Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Stones of the Holy Tribes

Haftorat Re’eh
Yesha’yahu 54:11-55:5
This week’s haftorah is the third of a series of seven “haftarot of Consolation,” which began on the Shabbat following Tisha b’Av and continue until Rosh Hashanah. I found the metaphor about the different stones that will build Yerushalayim very fascinating. Malbim explains how these stones represent the holy tribes of Israel. In this writing, I explain how the attributes of the assorted crystals, as explained in new age science, fit perfectly with Malbim’s commentary.

The Mother Tzion – Swaying in the Wind
Lunch at the Creative Ulpan from the Bible
Hashem comforts the “afflicted and storm-tossed” Yerushalayim. “O you afflicted tempestuous one, who are not comforted, behold I will set your stones with garnet, and I will lay your foundations with sapphires” (Yesha’yahu 54:11). Although the dispersed children of Israel are being ingathered from the Diaspora, Yerushalayim is still like a poor woman shaking in the stormy wind writes Metzudat David. This metaphor seems to perfectly describe the political situation in Israel today. Jerusalem is being pulled in different directions, by nations fighting for the right to her as their capital. For several years Israel has been forced by the nations to apply settlement freeze to Jerusalem, especially in East-Jerusalem. Therefore, there is a severe housing crisis in Jerusalem. While young couples are struggling to find affordable apartments in Jerusalem, our mother – Tzion – is helplessly striving to provide shelter for her beloved children. Despite the stormy winds from both North and East, threatening to break the frail mother, Hashem comforts Jerusalem, assuring her that in the end she will be rebuilt. Her foundation, walls and ground will be laid with precious stones. Any weapon pointed against her will eventually fail.

Her Foundation is the Kingdom of Torah
Malbim explains, that following the beginning of chapter 54 in Yesha’yahu, about the barren woman who became blessed with children – alluding to the ingathering of the exiles, the prophet now describes how Tzion is still not rebuilt. Although Tzion is no longer barren, as the dispersed Jews are being ingathered and the land filled with her children from the Diaspora, Yerushalayim is still in ruins. However, Hashem renews the hope of Tzion “…behold I will set your stones with garnet…” Garnet is the stone upon which the foundation of Tzion will lay, while the foundation itself will be of sapphire. The garnet, the stone of Yehuda, is the sign of Kingdom, and the sapphire, the stone of Yissaschar, is the sign of wisdom and Torah. These two – the crown of kingdom and the crown of Torah – will become the foundation of the Temple.

The Secret Attributes of Sapphire and Garnet
In The Secrets of Crystals, by Shani Toder, I found that the sapphire (סַפִּיר) creates balance, wisdom and stability. The blue sapphire, symbolizing the celestial, improves ones mood, and relieves pressure. It is good for communication. It lightens situations of deep hopelessness and increases intuition. White sapphire strengthens spiritual wisdom. Wearing a sapphire helps us talk from within with higher inner wisdom. These attributes ascribed to the sapphire fit perfectly with Yissashar who represents the wisdom of the Torah. The garnet (נוֹפֶךְ) strengthens self-confidence and is known as the stone of commitment because it strengthens determination and devotion to a cause or goal, to other people and to self obligation. This fits perfectly with the character-trait of Yehuda and kingdom. The garnet affects the lowest vertebra, the foundation of the body, and the nerves along the spine. This stone, which resembles blood by its color, strengthens, purifies and provides renewed energy to the body, especially to the blood system. During the transition between exile and redemption, we need purification and renewed energy. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that the garnet and what it represents will serve as the foundation of the building of Tzion.

Her Children Support Her with Stones of Strength
“I will make your windows of onyx and your gates of beryl stones, and all your borders of desirable stones (Yesha’yahu 54:12). Malbim continues to elucidate the metaphor about the different stones that build up Yerushalayim. According to Chazal (our Sages), the כַּדְכֹד (Cadchod) is the onyx – Yosef’s stone, which is the sign of success and wealth. The windows, called in our verse שִׁמְשֹׁתַיִךְ (Shimshotayich) literally “your suns,” will be made from onyx. This symbolizes that Hashem will provide us with all kinds of sun-grown produce bringing wealth and success. According to The Secrets of Crystals, the onyx eases fears, pressure and depression, and is therefore recommended during times of pain and sorrow. This fits perfectly with “your windows of onyx,” as it is known that sufficient sunlight is one of the main keys to preserve happiness. Several studies have proven, that people living in dark basement apartments, are predisposed to depression. Onyx is also the stone that protects against negative energy. It, therefore, makes sense that our windows, prone to outside influence, are made of the protective onyx stone. Malbim explains that our gates will be made out of beryl, which is Levi’s stone. These are the gates of Hashem, which the tzaddikim (righteous) enter. The beryl is a spiritual, physical, and mental healer. It is good to wear while working with others. Just like the Levites were involved with the holy worship of the heart, and played music in the Temple, the beryl increases the ability of self-expression and strengthens the heart. According to Malbim, “…all your borders will be desirable stones” refers to the stones of the rest of the tribes, which will be established in the complete building of Israel. This symbolizes that all the tribes will be unified in the Land, and no longer divided into two kingdoms.

