G-D Rains Down Divine Retribution Upon Detractors of Israel

Breaking Israel News

“And if in spite of these things ye will not be corrected unto Me, but will walk contrary unto Me; then will I also walk contrary unto you; and I will smite you, even I, seven times for your sins.” Leviticus 26:23-24 (The Israel Bible™)

Margot Wallström, Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister, has earned a reputation for Israel-bashing. The first blatant anti-Israel offense came in 2014, when she became the first European Union foreign minister to recognize the state of Palestine.

After the horrifying terror attacks in Paris last November, she came out with a statement linking Islamic anger to the lack of a two-state solution. Even worse, after months of terror in which Palestinians were attacking Israelis in the streets on an almost daily basis,  she accused Israel in January of carrying out “extrajudicial executions”.

Israel reacted through diplomatic channels, but a more powerful force stepped in. Three days after Wallström accused Israel of executing Palestinians, it was revealed that she had jumped to the head of an eight-year waiting list for apartments owned by a labor union. Stockholm is suffering from a serious shortage of housing and this was viewed by the Swedish public as an egregious misuse of her position. Anti-corruption prosecutors are investigating the case now to determine if it constitutes bribery, which carries a potential two-year prison term.

This type of instant karma is the rule and not the exception when it comes to politicians that treat Israel badly. One of the clearest examples of divine slap-down came on January 21, 1998, when US President Bill Clinton gave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a decidedly cold reception at the White House, and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright refused to have lunch with Netanyahu. Things looked grim for Israel, but later that day, the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke out, ultimately resulting in Clinton’s impeachment.

President George H.W. Bush signed the Oslo Accords on October 30, 1991, setting the stage for the disastrous “Land for Peace” process. The very next day, a hurricane dubbed “The Perfect Storm” hit the east coast of the United States, destroying Bush’s house in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Occasionally, divine intervention can take an ironic turn. As president, Jimmy Carter was not nearly as involved with Israel as he has been since leaving office. In his book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, he blames Israel’s “colonization of Palestinian land” as being “the primary obstacle to a comprehensive peace agreement”.

Carter was a proponent of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) since it seemed to produce results and bear pressure on Israel to negotiate. He has also met with many leaders of Hamas and during the 2014 war in Gaza, called for Israel to negotiate with Hamas.

One year later, he was diagnosed with cancer and melanomas were found in his brain and liver. After only a few months of treatment, the doctors  pronounced him cancer-free. Pembrolizumab, a drug developed in Israel, was a key element in his treatment. His adherence to boycotting Israeli products and innovations obviously had its limits.

Carter’s miracle cure may not have been solely attributed to Israeli science. His sins against the Jewish people may have been forgiven in December 2009, when Carter published an open letter apologizing for any words or deeds that may have upset the Jewish community. In the letter, he said he was offering an Al Het, a prayer of repentance, said on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.

Divine retribution is not restricted to non-Jews. Ariel Sharon had achieved almost legendary status in Israel. After a spectacular army career, he entered politics and, at the head of the Likud party, was elected prime minister in 2001. He endorsed the Roadmap for Peace and began plans to remove the Jewish population of Gush Katif from the Gaza Strip. The dismantling of the Jewish settlements was scheduled for August 15th, 2005, the day after Tisha b’Av, the anniversary of both Jewish Temples being destroyed.

In July, one month before the IDF dismantled Gush Katif and evicted almost 9,000 Jews from their homes, Rabbi Yosef Dayan, a member of the nascent Sanhedrin who can trace his lineage back to King David, led a group of ten rabbis in performing an obscure, ancient Kabbalistic ceremony, the Pulsa diNura, on Sharon. The Pulsa diNura invokes the angels of destruction to block heavenly forgiveness of the subject’s sins, causing all the curses named in the Bible to befall him and resulting in his death.

Sharon’s health deteriorated, and by January, he suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, entering a vegetative state from which he never recovered. Rabbi Dayan also led rabbis in the Pulsa diNura against Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin a few months before he was assassinated. Rabin was shot and killed in 1995 by Yigal Amir, an extremist who  opposed Rabin’s peace initiative and particularly the signing of the Oslo Accords.

