Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Discovering our Personal Mission in Life

Rebbetzin on her way to Denmark with her granddaughter
This week’s parasha is called Re’eh which means to see. We are called to open our eyes, live life to its fullest, in the moment, and truly see the depths of reality. 

Before I “saw the light of Torah” my group of friends attempted to see beyond the physical illusive reality and expand their consciousness through various drugs. As Torah Jews we don’t need drugs to open our consciousness. Hashem gives us the gift of expanded vision. All we have to do is to open ourselves to perceive. Seeing is a higher level than hearing, because hearing, which is often secondhand, cannot match personal experience. 

The meditation written below will help open us up to both hear and see beyond the surface, and choose life. Hashem gives us the power of seeing with the eyes of our heart. When we get in touch with this innate power, it will become crystal clear that true life – the source of goodness – is to love Hashem and serve Him with all our hearts. This is an even higher level than the Shema Yisrael, which is not written in the language of seeing because it refers to the future. For only in the future will Hashem be truly unified and perceived as one. Therefore, in the end of the Aleinu prayer we recite: “On that day, Hashem will be one and His name one!”[1] 

Let us take advantage of the power of seeing that flows into us today!
Chana Bracha Siegelbaum

Read Rebbetzin’s commentary to Haftorat Re'eh - "The Stones of the Holy Tribes"

Parasha Meditation Re’eh
Devarim 11:26-16:17
To Fulfill our Purpose in Life
Our Parasha opens with the words, “See, this day I set before you the blessing and the curse.[2] Netivat Shalom explains in the name of the Arizal that the true blessing is when we fulfill our personal mission, and do the rectifications for which we were brought into this world; whereas, the curse is when someone works hard without fulfilling his personal mission. “See, this day I set before you” indicates that Hashem gives each of us all the necessary conditions and tools to fulfill our mission. Each and every situation that we are placed in, all our challenges and tests, all facilitate us in fulfilling our purpose in the world. Through the circumstances in which Hashem places us, we can learn to find our personal mission in life. This is the meaning of “The blessing that (אשר/ asher) you shall hear…”[3] It doesn’t state – “The blessing if you listen to the mitzvot….” – because the blessing is unconditional. It is already given through all the situations in which Hashem places us, for the sake that we learn from our experiences about our purpose in life. All we need is to be mindful and conscious of what we can learn from each challenge that we face. Therefore, Hashem instructs us to see – experience everything that Hashem is constantly giving (נותן/noten) us, for the sake of blessing if we only listen.[4]

Discovering our Mission from the Repeated Patterns of our Life
How can we learn about our purpose in life from our circumstances? I believe that every person has a pattern of repeated situations, or types of people in their life, which serve as clues to their personal mission. For example being faced repeatedly with obnoxious people, provoking us to anger, could be a sign that our purpose in life is to overcome our tendency towards anger. Personally, in my life, the circumstances I have experienced clearly indicate that part of my purpose in life is to accept and even try to be happy, when others limit my scope, by starting competing projects. Some people have tests with parnassah (livelihood), always struggling to put bread on the table. Their purpose may be accepting their lot in life and working hard to make due with little.

Becoming Aware of the Mission of Each and Every Day
“See, I set before you this day…”[5] Just as every person has a particular mission in life, each of our days as well has a special rectification. Whatever is possible to rectify today, is different than the rectification for yesterday and tomorrow. This is why Hashem renews the creation of the world every single day, as we pray on Shabbat: “מְחַדֵּשׁ בְּכָל יוֹם תָּמִיד מַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית.”/mechadesh b’chol yom tamid ma’ase bereishit – “…renewing the original creation each and every day.” [6] The blessing is to “hear” and fulfill the purpose and mission of each particular day. For this reason, every single day, a Heavenly Voice goes out and calls “return wild children!”[7] The reason new Heavenly Voice is necessary daily, is because each day has its particular mission. All the things that happens to us during the day, call out to us to return and fulfill the particular mission of that day.[8]

