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Keter - Crown - Use Your Head ©

By Rebbetzin Revi Belk

How do we become the person we want to be?


Audio



For a person to emulate his Creator, he must possess several qualities, which characterize the way G-d Conducts the world: Tomer  Devorah Rabbi Moshe Cordovero ch.2


Tomer  Devorah is the how-to manual to recognize HaShem; His Kindness, Compassion and Love for us. It teaches how to emulate His Ways.


The attributes of the head, the mind, the soul...


Through using our spiritual body language, literally using our head to improve our behavior we are able to emulate our Creator. Take a moment to think about it. Each one of us has this ability and the opportunity to become like our Creator. It's incredible to realize that we have the potential to behave on such a high level. It takes work and training to improve our old ways, but it is possible! 


If we contemplate what Tomer  Devorah says we will realize that we can emulate the Holy Behavior of HaShem.  This provides an incentive when we feel the goal is out of reach. This is mussar character trait improvement at it's finest.


Below is what Tomer Devorah has to say about Keter (about our head).


1.We must be humble (anavah)

2.Our thoughts (chokmah)  should emulate the thought process of keter.

3.Our forehead (metzach) should display no harshness. The forehead shows expression.

4.Our ears (Ozen) should always turn to hear good while falsehood or despicable things should be denied entry.

5.Our eyes (Ayin) should not gaze at anything despicable.

6.Our nose (Chotem) we should always remember that HaShem is constantly Breathing into us a living soul.  Nary a breath of anger should ever be found in our nose.

7.Our face (Panim) should always shine, and we should receive all with a cheerful countenance.

8.Our mouth  (Peh) should express nothing but good and the content of our words should be Torah and constant good will. Tomer Devorah Rabbi Moshe Cordovero ch.2


Simchah (joy) is a bulldozer that can break through barriers, but depression can lead

to apathetic paralysis. 


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The Key To Kabbalah book one Rabbi Nissan Dovid Dubov page 155


Let all those who put their trust in You rejoice; let them always shout for joy, because You defend them; let those who love Your Name be joyful in You.  Tehillim 5.12


Let's take a look at Sarah for a moment...


The root is Shem, Resh, Hey.  This means according to Yaacov's encounter with the Angel to strive with G-d and man and to prevailBereisheit (Genesis) 32.29Etymological Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew  Matityahy Clark page 280    Her name would suggest a person with great strength of will who struggled against societal constraints.  Both Sarah and Yaacov had difficult relationships with both G-d and man.  Sarah encountered many difficulties - she was abducted by Pharaoh.  Her husband could not protect her from that.  She struggled with Hagar and her son Yishmael.  Yet she had great joy when in her old age she had a son.


Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born to him who is a hundred years old? and shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear Bereisheit 17.17


Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am grown old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also.  Bereisheit (Genesis) 18.12


And the L-rd Said to Abraham, Why did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old:  Bereisheit (Genesis) 18.13


There is one original explanation of G-d's rebuke to Sarah. Chizkuni 18.13 G-d's Criticism of Sarah is compared to a wise woman who wishes to rebuke her daughter-in-law.  Instead, she directs her rebuke to her daughter, and the daughter-in-law can infer the indirect message.  Similarly, G-d rebuked Avraham indirectly for his laughter by criticizing Sarah's behavior, in order to spare his feelings.  This interpretation suggests that Sarah reached such great intimacy and closeness with G-d that she is comparable to the daughter, as opposed to Avraham - the more distant daughter-in-law. Tending the Garden Chana Weisberg page 29-30


What an amazing woman.  What joy she must have experienced.  Wanting for so many years to give Avraham a son, now she will.  It is never too late, we can be bountifully Blessed by HaShem G-d at any moment in our lives.


We are looking this week at Simchah  (Joy) and Humility (Anavah).


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You will show me the path of life; in your Presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for evermore: Tehillim (Psalm) 16.11


At our core, we are all holy

If we realize this our hearts will fill with joy.

Mussar tells us that, at our core, we are all holy, and it shows us ways to change those qualities within us that obstruct the light of our holiness from shining through us.


Just like a man conducts himself down here, so too he will merit to open that trait on high, mamash (literally) - according to how he acts, will be the Divine Flow from above Tomer Devorah Rabbi Moshe Cordovero ch.1 page 44


The Sages referred to the intellect as the Yetzer Tov and the forces within a person's soul as the Yetzer Hara.  The intellect (the mind) is termed the Yetzer Tov because its modus operandi is to investigate the final result.  One's bodily forces draw the sweetness of the moment into their net, even if this entails rebelling against HaShem.  This shortsighted force is the Yetzer Hara. Ohr Yesrael Rav Yisrael Salanter page 320-321


What we are being told is what Kabbalah teaches us.  We can bring Blessings into our lives by changing our behavior.    Remember  what Neil Armstrong said.... one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.  If we work to change our soul traits we too can change the world with G-d's Help.  One small step.....Ready?


Ezekiel describes a special function that existed during the time when the Temple was still available to us - whoever entered the Temple immediately became aware of the powerful holiness of one's own soul.


Within the inner sanctum of the Temple was Ha Kadosh Ha Kadashim.  One was very aware of the Holiness within the Temple.  Because we exist in the physical world and given the fact that the Temple is no longer available for us to go to, we have lost the vision, the ability to see the holiness of our soul.  Yet there are times when we can still feel it.  We have all had such experiences.  To become more aware of our soul and the holiness that is there we must have true humility, for nothing comes to us except from the Merciful Hand of HaShem G-d.


And the man Moses was very humble, more than any other men which were upon the face of the earth: Devarim (numbers) 12.3


Humility is not self nullification and not all pride is bad.  Humility will encourage tikkum, Teshuvah.  Humility is being honest with yourself.


Humility is the root of Divine service, and a small deed of the humble man or woman is a thousand times more acceptable to the Blessed One than a great deed of a proud man or woman.    The Ways of the Tzaddikim Feldheim page57


He Guides the humble in judgment; and He teaches the humble His way.  Tehillim (Psalms) 25.9


Rabbi Akiva's who was a student of Rabbi Nahum had a favorite maxim, 


All that G-d does He Does for good.

Kol de'av Rachmnan letav avad



Humility is associated with spiritual perfection. When humility effects depression it is defective; when it is genuine it inspires joy, courage and inner dignity Abraham Isaac Kook, The Moral Principles, p. 176


Perhaps if we start our day with....


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I give thanks to You, King Living and Everlasting, for You have restored my soul within me, with compassion. Great is Your Faithfulness.


Remembering that each and every breath we take, each moment of the day is a gift from G-d then we will have started our day with humility and gratefulness and joy will rule our lives.


We must remember when we are down to nothing,

HaShem is up to something



Blessings and Peace


Rebbetzin Revi


Perkudei

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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

Revi

 


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

Revi

 


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  http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1320&letter=A#ixzz1GxbRRBic

 

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

Revi



Esteemed Women 1 - The Torah Woman

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Revi's Reflections

Esteemed Women

Lesson 1


The Torah Woman ©

By Rebbetzin Brachah Rivkah Belk

 

As Women who want to Observe Ha Torah we need to understand the role given us by Ha Shem.  I would like us to look at women in Ha Torah and in the Tanach to see if we can glean some understanding about who we are and how to draw closer to the Creator of the Universe and each other.  There are several good books available on this subject, some of which will be referenced in this endeavor.