Happy is the Mother Engraved with the Peace of her Children
All your children shall be students of Hashem, and your children’s peace shall increase (Yesha’yahu 54:13). Living according to the Torah brings peace to Israel. It is the saddest thing when adult siblings don’t get along. The Torah naturally guides us to get along with our siblings, by teaching us never to gossip, bear a grudge or take revenge. More than her kids being physically close, it is the peace and love between the children that gladdens their mother. Baruch Hashem, my two sisters and I continually make our mother happy and honor her with our closeness. Sprouting forth from the same stem, we have a piece of each-other within us wherever we go. Although there are more than fourteen years between my oldest son and his brother, their love and care for each other warms my heart. There is nothing that makes me happier than when I see my two sons studying Torah together. This is when I joyfully experience the greatest and deepest bond between them. The more we learn Torah, the more we refine our character and ability to love each other in the deepest way. The prophet comforts our mother, Tzion that her children – all of Israel – will come to Torah, and thereby find everlasting peace with one another. Each of her children contributes the necessary qualities for the greater, unified good. With the purification, self-confidence and devotion of Yehuda; Yissaschar’s wisdom, balance stability and communication; Levi’s heartfelt self-expression; the success and protection of Yosef; and all the qualities of the rest of the tribes, we will build the renewed reality of peace and redemption. Once we establish true peace among ourselves, despite our differences, then the prophecy: “You shall not fear, and from terror; then it shall not come near you” (Ibid. 14) will be fulfilled. 
May we all live to experience the end of terror in our Promised Land!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hashem - “He” or “She” or both?

Haftorat Ekev
Yesha’yahu 49:14-51:3
Printable Version

In the Prophesies of Redemption, Hashem is often described through the metaphor of a wife and mother. In this commentary, I discuss the connection between this feminine imagery and redemption, and the difference between the masculine and feminine aspect of Hashem, and whether we should refer to Hashem as “He” or “She” or both?

Innate Maternal Mercy
Rebbetzin Chana Bracha with Sara Malka Laderman
This week’s haftorah is the second in the series of seven “haftorot of Consolation.” The children of Israel express their concern that G‑d has abandoned them in the long-winding exile. G‑d reassures Israel that it is not so, comparing His love and mercy for His people to that of a mother for her children. “Shall a woman forget her sucking child, from having mercy on the child of her womb? These too shall forget, but I will not forget you” (Yesha’yahu 49:15). In the comparison of Hashem to a nursing mother, His mercy on the Jewish people is even greater than the mercy of a mother on her suckling children. A mother has the deepest connection with her nursing infant, to whom she is tied, as with an invisible umbilical cord. The cries of her baby pull her heartstrings so strongly, that it can even bring about the flowing of her milk. The moment her baby is born, a young woman instantly turns from being a carefree, self-centered teenager, to a responsible caring mother. The needs of her baby take precedence over all her personal needs. As her womb expands and opens to give birth, her motherly mercy is born as well. This is why the Hebrew word for “womb” – “rechem” shares the same root as “mercy” – “rachamim.”

Out of Tune with Innate Maternal Mercy – Access Hashem’s Life-giving Shechina
Unfortunately, there are exceptional cases, where the mother is out of tune with her innate maternal mercy, as in the quote above from Yeshaya’hu: “…These too shall forget.”– In my practice of spiritual healing, I have come across numerous women with abusive, controlling critical mothers who must have forgotten their natural compassion for their children. It takes much spiritual healing and inner child work to mend the lack of self-esteem and neurosis stemming from lack of maternal mercy. “…But I will not forget you” says Hashem. No matter how much abuse we have experienced, we can still access Hashem’s life-giving Shechina within us and emerge from the darkness. Hashem will never forsake us, neither on an individual level nor as a nation. Hashem will eventually redeem and heal us completely, revealing His Shechina within each of his children and restoring His chosen people securely to their Holy Land.

