Erev Shabbos Parshas VaYeshev 5781

A gitten erev Shabbos! This week’s parsha is Parshas VaYeishev. Yosef HaTzaddik gets sold into slavery by his brothers and various other interesting episodes happen, including that of Eishes Potifera, wherein the wife of his master tries to get him to perform an aveira with her.

There is an interesting Midrash that we can learn from in regards to this. It says a few times in this parsha that Yosef HaTzaddik was “Ish Matzliach,” that he was a successful man. The Midrash states that Yosef was a גבר קפוז. What this means depends on who you look at, the Etz Yosef explains that the word קפוז refers to jumping and dancing, which serves to teach us how Yosef HaTzaddik was conquering his yetzer hara through “jumping away” and avoiding looking at his master’s wife. The Matnos Kehuna explains that this refers to Yosef being filled with simcha and doing things in this sort of way, which a touch of a dance or “spring in his step.”

What we can learn from this is something quite practical in avodas Hashem. Looking at this through the Etz Yosef and Matnos Kehuna, using the Matnos Kehuna as an explanation of the Etz Yosef, we can see that the true way to conquer the yetzer hara is through simcha, through keeping happy and dancing or jumping in our avodas Hashem. Looking at the word מצליח as relevant to the word הצלחה (success), which is the plain p’shat, we can learn through the Matnos Kehuna that the key to success in all things; whether avodas Hashem or physical success, is through joy. By maintaining a state of happiness even in difficult situations, Hashem will come to help us, like the posuk we say every day in Pesukei D’Zimra that joy and might are in Hashem’s place, which is effectively the entirety of Creation, so through joy are we placed immediately before Hashem. This is also related to the secrets of attaining Nevuah and Ruach HaKodesh.

Wonders of Chanukah: Erev Chanukah 5781

A gitten erev Yom Tov! We’re entering Chanukah this evening (either lighting at shkiah or after one tzeis or another). There are so many inyonim tied into this incredibly holy time of year there’s no end to what could be written, even if the sea was the ink and the heavens made of parchment, and every reed a pen, just like we cannot complete writing the praises of Hashem, so we cannot finish writing about Chanukah. One fascinating aspect of Chanukah is that there is practically nothing written on it from Chazal through most of the Achronim, just a blatt or two in Gemara, and only one reference (l’fi daas haB’nei Yissoschor) in the entire Zohar. The B’Nei Yissoschor teaches us though that this is because we are getting closer to the Geulah, as he has a mesorah that as we get closer to Moshiach so will more be written on inyonim of Chanukah. Indeed, a huge amount of the second half of Sefer B’nei Yissoschor is entirely about Chanukah.

The Zohar HaKodosh says on the posuk from Eishes Chayil לא תירא לביתה משלג כי כל ביתה לבוש שנים (her house does not fear from snow for her whole house wears scarlet) that we should not read the last word as “shonim” (meaning scarlet), rather “sh’nayim” (meaning two). Just as half of Gehenom is fire, so is half snow, and those who wear “sh’nayim” have no need to fear form Gehenom. What are these sets of two? Milah u’priah (mitzvos bris milah), tzitzis and tefillin, mezuzah and Chanukah lights, with few others. This is the answer to the discussion in the gemoro in Maseches Shabbos as to where the positioning of the Menorah goes, that we should be surrounded by mitzvos. The deeper side to this is that the Menorah with Ner Chanukah corresponds to the p’riah part of bris milah, through which the atarah upon the bris is revealed, which corresponds to Malchus in Kabbalah; which this mitzvah is only accomplished through the left side of the Yesod, v’hamayvin yovin.

