May 2012 Archives


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Rebbetzin Revi's Reflections

Pekudei ©

by Rebbetzin Brachah Rivkah Belk


Pekudei, (פקודי -- Hebrew for amounts of)

Shemot 38.21 - 40.38


There are two parts of this Parshat that stand out for me.


The first part:

Shemot 40.13 And you shall clothe Aaron with the holy garments, and you shall anoint him and sanctify him so that he may serve Me.


Shemot 9.1 The L-rd said to Moses, Come to Pharaoh and speak to him, So said the L-rd, G-d of the Hebrews, Let My people go, that they may serve Me.


We were redeemed from Mitzrayim to serve the Creator of the Universe so there is a definite connection between liberty and service of G-d. Without service to G-d there is no point in the Exodus or for the Mishkan. Freedom necessitates one have purpose and direction. If you simply free slaves without providing them with a purpose for their lives then they will never reach their potential. In Shemot the Jewish people were asked to seek HaShem G-d and receive His Revelation, Direction and His Purpose for them as a nation. We were given eternal values which provide meaning to our lives through Observance of the Mitzvot. This system of Observance of the Mitzvot was meant to perfect the world, first the Jewish nation then the rest of the world which brings the world to an awareness and acceptance of HaShem Echad.


So how do we get there from where we are?

Joel 2.12-13

And even now, Says the L-rd, return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting and with weeping and with lamentation.


And rend your hearts and not your garments, and return to the L-rd your G-d, for He is Gracious and Merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and He repents of the evil.


As you know our lives are a journey, a progression of steps, and an aliya - an ascent as the Tehillim we spoke of last week makes us aware of. Those making pilgrimage to Yerushalayim prayed the Tehillim of Ascents as they journeyed to the Temple. Perhaps we can do the same. Use these Tehillim as a tool for our journey.


It seems like there are so many prayers to be said in the morning. I am always in a hurry - a hurry to get myself together and get to work, in a hurry at work to get things accomplished so I can go home, a hurry at home to get a meal prepared, in a hurry to get the kitchen straightened up so I can work on one of the many tasks I have on my todo list. And on and on it goes.


Are there really too many prayers or am I not organizing my day well enough to provide the time needed for these?


It really isn't a lot of time - just seems like it when my schedule gets really busy. I ask HaShem G-d to help me become more organized so that I can achieve my goals of saying prayers, saying 100 Brachot a day and also to include Tehillim which I love in my day as well. I need to make time for Torah study and Torah discussion. What amount of my day am I giving to these tasks? Do my secular tasks, my time spent earning a living - do these have any meaning?


The second part:

Shemot 40.35

And Moses was not able to enter the Tent of Meeting, because the cloud rested on it, and the glory of G-d filled the Tabernacle .


Shemot 24.18

And Moses entered into the midst of the cloud, and went up into the mount; and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.


If I can with G-d's Help complete the first part then this second part - entering the Presence of the Shekinah - will be obtainable. This is what life is all about. All of our secular endeavors are given spiritual meaning if we dedicate ourselves to Observance with Kavanah. Even the smallest thing we do, if we live according the Ha Torah will be elevated, then our lives are elevated and the world is elevated.



Blessings and Peace



What Am I Seeing?

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Revi's Reflections

What Am I Seeing? ©

By Rebbetzin Brachah Rivkah Belk



Bereishit 27.1

It came to pass when Yitzchak was old, and his eyes were too dim to see, that he called Eisav his elder son, and he said to him, My son, and he said to him, Here I am.


I have read many commentaries on why Yitzchak was blind.


These include

1. Yitzchak was blinded by the smoke from Eisav's wives offerings to idols Rashi Bereishit 27.1

2. During the akeida angel tears fell into Yitzchak's eyes (was this blindness then a delayed reaction?) Rashi Bereishit 27.1

3. Yitzchak looked into the heavens during the akeida (again, was this blindness a delayed reaction?) Bereishit Rabba 65.9

4. One last explanation is that this came to pass so that Yitzchak could receive the blessing. Rashi Bereishit 27.1


Was this blindness physical or spiritual or both? Did he simply lack discernment and therefore did not see his son Eisav's true behavior?


