Thursday, December 18, 2014

Happy Chanukah! and Good Shabbos!


I have pre-recorded a class for this motzai Shabbos that Shira will be sending to you, b'ezras Hashem, (thank you Shira).  Now we have finished the first two sections in Bilvavi 1 and the first three chapters in our handbook.

Here is our avoda for the next few weeks.

From Bilvavi:

1. Remember that our purpose in this world is to have deveikus to Hashem.

2. Remind ourselves that there is a Creator of this world and He created everything.

From  our handbook:

3. one to three times a day ask yourself:

"Why am I doing this? Is it for me/my ego or am I doing it to serve Hashem and reveal Him in the world? (this is geulah mentality)

Here is my thank you letter to you, in case you didn't receive it yet.

To my dearest soul sisters;

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  

Your gifts, your words, your efforts, your thoughts, have rendered me speechless.

 I was completely shocked to see Reitza Sarah handing me a gift from all of you.  Perhaps because I don’t think you realize that you have already given me a gift every week by learning with me and bringing your beautiful light into the world for me to be in awe of!  I wish I can give you each a gift back so that you can feel the love you sent me, flowing back to you.  It is precious and humbling, sweet and strong, all at the same time!

Thank You Hashem for bringing these beautiful neshamos into my life.  

Each one of you is magnificent and noble.  

I am so thankful that you have allowed me to share in your journey in this world and to grow with you in serving Hashem. 

May all the love and deveikus we are striving to share, herald the geulah- b’korov, b’yameinu,

Love, aviva rus

ps. Thank you Shira, Reitza Sarah, and Hindy for organizing this special moment.  

Each of you have mentioned to me how special you think each of you are and Shira said this has been the best experience she’s ever had- in working with all of you!  
                                the gift

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Last Night was our pre- Chanukah class

Here is Chanukah Torah that is from the Rav's website.  I am underlying the ideas we spoke about.

All the Torah we shared is leading us back to the same thing: Total Emunah in Hashem; Ain Od Milvado consciousness; Hashem Echad. (I will email an outline of what we spoke about through Shira- please contact her if you do not receive it).

We are now approaching Chanukah. Let us understand what the concept of this Yom Tov is, in a way that can affect us in our souls.

We have three Yomim Tovim according to the Torah – Pesach, Shavuos and Sukkos. 

The Sages enacted two more Yomim Tovim – Chanukah and Purim. The Yomim Tovim of the Torah are seven days each that become eight. Sukkos is seven days, plus Shemini Atzeres. Pesach has seven days, but it really has eight, because  the Ramban says that Shavuos is the Shemini Atzeres of Pesach. 

Chanukah, though, is eight days to start with.

What is the difference between the Yomim Tovim of the Torah, which are seven days that really total for eight, and Chanukah, which is eight days to start out with?

Chazal say that when a person smiles at someone, it is better than giving him a cup of milk. Why? This is because when you smile at someone, you radiate a light towards him, and this is more illuminating than even the white color of the milk.

This is Chanukah: it is a light that radiates outward. The oil of Chanukah which we light with is that illumination that radiates outwards.

Oil is shemen in Hebrew, which is similar to the word shemoneh – eight. This alludes to how the oil of Chanukah, which we light to commemorate the miracle of Chanukah, continues to be lit long after the miracle happened. 

Chanukah is a light that transcends time – it continues to radiate. 

We aren’t commemorating Chanukah because it was a miracle in history, but because it is a time of light, even now.
Chanukah is eight days, hinting to the fact that it is above time. 

There are seven days of the week, and the Yomim Tovim are seven days; seven represents regular time. 

But Chanukah is eight days, because it reveals a light that is above time.

Hashem created the world to be seven days. But if we count the Shabbos that Hashem started out the world with, we get eight days. 

On a deeper understanding, there are really eight days in Creation – the Shabbos of before Creation, the six days of the week, and then Shabbos of after Creation.

The light of Chanukah, which we light for eight days, reveals this “eight-day” concept. Normally, time consists of seven days, but the deeper aspect of Creation is that there is an eighth day – a spiritual light that is above time.

We find in halacha that if Chanukah begins on Friday night, we light 30 minutes earlier than sundown on Friday. How can this be? How are we able to light for Chanukah when it isn’t Chanukah yet? We aren’t able to bring the korbon pesach early. So why are we able to light for Chanukah earlier than its time?

The answer to this mystery is because Chanukah is above time.

What exactly is this special light of Chanukah, which transcends time?

 It is really the light of Emunah (faith in Hashem).

 Emunah is a power that is not limited to any time.

 Emunah says to us that what you see as the beginning isn’t really the beginning, because there was something that came before it. You see seven days of the week, but there was a Shabbos that came before it.

(This also alludes to the “letter aleph” which Hashem used to create the world with, before He created it using the letter beis. We only see Creation starting from the letter “beis,” Beraishis, and we do not see what preceded it – the letter aleph).

During our regular seven-day time period, we can reach the “letter aleph” of before Creation, though utilizing the seven days. But on Chanukah, we start already from that point preceding Creation.

Avraham Avinu illuminated the world through his Emunah – how? He radiated that power of Emunah, which came before Creation, onto the seven days of the world that are after Creation.  He used that letter “aleph” which was around before Creation – the light of perfect Emunah in the Creator.

This is why some say that in the future, Chanukah will not cease, while all the other festivals will cease. It is because the power which is Chanukah – the light of the perfect Emunah, which existed even before Creation – can never cease.

