By Rabbi Amichai Cohen
The Ohr Haganuz
The Midrash says that the original light of creation was used by Adam and Eve for 36 hours. The Kabbalists say that these 36 hours correspond to the 36 candles which we light on Chanukah.
To further elaborate what this means allow me explain. Light or fire is the most ethereal creation. While neither gas nor matter, fire ever so elegantly reminds us of the metaphysical creation which alludes our physical perception. The light of fire and specifically the light of a candle reminds us of our spiritual reality, a reality which needs reminding of, a reality which is forgotten by the constant chatter of the day to day, rapid technological, push notification, fast paced rat race of most of our lives.
Fire however can become a destructive force. Instead of a dance of ethereal bliss, If uncontrolled, fire can be the force of doom and disaster.
That is why the Midrash says that G-d saw that the wicked can take advantage of the potential fire, G-d...
By Amichai Cohen
When you hear the word "dreams" what comes to mind?
For many people sleep comes to mind, for others hope for a newfound reality comes to mind.
We all have those unrealistic dreams, such as "I want to be a fireman when I grow up" or "I want to be superman.." We do however have realistic dreams that we need and must pursue for us to actualize our life's potential. In some ways a dream is similar to hope. We need to have hope in our lives in order to motivate us to pursue something great. When we rely on hope, then we can become hopeless.
The Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation) says that the month of Kislev is associated with the sense of dreaming.The month of Kislev sifts between those unrealistic dreams ("I want to be an astronaut" ones) and the real ones we are meant to pursue.
It is interesting that during this month we read the stories of Jacob dreaming and now Joseph, the quintessential dreamer.
In the story of Joseph, we...
In our "I- Generation" where people are increasingly more self complacent, and feel unsure as to what the future brings, the message of gratitude and thanksgiving is even more pertinent.
Research has found that individuals who keep a gratitude journal in which they write the things they are grateful for, are happier and live a more content live. Taking as little as five minutes a day and showing gratitude has such a powerful effect on our psyches.
In Judaism, the first words which are uttered each morning are "mode ani l'fanacha.." translated as "I am grateful to you, the living Master of the universe who has returned my soul to me with great mercy in your belief in me".
These words are said prior to ritually cleansing one's hands and Kabbalah says invokes a transcendent level of G-d, one which bypasses a name.
We begin our day by showing gratitude, thereby orienting the entire day to be in the spirit of thanksgiving.
The word Mode-...
The epic dream of Jacob represents have many different interpretations. According to the Zohar, the ladder represents prayer. The Talmud explains that the ladder represents prayer because the words of prayer ascend upwards and bring down vitalizing energy.
The Midrash has a different interpretation. According to the Midrash the ladder represents the four exiles of the Jewish people.
The four exiles are:
2. Persia and Media
In his dream, Jacob saw the angels ascend upwards, representing and exile, finally completed as the angel descends.
When Jacob saw the angel which represented the exile of Rome, he "become fearful", because the angel did not descend, appearing as if the exile of Rome would never end.
Then G-d calls to him from on top of the ladder and says "do not be fearful, for the land which you are sleeping upon is your's and your children".
What is the consolation in G-d's promise?
The Talmud says that G-d folded up the...
The dictionary defines algorithm as “a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.”
Modern man can definitely boast over his accomplishment in all areas of science, technology and innovation. Great minds are continuing the trend of the industrial revolution of the 17th Century. We are coming up with technology which is building upon the innovations of our predecessors by adding to
In Homo Deus, Professor Yuval Harari puts it this way: “‘Algorithm’ is arguably the single most important concept in our world. If we want to understand our life and our future, we should make every effort to understand what an algorithm is, and how algorithms are connected with emotions.
An algorithm is a methodical set of steps that can be used to make calculations, resolve problems and reach decisions. An algorithm isn’t a particular calculation, but...
The 24th of Cheshvan is the Hillula (anniversary of the passing) of my ancestor Rabbi Avraham Azulai. Besides his great sanctity and scholarship, what makes Rabbi Azulai so unusual is that he was a student of both the Ramak as well as the AriZal. In fact it was through his intiative that the buried manuscripts of the Eitz Chaim were dug up from the grave of Rabbi Chaim Vital (main student of the AriZal). He was the author of a commentary on the Zohar under the title Kiryat Arba. and Chesed L'Avraham - an important Kabbalistic work which codifies Kabbalah concepts of which we have classes on in our site www.livekabbalah.com. May his merit be a blessings for us! and may his merit protect us. Light a candle in his honor.
One popular tale about Rabbi Abraham Azulai is that of the Sultan's sword.
The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire made a journey from his seat of government in far off Turkey to places of importance in his domains. He made his way to the Cave of the Machpela in...
It seems like we are politically more polarized than ever. Is there a way out of being entrenched in the right, left political mire which keeps us in a standstill?
Here are some of my thoughts on what we should be working on before rallying for our favorite politicians. We should focus inward and try to "become a master of our selves" as Rabbi Israel of Hostian said to someone who asked him what a "rebbe" is.
Here's to working on our selves my friends! With Meron (the resting place of Rabbi Shimon) in the background, through spiritually progressing by learning the Kabbalistic wisdom, do we have a chance at getting out the standstill as individuals and as a society.
Although D'vekut has been popularized by the Ba'al Shem Tov and Chassidut, it first appears in Deuteronomy 11:22: “For if you shall diligently keep all this commandment which I command you, to do it, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to cleave [u-l'davkah] unto Him”-
The Ramban (Nachmanides, 13th century Kabbalist from Barcelona Spain) writes that the verse warns man not to worship God and a being beside Him; he is to worship God alone in his heart and in his actions. And it is plausible that the meaning of "cleaving" is to remember God and His love constantly, not to divert your thought from Him in all your earthly doings. Such a man may be talking to other people, but his heart is not with them since he is in the presence of God. And it is further plausible that those who have attained this rank, do, even in their earthly life, partake of the eternal life, because they have made themselves a dwelling place of the shekhinah.”
By Rabbi Amichai Cohen
Around this time of the year, we wish each other “may you be inscribed in the book of life”.
What does it mean to be inscribed in the “book of life”? Is there really a big book up there?
The Talmud says that on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish (and world) New Year, three books are opened and everyone and everything is inscribed within these books, determining every outcome of next year on a spiritual and material level. The three books are “the books of the righteous (Tzadikim), Intermediates (Beinonim) and wicked (Reshaim)” (Rosh Hashanah 17b).
King David says “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance, and in Your book were all written. The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them” (Pslams 139).
The AriZal explains that this verse refers to Adam, who was formed by G-d and saw everyone who is in the book of life. Adam is the predecessor of...
The Ramak tells us that we are made in the image of the divine which is called Keter or crown.
Man or Adam comes from the word earth and to resemble. It is not enough to merely resemble the divine in form we also must resemble the divine most importantly in deed and action.
But what are G-dly, or divine deeds and action you may ask?
Here we are told that the 13 attributes of mercy are divine paths of just action.
What are the 13 principals?. It should be noted that there are 2- 13 principals found in the Tanach, bible. The first is Moses 13 attributes which he beckons for the Jewish people not to be obliterated by the harsh decrease exacted upon them do to the sin of the golden calf. The 2nd 13 attributes is found in the...
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