Is G-d “She” or “He”?
Many people have expressed difficulty when I call G-d: “He.” Some suggest that I use “He or She.” I find this too convoluted, as I always try to express ideas in the most concise way possible. We all know that G-d is beyond any comparison to human form or gender. Although the Torah unequivocally tells us that G-d is beyond form, it uses anthropomorphic metaphors, such as G-d’s strong hand, His watchful eyes etc., because the human mind is incapable of grasping purely esoteric concepts, without concrete images. Likewise, the Zohar describes how G-d’s unity is expressed in male and female energies, consistently with the humanity, created in His image. Male and female genders are a living metaphor for the two ways that G-d makes His presence known. Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller writes beautifully how the Torah uses “He” when describing the external, revealed Divine interventions, comparably to the male external organs, and “She” when describing the internal, hidden spark of Divinity that gives life to every creation, and corresponds to the internal feminine genitals. For example, when G-d communicates by giving us the Torah, and when He performs open miracles, obvious to even the most cynical eye, such as the splitting of the Reed Sea, then G-d is called “He” or “Holy One Blessed Be He.” On the other hand, the Feminine aspect of G-d, the Shechina, describes the permeating light of G-d’s inner presence, hidden within each of us. Due to the internal nature of the feminine aspect of G-d, “She” cannot be expressed through the external nature of speech. This is why, although G-d is equally masculine and feminine, I address G-d as “He”, unless I’m referring specifically to the Shechina.

Hashem our Mother
I believe that the image of Hashem as a merciful mother in our haftorah reflects the inner dimension of Torah and mitzvoth, which is revealed during the messianic era and redemption from exile described by the haftorah. We learn from Tanya, that during this time, “The involvement in Torah and mitzvot will be through the inner teachings of Torah by fulfilling mitzvot with supreme devotions…the inner meaning to the mitzvot and their hidden reasons” (Tanya, Igeret HaKodesh 26). Most references to G-d, during the redemptive process are therefore expressed in feminine imagery, as the Shechina will then emerge from Her hiding and ultimately permeate the whole world with Her radiance.

Shaping the Rock of Sarah
Our haftorah culminates with a call to remember from where we came, and the rock from which we are hewn – Avraham and Sarah – our male and female role-models, which have molded the existence of the Jewish people. “Look to the rock from where you are hewn, and to the hole of the hollow from which you were dug out. Look to Avraham your father, and to Sarah that bore you.” (Yesha’yahu 51:1). According to Rashi, Avraham is compared to the rock that protrudes outwards, whereas Sarah, is compared to the inner hollow from where we were carved. While Avraham is the raw material of the rock, Sarah shapes the rock by removing the undesirable parts. She ensured that Yishmael would be separated from Yitzchak, in order to allow the Shechina to be fully revealed. We, women, continue the work of Sarah. By removing negativity, and protecting the men in our lives from harmful influence, we carry on the carving, until the inner core of the rock is revealed. In this way, we fulfill our job as Jewish women, to refine and remove anything that separates the Shechina from being fully revealed in the world.

Hope after Despair
Consolation and hope is the main topic of our haftorah. Even when all seems lost, there is still hope for renewal. Rav Tzaddok Hakohen of Lublin explains that Avraham and Sarah were the first to reveal the concept of never giving up on anything. The Jewish nation emerged only after Hashem blessed Sarah to conceive a child, when all hope was lost. Therefore, the essence of Judaism is to have emuna and never give up. “Ben David will not come until everyone has given up on redemption (Sandhedrin 97a). Even after giving up, there is still hope (Divrei Sofrim 16). It is time to believe that the light of the Shechina is about to shine forth in the world, and reveal the inner truth to all. Just as the merciful mother never gives up hope for the physical and spiritual survival of her children, so will Hashem never give up on us. “So says Hashem, G-d, See, I will lift my hand to the Gentiles, I raise My banner to the peoples. They will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders” (Yesha’yahu 49:22). Let us hold on tight, without being afraid of the ride!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tub’Av: Rectifying our Inner Lights

The Bat Mitzvah Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin TubAv 2009
Concert with Chaim Dovid Serasic
Mazal tov to Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin, born fifteen, years ago on Tub’Av, at the time of celebrating the rise of the feminine! Our Midrasha is in the forefront of Jewish femininity, by building the malchut (kingdom) of the Jewish home and Land. Returning the Shechina – the Feminine Indwelling Presence to the Land, does not just happen through academic study, but rather, by getting deeply in tune with the inner world of the spirit of Israel, while developing our feminine insight and intuition. Only in the Land of Israel is it possible to link the spiritual and the material through outward expression of our creative inner potential. Following a short commentary on the haftorah I share Torah insights about the hidden feminine holiday of Tub’Av and its connection to the vision of Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin. I wish all of you a joyous celebration and rectification of the Inner Feminine Lights!

