Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How can I Help Restore Peace when Dementia Pulls the Family Sanctuary Apart?

Ask the Rebbetzin - Parashat Vayakhel/Pekudei

Dear Rebbetzin,
I’ve been put in a difficult situation acting as a middleman between a daughter and her mother who is undergoing hardship and grief due to the husband’s dementia and subsequent placing in a nursing home. The daughter does not understand her mother’s hardship in dealing with the emotional strain of the decline of her husband as well as her being overwhelmed by the additional tasks falling on her shoulders. Although the daughter means well, all her activities to honor her father, such as trying to celebrate his ‘round’  birthday, organizing children to come sing for him, renting musical instruments to do music therapy with him and more is only adding stress to the mother. The mother is doing the best she can; she visits her husband daily and takes care of his essential needs. She is not in a place where she can handle anything extra, such as her daughter’s creative ideas and initiatives. Moreover, these initiatives exposes her husband’s decline, which the mother is working hard to keep private. The daughter feels very attached to her father but lives abroad. She gets very hurt every time her suggestions to make her father happy are shut down. How can we help the daughter better understand her mother and become more supportive of her?
Sima Weinberg (name changed)

Dear Sima,
It is very kind of you to care so much about your friend and her grief and to reach out to be helpful. Dementia is called the disease of the relatives because it affects them more than most other illnesses. Sickness in general puts a strain on the family relations, and it is very nice of you to want to help bring the mother and daughter closer and help them support one another in their grief. I can only imagine how hard it must be for your friend to watch her husband deteriorate and become a shadow of himself, in addition to having to manage all the responsibilities of the household alone, herself no longer a youngster. It is possible that she also may have pent up guilt feelings for placing her husband in a home, and for not being able to do more. Perhaps her daughter’s initiatives exacerbates these feelings, reminding her of her own limitations. It is important that your friend has friends like you, with whom she can express her feelings and get support. 

Dementia – the Relatives’ Disease
Dementia definitely hits the wife hardest, but do not belittle the grief of the daughter, who experiences her beloved father – her protector and stronghold – degenerating, while being unable to help. It seems like the mother and daughter have opposite ways of dealing with their grief. The mother, as you mention, has been trying hard to shield her husband from the rest of the world in order not to expose his debility. Perhaps the daughter feels that having dementia at an advanced age is not necessarily something embarrassing that needs to be swept under the rug. Actually, almost half of the world population has dementia by the age of 90. Yet, it is important to help the daughter understand her mother, and not take it personally when her initiatives to help are rejected. She needs to understand the strain her mother is under, which may cause her to overreact in her opposition to her daughter’s desire to make her father happy. You can be helpful to your friend by helping her to see her daughter in a more objective light and learn to appreciate her initiatives to help even while living abroad. It is not easy to be living in another country while one’s parents are in need, especially not when being repeatedly rejected by one’s mother, while trying to be helpful.

Contributing to the Family Sanctuary According to Desire and Ability
It sounds like the daughter has a lot of energy and desire to help. You mentioned that she is very attached to her father, and it may be possible that she has a better understanding of his needs than others do. It would be good for the mother to take advantage of this and discuss with her daughter ways that she can be helpful. The family is like a sanctuary and for the sanctuary; each person contributes his or her particular gifts according to their ability to give:

ספר שמות פרק לה (כט) כָּל אִישׁ וְאִשָּׁה אֲשֶׁר נָדַב לִבָּם אֹתָם לְהָבִיא לְכָל הַמְּלָאכָה אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה הָשֵׁם לַעֲשׂוֹת בְּיַד משֶׁה הֵבִיאוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל נְדָבָה לַהָשֵׁם:
“All the men and women whose hearts moved them to bring anything for the work that Hashem commanded through Moshe to be done, they, the children of Israel bought it as a free will offering to Hashem” (Shemot 35:29).


If you can be instrumental in helping the mother and daughter to allow each other to contribute to the family according to their respective abilities and talents while learning to support and appreciate one another, then you have indeed add a building block for the Temple. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Why are only Males Commanded to Appear at the Temple During the Three Pilgrim Holidays?