 

How does one grow into being a Torah Observant woman in today's world?

 

I am come into my garden, my sister, my bride;

I have gathered my myrrh with my spice;

I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey;

I have drunk my wine with my milk. Eat,

O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved

Shir Hashirim - Song of Songs 5.1

 

 

G-d Desired a dwelling in the physical world

Midrash Tanchuma, Naso 16

 

We know that the Creator of the universe needs nothing and yet He Created this world we live in and He Created us.  This world is Ha Shem's Garden where He tends to our lives and our needs.  This world, this Creation we exist in presents an opportunity for us to first establish and then grow our relationship with H-m.

 

We connect to Ha Shem through the study of Torah and with our practice of Mitzvot.  Our job, our purpose is to create an environment where Ha Shem will feel welcome.  This is not new to any of us but it is something we need to study from time to time to not only refresh our memory but to let it be an impetus for progression along the path in this garden.

 

A garden is made up of good plain earth, so are we.  If you plant a flower seed in this earth you will eventually have a beautiful flower you can cut and put on your Shabbat table.  We dig a hole in the earth, place the seed inside and cover it over with earth.  We pray that Ha Shem will Bless this little plant with the correct amount of sunshine and water so that it will grow.  When the rain comes the seed is compressed, put under pressure in a dark place.  In time the pressure opens the seed and the plant begins to sprout.  It works its way through the earth till it reaches the surface.  Can you imagine the joy this plant feels being freed from such a hard constraining place?  With the warmth of the sun and gentle rains a flower blooms.  Such an Awesome Creator we have.

 

There are two roles we will look at - that of man and of woman.  We also might need to do a bit of weeding before we start.  We have all formed attitudes - some of which may need adjusting - so let's take a look at ourselves to see if we have some negative attitudes (weeds) which may need yanking out.  Ridding our lives of spiritual debris will clear the path for positive growth.

 

Man's primary role is to introduce new G-dliness to our world.  He accomplishes this primarily through his Torah Study.

Woman's primary role is to uncover the G-dliness that already exists within creation.  Mitzvot bring out the inner spirituality within the physical realm of our world.

Tending the Garden, Chana Weisberg, Targum Press 2006 page 3

 

 

Everything has an appointed season, and there is a time for every matter under the heaven.  Kohelet - Ecclesiastes 3.1

 

We have just left the season of counting the omer.  Counting the Omer is a season of refinement.  We attempt to adjust our attitudes and behavior during this season.  Now we are in the season of Pirkei Avot.  There are many other seasons, the period between sundown to sundown, Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh, Rosh Hashannah through Yom Kippur, etc.  These are all opportunities for refinement.

 

For the six week period between the conclusion of Pesach and the arrival of Shavuot the six chapters of Pirkei Avot are studied and reviewed. Many believe that this Observance (counting the omer) is just for the Jewish people, however Ha Torah Teaches that many non-jews travelled with B'nai Yisrael.  It is not unreasonable to think they as well counted the omer.  The first five chapters are from the Mishna itself and the sixth chapter is a later addition of pertinent braytot of Talmudic origin. There are many reasons advanced for the study of this tractate during this six week period. One of the ideas advanced on this subject is proper human and social behavior.  This is what we need to be tending in our garden today at this season.

 

All of these times and seasons are to help us get to the place of Tiferet.  As men (Gevurah) and  women (Chesed) we need to have positive attitudes and be willing to adjust these in order to come to the place of beauty (Tiferet) in our relationships.

 

Do we have weeds that need pulling or do we need to do some watering or feeding?

 

As we traverse this garden path we will see what needs tending, what needs our care, what we have to do to promote growth in every area of our garden.

 

 

 

Blessings and Peace

Revi


Esteemed Women 2 - Chavah - Did She Have Wisdom?

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Revi's Reflections

Esteemed Women

Lesson 2


Chavah Did She Have Wisdom? ©


By Rebbetzin Brachah Rivkah Belk

 

 

Chochmah is associated in the soul with the power of intuitive insight as we have discussed.  So did Chavah have Chochmah (Wisdom) when she decided to listen to Nachash ( the serpent ) and not discuss this with her husband?  We women ( or at least some of us .... ) have a tendency to discuss a lot of things with others, instead of our mates.  Why is that?  I think we women have a sense of camaraderie that men don't understand.  Is this the right thing to do though?  Maybe I shouldn't speak for all of you ..... 

 

Wisdom as we have discussed is.........

 

Mishlei - Proverbs 9.10

The beginning of wisdom is the Fear of the L-rd, and the knowledge of the holy ones is understanding.

 

Did Chava show wisdom?  She was connected to, as Dr. Akiva Gamliel says, the mainframe.

She had a connection to HaShem G-d that we may never understand.  So how could she not have the wisdom she needed to make the right decision?  Would we have made a different decision?

 

We have to look at our choices.  We have to find a way to reach our children.  Our responsibility is to teach our children the way they should go.  Not an easy task.  After they start walking they start rebelling.  What are we as mothers to do? Be patient, be kind, be loving and study Torah.  That is where we will find the insight, the wisdom we need to bring our children to Torah Observance.

 

 

 

Blessings and Peace

Revi


Esteemed Women 3 - Chavah

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Revi's Reflections

Esteemed Women

Lesson 3


Chavah ©


By Rebbetzin Brachah Rivkah Belk

 

 

Neshamah:  The Neshamah is connected directly to its Source - to HaShem G-d.  Those who strive for spiritual purity are aided by their Neshamah.

 

Man's soul is the L-rd's Lamp, which searches out all the innermost parts.  Mishlei - Proverbs 20.27

 

נֵר יְהוָה, נִשְׁמַת אָדָם; חֹפֵשׂ, כָּל-חַדְרֵי-בָטֶן

Neshmah ( neshamah )

 

Man is referred to as ish from the root eish ( fire ). 

 

As a flame constantly rises seeking greater heights, man has a part of him that constantly strives for higher spiritual heights.

 

Bereishit 2.7

וַיִּיצֶר יְיְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת הָאָדָם עָפָר מִן הָאֲדָמָה וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים וַיְהִי הָאָדָם לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה:

 

And the L-rd G-d Formed man of the dust of the ground, and Breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul:

 

Nishmat Chayim a living soul ( a speaking spirit).

 

Ha Adam as we know was created male and female and even though it is difficult to comprehend at times we accept the fact.  However, we are still left wondering why the two joined became so different when separated.

 

Ha Adam was given one mitzvot:

 

Bereisheit (Genesis) 2.17 

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it; for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die:

 

We all know what happened.  L

 

Adam became the arbitrator of G-d's Word because it was incumbent upon Adam to share G-d's single Commandment with Chava.

 

Where was Chava when this Command was given?  Did she not hear and receive as well?

 

Anyone have any thoughts on that one?

Chava accomplishes her purpose by being a helpmate for the needs of Adam, and Adam accomplishes his purpose by sharing the Word of G-d with his helpmate Chava.

In order for Chava (woman-wife) to succeed as a helpmate, she must often initiate the help. This is based on how she perceives and understands the needs of Adam (man-husband) through both intelligent analysis as well as intuition. This usually requires finesse and diplomacy on the part of Chava (woman-wife) because Adam (man-husband) does not readily recognize or admit to his needs. Furthermore, Adam (man-husband) at times finds it very difficult to accept direction from anyone else, except G-d Himself

Adam (man-husband) should accept help from Chava (woman-wife)  with humility, respect, and appreciation; however, that often is not the case making Chava's (woman's-wife's)   job much more difficult. At the same time, it is incumbent upon Chava (woman-wife)  to accept the rulings of  Adam (man-husband) as it regards the Word of G-d.

