Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Overcoming Negative Patterns and Addiction

I’m very grateful to Hashem who showed me this beautiful Shem M’Shemuel about how the keeping the mishpatim safeguards us from needing stain removers for the soul in the afterlife. Please read on to understand why! 
With Blessings of the Torah and the Land
Chana Bracha Siegelbaum
Haftorah Mishpatim
Yirmeyahu 34: 8-22, 33:25-26
Overcoming the Enslavement of Negative Patterns and Addiction
In this week's haftorah, Yirmeyahu emphasizes the importance to proclaim freedom to the Hebrew slaves and maidservants in the seventh year, according to the laws described in our Torah reading. After already heading the word of Yirmeyahu and setting the Jewish slaves free, Israel again succumbed to their yetzer hara and took back their slaves and maidservants. Yirmeyahu admonishes Israel for this crime and predicts their subsequent downfall. “Now all the princes and all the people who had entered into the covenant heard that every one should let his manservant and everyone his maidservant go free, no longer holding them in slavery; then they obeyed and let them go, but afterwards they turned and brought back the manservants and the maidservants whom they had let free, and forcibly made them into manservants and maidservants” (Yirmeyahu 34:10-11). We often have the ability to strengthen ourselves in a certain mitzvah, but unfortunately fall back to our previous negative patterns of behavior. After having received the Torah, we are called upon to strengthen ourselves against the enslavements of addiction and to keep our previous resolutions. Let us make a strong decision right now, to take upon ourselves one positive habit or attitude. Verbalizing this decision starting with “I choose….” seven times a day as a positive affirmation, gives us the ability to overcome any negative thought-pattern or behavior.

The Connection between the Haftorah and the Torah Reading
Our haftorah parallels the Torah reading of Mishpatim, which likewise opens with the laws of the slave and the maidservant. Through the performance of the mishpatim (laws between people) every Jew is commanded to act with the utmost sensitivity for the honor of his fellow Jew. Just as Hashem created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, we must also do so the servant. He works for six years, but in the seventh, we shall grant him freedom. The laws of Hebrew slaves testify to Hashem’s creation of the world. The seventh year corresponds to the seventh day when Hashem completed Creation and rested on Shabbath. If we find it difficult to completely overcome our own personal enslavements, we can follow the model of the laws regarding Hebrew slaves. On the seventh day Hashem proclaims our freedom to serve him wholeheartedly. "דרור יקרא לבן עם בת" –Dror yikra leven im bat – “Freedom shall He proclaim for son and daughter, and protect you like the apple of the eye” (Shabbat Hymn, composed by the medieval Dunash ben Labrat). This week’s haftorah opens with the word- דרור (dror) which means “freedom.” “The word that came to Yirmeyahu from Hashem, after King Tzidkiyahu had made a covenant with all the people who were in Yerushalayim, to proclaim freedom to them” (Yirmeyahu 34:8). Sefat Emet comments, that the person who is involved in Torah is called a צפור דרור – a bird of freedom. After having received the Torah on Mount Sinai in last week’s Torah portion, we are now ready to fly like a bird of freedom, basking in Hashem’s Divine Presence as experienced through the holiness of His Torah. Actually the word דרור (dror) has the same numerical value as the Hebrew word for holy – קדוש (kadosh). (Bat Ayin, Drush l’parashat parah). The Shem M’Shemuel explains that the mishpatim (laws between people) follow the giving of the Torah, in order to guard the Jewish people from impure spiritual forces (Sitra Achra) – the other side.
The Torah, which was given in the morning, is called the Torah of chesed (loving/kindness). When Israel is involved in Torah, we arouse the character-trait of chesed in the world. The mishpatim, were given in the evening – the time of gevurah (restraint) – to give us proper boundaries. Keeping these laws will ensure that the forces of evil do not spread beyond their set boundaries in the world.

