Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Actualizing our Trans-rational Latent Emunah

We have entered the heat of Tamuz enjoying the last chances to play our instruments in happy rejoicing before the three weeks of semi-morning. As we come closer to the mourning for the destruction of the Temple we are called to purify our hearts from jealousy and anger, and strengthen our emunah. 

Parashat Chukat is about strengthening our emunah, even in the mitzvot that don’t make sense, like the mitzvah of the Red Heifer which opens our Torah portion. The Netivat Shalom explains that it is only through emunah and bitachon (trust) that we merit the Land of Israel. “Trust (betach) in Hashem and do good, dwell in the Land and foster emunah.”[1] By means of trusting in Hashem we will merit to inherit the Land and dwell securely within it. The more we trust in Hashem the more secure we will be in our Land. How much histadlut (effort) we need to do in order to have our needs met depends completely on our faith. 

Many spiritual healers and “light workers” testify how we can manifest what we need be means of the power of visualization alone, without any physical effort. When I believe that good things are going to happen, I will by means of spiritual law attract these things to happen. We live in a very exciting messianic era where the whole world is beginning to manifest goodness by means of the power of meditation and visualization of Hashem’s light in their lives. 

In this parasha meditation I guide you through strengthening emunah to help alter our attitude and transform negativity. With our strengthened emunah we can learn to accept even the mitzvoth that we have a hard time connecting with. I hope the meditation I designed, with the dual purpose of strengthening our emunah to prevent anger and accept trans-rational mitzvot, will help me too keep all of Hashem’s commandments with happiness.

Enjoy your summer!
With Blessings of the Torah and the Land
Chana Bracha Siegelbaum

Read Rebbetzin’s commentary to Haftorat Chukat, The Pilegesh in Our Times

Parasha Meditation Parashat Chukat
Bamidbar 19:1-21:35
Printable Version
Beyond Rational Logic
Parashat Chukat is about trans-rationally accepting Hashem’s decrees through steadfast emunah. The word “chukat” from the root “chok” means “statute” – a law that cannot be fathomed by the human mind. The laws of the Red Heifer (Para Aduma), which opens our parasha, are likewise beyond rational logic. In our time and day, it is very difficult to obey laws that we don’t understand. Even the words “to obey” and “commandment” grate our ears, and are no longer political correct. The gematria (numerical value) value of the word chok is 108. This is the same gematria as in the phrase “זה בכל לבבי”/ze bechol levavi – “this is with all my heart.”[2] When our mind has reached its limit, and can no longer relate, that is when we need to apply our full heart in love and commitment.

Rocklike Obedience
By hitting the rock instead of talking to it, Moshe defied applying all his heart to fulfill Hashem commandment, thereby forfeiting a precious opportunity to teach the Jewish people about the importance of heartfelt desire to obey Hashem. Had Moshe spoken to the rock and had the rock brought forth water, Hashem would have been sanctified before the whole congregation. The Israelites would have understood that if this rock which cannot speak nor hear fulfills the bidding of the Omnipresent G-d, how much more must we![3] Rocklike obedience derives from steadfast emunah. Hitting the rock was an expression of lack of emunah for which Moshe was criticized. “Because you did not believe in Me, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel…”[4]

Shining forth Emunah through the Clouds of Doubt
It takes more effort to hit the rock rather than talking to it. Moshe thought that the Jewish people were on a low level of emunah after their repeated complaining in the wilderness. Therefore, he assumed that they needed him to hit the rock twice corresponding to their low level of emunah. His main mistake was that he forfeited the opportunity to actualize the Israelites’ latent emunah, by simply talking to the rock. Moshe failed to reveal the spark of complete trust (bitachon) buried within the inner dimension of the Jewish soul. Even when a Jew doesn’t feel emunah, it is important to trust that the emunah exists deep down – engraved within the soul-root of every Jew – within our inherited spiritual genetics. Therefore, if we feel down and far from emunah, we must believe that we can believe. We can actualize our latent emunah by repeating over and over to ourselves: “Although I don’t feel emunah right now, in the inner dimension of my soul I do believe!” Sometimes the clouds cover the light of emunah, which can be compared to the light of the sun. Even during a cloudy day the light of the sun is still not weakened. It is only the clouds that conceal its light. In the same way, even when we don’t feel emunah, it is only the clouds of doubts that conceal it. However, in the inner dimension of our Jewish soul, complete emunah always shines like the sun on a clear day.[5]

The Iron Curtain of Anger
According to Rambam, Moshe’s main sin was that he lost his patience and got angry with the children of Israel when he exclaimed: “Hear you now you rebels!”[6] G-d reproached him for this, for it is inappropriate for a man of his stature to lose his cool before the entire community of Israel. This behavior constituted chilul Hashem (profanation of G-d), since Moshe was supposed to be the model of good conduct for all the people.[7] Anger is an expression of lack of emunah. It constitutes an iron curtain against accepting Hashem’s will through every challenge we face. Sure, people can be annoying, and things don’t always go our way. However, rather than taking the staff in our own hand and hit with it, let us recognize Hashem’s power which the staff represents, and accept what comes our way.

