Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fixing the Level of Going – to our Higher Selves

Students this week at the wedding of B'erot student Dena
Parashat Lech lecha is my favorite. I've taught it for many years at Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin, because we all can identify with Avraham and Sarah’s journey. All of us are on different stages in our personal Lech lecha. We all have external layers to shed, and internal layers to reach. It is all about staying “on the derech” rather than going off the derech.” We need to keep moving and shaking in our quest for self-improvement. There is never a time for becoming complacent. Avraham picked himself up at the age of 75. We are never too old to grow.
The parasha meditation for Lech lecha is designed to help us let go of all the things that weighs us down whether physically, emotionally or spiritually, and enter into a deeper relationship with our higher self – the Divine spark within.  

With Blessings of the Torah and the Land
Chana Bracha Siegelbaum

Click here to read Physical and Spiritual Renewal -Rebbetzin's commentary to Haftorat Lech Lecha

Parasha Meditation Lech Lecha
Bereishit 12:1-17:27
Following the Footsteps of Avraham our Father
Avraham’s journey parallels each of our personal journeys. When G-d told Avraham, “לֶךְ לְךָ” –
Lech lecha,”[1] – “go to yourself” – to your essence,[2] He also told each of us at every moment:
“go to yourself” – connect the soul in your body to your soul-root on high, which is always connected to G-d. When we connect the lower part of our soul to its higher source through our involvement in Torah and Mitzvot, we attain the ability to see G-dliness in this world! This is the meaning of the continuation of the verse: “ the land that I will show you.” When we follow in the footsteps of Avraham our Father, Hashem will show himself to us, even inside of the land – i.e. the physical world.

Fixing the Level of “Going”
Why does it state “לֶךְ לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ”– “go from your land…” The word “לֶךְ” in Hebrew means to go towards a place or goal. The Hebrew word “צֶא” – “go out” is used to indicate going from – leaving a place. Didn’t Avraham have to go out and leave his environment completely, before he could go towards the Holy Land? It should, therefore, have rather stated “צֶא מֵאַרְצְךָ” – “go out from (leave) your land, your birthplace and your father’s house,” and only then “לֶךְ אֶל הָאָרֶץ.” – “go to the land” [3]

Rav Tzaddok brings us an amazing chidush from the Zohar. Avraham was commanded to fix the level of going.[4] In Judaism it is not so much where you are that matters, but the direction that you are going. Two people could be on the same spiritual level momentarily, but one who came from a very holy background is “going off the derech,” while the other is returning to the path of spiritual heights from an impure environment. Avraham received the ability to go forward with even greater strength, not despite but specifically because of his lowly background. By means of distancing himself and detaching completely from his father, Terach – an idol-worshipper of the first caliber, as well as from everything else in his environment and culture, both spiritually and physically, Avraham was able to fix the level of going. Thus, he was paving the way for all of us – his descendants – to likewise leave our impure environment and culture, in our going on the path of teshuva.[5]

About this it states: “Hashem spread you our among the nations, and you remained small in numbers among the gentiles where Hashem had brought you….and you worshipped idols, the handiworks of wood and stone… but you were seeking from there Hashem your G-d and you found Him because you were seeking with all your hearts and all your souls.”[6]

No matter how low a place you are in, you can use the lowliness of this place as a springboard to go and propel yourself forward to even greater elevations. The more a rubber band is pulled back, the stronger it flies when it is finally released. This is the case with Yosef who rose from prison, to become the second in charge to the king.[7] Likewise, Rabbi Akiva, was an unlearned sheepherder,[8] yet he became one of the greatest Rabbis in Israel with 24.000 students.[9]

Go to your Higher Self
Our self-image, which we project into the world, may not be the true reflection of the inner core of our being. We have built upon ourselves layers and layers of external self-identifications. G-d is telling us, together with Avraham, to seek true selfhood – “לֶךְ לְךָ”, yet at the same time abandon everything that establishes and confirms self-image – (מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ) – “Go from your country, birthplace and father’s house. Avraham must leave the vital ground for self-confirma­tion, citizenship, property rights and inheritance – essential sources of security, in order to seek a new and higher identity independent of land, nationality and family. Avraham's new identity is founded upon his relationship with G-d. By choosing to make his identity based on his supernatural relation­ship with the source of the present and the future, he creates eternal selfhood, which becomes the fountain of Jewish survival. If each individual “I” includes a “thou,” then an “I” that stands in relationship with an “Eternal Thou” embodies that eternity into the very definition of his human “I”.[10]

Sit comfortable in your chair, close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Breathe deeply and feel completely relaxed in all of the limbs of the body.

1. Imagine Hashem’s light filling you from Above. In your mind see the letters that form the words “לֶךְ לְךָ” – lech lecha. They extend as far down and as far up as they can go. Claim all of yourself – your entire range of being.

2. Go. Grow. Recall the lowest depths to which you’ve pain or sorrow.
Remember the greatest heights to which you’ve love and labor.

