Parshat Vayikra 5782💡 The 12 Steps- Roots of Healing❤️
It is taught in the 12 step program that the actual addiction, whatever it might be, is not the real source of the problem. It is just the result. It is the action we are engaging in, in order to escape the real pain 💔. What are some of the sources of healing? How can we start to heal these deep wounds?🤔 Just as our pain and addiction has three levels to it, spiritual, emotional and physical, so too there are three powerful tools which can help us heal these wounds🤗🙏. Honesty, openness and willingness to change💖. They are rooted in humility.😇 Part of the healing process is to practice being open and honest with a support group, with a counselor, with loved ones and with Hashem. For example, if there is a behavior or trait which I’m struggling with, if I don’t share it and I keep it inside😶🌫, then I will continue to act from this weak place inside. It’s still there, it didn’t go anywhere. However, if I speak about it and share it and ask for help, then I begin to see new options and new ways of acting. I’m opening myself to change.😃 Shabbat Shalom🕯️🕯️ and Purim Sameach!
Parshat Pekudei 5782💡 The 12 Steps; I’m helpless to change without help from Hashem and others.
I started learning last week in a twelve step program💖 run by an Israeli outreach organization. There were people there from all backgrounds. Some of the participants are recovering addicts, but many of the participants are those who came to learn more and to work on different issues they are facing in life. Many of us might not be addicts BH, but we do struggle with different emotional, spiritual, or psychological issues. We all have pain💔 and are searching for real healing. 🦶The first step in the program is to recognize and admit that we are helpless in the face of our addiction/ suffering, and that our lives have become unmanageable or are not running how we would want them to. 😢This is called in Hebrew חוסר אונים. The second step is believing that a power greater than us can return to us our sanity and serenity. The first step towards healing is to admit that we need help. The teacher of the program suggested that we write down everyday several things which pain us, which make us feel afraid and helpless and to turn to Hashem and ask for help. He explained that helplessness is the gap between where I want to be, my ideal, and where I actually find myself. This is also a powerful opportunity and experience for me personally.❤️ My father was in the 12 step program for several years before he passed away. It’s powerful to be learning the same healing tools that he was learning. I thought about how he said the same prayer for serenity and acceptance which is said at every 12 step meeting around the world. I remember having a very meaningful conversation with him about the program, the last time we saw each other before he died. There were many similarities to things that I was learning at the time at a Breslov workshop, but I thought at the time that it was only a program for addicts. Now I realize that these principles are really for everyone, and the healing message of the 12 step program is starting to spread to wider and wider circles of people. Shabbat Shalom🕯️🕯️ For the speedy recovery of our neighbor Simcha Lauer
Parshat Vayakhel 5782💡 Our prayers make an impression. Everything good we do makes a difference.👏 I heard a powerful story💥 this past Shabbos morning, a version of a story I heard years ago from my Rabbi, which has stayed with me ever since.🤔 In his Shabbos morning drasha, the Rav of a local shul here asked why the Torah always calls Betzalel, the main builder of the Mishkan, by his grandfather’s name, as well as his father’s name? He explained that it was in the merit of the self-sacrifice of his grandfather, Hur, that Betzalel merited the divine wisdom to build the Mishkan. He the n told a story which took place in the early days of the State of Israel, in Tel Aviv. There was a young man who was raised in a very secular home. He had become observant when he grew up, much to the disapproval of his family. They asked him, what happened?🤔💔 He told them that when he was walking down a certain city street one day, he was asked by an old man standing outside a shul to help make a minyan. At first he refused, having never set foot in a shul before. However, in the end he agreed to the old man’s request. Eventually, something about the shul and the way the men prayed with sincerity made an impression on him, and he began to go the shul on his own. The rest was history, as they say. As he was telling this over to his family, his father spoke up and said, ‘that’s not the real reason.’🧐 His father told them that his father, the young man’s grandfather, who had come from Europe, was one of the founders of that little shul where his grandson had started to learn and pray years later. His grandfather used to sit in the shul everyday, praying and crying over how far his son had drifted from Judaism since coming to Israel. The boy’s father then turned and said to him, he didn’t win with me, but now I see how his prayers have helped you. Our prayers matter. Everything we invest in our children and our loved ones matters. It has an effect, even if we might not see the immediate, positive results. Shabbat Shalom🕯️🕯️
This quote comes from the 8th Step in the 12 Step program. True healing comes about when we can forgive others and acknowledge our mistakes.