Avoiding Enslaving our Fellow Jew Guards Against the Forces of Impurity
It is difficult to understand why Parashat Mishpatim begins with the laws of the Hebrew slave and maidservant, and also why its haftorah emphasizes the importance of keeping these laws. A Jew becomes a slave by either selling himself or being sold by the Jewish court into slavery in order to repay what he has stolen. According to the Shem M’Shemuel, this situation very seldom happened, if ever. Therefore, we would have expected that the Torah portion dealing with laws between people would begin with laws more commonly practiced. The reason why the Torah emphasizes the boundary of how much a Jew may enslave his fellow, is that when by keeping this boundary, we guard against impure forces, and ensure that they don’t extend beyond their boundary. This explains the verse from our haftorah “You have not listened to Me to proclaim freedom, every one to his brother and every one to his neighbor; behold I proclaim freedom to you, says Hashem, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine…” (Yirmeyahu 34: 17). When Israel took back their Hebrew slaves after the six years, instead of proclaiming freedom for them, they went beyond the boundary of the law, thereby empowering the forces of evil to also go beyond their boundary. Therefore, the haftorah states “I proclaim freedom…to the sword…” rather than “I bring….”, because Hashem never brings anything negative upon us. It is the lack of our own self-restraint against exploiting others, which empowers the negative forces to freely subjugate us, G-d forbid.

A Stain Remover for the Soul
“If you keep the mishpat in this world, I will save you from the Mishpat of Gehinum” (the judgment in Hell) (Pesikta 17). Why does keeping the mishpatim (laws between people) save us from Gehinum more than any other laws of the Torah? In order to answer this question, we have to explain the nature of Gehinum. This is the place where the souls are cleansed from the stain of sin. When we do laundry, not every stain comes off equally from the washing. Some stains are only at the surface of the garment and come off through a short washing machine cycle. However, there are also stubborn stains which were absorbed by the inner fiber of the garment. For these stains, we need to use stain remover repeatedly, and sometimes even bleach, until we are able to remove them. The same is the case with spiritual stains. Gehinum is like a washing machine for the soul. The more the sin has penetrated into the depths of the soul, G-d forbid, the stronger the washing needed in order to cleanse the soul. This is the judgment (mishpat) of Gehinum. Since the souls of Israel are essentially pure, and the sin is only accidental and exterior, by keeping the boundaries of the mishpatim, and not enslaving or taking advantage of others, then measure for measure, the evil forces will never be allowed to enslave us by penetratating beyond their boundary into the essence of our soul (Shem M’Shemuel, Parashat Mishpatim, year, 5673).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Time for Hidden Beginnings

Both the Torah reading and the haftorah following TubShevat are connected with trees and the message of TubShevat. Receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai is directly connected to TubShevat: The New Year of the Tree, as the Torah is the Tree of Life. TubShevat celebrates our ability to rectify eating from the Tree of Knowledge and transform it into the Tree of Life. This is why it is called New Year of the Tree in singular, rather than the New Year of the Trees (Mishna Rosh Hashana, Chapter 1 Mishna 1).

At Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin, we are getting ready for another unforgettable experience of eating rectification during our 14th Annual TubShevat Seder. If you contact us today you may still be part of turning the Tree of Knowledge into the Tree of Life during our TubShevat program on Thursday. However, registration for the TubShevat Shabbaton is closed, as we will be 31 at my home Friday night!

The haftorah from Yesha’yahu 6:1-13 also connects to the theme of trees. Yesha’yahu prophesies about the destruction of towns in Israel that we have recently witnessed. Towns and houses were emptied of their inhabitants, and the ground was completely deserted (Yesha’yahu 6:11). However, even within the prophecy of destruction, hope is never lost. “When there is yet a tenth of it, it will again be purged, like the terebinth and like the oak, which in the fall have but a trunk, the holy seed is its trunk” (Ibid. 6:13). Like terebinth and oak trees, whose stumps live on even after they are cut down, part of Israel will remain a “holy seed” to regenerate Israel. B”H the rebuilding of the holy towns of Gush Katif will infuse all of Israel with the holiness of planting. This TubShevat, our students too will regenerate Israel through holy planting.

Please partner with us today to support our gardening projects with your tax-deductible donation!

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Tu B'Shevat

As the holiday of TubShvat – the New-Year of the Trees is approaching we would have expected to see the trees in their full green glory crowned with ripe radiant fruit. Wouldn't it at least be fitting to celebrate the New – Year of the trees around Pessach time when the buds are just opening to express the beginning of their new life?
Yet, The New Year of the trees is celebrated at the time when all the fruits and leaves have fallen and the tree stands bare and naked – when the cold and dark envelops Nature with its muddy cover. The secret of TuB'Shvat gently whispers; “When everything looks dead, dark and murky, life, light and glory is hiding just below the surface.” The time when nothing seems to be happening on the outside; is the beginning of the richest inner life.

