Ki Tisa ~ Shabbat Parah - Aish Kodesh, February 28, 2013
Aish Kodesh February 28, 2013, Parsha Ki Tisa
This is also parsha Parah. They say that the cow comes to clean up the mess of her daughter. Itâs part of getting ready for Pesach. We learned a halachah that we search the house with candles for Pesach with a feather and a wooden spoon. Someone in the halachah book asked why you canât use a flashlight. In hospitals you can use lights instead of candles because they donât permit fire. The human souls are G*dâs candles. Our whole metaphor is about light. Einstein didnât know how Jewish he was when he said he imagined he was a light ray. He said, âI didnât need a laboratory; I had a good imagination. Light is a particle and a wave; so are humans.â The theory of relativity is very Jewish. The wave is the soul. The particle is our body. The unified theory is about trying to make a formula to connect the two. A wave is infinite. Itâs the infinite part of light.
The mother comes to pick up the mess of its child. Weâre on level three, Briah, where everything is one. We have a lot of complicated dots to connect: Purim and Pesach, the mother and the daughter.
Student: The Golden Calf is the daughter and the red heifer is the mother. Itâs the khoke extraordinaire. It makes no logical sense.
Person: Tuma is blocked.
Student: Accepting oneâs limitations without shame. Tuma is our humanness.
Rabbi: The Aish Kodesh said once youâre born gravity and age start sucking the life out of you. Youâre born with too much life force. You have to become an oleh regel, raise your feet and habits. We are pilgrims and your feet become lighter. Thatâs why we jump on Shabbos. Your soul energy increases and your body becomes lighter. The more you learn, you have to return to childhood. We ask children to examine a Torah to see if itâs passul. Your face shines and you experience a lightness of being.
Purim is the last holiday and Pesach is the first holiday. Purim is the most mature holiday and Pesach is the least mature holiday.
Student: On Purim we celebrate the way we want, weâre free. Pesach is the most restrictive holiday.
Rabbi: We donât eat processed foods on Pesach. We eat simple foods. They design snacks so your taste buds wonât get bored. Wonder Bread is so bland it doesnât bore your taste buds. On Pesach we clean the house thoroughly, we use different vessels, we boil our metal pots, and itâs very demanding. On Purim you do whatever you want. Getting out of my world and going into the world of dementia. It was very liberating. I think everyone else has an inordinate fear of nursing homes and ending up there. How we envision the end of our lives is very important. When weâre there, thereâs no script. Chazzan Kutner told us a whole story, being a part of Mengeleâs research experiment, like Eve Mozes Kor in Forgiving Dr. Mengele.
Student: Pesach is about miracles, the splitting of the sea, plagues.
Rabbi: Pesach was an invalid contract. Why?
Student: It was under duress. âIf you donât accept these laws, Iâm holding a mountain over your head.â
Rabbi: Yes, and there was another reason. You have a bunch of ex-slaves and shower them with plagues. They were totally blown away by the miracles. There was too much of HaShemâs light. HaShem is mentioned hundreds of times in the Exodus. G*d created many worlds before this world. There are many holidays. You go around in a circle. Itâs not remembering, itâs re-experiencing. The first stop the people were blown away. In the first universe, there was too much of G*dâs light. G*d wanted a universe with an imperfect rose with many choices. He had to make many worlds until He made it dark enough. A miracle is too much of G*dâs light. In the Megillah there is no mention of G*d. **** The only place people could make a choice is in the tzimtzum. In this picture (Adam, Eve, snake), if G*d hadnât made the tzimtzum, they couldnât have eaten the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They would have stayed in momâs lap.
Person: They would have been afraid to go out and grow.
Rabbi: All of Beresheit is about leaving home. We left homes all over the world. Spain, Baghdad.
Student: We uncover the sparks, we bring a certain energy and we pick up things.
Rabbi: Our only home is in time, not in space. Weâre trying to teach people how to be wandering shepherds who donât own the land. This is being a shepherd, not a farmer. We came to America to lift it up to Kedusha.
Person: We leave those places when itâs the worst part.
