On these SoHo streets

soho streets

10/12/2015

On these SoHo streets

Walking through the streets of NYC these days with a crazy beard and skull cap feels different than it used to be. I keep thinking about what’s going on in Israel and Europe – I’m a target over there. So I’ve become more suspicious about how others see me here on these SoHo streets filled with all these happy tourists from all around the world.

Where I live, in addition to frequent “Salam Alekem’s”,  I get “Shabbat Shalom’s”  from the under cover brothers. I get “Chag Sameach’s”  from the Israeli tourists. I get screams of “Moshiach Now” from the car windows of out of town Chabad passerbyers. The words are usually accompanied with a nod of unspoken communication – like, I am also Jewish and I relate to you and you bring out something from me. It feels like they need me. And that feeling makes me feel like I need them.

It’s easy to settle into our surroundings. Into community norms, institutional norms, geographic norms – and that can hold down a soul from chasing the light of its potential.

The body and its surrounding environment cannot fully house the soul. So we are really always in a state of breaking out. Expanding. Growing closer toward the Source. So folks whose souls crave to rise beyond the constraints of their limited physical identities and personalities give me that nod because that part of themselves sees something they can relate to – like, I also have that within, and you bring out something from me. It feels like they need me. And that feeling makes me feel like I need them.

Same with those suffering with self doubt, addiction, depression and all forms of mental illness. Like, I see you live beyond the bounds so the part of me that’s trapped here has hope and strength from seeing you breaking free. Through your Emunah and certainty and faith in Hashem – through that, I have hope. It feels like they need me. And that feeling makes me feel like I need them.

Now is not the time to go undercover. Now is the time to boldly rise toward our own greatest potential, to inspire and connect with others.

The prophets talked about this time thousands of years ago. The sages say that the way to navigate and remain safe today is through Torah and acts of kindness. Torah means the way, the wisdom, the code transmitted by the Source to us, the elixir to life. And acts of kindness means alot, including only seeing the good in yourself and in others and never speaking negatively about yourself or others under any circumstance.

Rav Shalom Arush lays out for us a five step plan to navigate these troubling times,  eloquently elaborated by yours truly:

1. Strengthen ourselves in Emunah. Incorporate our higher wisdom and understanding and stretch further during prayer, meditation and intention in every day actions – to live what we learn and learn more – and continue that cycle constantly for the rest of our lives. Never despairing. Never stopping.

2. Recall Hashem’s love for us, recalling the past miracles done for our nation in 1967, 1973, 1991, and all through recent years until today. And, thank Hashem for our national salvations and our private salvations. Think about our own miracles and take nothing for granted. Thank Hashem constantly. Be in a constant state of gratitude for everything in life. For the most trivial detail.

3.Those who are not yet plugged into the miraculous healing power of the holiest 24 hour period of the week A.K.A. Shabbat – those who have not yet merited to bask in the cradle of light which awaits us at sundown Friday – those who have not yet given themselves the sweet gift of rest and inner peace and connection to the ultimate purpose – those still stuck in the quicksands of today, walking in circles around the ordinary week – should begin immediately to follow their inner Divine spark who craves intensely for the requisite freedom and healing recharge of the Shabbat. Weighing in at number 4 of the Ten Commandments, if you observe the Shabbat it’s like you hold up the entire Torah.

Violating the level of Shabbat that we are personally holding today removes us from the powerful realm of Shabbat, pushing away the greatest gift of purpose, peace and rest and joy that can only be experienced with the assistance of the extra soul that joins us on Shabbat, and the angels who dance around our Shabbat table. And, says Rav Arush, those who observe Shabbat should strengthen their knowledge of the laws of Shabbat.

4. One should ponder Hashem constantly and speak to Him as much as possible.

5. One should encourage others to learn and strengthen Emunah.

Perhaps what is most important to us now, is to love each other like we love our self. To love peace and pursue peace within and between ourselves. This brings peace between the Source and His people.

Blessings,

Etan

On these SoHo streets

How to transcend time | Rectifying the imagination

index

10/2/2015

How to transcend time | Rectifying the imagination

Inspired by the teachings of my guide, Rav Baruch Gartner.

Life can appear to be bound by the laws of nature.

We really don’t realize how bound we are to the laws of nature when we are living in nature.

The Torah is the gateway to living above nature.

The world is fooling people.

Our consciousness is really nothing more than imagination.

