Nourishment for the Neshama
Nourishment for the Neshama

Birthpangs of the Moshiach…what are the contractions for?

It is not hard to see that the number of people who kill at random or for political purposes seems to  be far more regularly occurring.  Our very lives, our existence in this world, has become almost cartoonish in its fragility – from knock outs to stabbings to shootings to slaughters to exterminations to benign neglect of the elderly to changes in the allocation of medical care, life appears to be about the quality we have while we are able to move and contribute without getting blipped off the screen by some lunatic who perhaps has forgotten that we are real and not objects in a video game.


We are far more than the vessels that carry our souls.  Without our bodies, we do not have life.  However, without our souls our life has no purpose.  The purpose we have is to bring Hashem’s glory into the world by consciously choosing His attributes over our  natural reactions in every moment.  When such choices more and more become our natural reaction, we can measure our progress towards that  purpose.


Our intellect can shift to attach to this purpose.  This is the goal of the birthpangs.  To shift our identity from a body enlivened by a soul to pursue the agenda of ego and physicality to a soul enabled by a body to reveal in time and space Hashem’s Torah and attributes.


If we struggle, perhaps we can even get to the point where we realize that we can never truly accomplish such devotion as long as we are in this world because of the nature of having a body.  That in and of itself would reflect that we understand something of who we are for all eternity.  And in the moment, we then ask Hashem to please help us rise above our limitations in order to fulfill His Will, because we love Hashem and wish to be the vessel to reveal Him, fearing with trepidation the consequences of ignoring our responsibility to do so because of the great awe we have in the manner that Hashem has designed the universe and our existence, including this amazing paradox and struggle between external ego feeling internal and internal soul seemingly concealed.


The way we identify ourselves is crucial.  The pathway to shifting our identity is verbal introspection.  The time is now.

Filling potholes - tips on switching back to proper use of ego to reveal Hashem's Glory

There is a pothole in our makeup through which our intellect falls into a pursuit of desires, jealousy or the pursuit of honor.  The magnetism of this pothole is a divinely given gift that can become the means by which a beautiful equally heartfelt revelation of Hashem’s Glory can beam into time and space.  The key is to understand that the desires, jealousies and pursuits of honor, despite feeling like internal emotions, are external to our true identity, that of tzelem elokim.


Rabbi Ittamar Schwartz in Da Es Atzmecha explains clearly that we are neshamas in a garment called a body and all the details of what that means.


In one second, we get a thought that generates a self-referencing reaction and we immediately descend into an imagination that is very far away from the chochma of Torah or Hashem’s will.  Sensitivity for this switch out of the real reality into our subjective false reality is of paramount importance.  It is not possible to begin to develop that sensitivity without a daily hisbodidus, a verbal introspection, a prayer exposing our subjective negative reactions that belong to externalities but appear internally real and powerful.  These self-referencing ideas could be in the category of arrogance, gaiva, fear, anger, or anything where the subject of the matter is “I”.  Usually we are desiring to re-establish a sense of value that we believe has been challenged or lost.  By definition, that cannot be true, but because of the way we are constructed, to fall into that pothole of thinking, we begin a journey into ego and ego solutions.  Speaking out loud to Hashem is the remedy for that because it immediately limits the ego-mindedness gripping us to make room once again for the true reality, that all there is in the world is Hashem Who creates the magnetic alternative to see if we will remember to ask Him to throw us a life-line through our prayers.  Speaking out loud to Hashem daily builds the facility with which we are able to re-establish ourselves as neshamas in a garment called a body.


Or perhaps we have a desirous thought, for food, for money, for connection.  Once again, these are attempts to validate something that we feel we “deserve.”  Torah permits us a great deal of pleasure.  As long as it is within Torah constraints, then it is permitted to us.  However, if we seek it with abandon or for its own sake, we have forgotten that its ultimate purpose is to give us pleasure while we are serving Hashem, Who when we serve Him in truth is the giver of the ultimate pleasure – that of being the conduit of His Attributes into this world.  Even when we want the pleasure of doing the right thing, that too is a corrupted motivation because it reflects that we are doing this for the “I”, for strengthening the sense of the self in ego terms.  Rather, it is imperative that we recognize that doing what is right in Hashem’s eyes for Him is to give Him pleasure and reveal Him in this world because we desire that He be seen here.  Much work needs to be done on ourselves to free us from the ego desire to be aligned with being good and right.  The motivation for Him to be visible in this world is a greater pleasure that in a back door way gives the ego a way to be involved that does not cause us to say and do things that bring ourselves or others into stumbling into the pothole, that magnet desiring at all times to draw us into subjective reality – struggling to secure our dependency needs in a frame of mind of all is fair in love and war.

Chesed is an expression that counteracts the feelings of jealousy - when we realize that all good is sourced in Hashem Who knows what we need and what is actually good for us, we have the emunah we need to pull ourselves out of being envious of others.


In all the world there is nothing but Hashem.  Yes He diffuses His presence and creates beings with free will, but with faculty of mind, we can step into a world of service where we can avoid the potholes that draw us into external yet internally experienced falsehood.


And may we be zocheh to Moshiach just for the yearning to do this and may Hashem soon reveal His Glory in time and space for His Sake!

