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The Book of Zohar, Weekly Torah Portion, “HaShavuah” Selected Excerpts
Answer: Corporeal shame is egoistic shame since I don’t want my pride hurt. Spiritual shame occurs after the restriction, when I don’t worry about myself and am not ashamed of my natural attributes anymore. I worry about something that is totally different.
I must feel shame! I actually look for it in my spiritual growth since it gives me great powers. If you were ashamed now, just imagine how enthusiastic you would become, and what powers it would give to move. You would not sit so calmly and doze in your seat like you do now. You would start moving until this shame subsides. You would continue worrying about this shame for a week before you finally calmed down.
You would be ready to do anything just to neutralize the reason for the shame and would not calm down until everything got back to the way it was before. If a certain person shames you, you would do anything to get revenge. Some people are more hot-tempered and some less, but everyone experiences the same emotions more or less.
The question is whether I will be able to attain a state that will not affect me personally, but one in which I will feel shame because I don’t contribute to the society, don’t participate in it, and don’t add what I have to add or even more. This is the only thing of which I am ashamed.
If we say to someone, “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?” it’s as if we showed him that he is inconsiderate of others. This is the point where I begin my correction.
So my personal attributes are totally irrelevant because they are part of my animal character. Have you even seen an animal that is ashamed of anything? Have you ever met a cat that blushed because it stole some cream and got caught?
An animal has nothing to be ashamed of. But the human being in us that we begin to build feels shame. The shame is related to him, to the person who worries whether he gives to others, adds for the benefit of others, and fulfills his duty in the general system.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 3/18/13, “Matan Torah (The Giving of the Torah)”
In our world, the egoistic nature immediately extinguishes the feeling of shame. It usually finds justification for our actions: we use others, steal, and attribute different things to ourselves. We usually don’t even pay attention to the fact that we calculate everything egoistically and treat others egoistically, looking at everything and evaluating everything from the perspective of personal interest.
We don’t feel any shame because of that. If we could be more sensitive with regard to the attribute of receiving and bestowal, and if we could check where we really receive and where we bestow and according to which principle we look at the world, then we would simply burn because of terrible shame.
If the attribute of bestowal were revealed to me in all its supremacy, I could see myself in my true form, like a tiny black insect that only worries about food aspiring to grab as much as possible and swallow everything it sees. Then the shame would burn me because of the feeling of my nothingness compared to the real attribute of bestowal.
A person may even find it scary to think that this can suddenly be revealed to everyone, to all of humanity. We may say, well what can we do? After all he is just a human being, a created being that acts according to his nature over which he has no control. But still he would be terribly ashamed. He would rather die than feel such shame.
There are no greater sufferings than shame since it is at the basis of the whole desire to receive. The first restriction was a result of shame, since shame erases the concept of Adam (a human being). Phase four annuls itself if it feels shame, since phase four is the feeling of an independent person who is ready to carry out his decisions. Shame, however, is actually the totally opposite feeling and so it annuls a person’s personality.
However, we speak about our current state in the meantime, when there is no Adam yet, but only a tiny animal that isn’t even responsible for its actions. It received all these attributes from the upper, from the Creator, and so “go to the craftsman who made me,” go to the one who has created this created being. But if we begin to discover the attribute of bestowal that resides in this world, the Creator, and value ourselves according to Him, then such a great disparity will be revealed between us, in every sense, that we previously couldn’t even imagine.
Shame is so powerful that only thanks to it do we have chance to stand against our ego and correct it, just as in the world of Ein Sof (Infinity), Malchut gave up everything because of the shame. It wasn’t a feeling of shame because it received and was opposite from the Creator and was ashamed of its attributes, but it was ashamed because it couldn’t bestow like He does. This is a totally different shame, shame on the level of the end of correction compared to us.
We, on the other hand, discover our ego gradually. First, I am ashamed that I was taught to steal, that my lie has been revealed, that I want to use everyone, and to harm others. The revelation of shame helps me place myself in the right position so that I won’t hide like I do now, like a frightened animal that is afraid of being shamed. On the contrary, I will be ready to reveal all my evil and to shame myself in order to get out of this force of resistance, to overcome and defeat the ego and to build a Masach (screen) against the ego.
I need a Masach, not in order to extinguish my shame, but in order to change my attributes from receiving to bestowal. Unless this happens, I can stand the shame since it only opens my heart and spills out all the truth.