We really don’t know anything for sure, as much as we really wanna believe we know something.

There are a lot of things that cannot really be proven that we are choosing in our minds to believe.

Many people choose to believe a lot of things that are producing a lot of fear and anxieties, rather than choosing thoughts that are empowering us and bringing us closer to the Source. “I’m gonna get sick again”, “the world is coming to an end”, “I can’t get this out of my mind”, “this is not going to work out”.

The sages attempt to rectify our mind so that we can think properly – to raise our consciousness to a higher level – to reach a platform of higher levels of perception.

The sage’s goal is to try to change our way of thinking from being constricted to expanded. And this is called rectifying the imagination.

Through the rectification of the imagination, we ultimately get to a whole different realm – a different way of living and experiencing life.

We go from one level to the next level to the next level to the ultimate place of clarity – we get to a place which is above imagination.

Rebbe Nachman teaches us that God is above time. Really, only children believe that God is a man in heaven. The truth is that God doesn’t have any character traits. The ones He revealed to us simply serve as rungs to rise up through our imperfect imagination – we rise up from not knowing to knowing that God is above time and space.

Rebbe Nachman said that it is impossible for the human mind to grasp this.

However, we see that there are other things which are also above time.

Teshuvah (returning to our true nature through repentance) is above time. The day a person does teshuvah, he is above time. He rectifies the past.

And the holidays are all above time.

A person can at any moment of his life be reborn. At the time of his passing it was this idea that Rebbe Nachman was bringing himself to life with – the concept of being above time.

There is a type of understanding referred to by Rebbe Nachman as transcendental understanding. It is also referred to as “Shefa Elokim” a Godly outpouring – a sort of Divine flow “Ruach Hakodesh” –  a state of Divine inspiration. A supernatural realm which does not come through thinking or working hard for. A channel of higher perception which bypasses the constraints of the intellect.

This type of wisdom will change your whole life and produce something called “V’hitlahavut Halev” a passionate heart. But it is impossible to experience this level unless a person first sanctifies the seven windows of his face.

This is connected to the holiday of Sukkot, when we commemorate the seven Divine clouds of glory which surrounded the nation of Israel throughout their travels in the desert.

Rebbe Nachman taught that the seven clouds correspond to the seven windows of the purification of the human being, required in order to receive the outpouring of knowledge called “ruach hakodesh” which allows for a person to know things in a supernatural way.

The holiday of Sukkot is connected to the idea of a type of knowledge called “makifin” a transcendental intellect that surrounds us – no matter what level you are on you have a surrounding makif – just like God is infinite, so too is our ability to perceive Him – but our minds cannot contain this perception.

So too, our body is not able to fully house our soul. As a person perfects his senses, the person brings into his aura a higher level of intellect , a makif, into his level of understanding. This is accomplished through purification.

There are certain concepts that a person’s mind cannot really grasp. For instance, the concept of free will and an all knowing God. How can I really have free will if God knows what I’m going to do? No human being can perceive this. This is something beyond human consciousness. A person cannot grasp this.

This in itself is the reason that a person has free choice.

As long as a person cannot grasp that understanding then his free choice is in place because he has the ability to choose this or that, life or death.

But as soon as this wisdom comes into his realm, that free choice will dissipate and he will no longer have free will.

We learn that in the future, the sages will be sitting with their crowns “in their heads” (not on their heads) – what is permeating beyond and around them will come into their intellect – into their heads. Our free choice will not be the same. The sages will be “sitting” (ie. not moving from their place)

How do we bring transcendental reasoning into our minds?

First, we must conceive these transcendental concepts. Similar to the way a woman gives birth through crying out, we give birth to our understanding from the hidden realm. This is the deeper meaning of the process of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Hoshana Rabbah – to scream out from our constricted consciousness to God to help us to sanctify these windows with holiness of Hashem so that we merit to reach a place of expanded understanding.

A person brings higher intellect inside, which is the aspect of Sukkah – the transcendental intellect that comes to us from sitting in the sukkah and connecting to the powers of sukkot through observing the spiritual technology of its laws.

Transcending our ways of being obsessed with the past and the future – transcending our thinking to being above time is what Sukkot is all about. A temporary dwelling – transcendence . The makifin – the higher levels of intellect – the culmination of all the holidays.

Shabbat shalom and chag sameach.

Blessings,

Etan

How to transcend time | Rectifying the imagination