Adam was created to be inherently more conservative, dependent, and disciplined in following the Commandments of G-d than Chava was. It is Adam's responsibility to model, express, and teach servitude and subjugation to the Word of G-d.

In many ways, it is the eternal battle between emotion and intellect. Emotion is often in conflict with intellectual restrictions and demands.

Both Adam and Chava  are challenged regarding adherence to the Word of G-d.

There is an Adam and a Chava in each one of us. The Adam part is more dominant in the male    while the Chava part is more dominant in the female. However, both components were intended in the completion of the human, and it is the institution of marriage and family that allows for each of us to find our missing half, our soul mate.

The Torah Says that HaShem G-d Built Chava from Adam.  Man came from the earth but Chava came from a living being.

 

And the side( what was the actual part?), which the L-rd G-d had Taken from man, Made he a woman, and brought her to the man.  Beresheit 2.22

 

וַיִּבֶן יְיְ אֱלֹ-ים אֶת הַצֵּלָע אֲשֶׁר לָקַח מִן הָאָדָם לְאִשָּׁה וַיְבִאֶהָ אֶל הָאָדָם

 

וַיִּבֶן

And built Bereishit (Genesis) 2.22

 

This word according to the Sages is linked to Binah - which is what gives women a greater understanding and intuition than men have.

 

Chava's downfall came when she distorted HaShem's Command.

 

Is this because the Adam part received the Command and the Chava part did not receive it directly? 

 

Did Chava believe the end justified the means? 

 

Where was the wisdom Given her by HaShem G-d?

 

Do we women who have been given such great wisdom sometimes not get it right either?

 

Can this be changed?  How?

 

 

Blessings and Peace

Revi


Esteemed Women 4 - Na'amah Noble or Not?

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Revi's Reflections

Esteemed Women

Lesson 4


Na'amah Noble or Not? ©


By Rebbetzin Brachah Rivkah Belk

 

 

וְצִלָּה גַם הִוא יָלְדָה אֶת תּוּבַל קַיִן לֹטֵשׁ כָּל חֹרֵשׁ נְחשֶׁת וּבַרְזֶל וַאֲחוֹת תּוּבַל קַיִן נַעֲמָה:

 

And Zillah, she also bore Tubal-Cain, forger of every sharp instrument in bronze and iron; and the sister of Tubal-Cain was Na'amah: Bereisheit 4:22

 

 Tuval means she is brought  This word is also found in

לִרְקָמוֹת תּוּבַל לַמֶּלֶךְ בְּתוּלוֹת אַחֲרֶיהָ רֵעוֹתֶיהָ מוּבָאוֹת לָךְ

 

She shall be brought to the king in embroidered garments; the virgins, her companions, who follow her, shall be brought to you:  Psalm 45.15

 

Midrash Rabbah Bereisheit (Genesis)  lists Na'amah, Midrash Rabbah page 194  as the daughter of Lamech, sister of Tubal-Cain, as the wife of Noah, as does the 11th century Jewish commentator Rashi in his commentary on Sefer Bereisheit  4:22. Saperstein Edition Bereisheit page 50

 

And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Na'amah.  R. Abba b. Kahana said: Na'amah was Noah's wife; and why was she called Na'amah?  Because her deeds were pleasing (ne'imin).  The Rabbis said: Na'amah was a woman of a different stamp, for the name denotes that she sang (man'emeth) to the timbrel in honor of idolatry.  Midrash Rabbah page 194

 

In the Midrash Book of Jasher  Chapter 5:15, the name of Noah's wife is said to be Na'amah, daughter of Enoch Sefer Ha Yashar page 17)( The Zohar Pritzker Edition 318

 

 

Perhaps Midrash Rabbah sees Tuval as Na'amah bringing part of Cain into our world.

 

There are very few texts that comment on Na'amah the wife of Noah.  Researching this woman led to conflicting statements.  Who are we to believe? 

 

Na'amah enters the Tava with her husband Noach and her sons with their wives.  She works alongside with them caring for the animals.  She helps to preserve life for future generations.  She is like the Sefirah of Netzach. 

 

Netzach energy is expressed as the will in the human personality and is most apparent as the human capacity to exert determined effort in order to triumph over obstacles and adversity. The Kabbalah Handbook Page 238   We are most like Na'amah when we endure through the storms of life, preparing to create the future.

 

Mothers know all too well that no matter how hard they work to raise righteous sons and daughters that they sometimes don't hold to their parents training.  Which leaves us pondering the text from Proverbs...

 

Train a child according to his way; even when he grows old, he will not turn away from it. Proverbs 22.6

 

This sefirot (Netzach) is defined as tactical, meaning that its purpose is not inherent in itself, but rather a means for something else.

For example, if our wish for our children, whom we love with all our hearts, is to make something of themselves, we may have to be strict and stern with them in order to teach them discipline or insure that they apply themselves to their studies, etc. The strictness and sternness is tactical -- that is, it is the means by which we endow our children with the benefits that we want them to have. But our intrinsic intent is that of kindness -- of giving them an education and teaching them values.

We can all decide to believe what we want about this woman.  What the text leaves out can speak volumes.  It is obvious that this woman was on the Tava with her husband and children.  She exited the Tava with them and at some point  she died.  She raised at least two righteous sons.  We do not know how much influence she had on her grandson Caanan.

 

From her three sons came the 70 nations of the world we live in.

 

We do the best we can, we pray and teach our children, yet ultimately they are in G-d's Hands.

 

 

Blessings and Peace

Revi


Esteemed Women 5 - Consistent Sarah

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Revi's Reflections

Esteemed Women

Lesson 5


Consistent Sarah ©


By Rebbetzin Brachah Rivkah Belk

 

 

In Judaism and Spirituality ours is a tradition based on living fully, passionately and with integrity. How do we accomplish this? What has this to do with Bereisheit 23?

 

Sarah was consistent in all she did. This consistency is affirmed in Bereisheit 23.1 The life span of Sarah was one hundred years, and twenty years and seven years, the years of Sarah's life.

 

The Midrash explains that the repetitious wording indicates that every year of Sarah's life was of equal excellence. Sarah was at one hundred like she was at twenty. She had attained the highest degree of integrity and consistency, so that at one hundred years she was as far from the possibility of sin as she was at twenty or at seven. Sarah attained a state of changelessness. Each of her years was exactly the same in excellence and in constituent perfection in performing the Divine Will. Tending the Garden Chana Weisberg Targum Press, inc. p 32-33

 

How do we get to a place where we fully live as Sarah did? It is simple yet complicated, easy, yet hard. We need to simultaneously interact with life with the innocence of a child, the passion of an adult and the wisdom of an elder. There was not a moment in Sarah's life in which she did not want to be there. She had no regrets in her life. Can I say the same? Every one of us has moments of joy and moments of pain and for most the rest is kind of mundane. I look back over my life remembering moments of joy and of pain, would I rather have had no pain? It has been my experience that the moments of pain have brought a deepening of my awareness of the Care HaShem Provides me.