According to the Ari HaKodosh, the Ner Chanukah corresponds to the Tikun of Hod, which is the eighth Sefirah in the Seder Hishtalshelus (order of manifestation). This corresponds to the leg that was damaged by the Samech Mem (angelic prince of Esav, malach reigning over Klippah) when Yaakov wrestled with him, as brought in B’Nei Yissoschor. So through lighting Chanukah lights with kavana we accomplish the Tikkun of Hod, which is related deeply to the experience of prophecy, either lost or reduced depending on who you ask, since the destruction of Bayis Sheini. We can say that this is leads to an understanding of the importance of using olive oil for this mitzvah. Olive oil corresponds to Torah, to Chochma, whereas the lower left region (like the leg/foot per example) corresponds to Hod. Chazal say that the Chachamim are on a higher level than Nevi’im, which as explained in the sifrei Kabbalah and Chassidus, the reason is because the Chachomim draw their insights from the place of Chochma, while Nevi’im receive their messages through Netzach and Hod, but Hod is specifically allocated by the B’Nei Yissoschor and alluded to in other sources as being more linked to prophecy. By bringing the oil of Torah down to the level of Hod, we illuminate the sefirah and open the lights of prophecy, which are connected in some way to the perception of Ohr Ganuz however limited, that we can merit. This shows us that through sincere learning of the Torah, we can merit to Ruach HaKodesh, which is only a small portion of full fledged Nevuah.

Hashem should bentsh us with hatzlacha in growing in His avodah, that we should all merit to Ruach HaKodesh, and that we merit to complete our chinuch l’geulah and merit to the Geulah Shleimah speedily in our days.

Created in God’s Image

A common question that many ask themselves is in regards to the idea that we are created in the image of God. For a Jew it especially doesn’t make sense, considering Hashem is completely non-corporeal and beyond all physical constraints, how can it be said that we are made in His image? Various answers have been put forward, such as that we are created with the capacity for speech, which is a uniquely human thing that Hashem is described as doing. The Zohar HaKodosh has a particularly interesting explanation of this concept, brought in regards to how a person’s physical characteristics such as hair color and texture, eye shape and color, and lines on hands reveal different things about a person. Following is a restatement of a highly fascinating part of the Zohar.

The Zohar in Parshas Yisro, daf 75b-76a states that a posuk in Yechezkel that we learn to mean that Hashem has His hands open to receive people who wish to return in t’shuva to Him can. On another level we learn that the words ידי אדם (hands of person) there is to teach us that Hashem hid all the forms and the exalted secrets of the Higher Worlds within the כף (palm) of our hands, and through this are we made in His image. In our hands, shown through our ten fingers, are the עשר אמירן (Ten Utterances) of Creation, five on the left, five on the right.

The Zohar brings a posuk from Iyov, “עור ובשר תלבישני” (Skin and flesh you have clothed me [with]). So the question must be asked, what is a person? Just flesh and bones and sinews? Certainly not! For sure the person is nothing other than the soul, and the bones, flesh, and sinews are naught but the clothing itself, they are possessions of a person, and not the person himself. Hence why when one passes from the world, the person leaves and the body stays behind.

The skin that a person is clothed with, states the Zohar, these being the bones and sinews, all of this is contained within the secrets of the Highest Wisdom, in order to correspond with that which is above. There it brings the posuk where it says Hashem spreads out Shomayim like a great curtain, and that the Mishkan had an outer layer made of a series of curtains made of the skins of rams dyed red and Techashim (see Maseches Shabbos), these are the external garments of the Divine that correspond to the skin of a person.

The bones and sinews correspond correspond to the chariots and Heavenly Host, which interestingly enough in our modern scientific understanding, we know that there are countless cells within our bones and every part of our blood. This is a way we can see how the Zohar was written through Ruach HaKodesh, since they didn’t have microscopes and a possibility to see cells, even if one believes that Moshe DeLeon was the sole author and not Rashbi, chas v’sholom.

The flesh covers the various “chariots and hosts” within the body. This corresponds to the levels of the Raki’im, the Firmaments that cover everything in ascending layers. All these are in the internal garments of a person, and this is the secret of the construction of a person, and all this is the secret of what is below reflecting that which is above. This is the meaning of the verse that Elokim made HaAdam in his image, in the image of God.