Trusting in a Higher Power and knowing everything happens for a reason, and is ultimately for our best, can help us let go of our resentments and bad feelings.
Just like when my daughter spilled her entire hot chocolate on herself and on the floor this morning after she got dressed 😬. Everything worked out. We got out on time, she looked great when we said goodbye, and it was easy to clean up. If only I had that perspective in the moment. That a Higher Power is right with me, rooting me on, and guiding the way 💗🙏.
I am Hashem who heals you.❤️ I’ve had very little time to stop and write something this week. However, I just wanted to share a short idea which gave me strength and encouragement in the past few days. Rebbe Nachman teaches in Likutei Moharan🔥, 78th Torah, that our speech, our words have tremendous power to help us come closer to Hashem, to believe in Him more, and to help us in times of need. Our words of Torah and tefilah come with us wherever we go👏. He says that just like the mother bird watches over and takes care of her chicks, so to our good words and prayers accompany us. We say in the daily prayers, “Because You are the King, the faithful Healer, and you are merciful.” There is a new Eitan Katz song🎻 that came out recently on this prayer. The song has been stuck in my head since I heard it the first time💥. I felt the past few days that the more I say these words the more I feel them and believe in them. May we all merit the healing that we need.
This weeks parsha deals almost exclusively with the service of the Kohanim. One of the special vestments of the Kohen Hagadol, Aharon, was the choshen,❤️ a special breastplate that he wore during the service in the Mishkan. On the choshen were inscribed the names of the twelve tribes. Aharon Hacohen carried the Jewish people on his heart always💖. We too can walk in the path of Aharon Hacohen, we too can carry others in our hearts. In our prayers and in our actions. But Rebbe Nachman teaches an important point. In the 34th teaching in Likutei Moharan🔥, it is taught that pain and shame cause a person’s heart to break. When your heart is broken it is hard to carry others in your heart ❤️. The pain and shame cause us to make distance in our relationships and fall into unhealthy behaviors. How do we find healing for our broken hearts💔, so that we can give to others? It is taught in the 12 step program that part of the healing process is trying to heal our relationships and making amends🤗. Healing and recovery is achieved by connecting to others who support this process and love us unconditionally. Supporting our growth and seeing our good👍. Finding a support group, good friend, or counselor can help😃. We can heal our broken hearts 💗 and start to develop deep and loving relationships with others.🙏 Shabbat Shalom🕯️🕯️
A friend of mine sent me this quote recently, while he was listening to Joey Rosenfeld’s interview on the Meaningful People podcast. I think it is a very powerful insight which complements my last article about the beauty of a broken heart. Joey Rosenfeld is a brilliant young teacher and therapist living in St. Louis, Missouri. Shabbat Shalom, Moshe.
I think everybody is broken. But I don’t think being broken is a symptom of not being good enough. I think being broken is, the word I like to use is constitutive of being human. Meaning it’s the very birthplace of being a human being. Just as Hashem, as we’re taught, created the world with acts of concealment and then shattering, so too our experiences come about with concealment and shattering. The goal is not to be perfect. The goal is to own our brokenness, own our imperfections and find a way to serve Hashem not in spite our imperfections, but specifically through our imperfections. That way, we are bringing the world back up to G-d, so to speak. This is a pre-condition to the human experience. The question is, to what degree do we recognize our brokenness. In a clinical sense, to what degree does our brokenness interfere with our ability to function.
What does it mean to have a broken heart? Is having a broken heart the same thing as sadness? What is the difference between them? We touched on the subject of sadness in the first article in this series- Mindfulness According to Rebbe Nachman. Let us explore what Rebbe Nachman teaches us regarding these questions.