Now that we have seen this concept, let us see how this applies to our very soul.

Any light which exists in the world seems to be coming from the sun. But from where is the sun getting its light from? It gets its light from the heavenly spheres above it, which Hashem sustains.

The light of our Chanukah Menorah seems to be coming from this world, but all light comes from Heaven, so we are really using a spiritual light that is Heavenly.

That is the meaning behind the halachah why it is forbidden to benefit from the Chanukah lights. It is really because the light gets its source from Heaven, and thus we are not allowed to use it.

Normally, we are allowed to benefit from light. We were also allowed to benefit from the light that shined by the Simchas Beis HaShoeivah

But on Chanukah, we are prohibited from benefiting from the lights.

There is a special halachah that on Chanukah, it has to be recognizable from the street who is lighting the Menorah. This hints to how we must recognize the True Source of the Chanukah lights – “Who” is really lighting this Menorah….
The possuk says, “Ner Hashem, nishmas adam.” 

The soul of a person is called a ner, a light. Who lit it? 

Every light was lit by a Source. 

By seeing the lights on Chanukah, we can recognize Who lit these lights, Who the beginning of all this is. We can see the Chanukah lights and see which Master lit it – where the beginning of these lights is.

This represents the power of complete, perfect Emunah – the real light of Chanukah.

When a person walks into a building and he sees light, it usually doesn’t make a difference to him who lit up the building. But Chanukah teaches us that we must see the beginning, the source, of all light – Hashem.
We usually only focus on the purpose of everything, but do we ever think about the source of things? That is the lesson of Chanukah: we can see the beginning of everything.

“I am the First, and I am the Last.” It is not just enough to know that Hashem is the Last and the goal of everything. We have to also be aware that He is the beginning of everything. We must see how He is both the beginning and end of everything.

Chochmah, wisdom, is called ohr\light. The Torah, which is Chochmah, is called Torah Ohr.  This is because ohr serves to show us what the beginning of all things are. 

This is the special ability of the Jewish people: we can see the beginning of things, not just the goal of whatever everything leads up to. The nations of the world only focus on what something leads up to, but they do not have the power to trace everything back to its beginning.

Take a look at the world today. All of the world is running after more and more new gadgets. They aren’t interested in beginnings of things, only in what they can get out of something.

The Torah, however, is a revelation of the Beginning that it comes from. Although we also must pursue the goal of everything, we also need to search for the Beginning of everything.

Chanukah is not about the “purpose” of things. It is about the Beginning. It shows us that we must search for the Beginning of everything. The Beginning of everything is Hashem, and so are Torah and the Jewish people called raishis, the beginning.

The light of Chanukah thus reveals how the Torah radiates through the light of Chanukah. It reveals “Torah Ohr.”

There is a minhag on Chanukah to eat dairy. We understand why we eat foods with oil in it, because the miracle happened with oil. 

 But why do we eat dairy on Chanukah?
Before, we quoted the words of Chazal, that smiling at someone is better than giving him a cup of milk. In this we can find the answer to our question. If I smile at someone, I am showing him the white of my teeth - I am radiating a light toward another, I am giving him he’aras panim (a radiant countenance). I am bestowing upon another, with my smile, the Chochmah\wisdom that is found within me – as it is written, “The wisdom of man lights up his face.” With a smiling countenance, I am shining upon another the light of the beginning of all wisdom.

This is why we eat dairy on Chanukah, to allude to how we must radiate our “white” teeth toward others, which Chazal say is even valuable than giving your friend a cup of milk.
On Chanukah, we light the Menorah to radiate that spiritual light outwards toward others – the light of the Beginning.
Thus, Chanukah does not come to show us the “purpose” of these days. It rather comes to show us what the beginning of it is.

What we learn from Chanukah is that we must make sure to always look for the beginning of something. We shouldn’t only pursue our goals that we are heading towards. What we mainly need to do is to reflect about the beginning of everything. 

In whatever you do, think about its beginning. The beginning of anything is Hashem. 

When you think about this, you will find that you will be much more motivated to get to your goal.
It’s more important to think about the beginning of each thing than to think about the purpose of each thing.
Let’s say a person loves a certain thing. Why does he love it? If he reflects, he can discover that all loves are rooted in the Creator, because love is a power which comes from the Creator. 
He is the source of everything.

We must access our power of seeing the “beginning” in everything. This is really the ohr haganuz, the hidden light, that Hashem hid away at the beginning of Creation. We can access the “hidden light” when we think into the beginnings of everything, and we discover that Hashem is the source of absolutely everything. It is a “hidden light” because at first this perspective is hidden from a person – until he finds it.
This power can be revealed on Chanukah. By accessing our power to see the beginning of everything, we can truly come to connect to the Creator  - Who is the First, and the Last.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Nullifying our "I"....