Ask the Rebbetzin - Parashat Ki Tisa

Dearest Rebbetzin,
I have a question for you – I feel very hurt when I read that Hashem wanted only the “males” to come to the Temple during the Shalosh Regalim (Pilgrim Festivals). The word used to describe the commandment to appear at the Temple isזְכוּרְךָ /zechurcha – “your males” from the root zachar. The Torah didn’t even use a more general expression like B’nei Yisrael – “Sons of Israel’ which could possibly include females.
Marina Malkin (Name Changed)

Dear Marina,
I understand that you feel hurt because it seems that when Hashem commanded only the males to appear at the Temple as if He only wants to see the men and doesn’t care about the women. Could it really be that Hashem prefers men, with no interest in a relationship with women? This seems out of character with how Hashem listened to the prayers of our Mothers throughout the Torah. So, how can we understand the commandment for only the males to appear at the Temple for the particular holidays of Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot, without it being denigrating of women?

Men Need Ritual Discipline
Personally, I’m not really bothered by the commandment for males to appear at the Temple mount, even though it is repeated three times in the Torah, in Parashat Mishpatim, Ki Tisa and Re’eh:

ספר שמות פרק כג פסוק יז שָׁלשׁ פְּעָמִים בַּשָּׁנָה יֵרָאֶה כָּל זְכוּרְךָ אֶל פְּנֵי הָאָדֹן הָשֵׁם:
“Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Master, Hashem” (Shemot 23:17).

ספר שמות פרק לד פסוק כג שָׁלשׁ פְּעָמִים בַּשָּׁנָה יֵרָאֶה כָּל זְכוּרְךָ אֶת פְּנֵי הָאָדֹן הָשֵׁם אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל:
“Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Master, Hashem, the G-d of Israel” (Shemot 34:23).

ספר דברים פרק טז פסוק טז שָׁלוֹשׁ פְּעָמִים בַּשָּׁנָה יֵרָאֶה כָל זְכוּרְךָ אֶת פְּנֵי הָשֵׁם אֱלֹהֶיךָ בַּמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יִבְחָר בְּחַג הַמַּצּוֹת וּבְחַג הַשָּׁבֻעוֹת וּבְחַג הַסֻּכּוֹת וְלֹא יֵרָאֶה אֶת פְּנֵי הָשֵׁם:
“Three times a year all your males shall appear before the face of Hashem, your G-d, in the place that He will choose, on the festival of matzah, the festival of Shavuot and during the holiday of Sukkot. They shall not appear before Hashem empty handed” (Devarim 16:16).

These verses describe the obligation to bring a specific sacrifice: the Olat Re’iyah during the three Pilgrim Festivals. When,  b”H, we will have a Temple, I imagine I’ll be happy to visit it voluntarily, when I’m able, together with my husband, without the pressure of being commanded. Sometimes, having to commute and stay overnight for the holidays somewhere else, may be challenging for a woman, for example, at the beginning or end of her pregnancy and right after birth. Temple and Synagogue service is the man’s domain. He needs this ritual discipline in order to elevate himself from his lower, more animalistic nature. Women are naturally more in tune with their Divine essence. Therefore, they are exempted from all positive, time bound mitzvot, including the commandment to appear with a sacrifice at particular times at the Temple. Her home is a woman’s private Temple, and she can be equally close to Hashem wherever she finds herself.

Men are Providers while Women are Receivers
It is known in Kabbalah and from the human physiology of procreation that men are משפיע/mashpia – providers, whereas women are מקבל/mekabel – receivers. The mitzvah to appear at the Temple during the Pilgrim Festivals is not a mitzvah of receiving, but rather a mitzvah of providing, as it includes the requirement to bring a sacrifice, in order not to come emptyhanded. This is why this mitzvah is associated specifically with the זכר/zachar – the male aspect, as the reason the Torah commanded the males to appear is for the sake of giving נַחַת רוּחַ /nachat ruach – spiritual contentment to Hashem (K’tav Sofer, Devarim 16:16). Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot are, moreover, considered male holidays as opposed to Chanukah and Purim, which are considered female holidays. This is because all the miracles of Chanukah, and Purim occurred within the realm of nature, whereas the miracles of the Exodus were beyond the space and time frame of nature. This explains why the ‘natural’ miracles of Chanukah and Purim took place through women. Since the miracles occurred within nature during these holidays, and the world stands as ‘receiver’ in relation to G-d, they came about through women, who also symbolize the aspect of mekabel (Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev). It is interesting to notice that the male holidays will be abolished in the future, whereas the female holidays are eternal. “All the holidays will be nullified in the future except Purim and Chanukah” (Midrash Mishlei Parasha 9). The other holidays depend on the Jewish people’s drawing down holiness into time. Since the future will be beyond time, it follows that the holiness of the holidays will be nullified, as a candle is nullified in bright daylight. Yet, on Purim, the realm of holiness within all reality was revealed independently of people’s actions. Therefore, it will never be nullified, similar to Shabbat, which is not dependent on people’s deeds (Sefat Emet, on Purim). Purim is a feminine holiday where, rather than effecting and rectifying reality, we receive and reveal the eternal light of Hashem which perpetually permeates all of reality. Therefore, the light elicited by the other festivals will pale in comparison with that elicited by Purim and Chanukah by means of women.