Rabbi Dayan told Breaking Israel News that none of these events were simple coincidence, but divine justice. “Today, there isn’t prophecy. God presents circumstances for us to try to understand him, to express our belief in him,” he explained. “These aren’t things that happen by chance or coincidence. This is not just true for politics, but it is also true for politics. Politicians are, after all, simple servants of God, no less or more than the rest of us.”

Ancient Genealogical Records Prove King David’s Descendants Are Alive Today

Breaking Israel News

“Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom over Yisrael for ever; according as I promised to David thy father, saying: There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Yisrael.” I Kings 9:5 (The Israel Bible™)

It might come as a shock to many to learn that hundreds of descendants of King David are alive today, with verifiable family trees dating back 90 generations, and that the royal Davidic dynasty could potentially be established today in Israel.

Though some may be skeptical of the genealogical proof, many secular researchers of genealogy have studied the line of David. The research is facilitated by the fact that a number of European monarchs throughout history have gone to great lengths to prove family ties to the Davidic Dynasty, and a solid ancestry has been established.

Within the Jewish community, genealogical studies have shown several families that can claim descent ben akhar ben (father to son) in a direct line, most notably the Dayan, Shealtiel and Charlap/Don Yechia families. Most of these families come from Aleppo, Syria.

Susan Roth (Davidic Dynasty)
Susan Roth (Davidic Dynasty)

Susan Roth founded the Davidic Dynasty organization in 2000 to gather and reunite Davidic descendants in the Holy City of Jerusalem. Roth has a personal interest as well, tracing her lineage back to King David through Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, the preeminent 11th century French Torah scholar known by the acronym Rashi.

Her registry currently lists approximately 150 descendants who have verifiable descent to King David. However, efforts to introduce this reality into mainstream Judaism have met with surprising resistance.

When she first compiled her list, Roth contacted Israel’s Chief Rabbinate to inform them of her registry but, surprisingly, they expressed no interest.

“They were shocked, but they never followed up. My interest was simply to do God’s will, but they understood it as a political agenda. They don’t want King David’s dynasty and they don’t want Moshiach (Messiah),” Roth told Breaking Israel News.

“Even though it is clear Moshiach is here. He is just hiding,” she added.

Mitch Dayan claims descent from King David. (Courtesy)
Mitchell Dayan  (Courtesy)

One of her discoveries was Mitchell Dayan. In 1983, Dayan was mourning for his brother. Amazed at the number of visitors who claimed to be from his family, he began to research his genealogy. Dayan’s research led him to a book called Yashir Moshe, a commentary on Song of Songs written in 1864 by Rabbi Moshe Dayan. In the prologue to the book, the rabbi lists his genealogy, leading back to King David. In this list, Mitchell found the name of his great grandfather from Aleppo.

Another genealogic list was found in the Cairo geniza, a storehouse of over 300,000 Jewish documents discovered in the late 1800’s. The two lists were almost identical, despite the Cairo list being compiled hundreds of years earlier. Through these sources, Mitchell Dayan was able to verify his lineage back 87 generations to King David.

“The actual descendants may not know it but there are descendants of King David alive today,” Dayan told Breaking Israel News. “This was prophesied in the Bible but it is also fact. Politics are irrelevant. It is going to happen, one day or another.”

For thus saith Hashem: There shall not be cut off unto David a man to sit upon the throne of the house of YisraelJeremiah 33:17

In 2005, another Dayan, Rabbi Yosef Dayan, was recognized by the nascent Sanhedrin as a direct descendant of King David and, as such, a candidate to re-establish the Davidic Dynasty. Similar to Mitchell Dayan, his discovery came as a result of a death in the family.

Soon after he immigrated to Israel in 1968, Rabbi Dayan buried his grandfather in Jerusalem. He was surprised to see inscribed on the headstone the words “M’Bet David” (from the house of David). Rabbi Dayan discovered that this inscription was a family custom dating back to their origins in Aleppo.

Several years later, Rabbi Dayan received an antique document from a cousin which lists his genealogy, showing him to be the 89th generation from King David. This document was verified by Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, the former Chief Sephardi Rabbi of Israel.