Rabbi: The first year in Israel they let the land lie fallow. Our home is in Shabbos. Being in the desert you donât know what day it is. If youâre old you count six days and then do Shabbos. If youâre young you do Shabbos and then count. Old people need to be more active and young people need to be more passive.
Itâs also a journey from the light to the threats of Haman. It says in every generation someone will stand on us, like a boot on our neck, and will try to annihilate us. Youâre supposed to lift it up and toast it.
Person: Weâre toasting the fact that weâre not annihilated.
Rabbi: We also sing it. Itâs like insult to injury. So we will cleave to our Father in heaven and we wonât have the illusion that anything can be our home except Shabbos, where we are making the shechina our bride. The word of the week is kallah. It means totally annihilated, bride and strong desire, striving, longing, soul longing. How can it mean so many different things? It also means an assembly of Jews. Every Friday night we gather everybody together and we have to say it together. Itâs the only prayer that you canât say by yourself.
The kallah completes the man. The bride goes around the groom seven times for Shabbos. Joshua went around Jericho seven times blowing the shofar and thatâs why the bride does the same. Itâs to bring down the walls that men are afraid and have them be intimate.
Student: They are afraid of weakness.
Rabbi: Esther did something that Moses couldnât do. She got the community together fasting. She created empty receiving space, and it has to be validated. Boys build towers and girls build enclosures. Why could she do it and Moses couldnât do it?
Person: They could feel her vulnerability.
Rabbi: Moses simply couldnât ask for help. G*d says weâre trying to build assemblies of collaboration. In this parsha weâre converting the Golden Calf into what?
Student: The Golden Calf showed the people they werenât mature enough to deal with freedom.
Rabbi: They had orgies, drunkenness, idol worship and murder. They killed Miriamâs son, who tried to stop them. Moses came down and saw this mess and couldnât believe it. He got mad at himself. Heâs been teaching them for over a year. Slavery stopped two years ago. Moshe was a perfectionist. Perfectionists get mad at everybody, including themselves.
I had one brilliant student who wrote a whole essay on how he was lost for three hours and never asked for directions.
Esther is teaching that asking for help is a skill of leadership.
Person: It gives the people value and a chance to be part of.
When Achashveros threw his party, it was called the party of abandonment, G*d has abandoned His people. The Temple building had started under Cyrus the great and under Achashveros the work stopped. Darius, Estherâs son, permitted the Temple construction to begin again. Esther realized there was 1,000 years since Sinai and they had never made a valid contract. The only way to make the contract is to make it in the tzimtzum. The Life of Pi is a metaphor about this young man coming to make choices on the raft in the middle of the ocean. He uses the tiger as a tool of survival. The Jews are always trying to survive. Now we are trying to figure out what to do if Persiaâthe same Persia.
Student: How can you say that it has to be done in the tzimtzum when the whole material plane is in the tzimtzum?
Rabbi: Every day you should ask for help in another way. Your maturity will be demonstrated by this. The whole symbol of these parshas is collaboration. We turn the Golden Calf into two golden idols. Weâre emphasizing the negative space. We have to meet people where theyâre at. The Golden Calf moved, it walked out of the fire. The cherubim move when klal Yisrael get along, when thereâs collaboration.
Itâs hard to build environments of collaboration. Iâm a big fan of Quinton Tarrintinoâs movies, Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained. He made movies about the incredible cruelty people do to each other. Revenge movies. They are deep movies, shocking movies.
The cherubim come before the Golden Calf: teshuva had to be created before humans. Teshuva is a process. A blueprint circuit.
Student: The world is a maze and it would be a very cruel joke to come to a fork in the road and find that neither went anywhere.
Rabbi: Our hope is that we can turn a mistake into something good. You have to have hope. Hope floats. The solution is collaboration, not murder, not orgy.
Student: We have a primal instinct that says teshuva works.
Rabbi: You have to give people the idea that thereâs a hopeful process. Amalak says itâs a dog-eat-dog world. Someone asked me to write a handbook for rabbis. Rabbis have tough. They have to kowtow to the board, everyone projects on them. Many rabbis burn out. Any time you have a do-good organization thereâs a lot of fighting because the stakes are so low. In high stakes businesses thereâs a lot more cooperation. When you have the illusion youâre doing good, you can be as petty as you want to be. We can create connection. Even though they came much later, the cherubs come first. We have to give people symbols of hope. If you donât ask for help, you get trapped in your own prison.