The further secrets that we derive from this relationship, that Man is created in the image of Hashem according to the secrets of the Higher Worlds, that there are stars, planets, and constellations in the higher firmament. We can learn things that are going on personally and in the world through study of the various positions of these things, as Chazal teach us particularly at the end of Maseches Shabbos and various hints in the rest of Shas. The stars, constellations, and planets correspond to the various lines and marks on our skin which the חכימי לבא (Wise of heart) know how to interpret and understand.

To summarize the above: Hashem created us people in His image and this is shown through various examples, comparing our body parts to parts of the Mishkan and the other aspects of Creation used as garments for Hashem, as they conceal Him and the netzotzos hakedoshim. The wise initiate into Kabbalah can understand much about people simply through their physical traits, just as they can understand Torah and the ratzon Hashem through occurrences in corporeal reality.

May Hashem allow us all to merit to understand these aspects of Torah and implement them properly, that we should know Him completely.

Motzei Shabbos VaYishlach: Hashem Recompenses According to Deed

A gitte voch! The Tana D’Vei Eliyahu teaches us that Hashem renders punishment (or on the flip side, reward) according to the actions we do. There, in the section for Parshas VaYishlach, the examples of the plagues brought upon Mitzrayim are explained in such a way that we can understand why those specific plagues were done. So now that we have the side of Din, that Hashem renders punishment within the same general way or area that one is misbehaving in, we can learn something on the side of Rachamim.

If we approach doing mitzvos in a way of love for Hashem and happiness to fulfill His will, then it should be clear that He will recompense in kind. Like it says in Maseches Brochos, that one who extends his tefillah will be answered; though this is only if he doesn’t look back on his prayers and investigate them. What does this mean practically? One way of understanding this part of the gemoro is that the person who looks back on his tefillah was lacking Emunah in the first place; so we could ask why did he daven so long? Rebbe Nachman says in Likutei Moharan that those who exist in the state of Mochin D’Gadlus (Broad-Mindedness) can daven fast, this is because their mental state is on such a level that they aren’t concerned with time, rather they are only focused on their connection with Hashem, whether that is connected with time or not. When one dwells in such a state of thinking about Hashem and His various wonders all the time, then it becomes very easy to daven with kavana even very quickly. It’s said that the Kotzker zt’l would daven the entire Shachris in about 15 minutes. Though this is not recommended conduct for most, for a Tzaddik on his level this was proper.

So long as we serve Hashem with Emunah and Bitachon, so will we receive brochos from Him in such a manner. Rather than having everything given to us in the normal way b’tzimtzum (indirectly in short), meaning through the illusions of this world, Hashem will grant us what we need directly in the way that it is meant to be, with certainty and consistency. Though we may not focus on this as a purpose in our avodah, as shown by the example in Maseches Brochos, it can give us some chizuk (strength/encouragement) when things aren’t going so easily.

Erev Shabbos VaYishlach 5781

A gitten erev Shabbos! This week’s parsha is Parshas VaYishlach, wherein Yaakov send malochim (angels) to Esav his brother when Esav is on his way to confront Yaakov. Though there is a Midrash where it says he sent bosor v’dom (flesh and blood) messengers, the other side coming from Rabanan states that they were malochim mamesh. There is a p’shat on this al pi chassidus that it means that Yaakov Avinu sent the Chelek HaGashmi (physical aspect) of the malochim – meaning that manifest aspect through which a malach speaks with a person, the Chomer (Form) rather than the Tzurah (Substance) – while the Chelek HaRuchni (spiritual aspect) stayed with him.

One of my associates in the early-morning kolel brought up an interesting kasha (question): why is it that Yaakov Avinu split up the beheimos (field-animals) and the people into two separate camps, wouldn’t Esav just take the animals and kill the people, regardless of gifts and how everything is split up? The teirutz that came to me in the middle of learning my normal seder I told over to him, and I thought it might be of interest to others.

