Light from Darkness | The Blessing of a Point of View

israel 7/3/2015

Light from Darkness | The Blessing of a Point of View

The evil Balaam climbed the mountains to find the best vantage point of the Jewish camp to ascertain their weakness and thereby curse them, God forbid.

And a miracle occurred.

Everything was upended – the accuser became an advocate – in place of curses amazing blessings came out of his mouth.

There are times in life when it is revealed that what we had thought to be curses and negative events turned out to be the exact opposite – even beneficial – even blessings.

It’s all a matter of perspective – how we perceive things, what point of view we choose. To reach the light, we must traverse the darkness. It is a law of nature – like walking through a sun drenched field carrying a lantern – one who does not pass through darkness cannot see the great light.

The Source deals with us in this way so that at the end of our days we have borne enough darkness to have earned the ability to appreciate the great light. That is what the Source wants: that we see the light – but it can only be revealed from the midst of darkness.

We must view darkness from a new angle.

Precisely from the most difficult periods in our lives do the greatest salivations sprout.

We endure challenging times so as to reveal that Hashem is eternally found with us. When we have complete emunah (an innate conviction, a perception of truth that transcends, rather than evades, reason) that the Source is all-compassionate – all of the questions disappear.

This emunah fills a person with calm and grants her the fortitude to withstand all challenges. We must remember that the One Who is preventing our salvation is Hashem Himself, Who loves us immeasurably and only He knows what is best for us. We must never despair because we never know what the next moment holds for us. We must never let go of the desires and longings. This must be our point of view.

“He perceived no iniquity in Jacob, and saw no perversity in Israel” (Numbers 23:21)

A generous outlook is a formidable power – it leads us to a pleasant, happy and content life. It is so enjoyable to see only the good in others. If there is something negative – we look away. Primarily, a generous outlook requires us to look at ourselves favorably – for if we can’t see ourselves approvingly, we will constantly look for flaws in others to soothe ourselves.

Because of the kind eye of the nation of Israel, the evil eye of the wicked Bilaam could not hurt them. When a person has a positive outlook – no evil eye can harm him. He came to curse and he ended up blessing.

Sometimes in life, what appears to be a curse is really an incredible blessing – it depends on our point of view.

*The above words are drawn from Harav Menachem Azolai’s “Ohr Ha’Emuna”, and graciously translated by Dov Elias.

Shabbat shalom.

Blessings,

Etan

Light from Darkness | The Blessing of a Point of View

Rebbe Nachman & Eckhart Tolle | The Power of Now

Shema Yisroelreaching-baby

6/30/2015

Rebbe Nachman & Eckhart Tolle | The Power of Now

Reb Noson, the chief disciple and scribe of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, gifts us with the following antivenom to the bite of enslavement to past and future:

It is written: “See, now, that I, I am He…” (Deuteronomy 32:39).
“See, now,” precisely. Through the paradigm of “now,” you are able to see that “I, I am He,” and begin anew, in each moment, to cleave to God.

Rebbe Nachman teaches that if you want to attain the level of the World to Come – even in this world – just close your eyes – gently withdraw your mind from all that is going on around you and move yourself into another dimension. The more you “close your eyes to this world”, the more you will attain true spirituality and bring the essence of the eternal “World to Come” into your life.

This is the secret behind closing our eyes and covering them when we say the Shema prayer. Up to a certain point the world reveals God. Beyond that point however, that very same world obscures Him. We therefore close our eyes and cover them with our hand when we recite the beginning of the Shema – in order to break through the facade of this world to reach towards the unity behind it. This is the Power of Now.

ET: “Love, joy, and peace cannot flourish until you have freed yourself from mind dominance”

RN: “The reason why the world is far from God, and does not seek to come close to Him is only because people lack yishuv ha-da’as — a calm, settled mind”

ET: “Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within”

RN: “By connecting to simchah, a person liberates his very being and consciousness. Then it is possible to attain a calm, settled mind. Even in the supernal worlds, this accomplishes a great unification”

ET: “Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to “die before you die” — and find that there is no death”

RN: It is written: “When you walk, it will comfort you; when you lie down, it will watch over you; and when you awaken, it will comfort you” (Proverbs 6:22).

“When you walk” on this earth, the Torah “will comfort you.” “When you lie down” in the grave, God and the Torah “will watch over you.”