Estherâs name means âI will hide.â She risked everything and her own body. She had two sons with this drunken non-Jewish brute who killed his first wife to please his friends. She knew that if he killed his wife to please his friends he could kill his friends to please his wife. She manipulated him with her little finger.
Your failures are the important things. The Jews in Shushan felt like they had failed. They went to the dinner, they ate pork chops on the golden plates, they bowed to Haman, they dressed like Persians, they got kicked out of their land. Everything was a failure. They were hopeless and helpless, trapped in the exile of the Jewish people. And Esther came and gave them hope. She said fast with me, solidarity with me, help me, one small step at a time, just stop eating, give me a little schmaltz. This changed Jewish history. The Jews out of this dark hopeless place finally receive the Torah, what they couldnât do with the great connection they had with HaShem all the years before that. Purim is the symbol of maturity.
Then we add to that the red heifer: tumah is our humanness, tumah and tahara: accepting oneâs limitations without shame or embarrassment. The hardest part is getting rid of the shame. Itâs all about leaving mom. Each leaving in Beresheit is done when the person is next to annihilation. Adam and Even leave and death enters. Yitzhak has a knife on his throat. Asav sends his son to kill Yaakov.
Student: Laban wanted to kill Yaakov.
Rabbi: When Joseph leaves, his brothers are going to kill him. Leaving home is an annihilation. It feels like youâre losing yourself. Adam and Eve are looking back at an angry G*d because of their desire for fruit. In a marriage you have to annihilate your identity and create a new one. I couldnât figure out why my mother was mad at my wedding. The two mothers at a Jewish wedding have to break a plate over a chair. It says leave your mother and cleave to your wife. Every wedding is a new identity and it feels like youâre being annihilated.
The red heifer was a perfect red animal. The cherubs are perfect. So weâre going to take this perfect red cow, it canât have worked. There were only seven of them in all of history. Whatâs the symbol of the color red?
Student: The life force.
Rabbi: The blood is the life force. Thatâs why we donât eat blood. We salt our meat to get all the blood out of it.
Person: Sex, passion, the Scarlet Letter.
Student: Fiery personality, extreme, not demurer, opinionated.
Rabbi: The shin is the fire letter. The blood is the fiery, hormonal part, passion. Physicality. The red heifer is a perfect physical specimen. They buy this perfect red heifer and if it accidentally smashed the wheat or it got in with some bull and had sex, itâs no good, off the board, passul. So they guarded it very carefully. Total innocence, purity. And then you burn it with its own dung and you turn it into a pile of ashes. How come?
We are all dust and ashes. Weâre taking something expensive and perfect and turning it into ashes. Thatâs a metaphor. This is for people who are experiencing death. During the shiva the kohanim would mix the ashes, which also had hyssop, the most common weed, and cedar, the strongest tree, and a thin thread, and mix it with fresh spring water, and then sprinkle it on the mourners. The idea is that humanity is ruled by death. Some countries worship death and some deny death. Egypt did the first and America does the second. The red heifer was specifically so the Jews would not be ruled by death. We could use our own deaths, the death of the egg during menstruation, and use the force and not be ruled by it. My rebbe wrote a beautiful essay on it. In America what do women do with menstruation? You donât talk about it. If you have pms theyâll give you a pill. We have a 400 page book on it. Itâs the center of our religion. R. Twerski says the women without shame or embarrassment stands up during the menstrual cycle. You canât have a potential for life force without a potential for death. If youâre not sensitive to the death force, you canât be sensitive to the light force. You canât worship half a G*d.
The water is to make you tahar, alive. But it would make the kohanim tumah, more dead. Why? Itâs what I experience when I help somebody. Iâm vulnerable to that personâs death force.
Some people translate khoke as not understandable. Itâs a deeper law. It means dug out from the deepest place. The people panicked. He was gone for 40 days. There was a six hour discrepancy. The Satan showed them a picture of Moshe lying there dead, and it threw them into a tailspin.