 

Psalm 139.12

darkness is not dark to You;

night is a light as day,

darkness and light are the same. Jewish Study Bible Jewish Publication Society

 

Even darkness obscures not from You; and night is as luminous as the day - darkness and light are the same. Artscroll Tehillim

 

It is true that the darkness I have sometimes found myself in is indeed not darkness to HaShem G-d.

 

Devarim 4.11

You approached and stood beneath the mountain, while the mountain was burning with fire up to the heart of the heavens - darkness, cloud, and thick cloud. Metsudah Chumash/Rashi Devarim

 

Shemot 20.18

The people stood far off. Moshe drew near to the dense cloud where [the Divine

Presence] of G-d was.

 

Rashi's commentary on this verse:

 

Drew near to the dense cloud - within the three barriers - darkness, clouds, and the dense cloud. As it is said: The mountain was engulfed in flame until the very middle of the heavens with darkness, clouds, and dense cloud. . Metsudah Chumash/Rashi Shemot

 

The Zohar says that the source of wisdom in the supernal realms is this dark light. HaShem G-d Is our Wisdom, our path to the Tree of Life.

 

HaShem G-d is Speaking to each of us, but most of us don't really listen. We need the ability, the willingness and the courage to stand up and be counted, to say Here I am. I think sometimes if I listened better or was more focused that I could try to get to that place where Sarah seemed to start from and continued in her whole life. The teachings of Kabbalah imply that like entropy things are harder to accomplish now because it is harder to connect, to plug into that spirituality that Sarah had because we are further away from Creation. I don't know if that is true. I can only look at my own heart, search my own heart to see if I am listening, to see if I am living as fully as Sarah did.

 

Tehillim 37.18

HaShem is Aware of the days of the perfect, their inheritance will endure forever. Artscroll Tanach Series Tehillim

 

The commentary on that verse on page 460 says:

 

...all devout people. To them, every day presents a unique opportunity for accomplishment, and they exploit this opportunity fully. Thus, the devout end their lives with their special mission accomplished perfectly. May we all live as devout people so our mission in life is accomplished perfectly

 

Blessings and Peace

Revi



Esteemed Women 6 - Rivkah's Resolve

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Revi's Reflections

Esteemed Women

Lesson 6


Rivkah's Resolve ©


By Rebbetzin Brachah Rivkah Belk

 

 

They Called Rebeccah and said to her, Will you go with this man? And she said I will go. Bereisheit 24.58

 

This episode in Ha Torah shows that even when people acknowledge an event coming from the Hand of HaShem G-d they are not always ready to acquiesce to that knowledge.  Rebeccah, Rivkah, was not only ready to acknowledge HaShem's Hand in this event, she was willing to go against her families wishes to act on this awareness.

 

The Midrash states that her family questioned her in a disapproving tone encouraging her to answer negatively.  Rivkah replied that she would go even without their consent.  The Midrash Says The Book of Beraishis  Bnay Yakov Publications page 225

 

We have been given the Torah - HaShem's Plan for our lives.  Do we follow it with the same resolve that Rivkah did?

 

And they blessed Rebecca and said to her, Our sister, may you become thousands of myriads, and may your seed inherit the cities of their enemies.        

 

According to the sages, the blessing of the wicked is a curse.  For this reason Rivkah was barren for 20 years.  The Midrash Says The Book of Beraishis  Bnay Yakov Publications page 226

 

 

If you do not heed, and if you do not take it to heart to give honor to My Name, says the L-rd of Hosts, I will send the curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Indeed I have [already] cursed it, for you do not take it to heart.  Malachi 2.2

 

 

When the aged Sara heard the news that she would give birth she laughed inwardly, Vatitzchak Sara Bekirba   וַתִּצְחַק שָׂרָה בְּקִרְבָּהּ  Bereisheit 18.12  If we closely examine the words we learn about the unborn child and his future partner.  The Hebrew word for laughed, Vatitzchak, contains in it the name Yitzchak, Isaac, the child for which Sarah was rejoicing.  The word Bekirba, inwardly, has a permutation of the letters of the work Rivka, Rebeccah, Yitzchak's future wife.  Rabbi Y.  Ginsburgh, The Hebrew Letters page 277.  This hints that even before Yitzchak's conception, the match between him and Rebeccah was ordained in the Hashamayim.

 

As long as Sarah was alive, the candle burned from one Erev Shabbat to the next, the dough was Blessed, and the Cloud of the Shechina rested above her tent.  After Sarah's death, all three Blessings ceased.  Now that Rivkah entered the tent, they all returned.  The Midrash Says The Book of Beraishis  Bnay Yakov Publications page 227

 

The characteristics that permeated Sarah's Tent were kindness and hospitality.  Rivkah had these same qualities.  Look at how she went out of her way to help the stranger Eliazar.  She truly was Sarah's successor.

 

Sarah and Rivkah merited these Blessings because they kept three essential Mitzvah for women:

1.   Being careful with taking challah, her dough was Blessed.

2.   As a reward for fulfilling the Mitzvah of lighting the candles, her light burned from one Erev Shabbat to the next.

3.     For purifying herself, the Cloud of the Shechina rested above her tent, since the state of purity leads to the Presence of the Shechina.  The Midrash Says The Book of Beraishis  Bnay Yakov Publications page 228

 

When Rivkah experienced a troublesome pregnancy, she didn't go to her husband for help.  She went directly to HaShem.  This is the first time Ha Torah records a woman seeking the help of HaShem.

 

And the children struggled within her, and she said, If [it be] so, why am I [like] this? And she went to inquire of the L-rd.  And the L-rd said to her, Two nations are in your womb, and two kingdoms will separate from your innards, and one kingdom will become mightier than the other kingdom, and the elder will serve the younger.  Bereisheit 25.22-23

 

There is no mention of Rivkah telling Yitzchak about this.  Could this be why she sent Yaacov away?

 

She was a very perceptive woman.  She listened to her children.  Esav - the cry of hunting, Yaakov - the cry of Torah and prayers.  She sensed the path each of her children would take. She was drawn to Yitzchak's spirituality.  It was for these very ideals that she had abandoned her own home for a life with a man she had never met.  What courage and resolve.  She greatly respected her husband but she knew her sons better than anyone.

 

Rivkah demonstrated uncalculated enthusiasm for mitzvot and for holiness.  This is essentially our task as well.  In order to survive our separation from each other we must follow the example of this awesome woman.  If we were closer physically just imagine the Torah Studies we would have.  Imagine the growth we would see in ourselves and each other.

 

Blessings and Peace

Revi


Esteemed Women 7 - Rivkah's Risk

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Revi's Reflections

Esteemed Women

Lesson 7


Rivkah's Risk ©


By Rebbetzin Brachah Rivkah Belk

 

 

וַתֹּאמֶר לוֹ אִמּוֹ עָלַי קִלְלָתְךָ בְּנִי אַךְ שְׁמַע בְּקֹלִי וְלֵךְ קַח לִי:  בראשית, כז:יג

 

And his mother said to him, Upon me be your curse, my son; only obey my voice, and go fetch me them:  Bereisheit -Genesis  27.13

 

Rivkah disregarded any personal risk to ensure the prophecy she was given about her younger son be fulfilled.  This one incident gives us a glimpse of Rivkah's greatness.  It also provides us with a tool we can employ because we are so far apart from one another physically.  In order that we be able to receive spiritual power from Blessings then self-sacrifice is necessary.  If our service to HaShem is limited by our own calculations we are qualifying our dedication and will not be able to receive unlimited power ( Blessings ).  HaShem's Blessings are needed for our growth, for our very survival.