Revealing Hashem’s Presence Within All Existence
The mitzvah of coming to the Temple during the three masculine holidays is described as an obligation to be “seen.” The sacrifice required to be brought at these occasions was called Olat Re’iyah – “Appearance burnt offering.” The mitzvah of appearing is an external action required of the men for their own sake. Since women are naturally more internally disposed, we do not have the obligation to appear externally, Hashem’s knowing eye sees all of us equally, whether we appear before Him or not. In conclusion, there is no reason to feel hurt regarding the mitzvah for the males to appear at the Temple at specific times. It does not in any way reflect a preference for men over women. Men and women have different roles in serving Hashem. Our job, as women, is to tune deeply into our souls and into the hidden level of reality and reveal Hashem’s presence within all of existence.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Hilchot Purim and Parashat Tetzave

Ask the Rebbetzin - Parashat Tetzave
Hilchot Purim and Parashat Tetzave
What is the Role of Garments in the Torah?

Dear Rebbetzin,
Since our Rabbi was sick, we studied on our own the chapter about Purim in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. We have some questions about what we learned:
1. Do we light candles for Purim, and if so do we recite a bracha?
2. We did not understand the passage about the custom to eat seeds on Purim and the reference to the verse, “He changed her and her maidens to the best place” (Megillat Esther 2:9).
3. We are aware that it is prohibited to pray while being drunk, how do people pray while fulfilling the mitzvah to get drunk on Purim?
4. We were also wondering why we read Parashat Tetzave the Shabbat prior to Purim. Is there any connection between the garments of the Kohanim and Purim?
Thank you so much,
The Students of Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin

Dearest Students,
That’s great you studied Kitzur Shulchan Aruch on your own, I'm so proud of you! I look forward celebrating Purim with you!

1. Although there is a mitzvah to light candles in honor of all seudot mitzvah (festive meals), as being able to see the food increases its pleasure, however, since it is allowed to do (malacha) creative work on Purim we can enhance the meals with candle lighting or electric lights at any time during the holiday. Therefore, there is no mitzvah to light candles with a bracha at the eve of Purim as we do before other holidays. You are very welcome to light candles in honor of Purim, but without a bracha.

2. The reason for the custom to eat seeds on Purim (sunflower seeds or sprouts etc.) is that Daniel and his friends ate seeds at the castle of Nebuchadnezer in Babylon in order to keep kosher.  Daniel advised Esther to do the same, in order to keep kosher in the unkosher palace. This is one of the reasons why we eat Hamantashen, made with poppy seeds, on Purim. When it states, “He changed her and her maidens for good” (Megillat Esther 2:9), it hints that their diet was being changed for good.

3. Most solutions to the dilemma of praying while being drunk involve either a compromise on drunkenness, or on prayer. Keep in mind that women don’t have a mitzvah to become drunk on Purim. Even if you hold that women are commanded to get drunk on Purim, it is certainly suitable for women to follow the opinion that allows you to fulfil the obligation of drinking without actually getting drunk (Rema, Mishna Brurah). There is also an opinion that allows people to pray while drunk to a certain degree. There are three different levels of drunkenness. The first is when someone is still able to talk to a distinguished person. Rav Kook Z”l writes that although usually it is prohibited to pray even in such a state, they made an exception on Purim since there is a Mitzvah to drink. (Commentary to Sidur Olat Re'iya volume 1:440). The second level of drunkenness is when a person can no longer talk to a distinguished person properly. Even in this case, Rav Kook states that if he can still fear Hashem and control himself, he may be allowed to pray on Purim. However, one is not allowed to pray when he has reached the third level of drunkenness – being as drunk as Lot. Here is a solution for men that doesn’t compromise on either being drunk or davening: Remain sober until Mincha Gedolah, and pray. Then get drunk at the se’udah (Purim meal). Sleep it off, and go to a late Ma’ariv.