Putting truth into our lives


Whether or not a person believes in Hashem or a higher being, everyone alive sees  within the lives that we cherish temporal and challenging aspects.  We are not perfect.  The people around us are not perfect.  There is pain and suffering and fear.  These adversities are known to everyone. No one denies them, even if a person has a great outlook on life and on dealing with life.


Every time a baby is born, it is such a miracle.  Every time someone passes away, we feel the wrenching away of something precious.


At a minimum, we can open to the concept that we are not in control of what is happening in the world, in our environment.  Can we also see that there IS an orchestration though?  When we develop experiential understanding of the role we have in Creation, then we have an integrated understanding that there IS a Creator.


The pathway to developing experiential understanding, in the terminology of the Baal Shem Tov, is submission, separation and sweetening.  Without explaining each step here ( please see Rabbi Schwartz’s book Da Es Atzmecha  on, when we are able to submit, separate from the subjective self-referencing yet maintain the energy level and redirect that energy with intent to unify Hashem’s Name, with awe and love of Hashem to reveal His Glory, then our actions and speech express something not only sweet to the Creator but that leads to experiential understanding of our role.  What we often experience is that whatever the challenge that stimulated the initial reaction, Hashem gives us a resolution that is joyous in time and space.  We bring our reactions to Hashem with the desire to reveal His Glory and put that into our actions and He repairs the challenge in a way that is pleasing to us.  Open to this reality!  It is truth.  And with this truth, we develop integrated understanding, daas, of our lives, of our purpose, of our Creator.  He is all there is in the world.  Hashem has gone to a great deal of effort to give us free will to choose truth. He wants to give us all good but He does not override our free will.  It is therefore our intellect that we use to activate awe of Hashem when we are in a dark mood – what is the purpose? 


The purpose is to reflect deeply on the earthly elements that compose that mood – earth, wind, water and fire, sadness, flightiness, desires, and anger or unstable fears or arrogance.  These are the elements of creation of which every last ounce is within us.  Yet we also are given a tzelem elokim and a purpose to bring into the elemental side of our lives Torah  When experiencing reactions from a self-referencing automatic reactive nature, we choose to have awe of Hashem, that this has a purpose in His eyes for He sent it. What is that purpose?  As we experience the feelings we are reliving, how old are they?  Have we made any progress with these reactions since we were two years old, or are the radioactive and other elements the same? 


It is time to apply love of Hashem. With compassion for the part of the soul that is trapped in a limited unrectified place, we lovingly and gently ask Hashem to please help us bring His Glory into this place within us, to please stabilize the radioactivity with knowledge of Torah and the goodness of Hashem so that these co-exist within us and we are able to form the fire into warmth and light instead of total destruction.


The degree of emunah that we have is crucial.  In order to respond from this shaped warmth and light, it is imperative that we believe that all there is in the world is Hashem and we choose that role over the role we would otherwise find ourselves in, that self-referencing role that keeps us on red alert and self-preservation mode.  The Place of the world is Hashem and He alone determines our survival.


And please don’t think we have to “hold our nose and take this as medicine.”  The joy of being a vessel to reveal Hashem’s glory is the joy for which we are created. 


And the laughter we can experience as we see our challenges dissipate because they are no longer necessary stimulation from Hashem designed to inspire our teshuva as described above is a laughter we all hope to experience very soon with the coming of Moshiach.

From slavery to freedom - liberating our very minds!

Rabbi Ittamar Schwartz, the author of Bilvavi Mishkan Evna, talks about Pesach in clear detail regarding how the seder brings our understanding, our daas, from slavery to freedom.  Please see his writing in italics below reprinted from


Rabbi Yaakov Zalman Labinsky explains in this shiur on the Higher Order of the Seder exactly how the four cups of wine and the seder effect this redemption after we have diligently prepared ourselves with Passover preparations.  Although I first heard this mp3 three years ago, it was a sweat for me then to grasp what Rabbi Labinsky was explaining, how when we free up the part of us that was enslaved, it must immediately attach to kadosh so that we do not again find that part of us enslaved to something else.


Download | Duration: 01:04:11

Please listen to Rabbi Labinsky’s shiur before and then again after reading the below for the personal details we need as we grow through the seder.  In here is the personal redemption we seek to bring our understanding to a higher understanding that could possibly make a difference.


When we are experiencing any form of negativity, whatever our emotional pain or suffering or angst is,  the name of the midda we are experiencing is the midda of daas. Something from our lower experience is out of sync with the higher reality that everything Hashem does is good. Hashem did not keep daas as something external to every person.  He made it something built into the soul that each person struggles with throughout our lives, and that is the resolution of our challenging emotions. 


What all of our challenges have in common is the opportunity to  recognize and respond to the experience of negativity with a response of awe, of immediately pausing and directing our minds to “Hashem is One, there is No Other Power, He is Good, what does Hashem wish to be integrated into the actions and speech in this situation.  What we all potentially share is the choice to respond NOT from a sense of a being whose self-preserving instincts bring our intellect toward acknowledgment or solutions that restore normalcy but rather to respond to a call from Hashem Who desires that we yield and open to permit our understanding to become infused by Torah so that we integrate that Torah into our hearts and reveal it in our speech and actions so that His Glory can be seen in the world.  When we recognize that we can use intellect in this manner, and when we have the emunah to know that if we do, whatever is triggering it is totally in Hashem’s control and He can affect it in one second, then we are conducting ourselves with an integrated understanding that can truly make a difference in the world.  When we realize that our higher soul and Torah can be brought into the place where we are emotionally suffering and draw into ourselves for Hashem’s sake what we need to reveal His Glory, that sacrifice is the giving to Hashem that He desires from us.  May we begin to try to comprehend and in the moment do what is pleasing in Hashem’s eyes because we truly desire to see His Glory in this world NOW.