Before you can find G-d, 
you must first lose yourself

(Baal Shem Tov) 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Part 2 : Achieving Inner Redemption

( We will be discussing this on Motzai Shabbos, IY'H, and 55-60 in Bilvavi- please email Shira at to receive what we will be covering each week- as i will not be putting everything on the blog-)

Nullifying Your “i” 
(Adapted from sefer Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, Vol. VI, Chapter 3)

Many Ways, One Goal
The essence of life is Hashem- Who is found in our heart.  Our mission is to reveal Him from within ourselves.  There are many paths to get there.
Generally speaking, the mitzvos are the ways to get to Him.  There are 613 Biblical commandments and 7 Rabbinical commandments; if so, there are altogether 620 ways to reveal Hashem.
Each of our forefathers had his own way as well.  Avraham Avinu intuited the whole Torah by himself (Beraishis Rabbah 95:3), and that was one way.  The Torah which we received at Har Sinai is another way.  What both ways have in common, though, is that they are both paths to reveal Hashem.
The Nefesh HaChaim explains that the giving of the Torah didn’t add anything new to our goal; the goal always remains the same – revealing Hashem.  What the giving of the Torah revealed was how to get to Hashem, but the inner point, which is to reveal Hashem, never changes.  It is unaffected by the sin of Adam.
The constant search remains: to search for Hashem.  The ways to get there are many; before the sin of Adam, there was a certain away to get there, and after the sin, the plan changed.  Avraham Avinu’s path was chessed, Yitzchok Avinu’s path was gevurah, and Yaakov, (who is emes) is the synthesis of these two;  while Moshe Rabbeinu is the inner dimension of Yaakov’s path.  Still, the goal of getting to Hashem always remains the same. 
The many ways to serve Hashem are only “garments” of the inner point they cover, which is to search for Hashem.  “Just like all faces are different, all de’os (opinions) are different” – there are many paths to “know” Hashem, but the common denominator between all the paths is that a person has to become close to Hashem.  How we look for Hashem differs with each person, but What we look for is always the same.
This should be very clear.  When we learn sefarim hakedoshim, especially the works of Chassidus, a person may attempt to discover himself within the sefer.  A person may think, “My soul is rooted in Avraham Avinu, who is chessed”, or “My soul is rooted in Yitzchok Avinu, who is gevurah”.  This is dangerous because people end up basing their entire lives on all kinds of speculations.
We must all know, however, that we have only one goal – to become close to Hashem.  Where each one of us should begin is a different issue, but What we search for should always be the same.
The Danger of Thinking About Yourself
The words here are deep matters about how to work with our soul.
Oftentimes, when a person is more involved with avodas Hashem (serving the Creator) and he seeks to improve, he may begin to become very self-absorbed. He thinks about himself all the time – about his spiritual situation, and he is totally absorbed in himself.
Now, if someone isn’t an internal kind of person, he doesn’t have this problem, and he just lives life.  He also has desires for glory, but he’s not immersed in himself, and he leads a superficial kind of life.  He looks for outer kinds of desires and isn’t connected to his inner self to begin with.  He experiences jealousy, desire, and a longing for honor, but these are just desires to enter outside one’s self.  A superficial person doesn’t have the kind of problem we are describing.
Only an internal kind of person, who really seeks to serve Hashem better, is faced with the danger of becoming too self-absorbed.  An internal kind of person really wants to know his soul, and he is critical of himself, as he is involved regularly with making a cheshbon hanefesh (soul accounting); each to his own.  He wants to know who he is. 
On the one hand, this is wonderful; Chazal say, “Know the G-d of your father and serve Him”, and it is written, “From my flesh I see G-d.”  A person indeed must know himself well and what his soul is, so he can figure out in which way he should serve Hashem.  Without this internal self-examination, a person lives a superficial life.
On the other hand, when a person enters himself and he begins to clarify who he is, he wants to know very much what his “I” is, and this is apt to make him become very self-absorbed, and it can have disastrous results.  It can either make one become very broken and sad, and if this doesn’t happen, the opposite will happen - it can make him become haughty and arrogant, because he thinks he knows himself so well.  Either of these is not what we want to achieve.
When a person is too absorbed in himself, it can be said of him in a subtle sense the statement of Chazal, “I and him cannot dwell under one roof” .  Chazal say this of a baal gaavah (haughty person), but the root of haughtiness is when a person is absorbed in himself, and thus it can be said that Hashem doesn’t want to be with someone who is self-absorbed.
When a person is truly humble, he doesn’t think he’s a nothing.   True humility is that a person doesn’t think about himself at all – he’s not thinking about “i”.  He thinks only about Hashem, the Torah, and how to help other Jews – both physically and spiritually – and he takes his mind off himself.
When a person thinks very much about himself all the time, this itself prevents him from reaching the goal, which is to be close to Hashem.

