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In the News (Newsweek): “At the University of Texas at Austin, researchers surveyed hundreds of millennials to find out what psychological factors lead people to watch three or more TV episodes at a time. What they found was troubling—people who binge-watch are more likely to be depressed and lonely, two factors that are also in harmful binge behaviors such as eating and drinking.
“The authors, who concede that they too binge-watch, were correct: they discovered a correlation between binge-watching and loneliness, depression, and having self-regulation deficiency, which is an inability to control compulsions.
“For people who feel lonely or depressed, the authors suggest, binge-watching allows them to escape from negative feelings. And the more episodes someone watches, the longer that person can escape. Experts call this an avoidance coping strategy.
“Original programming on streaming sites seems made for binge-watching. Netflix has been dropping an entire season’s worth of new episodes at once since the American premiere of Lilyhammer in 2012; House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black and Netflix version of Arrested Development all premiered the following year.
“The University of Texas researchers are joining a growing field of academia taking on entertainment. One study from last June suggested that binge-watching increases a viewer’s risk of early death. In September, a communication research expert told the Huffington Post that it’s hard to break from a marathon viewing because humans are hardwired to watch for changes in environments, including images on a computer screen.”
My Comment: In the near future,when people have more free time, this will be the only accepted pastime until suffering raises a person from the couch and throws him into the arms of others!
By disseminating the method of integral connection, we will prepare the environment, making it possible for all the people who spend time sitting on the couch to enter into this environment.
Baal HaSulam, “Matan Torah” (The Giving of the Torah), Section 17: From all the above, we can understand one of the most perplexing phrases of our sages: “All of Israel are responsible for one another.” This seems to be completely unjust, … But according to the above said, we can understand their words very simply; we have shown that each of the 613 Mitzvot in the Torah revolves around that single Mitzva: “Love thy friend as thyself.” And we find that such a state can only exist in a whole nation whose every member agrees to it.
We truly will have nothing to wait for and no hope that we can reach such an intensity of connection that is called love of others from our egoistic state, even though we have a group and study, unless we work in a dimension called the entire nation.
There must be an integration of very many connected desires here in which each one discovers his unique character, and then, to the degree of the full mutual integration between them, it will be possible to reach such a powerful desire that will attract the Light that Reforms, bringing them the quality of love.
The sons of Jacob were unable to reach this love, this intensity of desire, as long as they were closed within their family, and there was even hatred among the brothers, which testifies to the intensity of the desire required for correction. This is because each one had a different mother, his own share in the house of his father, and his own character.
However, even this was not enough for their connection, beyond rejecting each other, which would give them a fulfillment called love. Only when the great ego called Pharaoh was added to them and after they had gone through 400 years of the Egyptian exile and discovered all the levels of the ego, was the intensity of the separation sufficient for them to be called a nation instead of a group.
The idea here is not quantity, but speaks only about quality. Therefore, after they received additional ego, additional density, they began to call themselves a nation and merited to receive a means to make a correction that became imperative for them. This is because they no longer could correct anything themselves as brothers who felt themselves to be members of one family before their entry into Egypt.
With the exodus from Egypt and the heaviness of heart, after they took all the vessels of the Pharaoh, they already began to require the Torah.
From the 5th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 5/27/14, Writings of Baal HaSulam
Question: We all know that the feeling of time is very subjective. How can it be that when a person has to make an important decision, time is stretched so that a person goes through many states and can consider them?
Answer: That’s true, many people experience this phenomenon. Even in our ordinary life we sometimes feel that time is expanded and sometimes it flies and is compressed.
If I enjoy myself, time goes by unnoticed, and if I don’t enjoy myself, I cannot wait for the time to pass.
But time is even more subjective than we think. The question is whether we could feel time if we didn’t live according to our pulse which is 80-90 beats a minute, or according to our breathing cycle which is about 16-20 breaths a minute. If there weren’t the cycle of the seasons in the still, vegetative, and animate levels of nature, could we perceive time on the level of the speaking, in our feelings? Probably not.
Perhaps we perceive time the way we do because this is the way we exist on our physical, animate level that is influenced by our human perception of reality and determines our perception of life and reality. A person develops and feels the connection with his past, present, and his future.