Pesach | פסח from

The Egyptian exile was an exile of our da’as (our mind). This we can see from what Hashem told Avraham Avinu, that “you will surely know (“yodua teida”) that your offspring will be foreigners in a land that is not theirs…”

The Egyptian exile was an exile of our da’as, and its redemption was a redemption to our da’as. From the double usage of the word da’as in the possuk (yodua teida) we can see that there are two kinds of exiles that both involve an exile to our da’as. Let us reflect what these two kinds of da’as are.

The Baal Shem Tov explains that these two kinds of da’as are a “masculine” kind of da’as and a “feminine” kind of da’as. The redemption from Egypt was a feminine kind of da’as, and the future redemption will be a masculine kind of da’as. What does he mean? The way to understand his statement is as follows. In a person, there are two components: feelings and vision. (An example of “vision” is that a person is obligated on the night of Pesach to see himself leaving Egypt”).

The feminine kind of da’as is "feeling", and the masculine kind of da’as is vision. Egypt was an exile to our feelings – our feminine aspect of da’as. Its redemption was a redemption as well to our feminine da’as. But the future redemption will involve our masculine kind of da’as, which is our vision. “For with an eye and an eye we will see the return of Hashem to Zion.”

It is well-known that the final redemption is also contained in the first redemption. The redemption from Egypt is the root of the final redemption.

In terms of our soul, we must know what these two different kinds of redemption are.

Our Mind Is Still In Exile

There are two “kings” that reside in a person: the mind and the heart. The mind’s vision is limited and we need to learn how to expand it.

The Zohar always uses an expression of ta chazi, “come and see”, while the Gemara always uses an expression of ta shema, “come and hear.” When a person hears, he hears the feelings, but when a person sees, he doesn’t use his feelings, just his limited vision. The abilities of feeling and vision are two distinct forces in the soul, and each of them need to be removed from what’s stuffing them up. Our mind’s vision is prevented by being too narrow-sighted, while our heart’s feelings can be stuffed with timtum halev (spiritual “blockage”).

In the Egyptian exile, our heart was in exile. There was a redemption to this, so our feelings were redeemed with this. But our mind still hasn’t been totally redeemed. Our feelings of the soul, such as ahavah (love), yirah (fear), hispaarus (pride), etc. were redeemed in Egypt, but our mind’s vision – in other words, our inner vision, the ability to see holiness – is still concealed in an exile.

The Avodah of the Egyptian exile was to recognize Hashem’s goodness and to come to have feelings for Him, such as love and fear of Hashem. But what is the Avodah of the final exile?

We must expand our minds in order to know this.

The Secret Of The Redemption: Unity

In the writings of the Arizal it is brought that the night of Pesach is a time of “gadlus hamochin” (a higher state of mind). What is the higher state of mind, and what is the lower state of mind?

Simply speaking, it means that sometimes our mind is more or less clear. But the more truthful outlook is that gadlus hamochin is a straight way of thinking – “G-d made man upright” (Koheles 7:29) – it is a straight kind of vision, and in it lies a person’s mind.

In the redemption of Egypt, anyone who didn’t merit to leave Egypt perished. The wicked perished in the plague of darkness. Everyone else who left Egypt all left as one collective unit – there was achdus (unity) of the entire nation at the redemption. At this redemption, the entire Jewish people were united to follow Hashem into the desert, experience the splitting of the sea and the giving of the Torah. At all of these events, all 600,000 souls of the Jewish people were all present.

The inner way to look at reality is to see everything as one. From an inner perspective, a person sees how many details are really all one collective unit. The secret that brings on a redemption is to be united into one unit. For example, the entire Jewish people in Egypt did not change their names, language, or dress.

Thus, the redemption is all about achdus – unity. There is a redemption that will take place to the Jewish people as a whole. There is also a personal redemption to each person that will take place, a redemption to each person’s soul. This is to redeem our mind. To redeem our mind, we must acquire an inner perspective on things – a perspective of achdus, to be able to see how many details connect and are all one.

Before, we mentioned that we have two different component in us: the feelings, which are in our heart, and our vision, which is in our mind. Our mind, which is otherwise known as the masculine kind of daas, has an advantage over the heart in that it can see how many details connect into one. Our mind is capable of seeing achdus.

The second Beis Hamikdash was destroyed because of sinas chinam (baseless hatred). The future redemption will be the opposite of this; it will be a unity of the world. The secret to the redemption is achdus.

When a person acquires the inner perspective – the way to see unity in many details – this is the secret to the redemption.

The secret to the current exile is contained in the Egyptian exile. By understanding what the Egyptian exile was, we can learn about our own redemption from the current exile, because the root of all redemption is the redemption from Egypt.