So we have to break this down into the symbolism to get what the Torah is really trying to teach us. The “beheimos” are a reference to the Nefesh HaBahamis (Animal Soul) that the Tanya teaches us about, the people are a reference to the Tzelem Elokim (Godly Form) all people are created with, which is itself a remez to the Chelek Elokah Mimaal (Piece of God from On High) that is part of our souls. Esav, according to the Zohar HaKodosh, is the Pesoles HaDin (Dross of Judgement) that reigns on the side of the Sitra Achra to contrast with the pure Din d’Kedusha (Holy Judgement) of Yitzchok Avinu. Yaakov Avinu is the perfected Man in the place of Tiferes. When Yaakov saw Esav, that is when the perfected Man sees the power of the Sitra Achra, he puts forth the Beheimos, they being the Nefesh HaBahamis and the permitted pleasures symbolized by kosher animals – since Yaakov Avinu wouldn’t have tuma animals in his flock – to be taken by the Sitra Achra rather than letting the people of his camp, they being the holy neshomo in the image of God, to be harmed by the Sitra Achra. Ultimately Esav does not take the gift, and does not harm any of Yaakov’s camp, just as the Sitra Achra will be turned away when presented with the kosher pleasures a Jew may benefit from in this world, as shown in the secrets of the goat for Azazel, explained in the Zohar HaKodosh.

When we engage with this world and the things permitted for our pleasure with the intent to bring together the Shechinah and Hashem, expressed through the formula of the Mekubalim לשם יחוד קודשא בריך הוא ושכינתיה, we turn away the Sitra Achra and our Yetzer HaRa that are constantly trying to turn us away from avodas Hashem. This is only truly possible through existing in the state of Tiferes, that is balance, harmony, and beauty. Through delighting in the world with this intent, paired with learning Torah regularly with the intent of attaining d’veikus with Hashem, we lessen the power of the Sitra Achra in our personal sphere, as well as reduce its influence in the general world, as our own actions influence everything around us in the spiritual realms.

Taking this in consideration with the episode of Yaakov Avinu fighting the malach and getting his name changed to Yisroel, we can see a proof for Rebbe Nachman’s teaching us that the ultimate purpose for a Jew is to have reign over the malochim. Through converting our pleasures into avodas Hashem and attaining d’veikus through these, we can merit to wrestle with the angels and dominate them, utilizing their powers to our benefit rather than them damaging us.

A git Shabbos! We should merit to the geulah shleima swiftly in our days.

God The Loving Father

The most important thing for a Jew to remember is the posuk בנים אתם לה’ אלוקיכם, Children are you to Hashem your God. Just as one’s biological status of being related to your parents can never change, nor does our relationship with Hashem as our loving Father change. Even if we chas v’sholom mess up and commit sins, Hashem still loves us and will welcome every single one of us back once we make the active choice to return to Him. He put us in Golus and knew what risks would be present, so doesn’t it follow that He would have mercy on us, considering He is explicitly known as רחום? Even Raavad on Hilchos Krias Shma in Mishnah Torah argues with Rambam on using kinuim (hints to Hashem) in filthy places, stating that the word רחום may not be used about Hashem there since it is such an integral trait of Hashem’s interaction with the world.

Erev Shabbos Parshas VaYeitzei 5781

A gitten erev Shabbos! This week’s parsha is Parshas VaYeitzei.

The Midrash Rabah teaches us something very interesting on the posuk “והיה זרעך כעפר הארץ” (And your descendants shall be like dust of the earth). It says there that Klal Yisroel will be like the dust of the earth is a reference to how we will survive through Torah: just like the earth is nourished through water, so will Yidden be blessed through the Torah. This specific verse comes from the blessing that Hashem gave Yaakov Avinu by the story of the Sulam HaShamaima (Ladder of Heaven). The Midrash doesn’t just say over interesting ideas, there’s more we’re meant to understand than simply what it says.