“This concept of family tradition is not surprising,” Rabbi Dayan told Breaking Israel News. “The Kohanim (priests) have a family tradition that they are descended from Aaron the Priest, well before King David, and this tradition is totally accepted by the rabbis. This tradition has been proven accurate by DNA testing.”

Rabbi Dayan is disappointed by the lack of acceptance by rabbinic authorities and mainstream Judaism.

Rabbi Yosef Dayan. (Screenshot)
Rabbi Yosef Dayan. (Screenshot)

“Just as the Kohanic tradition is accepted, the same should be true for the descendants of King David, but even more so,” Rabbi Dayan said. “We have written family trees, and our tradition is engraved on gravestones for the offspring to take note of their ancestry.”

Breaking Israel News asked Rabbi Dayan why he thought there exists so much resistance to acknowledging the Davidic Dynasty.

On why there exists so much resistance to acknowledging the Davidic dynasty, Rabbi Dayan explained, “There is a basic error in understanding the Kingdom of David.

“The Moshiach is already here. Moshiach in Hebrew means ‘anointed’. It is not a miracle. The family of David exists and is waiting for Israel to choose one and anoint him.

“By claiming incorrectly that there are no living descendants of King David, the Moshiach becomes dependent upon a miracle from heaven, thereby absolving the rabbis from any responsibility for taking action to bringing the Messiah.”

Parsha Ki Tisa

Rabbi :
I read the article “Who Wrote the Ten Commandments” By Benjamin D. Sommer, which you linked on Shikul Da’at:

As I understand this “apparent” dichotomy; HaShem wrote the Ten Sayings on the “blank tablets” (which Moshe “shaped” from raw stone) with His “finger” as a guide for each “Saying” and then Moshe carved (chiseled) each and every “Saying” into the surface of the Tablets. Thus, there is no contradiction between 34.1 and 34.28. Both did the “writing” – while in the second case of the Luchot, only Moshe did the “carving,” engraving, or chiseling of the “Ten Sayings” – a little imagery is necessary to explain why Moshe had to spend 40 days and nights on Har Sinai a second time….
HaShem was Moshe’s Teacher (Moreeh) patiently waiting while he carved each saying and again explained the Oral Torah (“she ba’al peh” which was written on the first set of tablets).

Shema Yisrael Torah Network –

“Horav Aharon Soloveitchik, zl, explains that one can acquire something in one of two methods: kibbush and chazakah. With respect to taking possession, kibbush refers to acquisition through the medium of brute force – such as a war. Chazakah refers to acquiring something slowly, meticulously, through the peaceful process of cultivation. Concerning educational knowledge, kibbush is manifest in the approach whereby a student is overwhelmed by a multiplicity of data all being taught at once, whereas chazakah is embodied by a slow, systematic process of teaching one thing at a time, allowing it to “settle” and then build on it.”

HaShem did the “pointing” and Moshe did the “writing” ….

Shabbat Shalom,

Yochanan Ezra ben Avraham

Word Study: Ahavah – “Love”

Let’s talk about ahavah (love), Biblical style! There are many stories of love in the Bible. Biblical love depicts God as the ultimate source and goal of all human love.

Ahavah means “love” in Hebrew. The Jewish mystics remark on the affinity between the word ahavah, “love,” and “echad,” one. The numerical value of their letters is the same: 13.

Oneness, unity, is the aspiration of love, and love emerges from a perception of unity.

This is what is meant by, “You are to know this day and take into your heart that HaShem is the Only G-D, in Heaven and On Earth.” The realization that the Law which governs the Universe is AHAVAH which emanates from, permeates and fills all things.

This insight is also expressed in the Shema: שְׁמַע, יִשְׂרָאֵל:  יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ, יְהוָה אֶחָד.

its first line declares God’s unity, and ends with the word “echad.” Then follows the mitzvah to love God. Love comes out of a sense of God’s unity pervading all things.

There are three commands to love in the Torah; First, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and resources” (Deuteronomy 6:4); second, “love your neighbour as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18); and, third, “love the stranger as yourself” (Leviticus 19:34).

