symbolic of Divine union between Transcendence and Imminence, between Supernatural and Natural, between Expansion and Limit..."for the sake of the Unification of the Holy One and His Manifestation."

Rabbi Yitzchak said: Fortunate are the righteous, whose desire is to cleave to G‑d always [including during the time of marital relations]. As they cleave to Him constantly, thus does He cleave to them and never leaves them. Woe to the wicked, that their desire and cleaving are far removed from Him. For not only are they distanced from Him, but they also cleave to the Other Side. Come and see: Moshe came from Amram who cleaved to G‑d, and G‑d never turned from him, and the Shechinah cleaved to him always; thus, blessed is his lot.

- Chabad, 
Holy-Conjugations, based on Zohar Shemot 11A


Parashat Shemot