 

Rivkah was teaching her son that one must forge ahead regardless of personal risk.  A lesson that Dr. Akiva Gamliel has been teaching for years.  One that we have just this past week been discussing.

 

Yitzchak's and Rivkah's views of their sons differ because of their upbringing.  Rivkah's extraordinary perception was gained through her difficult and sometimes negative childhood.  She was raised in an unholy place, surrounded by evil, trickery and stealing.  Yitzchak was raised in a holy environment by saintly parents.  He had never really experienced sin.  Yitzchak could not appreciate Yaakov's capacity for transforming evil to good.  Rivkah taught her son how to use this power by being involved in the physical world - transforming evil to good, bringing HaShem's Light into this world.

 

Yaakov had the inner stamina and spiritual strength to fall into the pit of sin and climb out of it.

 

It is very hard to climb out of a pit. 

 

We all know how hard it is.  We also know that when we have climbed out of the pit we have been changed by the experience ( if we let it change us for good ).  Like the old adage she'll be coming round the mountain --- till we learn to go over the mountain you keep falling back into the same issues.  Once we have climbed out of the pit - gone over the mountain we have grown, and G-d Willing, have grown closer to Him and become more Observant.

 

None of us wants to sin. The Yetzer Rah is always tugging at us, trying to trip us up and is successful sometimes - G-d Forbid kah nah nah har rah.

 

Rivkah took her son to the door of Yitzchak's tent - she could do no more - now her son had to go in on his own and request the Blessing of his Father.

 

We come to this place often with our own children.  Dr. Akiva Gamliel reminds us often that as parents we have a duty to teach our children.  As Mothers we know sometimes we have done all that we can do and now it is up to HaShem and our children to go the rest of the way.  We don't relinquish our responsibility to teach our children when another event may bring about an opportunity to teach them - but there are times when we can no longer help them with a challenge.  Rivkah intervened again when she told Yitzchak that she did not want this son to marry foreign women like his brother had done. Yaakov must have been in his forties by then - still listening to his parents and obeying their wishes.

 

How can we continue to influence our children for good - trying to keep them on the path.  It is much like gardening and since we are trying to tend our gardens this should be a good analogy.  We weed, we prune and sometimes we cut out plants.  There are times when they become too thick and we have to thin them out.  We women have tender hearts and performing these tasks on our plants or on our children, husband, brothers, sisters is never easy.  We just want everyone in our lives to be better, to have a better life than we have had.  We are always giving; we are always trying to help.

 

How are we to know when to act and when not to act?

 

Your thoughts on this will be greatly appreciated. 

 

Blessings and Peace

Revi


Esteemed Women 8 - Rivkah An Example of Yesod

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Revi's Reflections

Esteemed Women

Lesson 8


Rivkah An Example Of Yesod ©


By Rebbetzin Brachah Rivkah Belk

 

 

: וַתֹּאמֶר רִבְקָה אֶל יִצְחָק קַצְתִּי בְחַיַּי מִפְּנֵי בְּנוֹת חֵת אִם לֹקֵחַ יַעֲקֹב אִשָּׁה מִבְּנוֹת חֵת כָּאֵלֶּה מִבְּנוֹת הָאָרֶץ לָמָּה לִּי חַיִּים:

 

And Rivkah said to Yitzchak, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth; if Yaakov takes a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these who are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life be to me: Bereisheit (Genesis) 27.46

 

Rivkah intervened when she told Yitzchak that she did not want this son, Yaakov, to marry foreign women.   She asks Yitzchak to do her the favor of giving Yaakov advice to leave Canaan to find a wife, to try to find his soul mate. - not telling him that Yaakov has to flee Eisav's wrath for fear of being killed.

 

And Ytizchak called Yaakov, and blessed him, and charged him, and said to him, You shall not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.  Arise, go to Padan-Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother's father; and take a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother's brother: Bereisheit (Genesis) 28.1-2.

 

Yitzchak, as if on his own accord, gives Yaakov his approval and tells him to go to Charan.  Rivkah out of great kindness and selflessness does not want to burden him with painful information about their sons, nor does she want him to dwell on his misconceived impression of Eisav.

 

This is what kindness and giving should be in a marriage. A marriage is when two different people care about each other, and give so much to each other that they recapture the initial oneness of that dual male-female Ha Adam. It is no longer my needs against yours... I was right and you were wrong, but rather: Your pain is my pain.

 

In Hebrew, the word for acts of kindness is Gemilut Chesed - literally: the weaning of kindness. (Gemilut means to wean off.) Is this a contradiction in terms? Weaning means to distance oneself and create separation, while kindness means to give, connect and join.

True kindness is to give the recipient the feeling that he is not receiving at all; rather that he is completely independent and weaned from you. Otherwise, the bit of shame that the recipient inevitably feels would make the kindness less complete.

 

Rivkah showed great kindness to her Father-in-Law's servant when they met, she showed great kindness to her husband here.  We must believe that these two occurrences were not isolated events but a part of her character that was there throughout her life.

 

Last week we looked at our children - for most of us they are grown and gone from our home.  Yet, as women we seem to never really cut that cord that gave them life.  Our husbands sometimes understand and sometimes not the tie we have.  We need to do what we can to help our children but we need to use wisdom.  We also need to ensure we fill our lives with kindness and with kind words.

 

Aishet Chayil says

She opens her mouth with Wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

 

We have discussed kindness many times. 

 

Have our words become words of kindness? 

Have our actions become acts of kindness? 

Have our thoughts been changed to kind thoughts?

Has our study changed our lives?

 

The sefirah of Yesod is known as the foundation of the world.  Actions based on righteousness stimulate Yesod and bring about the bonding of the Sheckhinah and Tifferet - a union which is symbolized by marriage between a man and a woman that ultimately results in the birth of a human soul. 

 

Kabbalah teaches that Elokim ha'Yim is G-d's view of Yesod whereas the human view of Yesod is El Shaddai ( the G-d Who is Sufficient) - reflected in G-d's statement to Moshe in Shemot (Exodus) 6.3 The Kabbalah Handbook Gabriella Samuel Tarcher/Penguin page 385

 

וָאֵרָא אֶל אַבְרָהָם אֶל יִצְחָק וְאֶל יַעֲקֹב בְּאֵל שַׁדָּי וּשְׁמִי יְיְ לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם

 

And I Appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchak, and to Yaakov, by the Name of G-d Almighty, but by My Name The L-rd was I not known to them

 

Where is the G-d who is Sufficient in our lives?  What happens when we feel disconnected from G-d or from our husband or family?  What happens when the water overflows in the basement just before the Holiday?

 

We have an established order, we have a plan in place.. our Siddur in the morning in the Amidah says Blessed are you HaShem our G-d...

 

 

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ אֱלֹהֵי אַבְרָהָם אֱלֹהֵי יִצְחָק וֵאלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב

 

Blessed are You G-d our G-d and G-d of our fathers, G-d of Avraham, G-d of Ytizchak, and G-d of Yaakov.

 

הָאֵל הַגָּדוֹל הַגִּבּוֹר וְהַנּוֹרָא אֵל עֶלְיוֹן

 

The Great, Mighty, and Awesome G-d, the Supreme G-d

 

This should be the order of our lives............................