Yitzchak wanted to give his eldest son his blessing. He sent him out to do a Mitzvah so that he would be worthy of the blessing. Why didn't he discuss blessing his sons with his wife Rivka? Avraham did not share with Sarah about the akeida so was Yitzchak doing the same thing his father did because he knew his wife would object? Did he have any concerns about either of his sons?


So many questions..................


Why did Rivka not just go and talk to Yitzchak about her concerns?


Was she intimidated by his great spirituality? Remember when she first met Yitzchak she fell off her camel - did that not seem a bit odd?


And Rivka lifted her eyes and she saw Yitzchak, and she fell from the camel Bereishit 24:64


Yitzchak seems to have been both a willing victim in the akeida and a witness of the event. He saw his beloved father Avraham raise a knife over him as directed by HaShem to take his life.


What must he have thought about what his father was doing? Could this event possibly have influenced his own dealings with his sons? Was Yitzchak's spiritual awareness of the value of fatherhood heightened by the akeida or did it provide him with an awareness of the fragility of humanity - or both?


We do not get much information about what kind of father Yitzchak was. The Torah clearly tells us about Avraham and Yaakov. How they dealt with their wives and their children. Avraham and Yaakov both had favorite sons. They did not deal with all their children with the same measure. They were very involved with the world around them. Avraham was always looking for someone to teach about HaShem Echad. Yaakov worked very hard tending his flocks, providing for his children and trying to keep peace among his wives. He moved around a lot as did his grandfather. He only withdrew following the disappearance of Joseph.


Yitzchak did not engage in remolding his external world; his experiences were inward, contemplative. Yitzchak was old, and his eyes were too dim to see -- Yaakov also, when blessing his grandsons, had trouble seeing (Bereishit 48,10).

It seems apparent that Yitzchak lived on a different plain than most people. Yaakov eventually reached this same plain. The Torah does not record any great accomplishments for Yitzchak in this physical world except that he reopened the wells his father had dug. His accomplishments were in the spiritual realm. There seems to be evidence in the Torah that his was a life of prayer and meditation. He was indeed blinded to the mundane events of this world because he lived above this world.


You will find that people who are more spiritual will not always see evil in this world because like Yitzchak they exist on a different plain. Changes to this physical world occur when spiritual forces are moved to change them. This is why prayer and blessings are so important.


I believe there must be some who like Yitzchak live a life of prayer and meditation to bring HaShem's Presence into this physical world. And also some like Avraham and Yaakov whose role in this life is to touch humanity in their own unique way.


Remember the old adage So heavenly minded as to be no earthly good.


I think that is a fallacy because the Creator does place some people on this earth to be exactly that - heavenly minded in order that they may bring good to this earth, that they may bring HaShem's Presence more into this world.


We also see in Eisav and Yaakov a true revelation of the yetzer rah and the yetzer tov. We see the struggle of these two boys in the womb and throughout their lives and understand that within each of us this same struggle exists. Perhaps Yitzchak recognized his own struggle with his yetzer rah during the akeida and thought that his son Eisav was going through the same thing. Yitzchak conquered his yetzer rah, his son Eisav did not. The Midrash says that Eisav was restrained as long as his grandfather Avraham was alive.


Rabbi Johanan said:

That wicked [Esau] committed five sins on that day.

He dishonored a betrothed maiden,

he committed a murder,

he denied God,

he denied the resurrection of the dead,

and he spurned the birthright. Baba Batra 16b


Eisav a man of the field, a hunter (yetzer rah).

Yaakov a mild man, a tent dweller (yetzer tov).

Yitzchak loved Eisav Bereishit 25.28 Rebecca loved Isaac Bereishit 25.28.


Practically speaking when you look at how blinded Yitzchak apparently was to his son I wonder if we are also blinded in a similar way to the deficiencies in those we love. Or do we see their potential and are trying to raise them to a higher level?  We each have to search out our own heart and try to figure out if how we deal with others, with our children, with our spouse, with our families, with those we study and pray with is how HaShem wants us to interact or is it from some bias, some personal agenda we have. Are we patient and forgiving? Do we have tough love when it is needed? The world we live in and our lives often times seem very chaotic and we are blinded to the Presence of HaShem. Perhaps if we then turn to prayer, contemplation and saying blessings our eyes will be opened and we will then see as Yitzchak did during the akeida.


