Thursday, July 18, 2013

Connecting with the Unity of the Community of Israel and Hashem

At the walnut tree
This week’s parasha always touches me. It’s so filled with emotions, so suitable for the celebration of TubAv. Moshe Rabbeinu describes his very deepest yearning for the Land of Israel. How privileged are we to be able to not only enter the Land, but live here and nurture our relationship with the Land of Israel through planting and growing!

Mazal tov! This parasha celebrates Midreshet B’erot’s anniversary on
TubAv – the time for celebrating the rise of the feminine mode. The spiritual energy of TubAv fits Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin, as our program is in the forefront of celebrating Jewish femininity. We emphasize how women have a major role in building the Malchut (kingdom) by building the Jewish home and land. Returning the Shechina – the Feminine Indwelling Presence to the land, does not just happen through academic study alone, but rather by means of getting deeply in tune with the inner world of spirit and the outer forces of nature, while developing our feminine insight and intuition and linking the spiritual &material through outwardly expression of creative inner potential.

The end of the parasha includes the Shema Yisrael prayer, with which I connect so deeply, as I recite the Shema Yisrael daily, not only during our morning prayers but also in my spiritual healing practice, as the power of the Shema Yisrael – unifying Hashem expels darkness and negativity. These six powerful words corresponding to the six points of the Magen David (Star of David), is a shield of protection from negative energy. 

In the meditation I share with you, we practice connecting to Hashem’s light of unity uniting the opposite energies of fire and water represented by the ש/shin and the מ/mem שְׁמַע/Shema connecting ourselves with the energy of unity within all of Israel and Hashem. 

With Blessings of the Torah and the Land,
Chana Bracha Siegelbaum

Read Rebbetzin’s commentary to Haftorat Va’etchanan - "Tub’Av: Rectifying our Inner Lights"

Parasha Meditation Va’etchanan
Devarim 3:23-7:11
Shema Yisrael – The Centerpiece of Jewish Belief, Prayer and Spiritual Healing
The Shema Yisrael is like a seed that contains the entire Torah – a direct shortcut to Hashem. This centerpiece of Jewish belief and prayer contains the power to draw us back to our Soul’s purpose: Loving G-d, and sanctifying His Name as One. שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל הַשֵם אֱלֹהֵינוּ הַשֵם אֶחָד –“Shema Yisrael, Hear O Yisrael, Hashem is our G-d Hashem is One.”[1] It says “shema” – hear/ listen, not just because we cannot see G-d, but because we are to bring the truth of Hashem’s Oneness deep into our being. What we see remains external to ourselves. We cannot ‘see’ but we can ‘hear’ Hashem communicating to us especially through the words of His Holy Torah. We unite with Him through seeing and remembering, but even more so by hearing and listening.[2] The Shema is a verbal mikvah, pouring into every level of our souls. It aligns us to the truth of Hashem’s Oneness, purifying doubt and the temptation to believe that there is anything in the world that is separate from Hashem.[3]

Complete Active Listening
שְׁמַע/Shema – Hear: The first word of the Shema prayer means hear or listen. Its first letter ש/shin represents אֶש/esh – fire, the following letter מ/mem – is associated with מַיִם/mayim – water. To truly listen is to unite our vital energy of fire with the receptiveness of water. This kind of hearing is called active listening. The last letter in the word Shema is ע/ayin, which means eye and has the shape of an eye. To truly listen is to visualize the message we hear in our mind’s eye. The letter ע/ayin has the numerical value of seventy, corresponding to the seventy facets of the Torah, and the seventy languages of the world. To listen is to integrate the message with all its possible numerous aspects.

Israel – Straight to G-d
יִשְׂרָאֵל/Yisrael – Israel. This word can be broken up into two: Straight ישר/yashar אֵל/G-d. The first letter of the word yashar is י/yud – the smallest most humble of letters. When writing any Hebrew letter, we always begin from the top, forming a י/yud. This letter – the most hidden beginning of all the letters – is the first letter of Yisrael – the beginning and purpose of Hashem’s creation plan. He created the world for the sake of Israel, but our greatness is hidden throughout our exile and persecution. ש/Shin, the second letter of Israel looks like flames of fire. It represents the fiery energy to keep us going, and keep our passion for Hashem strong. ר/Reish, the third letter of Israel – has the shape of the back of the head. The letter reish also means head (rosh). With this letter we become the leader of the world, but only if we connect with the אֵל/alef- lamed of G-d’s revealed name. “El” also means power, and interestingly it may be the root of the English word electricity. This name of G-d consists of the א/alef the oneness of G-d together with the ל/lamed – the tallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet – symbolizing going upwards reaching towards its higher spiritual purpose.

The Eternal Name
הַשֵם – The four lettered name of G-d is translated most correctly as the Eternal. It includes within it the letters of heh, yud, and vav through which you can spell הָיָה /haya –was, הֹוֶה/hove – is, יִהְיֶה/yiheye – will be. Hashem is beyond time and includes all past, present and future. The ה/heh is the letter of breath, birth and creativity, the letter ו/vav is the letter of connection. G-d created and breathed life into all existence and connected the world to himself. The first י/yud of His name denotes beginning, He is the first, nothing preceded Him. Likewise Israel is called the first.[4] In this way both Israel and G-d begin with this same letter signifying the connection between us.

