Monday, July 24, 2017

Nine days...

 Our homework this week is to remember that every moment is filled with Divine Providence- hashgacha pratis.  In fact, the only thing we have control over is our yiras Hashem.  

We are reminding ourselves of this throughout the day, when we speak to others and when we are alone and speak directly to Hashem.  

Hashem, You cause rain to fall, grass to grow, flowers to bloom...Sometimes I think that my efforts (or my gardeners) are causing the results but in every moment I know in fact it is YOU that create the results.  Thank You Hashem.

Monday, July 10, 2017


We reviewed chapter 2 in Da Es Atzmecha and read this excerpt from  

Please continue with the avodah and add in the concept of ain od milvado.  

Next week there will not be live class but I hope (iy'H) to pre-record the third constant mitzvah which ties in with the Torah below.
    • Tefillah - 120 Finding The Shechinah
The Concept of the Shechinah
In the blessing ofולירושלים, we ask Hashem ותשכון בתוכה, that He should return His Shechinah (Holy Presence) back to Jerusalem.
When we had the Beis HaMikdash, the Shechinah was mainly present in the Beis HaMikdash. Before the Beis HaMikdash, the Shechinah was still in Eretz Yisrael, but after the Beis HaMikdash was built, the Shechinah was mainly found in the Beis HaMikdash. It was mainly in the camp of the Leviim, and even more specifically, in the “camp of the Shechinah”, and to be even more specific, in the Holy of Holies, inside the Aron (the Ark).
What exactly is the concept of the Shechinah (Hashem’s Holy Presence)? The Shechinah can be hidden or revealed. The Vilna Gaon writes that the Shechinah is essentially a revelation of Hashem’s existence onto the world. And when the Shechinah goes into exile, Hashem’s Presence is concealed from the world, and instead Hashem’s Presence becomes hidden from the world.
Shechinah is from the word shachein, “neighbor” – for a person to feel that Hashem dwells in him like a neighbor that resides in him.
“Ain Od Milvado”: Nothing Except Revelation or Concealment
When Hashem’s Presence is hidden from the world, this is called he’elam (hiddenness). It is also called hester (concealment). There are a few facets to the concept of he’elam\hester; we will explain.
To give a general description, before Hashem created the world, there were no creations, and it was clear in Creation that He was the only One in creation. This is expressed in our emunah that Hashem is the One who existed before all creations.
After Creation, it seems that there are “many” other Creations within Creation, but the truth is that this is only the external surface of the Creation. In the inner essence of Creation, there is no one but Hashem. “Ain Od” – There is nothing besides for Him in the Creation. There are many ways to explain this concept, but what pertains to our discussion is, that there is nothing besides for Hashem in Creation.
All he’elam\hester in Creation – all the concealment that is going on, which conceals Hashem’s Presence from us – is all taking place on the outer layer of Creation. The world olam, world, is from the word he’elam, because the world itself conceals the reality of Hashem from us. But in the inner layer of Creation – the true depth of reality – there is nothing but giluy, the revelation of Hashem.
There are always two sides to the same coin (the fact that there is nothing in Creation other than Hashem) – giluy and he’elam. The purpose of the world is to reach giluy, and he’elam is what we see in front of us, but they are both two angles of the same reality: Hashem is all that exists, and there is nothing besides Him. This is all that is going on in Creation – there is literally nothing else taking place other than either giluy or he’elam. This is the depth behind the concept of Achdus HaBeriah, that all details of Creation are really unified in its essence.
Changing Your View on Reality
In the world we see in front of us, there is much separation and strife going on. But that is only when we view the world through a superficial lens. If we look at Creation through an inner way, we will see the inner layer of reality, which is that Creation is entirely unified. All of Creation is unified through the fact that there is nothing except for Hashem – Ain Od Milvado. Since there is really nothing besides for Hashem, every detail of Creation is unified through the inner perspective. There is nothing going on in Creation except for either giluy – revelation of Hashem - and heelam, the concealment of this.
When we absorb this knowledge that all of Creation is entirely giluy and heelam, when it penetrates in our heart – it will transforms us. It is the true perspective on all of life. When it penetrates into our heart, this is the true way to view reality. It will enable us to live a constant awareness of Hashem’s Presence.
