Thursday, February 29, 2024

The Light of the Crowns

 BH


Parshat Ki Tisa primarily explores the 40-day aftermath following the receiving of the Ten Commandments at Har Sinai. According to the Gemara in Shabbat (88a), when the Jewish people proclaimed, “we will do and we will listen,” Hashem allowed angels to descend. Each angel held 2 crowns, and each of the six hundred thousand men received two crowns, one for Na’aseh (we will do) and one for Nishma (we will listen).

During Moshe Rabbeinu’s initial 40-day ascent to learn the Torah, the Jews below were bathed in the radiant light of these two crowns. It’s crucial to note that even during the period encompassing the sin of the golden calf, the Jews retained access to these crowns. The turning point occurred when Moshe Rabbeinu descended and shattered the tablets on the 17th of Tammuz, 40 days after Shavuot. At this juncture, Hashem decreed that the Jews must forfeit their crowns, as indicated in the Gemara (ibid.).

Following this loss, Moshe Rabbeinu relocated his tent, called the “ohel,” outside the central hub of the camp of Israel, signifying the Jews’ technical expulsion from God’s presence. However, as the Parsha concludes, Hashem instructs Moshe Rabbeinu to reconnect with the Jewish people. Notably, the term “ohel” shares its root with “Hilo,” a Hebrew term for a type of light (halo). According to the Zohar, Moshe Rabbeinu retained the light of these crowns in his tent, contributing to the luminosity emanating from his face.

Rashi adds that anyone seeking Hashem would go to the tent where Moshe Rabbeinu was, finding Hashem there. Rashi provides two explanations: those seeking Torah, the Word of God, had to travel to the tent of meeting. The Midrash emphasizes the profound idea that to learn Torah, one often has to make a considerable effort, traveling to distant places, like a yeshiva. Moshe Rabbeinu purposefully placed his tent, akin to a yeshiva, outdoors, away from the usual dwellings, illustrating the dedication required for Torah study.

In the second explanation, Rashi notes that the verse states “kol mevakesh Hashem,” meaning all who sought out Hashem would find Him in the tent of Moshe Rabbeinu. This includes angels, seeking to praise Hashem. The angels, questioning the location of Hashem’s glory, are directed to the tent of Moshe Rabbeinu, where they can find the Divine Presence to praise. It underscores the notion that even celestial beings recognize the sanctity of Moshe Rabbeinu’s tent.

Now, delving into the concept of the two crowns bestowed upon the Jews: one for Na’aseh (we will do) and one for Nishma (we will listen). Rebbe Nachman, drawing from Kabbalistic teachings, particularly the Zohar, explains that a crown is known as Keter. In Kabbalah, Keter serves as the interface between our world and the Infinite Light of Hashem. It acts as a boundary or separation between us and the limitless Divine light. Having the Keter, or crown, grants the Jews access beyond this boundary to the Infinite Light.

The two crowns signify distinct dimensions. Na’aseh, associated with the first dimension called Asiya, represents the toil and struggle in this world of action undertaken by a Jew to ascend to higher levels. Once this level is surpassed, one can access the Keter and the higher realms. While there are three additional dimensions, they are all encapsulated in the term Nishma, implying listening with the heart. Thus, the crowns symbolize the journey from action (Na’aseh) to listening and understanding (Nishma), reflecting the profound commitment to spiritual growth and connection with the Divine.

Reb Noson, in Likutey Halakhot, elucidates that the Nishma, the “we will listen,” is intricately linked to the inner yearning of a Jew. This inner yearning, represented by Nishma, allows one to connect with higher dimensions. It enables a connection to the inner realms, but Na’aseh, “we will do,” pertains to tangible actions. The crown signifies accessibility to maximize one’s perception within the first dimension, the world of action, also known as the world of Asiya – the physical world.