What Is This Unity?

What is this secret of “achdus” of the final redemption, which is contained in the Egyptian exile?

We say in the Haggaddah, “And G-d took us out of Egypt, not through an angel or through a seraph or through a messenger, but G-d Himself, in His Honor.”

There is a concept that everything which takes place in the world also takes place in time, and everything that takes place in time also takes place in our soul. In our own soul, there can be a redemption by Hashem Himself.

On the night of Pesach, there is a revelation of G-dliness in every person’s soul! “Not through an angel or a seraph or a messenger, but G-d himself.” As long as a person doesn’t block this revelation from happening, it becomes revealed in one’s soul on the night of Pesach: a personal redemption that takes place in the soul.

When a person still has an egotistical “I”, he is separate from others. But when there is a revelation of G-dliness in the soul, a secret of “oneness” (rozo d’echad) is revealed in the soul.

If a person looks at another person according to the other’s opinions about life, then he is apart from others. Chazal say that “Just like all faces are different, so are all minds different.” But when a person looks at another person’s soul with a deep perspective, he sees G-dliness in another Jew’s soul. He sees “Hashem Himself” that resides in the deepest point in every Jew’s soul. (This deepest point is the called “Yechidah”.) When a person has this perspective, he has an outlook of achdus toward every Jew and he unifies every soul into one unit.

This revelation that takes place in the soul on the night of Pesach is the root of the future redemption.

Thus, on the night of Pesach we have an additional Avodah upon us. Besides for the well-known Avodah that we must connect ourselves to leaving Egypt now, there is another Avodah – to reveal the root of the future redemption. We must recognize what the redemption is and connect to it.

The Root Of The Future Redemption – Nullifying Your Ego

The power of the future redemption is essentially the ability to leave the selfish “I” in a person. As long as a person is still egotistical, there is a divide between a person and Hashem. When a person still has his ego, he has only his daas, and each person’s daas is different…this is the depth of Chazal that “Just as all faces are different, so are all minds different.” A person’s self-absorption prevents the revelation of achdus.

We need to acquire the higher daas. This is called “Keil de’os (G-d of knowledge”, an expression used by the Rambam). This is not regular daas of a person; it is a higher kind of daas that is hidden from us. It is the kind of daas which unifies the many varying opinions of people, the many different kind of daas that everyone has.

In the redemption from Egypt, even though it was a redemption to our daas, it was only a redemption to each person’s private daas. We are still different toward each other, because we each have our own opinions. It wasn’t yet a total redemption.

There are two ways how we can see this. First of all, Moshe Rabbeinu was afraid that the people wouldn’t be worthy of being redeemed, because of the wicked individuals present. This was already a lapse in the unity of the Jewish people. In addition to this, even when they were redeemed, the Erev Rav (“Mixed Multitude”, Egyptian non-Jews who escaped Egypt together with the Jewish people) came with them, which affected the unity of the Jewish people.

The future redemption, though, will be a total redemption to our daas. It will be a nullification of our daas and in its place a revelation of the higher Daas, the Daas of the Creator. The revelation of Hashem by the redemption will be a revelation of the achdus of the Jewish people.

This we have two missions on Pesach: we must feel as if we are leaving Egypt now, to receive a new vitality in our feelings. But this isn’t enough. Even with renewed feelings, our perspective can still be very limited. Feelings without a developed mind can be imbalanced; feelings aren’t everything. Some people are so zealous that they go overboard with their zealousness. We must realize that our feelings are only a garment on our soul – feelings aren’t everything, and we shouldn’t get caught up in them.

Our feelings alone aren’t everything – they need to be fused with an expanded mind.

For example, the mitzvah of Ahavas Yisrael is really going on wicked people as well. One of the four sons is a wicked son; we must still love him as a son, even though he is wicked. In the future redemption, all the dispersed members of our people will be gathered together, even the wicked members. Although in Egypt, “had the wicked son been there, he wouldn’t have been redeemed”, still, in the future redemption, which is a more complete redemption, the wicked will be included.

This kind of feeling is a feeling expanded by the mind. This is the gadlus hamochin contained on Pesach.

“Now we are slaves, Next Year we will be free”

We need both kinds of redemption: the past redemption of Egypt (which we already experienced), and the future redemption. These are two different kinds of redemption.

The previous redemption, the redemption from Egypt, is a light that we must return to each year on Pesach. The future redemption is something else: we must draw it closer to us and extend it upon us even now.

In the beginning of the Hagaddah, we say “Now we are slaves, Next year we will be free.” These are the beginning words of the Hagaddah, and they are the preface to what is upon us on the night of Pesach.

In these words we mention two things. We mention the “bread of suffering” which our ancestors ate in Egypt, yet we also mention the future redemption – “Next year we will be free.” This is not just a yearning for the redemption (which is also a wonderful thing to aspire to), but it is a connection to the redemption.

If we only consider the light of the redemption to be a thing of the past, then the purpose of the festival remains concealed.

The redemption hasn’t yet come. Thus, the Avodah we have on this Pesach is to awaken in us the inner meaning of the redemption – the higher aspect of the redemption, not the lower aspect of the redemption. We need both aspects, but the point is that we need the higher aspect of the redemption as well.