Please donate to Creative Torah Learning for Women on the Land in honor of Tub’Av and the birthday of Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin.

Haftorat Vaetchanan
Yeshayahu 40:1-26
Haftorah of Consolation
This week’s haftorah is the first of the seven “Haftarot of Consolation,” that we read on the Shabbatot (Shabbats) between Tisha b’Av and Rosh Hashanah. This section from Yesha’yahu begins with G-d’s refrain to the prophets: “Comfort, oh comfort My people, says your G-d. Speak comfortingly to Yerushalayim, and cry to her, that her period of exile has been fulfilled and that her sins have been forgiven...” (Yeshaya’hu 40:1). Yesha’yahu’s prophecy describes some of the miraculous events that we now see unfolding during the beginning of the Messianic era, such as the return of the exiles to Yerushalayim. We still await the complete solace for Israel described in the haftorah together with the revelation of G‑d’s glory and power.

The Connection Between the Haftorah and the Torah Reading
While the consolation in this week’s haftorah is appropriate for the Shabbat after Tisha b’Av, it also has a hidden connection to Parashat Va’etchanan which includes the Shema prayer. We have a tradition that the word Shema – שְׁמַע is an acronym for the beginning of the last verse of our haftorah. The first letters of the Hebrew words “Lift up your eyes on high…” (Yesha’yahu 40:26), spell out the word Shema – שְׁמַע. The phrase in Hebrew reads “שְׂאוּ מָרוֹם עֵינֵיכֶם” (“Se’u Marom Eineichem”). The continuation of the verse of the haftorah is “…and see who created all these…” This goes together with the lesson of the Shema prayer – to understand that Hashem is the One and only Creator. When we look around the world we live in, some things make sense to us and some don’t. We see so much violence and destruction. However, if we look to Heaven and understand that “Hashem our G-d is One,” who causes all events to happen, their higher purpose becomes easier to understand. The haftarah tells us to lift our eyes to see the same principle that we are told to hear in the parashah. We need to focus both our faculties of hearing and seeing on the oneness of Hashem. When we understand that He is the only power from beginning to end, then our questions are silenced.

A Time for Forgiveness and Consolation
Rabbi Shimon Ben Gamliel stated, “Israel had no holidays as joyous as Tu b’Av and Yom Kippur, when the daughters of Jerusalem would go out and dance in the vineyards” (Mishnah Ta’anit 4:8). What is so joyous about Tub’Av and Yom Kippur, that they are considered the happiest days of the year? There is nothing more joyous than when we have worked hard to earn our reward. After the nine days of Av which symbolize all the suffering and toil of exile, the prophet promises us forgiveness and redemption through the hidden holiday of Tub’Av. On Tub’Av the rise of the feminine “Arousal from Below” begins. This holiday opens the period when we work hard to deserve Hashem’s forgiveness and reward. The period culminates on Yom Kippur, when we purify ourselves to the highest degree through fasting and prayer. On both days we receive complete forgiveness from our current and past misbehavior, going all the way back to the sin of the spies (Tub’Av) and the sin of the Golden Calf (Yom Kippur). On Tub’Av, we celebrate, after the nine difficult days, when we worked on submitting our heart to Hashem through mourning the destruction of our Holiness, fasting and lamenting on Tishab’Av with ashes. Our mourning and suffering has cleansed us from everything that separates us from un-holiness and the Land of Israel. Our suffering atones for the sin of the spies, who were afraid to conquer the Land of Israel. On both of these holy days, we receive the greatest gift of atonement. Therefore: “No days were as festive to Israel as the 15th of Av and Yom Kippur.”

Women Build the Malchut on the Land
Tub’Av is the time when the malchut (kingdom) of the Shechina (Feminine Indwelling Presence) begins to be revealed. This corresponds to the “Arousal from Below” and our Inner Lights, as opposed to the masculine “Arousal from Above” and our Surrounding Lights. The feminine malchut corresponds to Awe of Heaven and begins the period preparing for the High Holidays (in Hebrew Yamim Noraim – Days of Awe) when we crown Hashem King. Likewise the Land of Israel is also known to be the aspect of malchut. Therefore, women who are also the embodiment of malchut have a special connection with the Land.