4. The Connection between the Garments of the Kohanim and Purim
Every year, except during a leap year, we read Parashat Tezave , which discuss the garments of the Kohen Gadol, the Shabbat which exactly precedes Purim:
ספר שמות פרק כח (ב) וְעָשִׂיתָ בִגְדֵי קֹדֶשׁ לְאַהֲרֹן אָחִיךָ לְכָבוֹד וּלְתִפְאָרֶת:
“You shall make holy garments for Aharon your brother for honor and for glory” (Shemot 28:2). What is the underlying connection between the garments of the Kohanim and the holiday of Purim?

The Role of Garments in Megillat Esther
Garments are a central theme in the Scroll of Esther. At Achasverosh’s grand party, which celebrated the fact that the Temple in Jerusalem had not yet been rebuilt, he wore the eight holy garments of the Kohen Gadol (Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 12a). Vashti would strip the Jewish girls of their clothes on Shabbat (ibid. 12b). When Mordechai found out about Haman’s decree to annihilate all Jews, Mordechai rent his clothes and wore sack cloth and ashes (Megillat Esther 4:1). “Esther sent respectable clothes to him but he refused to accept them” (ibid. 4:4). When Esther came before the king, it states, “Esther dressed up in royalty” (ibid. 5:1). Mordechai, too, wore royal garments: “Let the royal apparel be brought which the King has worn” (Ibid 6:8).  All this teaches us that the story of Purim is veiled in the secret of garments. (Rav Moshe Rephael Luria). Through the choice of his garments, Achashverosh attempted to project a false image of himself. He wanted to assume the role of Aharon with his dignity and splendor, yet, Aharon wore his clothes of dignity, honor of splendor because he understood the dignity of human distinctiveness, whereas Achasverus clothed himself in the same fashion, while attempting to strip his own wife naked of all dignity and distinction.

Glory and Splendor for Whom?
The choice of our dress influences both our own mindset and the way others perceive us.
1. The garments of the Kohanim imbue all who look upon them with the glory and splendor of G-d and his Holy Temple. Just as the guards of a king wear uniforms that signify that the person who lives inside is of great importance, so too, the Kohanim reveal the importance of their work and their “boss,” by wearing uniforms.” They inspire awe and respect, making it clear to all Israel that Hashem wishes to honor Aharon, and considers him to be worthy of being a vehicle for the Divine Presence. 2. Clothes affect our mindset. The glory of the garments is a means of ensuring that the Kohen has the proper state of mind during the Temple service. Whatever part of his body he looks at, will arouse him to realize that the presence of G-d is to be found in the Temple, and thereby remember before Whom he stands (Sefer HaChinuch).  Clothing gives us respect and honor. In our everyday lives, we should dress for the part of striving to be a servant of G-d.

The Underlying Theme of Megillat Esther: Return of Israel’s Spiritual Garments Besides the external clothing that we wear in this world, there are also spiritual garments to clothe ourselves in the next world, which are created from our Torah and Mitzvot. The purpose of descending into this world is to get dressed up in these splendid spiritual garments of light, when we return from this world. Just as the purpose of the Mishkan and Temple is to recapture the Divine light of the Garden the purpose of the garments of the Kohanim is to return us to the place in Eden where our exterior body is a pure reflection of our soul. Each one of the Kohen Gadol’s eight garments atoned for a different kind of sin of Israel. They represent our spiritual garments and had the ability to return us to our original state of purity in the Garden of Eden. When Israel lusted for the meal of Achasverosh’s party, they stripped off their spiritual garments. This gave Haman the opening for his evil decree. Mordechai did not accept the garments Esther sent him, because the blemish on Israel’s spiritual garments had not yet been rectified. According to the Zohar, when “Esther dressed up in Malchut (Royalty)” (Esther 5:1), she dressed up in the supreme spiritual garments of Adam and Eve before the sin. She caused Israel to repent and once again to dress in glory and cleave to the Most High. This is what caused Haman’s decree to be nullified, and enabled Mordechai to go “out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white and with a great crown of gold, and with a wrap of fine linen and purple” (Esther 8:15). This was the sign that Hashem had accepted the repentance of the Jewish people. Esther and Mordechai’s dedication to Torah not only succeeded in preventing Haman’s holocaust, but moreover brought about the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. The peak of its service is the Kohen Gadol in his glorious attire.