 

Sometimes there is order and purpose in our lives but to what end?  We feel we lack aliveness, the get up and go we need in life.  Sometimes we feel full of zest but our lives are a mess, without order or direction.  Our energy dissipates and we accomplish nothing. 

 

When Yesod, the spiritual flows into Malchut the physical we get connected, our life is in order and Blessing begin to flow.

 

When we practice kindness ..... Kind words .... Kind actions .... Kind thoughts we begin to connect the spiritual to the physical bringing the Blessings we need into our lives.  We experience El Shaddai.

 

Rivkah brought the spiritual into the physical - acting on the prophecy given her.  She did so with great kindness to all those who were involved in this incident.  May we do so as well.

 

 

Blessings and Peace

Revi

Esteemed Women 9 - Leah - Sisterhood

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Revi's Reflections

Esteemed Women

Lesson 9


Leah - Sisterhood ©


By Rebbetzin Brachah Rivkah Belk

 

 

 

Bereishit - (Genesis) 30.14-16

Reuven went in the days of the wheat harvest, and he found dudaim in the field and brought them to Leah, his mother, and Rachel said to Leah, Now give me some of your son's dudaim.

And she said to her, Is it a small matter that you have taken my husband, that [you wish] also to take my son's dudaim? So Rachel said, Therefore, he shall sleep with you tonight as payment for your son's dudaim.

When Jacob came from the field in the evening, and Leah came forth toward him, and she said, You shall come to me, because I have hired you with my son's dudaim, and he slept with her on that night.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

 

Reuven brought these plants to his Mother Leah.  Reuven seems to have been very concerned about his Mother's happiness.  She had stopped conceiving, she was described as not being loved by her husband and as having weak eyes.  Reuven positions himself twice as his Mother's rescuer.  Here and later after Rachel dies he moves his Father's bed into his Mother's tent (Beirshit 35.21-22).  Reuven and Leah seem to be very close but it is not his place to interfere in his Mother and Father's relationship. 

 

Leah and Yaacov have a great deal in common.  Yaacov deceived his Father Yitzchak and took Easav's Blessings,  Lavan deceived Yaacov putting Leah in the marriage room where she became Yaacov's first wife and first to bear him children.  After the night of deception, Yaacov would never accept Leah as his wife. You knew that my wife gave birth to two children (Bereishit 44.27), later Yaacov says about Rachel and totally ignores Leah.

 

Yaacov always refers to Rachel as his wife, he loved Rachel from the moment he set eyes on her.  Even though Leah bears him many sons he does not seem to ever have an attachment to her.  He cares for her needs and her sons needs but she and her children seem to always take second place.

 

Leah came forth toward him, and she said, You shall come to me, because I have hired you with my son's dudaim, and he slept with her on that night. (Bereishit 30.16)

 

Is this the way to approach your husband whom you want so desperately to share your  life with?  I just don't think this is the way to a man's heart.  I understand that the commentaries put great emphasis on bearing Yaacov's sons to build the nation of Yisrael but even as great a task as that is I believe Leah should have put her husband's needs and desires above her own. 

 

Some of us have experienced living with a spouse who does not have the desire and dedication that we do to Ha Torah, to HaShem.  Are we to put what we percieve as the path HaShem has put us on as more important than the relationship we have with our spouse?  I don't see any evidence that putting our relationship with our spouse in the backseat as a directive from HaShem.  If you study the Torah you will see that relationships are extremely important.  It is said that if Yisrael keeps two Shabbats in a row that Mashiach will come.  You cannot keep Shabbat alone to make this happen.  It has to be all Yisrael so relationships and Observance must go hand in hand.  Women have a great responsibility for raising children who are Torah Observant, our first responsibility in this world is to our husband then to our children.

 

Mishlei - Proverbs 3.5-6

5. Trust in the L-rd with all your heart and do not rely upon your understanding.

   ה.

6. Know Him in all your ways, and He will direct your paths.

 

Now let's look at Rachel.  She does not put her faith in G-d but in a potion she thinks will help her conceive.  Some say these mandrakes were the jasmine plant - jasmine oil was primarily valued for its excellent aphrodisiac properties, others say that the mandrake (dudaim) herbs  would promote conception.  Whatever the plant the fact that Rachel trusted in this instead of HaShem is a problem.

 

We see issues with the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in the Torah.  We also see issues in our lives.

 

Even though Rachel and Leah had issues they seemed to be able to live together with some degree of harmony.  At Leah's moment of need Rachel stepped in and gave her the signs so she would not be humiliated.  When Rachel was in need seeing she was not able to conceive her sister Leah stepped in and gave her mandrakes and also prayed for her.

 

Two lessons to take away from this Limood is:

1.   Husband and wives should make their relationship a priority.

2.   Relationships with our children and others should not interfere with our relationship to our spouse or with our relationship to HaShem.

 

 

Blessings and Peace

Revi



Esteemed Women 10 - Rachel Dilemma or Potential?

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Revi's Reflections

Esteemed Women

Lesson 10


Rachel

Dilemma or Potential? ©


By Rebbetzin Brachah Rivkah Belk

 

 

 

Bereisheit 29.20-23

So Jacob worked for Rachel seven years, but they appeared to him like a few days because of his love for her.  And Jacob said to Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are completed, that I may come to her.  So Laban gathered all the people of the place, and he made a feast.  And it came to pass in the evening that Laban took his daughter Leah, and he brought her to him, and he came to her.

 

Jacob and Rachel knew that her Father was a deceiver.

 

Bereisheit 29.23

Then he took Leah his daughter...  The phraseology suggests that Leah had no desire to deceive Jacob but Laban took her against her will.  Or it suggests that he persuaded her [this being the Biblical connotation of take as explained in the commentary. To [2.15 and 12.5]   Artscroll Tanach Series Bereishis vol. 1b page 1273

 

 

He said to [Rachel], Will you marry me?  She answered him, yes. However, I must warn you that my father is a deceiver  and you will not be able to outwit him.  [Jacob] asked her, What is his deceit, i.e. what could he do to deceive me?  She answered him  I have a sister, Leah who is older than me,  and [my father] will not marry me off before her. He will therefore try to trick you into marrying her instead of me.  He said to her, If so, I am his brother in deceit, i.e. I am a match for him. This was what Jacob meant when he told Rachel that he was the brother of her father.  [She then asked him, Are the righteous permitted to act deceitfully?  He answered her, Yes, they are - when others are trying to deceive them, as it is written, With an honest person, act honestly, and with a perverse person, show yourself subtle, To forestall any trickery, Jacob gave Rachel signs with which to identify herself on the night of their wedding.  When the wedding night arrived and [Lavan] was indeed bringing Leah to substitute her in the bridal chamber in place of Rachel,  [Rachel] thought to herself, Now my sister will be put to shame, for Jacob will ask her for the signs and she will not know them. She therefore conveyed [the signs] to [Leah]. 

The Schottenstein Edition Talmud Bava Basra 123a

 

Rachel showed Chesed for Leah.  She did not want her sister to be shamed or embarrassed. 

 

Rachel sacrificed her own happiness in giving her sister the signs.

 

Bereisheit - Genesis 30.1-3

And Rachel saw that she had not borne [any children] to Jacob, and Rachel envied her sister, and she said to Jacob, Give me children, and if not, I am dead.  And Jacob became angry with Rachel, and he said, Am I instead of G-d, Who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?  So she said, Here is my maidservant Bilhah; come to her, and she will bear [children] on my knees, so that I, too, will be built up from her.