Rebbe Nachman teaches in the book Sichos HaRan (Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom) that a broken heart and sadness are not the same thing whatsoever. A broken heart is in the heart, while sadness comes from the spleen. Sadness comes from the other side (which is a reference to the evil inclination, the side of impurity), and Hashem despises it. However, a broken heart is very beloved and precious before God. Nevertheless, Rebbe Nachman says, a person is in danger of falling into sadness if they walk around all day with a broken heart. Therefore, a person needs to set aside a certain amount of time each day to have a broken heart in personal prayer, but the rest of the day, he should try to be only happy. Why is sadness so shunned in Hashem’s eyes? Hashem despises sadness because it is the evil inclination’s greatest weapon. More than the evil inclination wants us to sin against God; he wants us to be sad and downtrodden. When we are sad, we lose our willpower and our faith in ourselves. Rebbe Nachman explains that sadness comes over a person when they are angry and upset with Hashem, they have complaints over the fact that he is not doing their will. On the other hand, a broken heart is like a child who pleads before their father and cries because they have grown distant from their father. Their broken heart causes them to strive to come closer to Hashem. Rebbe Nachman also reveals how we can tell if we were able to have a broken heart: after a broken heart comes joy. That is a sign if a person had a broken heart, when they experience happiness afterwards. (Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom, teachings 41, 42 and 45)
Recently I asked a Breslov teacher, who teaches in a community I am a member of, a personal question: When someone goes through a difficult challenge, or a difficult event in life, sometimes there is a feeling of anger, why did this happen? Why did Hashem do this to me? I do not understand why it is good for me. (I asked him) How can we find healing for these questions? How can we heal this wounded place inside of us, which sometimes feels angry with Hashem? He answered: I do not know how to heal completely this place in our souls. However, someone who regularly makes time for personal prayer, they seek to live a life of faith in Hashem, and they work on thanking Hashem for all of the blessings and good things they have in life, it is harder for them to be angry with Hashem. This is because they know and feel that Hashem wants the best for them and even does for them many kindnesses. As a result, it is easier to believe that even what seems in our eyes to be against our will and not good, there is something good hidden inside this difficulty.
Life is difficult; there are many challenges. We all experience this in our lives, each person in their own way. Sometimes we feel broken by the difficulties and pain we experience in life. The Kotzker Rebbe famously said that there is nothing more complete than a broken heart. When we admit to ourselves and admit it before God- I feel so broken over this, it is so painful, I do not know what to do, please help me; we open a space in our hearts and our souls for healing. Why is there nothing more complete than a broken heart? Because this world is imperfect. This world is not our final goal; it is temporary. Our Sages describe this world as a world where the truth is hidden. The aspect of completion, I believe, is when we recognize that only Hashem can help us, only He is perfect and complete and only He can heal our broken hearts. We open ourselves to healing the broken places inside when we go beyond this imperfect and confusing world. We turn to Hashem. We have the power with our prayers to plead with a broken heart before Hashem for help and for healing. We can ask him to help us always feel that He is a loving father and our best friend, He is always by our side. There is nothing more complete (in this world) than a broken heart.
‘It is very good when a person can pour out their words and their heart before Hashem, pleading for compassion like a son who is longing for their father… How good is it when someone awakens their heart with supplications until they cry and shed tears before their Father in Heaven.’ (Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom, 7th teaching)
Every week we have an opportunity to connect to a space in time that is unique, special and different from the other days of the week, Shabbat. Every week on Shabbat, we can return to our essential selves and to our eternal connection with God. We can leave behind the struggles of the week, the pain and the anxiety of the week and enter a space of healing. We have the space and the time to connect with family and friends, and reflect upon what truly matters in life. Shabbat is an incredible opportunity to be more conscious of spirituality. There is nowhere to run to, nothing to chase. A feeling of peace descends upon the world. Let us explore a little bit what makes Shabbat such a special day.