The first letter of Ahavah, the Aleph is constructed of “two yuds and a straight nun!” That is, the Nun Sofit!  This is to teach that HaShem is the Same, Eternal Kindness (is His Name) [Shmoth 3.15 ] (Echad, Oneness which also begins with the letter Aleph,) Desires Yichud (Oneness), which is expressed by the Torah’s phrase, “at the mouth [‘singular’] of two witnesses, that is, their marital testimony must agree (to the Ahavah) that HaShem is the Same, Constant One Who, “In the Kingdom – As Above, So Also in the Kingdom Below” Continually Forgives and Supports all the Fallen; as it says, “The L-RD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that are bowed down.” Tehillim 145.14

Ahavah – begins with an Aleph which is composed, as we said, of two yud’s and a nun sofit – which teaches that HaShem’s love is constant, (as above so below); the yud is the beginning of the Name (HaVaYah) in the world above, so also in the world below (olam hazeh). The Nun is the first letter of the word Notzayr (Shmoth – Exodus 34.6-7) “Preserver of Kindness for a Thousand Generations.” Notzayr – This word comes to teach: Nun Tzaddi Reish – Netzer (a Sprout, Shoot or Branch) Tzaddaka (Charity or Righteousness) and Ratzon (Will) – that is, “the Will of HaVaYah is that Charity should Spring forth from Ahavah (Love)!” (The branch of My Planting Isaiah 60.21)

Notzayr – This defines one of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy – remember, we said that Ahavah and Echad have the numerical value of 13. The gematria or numerical value of Notzayr is 340 which is the equivalent of Sepher (Book). Thus, charity acts as a book of life to guard those who practice it!

Yichud describes the unification, or becoming one, of two bodies or souls. Echad describes what is CONSTANT, UNCHANGING, Eternally the Same! “I have Loved you with an Everlasting Love!!” Jeremiah 31.3

Yichud is thus the process of “bringing back together” the two lost halves of what was initially a single entity.

Zechariah 14.9 And the L-RD shall be King over all the earth; in that day shall the L-RD be One, and His name one. (His name one: “As Above, So Below.”)

In this process of unification, the oneness or singularity of complete Ahavah may best be manifest in the essay, True Singularity: On Being the ‘Am Segulah‘ describing the Ahavah Avinu Ya’acov had for Rachel. There, Rabbi David Etengoff describes the word Segulah as special, unique or singular: “The word ‘singular’ means ‘being only one,’ ‘exceptional,’ ‘extraordinary’ and ‘separate.’ The word segulah in Hebrew similarly connotes singularity.

“Segulah may also describe relationships between people. For example, Jacob loved Rachel but he did not hate Leah, despite the verse, ‘And the Eternal saw that Leah was unloved’ (senuah, Sefer Bereishit 29:31). His bond to her merely suffered by comparison with Rachel … his relationship with Rachel was singular.’ There was a segulah dimension in this special love. It involved an intertwining of souls, a union beyond verbal description. It was more than emotional love; it was a oneness achieved, which is the highest rung of identification.” (Adapted from the writings of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik zatzal (1903-1993).)

Rabbi Maurice Lamm defines the Jewish Way in Love and Marriage as an on-going process, a learning to love. Something more than an emotional attachment.

He writes, “There is much in our historic character, echoed in the Bible and Talmud, that calls for that mysterious, undefinable binding love between man and wife. The qualification is that the romantic component of love must be transposed into complete, fulfilled love. [….]

Jacob was willing to spend seven years heroically doing menial work in order to marry his beloved and he never argued with his father-in-law about the exorbitant cost of that love.

Yichud: A Jewish Concept of Love

Yichud, the word most descriptive of the Jewish ideal of love, is defined as “together,” “alone, with no one else present,” [….] Before we can fully understand Yichud, we must clarify what it is not by contrasting it with Ahavah, the word traditionally associated with love in general. [….]

When Ahavah is used in the context of married love, it does not express the uncomplicated Jewish ideal of marital love but only connotes a comparison – the loved one as opposed to the “hated” one, [….] For example Jacob loved Rachel (…). Surely here was deep, abiding love. But the term Ahavah is used in anticipation of the statement […] “and he loved Rachel more than Leah.”

Thus, Ahavah almost always connotes a unilateral love that deals with relationships requiring an act of faith, …. In contrast, Yichud bespeaks an intimacy, a balanced, mutual relationship, and a love that is simpler, more natural, and lasting – ….”