Now, let’s revisit the perspective of the Jews at the revelation on Har Sinai. Hashem cautioned Moshe Rabbeinu twice, warning the people not to ascend the mountain due to the overwhelming intensity of the experience. There was a need for separation to avoid being consumed by the intense light. Despite the warning, the Jews had an intense experience, and according to Midrash, they even temporarily expired, necessitating angels to revive them after hearing the first two commandments.

This initial encounter with the Infinite Light was restrained, but it laid the foundation for the subsequent 40-day period, marked by the bliss of the first crown, associated with Na’aseh. The initial light experienced on Shavuot enabled the Jews to engage in the daily Avodat Hashem, the ongoing challenge to serve Hashem and reconnect with that light. The crown of Na’aseh symbolizes the ability of a Jew to successfully navigate the stages of prayer and devotion, connecting to the first light experienced on Har Sinai. It is a practical demonstration of achieving a deeper perception of God in their daily lives, providing clarity and higher understanding through daily struggle.

Following this, the second crown, Nishma, comes into play. After successfully reconnecting with the initial light, the goal shifts to pursuing higher levels. Each day presents an initial challenge, and overcoming it exposes individuals to further challenges, facilitating experiences of higher and deeper spiritual light.

During the first 40 days, the Jews were tasked with navigating the challenges that came with having the Keter, the crown. This meant daily struggles, but it also required an understanding of accepting the limitations imposed by the Keter. The Keter is likened to the wall Hashem instructed Moshe Rabbeinu to build around Mount Sinai at the time of the revelation. This wall served to prevent individuals from rushing too fast toward the intense light. The Keter, similarly, functions as a wall that applies brakes to those running too swiftly towards the Divine light. This mechanism is essential to guide individuals on when to halt, accept the brakes, and cease their pursuit.

However, a problem arises when a person, despite being pushed back, refuses to acknowledge the message and persists in moving forward. The incident of the Golden Calf exemplifies such a scenario. Rashi highlights the miscalculation made by the Jews, a seemingly trivial error of half a day, which had profound consequences. This miscalculation caused severe and enduring repercussions throughout history, that subsequent punishments, such as the Holocaust, Inquisition, and pogroms, are intertwined with the consequences of the Golden Calf.

The severity lies in the essence of the message—a Jew’s ability to put on the brakes, accept limitations, and exercise patience in their pursuit of Yiddishkeit (Judaism). The miscalculation, indicating an inability to wait, demonstrated a lapse in the crucial quality of patience. Chur and Aaron cautioned the Jews to wait, emphasizing that it was not the right time, but the impatience and miscalculation led to the disastrous choice of creating the Golden Calf.

Rashi further explains that the Satan played with their imagination, showing an image of Moshe Rabbeinu’s coffin floating in the air. This distorted imagination, coupled with the lack of patience, contributed to the Jews’ acceptance of the Golden Calf. Initially introduced by the Erev Rav, the mixed multitude of converts, they managed to convince the Jews that the Golden Calf was now their Lord. Consequently, some Jews tragically succumbed to this illusion and fell into the trap of the Golden Calf.

However, the crucial point is that the Jews failed to engage their brakes, resisting the stoppers’ call to wait. Despite repeated messages to wait, they refused, driven by the false belief that Moshe was dead. This impatience, this rush, embodies the flaw in the Keter, resulting in a loss of time and character. The Jewish people demonstrated an inability to exercise patience; they were supposed to wait just half a day, but the lack of patience caused immense damage.

The Gemara explains the loss of the two crowns, Na’aseh and Nishma, but Rebbe Nachman introduces a Midrash suggesting that the Jews only lost the crown of Na’aseh, not Nishma. According to Reb Noson, the inner light of the second crown became deeply internalized within every Jew, transcending external removal by angels. Despite the Gemara’s assertion that angels removed the crowns, the inner light of the second crown persists in every Jew to this day.