In contrast to a human being, an animal lives in the present, but it is still somehow connected to the future and is able to feel it. Animals feel the future in a much clearer way than humans becaise they are connected to nature. All the possible future forms already exist in nature, but they are concealed from us.
If we manage to annul our desire to receive, we will be able to transcend from a subjective perception to a more objective perception of time, and then we will be able to feel the future. The only problem is that we are in our egoistic desire. But if we manage to overcome it and ascend above it, the concept of time, motion, and space can be completely inverted and not be an obstacle in our perception.
A person who tries to break free of the his ego and ascend above it begins to think that if the whole universe—all the matter of the still, vegetative, animate and the level of humans—are in a desire to receive, and so there must be a force against it, which means a desire to bestow and to fill that desire to receive. Then he wants to know this force and transcend from the level of the one who receives pleasure to the level of the one who wants to provide pleasure.
To ascend above our desire to receive means to ascend above our nature. Is it possible to exit the framework of the universe, to transcend the moment of the Big Bang, and return to the state that preceded it, to the force that created the creation?
Suddenly we realize that in order to do that, we don’t need to fly to distant stars or to explore other worlds. We will find all that right here, where we are, inside us. It is because a person perceives everything in a subjective manner. Therefore, when I work on the perception of my reality, on my attitude towards what is going on here and now, I can perform exercises by which I will be able to ascend above my desire to receive, because nothing exists but me and everything exists only in my perception.
I will be able to control my desire to receive, to exit and restrict it, which means that I won’t allow it to operate egoistically, but rather I transform it into the force that motivates me.
Ascending above my desire to receive means acquiring a desire to bestow, the source from which the desire is filled. The desire to bestow is the force that caused the Big Bang and provided the spark from which our universe developed. This is the force that created all of matter and fills it.
In fact, this force is everywhere since it sustains and operates matter, but is concealed from us. We only perceive its outcomes, the force of attraction and rejection. Every action takes place as a result of that force, that spark of upper energy that is the source of life.
As long as I exist in my ego, time is my pulse that is totally subjective and exists only as long as I am alive. But if I want to ascend above time, then there is no problem, as all I have to do is simply ascend above my desire.
From KabTV’s “A New Life” 4/17/14
Baal HaSulam, “Matan Torah” (The Giving of the Torah), Item 16: For then, each member of the nation was asked if he agreed to that exalted work. And once each and every one in the nation agreed to it in heart and soul, and said “We will do and we will hear,” it then became possible to keep the whole of the Torah, and that which was previously impossible became possible.
To reach the state of receiving the Torah, first we need a heaviness of heart that is called the Egyptian Exile, darkness with heaviness of the heart, a reaction from the ego, the desire to receive. The more that it grows, the more terrible it is and kills the person. We must feel that the Creator is concealed and we have a great need to discover Him, meaning discovering the characteristic of bestowal.
Specifically the Creator is what is called the discovery of the characteristic of bestowal, and not some mystical power that serves us the way we imagine within our ego.
We decide that the desire to receive is darkness to us, and the desire to bestow is the Light. And it is impossible to receive the Torah, meaning the Light that corrects us and raises us above the desire to receive to the desire to bestow, except in a group that will be big enough in intensity, quantity, and quality.
In this group we must gather people who support each other and are ready to devote their lives for the benefit of the society. They are sure that the best thing is to be dependent upon the opinion of the society.
This doesn’t mean that a person throws himself egoistically into the hands of the society so that it will be concerned about him and he doesn’t need to think about anything. He also doesn’t do this absent-mindedly, throwing himself into a group and thinking that whatever will be will be. No, rather the concern in overcoming his ego, in understanding all of his power, emotion, and intellect, is that he nullifies himself towards the environment, rising above his emotion and intellect.
Being a very wise, sensitive, mature, and serious person, he nullifies all this and accepts the opinion of the society, which is the opposite of all of his knowledge. He sees that this completely refutes his healthy intelligence, his logic, his mental strength, and his vision of the world; he discards all of his data and nullifies himself toward the society.
Just imagine what kind of difficult work Rabbi Yosi ben Kisma did in nullifying himself before his students. Certainly he didn’t actively show this to them in order not to ruin them. But he himself accepted being in the small, wretched, beginners group that the Creator arranged for him, and made himself even less and lower than them.