Elokim – The Power of Nature
אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ – The root of this word is Elokim the word for G-d which is manifested within the physical world also denoting judgment. Elokim decreed that the natural rules of the world operate in according to set laws. The first two letters are shared with the word for Israel denoting our connection with Elokim. It is interesting that these letters are in the end of the word Yisrael whereas they appear in the beginning of the word for G-d. Our end goal and purpose to reach the Divine, is only the beginning of G-d’s infinite being which is so uplifted beyond what we can even begin to imagine. The heh is the birth not only of our world, but of all the worlds beyond us, reaching towards the yud that most spiritual letter corresponding to the world Above – The World to Come. The suffix נוּ – is always used to denote “us” or “our”. The nun stands for the fifty gates of understanding all which Hashem wants to grant us, and the vav is the letter of connection. Whatever is ours is what we connect with on the deepest level.

The Gate of Brotherhood & Unity 
אֶחָד/echad – The first letters of the word for one (echad) is א/alef and ח/chet, which spell the word אח/ach – brother. In order to be united we need to feel the connectedness of brotherhood. The last letter of echad is ד/dalet which has the numerical value of four, representing the four corners of the world that needs to be united in the One. The ח/chet in the middle of the word represents the chuppah (marriage canopy), which connect together the oneness of G-d with the four directions of the world. It is the gate through which the Oneness, so to speak, has to pass in order to enter the physical world.

Seat yourself comfortably in your space, relax and close your eyes. Breathe deeply and relax even more.

1. Visualize the first word of the shema – שְׁמַע/shema with each of its letters ש/shin מ/mem and ע/ayin.

2. The ש/shin and the מ/mem represent the opposite energies of fire and water. Imagine the ע/ayin being a vessel that contains, holds together and unite both the fire of ש/shin and the water of מ/mem.

3. Breath slowly. Inhale while visualizing the letter ע/ayin, exhale while making a “shhh” sound, and visualizing the letter ש/shin.

4. Inhale while visualizing the letter ע/ayin, exhale while making a “mmm” sound and visualizing the letter מ/mem.

5. Break up the word שְׁמַע/shema into two: שם/shem and ע/ayin – Hear how the name of ע/ayin is the Name of the wellspring….שְׁמַע/shema –hear how the name – שם/shem is connected to the – ע/ayin. It is the name of seventy. G-d has seventy names, to awaken all the sparks of the seventy aspects of the Torah. Imagine these seventy sparks flashing out of Hashem’s שם/shem – name.

6. “The Name” with an open מ/mem is Hashem – the King of the lower world.[5] Visualize an immense light streaming down from the opening of the מ/mem into the world – spiraling down into the house you are in – then into the room you are sitting in, and finally filling your entire being. Bask in this light which floods you.

7. שְׁמַע/shema means hear, ע/ayin means eye. Can you hear with your eye? Allow yourself to visualize the message we hear in our mind’s eye. Hear the oneness of Hashem with your eyes.

8. Recite silently, שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל/Shema Yisrael while visualizing entering a dark tunnel with a candle. Imagine how the שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל/Shema Yisrael emanate light that pushes away all the darkness. The oneness of the light of Hashem descends and connects to the light low and spreads out to Yerushalayim and to the entire globe of the earth, then to all of the worlds.

9. Break up the word יִשְׂרָאֵל /Yisrael into two ישר/yashar and לקאל/l’kel – Straight to G-d. You as part of the people of יִשְׂרָאֵל /Yisrael have a straight connection to G-d. Feel yourself being pulled upwards straight towards G-d.

10. Visualize the four letters of Hashem’s name yud and heh and vav and heh. Feel all the love and compassion emanating from this name into your heart.

11. הָשֵם אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ/ Hashem Our G-d. Breathe slowly and relaxed. Inhale הָשֵם /Hashem, exhale אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ/Our G-d. Connect with how הָשֵם /Hashem is the G-d of every one of us – of the entire Jewish people. הָשֵם /Hashem is my G-d. We are one with each other and Hashem.

12. Breathe into אֶחָד/echad – Our unity emanate from His light. Our unity allows us to see and hear and to receive knowledge and love.

There is a spiritual pilot light, or Pintele Yid, in every Jew that never is extinguished, and the Shema is a spark that causes that hidden light to grow and strengthen. We suffer when we are not connected to this truth without understanding why. The perpetual presence of the Shema pilot light gets obscured by layers of worldly impurity that comes with exile, true exile: the distance from knowing Hashem. Every time we say the Shema, the light that is within us grows stronger, purifying us with the truth, connecting us to a wellspring of emunah (faith).

[1] Devarim 6:4.
[2] Rabbi Shelomo Carlebach, Parashas Eikev, Issue #25, 19-20 menachem Av 5767.
[3] By alumna student Tziona Achishena for full article see <>.
[4] Rashi, Bereishit 1:1.
[5] Zohar, part 3, p 236b usually when the letter mem ends a word the ending ם/mem is used which has a closed shape whereas the regular מ/mem is open at the bottom the open מ/mem refers to the King over the lower world, whereas the closed ending ם/mem refers to aspect of the Upper King in the hidden world.

1 comment:

  1. This is such a beautiful and accessible Torah portion this week, Rebbetzin. Thank you for the depth and breadth of wisdom and the beauty with which you express it. I'm sure there are many people all over the world who are blessed by your writing each week, too.