The fact that the peak of winter is selected to mark the New Year of the Trees reflects the Jewish outlook to begin the day with its preceding night. During the night and dark times of our lives it is only faith in a better morrow that gives us the strength to keep carrying on. It is this faith that has nurtured the Jewish people throughout our troublesome history of anti-Semitism, suppression and pogroms.

Gardening and planting also help strengthen our faith in a better future. The first order of the mishna is called “seeds” because it deals with the many Torah laws connected to planting. When the Talmud (Shabath 31a) designates a name depicting the character of each of the six orders of the mishna, the order of “seeds” receives the name faith (Emuna).

The medieval Torah scholar and poet Yehuda Halevi in his book The Kuzari notices that the seed actually decomposes completely before it is transformed into a tender plant. He compares this with the fate of the Jewish people who became completely decomposed and scattered before the ingathering of the exiles and the rebuilding of the Temple. On a personal level, we can learn from the nature of seeds that when things seem most dark and devastating it is only the dark before the dawn. The more hopeless the situation, the closer is its gratifying solution.

In my own life I continuously draw on the faith I receive from the decomposing seeds that get transformed into small saplings in my garden. Many people can testify that it is the crises in their lives, which they can thank for their great personal renewals and growth. Was it not for the difficulties we experience and the decomposing depression of feeling potentially unfulfilled, we would have never taken initiative to make important changes in the direction of our lives. To this day when times are rough I remind myself how great new beginnings surely are just around the corner.

The secret of TubShvat teaches us to view the current crisis in Israel, USA and the world in a new light. Instead of losing faith and giving in to the feelings of depression and despair, we need to realize that although we can no longer hold on to the walls that are crumbling down, the fallen structures give way to building new and infinitely higher strongholds. They teach us that we cannot rely on the ephemeral values of financial success, rather we must rebuilt our world founded on spiritual everlasting values, placing G-d in the center of our aspirations for true morality. May the decomposing seeds of the present darkness take root in new and richer soil, and may we enjoy the fruits of the renewed perfected world.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Devorah: "A Woman of Flames"

I’m excited about the Torah reading and Haftorah of Shabbat Shirah, Shabbat the Shabbat preceding TubShevat which is overflowing with women. The Haftorah is the song of Devorah, paralleling the Parashah which includes Miriam’s song, drumming and dancing with the Women at the Splitting of the Sea. 

Since I’ve been teaching about Devorah as part of my Women in Tana”ch class for many years, I had quite a bit of sources to draw from.

Haftorat Beshalach
Shoftim 4:4-5:31 
A Woman of Flames
“And Devorah, a prophetess, woman of Lapidot, judged Israel in that time” (Shoftim 4:4).
The Hebrew word Lapidot means torches or flames. According to Chazal (our Rabbis), Devorah was called “Woman of Lapidot” because her face became lit up when she prophesied, and her words burned like flames in peoples’ souls. Ralbag explains that she was called the woman of flames because her level of prophesy was so high that flames would appear in the place where she was touched by prophesy. The phrase “woman of Lapidot” in Hebrew: "Eishet Lapidot" can also be translated as: “A woman of fiery enthusiasm.” Metzudat David explains, “A woman of valor, vigorous (זריזה) in her deeds like a flame.” Malbim states that because Devorah’s deeds were vigorous and enthusiastic like flames, she was naturally prepared for prophesy. Moreover, Devorah’s prophesy was an important reason for Israel's salvation in her days. The midrash asks why prophesy and leadership was given to a woman, when Pinchas the son of Elazar was alive at that time? The answer is that when Hashem chooses give Divine inspiration, neither gender or rank makes a difference: “What is the virtue of Devorah that she prophesied for Israel and judged them? May heavens and earth stand witness, be it a gentile or a Jew, a man or a woman, be it a male-servant or maid-servant, according to a person’s actions is he worthy of Ruach Hakodesh (Yalkut Shimonin, Shoftim 4).