Inspiration Lasts Only If We Expand Our Mind

Upon understanding these words, we can look at the inner depth of the Avodah upon us, in a new light. There is a deep point hidden here.

Every year, the holy Jewish people want to be awakened and inspired. People hear inspiring lectures – each to his own. Everyone wants to awaken in his soul a feel for the holiness of the Yom Tov. But we must know that many times we just have “inspiration” (hisorerus) and after some time, our inspiration wanes and we just go back to usual.

What is the mistake that people are making? It has to do with what we have been saying until now: feelings, without the mind to guide them, are only half the equation. Even if we redeem our “feelings” and we are full of renewed feelings for holiness, without expanding our mind the feelings won’t last. It’s only “half” the redemption.

If all we do is open up our feelings, without expanding our mind – then we only have the first kind of redemption, a redemption from Egypt. We will be missing our current redemption.

With just feelings and no mind, the inspiration we get doesn’t last. We will be able to connect to the redemption from Egypt with our renewed feelings of love and fear of Hashem, but after that our inspiration will go away, and we will just be left with the remaining exiles that came after Egypt….

In order for our inspiration to last, we need an expanded mind. On the night of Pesach, one is obligated to “see” himself as if he’s leaving Egypt. What does it mean to “see” yourself leaving Egypt? Are we supposed to become deluded by our imagination?! We can understand that all our souls were there one time in Egypt, but why must we see ourselves actually leaving Egypt now?

The answer to this is part of our discussion. The other part of our redemption is to redeem our power of vision in the mind. We need to be able to “see.”

This halachah, that one must see himself leaving Egypt, contains the higher aspect of the redemption: to redeem one’s vision of the mind.

The depth of this is that if a person hasn’t nullified his ego and he doesn’t integrate himself with the Jewish people, then he doesn’t know how to “see.” He doesn’t have a vision of achdus. His redemption has nothing to do with Hashem – it’s all about redeeming himself. When a person remains absorbed in himself, he might have wonderful feelings for Avodas Hashem, but he actually might be on a very lowly level. Reb Yisrael Salanter’s words are famous – a person can be so afraid of the yom hadin (day of judgment), yet he damages others when they see a scowl on his face.

When a person only seeks to have great feelings in Avodas Hashem, it doesn’t mean yet that he is pure. It’s possible that he is self-absorbed in himself as he seeks to gain high levels in Avodas Hashem. He is so self-absorbed about his personal growth that he doesn’t even see one person next to him! Even when such a person tells about the story of the exodus to his household, he’s wrapped up in his own self as he seeks high levels to be on. Such a person is sorely mistaken in the purpose of the festival.

When a person doesn’t realize that the main part of the redemption is to be redeemed from one’s selfish ego, he is missing the whole redemption. He might love and fear Hashem and have all the great feelings that one can reach, but it’s all another way of being self-absorbed. This is not a true redemption. The true redemption to have on Pesach is when one nullifies his self and integrates into the Jewish people, as a part of a whole.

When one considers the redemption of Pesach to be about himself, he only redeems “himself.” We cannot call this a redemption. The purpose of the redemption is that all should recognize Hashem; it is about revealing Hashem, not about revealing one’s “I.”

The way to redeem yourself on Pesach is actually be nullifying yourself. When a person is locked up in a jail, he desires to escape it – he wants his “I” to escape it. His escape from it will just be all about how he worries for himself. But the depth to the redemption is to leave your very self and forget about yourself.

 This is really the depth of Ahavas Yisrael, which is the secret of the final redemption. Ahavas Yisrael is really when your soul has a redemption – when you leave yourself!! In other words, there is a kind of personal redemption in which you leave your inner imprisonment, and then there is another kind of redemption – when you leave your “I”. This is when you leave your ego for the sake of integrating with the rest of the Jewish people.

Thus, the beginning of redemption is to redeem our feelings. We need to first leave the materialism – the “bricks and mortar” – and enter the world of spirituality. The second part of our redemption, which is the purpose, is to reach our masculine kind of daas – the revelation of unity on the world; in other words, to nullify your “I.”

Hashem should merit all of the Jewish people that we all integrate with each other and from there, to integrate in unison with the Creator, who is really only One who exists.

More on how our value revealing tzelem elokim is the true focus for self-preservation - it is for eternity

The bonding that we experience with the self based on our experiences and environment is a carefully constructed uniquely designed potential artery for flowing Hashem’s Glory into this world through our thoughts speech and deeds.  The challenge is that unless we understand that we are to shift our intellect to serving Hashem and Torah for the fulfillment of our true self-[reservation for all eternity, we continuously fall for the experiential emotional reactive alternative that produces defensive or offensive conduct.


When we are able to see that our value is never affected but our fulfillment of our life’s purpose is rather based on choices that help us increasingly to reveal Hashem’s Will, we can have a new relationship with our most miserable and frustrating reactions.  The magnetic presence of our natural reaction and its flooding of every cell of our being is a tremendously strong, Divinely designed and orchestrated container!  Hashem is standing by ready to re-fill it with Torah solutions from the examples of our avos and imos that bring Him into the world and rectify our characteristics, generating feelings of pleasure and clarity as the difficulties dissipate.  It is our choice which way to attach our intellect, to the illusion that we can ever affect another person directly or provide for ourselves what we desire OR to open the channel of our hearts for service of Hashem, knowing that whatever He sends will be tov, good, kule tov.