The woman in the home lights the lights, guards the tuma and tahara; she takes the place of the kohane. The woman is the guardian through this life/death force. She is experiencing it through the life/death cycle inside of her. There is a real culture clash in America. We do death denial. Donât talk about it. Itâs embarrassing. The Torah says the menstruation turns the woman into the kohane. And itâs all part of the transition from the end of the year to the beginning of the year. We have to be immature again.
Student: Hopefully on a different level each year.
Rabbi: weâre trying to experience our own immaturity, our own smallness. We ask for help from other people and G*d. G*d created the imperfect other. Weâre always trying to get better judgment. Good choices are made of good judgment.
Esther got it on a deeper level than Moses. He worked very hard to change it. Even when he hit the rock and descended to their level, he still couldnât ask for help. Itâs not so easy to invite the shechina in. We have to make that space for any relationship. Itâs easier to assert yourself than to make that empty space where someone can access you.*****
Student: The Golden Calf had no space. There was a space between the cherubim. Gold has no space to combine with anything else so itâs called a noble metal or inert. *****
Rabbi: When they saw him dead, everything went into pure pandemonium. He heard the sounds of war when he approached. He said, âI could blame them all I want. When I actually do die, I have to leave them in a way that they will move up from my death instead of down. I see the effect of my death on them created chaos.â****
Student: G*d says Iâm going to destroy them and Moshe says if You do, write me out of the book. The consequence was before: in the previous parsha he was taken out. The chronology was mixed up.
We start out with money, the ground level. The next level is memory: you gotta remember these discouraging things that happened, Golden Calves, in your life. The alcohol is ubiquitous as chaos. We can create chaos. The possibility of annihilate is necessary for leaving home. At the sea of the end you thought it was the end, some layer parts and some light comes through.
SACRED FIRE MARCH 3, 1942, PAGE 302
-Jacobâs lily rejoicedâ¦.
Rabbi: This is a very important song. In Hebrew it is very powerful.
-The principle joy of the Jewsâ¦.
Rabbi: Why was it so vital for us to be threatened with total annihilation at this particular moment?
Person: People will make the most effort if everything is at stake. Esther says it: if we were only to be sold into slavery, I would have been quiet.
Rabbi: The home weâre leaving is the gold, attachments to security, the past thousand years where the Torah was not a valid contract. Itâs the exile of Persia where we finally receive the Torah. Annihilation has to be there because itâs part of the process of leaving home. Weâve come to the end but the end is not an end, itâs a beginning, and you donât give up until your last process.***** The end is waiting for your next small step to bring one more layer. We symbolize hope to people.
-Psalm 102 beginsâ¦.
Chazzan Kutner cried when he thought about standing in line. He never did that before.
-This is the meaning of Psalm 102â¦.
Rabbi: My teacher made a song out of it. Esther reached out to Mother Sarah, who slept with Pharaoh to save her husband. It starts with a shameful scene where Abraham says tell pharaoh youâre my sister and sleep with him. Itâs what they whispered in the Holocaust: whatever it takes to survive.
-The exact opposite occurs in the event of a reprieveâ¦.
Rabbi: When youâre rescued, the feelings of redemption envelope you.
Student: when I was three I almost drowned, but I donât remember that.
Person: For me itâs more like when I have a revelation, an âahaâ moment. Accepting my limitations without shame or humiliation encompasses me. When I make a mistake in davening the others follow me and I relish it because itâs such a freedom from shame.
Student: In Israel in 1968 we went to a pool and I turned my back and the next thing I saw Rena floating in the water. I jumped in and she was okay.
Rabbi: When I was in the Six Day War, we heard broadcasts from Egypt and Jordan that they were winning and Israel was silentâlet them think they were winningâand when I saw the Wailing Wall and heard the shofar for the first time in 2,000 years, it was so much bigger than me, so much beyond who I was. I had never been shot at before. It was indescribable. It changed my whole life.
Student: âI missed the flight and the plane crashed.â You can contain that salvation.