“Ani” Vs. “Ayin”
We said in the beginning of this chapter that there are many methods on how to begin serving Hashem, but the end goal of all these ways is always the same: Hashem.  What we really mean is as follows.
A person’s “i” (ani) is to be used as a tool to get to the purpose, which is to reach Hashem.  Our mission is not solely for the sake of building our “I”.   Just to be in it for the sake of developing our self is like how “the building of children demolishes” (Nedarim 40a).  A person only reaches perfection when he is totally divested of his ego; instead of ani (I), he has reached ayin, “nothingness”.  Perfection is not when you build your “I” – it is when you leave your “I “.
Perfection is not about building your “I”; it is rather about negating your “I”. This does not imply that one should feel low about himself; it is instead that a person should realize that he doesn’t live for himself, and that he is not meant to think and worry about himself.
This is the ideal situation which we are trying to achieve.  The more a person enters into avodas Hashem, if he becomes more self-absorbed in the process, although he gains in that he has left the materialism of this world, he has harmed himself in a way that is very hard to come out of.
If a person isn’t aware of this as he starts out in his avodas Hashem, he will suffer from his self-absorption until the end of his life.  This is like what is written, “Until elderliness and old age, I will endure”.  His “I” will prevent him from any true progress, and his whole life he will only be interested in how his “I” come into the picture.
The recognition we are supposed to have, though, is that when we want to search for closeness to Hashem, we should know that this is the common goal of whatever we are doing.  The more a person purifies his “I” and leaves his ego, the more he will live with Hashem in his life, and come to the recognition of Ain Od Milvado, “There is nothing besides Hashem”.
“Your Face, Hashem, I seek”
We are stating this point at the beginning specifically, and not at the end. Simply speaking, our mission is to first build up our self and then nullify it.  But it is really more than that.  Instead of entering our “I” and then leaving it, it’s better to stay outside of the “I” altogether.  This is because we must be clear in what we are searching for: are we just searching to find ourselves, or are we searching to find Hashem?
When a person hears that he has to work on his middos, if he has only a superficial perspective, he will likely groan to himself, “Oy, I have so many faults, I am full of so many problems I need to fix”.  It is indeed true that no one is perfect, and that we all have areas we need to work on.  If you ask a person why he wants to work on himself, he might respond, “Because I want to give pleasure to Hashem”.  But the truth is that he is only working on himself for the concern of his own well-being.  He views “working on himself” in the same way that he has to fix a broken machine. He is aware that “working on yourself” and “getting to know yourself” is part of serving the Creator, and thus he thinks about himself a lot and does all kinds of outer actions to try to improve himself.
This is an erroneous attitude. 
We need to correct this outlook from the start and clarify what the goal here is, what we are really trying to arrive at.
If someone is really searching for avodas Hashem, he must know that it’s not about himself.  You don’t need to find yourself, and the only search you need to have is to search for Hashem. 
When people want to know, “Who am I? What am I? What is my shoresh haneshamah (soul root)?” – people have all kinds of questions like this – it shows that the intention isn’t for the sake of coming to better their avodas Hashem.  They are seeking knowledge about themselves, and that is not the true depth of avodas Hashem.

The proper attitude to have about self-knowledge is that knowing about yourself can definitely enhance your avodas Hashem, but to be aware of what we are really searching for – Hashem.  It is written, “Your face, Hashem, I seek.” One should not be looking for his “I”, but for Hashem!  Our mission is not to build ourselves; it is rather to realize that there is nothing else other than Hashem, and that we search for nothing other than Him.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Part of what we discussed last night...

There Is World
Kislev 8, 5775 · November 30, 2014

There are only three things on which your mind must focus:

The One Above, 

you below, 

and the interface between the two of you—the world and all it contains.

Those who grasp for G‑d without that interface between, they do not build, but destroy.

Invest yourself within the reality of your world and from there you will redeem G‑d’s presence.

For a recording of last night and the review sheets, please contact Shira at

It was wonderful to learn with you! Thank you!

Here is a phenomenal piece by the Rav!

Our Life Is A Contradiction

We are a contradiction. On one hand, we all know in our minds that “Everything Hashem does is good”, but when it comes to actualizing this belief in our life, we still feel pain.
There is a contradiction between our heart and our mind. Our mind understands, intellectually, what the truth is – that everything Hashem does is good. But the feeling of our heart is totally different than this. Simply, we would say that this is because we have a problem – we haven’t internalized our knowledge yet into our heart! We know that we have an avodah to internalize (“And you will know today, and you shall return the matter upon your heart”) and it seems that we are failing to internalize our beliefs.
That is true, but we have a deeper avodah than this as well. Our mind’s knowledge represents the understanding that is above us[1], the unlimited comprehension which resides above logic. Our heart’s knowledge represents our limited comprehension. They are two different perspectives taking place at once inside us, and they are each correct.
Of course, first our avodah is to try to internalize our mind’s knowledge into our heart. But we must also realize that there will always be a contradiction always going on inside of us between our mind and heart. Just as we believe that our mind’s knowledge is true, we need to understand that our heart’s limited understanding also need to be validated (our feelings, which don’t allow us any peace to make sense with things).
This is a very deep point. It seems simply that our heart is disagreeing with the truth that we know in our mind, and that there is only one truth here, the truth that our mind knows. But at the same time, we must be aware that we live all the time with contradictions in our life; we must recognize that our mind thinks one way, while our heart always feels differently.
Our avodah is to keep trying to internalize our mind’s knowledge (that everything Hashem does is good) into our heart. When we succeed in internalizing, we then gain a whole new mind. We will still have contradictions, though, even after that.

What is then our avodah?

