Sunday, June 30, 2013

Outline for July 1st

Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh: Book two, chapter 20

Loving Hashem:

This is a mitzvah in the Torah: "love Hashem your G-d, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your resources", (Devarim 6:5). 

Two types: Conditional  or Unconditional; Begin with conditional and work your way toward unconditional.

Conditional: requires awareness that Hashem is giving us gifts every minute.

1. realize that someone other that self is giving to you= get rid of the idea that we achieve anything on our own
2. know the identity of benefactor- Hashem= realize everything comes from Hashem

Anything we have, Hashem has lent us for our use to use to serve Him.

"the earth and all in contains is Hashem's" (tehillim 24:1) NO guarantee that anything you have right now, He will still give to you in a minute from now.

Value what you have as a means to serve Hashem, but if something is taken away chas veshalom, you won't feel that it has been taken from you, as it was never really yours.  "Everything belongs to the Creator"

Three stages to attain conditional love:
1. recognize everything is from Him
2. talk to Hashem about this (we are doing this in our grateful minutes out loud)
3. ask to be able to really feel this

Just as we feel Hashem's guidance during special events, so too, we should feel His guidance each day and hour.

In Forest Fields (163-169 first half of chapter five)

Self Composure:
1. attained through hisbodedus
2. "essential for every particular those incorporating self-evaluation."

First we must believe in ourselves so that when we find the truth, nothing will sway us= true self composure.

(Amalek= doubt/safek= prevents our consistency in growth)

lack of self composure= lack of faith in oneself (eg of chava- wasn't sure she heard the absolute truth, example of Shaul Hamelech, and of Yosef Hatzadik/ pgs 164-165)

During hisbodedus, deal with a specific issue, when you see clearly the truth of the matter, ask Hashem to help you live up to the truth that you see, to remove all doubt from our heart that.

1.Believe in yourself that you know the absolute truth.
2.Daven that Hashem should help you believe it.
3.Fight for it.

Jewish Meditation:
chapter 4: 

States of Consciousness 

(familiar ones are waking and sleeping)

This chapter deals with states of consciousness that can be "self induced".

The mind has a filter that "prevents unwanted information from being stored in the memory...with training, however, one can learn to remove this filter at will."27

1. locked on state (hot mode of thought): increased physical energy, pulse is quicker and may perspire more, some tremble with creativity. "The energy one is utilizing is much greater than normal, not only is the mind completely involved in the creative effort, but the body as well."29

2. relaxation response:relaxed (cool mode of thought): relaxed mind wanders and solution pops up in the mind to a problem you have been worrying about.(mantra meditation is known to bring this calm, relaxed state see eg of how to do this on page32) With this meditation you learn how to control the mind and reduce static. 

this leads to 
3. advanced visualization- able to see things in the mind's eye that you can't see with your real eyes
Kabbalists -lamp of darkness and black fire eg pg 34
Intensify perception of beauty (tiferes) ("the sefirot can be looked upon as "dials" in the mind to amplify the expereinces associated with them"34)

4. panascopic vision- look at an object in the mind's eye from all sides at once. eg of Yechezkel vision 35 and Sefer Yetzira seeing five dimensions at once

5. Synesthesia- barriers between senses are lowered and eg:- luchos at Har Sinai can use hearing to perceive sight 

6. Nothingness: absence of everything even of blackness and empty space- focus on what you see behind your head. This is effective way of clearing your mind of all perception, the spiritual can appear spectacular, can enhance the part of the mind that experiences spiritual more deeply BUT DANGER= possible to get totally lost and swallowed up in this mystical state. 38

Next week avodah:
Chapter 21 in Bilvavi Book two
Next five Pages In forest fields
Chapter 5 Jewish meditation

Continue with the 6 minute verbal meditation (hisbodedus) we have been trying to implement.

Please contact me if you have questions or need chizuk.  If you do not feel belief in yourself, ask Hashem to help you see the truth and fight for it, and email me immediately, very important in order to move forward.

Love, aviva rus. 

Tomorrow at 12 NY time iyH

Call in numbers:
  • 424-203-8405
    • ISRAEL:
    •  076-599-0060
  • Access Code:
  • 535021
  • Looking forward!