In order to get energy for spiritual advancement, a person must nullify himself towards the group. This is done “above reason” and is extended into all areas of life, but this happens only after many very serious calculations.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 5/26/14, Writings of Baal HaSulam
Question: What can a person do to fill the “concealment” void with bestowal?
Answer: A person must move the concealment from himself to “There is none else beside Him,” meaning not to be sorry for himself but for the “sorrow of the Shechina (Divinity).” He must feel how much he is now harming the group through the absence of his role. For the friends must continue their journey hauling his “body” on a stretcher.
I must understand that in this way I am a burden on them and must feel responsibility and shame also. It is clear that we don’t reach an understanding like this immediately but gradually. Rather, this is ultimately done with the help of the group and the Creator. So the “sorrow of the Shechina (Divinity),” means she is sorry because I am not participating properly in the general work.
The group is a concept that already exists in spirituality. If we were to discover spirituality, we would see that the group heart and mind already exist. We still don’t see this because the time has not yet arrived, but all this already exists. And so we discover that the mutual guarantee, the feeling, the reason, and the discovery of the Creator already exist in this state. This is something that exists above us and each one must support the others so that together, only through the intensity of the connection between us, we reach a structure of the group that already exists.
Question: What is it that we see when we look through the center of the group?
Answer: I see that everyone is connected except for me. And it is up to me to penetrate even further into the group and link to them; it is up to me to see this as a daily goal. I get up in the morning and check what is important to do today: arranging my relationship with the group better than it was yesterday so that at the end of the day I will be able to say that I advanced a little in the right direction.
If I don’t feel myself cut off from the group, I will not succeed in attracting the Light that Reforms. It is up to me to feel that we must renew and strengthen this connection to strengthen our Kli, to develop its effectiveness, growth, and quality and make it possible for the Creator to be revealed in it even more.
It is not important that we haven’t yet discovered what kind of contentment we are giving the Creator. Does an infant understand how much his mother and father enjoy his smile? Our advancement is measured only in this way. We can ask for the Light that Reforms only when the connection between us, that we ourselves are not ready to attain, is missing.
It is clear that I am not ready to do anything myself and I discover to my amazement that I am going forward in the opposite direction. But this is for the good. It is now only up to me to understand this and advance towards prayer. Don’t shout about it being bad for me; this is childish.
The Creator pushes me so that I will discover a deficiency in bringing Him pleasure, not for myself. He arranges all the conditions for me to reach bestowal.
Question: Can I ask for the Light that Reforms for myself?
Answer: Certainly; after all, you want to get off the stretcher so they will not need to haul you because you are ashamed. You want to run side by side with the friends yourself.
Question: How do I know that I am receiving the Light that Reforms as an answer to my prayer and that it is working on me?
Answer: There is no need to wait for proof of it. Just enjoy the request itself. You don’t need to be concerned about an answer to your prayer for that means you are demanding a reward, a fulfillment; you are establishing conditions and want to make a deal with the Creator to attain benefit.
Your goal is to raise MAN, a prayer. For specifically it is through Manna (Man-Ohm) we are filled in the desert and not by MAD (the Light). The prayer itself must be the fulfillment. If you are raising it, it is already good for you, “I am my beloved’s” (Song of Songs 6:3). The prayer itself is the reward. You will then discover that you don’t need more than this, for spirituality is discovered specifically this way.
From the Preparation to the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 5/18/14
Chapter 3: Corrections Through the Ages
The Evolution of the Correction Method
The (Not Necessarily) Evil Inclination
When our sages write about Yetzer HaRah (evil inclination), they refer to the way we use envy to hurt others or to benefit at their expense. But if we use the above-mentioned envy, lust, and honor properly, they become our very means of correction. This is why the Holy Shlah wrote, “The worst qualities are envy, hatred, avarice, lust, and so forth, which are the qualities of the evil inclination—the very ones with which he will serve the Creator.”[i]
And yet, inherently, we use those inclinations negatively, as it is written (Genesis, 8:21), “The inclination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth.” Likewise, “There is no evil but the evil inclination,” wrote Shimon Ashkenazi,[ii] and centuries prior, Midrash Rabah established that “People are awash in evil inclination, as it is said, ‘For the inclination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth.’”[iii]
Abraham discovered that of all creations, only people possess an evil inclination. This is why the great Ramchal wrote, “There is no other creation that can do harm like man. He can sin, and rebel, and the inclination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth, which is not so with any other creature.”[iv]
Baal HaSulam writes that the evil inclination is the will to receive.[v] Yet, in previous chapters we said that the will to receive is the whole of Creation, and man constitutes the fourth, and most developed level of the will to receive. Why then is our will to receive the source of all evil?