Our avodah is to keep continuing to internalize our knowledge, again and again, and go through this cycle: knowing, then internalizing, then finding contradictions – and then once again returning to knowing, internalizing, and finding contradictions, etc.
Our whole human makeup is a contradiction. Our mind is one kind of understanding, while our heart is another kind of understanding. It is an example of the concept of “rotzoh v’shov”, our general avodah of “running and “returning.” We go through a constant cycle of progressing and then falling from our progress, only to return back to progress and then to keep repeating that cycle. The fact that we have a contradiction in ourselves between our mind and our heart is not just this contradiction; it is the inner reality of every person!
Without knowing this secret about life, that we are supposed to live with contradictions, life is very difficult. We must firmly believe that our mind thinks one way, while our heart thinks a different way, and this contradiction is an inextricable part of who we are.
Now we can understand the following point. Although we know the statement of our Sages that “Everything Hashem does is for the good”, that doesn’t invalidate our need to cry. Why? It’s not that we aren’t believers; it is for a different reason. It is because our mind believes the truth – but our heart does not. Our heart is below the understanding of emunah, so it initially does not want to take emunah as an answer. On a deeper note, we cry when we have real pain and suffering, not because it makes sense to cry, but for no reason at all.
(This is the depth behind, “They cried tears in vain”. We know that the destruction came about due to how the nation “cried tears in vain” when they heard the Spies’ complaints about the land of Israel, and that we were punished because of this pointless crying. This was an evil usage of the power to cry, but the power to cry is good at its root, which is to cry for no logical reason at all. We can use the root good of “crying in vain” on Tisha B’av, which is really an illogical kind of crying).
It is our heart that has pain and cries, not our mind. This is not by chance. First, our avodah is to internalize our mind’s knowledge into our heart, but at the same time, we must also understand that our heart’s feelings of pain are also correct, and that it is an equal understanding to our mind’s understanding. Just as our mind is correct for believing that “Everything that Hashem does is for the good”, so too, when we have legitimate pain and we cry, our heart is correct in feeling the need to cry. It is a crying that is above logic, the power of “crying in vain” being used for good.
However, when a person cries simply out of a lack of emunah, he is using “crying in vain” for evil. It is only when a person believes that his crying is coming from his heart, from the root good power of “crying in vain”, that he elevates his heart’s understanding to the level of his mind’s understanding.

The Three Levels Of Crying When We Have Pain

To make this practical, there are three possible reasons why a person would cry. Two of these reasons are valid reasons to cry, while one of them is a lack of emunah.
The lowest level of crying is when a person cries, simply, out of a lack of emunah.
A person with the higher perspective, though, cries with the following attitude: he knows in his mind that everything Hashem does is for the best, but he also knows that sometimes we have a mitzvah to cry, like to cry over the destruction of Jerusalem. He detaches from his emunah a bit and instead allows himself to cry.
This higher kind of crying is reflected in the following story. The Kamarna Rebbe zt”l once lost a son. As he went through this tragedy, he said that he is momentarily disconnecting from his great bond with Hashem, and that he is instead allowing himself to feel pain. He said that if he would have remained in his total attachment with Hashem, he wouldn’t feel any pain over the death of his son, and since he knew that it is Hashem’s will that he should cry over his son’s death, he allowed himself to disconnect from his great d’veykus and emunah. He let himself descend from his lofty perch a bit, to the level of his heart’s emotions, the lower understanding, so that he could cry.
There is an even higher kind of crying than this, and that is when a person cries even though he has no idea why he is crying; this is when a person is so connected with Hashem that his crying comes from a place that is above himself, a crying that’s coming from Heaven. In the level we mentioned before, a person cries out of emunah that he knows he must cry in order to fulfill Hashem’s will. But in this third kind of crying, which is a higher level, a person cries without any explanation. He’s not crying because he’s sad, and he’s not crying because he knows that it is Hashem’s will. He is crying even though he has no idea why!
How can a person reach such a level of crying? It doesn’t come from within himself; it is poured down from above. It can come when a person becomes so utterly connected with Hashem that he goes above even his daas (mind). This is a level called “lo yeda[2], no daas – in other words, there is a kind of higher understanding from above that can come to a person. This can be reached when one nullifies his daas;[3] when he realizes that just as he is limited in his understanding, so is there is a kind of unlimited understanding that is above human logic.
However, such a high understanding can only come to a person when he is truly connected to a life in which he has the synthesis of both understanding his human limits, as well as recognizing that there is a realm of the unlimited that is beyond him.  Such a person can both “cry and laugh” at once – he can cry based upon his limited understanding, and he can laugh based upon the higher, unlimited understanding.

Suffering Is Incomprehensible!

The Maharal says that both the words “galus” (exile) and “geulah” (redemption) have the same letters in them (gimmel and lamed), because they are both from the word giluy – revelation. In other words, both the exiles and the redemption serve to reveal Hashem, each in their own way.  (The redemption, will, of course, be a more complete revelation).
It is written, “Behold, the angels are crying out” (In Hebrew, “Hein erealim tzauku chutzah”). The commentators of this possuk explain that the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash is something that our logical mind cannot endure. How could it be that Hashem, who is so merciful, has given cruelty to rein free? How could He allow so much pain upon His creations? There is no logical way to understand the destruction.
“Avinu, av harachaman”. Our Father, our Merciful Father. Where is Your mercy?! Where is Your kindness? Even the cruelest person on this world wouldn’t bring so much destruction to the world; how can it be that You, Hashem, our Merciful Father, can do this to Your children?!
From our human perspective that is limited, there is no way to understand how it could be that Hashem, Who is the epitome of mercy (midas harachamim) could allow for the destruction of Jerusalem. The Destruction is something that is above our limited comprehension.
This is why the angels were crying over the destruction: because there is no logical way to understand how Hashem could allow such destruction.
However, although we do not really understanding anything – not the Beis HaMikdash itself, and not its destruction, and not the Endlessness of Hashem – still, we know that we are able to have a connection to Hashem, and that is when we nullify ourselves to Him.

There are many valid questions which people are asking in the world: How could there be a destruction to Jerusalem? How could Hashem allow such destruction?

How can we understand all the suffering going on in the world?