Accepting Diversity in Dress Returns the Divine Presence
Tiferet (Splendor) shines forth from contrast, while sameness and conformity tend to be dull. G-d is extolled by our uniqueness and the entire tapestry of all Jewish souls. Yet, when Haman and Achashverosh sought to destroy us, they wanted to homogenize us. Haman told Achashverosh, “There is one people” (Esther 3:8) – “Those Jews are all the same,” negating our individual uniqueness. Achashverosh donned the magnificent robes, to say, the Jewish people are no longer unique. “But Mordechai left the king’s presence, clad in royal attire” (Ibid. 8:15). By being clad in magnificent, uniquely colored garments, he brought each person to accept his own specific role, while also accepting the unique contribution of his fellow (Rabbi Nachman). Eating from the Tree of Knowledge caused self-awareness and embarrassment because of our separate existence, giving rise to insecurity, jealousy and hatred throughout the generations. The need for conformity in clothes is an outcome of insecurity. Yet, on Aharon’s heart was the breastplate with the names of all the children of Israel. There was a unique stone representing each of the 12 tribes upon his heart. Aharon merited this breastplate because he was truly happy in his heart for Moshe’s achievements. “Is not Aharon the Levite your brother? … and also behold he comes to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart” (Shemot 4:14). This happiness and acceptance of the other’s unique qualities is the kind of happiness that brings back the Shechina to Israel. Our fragmentation into groups of black hats, knitted kipot etc. wouldn’t have to cause so much tension and sinat chinam (Senseless hatred), if we would only understand that our own personal choice of identification does not negate the choices of others. If only we would realize that by expressing the unique inner sparks of our own soul, as well as accepting and embracing someone else’s individual contribution, that we gather the dispersed sparks of Adam and Chava, and rebuild the holy Temple.



Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Why do we Need to Know all these Details of the Mishkan (Tabernacle)?

Ask the Rebbetzin - Parashat Teruma
Dearest Rebbetzin,
I’ve been wondering why the Torah goes into such details in describing the Mishkan. It seems a bit tedious to go through all the measurements of each of the Tabernacle and its vessels. Why are these details so important? If you could shed light on their symbolic meaning, it would make Parashat Teruma so much more meaningful to me.
Mini Meir (name changed)

Dear Mini,
It is hard to understand the details of the Mishkan because they are so deeply divine, and beyond human conception. This is why it states after each part of the building of the Mishkan, “As G-d had commanded Moshe” (Rabbi Yehuda Halevi, Kuzari 25:2). Malbim explains that the Mishkan is like a cosmic person with an all-inclusive body, connecting all of existence. Just as the human body – the garment of our soul – has limbs that serve to actualize our spiritual powers, the Tabernacle and Temple has vessels and body parts. The three parts of the Mishkan correspond to the three parts of the human body: 1. The Holy of Holiest corresponds to the head and skull – the abode of the Intellectual Soul (Neshama) 2. The Tent of Meeting corresponds to the upper part of the body from the neck to the chest – the abode of the Vital Soul (Ruach) – the location of the heart. 3. The Courtyard corresponds to the lower part of the body from the navel downwards – the vegetable soul (Nefesh) -manifesting through the stomach, liver and intestines. Just as our body and organs need exact measures in order to function, so does each of the measures of the Mishkan serve a purpose in the cosmic body. Read on to learn some of the symbolic meanings of the Mishkan based on Malbim’s commentary on Parasha Teruma.