Rabbi: A man dropped dead right in front of me. That was a sign of something, and I got the right signal. R. Ben Dosa if he was praying for someone clearly he knew they would live, and if the words caught in his throat, he knew they would not. Sometimes youâre tuned in on a much deeper level.
-The reason is perhaps as follows:â¦..
-All salvation flows to us from G*dâ¦.
Rabbi: You have to balance the boundaries with the no-boundaries, the love and the passion and the expansion. Very difficult. It pervades the whole universe. We are precisely balanced between those two fundamental forces.
-So when G*d sends salvation to a person through the medium of a particular sepherahâ¦.
Rabbi: The husks are toxins.
-The miracle of Chanukah came to us in the Land of Israelâ¦.
Rabbi: the threat is to cleave to HaShem, the shechina, to Shabbos, at that moment.
-It was an eternal salvationâ¦
Student: There are no coincidences. I forgot it was Shabbat Parah and I made an appointment to talk to the chavra kadisha about where to have my body buried when itâs the time. I loved the particle and the wave represent the body and the soul. My family went through the Holocaust and my grandfather went through a concentration camp and told my parents to keep the next generation safe they must never tell anyone they are Jewish. I wasnât raised Jewish. In 2005 my husband and I went to Auschwitz where several members of my family were murdered. I was sobbing the whole time and could hardly look at anything. We were there the whole day. When I walked out of that long road in Berchanow I stood up straight, I held an Israeli flag, and I sang in Hebrew and walked out of there. That was an example of what the Aish Kodesh is talking about, being in a desperate place. When I walked out of there I was enveloped by what the Aish Kodesh is talking about.
Person: When Iâm with someone whoâs dealing with something hard, I give them some of my life force and they give me some of their death force, and we meet in the middle. Thereâs the encircling light and the inner light. Sometimes you have an aha moment, and that can be an inner light. The encircling light is when there are no coincidences, there is a bigger Force working here.
Student: When I stopped menstruating, I was completely indifferent. Some women call it âthe curseâ and at the other extreme were the women in the movie who were told they might not menstruate again, and they started wailing. But I was indifferent and itâs puzzling.
Rabbi: It was contained. Or it can be connected to the moon and other things. How you say good bye is extremely important. Different events have different effects. How was it when you started?
Student: Total trauma. Also, I had a lot of death experiences this week. Rabbi Wagner, the father of Chaya Meyer, died and I paid a shiva call. And old friend of my motherâs died and I spoke to her children, whom I havenât spoken to in 50 years. A friend on Face Book lost a friend and was very upset. And then this class.
There were lots of good things in this class.
Person: Realizing that annihilation has to be there. The times I have been most fearful of annihilation I havenât died. In my divorce, when my father died, awful things that happened simultaneously, I remember after that dark space having that encircling light and thinking I didnât die.
Rabbi: I have never raised my cup when we say In every generation, but this year Iâm going to do it because I never made the connection before. I could never process how this was supposed to work. I couldnât raise my cup because I didnât agree with it.
Student: Nothing gelled. There was something that happened that brought me to a place of true surrender. It wasnât being dramatic about drinking. Itâs death from within. You can brush it off; the denial is huge. I cannot quit on my own. I walk into a place where people have a solution for me and I am saved.
Rabbi: Sometimes what is in your heart is truer than what is in your intellect. In Flight, he says I feel freer now not drinking in prison. Because he had been drinking when flying an airplane.
Person: The sense of community when Esther asked the people to help her. If more of us would ask for help, that would make a big difference. If we came as a community, we would be a lot better off.
Rabbi: Psychiatrists have the highest suicide rate because they give help and donât ask for it. My son, Yoshua, liberates a lot of people because he can receive their support.
Student: I liked the discussion about aging and finding simcha. Can we find some joy in our aging? Moses not asking for help. The poison and the cure. Thereâs something crippling about asking for help and something freeing about asking for help. Teshuva is the encircling light. Annihilation is the encircling, not the destruction.
Rabbi Henoch Dov Hoffman teaches in Denver, Colorado. You can contact him through his web page, RabbiHenochDov.com or via email sh6r6v4t9@aol.
- 2013-03-01 06:55:34
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