Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Learning to Give

Dear Friends,
Purim at B’erot was as every year such a heart opening experience, with a great balance of Torah, play and prayer, not to mention the delicious feast!

Now it’s time to get ready for Pesach, and clear our energy fields from all the extras. This is a perfect time to work on letting go of attachments to material things, and sharing our stuff with people we love. This week’s parasha meditation helps us to learn how to give with generous spirit and open heart. Wishing you all happy giving, and a joyful Pesach preparation! 

Save the Dates:
After Pesach starting Sunday April 29, I will offer a 3 week EmunaHealing webinar Sundays from noon-2:00 PM EST (Israel 7:00-9:00 PM). 
Click here if you are interested in signing up. 
In addition I will be available for private EmunaHealing sessions right after Pesach
via Skype or Phone.

With Blessings of the Torah and the Land
Chana Bracha Siegelbaum 

Click here to read Rebbetzin's commentary to this week's special haftorah for Shabbat Parah

Parasha Meditation Vayakhel-Pekudei
Shemot 35:1- 40:38
Moshe’s fundraising for the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was easy. All the Jewish people brought enthusiastically donations of materials for the Mishkan . “They came, everyone whose heart lifted him up, and everyone whose spirit volunteered him, and they brought Hashem’s offering for the Tent of Meeting, and for all its service and for the holy garments.”[1] The verse mentions two different attitudes with which people gave, there were the kind of person “whose heart lifted him,” and the kind “whose spirit volunteered him.”

Whereas Ramban holds that the wise people were lifted by their heart to know how to do the work for the Mishkan,[2] Malbim explains that the heart is the exterior vessel for the spirit – רוּח. The spirit raises images from the depth of the soul and reveals them upon the face of the heart. Whereas the spirit is an internal integral part of the soul, the heart is its exterior ruling power, through which Free Choice is expressed.[3]

There are people whose spirit is filled with good images and volunteerism, yet their heart still do not chose to be generous, because of their love of money. There are others, whose spirit does not volunteer them, yet their heart is generous and loves to give because money is not important to them. Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder clarifies that some people feel an urge deep down to give, but as the urge comes more to the surface, it meets limitations. A person might really want to give, but he is too attached to his money, time, and personal resources. This person is called one whose “spirit volunteers” but whose heart is limiting. Another kind of person is one who does not feel a deep urge to give, but he doesn’t consider his time or money so important, so he is willing to give of them freely. He is called one whose spirit does not move him deeply to give, but his heart is open.

Malbim explains that when it came to donating for the Mishkan, everyone had both a volunteer spirit and an open heart. This is why the Torah verse states both that every person was “lifted up by his heart” to have a good will to give, and was moved by “his spirit that volunteered him” to imagine and connect deeply with the great benefit of this generosity

Sit comfortably in your chair or cushion, close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Pay good attention to your rhythmic breath, and allow yourself to relax even more. Ask Hashem to help you get in touch with your רוּח – ruach – spirit, the deepest spiritual backdrop seat of your emotions. Your ruach is the mediator between your neshama which is inherently G-dly, and your nefesh which is inherently animal. Your ruach is in between. This is reflected in the three letters spelling out the word רוּח – ruach. The first letter ר –reish means head and has the shape of the profile of the back of the head. ר –reish is connected with the neshama. The last letter ח – chet means sin and is connected with the body, it is in the shape of a closed container which separates between the body and the higher realms. The middle letter וּ – vav, which means “and” corresponds to the ruach, the connecting point between the neshama and the body. As you breathe slowly and deeply connect to your רוּח – ruach. Allow your ruach to take you back to a time when you felt especially fulfilled and happy. Get in touch with this exhilarating happiness. Let the waves of happiness emanating from your ruach wash over you. Now take some of this happiness and place it into an imaginary box, wrap it beautifully and tie it with a ribbon. Imagine sending this gift to someone you love, and to someone who really needs it, you can send your spiritual gift to several different people without depleting yourself from its content. Continue sending this gift to as many people as you feel like. You can always send it again at a different time.

Now let’s move to get in touch with our heart. Place both of your hands on your heart and try to feel the rhythmic beating of your heart. If you can’t feel it there, you may move one hand to your throat. Think about a material thing that your heart desires very much. It could be a garment, jewelry, money, an electrical item, or your favorite food. Imagine a person you love very much, and imagine how you would like to share with that person. You would love the person you love to have what you have. Choose one of your favorite material possessions and pray to Hashem silently to help you let go of your attachments to this item. Imagine how life would be manageable even without this favorite thing, especially considering how you could make someone else so happy. Ask Hashem to help you open your heart. Decide now in your heart to give away this item to a person whom you love so much. If it is too difficult to give away your favorite object, you can practice on something which you like very much but it is not your most favorite thing. If this too is hard, then you can practice on something you like even less, and gradually as you repeat this meditation you can learn to open your heart more and more, to give even more. Tap your hands and feet gently before opening your eyes.

This mediation teaches us to give and helps us learn to be realistic in our giving. Some people want to give gold but all they have is silver. It is only possible to impart something that we ourselves have. Rather than insisting on giving what we decide we want to give, with refined generous spirit we learn to give what the recipient needs from us. It is important to act upon your decision during the meditation and give the material gift to the person you decided to within twenty four hours. This way you ensure that your heart won’t turn you astray to make you change your mind. So give your gift in real life today!

In Yonatan ben Uziel’s Aramaic translation of the Torah, the Hebrew phrase “all whose spirit volunteered them” is translated to mean “one whose spirit was perfected to the level of prophecy.” This person has the ability to reach such a level of refinement that s/he becomes a Mishkan, his/her heart becomes an altar, and his/her clothing become the holy garments.[4] When we connect with the spirit of giving inside of us and learn to give with an open heart our gift has a much greater impact. Therefore, it is better to give something small with a generous spirit and a complete heart than to give something greater, which one is not ready to give yet. On the surface the gift may be the same gift as something given in a begrudging way, but on the energy level they are light-years apart. There is even the kind of person who has nothing to give, but if s/he could, s/he would give everything s/he had.[5] Hashem, knows the thoughts of man[6], and considers as if this person built the entire Mishkan.

[1] Shemot 35:21
Ramban, Shemot 35:21
Malbim, Shemot 35:21
Yonatan ben Uziel, Shemot 35:21
Malbim, Shemot 35:21
I Divrei HaYamim 28:9

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