The Mishkan Connects the Body of Israel
A person is a microcosmic world. This is because all the worlds were employed in the formation of the human being and implanted within him during the Six Days of Creation. We conduct our small chariot – our body, just as the upper King conducts His great chariot – the world. Hashem is the Soul of the world, through which He imbues it with light and life. He connects the entire macrocosmic body – all the many worlds from beginning to end, to become one complete unified entity, in which the wisdom of the Creator is revealed. If our soul would separate from the body, all our organs would turn into dead dispersed particles. When the Jewish people are not united, our cosmic Soul disconnects from the body. This is why senseless hatred caused the Temple to be destroyed . When we unite through the Mishkan and the Temple, our cosmic Soul will once again infuse the collective body of Israel and of the world with Divine light.

The Ark Corresponds to the Brain
The Ark was placed within the Holy of Holies, corresponding to the Neshama (intellectual soul). The two tablets in the Ark correspond to the brain, which is divided into two sides. In order to receive the Torah, we need the sense of vision to read it. Furthermore, we need ears to hear the tradition of our Fathers as brought down in the Oral Torah. These correspond to the poles that carry the Ark, since both the visual and auditory centers are connected to the brain. The highest parts of the soul are called Chaya and Yechidah. They do not have a designated place in the body. Rather, they hover over and above it. The Cherubs on the lid of the Ark allude to these soul parts. They spread their wings on high, because they dwell in the upper world, in the source of life, from where they send their light to those who merit prophetic Divine visions. It was, therefore, from above the lid of the Ark that Hashem spoke with Moshe.

The Ark Corresponds to Torah
The Ark was made from wood since the Torah is called “A Tree of Life.” Why does it state וְעָשׂוּ/v’asu – “they shall make” in plural regarding the Ark, whereas by the other vessels it states, וְעָשִׂיתָ/v’asita – “you shall make” in singular? Everyone had to be involved in making the Ark, so that all would merit Torah. Moreover, Torah can only be truly fulfilled through the community of Israel. Three of the Tabernacle vessels have crowns: the Altar, the Table and the Ark. The crown of the Altar belongs to Aharon. The crown of the Table belongs to David. Yet, the crown of the Ark is free for anyone who wants to come and take it. The Torah belongs to all of Israel. Both those who learn it and those who support Torah learning share its reward. All the measurements of the Ark consist of halves to teach us that a Torah scholar must always be humble and his heart broken within him.

The Blessings of the Table
The partition between the Holy of Holies and the Tent of Meeting corresponds to the neck that connects the head with the chest. The Tent of Meeting corresponds to the middle part of the body from the neck to the chest where the living Ruach (spirit) resides. It contains the Table and the Menorah. The Table with its showbreads corresponds to the nourishing heart which brings the blessings of the Sanctuary and sustenance to the whole world. . Upon the Table were twelve breads corresponding to the twelve months of the year. Since blessings can only rest on something physical, the bread of Hashem conveyed blessings of satiation to the entire world. It is called Lechem HaPanim (Inner Bread) because it emanates from the innermost place, from Hashem Himself Who sustains every living being.

The Menorah Corresponds to the Understanding Heart
The Menorah alludes to the intellectual heart – the light of knowledge. Whereas the Ark alludes to the wisdom of the Torah and prophesy (Chachmah), which emerges from Divine revelation, the Menorah alludes to that which we can understand through our own (Binah) and is connected to the heart as it states, “The Heart understands…” (Zohar, Part 2:116b). The fact that the Menorah was fashioned from pure gold teaches us that we must strive for “solid gold” in our motives and behavior. Our character traits on the inside should reflect our actions on the outside, and vice versa. In this way, the Menorah teaches us to bring out the Divine light from within our soul to shine externally. The Menorah’s structure, which branches out from a central stem also inspires us to embrace holiness. It teaches us that our demeanor, personality, and actions must branch out and influence others by illuminating the world around us. Finally, the Menorah reminds the people of Israel that we are called to be “A Light unto the nations” (Yesha’yahu 42:6).

The Courtyard
The Copper Altar was for sacrifices and stood in the courtyard of the Tabernacle. It corresponds to the stomach and the digestive system – the vessels of the Nefesh. Just as the digestive system digests the food by means of the heat of the stomach, the Altar consumes the sacrifices and turns them into ashes by means of fire from heaven, breaking everything down to its root element. The measurements of the altar are whole to hint that a person approaching the altar to bring an offering must repent until teshuva sheleima – complete repentance. The curtains of the Tent correspond to the skin that surrounds and protects the body.