The problem is that the will to receive on the speaking, human level is not static. It is constantly growing and constantly seeking more. In the words of our sages, “One does not leave the world with half of one’s wishes in one’s hand, for one who has one hundred desires two hundred; one who has two hundred desires four hundred.”[vi] Because we constantly seek more, we are always deficient. Likewise, the Holy Shlah says, “One who is not content is always lacking,”[vii] and is therefore constantly unhappy and dissatisfied. Looking at our consumer society, we can see that if we succumb to that element in our nature, we will be thrown into a “pleasure-hunt” that cannot end, but cannot make us happy, either.
Thus, Abraham realized that the evil inclination, the hatred and alienation that appeared among the Babylonians, was causing all the trouble among them, and that there was no hope that this ferment would wind down by itself. However, he also realized that having an intense will to receive was necessary for the completion of the purpose of Creation, for man to achieve Dvekut [adhesion, equivalence of form] with the Creator. In the words of Ramchal, completing the quote from above, “But on the other hand, when he [man] is corrected and complemented, he rises above all, and he deserves to adhere [cleave] to Him, and all other creations are dependent upon him.”[viii]
Therefore, instead of trying to annihilate the evil inclination, Abraham developed a method by which people could correct, or “tame” their inclinations, meaning their egos, and thus benefit from its growth. Once he devised the method, he began to share it with everyone, making no exceptions, as Maimonides testifies, “He began to call out to the whole world.”[ix]
As we mentioned in the Introduction, Maimonides wrote that Abraham “planted this tenet [that there is one God, one force in the world] in their hearts, composed books about it, and taught his son, Isaac.”
However, Abraham’s method was suitable only for his contemporaries. It could not, nor was it intended to be suitable for later generations. Because the evil inclination on the speaking level—the will to receive for ourselves, otherwise known as “egotism”—is ever growing and developing, by the time the people of Israel had grown into a nation and went out of Egypt, a new method of correction was required.
The three million or so who went out of Egypt were different from the seventy souls that had entered it two centuries earlier. In Egypt, Israel’s will to receive increased tremendously, and required a very explicit set of instructions in order to correct it.
[i] Rabbi Isaiah HaLevi Horowitz (The Holy Shlah), In Ten Utterances, “Sixth Utterance.”
[ii] Rabbi Shimon Ashkenazi, Yalkut Shimoni [The Shimoni Anthology], Micah, Chapter 7, continuation of intimation no. 556.
[iii] Midrash Rabah, Shemot [Exodus], Portion 30, Paragraph 17.
[iv] Ramchal (Rav Moshe Chaim Lozzatto), Daat Tevunot, 154, 165.
[v] Rav Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), The Writings of Baal HaSulam, Shamati [I Heard], Article no. 5, “Lishma Is an Awakening from Above, and Why Do We Need an Awakening from Below” (Ashlag Research Institute, Israel, 2009), 518.
[vi] Midrash Rabah, Kohelet [Ecclesiastes], Portion 1, Paragraph 34.
[vii] Rabbi Isaiah HaLevi Horowitz (The Holy Shlah), “Gate of Letters,” Item 60, “Satisfaction.”
[viii] Ramchal (Rav Moshe Chaim Lozzatto), Daat Tevunot, 154, 165.
[ix] Maimonides, Yad HaChazakah (The Mighty Hand), Part 1, “The Book of Science,” Chapter 1, Item 3.
Writings of Rabash, Letter 47
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Talmud Eser Sefirot, Vol. 6, Part 15, “Histaklut Pnimit,” Item 211
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Writings of Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” Item 10
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