The Next Test

apple_snake.gif

3/7/2016

The Next Test

“Behold, I set before you a blessing and a curse.”

-The Source

“Torah, for those who merit it, becomes an elixir of life. Torah, for those who lack such merit, becomes a potion of poison and death.”

-The Talmud

Torah is instruction designed to teach us the truth about the Creator. Torah means direction, teaching, instruction or doctrine.

The words of Torah are a blessing, or a poisonous curse.

If your deeds are pure, the words of the Torah become the elixir to life and joy – but if your deeds are spoiled and bent then those same words of Torah can become a lethal poison. How?

The words of Torah are truth. Cosmic law. Divine law. Reality.

Joy comes through alignment with truth. Pain comes from dis-alignment. When your actions are aligned with Torah, its words of wisdom reinforce the spirit of joy within. Its words become a blessing.

But when you fall to base desires, and by choice separate and become dis-aligned, it doesn’t change the truth – the words of the Torah. Those words just become painful to face, because you are in a low place as a result of your own choices.

The key to a joyous life is to align with the truth. To align your actions to the truth. Then you can feel the joy in the words of Torah and bask in the blessings surrounding you – through your choices to rise above the pullings of your adversarial force.

You rise higher through restricting from the alluring call of base desires – impulses pulling you to dishonesty, lust, anger, ego, revenge, addiction, jealousy and fear. These are the internal and external gods which we are warned to not worship in Exodus, “You shall have no other gods before Me”.

King David said it himself, “There shall be no strange god in you, neither shall you worship any strange god.”

That flare of anger, that high, is a strange internal god. That persons property is a strange external god.

When you overcome a test, you experience a burst of exertion followed by a flow of sustained joy. When you succumb to a lower pull, you experience a flash of adversarial release followed by sustained pain. You further envelop yourself in the husk of illusion and physicality.

And the tests keep presenting themselves, one after the other, day after day. Fortunately for us, the Source is all merciful – “slow to anger and quick to forgive”. But this just leads us to the next opportunity where the choice is ours once again.

All these tests are here for a reason. Through them, our heart’s desire is measured. Our will is established. And according to the sages, at the end, it’s the will, the ratzon, which we are responsible for, not how high we climbed or how far we traveled.

We need to show up to the fountain of blessing with a strong vessel.

Poor choices can crack the vessel we need to hold the blessings coming to us. Wise choices strengthen the vessel. Teshuva patches up a crack, reinforcing the vessel even stronger than it was before the fracture.

As transformers, it is our job to elevate the spiritual sparks within all matter – to rebuild the vessel of humanity which was shattered at the Big Bang, at the destruction of the Temples and through our our own destructive choices today. We accomplish this by connecting and adhering to the spiritual laws of the Torah through our thoughts, actions and intentions.

We are building a spiritual structure here, like the 3rd Temple which the sages say is already built above us, that we will once again experience. We are crafting the foundation of our eternal reality through our physical actions. This is why we are here. This is what we are building.

It’s that big. That important. Every test.

Contemplate this when your next test shows up today.

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Blessings,

Etan

The Next Test

Opening doors to the next level of success

Shar_Tzion

1/19/2016

Opening doors to the next level of success

“Fear builds walls to bar the light”
-The Baal Shem Tov

 

Many of us wanted to stay in Egypt. Even as we witnessed the most incredible miracles of all time, we couldn’t help but think about the food we were leaving as we marched into the dessert of unknown. We missed the routine of Egypt. The small joys that we were accustomed to.

Even while witnessing grand miracles, the thought of walking into the unknown and leaving behind the certainty of the small joys of material slavery seemed frightening. It would require exertion and change. We’d rather put a hard day’s work in and enjoy the nightly meal. We’ve trained ourselves to survive in this limited sphere of enslavement. Maybe freedom would continuously require that we meet these moments of tests of our free will, walking blindly into the future with some expected satisfactory result. Many of us were not up for the challenge. And many of us still aren’t today.