  • iyH  i will post the outlines later today.

  • love, aviva rus
  • Monday, June 24, 2013

    17th of Tamuz

    The gematria of 17 is tov- good.  

    So we know this start of the three weeks is good.  

    The question is, how do we tap into the good???

    Well,,,, we just learned that with emuna our tefilos will be answered.

    1. Believe that everything Hashem does is good and thank Him for all the good you have

    2. Daven from that place of emuna

    3. Ask yourself as often as possible, "am i doing the will of Hashem in this moment?"

                                                              (thank you Reitza Sarah- you are amaaaaazing!)

    4. when you catch yourself veering from His will- do teshuva

    5. Request clarity to see the good in everything and everyone- (we are not asking why is this happening to us, rather, what should i learn from this to deepen my relationship with You, Hashem.)

    Use our six minutes a day to focus on the five things above.

    I am getting some feedback that it feels like we are moving fast.  It is true.  However, we are learning the foundation now and are taking small steps to make our foundation solid.  

    We are practicing hisbodedus, speaking out loud to Hashem, in a focused internal way... which makes it a verbal structured meditation.

    In fact, we are implementing all of the areas we are learning about, with our six minutes.  It may seem vast right now, but as soon as it becomes more routine, it will feel like we have been doing it all our lives...i hope ;)

    Please email me if you would like to review for a few minutes next week everything we have done until now.

    A wonderful chaburah sister emailed me this re when can we feel excited according to Torah?!

    Therefore when David said: "My soul, praise (Halleli) Hashem" he intended: "My soul, about what should you be ex­cited? About Hashem, and solely about Him. Awake and study His wisdom, power and kindliness, for that is your purpose in life. Only that which pertains to Him merits enthusiasm; but for all other matters: calmness!" (Awake, My Glory by Rav Avigdor Miller)

    May your fast be easy and meaningful,
    May we meet in Eretz Yisrael and see the good clearly- NOW!

    Love, aviva rus

    Correction to homework - it is chapter five (NOT 6) In Forest Fields that we are supposed to read- sorry about that and thank you to diligent chaburah member who made sure i checked! ;)

    Outline for June 24/ 16 of Tamuz

    Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh; Book 2; 

    Chapter 19

    Fear Requires Sensitivity:

    Working to attain fear based on perfection= a fear of lack of deveikus to Hashem

    The desire for closeness to Hashem fills you so much that you are apprehensive if it won't be realized.

    How do we attain this level?

    1. think about it/ talk about it: about which acts will distance you from Him and which will bring you close. (your soul feels if it will distance you from Hashem, but it's hidden feeling)

    2. awaken the hidden feeling in your soul by doing number 1 again and again first in peaceful moments
    (ask yourself will this act bring me closer to Hashem?)

    What does Hashem want from me in this moment? is the question that should lead our every move

    Nowadays it is difficult to sense yirah.  In order to have this sense, use the tool:

    Sensitivity of the soul: 

    nurture meekness and self refinement (versus coarse and crude) eat, drink, and act calmly.

    "Gentle behavior produces an inner calmness and sensitivity."

    Chazal: Before Moshiach, "wisdom of the scholars will be denigrated, and those who fear sin will be loathed; truth will disappear, and the young will humiliate the elderly."

    This is due to the lack of sensitivity in the soul.

    To serve Hashem, we must attain this- yirah is the ability to appreciate someone greater- "it is most difficult to attain yirah of Hashem..

    "Feelings are rooted in the body, but become manifest in the soul...the soul has spiritual feelings, and they are subtle.  since the soul's nature is submissiveness, it cannot be coarse...the body's feelings are material and coarse..if tastes are refined, the inner refined nature of the soul has not been lost...if prefers coarse things, then desires for spiritual things changed to a desire for material AND lost touch with the soul."

    So,in order to refine yourself:

    1.  refine and purify the senses to begin to expose the soul

    2. make the shift from physical to spiritual (can use ahava - love of Hashem- to do this/next week's reading)

    To expose the soul must live life with gentleness.  Each person needs to look at own life and see where am i not gentle?