 

Rachel had compassion and showed Chesed for her sister - where was Jacob's compassion?  He already had children and felt there was no correlation between what Rachel was experiencing and what his Mother Rebekah and his Father Isaac had experienced.  Jacob seemed to have the same attitude as Adam.  Adam did not counsel his wife against taking and eating from the forbidden tree but he blamed her for the consequences.  Jacob did not feel his most cherished wife's pain.  He didn't pray for her or offer her words of Chesed.  All through Jacob's life he referred to Rachel as his beloved wife, but his actions here don't show that love. 

 

The Torah says that Rachel became envious of her sister. 

 

How can such a righteous woman display jealousy? 

 

Why did she ask her husband for children instead of praying for them herself?

 

Why did she say she would die if she didn't have children - seems a bit drastic...

 

Rachel's response to Jacob's anger was to give him her maidservant - does that not seem to be a very strange response from someone who is supposed to be envious?

 

When a person prefers death to continuing living they are experiencing something very painful.  Some think that suffering is punishment from HaShem, others believe that suffering is supposed to be a tool to drive us toward HaShem.  The Hebrew word for suffering is Yissurim.

 

Yissurim connotes both chastisement and teaching. It implies that there is a purpose to suffering, a lesson to be learned, and an indication that growth must take place. Yissurim also includes smaller disappointments, including everyday struggles and obstacles.

 

פּוֹתֵחַ אֶת יָדֶךָ וּמַשְׂבִּיעַ לְכָל חַי רָצוֹן

 

Tehiilim 145.16 You open Your Hand, and Satisfy the desire of every living thing:

 

When there is no reason to smile, put a smile on your face and G-d will Give you every reason to smile.  Wipe out all negative thoughts - just wipe them out!  Everything will be good.  Life is a Test Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis The  Shaar  Press  Page 13

 

HaShem Gives everyone what he or she needs.  If one is not satisfied with what HaShem has Provided then they are in effect saying that HaShem has Made an error - G-d Forbid one should think that.

 

Jealousy is forbidden, however, there is one exception to the jealousy rule.  One is allowed to be jealous of some else's Torah and Mitzvot.  This appears to be the case when the Torah says that Rachel was envious of Leah.

 

Chesed is often referred to as loving kindness.  Do we understand what that is?

 

Chesed is associated in the soul with the desire to embrace all of Creation and bestow upon it goodness. As the expansive force which impels the soul to connect with reality, Chesed inspires, and accompanies all the expressions of our emotions within our soul.

 

In traditional musar literature Chesed is one of the primary virtues. The tannaic Rabbi Simon the Just taught:  The world rests upon three things: Torah, service to G-d, and bestowing kindness

 (Chesed) Pirkei Avot 1:2 Pirkei Avos Ethics of the Fathers Mesorah Heritage Foundation Mesorah Publications page15.

 

Chesed is here the core ethical virtue.

 

Is Chesed an integral part of our lives? 

Are we applying Chesed in our relationships? 

Are we satisfied with who and what we have in our lives?

 

Why are men sometimes unresponsive to their wives? 

Why do they not emphasize more with their wives?

Are we women showing Chesed to each other - to our soul mates?

 

The text in this study presents so many questions and provides us with the opportunity to grow in so many areas if we apply the principles we have encountered.

 

Perhaps we should take the time to find out where we are and create a plan to act on. 

 

 

Blessings and Peace

Revi


Esteemed Women 11 - Rachel's Chesed

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Revi's Reflections

Esteemed Women

Lesson 11


Rachel's Chesed ©


By Rebbetzin Brachah Rivkah Belk

 

The essential thing is not study, but deed. Pirkei Avot 1.17

 

His son, Shimon, would say: All my life I have been raised among the wise, and I have found nothing better for the body than silence. The essential thing is not study, but deed. And one who speaks excessively brings on sin. Pirkei Avot 1.17

 

One who takes Torah study seriously will most likely choose the right path in life. For this reason, the mitzvah of Torah study outweighs all other commandments. The Rabbis of the Talmud wrote: These are the things for which a person enjoys the dividends in this world while the principal remains for the person to enjoy in the world to come. They are: honoring parents, loving deeds of kindness, and making peace between one person and another, but the study of the Torah is equal to them all.   Talmud Shabbat 127a.

 

How are we to reconcile these opinions?

 

They seem to be diametrically opposed - but are they? 

We should take the time soon to study these concepts and find out the logic behind each.

The purpose of creation is to bring up this world through deeds from one level to the next.

Kabbalah teaches that Chesed clothes itself in the performance of the 248 positive Mitzvot, meaning that it is through Observing the positive Mitzvot that G-d's Supernal Attribute of Chesed is expressed by human beings in the earthly realm.  The Kabbalah Handbook Gabriella Samuel  Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin pages 72-73

 

All other middot are all offshoots of awe and love and their derivations as is explained elsewhere.

 

Love and awe are the two fundamental middot in the soul, the two poles that impel the soul along all its emotive paths. Love is the movement from self-outward: the drive for self-expansion  the breaching of the boundaries that separate the self from the other, the will to influence and give without limit. Awe, on the other hand, is an inward movement:  the soul's self-contraction, its withdrawal and withholding from others, its capacity to set parameters and confine itself to them. Thus, love and awe define the two directions of the soul: expansion and contraction, giving and refraining from giving. The third primary middah, rachamim (compassion, which is giving to one who needs) is a composite of love and awe, an intermediary between unequivocal giving and not giving at all, and does not constitute a new direction in the soul. The additional middot (netzach, hod, and yesod) are not primary middot like Chesed and Gevurah but secondary middot that are amplifications and mutations of the primary middot.  Opening the Tanya Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Jossey-Bass page 115

 

 

Chesed-Love connotes kindness and altruism. Burying the dead is referred to as Chesed shel Emet, true altruism, because the person you bury is unable to repay you.  Hence, Chesed has to mean an unconditional giving. True altruism is to do something when you do not expect anything in return. Chesed is the idea of giving oneself totally.  The lower seven Sefirot parallel the seven days of creation. Chesed is the first of these lower Sefirot, paralleling the first day. The main creation on the first day was light.  The main property of light is that it has no bounds. This is equivalent to Chesed, giving without bounds; being unrestrained, being unbounded, and perhaps even undisciplined. 

 

Gevurah parallels the second day of creation. The Rakia-Firmament was created on the second day. Hence, the concept of Gevurah relates to barriers. Gevurah-Restraint is then the opposite of Chesed-Love. Chesed is essentially G-d Giving of Himself unrestrictedly, opening doors all the way. The definition of Gevurah, on the other hand, is Who is strong (gibor). He who restrains his urge.  Gevurah, the idea of Divine Strength, is G-d's ability to withhold Himself from creation and to close doors. If G-d were to Give freely of Himself, He would totally overwhelm creation with Gedulat-Greatness. If G-d were to allow His Greatness to shine forth. the world could not exist. If G-d were to hold Himself back completely, the world could not exist either.   In order for the world to exist, therefore, Chesed and Gevurah must balance each other and this involves a constant interplay between the two.

 

 

We have discussed Middot at times and we see that Middot - the practical application of Torah and Kabbalah that we study becomes very important when looking at Chesed.

 

How can we this week display Chesed in a more pronounced way?

 

Life is a balancing act - we don't want to sway too far to the right or left.  This is one reason studying the Sefirot with Torah helps us understand how to practice Torah Mitzvot effectively.