Dancing in White Dresses Symbolize Purification of the Vessels for Malchut
We prepare our vessels to hold the Inner Lights by crowning Hashem “King of the whole Land” with our entire being: Head, heart and liver. (In Hebrew the initials of these three organs Moach,-Brain, Lev- Heart, Caved- Liver spell out the word King –melech). This entails working on ourselves in order to integrate the Torah into every fiber of our being. This is a greater level than “Surrounding Lights,” which correspond, for example, to hearing an inspiring lecture without being able to give it over. Rabbi Refael Luria explains that the daughters go out in white dresses on Tub’Av, to indicate the beginning of the period for preparing the “Inner Lights” – the vessels and the garments, which must be white and pure, worthy for the Divine to dwelling. The circle dance in the vineyards creates the vessel for the Inner Lights, to become a vineyard of G-d. The vineyard also alludes to the Inner Lights, as the vine is found inside of the grapes.

Tub’Av: Tikun (Rectification) of the Inner Lights through Creative Expression
According to the religious practice of modesty (tzniut), today it is unacceptable for young women go out to dance in the vineyards, while young men watch, and choose whoever pleases them most. Therefore, our work is to tune into the inner quality of the women’s circle dance by rectifying our Inner Lights by connecting with the land in tree-planting and praising Hashem through creative expression. Expressing our creative potential is the feminine mode of serving Hashem which will ultimately herald the geula. It requires getting in touch with the inner spark of the Shechina buried deeply within each of us and giving birth to it through our personal artistic expression in music, art, poetry, dance etc. Through expressing our creativity we integrate our Torah and become a channel for Hashem’s Shechina to shine through us.

The Inner Lights of Tub’Av & Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin
At Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin, women work together side by side, day after day, sharing insights, dreams and visions. We develop our intuitive femininity, learning from mothers, caretakers, visionaries, peacekeepers, teachers, guides, healers, and mediators. We strive to become wise and loving women knowing that our fundamental task is to maintain harmony and balance within our homes, community and the larger world. Through rectification of our Inner Lights we can engender spiritual transformation, and radiate the subtle power of “The honor of the King’s daughter is within” (Tehillim 45:14). “In the merit of the righteous women” and with G-d’s help, we will merit the building of the Divine Home and the complete redemption speedily!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Shabbat of Vision

Haftorat Devarim
Yesha’yahu 1-1:1-27
Printable version

I feel that Yesha’ahu is speaking straight to us today, to feel remorse for the ruin of our people, and to strengthen our vision in a future of a united thriving Torah community infused with justice, morality and righteousness in the heart of our Holy Land. 

A Vision of the Ruin of our People
Rosh Chodesh Av – Yesha’yahu had a vision:
View from Midreshet B'erot towards the Mediterranean Sea

“The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Yehudah and Yerushalayimm, in the days of Uzziahu, Yotam, Achaz, [and] Chezkiyahu, kings of Judah” (Yesha’yahu 1:1). On Rosh Chodesh Av in the sadness of our time, I cry: Yesha’yahu had a vision concerning Gush Katif, and Jerusalem in the days of Rice and Baker, Bibi, and the dormant dog. “Your land is desolate; your cities burnt with fire. As for your land, strangers devour it, in your presence, and it is desolate, as turned over to strangers” (Yesha’yahu 1:7). “Your land is desolate” –The thriving greenhouses, farms, schools, community centers, synagogues and homes of the Gush Katif communities were made into dust and sand by no other than Israeli forces. 9,000 Jews from Gush Katif and northern Shomron were expelled by their brothers. Their homes, communities and trees were uprooted. “Your cities burnt with fire” – Their holy synagogues were burnt down to ashes by life hating Arabs. “As for your land, strangers devour it in your presence” – It was taken over by Hamas to become a stronghold for firing Kassam rockets at the face of Israel. Thousands of rockets began bombarding Israeli towns. Six years after, with my Land in tears, there has still not been “A solution for every settler,” as promised. I cry for my disillusioned sisters and brothers. “From the sole of the foot until the head there is no soundness, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; they have not sprinkled, neither have they been bandaged, nor softened with oil” (Yesha’yahu 1:6). Only 9 percent of the expelled families have completed construction on their permanent homes. Some 85 percent continue to live in temporary makeshift homes, while they wait for their sites to be prepared. “The daughter of Tzion is left like a hut in a vineyard… (Yesha’yahu 1:8). How long will the building freeze last? How long will they poison the daughters of Tzion with anger, spite, violence, immodesty and hatred?