The Mishkan Becomes the Resting Place for Our Divine Soul
The Tabernacle and Temple in Jerusalem – the undivided city – unites all the souls of the Jewish nation to become as one person with an all-inclusive soul, emanating the light of Divine brilliance that illuminates the entire world with His glory. Therefore, when we pray, we direct our hearts to face the Temple. From wherever we are in the world, our prayers flow to the Temple Mount. In this way, we fulfill our spiritual goal to illuminate and actualize our souls, as it states, “Make me a Tabernacle and I will dwell within them” (Shemot 25:8). When the individual lights of each soul are fused, they become transformed to illuminate as one great light – the light of the Shechinah that dwells within us. May we merit to once again become unified and make ourselves into one cosmic body – The chariot of the Divine presence!

(Based on The Allusions of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) according to MALBIM, Meir Loeb ben Yechiel Michael, 1809–1879, Volhynia, Ukraine).

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Rebbetzin's Torahs by the Parsha

NEW! All Rebbetzin's commentaries for each parsha - in a click!

The Book of Bereshit

Parashat Bereshit
Parsha Meditation: Calling out to G-d for the Hidden Light  
Haftorah Commentary: The Holy Women who Protect Israel
Nature in the Parsha: Life Lessons from the Shemittah (Sabbatical) Year
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: Taking Responsibility for our Actions
Ask the Rebbetzin! Why is Eve Created from Adam?

Parashat Noach
Parsha Meditation:  Building Our Personal Sacred Space
Haftorah Commentary:  Parshat Noach and Blessing in Disguise 
Nature in the Parsha: The Dove and the Olive Leaf
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: The Human ‘Group Animals’

Ask the Rebbetzin! Who Was Noach’s Wife?


Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: My Journey Back Home
Ask the Rebbetzin! Why is only Sarah Judged for Laughing?

Parashat Vayera
Parsha Meditation: An Opening for Healing Revelation
Haftorah Commentary: The Power of Women’s Emunah
Nature in the Parsha: Avraham’s Hospitality Tree
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: Why Don’t Anyone Laugh Anymore?
Ask the Rebbetzin! Do Women Need to Serve Their Husbands?

Parashat Toldot
Parsha Meditation: Revealing the Well of Living Waters Within
Haftorah Commentary: The “Esavs” and the “Ya’acovs” of Today
Nature in the Parsha: Re-digging the Wells of Tradition
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: Can Sibling Rivalry be Repaired?
Ask the Rebbetzin! Is Antoninus a True Convert?

Parashat Vayetze
Parsha Meditation: Stepping Inwards on the Ladder of Ascent
Haftorah Commentary: Ya’acov’s Toil to Deserve His Wives
Nature in the Parsha: The Secret of the Dudaim Deal
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: Sister-Heart Protects the People of Israel

Ask the Rebbetzin! How Could Ya’acov Marry Two Sisters?
** SPECIAL AUDIO RECORDING: The Secret of the Dudaim **

Parashat Vayishlach
Parsha Meditation: Alone with Your Soul
Haftorah Commentary: The Secret Power of Shema Yisrael
Nature in the Parsha: The Weeping Oak
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: Dealing with Death

Ask the Rebbetzin! Did Dinah Fall in Love with the Prince of Shechem?

Parashat Vayeshev
Parsha Meditation: Tuning into our Dreams, Visions & Aspirations
Haftorah Commentary: Sisterly Sensitivity
Nature in the Parsha: The Grapevine Dream
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: Does the Torah have clear Parameters for Relationships?

Ask the Rebbetzin! Why Did Ya’acov Give Yosef a Special Coat and What Kind of Coat was It?

Parashat Miketz
Parsha Meditation: Igniting the Darkest Shadow sides of your Soul
Haftorah Commentary: Sing and Rejoice, Daughter of Zion!
Nature in the Parsha: The Menorah Shaped Sheaves
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: Do We Need to Make our Dreams Come True?

Ask the Rebbetzin! Can You Help Me Understand My Dream?