“When you awaken” in the World to Come, “it will comfort you.” When you have purified your thoughts, there is no difference between this world, the grave, and the World to Come. When you desire only God and His Torah, all are the same. In all three, you may connect to God and His Torah. One who is attached to the things of this world will experience a great difference between this world, which is a wide, open place, and the grave, which is a cramped place. However, if you purify your mind, all will be the same”

ET: “To be identified with your mind is to be trapped in time: the compulsion to live almost exclusively through memory and anticipation” – “Life is now. There was never a time when your life was not now, nor will there ever be”

RN: “Every perceptive person understands that time does not exist. The past is gone, the future has not come, and the present is like the blink of an eye. Thus, the life of a man is only this instant in which he stands. Consider this, and in whatever circumstance you may find yourself — even in the depths of Hell –you will be able to cleave to God in each moment”

ET: “Nothing ever happened in the past; it happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now”

RN: “Forget about yesterday and tomorrow. Today is everything”

ET: “Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry — all forms of fear — are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence”

RN : “Yesterday and tomorrow are a person’s downfall. Today you may be aroused toward God. But yesterday and tomorrow pull you away”

ET: “Don’t get stuck on the level of words. A word is no more than a means to an end. It’s an abstraction. Not unlike a signpost, it points beyond itself”

RN: [Yes, but] “Prayer must be spoken out in actual words – literally. It is not enough to think the prayers. It is true that God knows what we are thinking. But the words have to be spoken, because speech is the vessel with which we receive the flow of blessings. According to our words, so is the blessing we receive .One who perfects his speech can receive abundant blessings through the vessels he forms with his words. This is why we must actually articulate our prayers with our mouths”

ET: “The ultimate purpose of the world lies not within the world but in the transcendence of the world”

RN: [Right on ET.] “If a person doesn’t focus on the purpose, what is the point of his life?”

Reb Noson explains that every day, constantly, God in His goodness renews the process of creation, and no instant can be compared to another. Because the heavenly constellations constantly change from one second to the next, every set of circumstances is unlike those that existed a moment earlier or a moment later. “Imagine what transpires from one second to the next in the supernal worlds, which are without limitation or number!”

“The garment of one day is unlike the garment of another day”

-The Zohar

“All of these endless cosmic transformations are for the sake of man, to enable him to serve God”

-The Arizal

“This is the reason for everything”

-Reb Noson

Blessings,

Etan

Rebbe Nachman & Eckhart Tolle | The Power of Now

Soul Mingling | Jah is My Light

IMG_6732 6/26/2015

Soul Mingling | Jah is My Light

He said if it doesn’t bring you joy then why do it?

I said in the world of duality there’s two kinds of joy – one temporary and one authentic – this world is caught up on temporary joy but that leaves with the corpse. I dig eternal joy that for some begins after burial, but for the blessed few is experienced now – it burns superficial pleasures to a crisp. And that’s the secret my friend.

He said what’s up with that beard man. You look so much better with a tight groom. I said part of me agrees – the part that likes others liking how I look – the part that plays the role – that gives me that temporary pleasure. I said I’m trying to merge what’s up inside with my exterior – a complicated process for some to absorb. I said I’m jiving with the holy Zohar bro – the beard represents channels for Divine abundance and reflects supernal Godly qualities of kindness and trust, which I am called to embody.

He said that’s so 1800’s man why can’t you adapt to 2015. I said I’m not trapped in today man. I don’t wear my pants low and adorn myself with billboard fashion no more. What we wear is how we look to shape and express our identity. Holiness and humility seems like sucking the joy out of life – not dancing and drinking at the clubs all night seems like a departure from joy but for me it’s shedding the temporary to pursue a spiritually meaningful life.

He said you’re turning into a bland robot. I said, like Moses, the more I shed my ego the more room I make for the presence of the Creator to fill me in. And my ultimate joy is alignment with the Source- gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

He said can’t that be done with your head while your body is dancing through to the beat of this world. I said yes but it depends on what beat you are tuned to. I said we are meant to enjoy this world for sure but enjoying food to me is no longer like it is for a monkey. Enjoying pleasure for me is no longer like it is for a horse. That’s sideshow stuff man. I’m restricting from the unhealthy snacks with my eyes on the feast ahead.

He said I like what you are saying but it seems way too extreme for me. I’m just not there yet. I said we are where we are in relationship to our point of resistance. Like yoga man. Just be true to yourself and it opens up step by step. No rush man. It’s all about the desire in your heart.

He said how do I build my desire? I said now we are talking bro.