Blessings and Peace



Parshat - Continuous Fire

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Revi's Reflections

Continuous Fire ©

By Rebbetzin Brachah Rivkah Belk



Vayikra 6.5

A continuous fire shall burn upon the altar; it shall not go out.


The Kohen's Duty is to keep the fires of the Altar constantly burning, and to remove the accumulated ashes each morning.  This happens daily - each and every day - even on Shabbat - the fire is not to go out and the ashes have to be removed every day.


Each Shabbat we kindle the fire of our Shabbat candles and our table becomes the mizbeach - the altar.  We should have prepared and removed the ashes from our lives.  Those things that sometimes cling to us .... our failures at prayer, our missteps - all those failed attempts to live a Torah life, to Observe the Mitzvot, our stumblings in our relationships, etc.  We now come to Shabbat, our spirit is lifted, we sense the Presence of the Holy One of Yisrael, we discuss His Torah, we are refreshed, we are Blessed.


The Hebrew name for Altar xbzm is explained as signifying, It wipes away sin; it nourishes the higher man; it fosters love for G-d; and it atones for all guilt (Ket. 10b): its four letters    myyx  hkrb  twkz  hlyxm ( meḦilah, zekut, berakah, Ḧayyim ) , point to Forgiveness, Justification, Blessing, and Life (Tan., Terumah, 10). It was considered a miracle and a proof of the manifestation of the Shekinah that the continual fire upon the Altar did not destroy the copper with which the stones were overlaid (Lev. R. vii.; Tan., Terumah, 11).   Jewish Encyclopedia


There is a fire of love for G-d that burns within every soul. It is the task of the Kohen--the spiritual leaders of the generation--to feed and preserve this fire.

Rabbi Moshe Alshich: he was born in Adrianople, Turkey in 5268 (1508 CE) - he was considered a great Kabbalist


Are you the spiritual leader in  your family?  What an awesome task some are given.


We have spoken many times in the past of the Sefirot. 

To refresh our memories they are:


Ten Sefirot:

1.  Keter                - Crown, Divine Plan

2.  Chochmah       - Wisdom

3.  Binah               - Intuition; understanding

4.  Chesed            - Mercy; Kindness

5.  Gevurah         - Strength; intentionality

6.  Tiferet              - Beauty; Glory

7.  Netzach           - Victory

8.  Hod                  - Majesty; Awe

9.  Yesod              - Foundation

10.              Malchut   - Kingdom; physical revelation in space-time


Zohar volume 14 Tzav

22. Two fires

The Faithful Shepherd says that the two fires are a supernal fire, called the Throne of Mercy, and a lower fire, called the Throne of Judgment. When Tiferet clings to the two fires Binah and Malchut, Chochmah rests upon it.


Chochmah - Wisdom

When Beauty, Harmony (Tiferet) rests and brings the two fires together then wisdom is given.   It is so important when coming to the Shabbat table that we bring these two fires together.  Since we receive an extra soul on Shabbat it should be easier to make this a reality in our lives.  The Throne of Mercy and the Throne of Judgment - how far apart these are - how we need them to come together to produce Wisdom for our lives.


Kabbalah teaches that the two sephirot (Binah and Malchut) are feminine.

The female principle in Kabbalah describes a vessel that receives the outward male light, then inwardly nurtures and gives birth to lower sephirot.


Women have a unique role in life - oftentimes we are the peace makers, the ones who see things a bit differently - the ones who bring balance to our families - the ones who inspire and motivate.  Do we bring Torah nuggets to the Shabbat table?  We should.


The Zohar comments that the command to maintain a constant presence of fire on the altar is symbolic of Am Yisrael's obligation to always maintain the fire of Torah, and never allow it to be extinguished.


The Talmud says:

Although a fire descended from heaven upon the Altar, it is a mitzvah to add to it a humanly produced fire.  Talmud, Eruvin 63a


We need to find a way to join the spiritual and the physical fire in our lives. We need to ensure that the fire that motivates us does not consume those around us. 


Women oftentimes put their needs aside so that someone else's needs can be taken care of.  HaShem G-d Made us that way but we need to allocate time for study and prayer, for meditation and reflection.  We need time to be alone with the Alone, the One who is Separate, the One who is Whole (Holy), our Creator.


May the Holy One of Yisrael Bless you with Chomah this week.


Blessings and Peace



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