How did the Daughter of Tzion Sink into Such Deep Mud?
I cry with Yesha’yahu about how low the daughter of Tzion has fallen. Echoed in the Book of Lamentation, “Eicha?”(How?), Yesha’yahu laments the downfall of the Jewish woman. How can it be, that from the people destined to be “A light to the Nations” (Yesha’yahu 42:6), women have succumbed to the worst kind of immorality harlotry and murder? “How has the faithful city become a harlot! Justice and righteousness would lodge in it, but now murderers” (Yesha’yahu 1:21). Six years after, with my Land in tears, where were the outcries, when in June 2010, Tali Atar z”l, 34, was brutally murdered by another woman? Is there anything more unbelievably tragic than an eight month pregnant single mother being stabbed to death by her downstairs neighbor, because she spilled coffee on her laundry? The woman pulled out a knife, striking in the abdomen, neck and chest so severely, that the doctors in Kaplan Hospital could save neither her life nor the life of her unborn baby. Can you imagine a more horrific vision than that of Tali’s three children, 12, 10 and 6 who heard her screams and witnessed the horror of seeing their mother lying in a pool of blood fighting for her life? Who cried in the city of Ashdod, so close to the tragic expulsion six years ago, where Tali Atar died of her massive stab wounds? Police admit that they are astounded that a mother took the life of another mother, one who was eight months pregnant, over a spilled cup of coffee. During the ‘70s, ‘80s & up to the mid-’90s violence was a rarity back then in Israel. Murders were extremely rare, and if one occurred, it got the attention of the whole country for a long time. I remember even as a teenager, violence of the current type was unheard of. Murder and attempted murder in Israel rose from 107 and 90 in 1990 to 134 and 312 in 2007. That means that attempted murder rose 300% while the rate of murder rose “only” 30%. Oy! What has become of us?

From the Depth of the Abyss Hashem Calls Us Back
Once we have hit rock bottom, there is no other way than return. Women are awakening from the abyss of drugs, immodesty, and abuse, returning to the faith of our mothers – every descent leads to a greater ascent. Rabbi Yochanan said, “The son of David comes only to a generation who is either entirely pure or entirely guilty” (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98a). Within Yesha’yahu’s horrendous vision, the spark of the greatest hope is kindled. “Come now, and let us reason together, says Hashem, though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be white as snow…” (Yesha’yahu 1:18). Even when the behavior of the Jewish people is truly abhorrent, it only represents the external layers of our heart. From within our inner dimension, our true source of existence, Hashem calls us to return and be cleansed and brightened like glistening snowflakes.

Even when the daughter of Tzion has fallen into the most inconceivable immoral behavior, Hashem – the heart and pulse of the Jewish nation – remains connected to His people. Even when our actions are totally corrupt, Hashem calls us back, and reveals (draws out) the purity of our inner dimension.

Shabbat Chazon – Visualizing our Temple Within
This Shabbat is called Shabbat Chazon – “The Shabbat of Vision.” According to Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, every year, on the Shabbat prior to Tish’ah B’Av, we are shown a vision of our world as a Divine home – a place where all G-d’s creatures will experience His presence. This vision evokes a profound response in us, even if we are not consciously aware of the cause of our sudden inspiration. Even if we do not see, our souls do see. I’d like to encourage all of us to take advantage of this special Shabbat to consciously visualize our own Temple within. I’d like to call on all our readers to take a few minutes, any time during this upcoming Shabbat, to close your eyes and imagine the splendor of the Feminine In-dwelling Presence returning to the world. What colors do you see? What landscapes, people, flowers, sparks of light and shapes comes to mind? What is your vision for yourself, how do you imagine yourself growing in righteous accomplishment? “Tzion shall be redeemed through justice and her returners through tzedaka (righteousness/charity)” (Yesha’yahu 1:27).

Take this moment now to support (click here) the vision of the return of the daughters of Tzion to the Torah and the Land. From the huts of the vineyards of Bat Ayin, the voice of Torah is heard from the daughters of Tzion. In the wake of the daughters of Tzelafchad we will build up the ruins of our Land. We will infuse it with the sprouts of love, devotion, and courage!