3. Breathe in as you imagine the word לְךָ – lecha – to yourself, breathe out as you imagine the word לֶךְ – lech – go.

4. Continue breathing in and out while visualizing לֶךְ לְךָ – lech lecha and going deeper into yourself on the in-breath with the word לְךָ – lecha, while letting go on the out-breath as you imagine the word לֶךְ – lech. Repeat this ten times.

5. Go from your country, your birthplace & your father’s house “לֶךְ לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיך

6. Are you ready to abandon everything that establishes and confirms your selfhood? – Your country, your birthplace and your father’s house? Are you ready to let go of the vital ground for self-confirma­tion, citizenship, property rights and inheritance? –Your essential sources of security.

7. “אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ”– “To the Land that I will show you”
With each in-breath, seek a new and higher self-identity independent of land, nationality and family. Seek your relationship with Hashem.

8. Are you ready to base your self-identity on your eternal connection with the Source of the present and the future? Think about the things that weigh you down – that are not really part of true self, that you want to let go of, in your journey to find your true inner self – Hashem’s Divine spark within you.

9. With each in-breath, go deeper into your “I” which includes Hashem. It embodies the eternal Divine “You” into the very definition of your human “I”.

10. With each out-breath try to let go of every un-essential layers of your self- image.
“מֵאַרְצְךָ” – From your country, from the language and culture that you grew up in, from its national values such as democratic freedom, from the manners and body language of your country.

11. “מִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ” – From the customs of your neighborhood, the foods, traditions and unspoken expectations of your extended family.

12. “וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ”– from all the things your encountered in your childhood home that you promised yourself you would not repeat when you became a parent, but found yourself in the exact same behavior patterns. Go from those neuroses, judgments and criticism, those petty expectations and snobbiness.

Lech lecha – Lech lecha from all that weighs you down
Lech lecha – Lech lecha go to your crown!

From jealousy and anger
Hatred and obsession
From judgment and slander
Sadness and depression
Lech lecha – Lech lecha from all that weighs you down
Lech lecha – Lech lecha go to your crown!

From humiliation and dissolution
Pursuit of temptations that deceive
From uncertainty and confusion
to your inner Divine spark believe!
Lech lecha – Lech lecha from all that weighs you down
Lech lecha – Lech lecha go to your crown!

From holding on to the past,
Childhood wounds and hurt feelings
To release and feel peace at last
With yourself in all your dealings!
Lech lecha – Lech lecha from all that weighs you down
Lech lecha – Lech lecha go to your crown!

Imagine being 100 % connected with your crown, – imagine it sparkle on top of your head with all its glory containing only the purest Divine Light. With each in-breath, the shape of your crown becomes clearer and more defined, and it sparkles more and more.

Now that you are releasing the layers from your past that weighs you down, you can let go of any trace of fear of the unfamiliar. Open yourself completely to“הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ” – “the Land that G-d will show you” – Open yourself to new possibilities in an unknown future.

Open yourself to the unknown change, hope and miracles.
Allow yourself to see the possibility for new beginnings, living a life of hope and constant moving forward.

The words “לֶךְ לְךָ” – “Lech lecha,” each have the gematria (numerical value) of 50 + 50 denoting going towards the fifties’ gate of purity leaving the fifties’ gates of impurity. The mitzvot become our exterior garment replacing the impurity of our past. In Egypt when we received the first collective mitzvah and became a people, Hashem took us out from the fifty gates of impurities and brought us to the fifty gates of understanding. On an individual level the same takes place through “לֶךְ לְךָ” – “Lech lecha,” the first mitzvah which Avraham was commanded.

The name Lech lecha, literally: “Go to yourself,” refers to our constant ascent from lower to higher spiritual levels as we fulfill our purpose in the world. The numerical value of the two words is one hundred – the age of Avraham when Yitzchak was born. Hashem was alluding to Avraham, “When you reach Lech lecha – the age of one hundred – then I will make your name great through the birth of Yitzchak.”[11] The number one hundred is the number of completion. It encompasses all the ten sefirot with each of their ten sub-sefirot.

[1] Bereishit 12:1.
Kli Yakar, Bereishit 12:1.
Rav Tzaddok of Lublin, Pri Tzaddik, Parashat Lech Lecha, Ot 1.
Zohar, part 1, p. 77b.
According to the principle: “The deeds of the Fathers are a sign for the children.” See Ramban, Bereishit 12:6.
Devarim 4:27-29.
Bereishit 39:20, 41:14, 41:14.
Yalkut Shimoni, Mishlei, chapter 12, allusion 548.
Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 128a.
Rabbi David Aaron, based on Martin Buber.
Ba’alei HaTosfot, Bereishit 12:1.

1 comment:

  1. Very beautifully written! I found it very inspirational,helpful and illuminating. It gave me strength and hope to follow my dreams and listen to the guidance from my higher self. Reading this gave me strength to follow my inner guidance and to know that Hashem wants me to take risks and move forward in life and he will always be there for me and will always watch over me.
    Thank you! Yasher Koach!
    Leah Shinder