The Zohar HaKodosh and the Tikkunim teach us that Torah Sh’b’ksav (Written Torah) corresponds with the sefirah of Tiferes; as does Yaakov Avinu. Torah Sh’baal Peh (Oral Torah) corresponds to Malchus, which is Rochel. When Hashem blessed Yaakov with this blessing that his descendants will be nourished by way of Torah, this didn’t only mean Torah Sh’b’ksav, since He obviously knew that Yaakov would come together with Rochel. This is also part of a remez we can see when Yaakov kissed Rochel before they got married: that the Torah Sh’b’ksav loves the Torah Sh’baal Peh, and ultimately requires this for the Tikkun (rectification) of Malchus, however this was improper before the chuppah at Matan Torah. The Sulam HaShamaima also leads to much contemplation, the Malochim climbing up and down the ladder and the general imagery.

Hashem blessed Yaakov, he being the Torah Sh’b’ksav and Tiferes, that his descendants will be like the dust of the earth; earth corresponds to Malchus, the manifest world. Rochel corresponds to Malchus and hence to Torah Sh’baal Peh in nigleh specifically, while Leah corresponds to Binah and Sod, since Binah is removed from the order of manifestation and hidden, as Leah concealed herself. In order for all Tikkunim to be made as is proper, Tiferes has to unify with Malchus, the Torah Sh’b’ksav with the Torah Sh’baal Peh. The goal however is not to simply remain in Malchus, rather we must ascend the Sulam to the world of Binah through understanding the secrets of Torah. We can even see support for the idea that it is crucial to learn chassidus, which is founded in secrets of Torah, even before knowing Torah Sh’baal Peh so well, through Yaakov marrying Leah first, since Leah corresponds to Binah as stated above. Ultimately, our key purpose in life as Yidden must be to strive to ascend the ladder to Shamayim and serve Hashem as best we can, to cleave to Hashem with fiery love and passion fueled by His Torah.

Erev Shabbos Parshas Toldos 5781

A gitten erev Shabbos! This week’s parsha is Parshas Toldos, in which Yitzchok and Rivkah give birth to Yaakov Avinu and Esav, along with Yaakov acquiring the brochos from Yitzhok instead of Esav, and the story of the B’eiros (Wells) as well as many fascinating inyonim.

It is well known that Yitzchok Avinu was forbidden by Hashem to leave Eretz Yisroel. The reasonable question is “Why?” To paraphrase a section from the Zohar HaKodosh on this parsha, it says there that since Yitzchok was the aspect of Yirah v’Fachad (Awe and Fear), he couldn’t leave Eretz Yisroel because the true Yiras Hashem is only there. Rebbe Nachman says in various Toros of his that Eretz Yisroel is the aspect of Emunah, meaning that Emunah is Eretz Yisroel mamesh. To explain, rather than interpreting every single reference to Eretz Yisroel in Rebbe Nachman’s Toros to mean the literal, physical place, we can understand this to refer to existing in the state of Emunah and truly living with it. Learning this way, we can say that the Zohar HaKodosh is saying that the aspect of Yiras Hashem cannot exist outside of Emunah, and that Emunah is the pre-requisite to this aspect of our avodah.

In regards to the B’eiros, it says in the parsha that Yitzchok went and re-dug the wells that Avrohom dug but were covered by the Pilishtim (Phillistines). In says in the Zohar Chodosh says that this is not entirely correct, that the loshon “B’eiros,” which is plural, should be used, since the name of the place is B’er Sheva, meaning “A single well of seven.” What this refers to is that the Pilishtim returned to Avodah Zarah, viewing the “One Well of Seven,” which would be a reference to the מאציל הכל (Emanator of All, Hashem) as seven separate wells, referring to the Shiva Midos (Seven Lower Sefiros, Chesed through Malchus) saying that they are separate deities each one, chas v’sholom. So Yitzchok went and caused them to return to the proper monotheism that Avrohom taught them. Following this thread, we can say that through Yitzchok returning the Pilishtim to the ways of his father, he removed the dirt that was hindering the flow of Hashem’s beneficence to this world through their expressions in the Shiva Midos. The same mechanism occurs for a Yid who becomes trapped in the metaphorical Avodah Zarah of our days, and through removing these things a Yid can merit once again to the various brochos that Hashem wants to shower upon us all and share these with the world.