The Wife of Lapidot
What was so great about Devorah’s actions that Hashem chose her to become prophetess and leader of her generation? In addition to being a prophetess, Devorah led a normal life as wife and mother. We learn this from another possible interpretation of the phrase: “Woman of Lapidot,” namely, that Devorah was married to a man named Lapidot. In contrast to Devorah, who was extremely learned, Lapidot was not a man of the book, and he stood in the shade of his famous wife. The Midrash explains: “…Devorah’s husband was an am ha’aretz (ignoramus). She told him, ‘Come and I will make you wicks. Bring them to the sanctuary in Shiloh. Then your lot will be among the kosher ones, and you will merit the World to Come.’ His name was Lapidot because his wife made wicks. She would contemplate and make thick wicks, in order to make their light great…” (Yalkut Shimonin, Shoftim 4). According to Alshich, it was in the merit of making the wicks thick that Devorah merited prophecy. The greatness of the wick-making was the way Devorah tackled the difficult situation of being spiritually and intellectually superior to her husband. She was keenly aware of her husband’s difficulty in finding his own place within their relationship and in society, without impeding his wife’s career, or succumbing to low self esteem. By initiating a project, in which they would be partners in bringing light and Divinity into their relationship, as well as to all of Israel, she enabled her husband to arise from his inferiority complex, and prevented them both from growing apart. By making wicks she entered his domain and strengthened his strength, as his name was Lapidot, and which means flames. Making wicks is a metaphor for making a vessel for the Divine presence in the world, manifested through the light of the Tabernacle – G-d’s home on earth, and within their personal Jewish home – the reflection of the Temple. The fact that she made the wicks thick testifies to the intensity and splendor (hidur) of the light she drew down from above. Her prophecy was a natural extension of becoming a vessel and a channel for Divinity. It was through connecting with her husband in a true spiritual way that Devorah became a complete vessel for the Divine light of prophesy.

Under the Date Palm
“And she dwelled under the date palm of Devorah between Rama and Bet-el, in mount Efraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment” (Shoftim 4:5).
Devorah embodied the peak of initiative, leadership, and modesty. She acted consistently both in the sphere of her home and in the national sphere. Devorah placed her seat of judgment under a date palm, outside her house, on one of the city’s most trafficked streets, to ensure that all matters should be decided in public, thus avoiding being in seclusion with any man (yichud), and averting suspicion and gossip about intimate contact with other men. In order to avoid immodest situations, she was willing to forgo the comforts of a house, and spend most of her time without protection from the cold of the winter, or from the heat of the summer. Care for her family and modesty are the qualities that enabled Devorah to be so successful in her national leadership. As “Eishet Lapidot” she helped her husband reach perfection, and by sitting “Under the date palm” she ensured that no other man interfered in the holy union with her husband.

One Heart to Her Husband and Hashem
“Just like this date palm has only one heart, so did Israel in this generation have only one heart to their Father in heaven" (Megillah 14/a). The date palm has no branches; its leaves grow directly out of its trunk. In this way, it gives the image of unity. In addition, it is upright and tall, alluding to Israel walking upright with G-d, our Father above. During the festival of Sukkot, we shake the lulav – a date-branch, which is actually its leaf. The word lulav contains the word lev (heart), because it grows from the inside of the tree – from its heart. The ritual of shaking the lulav in all directions is for the sake of unifying all Israel with G-d. Prior to Devorah’s time, the hearts of the people of Israel were divided between idol-worship and serving Hashem. Devorah’s judging under the date palm signifies her ability to return the hearts of Israel to their Father in Heaven. Avoiding seclusion with other men teaches us about Devorah’s devotion and one-heartedness to her husband. It was her ability to unify to the highest degree with her husband that enabled her to unify Israel with Hashem, as the relationship between husband and wife reflects the relationship between Israel and Hashem. Arizal explains that Devorah was from the aspect of malchut (royalty) whereas her husband Lapidot embodied yesod (foundation). The unification of yesod with malchut manifests the Divine presence in the world. By perfecting her personal relationship to unite with her husband to the highest degree, Devorah was able to return the hearts of the entire people of Israel to undivided devotion to Hashem. The judges who were appointed to judge the People of Israel also taught the people Torah. The life-giving words and deeds of the righteous are compared to the life-giving fruits of the date palm, as it is written: “A righteous person will flourish like a date palm” (Tehillim 92:13). Devorah – through her life-giving words and deeds – had become a nurturing “tree”; The place where this righteous teacher nurtured our people became known as “The Date Palm of Devorah.”