Reb Noson beautifully explains this Midrash, emphasizing that the inner light of the second crown, representing the yearning of the heart, remains intact. Even if a Jew has fallen far and made numerous mistakes, the inner desire to be a good Jew, the subconscious basis, endures. This inner light becomes the second Keter, providing hope for a fresh start, an opportunity to reconnect and experience the Light of the Infinite, even amid personal challenges and exile.

When the Parsha concludes with Moshe Rabbeinu taking these lights and Rashi referencing the Midrash about angels seeking out the place of Hashem by Moshe Rabbeinu, it highlights Moshe’s greatness. Moshe did not lose the light of the two Ketarim; he retained full access. This signifies that through Moshe Rabbeinu, even in our personal exiles, amid challenges, we can access the higher light, maintaining hope and the ability to restart and reconnect with the divine light, with the help of Hashem.

What does this mean for us? The Zohar emphasizes that Moshe Rabbeinu’s presence transcends time, existing in every generation. The essence of Moshe Rabbeinu persists even today, manifesting through the tzaddikim in each generation who carry the light of his two crowns.

The essence of this insight is that even a Jew who may have lost much can find rejuvenation by tapping into the eternal light of Moshe Rabbeinu, accessible in the tzaddikim of each generation. This connection becomes a source of hope, providing the impetus to overcome challenges and navigate the barriers presented by the Keter. The goal is to access the Infinite Light, elevating one’s perception of God, fostering personal growth, and aspiring towards righteousness.

May it be the will of God that we utilize the potential embedded in our second crown, the light of Nishma, the perpetual yearning. Furthermore, may we successfully locate the embodiment of Moshe Rabbeinu in our present generation, serving as a conduit to reconnect with the enduring lights of these two crowns – a timeless source of spiritual illumination.

(this article also appears on the BRI breslov.org website: https://breslov.org/the-light-of-the-crowns/)

For a video presentation of this article: https://youtu.be/R9S9IMjBF_Y


Shabbat Shalom
Meir Elkabas


Our Kedusha Bypassing the Angels

 BH


BH

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Likutey Moharan lesson 24 007-9c

The Kedusha of the morning prayers show how our level bypasses that of the angels, the level of Keter that receives from the blessings of the hands and Emunah, and the level of Keter that gives to the blessings of the hands and Emunah, etc. (Also discussed Achashverosh's wearing the Choshen) etc.

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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

How Badly We Need to Remain Focused on the Third Temple

 BH


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Likutey Halakhot, Orach Chaim, Hoda'ah #6 024-19

Based on Likutey Moharan lesson 24:

Even though Yaakov was filled with awe and trepidation at the unbelievable perception Keter/Makom when he woke up from the dream of the ladder, nonetheless he didn't lose focus on the ultimate goal of getting everyone to have this perception completely which will only take place once the Third Temple - the Final Temple - is built etc.

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Friday, February 23, 2024

The Joy and Light In Aharon’s Choshen (Breastplate)

 BH


In Parshat Tetzaveh, we delve into the intricate details of the vestments worn by the Kohen Gadol, examining each component meticulously, from the attire of the high priest to that of his sons, along with the rituals of inauguration. One particular garment of significance is the Choshen, positioned, as explicitly stated in the Pasuk, on Aharon’s heart.

Rashi, in Parshat Shemot, sheds light on why Aharon deserved the Choshen on his heart. In that earlier portion, when Moshe Rabbeinu expressed reluctance to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, citing his apprehension about overshadowing his older brother, Hashem assured him that Aharon’s reaction would be different. Despite the potential for rivalry, Aharon, a recognized prophet in Egypt, would genuinely rejoice in his heart upon Moshe’s return. Hashem affirmed that Aharon’s sincerity and lack of jealousy were remarkable virtues.

Rashi notes this rare and sincere joy as the reason for Aharon’s merit to wear the Choshen Mishpat. This breastplate, adorned with twelve stones arranged in four rows of three, symbolized the twelve tribes. Each stone, of diverse colors and precious materials, bore the engraved names of the tribes, along with those of Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov.