There’s a moment that we all keep bumping into. A moment that will repeat itself over and over again through a recreation of the setup of circumstances in our lives. A moment whose purpose is to test our true will. How ready are we to make the space in our lives for increased blessing and success. Without expanding our vessel, we simply do not have the space for this increase – but through expanding it, we make room for unlimited light.

This choice of vessel expansion is what these moments of tests are all about. They require overcoming the adversarial force within us so that we can earn the blessing and success that’s right behind it.

These moments require a meeting of our higher wisdom and our physical action.

Rebbe Nachman teaches that we must force ourself to put all our strength into our prayers. That true devotion is binding our thoughts to our words of prayer – and this is how our inner power will enter our prayers, automatically. That all of our unlimited inner power waits for the moment when it is drawn into the physical words of holiness.

Success needs to be earned in order for it to last.

Kabalistically, manifesting success in every field of our life is the ability to access the potential that exists with us already.

The question is, why is this energy of success concealed and how do we bring it from potential to actual?

A fundamental universal law of success according to the Zohar is that there are 2 major forces within us – the soul and the adversary. The Soul connects to the big picture – it knows that everything that happens in life is to help me grow. That I’m responsible for my own destiny. That I need to shift something to create the space for success.

The adversary is the force inside that makes me jump to the consciousness of temporary success, routine and small joys – to become reactive – every time I face that moment of challenge to react with fear, worry, uncertainty, hurt, blame.

The soul knows that everything is opportunity in my life. A chance to grow closer to that force within myself – the adversary looks to cause chaos in my life – makes me reactive, impulsive, basing my judgment on how I feel this second – my subjective perception of reality.

The Source is the infinite energy of love, fulfillment and success, and each one of us is accessing only an aspect of that success – our potential is not tapped. Our real purpose is to expand our vessel to reveal our next level of success, fulfillment, love and accomplishment in every area of our life. We are all deep inside striving for that next level.

Sometimes we get what we want but we feel empty. Or, when we get it something else, another part of life is taken away from us – this is only because I didn’t really tap into the energy of success. Therefore I have not truly acquired it.

The kabalistic law of success is that the energy of success must be lasting in my life – and in the process of acquiring it, I need to overcome the adversarial force (selfishness, fear, ego, impulsive nature) within – I need to overcome the guard at the door to the next level.

Every time I overcome it I am actually igniting the sense of true fulfillment – becoming the co creator of that fulfillment – opening the door to acquire the room to house increased blessing in my life. The proper consciousness is we are here to expand our potential – go to the next level in every area of life.

Every time we face a challenge our base nature is to become reactive, to worry, to anger – especially when unfair things happen. At that moment, we must pause, restrict, observe – as tough as that challenge is – and recognize that this is really the opportunity to overcome the adversarial force within – because the Source sent me that challenge and the Source also gave me the ability to overcome that challenge.

So instead of focusing on that external opponent that is disturbing me so much, that I have a rage towards – let go! Shift focus on overcoming the internal opponent – the guard at that next level of success. This challenge was given to me in order to expand my ability to access success and blessing. A shift in how I look at things. From the mindset of losing and suffering to one of certainty that it’s for the sake of expanding.

As a result, from an unexpected place, things will improve – the light will reveal itself as we shift our reaction from external negativity to the battle within, and then deal with the situation with a different perception – opening doors to the next level of success revealing itself to us.

It’s not about not dealing with the problems in life, it’s about first pausing and letting go of the reactivity and then dealing with the issue from a place of positivity and clarity.

Between me and the next level of success there is a door that I need to cross and at that door I need to overcome the adversary who is not external – it is internal. The guard at the door manifests itself as fear, uncertainty, anger, entitlement.

Real success and long term blessing will be achieved according to the Zohar every time I am able to overcome the adversary within.

Our sole purpose in this world is to come close to our Source. This is where unlimited joy shines from. The adversarial force’s sole purpose is not to distract us from coming closer to the Source, but to help us grow. It’s entire existence is one of illusion, a coach who pushes us to the extreme to help us attain higher levels of success. At that next moment of test that we face, when the adversarial force is raging within us pushing us to fall, what it really is saying to us is – let me see you withstand my challenge and become great.