    (eating big bites and coarsely? speaking on cel phone in public about personal matters? = inner crudeness!)

    Body's nature: kol raash gadol- a loud tumultuous noise versus soul: kol demamah dakah- a subtle quiet voice- the more we are involved in tumult and commotion, the more distant from our soul.

    To nurture a connection with your inner self, must act pure, calm, thoughtful

    see Baal Shem Tov eg on final page of chapter.

    For next week please read chapter 20 and this week start noticing where you are involved in outward activities in loud unrefined way.

    In Forest Fields (159-162)

    Emunah and acceptance of tefilos go hand in hand, need prayer to receive a gift that is not detrimental for us.

    Thank Hashem for the problem, knowing that the solution is prepared before the trouble, rather than worrying about where the solution will come from.

    From true joy, can ask for all that you wish for,especially clarity, teshuva, and emunah. (continue to follow our recipe for speaking out loud to Hashem, gratitude, teshuva, ask for clarity- and please begin chapter 6)

    Jewish Mediation: (19-24)

    If we are following the 6 minute recipe for the speaking out loud to Hashem, it is 1.verbal 2. inner directed 3. structured.

    We are meditating with an agenda to perfect our midos and sense-experience Hashem in the deepest possible way.

    Other forms of meditation:

    1. gerushin (used in Tzfat in 1500s)visual or verbal use of a verse

    a. read a bilblical verse, maybe even memorize, and use it as initial focus of meditation and then see where it goes in unstructured way

    b. write the verse on a paper and reread and redirect your mind to it again and again; so the verse becomes an integral part of the meditation.

    2. visual contemplation:

    a. gaze at object and let your thoughts flow freely (unstructured)

    b. banish all other thoughts while gazing at it (structured)- strive to see the Divine in the object and use as "springboard" to reach Him.

    3. verbal: repeat verse over and over- (structured) (Reebe Nachman: Ribbono shel olam)

    So there is visual/ verbal, structured/ unstructured; internal/ external

    Internal: examine life and find meaning
    External: used to focus the mind and thought processes or to have transcendental experience.

    4.Can also use the senses; smell (boreh minei besamim), touch (tasting and eating food thru the bracha over the food), movement (chasidim swaying);

    In Judaism action meditation is "most important when connected with the performance of commandments and rituals...when the mitzvos are seen in this light (bring a person to high level of G-d consciousness) they assume greater spiritual significance." (23)
     (What does Hashem want of me right now?connection, gentleness required)

    5. can use the emotions: ie; ponder the love you feel for Hashem of another person seen tin the mitzvah to love Hashem with all your heart, and others as you love yourself.

    In this way come to control your emotions and use them as you will, to enhance the mitzvos and feelings of closeness to Hashem and His creations.

    6. direct control of thoughts with no device/ intermediary
    stop thinking for a period of time- takes years and can be dangerous. 
    (please read chapter four for next week)

    avodah for next week:
    1. readings
    2. six minutes
    a. gratitude b. teshuva c. clarity d. continue playing around with control of mind
    3. What does Hashem want of me right now? ask yourself this question throughout the day and try to surrender to the answer

    Reitza Sarah- can you make a card with this question? :)

    Love, aviva rus

    Sunday, June 23, 2013

    tomorrow at 12 Ny time iyH

    Call in numbers:

    • 424-203-8405
      • ISRAEL:
      •  76-599-0060
    • Access Code:
    • 535021
  • Looking forward!

  • iyH  i will post the outlines later today.

  • love, aviva rus
  • Tuesday, June 18, 2013

    Insights from YOU- (class this week was l'iluy nishmas Rochel Leah bas Chaim Asher Hacohen)

    Thank you for the feedback and amazing insights you each are sharing with all of us- Here are a few, keep them coming please!

    "My talking to Hashem out loud is really enriching. A lot of mornings I take a walk around a lake near us, right in front of the public high school, and it's a perfect time to do that. I try to introspect about what's going on with me from the day before and also set my intention for the day. The conversation is especially helpful if there is something bothering me, because I can share it with Hashem and then I don't feel the need to speak about it anymore with someBODY."