Shabbat gives us true freedom. Rebbe Nachman teaches that a person needs to be very careful to be happy and good hearted on Shabbat, because the spiritual levels and the holiness of Shabbat are very great and precious. By being happy on Shabbat our fear and awe of Heaven is completed, meaning that our awareness of God is elevated and connected to true knowledge. During the six days of the week, it is possible to have all kinds of fears that are foolish. The feeling of servitude that we sometimes experience during the week causes this foolishness. When a person feels enslaved, their mind is not free. Their mind is confused. However, on Shabbat we become free of this servitude. When a person is free and not in the exiled state of servitude, then their mind and knowledge are complete. The main aspect of this freedom that we experience on Shabbat is through delighting and being happy on Shabbat. Through this state of happiness, someone can leave their exile. By rejoicing on Shabbat, we are able to rectify all of our fallen fears as well, because when we have true knowledge we see that there is really no reason to be afraid of this thing or this person. Being happy on Shabbat gives us true knowledge, and this enables us to be truly free. (Likutei Moharan, 17th teaching, Part Two)
Shabbat is also the aspect of teshuva, returning to Hashem, as the verse says “and you will return to Hashem, your God.” (Devarim, Chapter 30, Verse 2) In the future, when we merit the final redemption, we will merit a day that is completely like Shabbat, a day of complete teshuva. We will reach higher and higher levels of the knowledge of Hashem. We will repent on our previous levels of spiritual knowledge and perceptions, because we will know that there are so many new levels we still have not obtained. The sages call Shabbat a taste of the World to Come, because every Shabbat we connect in a deeper way to holiness, to Hashem and His Torah. Reb Noson adds that from this we see Hashem’s tremendous love for His people. In His mercy, He gave us this amazing gift, which was hidden away in secrecy, Shabbat. Therefore, we need to try to receive this wonderful gift with love and great joy, because through the gift of Shabbat we can all merit to return to Hashem, no matter what we have been through during the week. For many people it is hard for them to return to Hashem due to the battles they have with the evil inclination. Every day the evil inclination tries again to knock us down. This causes people to become dejected and to stop trying to come closer to God and to their true essence. The main help and salvation that we have is the power of the holiness of Shabbat, which is so awesome. Therefore, we need to connect ourselves to the holiness of Shabbat every day of the week; we need to carry it into the six days of the week. (Likutei Halachot, Laws of Shabbat, 7th teaching)
Rebbe Nachman also teaches that Shabbat is so holy and elevated that even our eating on Shabbat is different. He says that the main way that we honor Shabbat is through our eating, because eating on Shabbat is very precious and it is actually only spiritual. Therefore, it is a great mitzvah to eat well on Shabbat, to eat special meals and special foods that we enjoy. Our service of eating on Shabbat also helps us to rectify any aspect of desecrating the Shabbat we might have done mistakenly. (Likutei Moharan, Teaching 277, Part One)
The holiness of Shabbat gives life and meaning to the six, mundane days of the week. All of the challenges, pain, and anxieties of the week fade away as we light the candles and accept Shabbat with the special prayers of Kabbalat Shabbat. The holy Arizal (Rav Yitzhak Luria ztz” l) and his students in the city of Tzfat introduced these prayers, about 500 years ago. Many times I have thought to myself at some point during the day of Shabbat, ‘Thank God, I feel so far away from where I was on Erev Shabbat!’ In those moments, I feel so much more connected. Connected to Hashem, myself and to my family. I feel a feeling of happiness and peace inside. Shabbat heals us with true faith. God’s kingship over the world is revealed on Shabbat and we feel the healing of His presence in our lives. We can merit to obtain this faith, knowledge and consciousness every week on the awesome day of Shabbat.
“By keeping Shabbat a person draws upon themselves the light of Mashiach; also by doing teshuvah (a person draws upon themselves the light of Mashiach).” Sefer HaMidot, the Book of Traits, Mashiach, 5th teaching
(The inspiration for this article came from Chapter 2 of TheStory of Our Lives, by Yaakov Klein, and from a series of classes on Shabbat by Joey Rosenfeld)
There is a lot of interest today in a part of the Torah which is becoming more and more revealed in our time, Penimiut HaTorah, the inner light of the Torah. What does the inner light of the Torah mean? What does it mean to learn the inner light? Is this part of the Torah for everyone?
Rebbe Nachman explains, in lesson 33 in part one of Likutei Moharan that the inner light of the Torah is Hashem’s presence. Hashem put his light inside the Torah. It is the Godliness which is found inside the Torah and it’s middot, the character traits taught by Torah and the specific details of each mitzvah. In the inner light of the Torah Hashem’s presence can be felt and discovered.