There is only one answer. It is really not possible to understand suffering; it is simply illogical! When we read the stories in the Gemara[4] about the insane suffering at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem as well as all of the suffering that the Jewish people has gone through in recent times everyone is baffled: Is this the Merciful Hashem, who is supposed to be the epitome of compassion?!!
Of course, when we look into our holy literature, we can find all kinds of answers: even bad can somehow end up being good, etc. But in the end, our mind cannot endure such a thing! All of the suffering is so mind-boggling! How could Hashem pain us for so many years?!
Logically speaking, one would have to be the cruelest being possible in existence to allow so much pain to go on in Creation.
The truth is that we cannot understand how Hashem could let it be possible for so much suffering to go on in His Creation, how He could allow so much evil and destruction to take place. However, precisely because we cannot understand it, that itself leads us to an inner understanding: that nothing can really be comprehended.
When a person reaches this inner perspective – that human suffering is impossible to understand, since our logic is limited – he will be able to understand that even when we have pain and cry over the destruction, it is not because we are simply saddened over what is going on, from our limited perspective. The inner crying is because we are connecting to what is above our comprehension; it is a crying that we do not really understand why we are crying. It is an illogical kind of crying, and it indeed does not make any sense.

[1] In the Hebrew sefer, the author describes this as a manifestation of “ohr makif”, “surrounding light” (which is an understanding that is outside/above us), and “ohr penimi”, inner light, (the understanding that we have within us).
[2] Briefly, the concept of “lo yeda” is that there is a kind of daas that is above our regular daas; the source of this is an expression of the Baal Shem Tov, who said that “the purpose of “yeda” (“to know”) is lo yeda (to not know)” – that there is a higher kind of understanding we can reach in which we can realize that we do not understand things from our logical perspective. This is reached the more and more a person attains a deeper closeness to Hashem. It is explained at length in Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, Volume V, in the beginning of the section Mili D’Avodah (Deep Matters of Avodah), p.293-303, as well as throughout sefer Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, Volume IX.
[3] “Nullifying” our daas is also discussed the author’s other series, Da Es Daatcha 009: Bittul HaDaas (Nullifying Our Daas); see also the above mentioned places in Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, Volumes V and IX, as well as in Bilvavi IX: Chapter 6: Bittul HaSichliyus (“Nullifying the Intellect”). See also Getting To Know Your Happiness, Chapter 2: Simcha and Sechok, and Chapter 3: Happiness From Our Existence.

[4] See Gittin 55a

                            Thank you Reitza Sarah!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


IY'H, This Motzai Shabbos at ten pm, ny time we are meeting for our third time to learn the new material.

If you are on the call, please remind me to discuss the concept of our attachment to Hashem and how the inner redemption can be described - I have been told that i am describing it in a way that can be misinterpreted.

Please email Shira at to join.

Thank you !

Here is the letter that I sent out to those of you whose emails i had, if you did not receive, then please email Shira if you are joining the new series.

Welcome to our new chaburah.

We are now taking the information we have been learning to date and integrating it on a deeper level (iyH)

So far: we have discussed the introduction and chapter one of the handbook: Inner Redemption , and the first  50 sections of  Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh.

Here are some highlights: 

Our purpose in this world is to have deveikus to Hashem.

He is the Creator, and all His creations are attached to Him.

When we feel this integration with Hashem, this is a form of geulah on an individual level.
(All feelings are a gift from Him.  However, it is up to us to take the step.)

In order to help bring the geulah for the masses, our group is working together to create a “ripple effect” , by striving for an inner redemption.

This past week we discussed how there is a concept of giving over information in the name of the person that you heard the information from. 

 This is a step to the inner geulah, because it separates us from our ego, that knowledge is not ours, and we show that we don’t identify with it as such.  In the same way, the geulah for the masses can come, when we all give over all that we are in the name of Hashem, meaning when we realize that He is everything and everything is from Him.

We are all in this together and it does not matter which step we are up to.

An important piece of the puzzle for all of us, however, is to know and sense that we are each a pure neshama.  
(There are recordings of our chaburah discussing this idea over the past year and there will be a class given by one of our special chaburah members as soon as she is available (iyH.)

These are very deep concepts and also very simple, please allow these ideas to be absorbed into your neshama, without intellectually running after them.

Here is the next section that we will be discussing in the handbook/ and please read section 2 in Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh parts, 50-60.

Who Will Merit Moshiach?
(Adapted from Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, Vol. V, p.256)