We can compare this to a person who gets sick, who begins to appreciate his life more now that he has become sick. If he used to run after nonsense, now he will seek truth. His whole perspective towards life changes. The knowledge that there is nothing other than giluy and he’elam is what changes our perspective on life and causes us to live life very differently.
When people don’t think about truth, they go through the motions of life as usual. But when a person thinks about this concept and he lets it penetrate into his heart, he becomes a new person. All he we will see in Creation is nothing but giluy and heelam, and he will then feel Hashem on a regular basis.
Ain Od Milvado” is not just another fact we come across. It is rather a piece of knowledge which totally destroys all superficial perspectives on life. When a person doesn’t internalize Ain Od Milvado, he is susceptible to sin; Chazal say that when a person sins, a ruach shtus (spirit of folly) enters him[1]. The ruach shtus is essentially when a person is unaware of Ain Od Milvado, and that is why he can be vulnerable to sin.
D’veykus to Hashem Through Daas of the Mind and Daas of the Heart
It is written, “And you will know today, and you shall settle the matter upon your heart.” We have an avodah to internalize our mind’s knowledge into our heart. Understandably, there are levels to how much we can internalize emunah into our heart. We have a mind and a heart; the awareness of Hashem we have in our mind needs to become felt in our heart, but that is still the first level of internalization. This is the daas of our mind, which we can then internalize into our heart. But there is a second level of internalization, and it is called acquiring “daas of the heart.” This is when we can actually sense, in our heart, Hashem. It is when we feel “nochach” – “opposite” Hashem.
These are two different kinds of d’veykus with Hashem – through our mind and heart - and these are the two root goals of all our Avodah.
When a person learns Torah, he tends to think that d’veykus to Hashem is solely through learning Torah, as the Nefesh HaChaim writes; his d’veykus to Hashem is entirely experienced through his intellect. Another kind of d’veykus to Hashem is to cry to Hashem from one’s heart and feel nochach. These are the two kinds of d’veykus with Hashem one can reach, but each of these alone does not suffice.
To be more precise, learning Torah is the way to get to d’veykus with Hashem, and when we penetrate to the Torah’s depths, we can get to the innermost point of the Torah, which is the depth of the knowledge about Ain Od Milvado – that there is nothing in Creation except for giluy and heelam. There, we can know and feel that Hashem is “sasra v’galya” (Hidden and Revealed at once). This is the depth of “daas of the heart.”
Of course, just because a person senses Hashem in his heart, this does not mean that he will never succumb to sin anymore. There are always failures in our Avodas Hashem, but the point is, that in spite of our many failings and drops in our spiritual level, we are always able to palpably feel Hashem in our life.
These are the two parts to our d’veykus – becoming attached with Hashem through the mind (through Torah study) and through the heart (feeling Hashem’s existence). The d’veykus through the heart is not as known to most people. Those who truly seek Hashem can feel what daas of the heart is; but it is hidden from most people. Even the first kind of d’veykus, which is clarity through the mind about the truth, is also very hidden from people.
When a person reaches either one of these two kinds of d’veykus, this is the Shechinah he can reveal. It is hidden at first, and a person can reveal it, when he reaches d’veykus to Hashem within himself.
In the Beis HaMikdash, a person was able to sense Hashem completely, no less than how a person can feel when he is happy or sad. It was “daas of the heart” – a palpable sense of awareness to Hashem, not just an intellectual awareness, and not just a feeling. Just like a person can feel hot or cold, happy or sad, so could a person simply feel Hashem there. It was not just a feeling - it was daas of the heart; it was internalized that Ain Od Milvado, that there is nothing but giluy and heelam.
Connecting With the Shechinah
We were exiled due to our sins. We daven every day for the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash. Even when we got the second Beis HaMikdash, the Shechinah did not return. We don’t have a Beis HaMikdash, and we surely don’t have the Shechinah. We pray and await the return of the Shechinah. We should merit it soon. But what should we due in the meantime, when we have no Beis HaMikdash and no Shechinah?