So adhesion is inseparable from shame and correction. We shouldn’t be afraid of shame; instead we have to feel it and understand that the main thing is to rise above what we have in order to work with this attribute that can bring us to correction.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 3/18/13, “Matan Torah (The Giving of the Torah)”
Question: What should I do if, during the study of TES, I feel despair because I don’t fully understand what it says?
Answer: There is no reason to despair. We study about actions that are performed by a person who has already received the power to realize himself. He can be totally independent of himself and doesn’t succumb to the temptation to do something for his own good instead of for the good of others; he cannot make such a decision.
Then he examines and assesses himself. He can feel the needs of others, something that we cannot do at our current state. After all, checking the needs of the other has to be done neutrally and objectively in order to find out what is for his good.
It isn’t what a person actually wants; perhaps he wants a gun to shoot himself. Rather, we should check just as we check what is good for a small child. If we give a child whatever he wants, it will harm him. We have to give him exactly what is good for him and this decision has to be totally detached from my feelings and from his feelings.
In order to do that, I need to see what the goal of Creation is, what the revelation of the Creator and adhesion with Him in the current state is, and help the other advance in this precise direction. After all, this is the most important progress that he can make only with my help. By helping him, I also advance in such a way that I reach adhesion with the Creator, an equivalence of form with Him.
If I am incorporated in the group and help the friends advance a little, it means that I treat them like the Creator does. The only difference is that He (the Creator) cannot move them in the right direction, but I can.
He allows me to do so; so this means I am incorporated in the Creator’s work.
From the 3rd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 3/18/13, The Study of the Ten Sefirot
In the News (from DailyMail):“Being a volunteer is good for the heart as well as the soul, claim researchers.
“A new study shows even at a young age, people who volunteer have healthier cardiovascular systems that could stave off heart disease.
“The study found improvements in several measurements of heart health among volunteers after just 10 weeks of taking part in community programmes. …
“The study involved 106 teenagers from an urban, inner-city Vancouver high school who were split into two groups – a group that volunteered regularly for 10 weeks and a group that was wait-listed for volunteer activities. …
“The researchers measured the students’ body mass index (BMI), inflammation levels – which affect heart health – and cholesterol scores before and after the study.
“They also assessed the students’ self-esteem, mental health, mood, and empathy, says a report published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics… .
“The volunteer group of students spent one hour per week working with elementary school children in after-school programs in their neighbourhood.
“After 10 weeks they had lower levels of inflammation and cholesterol and lower BMIs than the students who were wait-listed.”
My Comment: Since nature is interconnected, then nothing harmful can be in strengthening connections; on the contrary, it is only useful and promotes natural beauty.
Baal HaSulam, “The Sages’ Fruit about the Torah,” “It Isn’t Time to Collect the Herd”: When the seventy souls of Jacob spread to 600,000 souls, things went back to the way they were before, that the herd have to be collected, and the stone should be rolled from the well, and when the strength is lacking from one part it causes the exhaustion of the full measure. And this is the secret, that the individual and the general are equal and everything that was included in the general and became an exception doesn’t come to teach us about the exception but rather about the general… and this is what the fable in The Zohar means when it tells about two who came to a boat and one was drilling a hole underneath him and his friend reprimanded him saying, why are you drilling a hole, and the fool answered him: “What do you care, I am drilling underneath myself,” since indeed the individual ruins the beauty of the whole figure.
… and this is the meaning of a prayer for the public, that the individual mustn’t be an exception and ask for himself, even if it is to bring contentment to his Maker, except for the general as a whole… since he who is an exception and who asks for himself, doesn’t build but rather brings about destruction upon himself, since there cannot be an exception without the dress of pride, and alas for the one who brings destruction upon his soul… and every person should be included with all his might in the general Israel, in every appeal to the Creator, in praying and in the work…since this is the nature of the Light of the general that resides on the individual that annuls his individuality so that he doesn’t feel himself.”
We must constantly remember that all our thoughts come as ‘help against” and it is thanks to them that we can get stronger and develop. We have to rise above every interruption and connect as much as we can to the feeling of the general family, “as one man in one heart.”
We mustn’t leave these thoughts, the feeling that we are all part of one family. The general feeling of “one family” is the feeling of the Creator that resides among us, in us, when we constantly yearn for the feeling of connection among us despite all the interruptions.
This is our work. We have to remind each other about this and it is even better to try to do it with our thoughts: to keep this thought and to try to influence all the friends and the whole world by our thoughts and to pass on the emphasis on internal actions. This is our goal at the moment; we have to reach adhesion and to succeed.