The question arises: why connect Aharon’s joy to the breastplate? The breastplate, known as Choshen Mishpat, had an inside flap, intricately folded after being knit into a single piece. The exterior displayed the twelve stones, while within the fold rested Hashem’s holy name, the Ineffable One, which could not be erased. When the Kohen Gadol, a descendant of Aharon, was consulted by a king, or chief prophet on matters of decision-making, the response would illuminate the 22 alphabet letters found within the names of the twelve tribes, Avraham, Yitzhak, Yaakov.

This divine guidance was termed Urim and Tumim, where ‘Urim’ suggested light, and ‘Tumim’ conveyed clarity, simplicity, and completeness. The Urim VeTumim correlated to the broader light of life—the Infinite Light. The Choshen Mishpat, radiating guidance for the Jewish people, signified the concept that each Jew gains personal clarity. For an individual, achieving Urim VeTumim in personal life mirrors gaining clarity. The idea is that the Infinite Light of Hashem provides profound clarity, resolving doubts, skeptics, and frustrations. Such resolution constitutes the greatest joy in life.

Rebbe Nachman’s teachings, found in Likutey Moharan, Lesson 24, highlight that Simcha (joy) is the key to reaching this Infinite Light. Simcha starts in the heart and eventually extends to joy in performing mitzvot. As King David articulated in the verse, “Natata Simcha Belibi,” meaning, “You have placed joy in my heart.”

The Torah underscores this principle in various instances, with one notable occurrence in Parshat Vayetze. After Yaakov’s dream of the ladder, where Hashem promised protection and a safe return to the land, Yaakov, brimming with confidence, made an oath to offer certain sacrifices upon his return. The verse describes his joy, stating that his heart lifted his legs, allowing him to traverse swiftly to Paddan Aram, to Laban, where he eventually married Rachel and Leah. Rashi points out that the joy in Yaakov’s heart lightened his steps, illustrating that momentum in life originates from the joy within the heart.

In our context, Aharon experienced a similar joy in the role of his brother Moshe Rabbeinu, who was chosen to lead the Jews out of Egypt—a significant mitzvah. Aharon’s rare and genuine joy for his brother’s mission earned him a unique merit. Despite the societal norm of older siblings harboring jealousy toward younger ones, Aharon’s exceptional joy stood out. Rebbe Nachman emphasized the rarity of such an attitude, affirming that holding onto this mindset leads to an unparalleled state of fulfillment.

Aharon displayed an exceptional level of Simcha, as the verse highlights: “And he will see you, [Moshe Rabbeinu, coming back to Egypt], and he’ll be happy in his heart.” Aharon’s joy surpassed jealousy. He embraced his unique mission, recognizing that each individual has a distinct purpose. His happiness for Moshe’s success reflected a profound understanding that different roles and missions coexist harmoniously, and one’s success does not diminish another’s worth. Aharon’s exemplary attitude invites reflection on the challenge of overcoming jealousy and embracing joy in the success of others.

The greatness of Aharon lies in his specific merit to don the Choshen Mishpat, a breastplate that brought clarity, all thanks to his exceptional joy. This message extends to all of us, emphasizing that through Simcha, we gain access to the Infinite Light.

Now, the Choshen Mishpat featured 12 stones, corresponding to the 12 tribes. The question arises: Why did this breastplate, tasked with providing clarity, require a specific arrangement of 12 stones when the 12 tribes were already engraved on the two stones on the shoulders? Reb Noson offers insight, highlighting how each of the 12 tribes serves as a stepping stone, connecting from joy to gaining access to the Infinite Light.

Reb Noson explains that Reuven, whose name means “see, between my son…” symbolizes the ability to sift out something good from the chambers of evil. Reuven’s differentiation from Esav – by loving his brother Yosef – showcases navigating the realm of evil and finding something positive.