Devorah’s Song
Devorah, she judged Israel in this timeCome and see, two women of this world who said song and praise to G-d in a way that no man in the world ever did! Who were they? Devorah and Chana… (Zohar, Part three, Page 19/b). Rav Aviner explains that the highest level of speech is Shirah – song. Like the Song of the Sea, it conveys reality from an expansive, all encompassing, deepest perspective. The righteous King Chizkiyahu lost his opportunity to become the Mashiach because he didn’t recite Shirah (song) over the miraculous fall of the enemy of Israel – Sancheriv. His lack of song was due to his inability to raise himself above the events that took place in his time. Devorah preceded him, and taught us a model for praising Hashem for His miracles in the highest way of song. According to the Shelah, King Chizkiyahu actually did recite song, but only after the miracle of victory. When he was in danger, although he trusted Hashem completely, he refrained from singing to Hashem. Devorah’s song, on the other hand, was preemptive. She sang her song of triumph, prior to the actual victory, and through her emunah she brought about the miraculous victory. In the same way, the emunah of the Jewish women in Egypt brought about the redemption. They packed their drums because they trusted that Hashem would perform miracles for them, and they prepared to praise Him in song, music and dance. The song of Devorah contains secrets and multiple hints for hastening the redemption and the arrival of Mashiach. The phrase ביום ההוא – “on that day” (Shoftim 5:1), which Devorah mentioned in her song parallels the verse: “And Hashem will be King over all the earth: on that day Hashem will be one and His name one (Zechariah 14:9). This teaches us that reciting this song is a segulah (remedy) for the redemption both personal and for all of Israel.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hashem’s Feminine In-dwelling Presence

Thank G-d, at the end of this haftorah Hashem showed me an allusion to the evolvement of the three levels of Hashem’s Feminine In- dwelling Presence: “Daughter,” “Sister” and “Mother.” Both each individual Jew and the history of Israel go through these stages of development. While in exile, we correspond to the lowest level of “Daughter” – the sefirah of malchut. As we settle the Land and infuse it with Torah learning we rise to become “Sister” – the six middle sefirot from yesod to chesed. Finally, we will reach the highest level of “Mother” with the building of the Temple b”H. This corresponds to the highest sefirot of chachma, binah & da’at. The light of women is undergoing a parallel development from being held back as “Daughter” until the time when the woman will become “Her husband’s crown” (Mishlei 12:4), reflecting the light of Hashem’s feminine Indwelling Presence in the Temple!

Haftorah Bo
Yirmeyahu 46: 13-28
The Connection between the Haftorah and the Torah Reading
This week’s haftorah describes the punishment G-d visited upon Egypt by means of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. The downfall of Egypt is a result of its animosity and cruelty towards Israel. This parallels Parashat Bo, which includes the last three plagues in Egypt, and the Exodus of the Jewish people, preceded by emptying of Egypt from all its fallen sparks (Berachot 9b), (B’er Mayim Chaim, Parashat Lech Lecha, Chapter 15).

Yirmeyahu compares the Babylonian attack to locust (Yirmeyahu 46:25-26). This parallels the first plague described in our weekly Torah reading. Rabbi Dovid Siegel explains how the plague of locusts served the perfect vehicle through which to remember Hashem's revelations in Egypt. After the end of the plague the Torah testifies, "There did not remain one locust throughout the entire Egyptian border." (Shemot 10:19). According to Kli Yakar, from then on, locusts would never be found in the Land of Egypt, even when they infested the neighboring countries. Yirmeyahu compared the Babylonian invasion to locusts in order to remind Egypt that they hadn’t learned their lesson from the total absence of locusts in Egypt. Therefore, Hashem sent Babylon to punish them for their perpetual mistreating of the Jewish people.

Likewise today, any nation that is unkind or threatening to Israel in any way will meet its punishment. From this, we can infer that the more the USA encourages Israel to build and develop, the more it will prosper! Towards the end of the Parasha, B’nei Yisrael set out on their journey of freedom from the Egyptian exile towards the Land of Israel. Similarly the haftorah concludes with redemption of B’nai Yisrael from exile.

Pack Your Belongs O Daughter Who Lives in Egypt
Yirmeyahu cautions the Egyptian women, “O you daughter who lives in Egypt, make ready your belongings for exile, for Noph shall become waste and desolate without inhabitant” (Yirmeyahu 46:19). A careful reading of this verse reveals that it did not state “Egyptian daughter” but rather “daughter who lives in Egypt” which may also allude to the Jewish woman who lives in the exile represented by Egypt. An alternative translation of the verse substitutes the place Memphis for Noph (New American Standard Bible, 1995, English Standard version 2001).

We lived in Memphis, TN for two and a half years. Although the Jewish community there was warm and welcoming, the sense of gashmiut, (attachment to the material) was very strong. Baruch Hashem many of the Jewish daughters and their families from Memphis has since packed their belongings and joined us in Israel.