In relation to Yaakov stealing the brochos from Esav, this entire episode is packed with secrets. The Zohar HaKodosh teaches us that when Yaakov came in to Yitzchok to receive the brochos, Yitzchok smelled the “Field that Hashem blessed,” is a reference to how Yaakov smelled beautiful and sweet like Gan Eden; and on the contrast when Esav came in after Yaakov left, Yitzchok smelled the rancidness of Gehennom on Esav, hence why he trembled and was afraid. The Rebbe Rashab zy’a teaches us in the Maamar Podoh V’Sholom Nafshi from תרס”ח that this is the ikar avodah of a Yid. When we eat and engage in physical activities, we have to deceive the Sitra Achra by taking these things and elevating them to Shomayim through utilizing them in our avodas Hashem. This can be accomplished in differing degrees by people in different levels in their avodah, hence what it says in the gemoro that it is assur for amei haaretz (unlettered Jews) to eat meat and drink wine, whereas it is encouraged to fill the throat of a talmid chochom with wine. This is because talmidei chachomim and Tzaddikim have a greater capacity to elevate the physical through their involvement with Torah and their dedication to avodas Hashem.

The Torah is from even before Gan Eden, so we can say that we only merit the full brochos Yitzchok gave Yaakov, meaning the hashpo’os (Divine influences and bounty) from B’er Sheva, the One who expresses His bounty through seven fountains, through learning Torah and devoting our entire lives to d’veikus and avodas Hashem. The way to learn how to do this is to cleave to the Tzaddik Amiti, to watch such a Tzaddik and learn his ways and implement the secrets conveyed there into your own practice, once you understand the reasons for these practices and can hold to them l’shem Shomayim. If there is a taaruves (mixture) of anything not l’shem Shomayim, it shouldn’t be done, like the Baal Shem is quoted as saying in Keser Shem Tov, that one should not attempt to behave like his friend holding on a higher level in avodas Hashem; and like the gemoro that says many tried to learn all day without working like Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai and failed. The p’shat there on that gemoro, considering the Rambam who writes that everyone who accepts upon oneself to learn and serve Hashem and not to be involved with worldly matters receives the brochos of the Levi’im, is that they didn’t do it l’shem Shomayim – rather they did it in order to seem cool and be like R’ Shimon, the holiest man in existence in the generation! We have to accept upon ourselves to serve Hashem for its own sake, without any expectation of reward or punishment, and work constantly to climb closer to the highest of levels, to be like the Baal Shem Tov.

A git Shabbos! Hashem should bentsh us all with simcha, menuchas hanefesh, yishuv hadaas, we should all merit to attain the same spiritual levels as the holy Baal Shem Tov, as well as to all the influences of the Shiva Midos, and we should merit to see the face of Moshiach swiftly in our days!LikeCommentShare

The Wonders of Learning Nigleh

A common complaint about delving into the study of Gemara and Halacha is that it is dry and at times tedious. Some erroneously believe that someone can be a sincere Jew and minimize study in these areas, even misquoting the Baal Shem Tov and other chassidic sages, rachmana litzlan. Learning Keser Shem Tov, it is said in the name of the Baal Shem quite often that our ultimate goal should be to be learning or involved with active performance of a mitzvah constantly, with only a break in order to regather our energy and focus on gaining d’veikus HaBorei (cleaving to the Creator).

Rebbe Nachman teaches that the study of Gemara along with Halacha and the Poskim is incredibly important, not simply because it shows us how to be Jewish, but because this study accomplishes various things in the higher worlds. When a person learns how to distinguish between Tumah v’Tahor (Impure and Pure), Issur v’Heter (Forbidden and Permitted), and the various other halachic dualities, the Netzotzos HaKedoshim (Holy Sparks) are separated from the Klippah.