This is the inspiration we can bring to our misery.  And when we can see this, and shift our intellect, we can come to recognize our troubling ego reactions as cute little immature children in temper tantrum that just need to be re-trained for our eternal self-preservation.


When we subtract out of our thoughts what result we desire from the other person and focus on what midda of Hashem we can emulate and ask Hashem to please help we truly have the greatest chance of that other person issuing forth the hoped for response.  When we make Hashem’s will our will, He makes our will His, as long as it is good for us.


May we more and more become real with the understanding that all there is in the world is Hashem and that our lives do not last forever but our souls do, and we surely want to make sure we fulfill in this lifetime Hashem’s purpose in designing us.  To do so, we must not pursue our value as being acknowledgedby others for being and for doing.  We must instead pursue rectifying our unrefined characteristics to reveal more and more the tzelem elokim that Hashem yearns for us to shine through our hearts into this world.  Hashem wants our hearts, and thus He gives us containers filled with “chometz’ that He desires us to refill with Torah and mercy so that He is revealed through us here.


May yearning to try to do so be enough for Hashem to please redeem us b’ahava

Spiritual root canal - understanding suffering and teshuva in an empowering way

Perhaps the most crucial sign of emunah is the clarity that we have in Hashem’s constant Divine presence and oversight in the world.


Yet what we awaken with every day is clarity of how we are experiencing our body and ego realities, either pleasantly or not.  In any given moment, we totally know if we feel good or not.


Imagine what incredible circuitry that requires for us – to have a nervous system directly channeling messages to our brain with built in response systems for self-preservation. 


If someone tried to build a computer or a machine or a car that had an early detection sensor for how it is operating, as good as it might be, there would still be gaps, such as if the item were about to be dropped out of a window, hammered, or crashed.  It would not be  a perfect neuro-feedback system such as our mind – heart- body whereby we know how we are feeling throughout, right down to a small splinter.


Our intellect develops through our childhood, our education, our experiences, and our environment. We are very aware of self.  Why, then, does Torah want us to shift from egocentrism to being Gd Centered?


Perhaps a better question would be to ask if Hashem wanted us to serve Him to be Gd Centered, why did He create us to have an intellect that grips us egocentrically so strongly?


Many would simply answer that this is the role of free will, to give us a real choice so that we can earn the pleasure of our choice to emulate Him, so that when we, after 120 years, are reunited from this distance the sense of pleasure will have been earned in having remembered Hashem.  Great answer.  A+


The process of taking the grip our body/ego has on the intellect and replacing that grip so instead the grip of our neshama connects with the intellect (so that  the intellect shifts to serve the neshama in fulfilling Hashem’s Will) brings an amazing glue from its formation - intellect out of natural development for self-preservation - and brings the strength of that Gdly built neurocircuitry into service for Hashem.  When we see ourselves as rooted in shemayim by virtue of our neshama extending into this being, and we avail ourselves of all the beauty and strengths of the body/mind/heart connections for revealing Hashem’s Glory, we come closer to Torah’s vision of what Nishmas Am Yisrael is here to do.


We are here to provide a flow from Hashem through us utilizing every ounce of our strengths to serve Him – with all our hearts, with all our souls and with all our might.  How could we ever understand those words if we were not naturally built with neurocircuitry linking body and mind?


We are here to do spiritual root canal – to switch out the egocentrism a little at a time and replace it with emunah for Hashem’s Will.  Literally, we root out what blocks us, the “pulp” of egocentricity and self-preservation by realizing that all there is in the world is Hashem Who desires that with the life given to us, we glue ourselves to His Will, Torah, Mitzvahs and to rectifying our middos so that what flows through our blood and triggers our neuro-circuitry resembles Him  more and more. 


It is an infinite path, but understanding can help explain much.  The suffering we experience is inevitably in the areas where we have self-referencing yet to submit to everything Hashem does is good. Tov. May we have compassion for the experiences of suffering we see and go through with this light at the end of the tunnel, that something about what we are experiencing is designed to  help us to implant more deeply Hashem’s Torah, mitzvahs, and middos within our natural reactions.

May we not have such suffering but if we do may we be comforted by knowing that somehow we are growing and grounding our neshamas more centrally in our being. And may THAT inspire us to a teshuva b'ahava that stirs the heavens to usher forth the redemption b'ahava.

Rosh Chodesh Nisan - where intellect clings to damages from being it can be freed and there can be healing by attaching to purpose and unity

Today is the anniversary of the formation of the Jewish People, two weeks before we left mitzrayim, marked by the dedication of the New Moon.  Happy Birthday Klal Yisrael!!  In less than ten weeks we will stand at our chuppa, as Nishmas Am Yisrael.


When a baby is born, its intellect begins to develop as it senses and explores its environment.  The intellect literally grows from the baby’s interactions with its environment. The brain is like wet cement and the intellect develops as the brain absorbs a vast amount of information, experiential reference points, and parental modeling and education.  Thus is the intellect automatically attached to physicality, as its growth and reference point.  The intellect considers the body and the ego and our experiences to be the “I”.