Blessings,

Etan

Opening doors to the next level of success

The Path of Jacob

esau jacob

11/24/2015

The Path of Jacob

I see how this works – that it’s You behind everything.

It’s not just using You to accomplish something physical – it’s using the physical to connect to You.

Help me to not fall into the mentality of selling myself short through chasing small desires.

Help me to raise my faith and clarity higher to serve You with a pure and complete heart.

Help me find my highest joy in serving You with all my heart, all my soul all my might.

Let me find total joy in this. Absolute elation.

This is a winning equation.

This is reality.

This feels right and excites me.

This excites my body and soul and mind and heart and every part of me together in harmony.

This makes my soul dance with my body.

“Esau raised his eyes and saw all that Jacob had with him. He asked Jacob, what did you intend by that whole camp that I met? And Jacob answered, to gain favor in your eyes.”

Esau responded, “I have RAV” – I have plenty, I have abundance – a language implying arrogance and conceit.

And Jacob said, “I have KOL”, I have everything – I have all I need. A language of gratitude and humility.

Both had alot – but each had totally different perspectives on what they had and their relationship to the Source of what they had.

Let the wisdom of this epic encounter really sink into my heart.

We need to first learn what’s best for us, learn what true joy is, learn what our purpose is – and only then can we merit the joy of truly walking the high path because we understand what the high path is. We understand how to relate to the blessings in front of us.

This level takes training and tests of the heart in order to earn. It’s really a never ending process with higher and higher understandings but what else are we using our time here for? To decide on what we think we want and either achieve it or not and allow our happiness to rest on the outcome?

There is a higher path to walk. The path of Jacob.

Yes, there is the concept of serving Hashem for physical purposes and this is a good first step. It is higher than disconnection. It creates some sparks. It’s the next step for many of us from where we are at today. The next step toward the higher path. But there’s also the concept of serving Hashem with no ulterior motive. Simply because we realize that serving Hashem, aligning our heart and soul, actions and intellect, desires and wisdom, is the highest joy of all.

We reach a place of KOL – I have everything that I need right now.

The truth is that Hashem is spoon feeding us every split second. Every breath of air, every sip of water, every blink of an eye, movement of a limb. Our desires are influenced by where we are holding in our life. The sick desire health, the deaf desire hearing, the blind desire sight, the poor man desires money, the thirsty desire water, and the man of excess abundance desires another home, another vacation, another ring of security around his RAV.

This does not end.

When Jacob approached his brother Esau and offered him gifts, Esau said he had RAV, I have abundance – I have more than I need. Jacob said he had KOL, I have all that I need.

More than I need means I don’t need You anymore, I’m good, thanks.

All that I need means thank you for taking care of me yesterday, thank you for taking care of me now and I trust that You and only You will take care of me tomorrow.

It’s a live relationship.

It’s the way of the sages to walk like this.

Not full because of excess abundance, full because of happiness with their lot at this moment. The only lack is lack of faith that everything is coming from You and everything is exactly how You want it to be for my best interest at this moment.

When you make yourself small you shake off the chains of entitlement. You don’t need so much to feel full. You shake off the need for things to be a certain way – for your happiness to be dependent on an outcome.

When you realize that you are but dust and ashes, everything that comes to you is a gift that you are grateful for.

Being grateful is a very welcoming vibration to emit to the Giver who created the world to give of the highest levels of joy.

I have all I need right now. All I need is You.

Blessings,

Etan

The Path of Jacob

My setup here is fishy

Lion-Fish1

 

11/23/2015

My setup here is fishy

Dear Hashem,

I just had a very troubling discussion with my Rav.

Troubling in that it made me feel that I am trying to force Your hand in my life – and that I may be setting myself up for a downturn by taking on acts of devotion tied to the manifestation of certain things in my life.

He said my set up here is fishy.

That it’s not in accordance with all the Torah he has learned and the sages whose ways he has witnessed.

Fishy.