It might best be expressed or summed up in the words of Melech Shlomo (King Solomon – Shir HaShirim 1.2): “Thy Love is better than wine.” יִשָּׁקֵנִי מִנְּשִׁיקוֹת פִּיהוּ, כִּי-טוֹבִים דֹּדֶיךָ מִיָּיִן.

One may describe wine, but the love between Ya’acov and Rachel is something one can not describe which may be why Melech Shlomo said that the way of a man with a maiden was too wonderful for him to comprehend. Mishlay (Proverbs) 30.19

*(This Article initially linked a video which quoted a Christian scripture about love but because it quoted a Christian Source, I edited the video out of the article so as to avoid confusion!)

Parsha Tetzaveh (Exodus 28.35) : “And It’s Sound Shall be Heard….”

“to serve” – “it’s sound shall be heard” Shmoth (Exodus) Chapter 39.26 Clarifies Parsha Tetzaveh (Exodus 28.35) :
Rashi says, “In between the Rimon (pomegranates)”; while Ramban says “Inside the Pomegranates” – Rashi reasons that if the Pa’amon Zahav (Gold Bells) were inside the Pomegranates the sound would be muffled. What’s Bothering Rashi, by Avigdor Bonchek
Both Shmoth 28.35 and 39.26 uses la’shareth
what does this (la’shareth) come to teach? The Kohen must pay close attention to performance of every detail of the Torah even to it’s smallest sound – viz, “minutest detail” even the smallest thing provides a service, in this case, the sound of pa’amon zahav (golden bells) provides to the Kohen a focal point when he moves about, “to serve” in the Tabernacle/Temple so that he does not leave out any detail of the service. it’s “singleness of sound” serves to enhance or “beautify” the service. shareth (service) is related to shirot – songs (the Service of the Levites, Shir Shel Yom).
This (“v’nishama kolo” [and it’s “singularity” of sound shall be heard]) implies that the Kohen should have a focus on the Oneness (Singularity) of the Holy One; as it says, “a Still Small Voice….” (Note: 28.35 is juxtaposed to 36 “And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and engrave upon it, like the engravings of a signet: HOLY TO THE L-RD.”
The Pa’amon Zahav were made of pure gold – 39.25 and pure, refined gold is a singular item used in the service of HaShem.)
QUESTION in aid of rhetoric: Isn’t a Pa’amon Zahav (Gold Bell) a “musical instrument” within the context of the Temple Service?
This brings us to the debate between Rav Sh’muel and Rav Shimon ben Elazar:
One Master, Sh’muel says, “The Principal instrument of the Temple is the Voice.” While Rav Shimon ben Elazar says, “Kohanim, Leviim, and musical instruments are essential to the Validity of the Offerings.” Talmud Masechtot Taanis 27a, See also: Tractate Sukkah 50b through 51a

From Heil Hitler – to a Kippah and Tefillin

One night, Yonatan had a dream in which the word ‘Kabbalah’ appeared.

Arutz Sheva Staff 27/12/2018

Watch Yonatan

Until a year and a half ago, Yonatan was still called Lutz. In the past he congratulated his friends with “Heil Hitler.” Now he is a Jew.

Today, Yonatan puts on Tefillin every day. But just a few years ago, under a different name, he would greet his friends by saying “Heil Hitler.”

Like many others, Jonathan was indoctrinated into the extreme right when he was a teenager. When he was 14, he joined a karate group in Berlin which had a neo-Nazi coach.

“It’s not that he sat down and said to himself I have here a child, let’s make him a Nazi. He was just very sure of his way,” Yonatan told Antonia Yamin, Chief Europe Correspondent of Kan 11 News. “In the karate group we had a lot of older people. People who were ten years older than me. We did a lot of things together but we also heard Nazi music in the training camp.”

“Of course we talked about the war.,” he explained. “For example, that it didn’t take much in order to conquer Poland and France. Or that it was a mistake not to attack England, or how the war could be won, or that it was so easy to conquer all of Europe.”

Yonatan described how he was taught “you have to completely destroy the Jewish world domination.”