When we take the time to immerse that intellect in Torah learning, we begin to comprehend with the intellect that there is something we can attach to that can help us transcend seeing the “I” as the body/ego/circumstance.  The intellect can begin to see that in addition to having a being, it has a purpose. 


In order to be healthy, our dependency needs as children need to be acknowledged, the things we need for our being provided with love and without trauma, fear and the like.  The scars formed as associations otherwise bind the intellect to gripping what its coping mechanisms know best, how it survives despite these challenging circumstances.  Heaven forfend, the intellect’s allegiance to these bonded coping mechanisms may never be able to be loosened without Torah.  Yet our best chance to freeing the intellect from our past traumas is Torah because we can learn and begin to find healthier bonds and values by which to live based in emunah and based on an understanding of Hashem’s Purpose in sending tzelem elokim into a fallen world.  With this imperative information, we can tow our tzelem elokim and the Shechina that is trapped with it from our personal negativity and bring it into service of Hashem, as is His Purpose, and as we can bring our intellect to define as our unique purpose, and then fulfill it with love and joy as we experience the pleasure of doing so, a pleasure that is indescribable in terms of the five senses.


Thus on our birthday as a people, with  intellect that has grown protective of our survival because of millennia of abandonment, annihilation, expulsions, pogroms, extermination, anti-semitism, intifada and more, we find that intellect emulating what has denied acknowledging our being rather than reaching for our purpose as Nishmas Am Yisrael.  We need to ask Hashem to please take our intellect out if this mitzrayim, to free our intellect to once again serve His Purpose in creating us, and take our first step, which is to love and respect each other even if we don’t agree with the values that are impossible for us to reconcile.  Just pausing and recognizing that we are in Hashem’s world and that everything He does is tov opens up our lack of understanding because we are in a fallen world to receiving an insight from a higher world.  All there is in the universe is the glory of Hashem.  That includes the powerful internal conflicts that we experience.  Our intellect can attach to our higher soul and bring the matter from negative to positive expression of Hashem’s attributes, using free will to reveal Hashem in this world.  That is our purpose.  Nishmas Am Yisrael reflects Hashem’s Glory despite the confusion of being in a fallen world.


So happy birthday and let’s get to our anniversary united!!!

Rabbi Yaakov Zalman Labinsky - Week of Chesed day by day for the Omer

Rabbi Yaakov Zalman Labinsky brings tikun hamiddos from its very spiritual roots in our basic nature to the playing field of our marriages and relationships, for the ultimate purpose of the ultimate relationship, that which we build with Hashem.  Hear this amazing class and keep it for the first week of the omer.

It is an absolute treasure and can be listened to along with Rabbi's Growing through the Omer series

Download | Duration: 01:21:59

Erev Rosh Chodesh Nisan, Let's Unite through our efforts to Reveal His Glory for His Sake

As I search and search for Chometz, outside and in, the question of whether I would have been one of those who left Mitzrayim comes to mind.  Only 20 percent of the Jews actually left, despite all the miracles.  Why?  It must have been that physical constraints, including comfort zones and possibly doubts and unrefined characteristics that seemed more pleasurable than serving Hashem kept them there.


Daily I work so hard to clean off the ra from the yetzer hara and self-referencing pops its head back in consistently.  At any moment, which way will I go? What can I do to assure that in every moment my eyes look upward to Hashem and to emulating Him as the greatest pleasure over the constant, natural pulls of our lives?


We are all made in Hashem’s Image and we cannot ever be diminished.  Being made b’tzelem elokim is the basis for having esteem and for respecting others.  Yet we do not earn eternity simply for being made in Hashem’s Image!


Forty years ago and today, the very same tzelem elokim gives me life.  The difference between then and now is that I have more mitzvahs and more ability to reveal tzelem elokim because I have worked on my characteristics.


The basis for eternity is the effort I make to connect to Hashem and do His Will, in mitzvahs and in emulating Him.   Any refinements that I make in my nature that actually change the ways I conduct myself reveal His Glory.  And ultimately THIS is the purpose for which He Creates us, so that He can be in this world by having us choose to reveal His Glory, reveal the tzelem elokim over the natural reactions of daily life.


It is a pleasure to do so.  Having consciousness of that pleasure means that we draw closer to understanding that all there is in the world is Hashem.  That means, we accept upon ourselves the role that He sets for us as the pleasurable route, that being transparent to reveal His Glory is also pleasurable for our natural selves. 


It seems with all the difficulties facing our people, the discussions, the differences in values, that we are at a stalemate.  In order for one group to assert over another, it would require a violation of a Torah principle, to not hate each other, to not take revenge or bear a grudge, to love each other as ourselves.  Just as optically vision enters the eye and the brain flips the image, so too can our brain flip our pre-disposition to pursue our agendas into a united effort to reveal Hashem’s Glory.


When we truly understand that Hashem is in complete control of every thought that is entering the mind of every person and of every minute detail that we each experience, we relate to Hashem in a far different manner.  All Power is His.  All Glory is His.  If something is coming into my mind and heart, it is incumbent upon me to reflect and realize my role – to bring that power, if it is in a dark place, into service of Hashem.  How?  Baruch sheim kavod malchuso leolam voed, I know Hashem that this power is from You and wish to use it for good only, so please let me borer away the circumstances and choose to emulate You and filter this thought through the vessel of mind that You bestow upon me and return it to my heart with forgiveness, love, and a desire to provide warmth, light and protection for klal yisrael.