 

 

 

Blessings and Peace

Revi


Esteemed Women 12 - Dinah's Destiny

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Revi's Reflections

Esteemed Women

Lesson 12

Dinah's Destiny ©


By Rebbetzin Brachah Rivkah Belk

 

 

Dinah, the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob,...Bereisheit 34.1

 

And he arose during that night, and he took his two wives and his two maidservants and his eleven sons, and he crossed the ford of the Jabbok. Bereisheit 32.23

 

Where was Dina when the family crossed the Jabbok?

 

Rashi cites the Midrashic interpretation that Jacob concealed Dinah in a chest and locked it, so Esau should not cast his glance on her [ and desire to marry her ].  Because Jacob kept her from Esau on whom she might have had a good influence, he was punished by her later abduction by Shechem.  Artscroll Bereisheis Artscroll Tanach Series volume b page 1435

 

Dina's abilities like her Mother Leah were hidden.

Rachel is referred to as a beautiful women.

Rachel was Jacob's Beloved.

Rachel was the Mother of Joseph who saved Israel from the drought.

Leah gave birth to the majority of the tribes of Israel.

Leah lived with Jacob for a greater part of their lives.

Leah is never referred to by Jacob as his wife.

 

 

One who is a Baal Teshuvah is hidden.  One can only look at their accomplishments with hindsight.  They experience the dark night of the soul, desolation and struggles.  This increases their bond with the Creator.  Leah's entrance into marriage was off to a rocky start - hidden in the background and never referred to as a wife by her husband - only hindsight displays her accomplishments.

 

Leah was destined to be the wife of Esau and only her continuous tearful prayers prevented that.

Dina the daughter of Leah - never referred to as the daughter of Jacob - then came to be destined to be the wife of Esau. 

 

Dina had her Mother's outgoingness.

 

When Jacob came from the field in the evening,  Leah went out to meet him, and said, You shall come to me, because I have hired you with my son's dudaim, and he slept with her on that night  Bereisheit 30.16

 

Dinah, the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to look about among the daughters of the land. Bereisheit 34.1

 

Dinah had her Father's moral traditions and would have had the ability

 to redeem the negative forces in Esau.

 

All honor awaits the King's daughter who is within; her raiment is superior to settings of gold. Tehillim Psalms 45:14

 

 

The hallmark of the Jewish woman is her tzniut, the modesty in dress and demeanor.  For the king's daughter to leave her inner sanctum is to expose herself to all sorts of negative encounters, as Dinah's case tragically demonstrates.

 

it was Jacob's isolation of Dinah, not Dinah's and Leah's outgoingness, that was the cause of Dinah's misfortune.  How could a Tzaddik do this to his daughter?

 

There is a difference between a Tzaddik and a Baal Teshuvah.

 

A Tzaddik has never erred; he constantly fulfills the Will of G-d.

This seems to contradict the fact that Jacob is a Tzaddik.  How are we to reconcile these facts?

 

 

The Baal Teshuvah has strayed. He then feels bitterly disappointed about his distance from G-d, and he yearns to correct that. His upward striving is much more powerful than that of the Tzaddik. Though his descent into sin was externally due to his Evil Inclination, in truth his inner intent was a descent for the purpose of ascent.

 

When a person does Teshuvah out of true love for G-d, his sins are transformed into merits.  The descent of sin becomes the springboard which catapults the Baal Teshuvah from darkness to the heights of spirituality.

 

The Tzaddik lacks the strength of yearning of the Baal Teshuvah.

 

We see that Dina could have been a great force for good by bringing Esau to Teshuvah.

 

What kind of force are we in our relationships?

Do we have the wisdom to make decisions that would first be in line with Torah and with HaShem's Will?

 

Did Jacob as a Father hide his daughter because he wanted to protect her?

Where did Dinah learn how to interact with strangers? 

Where did she learn how to make herself beautiful? 

Did Leah teach her these things? 

Did Leah know Dinah was going out into the town? 

What happened to Dinah's child conceived when she was raped?

 

Teshuvah today must be accompanied with tremendous joy. The Evil Inclination's greatest weapon is depression, for once the state of helplessness and hopelessness grips a person's soul, and it is very difficult to find the tremendous energy required for introspection and self-improvement.

 

In Kabbalah, Teshuvah is always associated with the feminine aspect of mother, represented by the sefirah of binah, understanding. The innate capacity of nature to renew itself is likewise associated with the feminine, as in the idiom mother earth. The Name of G-d related to binah, I Will Be, alludes to the intrinsic power of Teshuvah to give birth to the self continually.

 

Dina had the capacity to bring great good into the world but her destiny  appears to have been circumvented by her Father hiding her in that trunk.

 

 

Before meeting Esau, Jacob hid his daughter Dinah in a chest.  He said This wicked man might set his eyes on her and take her from me.

 

Said HaShem You did not want to perform an act of kindness towards your circumcised brother and give him Dinah in marriage.  I swear to you that she will be taken without  a marriage ceremony by an uncircumcised man.

 

Dinah was so great that she might have inspired Esau to do Teshuvah.  It is the woman's influence which directs the home.  The Midrash Says - The Book of Beraishis Page 313

 

 

Then ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are equated with the 10 Sefirot.

 

One for each day. - when that time arrives this year G-d Willing we should look at where we might have fallen a bit short this year.

 

Ten Sefirot

Keter                    (crown)

Chochmah          (wisdom)

Bina           (understanding)

 

Chesed                (kindness)

Gevurah    (might)

Tiferet                  (beauty)

Netzach               (endurance)

Hod            (splendor)

Yesod                  (foundation;

Malchut                (kingship)

These are related to the Six Constant Mitzvot

According to Maimonides, there are six constant Mitzvot that apply to all Jews, in all places and at all times. These Mitzvot are mental or emotional by nature, in contrast to all the other Mitzvot which are attached in some way to either an action, a physical object or speech. Mitzvot connect man to G-d and the body to the soul, emphasizing the Torah's goal of infusing material reality with spiritual content.

 

We have discussed these in the past

 

 

1.  To believe that there is One G-d that created everything, and everything that occurs in the past, present and future is all in accordance His will, and that He took us out of Egypt. As it says, I am the L-rd your G-d Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Shemot - Exodus 20:2

 

2.  To not believe in any false gods, and to only believe that HaShem rules over everything. To believe that HaShem is the All-Powerful and that nothing else has strength to do anything against His will. As it says, You shall not have any other gods before Me. Shemot - Exodus 20:3

 

3.  To believe that G-d, the Ruler of all, is One, without any partnership. As it says, Listen, Israel, G-d is our L-rd, G-d is One. (Shema Yisrael...) Devarim - Deutromony 6:4

 

4.  To love G-d, and contemplate about His commandments and handiwork until we come to feel joy when coming close to him and feel the utmost delight. As it says, And you shall love G-d, your L-rd. Devarim -Deuteronomy 6:5

 

5.  To constantly have a reverent fear of G-d, so we should not sin at least out of fear of His punishment. As it says, You shall fear the G-d, your L-rd. Devarim - Deuteronomy 10:20

 

6.  Not to stray after the thinking of the heart and the sight of the eyes, but to only think about truth and the good ways of the Torah. As it says, ...and you shall not stray after your hearts and your eyes. Bamidbar - Numbers 15:39

 

Blessings and Peace

Revi