This is the meaning of the “Israel, the Torah, and the Creator are one”—all those who yearn for the revelation of the Creator (Yashar – El) in the connection between them following all the advice of the Kabbalists in order to reach connection in which the Creator will be revealed.
So even the purest prayer with the best intention doesn’t help if it isn’t a prayer for many, for the general as one whole, but is rather a prayer of a person who separates himself from others. Not only isn’t it helpful, but it is actually harmful! We should regard separation and division, especially if it is intentional, as unacceptable conduct. It is the most serious obstacle and we should try to root it out.
From the Preparation to the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 3/17/13
Answer: Our egoistic nature doesn’t let us think about real values or to feel true reality. It doesn’t let us worry or think about those that we don’t feel naturally. Some distant group that I don’t quite even know the location of, I can’t feel it close to me and it can’t be the focus of my concerns. I don’t have the same deficiencies and needs that they have, so what can I do?
We have to work on this artificially according to the advice of Kabbalists about the work with the environment. We don’t feel any attraction to the environment either, and it’s only later that we begin to feel that we depend on it. If you don’t drown in the friends and don’t throw yourself into their arms, you will not be able to advance. All your spiritual development depends on them, and it’s only from them that you can receive spiritual bestowal. This understanding comes as a result of years of careful work with the environment.
We mustn’t wait for the feelings of all the groups to reach us on their own; we have to work on it artificially. This is why we were given this Mitzva (commandment): Go and start working, “Go and make a living from one another,” start connecting!
It is written, “Love thy friend as thyself,” a commandment. Is it possible to force someone to love? On the contrary, if you love, then it’s impossible to detach from this. Here, however, you are pushed and told, “Love!” How can that be?
It means that there are certain actions that we have to perform in order to attain the love of others. This commandment has nothing to do with your emotions; you are not obligated to love, but to perform an action by which you will attain this love. This action has to be performed against your will. If they were compatible with your will it wouldn’t be necessary to command a person to love.
Suppose, I serve you gefilte fish, which is a traditional Ashkenazi food, and I tell you “love it!” However, you are used to Sephardic food and you are disgusted by the cold tasteless fish. But if there is a commandment, then you have to start getting used to this against your will so that a habit will become second nature.
So you force yourself to eat this fish, although you feel like throwing up. But you try again and again together with a prayer. You curse the fish but you eat; you start from totally mechanical actions. In your emotions, you curse me for having given you the fish. Clearly you have no control over your heart, but you curse me and eat the gefilte fish again and again because you are obligated to love it.
The commandment of “love thy friend,” is worse than any disgusting fish. This commandment includes all the strange and hated dishes, but after you exert yourself enough, the Light that Reforms influences you and the unbelievable happens! You suddenly begin to get used to that fish. It seems that it has a different flavor and that it’s not as disgusting as it used to be. You are not repulsed by it as you were before and you begin to accept it.
This is thanks to the performance of physical actions above reason, against your will, by following the advice of Kabbalists. By having fulfilled their orders and in general the orders of the Creator that were passed on to you by Kabbalists, you receive the Light that Reforms through them. Thus, you receive new attributes and begin to love gefilte fish, the friends, others, and the Creator.
The commandment “to love” has nothing to do with emotion but with actions. Now we have a chance to perform such actions in the form of an attack! There is always an option for such actions, but especially now, when the European convention and Passover are approaching; it’s a special time that we can attack. In the next two weeks, starting today, we all rush to this attack.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 3/15/13, Shamati #38
Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” Item 19: …And all this agony is felt only by the Klipa of our body, created only to be perished and buried. This teaches us that the will to receive for oneself was created only to be eradicated, to be abolished from the world and to be turned into a will to bestow. And the pains we suffer are but discoveries of its nothingness and the harm in it.
We are confined to a “cage” called this world that is all affliction. On the other hand, all 125 spiritual steps on which we continually obtain an altruistic intention (Lishma) by working in three lines reveal “the Good who doeth Good” to us. Consequently, our current state and this world are “non-existent” in the spiritual sense of the word, since genuine “existence” means similarity with the Creator, the intention to bestow. When we annul the boundaries of this world and rise above it, we enter the realm where there is “the Good who doeth Good.”
It goes without saying that this work contains multiple “surprises” that are of a very unpleasant nature. Each time, we suddenly find wicked things in ourselves. It so happens because it gives us a chance to correct the evil inside us. Our path is all about the correction of broken vessels.