"For man is like the tree of the field" (Devarim 20:19)
The Talmud says that there are 4 heads of the year; According to Beit Shamai, “The first of Nissan is the Rosh Hashnah for kings and Holidays, the first of Elul is Rosh Hashanah for tithing of animals, the first of Tishrei is the Rosh Hashanah of the lunar calendar year and the first of Shevat is the Rosh Hashanah for the trees. According to Beit Hillel the Rosh Hashanah for the trees is on the 15th of Shevat” (Tractate Rosh Hashanah 2a). What is the inner significance of the 15th day of Shevat? We celebrate the 15t of Shevat by eating 7 species of fruit (which 5 are fruits) that the land of Israel was blessed with: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranate, olives and dates. Why specifically these fruit? The verse says “for man is like the tree of the field” (Deuteronomy 21,19). What is the comparison of the tree to man?
Tree and Man
The special character of trees, specially fruit trees...
A Ripple of Grass in the Wind Means Something to G‑d
One day in the summer of 5656 (1896), I was strolling with my father in a field in the country resort of Bolivke, near Lubavitch. The crops were almost ripe; the grain and the grass rippled in a gentle breeze.
“Behold G‑dliness,” my father declared. “Every movement of each single ear of grain and blade of grass was included in the Primeval Thought of Adam Kadmon, He who watches and gazes until the end of all the generations. Divine providence causes this thought to be realized for the sake of a specific G‑dly intent.”
As we walked on, we found ourselves in a forest. [I continued, proceeding] deep in contemplation of what I had just been told concerning Divine providence, overwhelmed by the gentleness and earnestness of my father’s explanation.
As people often do, I plucked a leaf from a tree that I passed by without taking particular notice and held it for a while in my hand. As I...
In the 1950s, a Harvard-trained researcher based out of Johns Hopkins named Curt Richter ran some fascinating experiments.
He wanted to see how long rats could swim in two different conditions.
In the first condition, he simply let them swim as long as they could before giving up and drowning. They lasted 15 minutes.
Then, in the other condition, right before they were about to reach their maximum threshold of 15 minutes, he picked them up and dried them off and let them rest briefly before putting them back in.
Guess how long they were able to swim after that quick reprieve.
Only a few more minutes? Another 15 minutes? Maybe 30 minutes?
Try 60 (!!!) HOURS!!!
After being saved those little rats swam for an absolutely astonishing 240 times longer.
15 minutes vs. 60 hours. That’s crazy.
Why? How is that possible?
Richter said it was because of one very simple thing: HOPE.
The rats that had been saved had “seen” a better future. They “knew” there was a...
One of the main tenants of Chassidic philosophy is that “G-d desires the heart”. While the mind is the seat of the intellect and logic, it is nevertheless fallible to self absorption and ego.
The Mishnah says that “the world stands upon 3 pillars: Torah, Teffilah and charitable deeds”. The Kabbalists says that the Mishnah’s assessment of “the world stands- exists” refers to the totality of the world’s existence. If mankind is viewed in terms of collective time, it stands that the earlier generations fixed the aspect of learning Torah on the supreme level of allowing the world to “stand”. The latter generations are meant to fix the 2 remaining pillars of Teffilah and charitable deeds.
In some Kabbalistic writings it is brought out that the job of the really latter generations- us, is to fix prayer, while in others it is to fix charitable deeds.
In light with the Chassidic approach to prayer both approaches are true, since...
"The people of the book", is a pretty accurate description of the Jewish people, wouldn't you say?
More than merely study, learning is intertwined with the very fabric of Jewish survival. Learning Torah has always been the secret of not just spiritual survival, but had the protective qualities to safeguard the individual and the community from the turbulent waves of the world, giving wisdom, inspiration and hope to a people who has defied history.
We have had many leaders throughout the ages, but the leadership of Joseph and Judah lay the foundations of "the people of the book" as they start their long rode in Egypt and all subsequent exiles.
Joseph & Judah diametrically different.
Joseph was exceptional. He started off as an a child prodigy we may say. According to Kabbalah, Joseph represents the Sefirah of Yesod. Yesod is called Tzadik- the righteous one and was endowed with the abilities to remain mentally focused and morally righteous...
#21 What Is Within A Word?
The Ba’al Shem Tov says that infinite possibilities are hidden within either a spoken or written word. בא אל התיבה״- go into the arc”, the word Teiva- arc, also means word. The Ba’al Shem Tov says means the meaning of this verse is that we go not just into the arc but into the word.
On a similar note it says “male and female should enter the arc”. The Ba’al Shem Tov explains that there are “2 meanings in all words, the male aspect and the female”. Kabbalah explains that the male aspect is more connected to mercy while the female is connected to judgement.
Meaning that we can analyze the meaning of things in their negative or positive way.
The idea here is that we should view words, not just of the Torah but of people and ourselves in their positive light.
#22 Procreative Information
The Talmud - Berachot 63b says “they lectured in a congregation of Torah”. The Mishnah-...
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...
Rabbi Amichai Cohen B"H
The Kabbalah of Shofar
In this discourse the Alter Rebbe discusses the mystical secrets of the blowing of the Shofar according to the Ba’al Shem Tov. Incredibly deep and enlightening.
As a prelude to understanding the blast of the Shofar, the Alter Rebbe gives 3 parables.
1.Sound and speech/thinking and pre-thinking
The Zohar says the sound is the general over encompassing potential, while speech is the specific intonations of sound. For sound to connect with speech it will always bypass the letter .אלף Aleph
All sounds of speech have the the Aleph (א-Ah,Eh etc) in them. Sound is then divided into their specific (5 forms of ) enunciations.
The Alter Rebbe explains that for every giver (mashpia) to give to a receiver (mekabel) it...
By: Moshe Reuven Sheradsky
Today and the next several days forward onto Tuesday, the 18th day of the Month of Elul, are very special days. Particularly so, as the 15th of Elul is the day The Rebbe Rashab (the 5th Rebbe of the Chabad Chassidic Dynasty) established a learning institution (otherwise known as a “Yeshivah”) that has been the bedrock of spiritual growth and development amongst the Jewish community and the world at large until this very day. This was not just a learning institution like any other. This Yeshivah, would include the learning of the hidden aspects of the Torah, namely Kabbalah and Chassidus, along with the revealed aspects of Torah, which was the only study taking place in yeshivahs until this took place.
The reason for this creation of a new yeshivah which would take hold for the future was like so. The Jewish community was becoming more and more dispersed throughout the world. Leaving tiny shtetle, insulated communities with no...
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