Waiting for Moshiach 
One of our 13 principles of faith (listed by the Rambam) is that we believe that Moshiach will come, and “even though he tarries, I wait for him to come,every day.”
The Chasam Sofer asked:  Why is belief in Moshiach one of the 13 fundamental beliefs?  If a person doesn’t believe in Moshiach coming, does that mean that he doesn’t believe in G-d?  Why is belief in Moshiach’s arrival so important that it is considered to be one of the 13 basic tenets of our faith?
Why We Wait for Moshiach 
In order to be able to wait for something, we need to be able to conceptualize it.  If we don’t know what something is, why should we wait for it?  Through the knowledge of the concept of whatever it is that we are hoping for, we can then hope for it.
The more we know what a concept is, the more we await its revelation – and the less we know about it, the less we care about it.
Believing in Moshiach is not just a belief that he will come.  There is more to this belief, and this is apparent from the fact that we have to awaken this belief every day.  If we don’t know what Moshiach is all about, why should we care if he will come or not, and what would we need him for?  Only if we know clearly what Moshiach truly means – what his purpose is, and what we are missing because he’s not here – can we await him with anticipation.
Anyone who is waiting for Moshiach, but doesn’t know who or what Moshiach is, is simply imagining things and fantasizing about a better world – he’s dreaming about the unknown.  This isn’t belief in Moshiach, it’s just a fantasy. In order to really await Moshiach, we need to know who and what Moshiach is.
The Concept of Moshiach
Chazal state that the first redeemer will be the last redeemer (Bamidbar Rabbah 11:2).  The first redeemer was Moshe Rabbeinu – so he will be our last redeemer as well.  Why is Moshe Rabbeinu our redeemer?
Moshe has the same letters as the word lishmah (to act for the sake of Heaven).  This is because Moshe reached a level in which he was divested of all physicality, any vestige of ulterior motives that stem from the body.  He was connected to the Creator at all times with the greatest closeness, and all of his desire was about fulfilling his Creator’s desire.  He did not live at all for himself – he considered his existence only as a connection to Hashem.
The redemption is rooted in the ability to act lishmah, and thus Moshe will be the redeemer, because he personified lishmah.
Who Will Merit Moshiach?
It is written (Yeshayahu 43:7), “All is called in My name, for My honor I created it”.  All of Creation, everything in existence, was created for the sake of Hashem.
We are currently in exile.  What is exile?  Exile is essentially a situation in which we do not recognize how everything is all Hashem.  In exile, we are either missing this recognition in our minds or in our hearts. But redemption will be a situation in which we recognize – both from our internal self and the rest of our external self – that everything is all for (and from) Hashem, and we do not live for ourselves.
This defines Moshiach.  Moshiach is a recognition – a revelation of this recognition – that everything exists for Hashem.
If a person considers his life to be for himself – whether he’s looking for honor, or some other desire in life – he’s disconnected totally from the concept of Moshiach.  His whole existence is contradicting the idea of Moshiach.  Only when a person lives lishmah will he merit the revelation of Moshiach.
A person always has some part of him that isn’t lishmah.  When Moshiach comes, only the lishmah aspect of a person will remain, while the rest of the person  will disappear – the parts in us that are shelo lishmah.  Our shelo lishmah will vanish from all of our senses.
Now we can understand why belief in Moshiach is one of our fundamental faiths – it is because Moshiach reveals the purpose of Creation.

If you have any questions please email me or call me anytime.  This is serious and exciting material! Also, please email Shira at if you want to be removed from the group list and/ or if you want to receive the recordings from the first series.

love, me

PS. I receive this link daily from many people, so you may have it already, but in case you don't;
in order to donate to the families of the Har Nof victims:
click the link, please donate and share!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Good Shabbos

The almanos are asking us, their Jewish sisters, to join together this Shabbos and bring complete ahavas chinam; unconditional love, from inside ourselves to every single yid.

We have been learning how to feel unconditional love for the past few years.  The main thing to remember is that in order to feel this way, we have to look beyond the "garments" that are covering each person, and into their neshama.

Last weeks parsha ended with the words "Yishmael will fall on the his brothers" at the end of days.  We discussed how this is alluding to the days preceding the geulah, how Yishmael will be fighting with everyone (Rabbi Jacobson).

This week Parsha Toldos begins by listing the offspring of Yitzchok, from Avraham.

Not only will Yishmael lose this battle he is fighting world wide, but Bnei Yisrael will come out more fruitful than ever as a result.

Hashem is telling us this clearly.

As my uncle, who was in the shul during the rampage, told a reporter, (who asked how he is able to come back there and learn/daven on the very next day); 

"they will not stop me from doing what I need to do, to live in Israel, to pray in Israel...They're not gonna stop me."

This Motzai Shabbos, we will continue our learning together, iy'H, and united, continue to bring inner redemption.

We cannot allow them to stop us.

In fact, let this propel us forward with greater resolve.


Aviva Rus

Friday, November 14, 2014

Good Shabbos!

Parshas Chayei Sarah:

When I was little I used to wonder how I was supposed to emulate our Imahos.  They seemed far removed from my world.

Now I understand that every single one of us has a unique light to shine in this world, to bring kiddush Hashem into it.  

What was Sarah's light?

 Even though Sarah went through all the trials and tests with Avraham "All her days were equally good" (Rashi).  

Shira Smiles writes of Sarah Imeinu:

What is the secret to her equanimity? 

"Sarah's name Yiskah hints to the secret of her equanimity.  Yiskah is related to the word suchin- to be surrounded and permeated by Divine spirit...the experience of being surrounded and eveloped by Hashem's love.  Despite the travails of her life, Sarah's deep well of ruach hakodesh- her exquisite sensitivity to the world of internality- kept her within Hashem's embrace...Wherever Sarah Imeinu was geographically, emotionally, and spiritually she was in her  "her tent".  Surrounded by Hashem's goodness, profoundly tuned to His ratzon, she was the ultimate matriarch to all her spiritual seeking daughters."

We have come full circle now. We are about to learn how to achieve inner redemption.  Sarah Imainu has shown us the key to enter this new world.  

This Motzai Shabbos, we are entering her world.

Thank you Sarah, our mother, for showing us the way back home.

Thank YOU Hashem for the Torah that teaches us so clearly what our next step in avodas Hashem is.

Love, aviva rus

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

New class...

We are starting new material (see below for the first chapter).  Shira will email it to you.  (thank you Shira!)