Sometimes we slip.  Sometimes we see that everyone seems to be not working so hard.  Sometimes we wish that life were just easier all around, and that the natural way of looking at the world and responding in a goodly way at face value would be enough.  But if that is so, would I have left mitzrayim to go into the desert and cross the Red Sea and travel to Har Sinai? 


I don’t know about then, but I surely wish to be on board for contributing whatever effort I can to reveal tzelem elokim over my natural responses.  It is a great yearning to see Hashem’s Glory fill the world.  It is not the easy path to do so, but it is the most pleasurable experience when we do. 


It is experiential understanding of that pleasure that changes the choice we have for our identity –  we have the free willed choice to reveal tzelem elokim thereby unifying and sanctifying Hashem’s Name and revealing His Glory.   We are His Nation.  Let us be unto Hashem the Nation He Desires so that His Glory can be revealed in time and space for His Sake.  Ein Od Milvado.

Mining our natural earthy elements for their distilled strength in order to bring that strength into avodas Hashem


When we think back to the traumatic things that happened when we were young, when we examine our natural reactions that may have preceded the event or our natural reactions generated by the trauma, the view is of understandable human emotions – radioactive as they may be – of fear, anger and all the iterations and justifications and misconceptions and judgments involved.  That is our base brain.  Strong, quick, and inspiring to just implement, react.


As we progress into adulthood, we may have come to identify with this base brain response system as “who we are.”  What Torah suggests to us is that, as internalized as these may seem, these base brain reactions are external to who we are!  Torah tells us that internal to who we are is b’tzelem elokim, in a garment called a body with an ego.  Because these base brain responses are related to that garment, even though they feel like who we are, they are external.


So why do they feel internal and intimate parts of our lives?


Our intellect does not discern the difference between our base brain reactions and the far more subtle and quieter messages of the tzelem elokim because that is the consequence of having ingested from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Our intellect is drawn to the more immediate, nearer appearance of who we are, the ego, the natural base brain reactions.  In fact, if we are not at all in touch with tzelem elokim, we would not even consider that there IS anything else that we are.  Nothing could be farther from the truth and Torah comes to show this to us through the examples of our forefathers.


Hashem created the nachash and knew that Adom would succumb. This is why Adom was formed from the soil of Har Habais and then brought to Gan Eden, so that his existence could continue after he ate.  Thus why did Hashem create the nachash to begin with?  If Hashem’s goal was to create Adom in His Image, why was it necessary for Adom to ingest in this manner and be expelled from Gan Eden into this world?


And when will we be redeemed and brought again into Gan Eden?


The struggle that faces us in every moment of every day is to return with faithfulness to Hashem is One, unifying His Name through prayer and mitzvohs in the face of challenges and natural base brain reactions.  When we see these challenges and declare,


Hashem I love You and desire to unify Your Name, Baruch Sheim Kavod Malchuso Leolam Voed, please take the strength of this natural base brain reaction and give me the ability to use that same strength to reveal tzelem elokim in order to sanctify Your Name and reveal Your Glory, for Your Sake and Purpose in creating us


Then what we have done is provide an opening into time and space for Hashem’s attributes to shine.  Hashem desires to be in this world. We are the doorway.  Let’s open and shine our tzelem elokim into the world and in this way Hashem’s Glory will be seen.  And may we be zocheh to redemption bahava.


For more help doing teshuva on radioactive reactions, try this:


Dear Hashem


Help me to tolerate insults


Help me overlook faults


Help me to bear the burden of the confusion of mind that happened when we ingested from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thereby causing our intellect to attach automatically to physicality over the true reality that there is nothing but You in all the world


Please forgive us for ever thinking there is any glory other than Your Glory


Please help me overcome fear of annihilation with awe of Hashem and may that help me mitigate gaiva and self-referencing that is trying to re-establish a sense of value on base brain terms when the value of tzelem elokim has never been lost and instead bring the strength of that fearful reaction to awe in order to create warmth and light and blessing that reveals Your Glory


Please help me overcome fear of abandonment with love of Hashem and may that help me mitigate taivas that are the product of gaiva – external desires that are attempting to give me a sense of being loved when Your love for me has never been lost and I am receiving only good, and instead may the strength from that fear instead draw from a well of Your Love for me flowing from the Source of all vitality and ,may those true waters quiet the fires of fears so that I may sanctify Your Name;


Please accept my teshuva and by virtue of recognizing the pattern of attaching identity to externalities that are not tzelem elokim, please now may my tzelem elokim absorb the strength from those external natural sources so that I may I fold all these strengths into revealing Your Glory and please cast all our sins into the sea and redeem us bahava


By unifying our individual "external" strengths with tzelem elokim, we come to recognize the true construct of every person as made btzelem elokim.    Just that recognition alone provides an opening for respect that binds us together as Klal Yisrael despite our differences.  Below is a table from the Bible Codes that shows how this is the recognition that can bring the redemption.  Please use the awarenesses generated from the above to create shelamos and peace amongst us.

Blog Software
Blog Software