Shimon, named for “Hashem heard,” reflects Leah’s feeling of being hated and mocked. Despite the negativity, Hashem listened to her plea.

In Jewish society, those often deemed “hated” are the ones who rebuke, such as a Rabbi ascending the podium to preach. People may resist being told what to do, yet this rebuke is necessary to maintain the honor of Hashem. Despite the discomfort, it’s an obligation to address wrongdoings, etc. The act of rebuking, while disliked, serves a crucial role in awakening and positively influencing individuals. Rebbe Nachman teaches that when mitzvot are done with Simcha, they have the power to wake up the entire world.

Shimon, signifies the discomfort that comes with rebuke. People may acknowledge the correctness of the rebuke, yet accepting it can be challenging. The mitzvah’s awakening, like Shimon, can be bittersweet.

Levi, as Rebbe Nachman explains, activates blessings when mitzvot are done with Simcha. The hands, the source of blessings, are associated with the Kohanim, who come from the tribe of Levi. Simcha in performing mitzvot unleashes blessings.

Yehuda, whose name reflects giving thanks, demonstrates one of the greatest forms of joy—hoda’ah or gratitude.

Yissachar, the tribe of Torah scholars, represents the unparalleled joy found in learning Torah. The verse underscores that the Torah’s edicts are straightforward and bring joy to the heart.

Zevulun, engaged in business to support Yissachar’s Torah study, faces the challenges of the working world. Despite the difficulties and the grind of the exchange chambers of business, Zevulun finds joy in contributing to his brother’s Torah learning.

Dan, named after Dinim or judgments, signifies the ability to alleviate strict judgment and sadness through Simcha. Dan successfully navigates the realm of strict judgment, showcasing the concept of emerging from its influence.

Naftali, compared to a swift hind, symbolizes the momentum and speed created by mitzvot, similar to Yaakov’s hastened steps in joy.

Gad, known as the warrior who cut off arms and heads in one blow, signifies the ability to cut off the negative aspects of the hands, allowing for the positive blessings associated with doing mitzvot joyfully.

Asher, expressing gratitude with the exclamation “Ashreinu – Fortunate are we,” reflects a person’s happiness and appreciation, emphasizing the joy in giving thanks to Hashem.

Yosef represents the idea of “Hitlahavut,” a new spirit of wind that blows away the dust of sadness and depression, rejuvenating a person’s spirit and enabling joy in serving Hashem.

Binyamin is associated with the Holy Temple, the place of revelation of the Urim VeTumim from the Kohen Gadol’s vestments. It symbolizes the main site where the Infinite Light shines for all of Israel.

Thus, the 12 stones, each corresponding to a tribe, represent different aspects and activities, providing a comprehensive guide on how to transition from Simcha to experiencing the Infinite Light. The goal is to activate all 12 attributes in our lives, reflecting the 12 months and accessing various tools and advice to unlock the Infinite Light through joy.

(this article also appears on the BRI breslov.org website: https://breslov.org/the-joy-and-light-in-aharons-choshen-breastplate/)

For a video presentation of this parshah article: https://youtu.be/wmvaKWHVfAc

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and Freilechen Purim Katan!
Meir Elkabas


Parshat Tetzaveh - The Joy and Light In Aharon's Choshen (Breastplate)

 BH


If you have been inspired by this class/lecture please share it onto your status. Thank you.

Based on Likutey Moharan lesson 24: Why did Aharon's joy in his heart merit him to don the breastplate/Choshen? And why was it necessary to place 12 stones corresponding to the 12 tribes if they are already inscribed on the 2 shoulder stones of the Ephod?

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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Burning Angels vs. the Ophanim and Chayot Angels

 BH


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Likutey Moharan lesson 24 007-9b

The 2 stages of the Kedusha that we recite every day, mentioning the statement of the Serafim angels, and then the exclamation of the Ofanim and Chayot angels - both represent the two-stage procedure in perceiving the Infinite Light etc.

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