Seeing with the Eyes of the Heart
Why does the Torah open with the word “Re’eh” – “See” rather than for example: “Know”? The heart has the power to both hear and see.[9] Seeing is a higher level than hearing. The first level is “the days will speak”.[10] The High Holidays will speak to the Jewish heart. When we become mindful of these holy days, we can hear the voice of these days through the ears of our heart. The next level is when the days not only speak, but roar with all their might: “The lion roars, who will not fear?”[11] The Hebrew word for “lion” – אריה/“arieh” is an acronym for Elul, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Hoshana Rabah.[12] These days are the foundation for the entire year. The highest level, however, is when we see clearly with the eyes of our heart beyond any doubt that the blessing is to listen to Hashem, and that the “Torah is life and goodness.”[13] Therefore, “chose life!”[14]

The Wakeup Call to Be Mindful of the Rosh Hashana Vision
We always read Parashat Re’eh on the Shabbat that precedes Rosh Chodesh Elul. The Torah calls us to “see” that in only one month “I will give you the day” – The holy day of Rosh Hashana, and now is the time to start preparing for this holy and awesome day. The blessing is to hear with our hearts how “the voice of my beloved knocks,”[15] and calls the Jewish soul to awake from its slumber. This is why we begin to blow the Shofar on Rosh Chodesh Elul. Already on the Shabbat when we bless the new month of Elul, the gates of Heaven open, and the vision of Rosh Hashana emanate. According to how much we prepare ourselves before Rosh Hashana, is our merit attaining the source of blessing on Rosh Hashana!

Make yourself comfortable and breathe deeply several times.

1. Get in touch with your heart and imagine mentally removing the klipa (husk) of the hearing center in your heart.

2. Keep breathing and open yourself to hear the Heavenly Voice calling you back to your purpose in life.

3. Visualize all the distractions in your life trying to divert you from your personal mission. They can take any form such as glittering movies, material goods, black clouds, or any other image that comes up for you.

4. Imagine chasing away all of these diversions one by one.

5. You are at a fork in the road. Before you lie two paths. Listen up and open yourself to hear the sound of the Shofar calling you towards the path to the life, love and blessing.

6. Return to your heart and imagine mentally removing the klipa (husk) of the vision center in your heart.

7. Visualize yourself standing before your cleared Torah path of your personal mission. See yourself take the first step towards the blessing. Continue to walk upon your personal pathway towards the light.

8. When you are ready, open your eyes and continue your day in a more mindful state of mind.

“See I place before you…” Why is the word “I” – (אנוכי/Anochi) necessary? This word is to connect us to the Ten Commandments which begins with (אנוכי/Anochi), and urge us to fulfill them, for they include all the mitzvot.[16] Our parasha alludes to the eternal First Commandment, “I (Anochi) am Hashem your G-d…” Every Jew has the ability to believe so strongly in the Ten Commandments that they become visible to the eyes at the level of “seeing.” Therefore, although the word Re’eh is told to the entire Jewish people, it is written in singular language,[17] because it refers to the Ten Commandments. They were written in singular for each and every person to relate tot them on his or her level.

[1] Netivat Shalom, Parashat Re’eh, p. 83.
[2] Devarim 11:26.
[3] Devarim 11:27.
[4] Netivat Shalom, Parashat Re’eh, p. 75.
[5] Devarim 11:26.
[6] Shabbat, Morning Prayer.
[7] Zohar Chadash, Midrash Ha’ne’elam, Eichah.
[8] Netivat Shalom, Parashat Re’eh, p. 77.
[9] Zohar, Part 2: 116b).
[10] Iyov 32:7.
[11] Amos 3:8.
[12] The Shelah HaKodesh, Parashat Shoftim: אלול, ראש השנה, יום כיפור, הושענא רבה.
[13] Devarim 30:15.
[14] Ibid. 30:19.
[15] Shir Hashirim 5:2.
[16] Ba’al HaTurim, Devarim 11:26.
[17] Re’eh – ראה rather than ראו – Re’u.

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