    "A tool I use is Tehillim. I find that saying tehillim first thing in the morning gives me siyata d’shmaya... say at least one perek of tehillim before you davan shachris in the morning.  It can be the same perek every morning (even the two liners)... Tehillim said on a regular basis has potential for great siyata d’shmaya." 

    "One of the tools from Bilvovi for dealing with suffering which I use whenever appropriate: “Hashem, I know this is for my good. Please help me to feel all this deep in my heart.“   I have found that the key is to know that it is good NOW and not that it will turn out to be good...."

    "Comment on Homework:  I have found that the easiest/best time to review the day is in the evening before or after saying shema... it does not have to take very long.  I then can ask Hashem to help me do better tomorrow or for whatever else I might need help with.  I also avoid the problem of trying to remember what went on yesterday ... besides, night-time is one of the times that is conducive to tshuvah."

    Just to make us really passionate about working with fear of Hashem, i want to share what i learned this morning in Nefesh Hachaim:

    Rav Shimon Bar Yochai: 

    Yirah is the gate to enter into emunah and on this commandment all else stands.

    Other classes for more growth:

    If you want an emunah workshop that takes you from intellect/ Torah sources to emotion/ feeling it in your heart, Devorah Yaffa Singer is giving her Lights of Emunah workshop starting next week (see her website

    If you want to rev your elul month with clarity and purpose; join Rav Nivin's chaburah starting soon  (see his website

    If you want to learn about avodas Hashem from within the sefer Chovos Halevavos, join Rav Cable's chaburah, email me for that info (

    I think that covers it for now!

    Loving every minute of learning with you! Thank you!aviva rus

    Monday, June 17, 2013


    is to print these out and remind ourselves every time we can...




    Sunday, June 16, 2013

    Outline for Monday, June 17

    Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh; Book 2

    Chapter 18:

    Fear due to perfection and building of the will:

    Fear due to honor: this is easier if one has a very strong desire for honor.  If not, the imaginative faculty is not strong enough in most of us to work at attaining this one.  It is better to attain fear of punishment and skip to fear based on perfection.

    Since we may desire to be close to Hashem, but not strongly enough to refrain from sinning, there are two facts we must know and internalize:

    1. The purpose of life is to attain closeness to Hashem (and have strong ratzon-will/desire for it) 
    2. sin opposes the ratzon and prevents it

    How to develop the ratzon differs in each person:

    Our goal:

    To awaken a strong inner ratzon to become close to Hashem.

    1. how badly do you want to feel close?
    2. how much do you want to want to feel close?

    How can we arouse our ratzon to be close to Hashem?

    1. Zohar: through self afflicted suffering (two issues with this a. may not really feel it b. may fall into a pit of despair)

    2. opposite approach and perfect for our growth in this time period; devote an hour a day and pray for it: a. pray that you truly want to be close to Hashem, or even pray for the ratzon to want to be close to Hashem.

    3. If you cannot arouse your ratzon to pursue Hashem, "go to tzadikim and listen to their words and admonishments until something cracks open inside of you...people who speak words of truth...the words that emanate from their hearts will enter your heart."

    ("the bitterness over lack of ratzon for closeness to Hashem is itself a great tikun/rectification")

    Before starting to work on any area in self improvement, must really WANT it.

    Once you feel your life depends on this improvement, you will have no trouble doing it over and over again- "a person delights in something he feels is vital".

    Sefarim hakedoshim state: "the innermost level of ratzon is oneg (pleasure)"
    So if you feel the oneg that comes from the ratzon i.e., the delight in closeness to Hashem and learning Torah, you pursue them because of the inner delight.

    But problem is before we can feel the ratzon with oneg, we feel the ratzon without it, also called kaf hakela (the slingshot)=the frustration and pain one feels from unfulfilled desire.

    IMPORTANT TO KNOW: "every human being must experience the pain of unfulfilled ratzon."  If you don't fulfill it in this world then it will be in next world chas veshalom.

    Realize that this type of frustration is for our benefit, and use it to develop true ratzon to be close to Hashem.