It is written, “I dwell amongst them [even] amidst their impurity.” Hashem is always with us. Also, the sefarim hakedoshim revealed the concept of Olam (World\Place), Shanah (Year\Time), and Nefesh (Soul), that everything in Creation takes place on three planes. For everything that is contained in a place in the world, we can find it manifested in time, and we can find every place and time in our soul as well. In the world, the place where the Beis HaMikdash was found was in the Holy of Holies. In time, the Shechinah is found on Shabbos and Yom Tov, as the sefarim hakedoshim tell us; that a person can reach a degree of Shechinah on Shabbos and Yom Tov.
And in our soul, we can also find Shechinah. How? The Gemara says that 36 tzaddikim greet the Shechinah every day. So we still have some of the Shechinah even though there is no Beis HaMikdash. The 36 tzaddikim have the revelation of the Shechinah. The Steipler zt”l explained this to mean that these tzaddikim greet the Shechinah every day because they can feel Hashem very palpably.
How can a person possibly find the Shechinah nowadays? Where is it revealed? The simple understanding of this is that although we live in a time of hester (concealment of Hashem’s radiance), we can still see miracles sometimes; we see Hashgacha Peratis sometimes. We do not have the full revelation of the Shechinah, but we can still see a spark of it. There are times where we can feel Hashem’s Presence as we go through a difficulty, such as when are zoche to find a shidduch [for ourselves, or for our children] or when we have parnassah, and other such times.
But there is yet a deeper way to feel the Shechinah today. How? It is because the real perspective we are supposed to have on Creation is that the entire Creation is really Ain Od Milvado!! There is nothing besides Hashem! There is no difference if the hester going on is big or small. It’s all a hester – it’s all “concealing” and “hiding” the reality of Ain Od Milvado. When a person absorbs that there is nothing in Creation other than giluy and hester, he can see through all the hester panim. It’s all “one” – two sides of the same coin of Ain Od Milvado, of the reality of Hashem: giluy and hester.
This is not a mere attempt at trying to define reality. It is the reality itself.
Although we live in a world filled with impurity, more than it ever was, it’s all a hester. There is more hester than ever. But it’s all a hester – it is covering over the true reality. It’s all hiding the one, single point which defines reality as it is: Ain Od Milvado. All the hester we see, all the disparity, evil, and impurity going on in the world – is all just hester. It’s not the real reality. It’s all just hiding and concealing from us the fact of Ain Od Milvado.
By absorbing this, a person can see through it all and see how there is only One thing going on: Hashem. There is nothing except either the giluy of His presence or the hester of His presence.
Seeing through the hester panim does not just mean that we can notice Hashgacha Peratis (Divine Providence). Our Rabbis did write than in the era preceding Moshiach, when there will be a lot of hester panim, we can still see Hashgacha Peratis, especially when it comes to shidduchim (finding a spouse). This is certainly true, but there is more to it.
It is not just that we are in darkness now and that in the future we will have all the light. Even right now, you can penetrate the darkness and see a spark of what lies ahead. Although we haven’t yet merited Moshiach, each person can merit the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash in his soul. Who merits this? The ones who realize that all of Creation is nothing but giluy and he’elam of Hashem.
We ask Hashem during the tefillos of Rosh HaShanah that the world become filled with the knowledge of Him. But although we haven’t yet merited this revelation completely, in our soul, we can merit it. You can have the Beis HaMikdash in your own soul, in the present moment – when you feel the Shechinah in your heart, when you feel how much He exists.
This is through both daas of your mind and daas of your heart, together. This is the life of nochach p’nei Hashem, always feeling that Hashem is in front of us.
This is the true way to look at life – for anyone who truly seeks Hashem.

[1] Sotah 2a

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

This Week

We learned the second of the six constant mitzvos and completed chapter 2 in Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh book 1.

Our homework is to reflect on these words when we wake up in the morning and throughout the day.

Use your own words to consciously bring Hashem into your moments, i.e., "Hashem, thank You for creating me so that I can have a relationship with You."