Now, he did start off the conversation with a bunch of reinforcing complements about my recent growth and how proud he was of me, etc.. But I’m troubled because my Rav said I’m doing something flawed. And my gut response was to be defensive and push him away and to be upset with him and think he is wrong and doesn’t really understand what I’m doing here.

The truth is I know he wants the best for me at least as much as I want it for myself.

But isn’t it OK to focus so intently on something that we are striving for in order to manifest a goal? To search out and edit aspects of our lifestyle which may be blocking an outcome in the name of clearing a path to ignite a desired result. Isn’t that a successful equation?

How do we align spiritually for something we so hope to accomplish in our life?

What about the Kabbalistic principal of building the requisite desire to achieve an objective and through restriction and exertion drawing in the desired light?

I started this daily hitbodidut commitment because I wanted something. So the question is, would I be this focused and consistent and connected even if I knew I wasn’t going to get what I was asking for?

It’s like a misbehaving child when we take away her toy will produce the most sincere sounding apologies, saying anything to get that toy back – but if she knew that she wasn’t getting that toy back she would still be complaining in her room. So her words are not really sincere because they are tied to an outcome which may or may not occur.

So what am I broadcasting to You here? Under these circumstances, Is it really in my best interest to give me what I am praying for? Or will that just cool me off and pull me back further from the yearning and connection I’m experiencing now?

I’m realizing that I need to not be attached to the outcome.

That the highest level, which I am striving for, is to not do things for the reward or even for the world to come but to simply do things because all I want is to connect to You. And just when I reach this level then giving me what I am praying for no longer will harm me.

I have to first let go, do my work and let You do Your work, and if it is Your will, then it will come. And if it is not Your will, so be it.

My lesson?

Serve Hashem for the sake of serving Him because that’s my purpose here. That’s the path to real joy. Serve Hashem without any agenda or fishy deals.

Sure, pray for things, but don’t commingle material demands and expectations with service – it takes the sincerity away. It takes the higher levels of why I’m doing what I’m doing away.

Growth that’s dependent on something is not real growth – only growth that’s in the name of heaven is real growth. Because if what you are depending on doesn’t materialize than what happens to your growth?

Fishy because you put your fate in the hands of a desired outcome – something other than Hashem’s will alone. You can’t force Hashem’s hand. Blessing will come when you are aligned, period. It will come in the form that Hashem chooses. Expectations and entitlements only detract from humility and gratitude.

I can still want and pray for what I want and pray for. But the approach should be checked – it should be kosher – listening to the wisdoms of our guides can seem painful at first. The pain comes from their truth. And the truth burns like fire. Best to singe ourselves now to avoid the fishy fires to come.

Blessings,

 

Etan

My setup here is fishy

Adventures In Hitbodidut | Clarity & Connection

Bal 21

 

11/19/2015

Adventures In Hitbodidut | Clarity & Connection

During a hitbodidut session on October 15th I was asking the Creator for something that’s important to me.

I asked what I could do to help make it happen.

An immediate response came through me which said to stop consuming alcohol and substances, attend minyan (prayer group) every day for shacharit and mincha and spend an hour a day in hitbodidut.

I was like, can I just have alchohol on Shabbat? And the response I felt was “no”.

I was like, what about just some wine on Shabbat for Kiddush, since it’s a spiritual requirement?, and the response I received was “no”.

So since this thing I want is so important to me, and since the clarity I received while reaching out to the Source was so clear, I made the commitment. And since then, I’ve kept it 100% and intend to.

The deal I made was that until this thing either happens, or clearly doesn’t happen, the deal is on. So I’m restricting from the intake of intoxicants and I’m exerting in effort to attend minyan and practice daily hitbodidut.

The feeling I got was that for me, for this to happen, I needed to be totally clear and connected. And now I feel like I am doing everything I can, physically and spiritually, to make it happen.

This comes on the heels of a new type of prayer that I’ve been connecting with over the past few months. I know that I’m here for my will to be tested – given the opportunity to exercise my free will to test my heart. And I know that at the end it’s the will of the heart that the Creator wants from me. So I’ve been praying and asking that I be given the strength to accomplish my rectification during a time of abundance and not lack, a time of health and not sickness, a time of blessing and bounty – for me to be a worthy recipient of blessing and to be able to grow fully into my potential without the need for difficulty and turmoil in my life.