One other aspect of learning Nigleh (revealed Torah), particularly in the form of Gemara and Halacha rather than primarily Midrashim, is to create the Kli (vessel) needed to receive various Oros (Lights) and Hashpo’os (influences) from Hashem. The best comparison is to an architect building a castle with a treasury meant to hold valuables for a king. The architect will have a vision in his mind, which while it may be glorious is still only theoretical; after mapping this out in his head he will have to put together blueprints; and after this is done the actual building will be put together and the treasure can be placed into the treasury. The initial mental map of the castle is Midrashim and aspects of Kabbalah Iyunis (Contemplative Kabbalah), because this shows the general image of what will be, the ideal form so to speak; the blueprints which will be followed by him or his workers is the Gemara and various Halacha seforim, since these are the directions as to how to accomplish the ideal form; the construction of the building is the performance of the mitzvos according to Halacha. While the purpose of the blueprints and the building process isn’t the thing itself, it serves a greater purpose of turning an empty plot of land into something magnificent and capable of holding much value within. In this same way we find one purpose of learning Halacha and Gemara, that is to figure out the path which we need to follow in order to merit Hashroas HaShechinah (Dwelling of the Shechinah), and with that all the various Hashpo’os that we can merit for ourselves and others.

Parshas VaYera 5781

A gitten erev Shabbos! This week’s parsha is Parshas VaYera. One of the defining aspects of the parsha is the Akeidas Yitzchok (Binding of Isaac). While this incident may appear quite troubling according to a simple reading, there is far more to be uncovered and understood learning it according to Kabbalah.

In the Zohar HaKodosh there is much attention given to the Akeida, from detailed interactions of the Sefiros, to Avraham Avinu’s vision of Yaakov Avinu and his through process as to how Yaakov could be born without Yitzchok, etc. The essential point to be brought out though is that the Akeidas Yitzchok is the moment in which Din (Harsh Judgement) is bound by Chesed. This shows that Din can be sweetened through Chesed, which improves absolutely everything and is the principle avodah of a Yid. This is shown particularly through the Kavonnos (Kabbalistic prayer meditations) of the Ari, wherein one is directed to focus on the 13 Attributes of Mercy during the prayer after reciting the Akeida in the morning.

What we must first understand is what R’ Shimon bar Yochai and various rabbis have said about the Torah: it is not a storybook nor a history textbook. While the Torah is entirely Emes (Truth), it does not speak only on a simple, literal level. The primary purpose of our Torah is not to simply communicate a cultural history and some ancient customs, rather through the recounting of our history from Creation until crossing the Yarden (Jordan river) it illustrates various spiritual mechanics that occur constantly throughout the universe, on a microcosmic level in our personal lives, and on the macrocosmic level in the world and the supernal realms. Every aspect of Torah is included in this to one degree or another, such as Megillas Esther which is read in the current and future tense in order to show us that it is a constantly occurring process rather than a one-off event in Persia some 2200 years ago.

The Akeida is a perfect expression of this level beyond the p’shat. What we must learn from this is that we have to utilize our traits related to Chesed to bind Din and turn it into something good and useful for ourselves, without killing it. Hashem didn’t create Gevurah and Din in order for us to destroy it, that’s what He will complete when Moshiach comes; our job is simply to sweeten the Dinim through learning Torah and doing mitzvos, which is called doing Tzedakah for Hashem and the Shechinah in the Tikkunei Zohar, hence an aspect of Chesed. When we learn from the Yetzer HaRa, like the Baal Shem Tov says we need to, and commit to completing our task of learning x number of pages Gemara every day or saying a certain number of Tehillim at all costs with no compromise, then we have completed our own personal avodah of the Akeidas Yitzchok through binding the Dinim and sweetening them. We simply must be willing like Avraham Avinu to do what Hashem has asked us to do and pursue it with complete Emunah and Zerizus, as the Ramban learns on the description of his preparing the fire to take to the mountain to sacrifice Yitzchok. Through running to learn and filling ourselves with the fire of Torah and seeking d’veikus with Hashem, and then coming to bind our harsh aspects, we sweeten our personal Dinim and those of the world around us, one mitzvah at a time.

Hashem should bentsh us all with a frailiche lechtige Shabbos, we should merit to bind and sweeten all Dinim, and merit to behold Moshaich swiftly in our days. A git Shabbos!