If you do not receive it, please email her at 

It seems like we all have very different schedules and it is difficult to find a time to all  meet!

I will keep you posted with the time and dates.




הגאולה הפנימית  - גאולת הנפש
Geulah From Within

Culled together from the sefarim and talks by the author of                        

Part 1: The Concept of “Inner Redemption”
1. Public Redemption and Personal Redemption (Bilvavi 5, p. 385)
2. Who Will Merit Moshiach? (Bilvavi 5, p. 256)

Personal Redemption
The First Step to Uncovering the Root of Everything:
(Adapted from Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, Vol. V, p.385)

It is written in the Megillah, “And Esther spoke to the king, in the name of Mordechai.” (Esther 2:22). The Sages learn from here that when one says something over in the name of the original person who said it, he brings redemption to the world (Avos 6:6).
There is a famous question about this; many times people repeat a statement in the name of the person who said it, yet the redemption still hasn’t happened.  
Why not?   Why hasn’t Moshiach come?
The answer is that there are two types of redemption.  There is a redemption for the masses, and there is a private redemption for each person,  both of these must  occur.
When a person repeats something in the name of the person who said it, he experiences a private redemption, not the public redemption.  
When will all of creation have its redemption? 
It will only be when everyone in the world is saying that everything is from, and for, Hashem’s name.
Let us explain this matter.
In exile, we are cut off from our root. We only see branches of the root as we are in exile – and we never see the root, which is the source of all the branches.  In the redemption, however, unity will come to the world – and all of the branches will become unified through the root.  All of the branches will return to their root, and then all of the branches will become unified. 
Thus, when a person repeats something and makes sure to mention who said the statement, he has somewhat of a connection to the source, but it’s only his private connection.  The connection has begun, but it’s not complete yet.
The redemption which will take place for the masses, however, will be an integration with the root of all roots – Hashem.  In the redemption, G-dliness will be revealed in everything, and there will thus be unity amongst everything. Everyone, then, will be saying over Who the source of all information is – Hashem.  People will feel that everything is all for Hashem, which will unify all of creation together.

Who Will Merit Moshiach?
(Adapted from Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, Vol. V, p.256)

Waiting for Moshiach 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Good Shabbos!

(No class until further notice- i am waiting to hear from everyone regarding times and days that are good for you- especially because i don't know if i will be recording this new series).

We discussed in class how the Pasuk in Parshas Vayeira states that Avraham "stood over them (the malachim/angels) and they ate"(18;8).  

We saw from the daily dose that in order for the malachim to partake in the physical world, to eat in this case, a human being has to raise the physical into the spiritual realm (kavana on the brachos before we eat, accomplishes this for food).    This actually creates malachim as well ( this concept is discussed in Rabbi Nivin's, Advanced chaburah class).

Look at the power Hashem has given us!

Furthermore, every moment in our lives is defined by our ability to bring our unique light, our connection to Hashem, into the world.  

How do we see this in this weeks Parsha? 

Avraham refused to take any spoils from the war he fought against S'dom to save Lot.  


He knew who he was, what his unique light was - a man of chesed bringing constant kiddush Hashem into this world, and Avrohom didn't want to "cover up" his real self.  If he would have taken things from S'dom, the king could have said "I made Avraham rich" (Divrei Chaim from Shem m'Shmuel).   
Avrohom would have become covered up because where would the "kiddush Hashem from chesed" be achieved?

Sometimes, it's really hard to know who we really are and how to bring our light into the world.  Yet, if we each have some sort of Elul plan to look at, then we have an arrow that points us in the direction toward the light inside each of us.

The Parsha is teaching us, every action we take has power and go inward to know which action is the next one that should be taken.  May Hashem bless us with the clarity to know how to achieve both of these steps.

B'ahava, aviva rus

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


We have finished the sefer Da Es Atzmecha!  It has been so much fun learning with each of you.

All the classes have been recorded and saved(thank you Shira!).

In order to continue learning together, send me times and days that work for you.  

Rabbi Cable will be in Passaic on November 12th, speaking for women at 8 pm.  

If you can come, let me know and I will send you all the information.

Love, aviva rus

Friday, October 24, 2014

Good Shabbos!! Good Chodesh!!

I can't believe how much time has passed! It has been too long.

I am sorry for my absence, but I have not been near a computer in a long time.

It has been an amazing month of yom tov, couched between terrorist attacks and war on our people.  It is difficult to grasp mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, difficult to switch back and forth from emotion to emotion, and even more difficult to know what does Hashem want from us.

How are we supposed to react?

What are we supposed to do?

I saw this moments ago and wanted to share it with you.  There is a way out of this mess and we can do it together.

There are three approaches to dealing with this world:

Some remain aloof as the sun. The world benefits from their light, but they stay far beyond it all. They invest little in this world and so have little to lose.

Others wane and wax as the moon. They suffer the scars and bruises of life, delight in its offerings, thirst for its rewards and tremble at its horrors. They invest everything and risk losing it all.

True tzadikim emulate their Creator. To them, every episode of life, no matter how minor, has meaning and purpose. And yet, they remain above it all. They are the sun and the moon at once.

What is their secret? It is memory.

Even as they invest themselves within the mundane, they remember they are not the body, but the soul.
Yitro 5733:1.

Let's discuss this on Monday, iyH, at 12- 1230 ny time.  We are up to the final chapter in our book and it is all about this concept!!

looking forward, aviva rus