One night, Yonatan had a dream in which the word ‘Kabbalah’ appeared. When he awoke, he began to research what his dream had been about and discovered the Kabbalah, the Jewish mysticism.

Yonatan began to study Kabbalah, and cut off contact with his old friends. At one point, he even flew to London to work at the local Kabbalah center.

“This of course was a time that helped me to recover. I could leave things behind, leave the city behind. I had new people, there were only positive people, good people who wanted the best for me,who wanted to help me and were patient with me.”

Yonathan said that the light, love and optimism that surrounded him from all sides made him decide that he wanted to be a Jew. A year and a half ago he underwent an Orthodox conversion to Judaism.

In recent weeks Yonatan has decided that he has to complete the change. And in two months he plans to immigrate to Israel. His main hope is that the Israelis will forgive him for his past.

True singularity: On being the ‘Am Segulah’


True singularity: On being the ‘Am Segulah’

By Rabbi David Etengoff

The Jewish Star Posted September 3, 2015

The concept of the Jewish people being Hashem’s am segulah is first introduced in Sefer Shemot 19:5: “And now, if you obey Me and keep My covenant, you shall be to Me a treasure out of all peoples (segulah mikol ha’amim), for Mine is the entire earth,” and is echoed, as well, by David Hamelech in Sefer Tehillim: “For G-d chose Jacob for Himself, Israel for His treasure (l’segulato).

Little wonder, then, that Rashi explains segulah as “a beloved treasure, like ‘and the treasures of the kings’ (Sefer Kohelet 2:8), [i.e., like] costly vessels and precious stones, which kings store away. So will you be [more of] a treasure to Me than the other nations [Mechilta].” In contrast, Onkelos explains “segulah mikol ha’amim” as “and you shall be more beloved before Me than all the other nations (“u’tehon kadamai chabivin mikol am’maiyah”).

In sum, two classic approaches emerge concerning the meaning of the term segulah. For David Hamelech and Rashi, it connotes “treasure,” and for Onkelos it denotes the uniquely beloved status we have in the eyes of our Creator.

My rebbe and mentor, the Rav — Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik zatzal (1903-1993) — in at least one instance, defines segulah differently than either Onkelos or Rashi, namely, as “singularity.

“The word ‘singular’ means ‘being only one,’ ‘exceptional,’ ‘extraordinary’ and ‘separate.’ The word segulah in Hebrew similarly connotes singularity. In Exodus (19:5), the Torah enunciates the doctrine of the election of Israel as a cardinal tenet of our faith.” (Rabbi Abraham R. Besdin, “Reflections of the Rav: Lessons in Jewish Thought Adapted from the Lectures of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik,” page 119)

As reflected by Rabbi Besdin, the Rav continues this line of reasoning, and emphasizes that segulah is not solely a theological construct. Moreover, it plays a crucial role in human interaction:

“Segulah may also describe relationships between people. For example, Jacob loved Rachel but he did not hate Leah, despite the verse, ‘And the Eternal saw that Leah was unloved’ (senuah, Sefer Bereishit 29:31). His bond to her merely suffered by comparison with Rachel … his relationship with Rachel was singular.’ There was a segulah dimension in this special love. It involved an intertwining of souls, a union beyond verbal description. It was more than emotional love; it was a oneness achieved, which is the highest rung of identification.” (Minor emendation my own)

Significantly, Rav Soloveitchik notes that Hashem’s unique relationship with the Jewish people is parallel to Yaakov’s marital bonds with Rachel and Leah:

“Similarly, the people of Israel are a segulah people, singularly valued by G-d; this involves no denigration of other nations. It is a specialness — a nation, one of its kind, which G-d has designated to preserve and disseminate His Divine teachings. This is singularity.

Clearly, for the Rav, the segulah nature of the Jewish people does not translate into a declaration of superiority over the other nations of the world. Instead, each nation has its own intrinsic value and inherent worth. As such, we must constantly emphasize and teach that all mankind are created b’tzelem Elokim (in G-d’s Divine image), and, therefore, all people are important before Hashem.

