"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...
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...
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...
By: Rabbi Amichai Cohen
The word enlightened by definition means having light. The analogy of light is found across all religions, philosophies and cultures.
In Kabbalah, the analogy of light is extremely important. The book of the Zohar or light, written by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in the second century, and the book of the Bahir or illumination written in the first century by Rabbi Nechunia Ben Hakanah show the importance of light in Jewish mysticism.
In Temple times, the menorah- candelabra served as the beacon light which shined the light of Jerusalem- a city of peace to the rest of the world.
The symbol of the Menorah was so important, that in fact on the famous Titus archway in Rome, the Menorah was etched as a symbol of conquest of the land of Israel.
The Menorah continues to serve as the symbol of the modern state of Israel and is even more the sign of Judaism than Star of David.
Aaron The High Priest
In the tabernacle, Aaron, the high priest would...
By Rabbi Amichai Cohen
Do you question if now is the right time to move?
Research finds moving to new locations (and getting married..) as one of the most stressful events in one's life. Anxiety about so many unknowns consume our thoughts before the move, while the adjustment period takes a mental tole on us as we settle into our new surroundings.
Here are some Torah tips for how to know when the right time to move is and how to mentally prepare.
In the Torah portion of B'halotcha, the Torah discusses the travels of the Jewish people in the desert.
The 12 tribes of the Israelites were divided into 4 camps, each camp consisting of 3 tribes. In the middle of the 4 camps was the Tabernacle, which stored the ark that housed the tablets -the Ten Commandments.
During the 40 year sojourn in the desert the Jewish people traveled 42 journeys.
The Ba'al Shem Tov says that just as the Israelites traveled 42 journeys, so too each individual has 42 journeys in their...
By: Rabbi Amichai Cohen
On this past Shabbat we read Parashat Naso, the longest of the 53 portions (Parshiot) of the Torah.
Each Shabbat incorporates the energy of the next week, as well as the “elevation” of the previous week.
That means that that Parshat Naso has within it the elevation of Shavuot, the monumental day of the giving of the Torah.
Even more powerfully, the 7 days after Shavuot are connected to Shavuot. During Temple times sacrifices which were missed can be brought during these 7 days.
On a spiritual level this refers to any level of elevation which was not achieved during Shavuot can be made up during these 7 days.
What is Shavuot all about anyways and what is theTorah?
The book of Song of Songs written by King Solomon is a book of love expressing the intimate connection which the husband has for his wife on an external level. On a deeper level, the book is a deep expression of love between G-d and the Jewish people. G-d is...
By Rabbi Amichai Cohen
One of the most powerful expressions of love we can feel from someone is a blessing. It conveys both a deep sentiment as well as a comforting anchor of belief in ourselves, as well as in the entire human race. Can there really be someone who takes the time to bless me? That is a very humbling and heart warming experience.
What is a blessing according to the Torah?
The root of the word beracha ברכה is barech- ברך which can mean 3 things:
1. a knee
2. a pool
3. spelled backward means a vehicle.
What do these words have to do with a blessing?
Now proven by physics, we know that all physical vitality comes from a metaphysical and ethereal origin. In Kabbalah we call this "seder hishtalshelus"-order of down-chaining (check out our Live Kabbalah class on this in our Kabbalah Academy). What this basically means is just like within our physical bodies we embody our higher consciousness, within our higher faculties of our mind and heart and...
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