He said for real man, how do I break free and live like you? I said all you need to do is walk and talk with the Lord. See everything as a direct communication, follow your holy soul’s intuition to restrict from the pursuit of temporary and destructive pleasure and exert with all your might toward the pursuit of holy eternal joy.

He said how do I know which is which? I said check out the 613 man. 365 restrictions and 248 exertions – aligned to 365 sinews and 248 bones in your body. All pockets of light accessing the upper realms. I said the first step is to learn from the first of us – Abraham. Separate from your current structures, influences, social norms and expectations, desires, lusts, habits, preconceived ideas and external influences. Walk out of your parent’s idol shop and follow the voice of your Father in heaven.

He said how do I hear the voice? I said open your eyes, but opening your eyes at first is really closing them off to the external world. Ground yourself to the Source of all mega pixel projection and then look back out at the projections – learn the fundamentals before playing the game, learn the meaning of the words before uttering more chatter. Explore the link between your thoughts and your reality, intentions and outcomes.

He said why is God hidden. I said so you can find Him – and once you do He is no longer hidden. He said all I see is nature. I said look at the hand beneath the glove of nature – the force which blows the winds and sends the rains – the banger of the Big Bang.

He said ok, but what’s up with religion. That seems to separate people more than unite, seems like a place for the weak to find solace and purpose – for the masses to flock to seek comfort and meaning in a life of suffering that can’t be explained. I said those are great questions, and there’s no one liner responses. But I also said I believe that the manual came with the vehicle – that the Source did not fall short of sending a map to the maze – that the Creator left us with a job here – and authentic free will to accomplish it.

I said seek for yourself wisdom brother. Ask these questions and seek the answers for yourself because faith is not something that someone else can give to you. It works in reverse to what you see in this world. Hearing and knowing come only after doing. Naaseh v’ nishma. First the action then the knowing.

He said where do I start man? I said love your brother like yourself. It’s all a mirror, all one. I said real joy comes from giving. That’s how we widen the bandwidth of our pipes – we become a partner with the Source.  Pray for the health of another and health flows through you into them. Pray for the clarity of another and wisdom flows through you to them. That’s why we learn that if you are going through lack and you pray for another who is going through that same lack, your lack is hooked up first – like sustenance flowing from your mouth to your organs, the heavenly electricity flows through your cable en route to your brother.

Rig your joy to be activated through giving – and watch what flows through you next bro.

He said thank you. I said thank you.

Shabbat shalom.

Blessings,

Etan

Soul Mingling | Jah is My Light

Raise your head child

Cloud-Heaven

5/29/2015

Raise your head child

Well this week’s post was a tough act to follow.

I can tell you that the blog and social media lit up as heart felt love and directed props poured through the universe. Sometimes the most sane wisdom comes from the darkest moments.

When you open a channel to a constricted pipe you experience an explosion of repressed expression – and when you hear a man in constriction expose his deepest darkest truths, it draws in our attention. We can relate in our own way. We feel proud because it represents raw and honest expression which is a very ventilating concept to those of us trapped in a world of self imposed boundaries and limitations. It’s fresh air that strikes a familiar nerve deep within anyone on the growth path of conscious living. Because on the path, at every turn, we meet our adversary whose purpose is to hold us down and guard us from reaching our potential – from raising our heads upwards.

Many have come out of the woodwork expressing their own darkness this week – and leaving them on the curb left to dry without another dose is just cruel. So here we go.

Nasso et Rosh– RAISE THE HEADS.

Even when we are knocked down, cycling through the mental obstacles we are facing – even when we feel banished from connection with the Source – especially then, we lift our heads.

We show up to service with open arms, open vessels, and plead to the Source like a loved child for mercy – for redemption – for stronger faith.

We raise our weary heads to the Source above, in pure honesty, humility and with the realization that every single thing comes from the Source – there is nothing but the Source above – all apparent duality and multiplicity comes from the One Source.

At service, on that bench, dressed up and surrounded with brothers and sisters – melting away from the grip of the week – with your list of wants and needs and requests for mercy on yourself and your loved ones – raising your head in authentic expression at that moment is a prerequisite.

Nasso, my bar mitzvah parsha, is about lifting my head to Hashem – expressing my desire and love of Hashem and requesting that He help me win this war. Only Hashem can rescue me as there is nothing other than Hashem.

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“When Moses arrived at the tent of Meeting to speak with Him, he heard the Voice speaking to him from atop the Cover that was upon the Ark of the testimony, from between the two Chrubim, and He spoke to him.”