    "Each soul comes into this world to fulfill a minimum quota of suffering.  One who understands that he cannot escape suffering prefers to willfully asume it by working to become close to Hashem without receiving satisfaction, rather than suffering in some other manner." eg of Yakov avinu who wished to dwell in peace

    How do we know when we have a strong enough ratzon?

    It must trouble you and live with you each moment, so the light of Hashem can rest on you and you feel the oneg.

    Next week please read chapter 19.

    In Forest Fields: (pgs 149-159)

    What did Rav Shalom learn from his debts?

    The problem Hashem sent him was a lever, to deepen his relationship with Hashem.

    1. Thank Hashem for any problem you have.  Rejoice in it. why?!?!?!  it's a "prime stimulus to inspire your prayer and repentance."

    2. Then speak about the specifics of the problem to Hashem

    3. Suffering then evokes the feeling that all Hashem does is for the good.

    Every movement of a Jew affects the higher worlds.  So if we sing and dance amidst the pain in suffering, our thanking and singing mitigate all harsh judgements.

    (examples of yehei shmei raba and aleinu page154)

    Thanking Hashem is the ultimate goal because this life is ALL about a relationship with Him.

    With emunah life's challenges become part of a beautiful journey to be close to Hashem.

    "There are no mistakes...everthing that takes place is exactly what you need for your specific tikun...the yetzer hara tries to convince you that this challenge will kill you, when, in fact, it's the best thing in the universe for you...even when we fail, we make a mistake, learn from it, and become better people...negative character trait? good! makes you fight to get close to Hashem all the time."

    Please finish this chapter for next week (159-163)

    Jewish Meditation

    Chapter 3: Techniques

    "There are a finite number of ways in which a person can interact with his own mind, and these form the categories of all meditation=controlled manner of thinking."16

    What you don't need: special surroundings, or particular body positions, nothing mysterious about it.

    All you do: for a specific period of time, you think about something specific, rather than let your mind wander randomly.

    What do you do when other thoughts try to creep in?
    a. push them out gently
    b. pull your mind back to the desired subject

    Hashem is beyond us and within us.  so there are two ways to discover Him:

    1.Beyond us: reflect on questions such as: what is beyond time and space?How did this world come to be? What was before time?
    2. Within us: delve into the self: "what do i ultimately want out of life? what gives my life meaning? what is the meaning of life in general? If i had my life to live over, what would i do with it? what ideals, id any would i be willing to die for? what would bring me more happiness than anything in the world?"

    These two together show the concept that Hashem is above and beyond and within all at the same time.

    Avrahom Avinu discovered Hashem by contemplating the meaning of life, then he began to have a dialogue with Him. (paradigm of how to begin a relationship with G-d)

    To alleviate the problem of random thoughts popping up in your dialogue with Hashem, try speaking out loud: "Using oral conversation as a meditative technique is an ancient Jewish practice...stressed by Rebbe Nachman"

    (How amazing that this is exactly what we are working on!)

    Three things we learn to do in this type of meditation:
    1. verbal : speech or thoughts rather than images
    2. inner directed-the form of meditation comes from within rather than from external stimulus
    3. unstructured: no idea which direction the meditation will take.

    finish chapter 3 for next week, pgs19-24

    avodah for this week:

    1. the reading for the three seforim
    2. speaking out loud to Hashem for six minutes, using the final minute to practice this form of meditation, by asking yourself the questions underlined above and listening for the answers.
    a. first minute; thank Hashem for general-daily gifts
    b. second minute; thank Hashem for specific last 24 hours
    c. third minute; thank Hashem for any difficulty you have - and teshuva for last 24 hours
    d. fourth minute; ask for clarity how to deal with it- any teshuva left from last 24 hours  
    e. fifth and sixth minute: begin asking the underlined questions to yourself, begin answering out loud.  If you find the answers don't lead you to Hashem and feeling close to Him, begin from : "Hashem- please give me the ratzon to want to be close to You."


    This is A LOT of work- I know you can do it- just set a timer for 6 minutes! 

    Love, aviva rus