This requires great pro-activity. It’s common to awaken from slumber when an emergency strikes. It’s common to get on our knees at a time of tragedy and great challenge. But when things are smooth sailing and dreams are becoming reality, it’s mad tough to remember the Source and keep it real. We are too busy relaxing and enjoying the new and improved creature comforts to rouse our self from sleep and grasp at the next rung of our spiritual potential.

I believe that I was created to receive the highest good from the Source, and that highest good is connecting my soul – which is a part of the Source – to the Source. I recognize that my ego and identity has developed its own separate version of what it considers good. And surrounding this image of what is good, are protective barriers which are not always so positive.

For example, I noticed that it was important for me to be viewed as good and successful in the eyes of others. So, at times when those around me would succeed, I would feel diminished in comparison. This handicap did not allow for me to fully celebrate others successes, and at times led me to even feel relief from others failures. Like, I could be their savior when they are down, or my reality somehow seemed more positive compared to their suffering and challenge. I recognize this as an illness caused by my own twisted view of my self from the perspective of my limited identity. Believing this leads to a form of baseless hatred, since I am separating myself from my brothers and sisters, secretly unable to share their joy.

Baseless hatred is the reason why the first and second temples were destroyed because God cannot rest the unity of His Presence among this form of hatred and separation – I’ve prayed for hours and hours on this matter. To not only realize, but to internalize and transform my own self worth and how it is effected by my identity’s version of my self.

I am commanded to love my brother like I love myself. Really, there is no difference. The only seeming difference comes from my ego which sees my self and my soul’s will as separate – and this is a form of enslavement to the physical. True joy comes from ascending beyond the constraints of my ego and transcending my physical identity into alignment with my eternal soul. This is how to build a worthy vessel for Divine abundance.

Since October 15th I’ve been hitting the mikvah every morning, praying in a minyan, refining my character traits during hitbodidut and judging my actions and intentions all throughout the day – realizing that everything is a test. Everything is from Hashem. My job is clear – to align with Hashem’s will through aligning my attributes with His revealed attributes. And only when I am on this path and involved in this process am I really happy.

The daily hitbodidut allows for me to scan my last 24 hours. To remember how I lost my patience with my son, how I talked about business on Shabbat, and on and on. And, how I felt about each of those actions. How they produced a sense of separation between my soul and my body. An energetic feeling of dis-alignment I get to revisit. I repent on each of those actions and I vow to try my best to not repeat them. And I forgive myself and I earn true deep joy through the process of rectification of my actions. My disconnection brings me to become even more connected. This is the power to teshuva – and without mindful contemplation, it’s very tough to accomplish on the fly.

I feel clear now. I have more energy. I feel more productive – and the things I was and am praying for which started all this are seeming closer and closer. I feel like I’m doing my part. I’m grateful for what I have and for what’s in front of me.

I know that my life will be full of twists and turns ahead but I know that if I stay clear and connected, I’ll be able to get through it all successfully.

Man, I miss Balvenie 21 Portwood and Oban and Glenmorangie 18. I can put down more than most. I miss that Friday night pre shul lullaby high and that Saturday morning buzz l’kavode Shabbos kodesh. But, something inside so clearly is telling me that I need all the energy I can access now – I need clarity, restriction, focus and exertion to take my game to the next level and to create a vessel worthy of receiving all that I’m asking for.

Blessings,

Etan

Adventures In Hitbodidut | Clarity & Connection

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

Jacob’s Angel | Fighting for a Dwelling Place for God

jacobs-angel

7/23/2015

Jacob’s Angel | Fighting for a Dwelling Place for God

Because of our void we see ourselves as separate from our brothers and sisters.

Because of our void we seek to compensate for feelings of inadequacy by casting destructive thoughts and energies towards our brothers and sisters.

Divine presence won’t rest there.