Rebbe Nachman also teaches in Likutei Moharan, in the 7th teaching, part two, that a true tsaddik, a true leader like Moshe Rabeinu has mercy on the Jewish people. He is always trying to help them correct their ways and return to Hashem. The heaviest burden that a person can carry is the burden of sin. The Jewish soul, due to its special holiness, cannot bear this burden. The tsaddik helps the Jewish people have true knowledge and awe of Heaven, and this helps them leave behind their sins. The only reason a person falls into sin is due to foolishness, they lack knowledge that Hashem is the King and He rules over everything. They do not feel, experience His presence in that moment of sin. The tsaddik reveals to the Jewish people the true knowledge of Gd. He is also able to reach each person, on whatever low level they might find themselves on, and show them that no matter what, Hashem is still with them and close to them. He strengthens them not to despair, in any situation.
Yaakov Klein explains this concept in his incredible new book, The Story of Our Lives, an elucidation of Rebbe Nachman’s famous tale- The Lost Princess. The tsaddikim make it possible for every Jew to connect to the awesome, inner light of the Torah. That is their task and their mission. The tsaddik’s entire mission is to help Jews escape the cycles of lowliness and sin mentioned above, by granting them access to the inner wisdom of the Torah. (The Story of Our Lives, pages 239-240)
During this month of Iyar, we have one of the most special days on the Jewish calendar, Lag B’Omer, the celebration of the yahrzeit of Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai. It is such an incredible experience to be there on Lag BOmer. Rebbe Shimon was one of the great sages of the period of the Mishna, and the author of the Holy Zohar. Why do we celebrate the passing of this great Tsaddik? Why does his celebration drawn so many thousands of Jews, of every different type you could imagine, to the small town of Meron in Northern Israel? There are certain tsaddikim who are so great that any Jew can connect to them, because these tsaddikim are connected to the souls of all of the Jewish people. They are like the root of the tree, while we are like the branches. They see every single person’s soul, and they see what their special purpose is in the world. One of these exalted tsaddikim was Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai. He reveled the inner, hidden light of the Torah that was hidden away since it was given to Moshe at Mt. Sinai. We are celebrating the awesome light of the Holy Zohar that he revealed in the world. His book, the Zohar, is a powerful revelation of true knowledge and true faith in Hashem. Rebbe Shimon said that through his work, the Zohar, the Jewish people would leave the exile. The light of his book, the Zohar, heals the Jewish souls from the suffering of exile and helps them hold on strong until the final redemption.
At the beginning of Rebbe Nachman’s magnum opus, Likutei Moharan, before the first teaching, after the introduction, there is short teaching about the greatness of Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai. The teaching explains that through the light of Rebbe Shimon the Torah will not be forgotten from the Jewish people. Through the light of the Zohar the Jewish people will leave the exile. Why did Rebbe Nachman choose to begin his book with this teaching? In the book the Life of Rebbe Nachman (teaching 189) the connection between these two great tsaddikim is explained further. Rebbe Nachman on his way from Breslov to Uman at the end of his life, after revealing this teaching about Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai, stated “and now there is ‘the source of wisdom… a flowing stream.’”(Proverbs, Chapter 18, Verse 4) Rebbe Nachman revealed that he came into the world to continue the light of Rebbe Shimon in a new way. He came to shine the light of the Zohar for our generation and show every Jew how much they are precious and holy. He wants to help every one of us rectify what we need to rectify in our lifetime. He revealed the practical advice that comes out of the teachings of the Zohar and other kabbalistic works. Rebbe Nachman, just like his great-grandfather the holy Baal Shem Tov, is revealing the inner light of the Torah to every single person on their level. This is the greatness of the true tsaddikim. There is no person, not matter what they might have done, whom they cannot help return to Hashem. Rebbe Nachman famously said, “my fire will burn until the coming of Mashiach’. His fire warms our souls in the darkness of the exile that we still find ourselves in. His fire also illuminates our eyes to understand how to serve Hashem even in these challenging times.
Through the powerful inner light that these great tsaddikim make accessible to us, we are able to live with more emunah (faith) and more mindfulness. They reveal to every person on their level a deeper knowledge, that Hashem loves us deeply and He is right with us!