This Motzai Shabbat, Ashkenazi Jews will join our Sephardic brethren in the recitation of the Selichot penitential prayers, in spiritual preparation for the period of the Yamim Noraim. Throughout this unique time, let us ponder our singular relationship with Hashem as His am segulah. May this, in turn, lead to our desire for “an intertwining of souls, a union beyond verbal description” with our Creator, so that we may fulfill our role to “preserve and disseminate His Divine teachings” to all mankind.

V’chane yihi ratzon.

Shabbat Shalom,

Kabbala and Education

Kabbala and Education
A Kabbalistic approach to spiritual growth

(These are parts 3-5 of a series presenting an educational model based on the principles of inspiration and integration as explained in Kabbala and elucidated in Hassidism, which appears on the Gal Einai website.)

Part 3: Inspiration and Integration

Looking at education through the lens of Kabbala, we must begin by defining education in Kabbalistic terms. Kabbala considers Hebrew the language of Creation and attaches great significance to the Hebrew formulations of words – their roots, sub-roots and inner meaning; therefore, we will define education by looking at the Hebrew words that connote this concept.

Hebrew has two words for education: “chinuch” and “hadracha“. In an average Hebrew-English dictionary, we would find “chinuch” defined as “training” and “hadracha” as “guidance” – terms that appear almost synonymous. However, in rabbinical works, far from interchangeable, these words convey specific and distinct ideas. This act of initiation draws down spiritual light…

To grasp the inner meanings of “chinuch” and “hadrachah and thus discover the meaning of education – we must first examine the roots or seed-ideas contained within them. This will shed light on the subtleties of the distinction.

The basic root of “chinuch” appears most frequently in the Bible in the sense of “inauguration” and “initiation”. It describes the act of dedicating something to a particular purpose. For example, Psalm 30, known as “Mizmor Shir Chanukat HaBayit“, is an inauguration song composed by King David for the Temple in Jerusalem, built by his son King Solomon. Once the Temple was built, its vessels could not be used until they were sanctified and inaugurated into their tasks. For instance, the menora had to be sanctified and inaugurated into its role as “illuminator”. The same was true for the priests who served in the Temple, who had to be initiated into that office before assuming their responsibilities. Although a priest is already physically capable of performing his function, he still requires an infusion of light to translate his spiritual potential into actuality.

This act of initiation draws down spiritual light. It is a ritual that awakens the recipients to a higher level of potentiality, enabling them to begin their new task. By beaming through physical, psychological and spiritual resistance, this input of light, energy, and inspiration actually transforms the person or object. After the jolt of inspiration, follow-through is a must…

When we apply the seed ideas imbedded in the root of “chinuch” to education, we see that the teacher is an “initiator” in that his task is to awaken the latent potentialities of his students. He does this by bringing down the light of knowledge to the students’ level, and so inspiring them to a new way of thinking and seeing the world.

The root of the second Hebrew word for “education”, “hadracha“, conveys a variety of meanings related to method and direction. Thus while “chinuch” conveys a spirit of new beginning, “hadracha” implies the effort of movement and progress. In terms of education, this means that after the jolt of inspiration, follow-through is a must.

Inspiration achieves little if the students do not integrate this new awareness into their daily life, i.e., if they do not learn how to stay on the new path and avoid obstacles, make steady progress, and keep the goal in sight.

Part 4: Phases of Spiritual Growth

The basic model of chinuch as initiation/inspiration and hadracha as integration applies on many levels. The interrelationship of these two phases of education is apparent in all areas of growth and change, not just education in the formal sense of the word. We see it in business ventures when a new idea is born (inspiration) and then when it is incorporated into business practice (integrated). We see it in medical advances, in science, in art and music.

Any type of change and growth always proceeds through the two phases of inspiration and integration. First there is the awakening to a new realm of possibilities and then there is the effort to build these insights into everyday reality/experience. In spiritual work, each step that we take in deepening our understanding of the world and perfecting our character is like entering into a new land, an unknown and uncharted territory which brings with it new possibilities and new paths to awareness.