– Numbers 7:89

That same communication is going on today, every moment. The delight of experiencing the Divine Presence is the salvation. That’s winning the war. All other delights are fleeting. Shabbos Nasso gives us the opportunity to raise our heads and break free from our limitations – to re-establish our connection with the Source of our experience.

Our eternal soul is a giver and our temporary body is a taker. The joy experienced through giving is immeasurably greater than the pleasure of receiving. Soul connection is the desire to give, manifested.

The soul is an extension of the Source and the Source is endless blessing.

Soul connection is the experience of joy and sweetness in life. The sweetness of wisdom, connection and giving.

Lifting my head upwards means being in a constant state of gratitude for what appears to be going well and what appears to not be.

As the Baal HaSulam so eloquently put it:

“Eternal life is when you are ready to live every moment of your life forever”

Shabbat Shalom.

Blessings,

Etan

Raise your head child

Greetings from the psych ward | A message of hope

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5/27/2015

Greetings from the psych ward | A message of hope

From my nephew, Shmuel:

“So last night I had the most intense raw spiritual connection with God – something I have not experienced for years and completely lost hope in – I finally decided to put on my tefillin for the first time in years – the experience brought me to tears – I was in my room in a psych ward having a heart to heart conversation with God – I was telling Him, asking, begging to please give me the hope and strength to carry on – because I completely lost hope in my self, all humanity, and life in general – I never thought that things would get this bad for me, but for the first time in my life I had a suicide attempt – something that should have killed me – and it is a miracle that I am still in this world, which goes to show that I’m here for a greater purpose than my self and my mental illness.

I was hoping and praying that one day I could really touch the lives of other people in this world struggling like I am – I am in a constant battle with shame and depression – I am in a constant cycle of excruciating pain which I never see myself overcoming – what brought me to tears last night was my hope that God can show me something, anything that can bring me some level of hope – whether that was some kind of sign or purpose in this world.

I want everyone from all walks of life to hear my experience because although not everybody will understand, everybody can understand pain and has their ups and downs – and what I want to express to others is no matter how hard or how tough the experiences you are dealing with are, just know that we are all walking along our own narrow bridge through this world – and through sharing our own struggles and demons we encounter, we can come out of the shadows and break free from the mental and emotional battles that we face every day – break the chains that bind us.

No matter how stagnant you feel and how long you’ve been going through your struggles don’t give up – one day you can really come out of it and make something of your life even though you might not know now what exactly your mission or purpose is.

I look forward to sharing more of my journey with you  – and if these words can reach anyone out there and help in any way then I feel accomplished and inspired to share more.

I almost took my life so I can relate to your pain and struggles. We must all walk this crazy bridge which we call life – be there for each other, help each other through life’s ups and downs – help guide each other through that dark tunnel. What you will come to recognize is that through helping another being you are helping yourself more than you will ever know. Together let’s push through the darkness as one. This is something I’ve come to realize. If there is anyone who can relate to pain and is struggling in their life, if there is any one person I could help, then I feel this blog was worth writing and it was worth sharing my story.”

“The whole world is a narrow bridge, the key is not to be afraid”

-Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Blessings,

Shmuel and Etan

Greetings from the psych ward | A message of hope

Prophecy flash | Laying down a hero

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5/17/2015

Prophecy flash | Laying down a hero

Attention artists and rappers and poets and champions of restriction and chasers of God’s light – to those looking to soar.

If I’m not gonna live my potential what do I expect my kids to learn from me.

If I’m not gonna follow my eternal soul what do I expect to follow.

If I’m not ready to boldly grab the next rung what rung do I expect to remain hanging on.

The view gets old quick and the time is now to empower ourselves to see what’s around the bend on this holy path we follow.

“And remove spiritual impediment from before us and from behind us

– Hashkivainu (The Lay Us Down Blessing)

Both can equally entrap us. Freeze us in a tunnel. Less freedom than enlightened prisoners.

The Sitra Achra (the other side) is what stops us from doing what we know is best for ourselves – it looks to slow us down bring us down and lay us down, and it casts an enticing bait to those chasing worms and ignoring the hook.

It’s simple if we just follow the clues and learn from the past. Ask Einstein; “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

In fact, it’s only possible to drastically disconnect from the light of spiritual consciousness while under the influence of a flash of temporary insanity.

Eventually we learn what makes us insane and it becomes insane to continue the chase.

