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The Lesson of Naso

The 12 Tribes of Israel

The 12 Tribes of Israel

According to the Kabbalistic calender, the previous Story of Bamidbar is usually read on the Shabbat prior to the festival of Shavuot, while the story of Naso is usually read on Shabbat after the holiday. Why is this exact placement of Naso (around Shavuot) so important?

The sages have taught us that everything in the Bible has a deep but often hidden importance. For example, the placement of the large and small letters and the dots above the words and spaces are always significant, in every case revealing a special Light. The Bible is not a history book; the stories are not about what happened in Egypt or what happened in the desert. Rav Shimon, in the Zohar, warns us not to take these stories at face value. Thus there must be some significance to the timing of our reading of the story of Naso, In the Midrash, it is written that there is no “earlier’ or “later” in the Bible- everything has its exact time. Each Shabbat reading connects us with the unique power of the coming week. Because Naso is almost always read on the Shabbat after Shavuot, it has a certain power that connects to the energy of Shavuot- that if immortality, or the death of death itself- which we can then draw to ourselves for the entire year.  Read the full post »


The Man who crossed the River

baal shem tov- kabbalah

One day, the Baal Shem Tov arrived at a small crossroads inn and was warmly invited in, and served by the inn keeper’s family. He asked the  children where their father was. “He’s praying,” they replied, so the Baal Shem Tov waited for him.

An hour passed, then two. It was late afternoon by the time the innkeeper emerged from his room. After greeting his guest, he apologized for his long absence. “I am an ignorant man,” he said. “I don’t know how to pray and the order of the prayers in the book, where they start and where they end, so I have to recite the entire book every time I pray.”

“Perhaps I can help you” said Rabbi Israel. For the next hour,the Baal Shem Tov sat down with the man and marked and separated the prayers with slips of paper, “morning prayers,” “afternoon prayers,” “evening prayers,” “for Shabbat,”  and so on, and inserted them to mark the proper place in the innkeeper’s prayer book. The Innkeeper was ecstatic as now he could pray properly!

A little while after, the prayerbook inexplicably fell from its shelf, and the slips of paper were scattered all over the place. The Inn Keeper was devastated and determined not to let this opportunity to begin praying properly escape him, he grabbed the prayerbook and the notes and ran off in the direction that his guest had gone.

He walked for a while and finally  sighted the Baal Shem Tov far ahead. From the distance he saw Rabbi Israel reach a river  spread his handkerchief on the water, step onto it as if it were a sturdy boat and move across the river.

He ran in that direction and once he reached the river, spread his handkerchief on the water, stepped on to it and floated across.  “Wait, Rabbi!” he called. “Wait! You cannot go until you mark my prayer book again! All your notes have fallen out!”

Hearing the man calling out to him, the Baal Shem Tov stopped and turned, to see his recent host running toward him, clutching his prayerbook in one hand and the slips of paper in the other. “How did you get here?” asked Rabbi Israel in amazement. “How did you cross the river?”

“Same as you, with my handkerchief”. Said the man. The Baal Shem Tov replied: ” I think your prayers are just right”.

The lesson for all of us is that there is unbelievable power in simplicity and purity of heart.


Mount Sinai and the Revelation of the Light of Immortality

Mount Sinai and the Revelation of the Light of Immortality

We learn from The Zohar that every night of Shavuot, Rav Shimon and his students stayed awake and studied Torah. Rav Shimon says that every year on Shavuot we can purchase life insurance. Nothing can afflict the insured. Whoever makes the right spiritual connection on Shavuot has been insured—they will not die or be hurt at least until the following Rosh Hashana. From this we can understand that the reason to celebrate Shavuot is not religious or historical tradition, but rather pure self-interest. Read the full post »

The Lesson of Bamidbar

Desert- bamidbar- kabbalah


Bamidbar in Aramaic means “in the desert”. We know that a desert is an abandoned place: anyone can go there and do whatever he or she desires. Throughout the generations, Kabbalists have gone into the desert for spiritual reasons. It was like going into the exile for a while – going to a place where there was nothing, so they could feel that they had nothing. Rav Berg says that one of the reasons Kabbalists went into the desert was because that is where Satan dwells, and so the desert is the place where we should build our Tabernacle. Our spiritual work is to bring Light to places where there is none.  Read the full post »

New Moon on Gemini

New Moon of gemini


Sivan is the third month of the lunar calendar, ruled by the planet Mercury, which is named after the Roman messenger of the gods. In Aramaic, Mercury is called Chochav, which is associated both with communication in the physical world and with integration of the physical and spiritual dimensions.

The Aramaic letters that connect us to the spiritual energy of the month are Reish ר, which created the planet Mercury, and Zayin ז, which created the sign of Gemini, or the Twins. Together they tell us that Sivan is a month filled with potential for unification, particularly for the fusion of the physical and spiritual worlds.

“Quick” is the word that comes up most often when thinking about Gemini—quick to judge, quick to react, and quick to change. Quick as in clever and lively, but also quick as in momentary, superficial and passing. Read the full post »

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