Parashat Vayigash
Parsha Meditation: Reaching the Meeting Point of Contention
Haftorah Commentary: The Path to Peace and Redemption
Nature in the Parsha: Shepherding: The Traditional Jewish Vocation
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: Do We Need Full-time Learning Yeshiva Boys?

Ask the Rebbetzin! How can I Forgive My Sisters?

Parashat Vayechi
Parsha Meditation: Shema Yisrael – Unifying at Heart
Haftorah Commentary: The Bridge Between Life and Death
Nature in the Parsha: The Deer Sent Forth
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: The Blessings of Rebuke

Ask the Rebbetzin! Why Do We Bless Our Sons to be Like Ephraim and Menashe?


The Book of Shemot
Parashat Shemot
Parsha Meditation: The Five Leaved Bush of Light
Haftorah Commentary: On the Verge of Redemption
Nature in the Parsha: The Burning Bramble Bush
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: How Do We Strengthen our Emunah in the Hope of Fruitfulness?

Ask the Rebbetzin! Why is Our Greatest Prophet Called Moshe?

Parashat Va'era
Parsha Meditation: Unblocking Hashem’s Voice Within
Haftorah Commentary: Our Actions Today Empower the Future
Nature in the Parsha: The Late Blooming Grain
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: The Challenge of Communication

Ask the Rebbetzin!  Why is Listening so Important in the Torah?

Parashat Bo
Parsha Meditation: Eradicating our Deepest Fears
Haftorah Commentary: Hashem’s Feminine In-dwelling Presence
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: Is there any Spiritual Difference between Jew and Gentile?

Ask the Rebbetzin! Why Do We Need a Mezuzah?

Parashat Beshalach
Parsha Meditation: Eating in Holiness – A Preparation for Receiving Torah
Haftorah Commentary: Devorah: "A Woman of Flames"
Nature in the Parsha: The Bitter Tree Sweetener
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: Miracles, Money Matters, Manna and Emunah
Tu B'Shevat: The Holiday of Redemption

Ask the Rebbetzin! Can a Woman Play Music with Men?

Parashat Yitro
Parsha Meditation: The Tree of Love
Nature in the Parsha: The Mountain – A Window to Heaven
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: How do we Know that the Torah is True?

Ask the Rebbetzin! Why Do Jews Claim to be the Chosen People?

Parashat Mishpatim
Parsha Meditation: Transforming Pain to Become a Source of Joy
Haftorah: Overcoming Negative Patterns and Addiction
Nature in the Parsha: The Sabbatical Year & Blessings of Redemption
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: Does the Torah Look at Women as Sex Objects?

Ask the Rebbetzin!  Is it Permitted to Gaze at the Moon?

Parashat Terumah
Parsha Meditation: The Mishkan: A Spiritual Healing Structure
Nature in the Parsha: The Multicolored Unicorn
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: To Give or not to Give?

Ask the Rebbetzin! Why do we Need to Know all these Details of the Mishkan (Tabernacle)?

Parashat Tetzaveh
Parsha Meditation: The Candles of Eternity
Haftorah: The Power of Visualization
Nature in the Parsha: The Mystical Turquoise Colored Snail Fish
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: Do We Need to Wear Black Polyester Skirts for Modesty?
Parashat Ki Tisa
Parsha Meditation:
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Vayakhel
Parsha Meditation:
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 


Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Pekudei
Parsha Meditation:
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 



The Book of Vayikra
Parashat Vayikra
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Tzav
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Shemini
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Tazria
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Metzora
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Shabbat Pesach
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Acharei Mot
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Kedoshim
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Emor
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Behar
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Bechukotai
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

The Book of Bamidbar
Parashat Bamidbar
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Naso
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Beha’alotcha
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Shlach L’chah
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Korach
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Chukat
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Balak
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Pinchas
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Matot
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Masai
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

The Book of Devarim
Parashat Devarim

Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Va’etchanan
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Eikev
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Re’eh
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Shoftim
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Ki Tetze
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Ki Tavo
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Nitzavim
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Vayelech
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat Ha'azinu
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin! 

Parashat V’Zot Ha’Bracha
Parsha Meditation: 
Haftorah:
Nature in the Parsha:
Lessons from the Rebbetzin’s Heart: 

Ask the Rebbetzin!