The concept of separation – of defining ourselves in contrast to others is so common – fragmentation – creating differentiations – orthodox, conservative, reform, re-constructionist – far right, far left – so far from One nation.

Divine presence won’t rest there.

What do we think these baseless feelings of separation which emerge from our void are causing spiritually?

The fending off of Divine presence in our lives – Hashem won’t take the smell of it, and the temple is destroyed – which means that Hashem is in hiding. Still here, just we can’t see Him as clearly. And with hiding comes chaos and destruction – and we are forced to see the good in destruction, which causes us to mourn and yearn and change our ways to bring Him back to our perception.

It’s taking personal responsibility for our destructive thoughts and actions. It’s tikkun chatzot. It’s praying for the success of others. It’s not speaking negatively about our brothers and sisters. Its giving charity. It’s sharing illuminating wisdom. It’s seeing each other as one.

Why is the 9th of Av so powerful? There are 365 days of the year corresponding to 365 sinews in our bodies corresponding to 365 negative commandments (the 365 do not do’s) – the sinew of the sciatic nerve corresponds to the 9th of Av which corresponds to the Samech Mem (Angel of Death) which corresponds to the ultimate evil – the seed of all negativity – so on this day we don’t eat or have marital relations or spray perfume or anoint or rock leather shoes or wash up or get joy from learning Torah. We starve the Samech Mem like we starve ourselves from the treif sciatic nerve.

Jacob’s fight with the Samech Mem corresponds to the angel of Esau, which corresponds to the cosmic struggle between two nations and two worlds, which corresponds to the battle between spirituality and materiality, which corresponds to our struggle in exile  – and the angel struck the hollow of his thigh, the sciatic nerve. Jacob could not be overcome but he was struck in his thigh, the area which corresponds to a region of the body that is biblically symbolic of procreation and future generations. That’s us – for us to remember this struggle today.

Hashem tasked the Samech Mem to put up his best fight to guard us against reaching our highest potential. That’s his job. He is our resistance. It’s not that he is a bad guy – he is doing holy work. When we overcome him we can celebrate with him.

But we can only overcome him through restriction and exertion – from seeing the greater vision from our personal and collective place of void. Then we can turn the seed of evil into the point of potential – to overcome and achieve our highest potential. Without the Samech Mem, we can’t reach our highest potential. So the highest light comes from this day which corresponds to Samech Mem which corresponds to the sciatic nerve which corresponds to the 365 sinews, days, Tish’a B’Av.

When the Samech Mem wins, Hashem hides. The temple is destroyed. We are then forced to find the good in the bad as opposed to seeing the good in broad daylight. Today we have separate blessings for “good” events (Who is good and does good) and “bad” events (The true Judge) – but in the future there will be no more duality – there will only be one blessing (Who is good and does good).

On that day, God will be One and His Name One”  (Zehkariah 14:9)

The Samech Mem is our sparring partner. We get better by fighting with him. We get stronger. Just like a seed must deteriorate before it grows into a tree so must we deteriorate our identity – our exterior husk, before we can grow into our potential – our fight with the Samech Mem is our fight with our limited ego – our perception of duality amongst ourselves and our brothers and sisters.

When we overcome and transform our ego so that we see with spiritual pure eyes, then Hashem is in front of us, clear as day – and when He is clear as day to us collectively, the temple is built and we can serve Him – bringing sacrifices of our animistic identifications to our Creator once again with clear vision.

So this Saturday night and Sunday, step out of your leather shoes, don’t wash up, refrain from eating and drinking, marital relations and doing business, from anointing with oils and lotions – it’s the time to sit low and meditate on Lamentations – on the internal quest from baseless hatred and its destructive consequences to endless love and its unifying potential.

Most of all, remember that out of destruction – hidden within destruction as destruction’s purpose, is a love from Hashem that calls us to Him – to the ultimate purpose – to our redemption and salvation. Know this love even in darkness and know that the darkness is only here because of this love.

jacob

Blessings,

Etan

Jacob’s Angel | Fighting for a Dwelling Place for God