Heroes come and go –  and the elder generations of heroes leaves us in the position of seeing ourselves as the needed next generation of heroes. The ground is there below us, patiently waiting to welcome back every part of us but the soul. Time to start identifying with it and walking in its ways. Following its footsteps like the children follow ours.

“I applied my mind to seek and probe by wisdom all that happens beneath the sky – it is a sorry task that God has given to the sons of man with which to be concerned.”

” I said to myself: Come, I will experiment with joy and enjoy pleasure. That, too, turned out to be futile.”

“I ventured to stimulate my body with wine – while my heart is involved with wisdom – and to grasp folly, until I can discern which is best for mankind to do under the heavens during the brief span of their lives.”

“Whatever my eyes desired I did not deny them; I did not deprive myself of any kind of joy. Indeed, my heart drew joy from all my activities, and this was my reward for all my endeavors.”

“Then I looked at all the things I had done and the energy I had expended in doing them; it was clear that it was all futile and a vexation of the spirit – and there is no real profit under the sun.”

“The sum of the matter, when all has been considered: Fear God and keep His commandments, for that is man’s whole duty.”

-King Solomon

It is wise to contemplate and drink from the wisdom of the wisest man ever.

Now it’s time for redemption. Now it’s time for salvation.

B.D.E Mama Hannah

Blessings,

Etan

Prophecy flash | Laying down a hero

The Splendor of my Zaydie | Baruch Yaakov (The Blessing of the House of Jacob)

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5/1/2015 [12 Iyar]

The Splendor of my Zaydie | Baruch Yaakov (The Blessing of the House of Jacob)

“Rabbi said, What is the proper path that one should choose for himself? Whatever is honorable for himself, and earns him esteem from his fellows.”

– Pirkei Avot, Perek 2, Mishna 1

Over 2,000 years ago the author of this Mishna – Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi – contemplated the ideal path for us to take in our lives. As life is not always a straight road to follow – we need to chart our course with every choice we make.

But how do we acquire the confidence to choose wisely from an infinite array of possibilities? This is what Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi comes to answer in this Mishna. He advises:

“Whatever is honorable for himself, and earns him esteem from his fellows.”

The word, translated in the text as ‘honorable’ and ‘esteem’ is Tiferet – which means ‘splendor’.

The kabbalists have applied this description as the defining character trait of our forefather Yaakov, who inherited the spiritual legacies of his forebears: Chesed, which means selfless loving-kindness, from his grandfather Avraham – and Gevurah, which means inner spiritual self-discipline, from his father Yitzchak.

Like the forefather Yaakov; my Zaydie – Baruch Yaakov (zichrono u’levracha) successfully blended these apparently contradictory traits of Chesed and Gevurah and achieved a new synthesis – with the creation of a single attribute called Rachamim (mercy). It is for this resolution of conceptual opposites that Yaakov earns the designation of Tiferet (splendor) – and, it is with this quality in mind, that the Jewish people are named for him.

It’s easy to take a position at one extreme or the other: Chesed (selfless loving kindness) – or Gevurah (spiritual, self-discipline) – to seek out favor from others at the expense of personal integrity, or to follow one’s own path – no matter what others might think or believe.

But to strive to achieve both the inner calling of one’s soul (like graciously opening his home to those is distress, and proudly aligning his inner essence with his exterior identity) – even while defining himself in the context of the community (like pioneering a new Jewish community, schools, synagogues and related infrastructure) – that is a labor that calls for true spiritual heroism – and absolute splendor.

On the Tree of Life, Tiferet is situated on the center column, and can only be achieved through the merging of the right column Sefirot, which represents masculine energy, and the left column Sefirot, which represents feminine energy. This is where my Savta comes in – to complete Zaydie – to combine perfectly with him to form the Splendor that we remember Zaydie as embodying.

tiferet

Today is the second yahrzeit of my Zaydie — my own Forefather – Baruch Yaakov ben Sharaga Feivel Halevi (zichrono u’levracha) a heroic figure, who I remember as embodying the balanced characteristic of Tiferet – a man of magnificence and splendor – grandeur and elegance – inner and outer beauty.

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Zaydie walked the proper path – a path that was honorable for himself, and earned him the esteem from his fellows

I feel blessed to come from such nobility – and honored to push myself to live up to his legacy.

Amen.

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Shabbat shalom.

Blessings,

Etan

The Splendor of my Zaydie | Baruch Yaakov (The Blessing of the House of Jacob)