The primary Kabbalistic metaphor for this process is set forth in the Torah passages describing the directions G‑d gave the Israelites as they readied themselves for entry into the Land of Israel. In both a real and a metaphorical sense, this journey was from barrenness into holiness – from the Sinai Desert into the Holy Land. And since all true spiritual growth is movement into or toward holiness, there can be no better metaphor than this. A two-stage process: first of “entering” and second of “settling”… inspiration and integration…

The Book of Deuteronomy describes this movement as a two-stage process: first of “entering” and second of “settling”. These two stages exactly parallel the sequence of inspiration and integration. The power to enter Israel, to penetrate into the Holy Land from foreign territory, is related to the initiation/inspiration phase of education, while the power to settle the land, to take root and endure, is a function of proper integration. Inspiration achieves little if the students do not integrate this new awareness into their daily life – if they do not learn how to stay on the new path and avoid obstacles, make steady progress, and keep the goal in sight.

A beautiful story illustrating this point is told about Rabbi Menachem Mendel, the Rebbe of Vitebsk, who, together with his followers of about two hundred families, immigrated to Israel in the 18th century, settling first in Safed and then in Tiberias.

One day, after living in Israel many years, the Rebbe called his students together and told them to prepare for a celebration. So they drank and sang and danced with great fervor all night, not knowing why the Rebbe had told them to celebrate. When they asked, the Rebbe responded with a story:

“When I was a young boy, I longed for the Holy Land so intensely that each time I heard that an emissary from Israel was in town, I would run to him and beg him to tell me of the holiness of the land. Inevitably, he would describe the holy cities: Jerusalem and the Western Wall, Hebron and the Cave of Machpela, Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee, and Safed, permeated with the souls of the mystics. Even after hearing all that, I would always ask, ‘Isn’t there more? There must be more’!

I was praying in the hills below Safed, and I began to see and feel the holiness emanating from every rock and blade of grass…

One day, one of the emissaries said to me, ‘I can see that you truly long to know the secrets of the Land of Israel and its holiness. When every stone, every blade of grass becomes holy to you; when you see every tree and spring as emanations of holiness; when the mountains deserts and forests reveal every step taken upon them and every thought locked away in their essence, then you will begin to understand the holiness of the Land of Israel.

Today, after all these years [of living here], I was praying in the hills below Safed, and I began to see and feel the holiness emanating from every rock and blade of grass. Then I knew I had finally arrived.”

Part 5: Entering a New State of Being

The sages explain that whenever the Torah requires us to “enter” something new, whether it be a new land or a higher level of perception, we must do so with our entire being. Leaving one foot out the door is not really entering. Even if our body is physically in the new realm, as long as our mind-set remains outside, we haven’t fully entered into a new state of consciousness.

So it is with growth and change. We can seem to experience the excitement of initiation, being inspired to change our life to accommodate new truths and insights. We can even proceed to make adjustments in our lifestyle and personality which may seem to be major, but which in fact are quite superficial. Then comes the rude awakening: we are shocked to find that we have not really been initiated and have not fully entered our newly-envisioned way of being. When this happens, the underlying problem is our lack of commitment. Entering new levels of awareness and visions of change demands the shedding of all previous assumptions…

For example, a mother could read a new book on parenting, and be inspired by a new strategy for teaching her children without threatening or raising her voice. She tries it a few times and it actually seems to work. Yet at the point that something doesn’t go quite right, she gets frustrated, loses control, and ends up right back where she started. This reflects the ambivalence at the levels of self which were not touched by the initiation and do not share a common cause with its goals. These levels of self remain unmoved and unmotivated, identifying with the old, familiar, and habitual ways of dealing with the situation. In other words, the initiation was not complete, and therefore the subsequent attempt at integration was unsuccessful.

The process of entering new levels of awareness and visions of change demands the shedding of all previous assumptions, expectations, and habits of behavior*. This clearing out of the old is always a prerequisite to entering a new level of being. The imaginary security of wanting to remain who we are now is a barrier to who we could be.

[*Note: This is really a form of teshuva, or “return to G‑d”. The parallel between teshuva and entering the Land of Israel is further supported by the fact that teshuva, from the root word meaning “return,” occurs in the Bible most frequently in relation to the Jewish peoples’ return to the Land of Israel. This teaches that entering the Land of Israel (aliya) in its deepest sense is the ultimate manifestation of return to G‑d (teshuva), it being the physical and spiritual entry into an entirely new state of being.]