This meditation is designed to help strengthen your emunah, preventing anger and accepting Hashem’s trans-rational commandments.

Close your eyes and make yourself comfortable in your seat. Breathe deeply several times and let out the air slowly.

1. Imagine breathing into your eyes three times, relaxing all tension from them, relax your eyes, relax them even more.

2. Allow the actions of your day or the previous day or two to flow through you, and think about a difficult situation that you have faced, where you began to lose it.

3. Go through what happened in your mind’s eye. What did the person do or say that made you so upset? Which angry thought are you still harboring? Imagine your negative thoughts as clouds.

4. Allow the clouds of all your negativity to pass by you without hanging on to them. Breathe into each of them, slowly and relaxed. As you breathe, visualize each of the clouds dissolving, disappearing back into the bright blue sky.

5. Now go back to the last interaction you recall where you fell short. Accept yourself completely where you were at then.

6. Make a fist with your hand and rub you’re your chest on the left side near your heart while reciting three times: “Although I feel/did/said/ X (fill in the blank) I still love and appreciate myself.”

7. Now imagine what happened again, but this time, reconstruct your act in the scene to the ideal way you would have liked to see yourself speak/behave.

8. Imagine a circle of light surround yourself acting/speaking the ideal way. This circle of light will guard the inner vision of your potential self, to bring you closer to fulfilling it, when the opportunity arises.

9. Now imagine a mitzvah from the Torah which is difficult for you to fulfill – A precept that doesn’t make sense to you, or that you have a hard time with. Visualize how this mitzvah emerges from the light of the Almighty G-d.

10. Imagine Hashem’s powerful light zapping up all your resistance to the particular mitzvah with which you have a hard time.

11. Now it is time to transform our mental attitude to learn to surrender. Recite in your mind’s voice three times: “Oh Hashem, Thy will be done....”

12. Imagine yourself opening your hands to receive and accept the gift of this mitzvah with grace.

13. Mentally place it in your heart – and make a resolution to accept this mitzvah with your entire heart as you recite the following phrase three times: “זה בכל לבבי”/ze bechol levavi – “this is with all my heart.” When you are ready, you can return back into your life with renewed acceptance and peace.

Even the master of all prophets stumbled in the matter of emunah, as it states in this week’s parasha “Because you believed Me not…”[8] Maharal explains that Moshe’s anger derived from a lack of emunah. Steadfast emunah brings about song and happiness, thereby precluding anger. It was G-d’s will that Moshe speak to the rock. Therefore, He had prepared the miracle that the rock would respond to speech, because He desired that the children of Israel accept His precepts and be drawn to G-d through happiness rather than through force. Witnessing the rock happily deciding “on its own” to produce water, when softly requested to do so, rather than being hit, would inspire the children of Israel to likewise happily decide to do Hashem’s bidding without being forced to. [9] May we walk along the path of the true way of emunah, which is only through good will and happiness!

[1] Tehillim 37:3.
[2] I found this gematria in Dr. Yisroel Sisskind’s email comment to Parashat Chukat, July 2011.
[3] Rashi, Bamidbar 20:12.
[4] Bamidbar 20:12.
[5] Netivat Shalom, Parashat Chukat, p. 121.
[6] Bamidbar 20:10.
[7] The Introductions of the Rambam, Shmoneh Perakim, Chapter 4.
[8] Bamidbar 20:12.
[9] Maharal, Gevurat Hashem, Chapter seven.


  1. I love the comparison to clouds. Many times my head feels "foggy" and at these times I just don't seem able to think clearly, see clearly, all my senses are affected by this. Knowing that right now I may be deep in the fog but that it doesn't diminish the suns true light is a very reassuring truth...that the clouds will eventually pass, and beyond them is great light. Thank you.

  2. Yes that's right the clouds are just vapor --
    May the sun of Hashem's light shine brightly in your life, thank you for sharing!