Exit the “Daughter” of This World and Cleave to the Eternal Divine
The Chassidic book called Bat Ayin compares the “Daughter” to this world, and the “Son” to the World to Come. He explains that we all have a yetzer hara called “Pharaoh” who wants to throw the “Son” in the Nile while keeping the “Daughter” alive (Shemot 1:22). This represents our tendency to forget about the World to Come, while focusing only on this physical world. We have a mitzvah to remember the Exodus from Egypt every day in order to remember the war with “Pharaoh” – the yetzer Hara for the pleasures of this physical world. Remembering the Exodus serves to imprint in our consciousness the liberation from this “Pharaoh” so that we will merit the true pleasures of the World to Come (Bat Ayin, Rabbi Avraham Dov of Avritch, disciple of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev). It is our every day life challenge to exit Egypt and its addictions, so we can experience true spiritual liberation. Rabbi Itamar Schwartz explains in the book Bilvavi, that the main purpose of our existence is to cleave to Hashem. We need to overcome the yetzer hara of “Pharaoh” not only for the sake of the Coming World, but also to be deeply in touch with Hashem within this physical world. Because of the vital importance of experiencing Hashem’s closeness, the yetzer hara called “Pharaoh” strongly blocks our spiritual connection, by distracting us with all the “important things” we are involved with in this world. A person can even learn Torah and pray without being connected to Hashem. Therefore, we need to constantly remind ourselves before Whom we stand. A computer screensaver with “I set Hashem before me always” would be a great way!

The Feminine Evolvement from “Daughter” to “Mother”
The Sefat Emet explains that the moment of the Exodus, when B’nei Yisrael became the vessel for Hashem’s service; we reached the level of “Daughter.” According to Kabbalah, the feminine aspect of Hashem’s presence in this world evolves from “Daughter” during the Exodus of Egypt to become “Sister” and finally culminates by becoming “Mother.” By receiving the Torah, we reached the level of “Sister.” After we repented from the dancing around the Golden Calf we forged a new path that led to the building of the Mishkan (tabernacle). It is on Sukkoth, when we dwell in the holy Sukkah, reminiscent of the Temple, that we reach the highest level of “Mother.” It is only through repentance that we reach the highest level of redemption that leads to the building of the Temple. Therefore, the three levels of the feminine development are manifested in the three pilgrim festivals (Sefat Emet on Shemot, Parashat Pekudei, Year 5652).

Hashem Calls Out to the Feminine Aspects of Israel, “Fear not Ya’acov!”
Our haftorah ends on a promising note for Israel. No matter how the other nations may destroy each other, Hashem assures Israel not to fear. “You fear not, O Ya’acov My servant, and be not dismayed, O Israel! for behold, I will redeem you from afar and your children from the land of their captivity, and Ya’acov shall return and be quiet and at ease, and there shall be none who disturb his rest. You fear not, My servant Ya’acov, says Hashem, for I am with you, for I will make a full end of all the nations where I have driven you…” (Yirmeyahu 46:27-28). The name Ya’acov is mentioned three times in these verses and in the entire haftorah. Whereas, the name “Yisrael” refers to the masculine, the name “Ya’acov” refers to the feminine aspect of Israel. (Rashi, Shemot 19:3). Perhaps, we may infer that Hashem mentioned the name Ya’acov three times in order to empower the three feminine aspects of the Jewish people. We are gradually called forth to rise from “Daughter” to “Sister” and finally culminate in the highest aspect of becoming “Mother.” The first “Ya’acov” describes the redemption from the land of captivity and corresponds to “Daughter” – This is the Exodus from Egypt and the physical aliyah to Israel that takes place in our time. The second “Ya’acov” “Shall return and be at ease” without anyone to disturb his spiritual rest, refers to receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai and becoming “Sister.” The Hebrew word for being at ease (sha’anan) is connected with dwelling in the tents of Torah (Yalkut Shimoni, Mishlei 932). Today, this is reflected by the strengthening of Torah learning, specifically for women. The third and final “Ya’acov” refers to the building of the Mishkan. Here, Hashem assures “Ya’acov” that He will be with him as it states, “Built for Me a sanctuary, so that I will dwell within them (Shemot 25:8). May we merit to heed Hashem’s calling “Fear not, My servant Ya’acov,” so that we may rise from our cosmic exile, reaccept the Torah and finally rebuild the Holy Temple in our Land.