Welcome to our audio talks

These talks are always based on a text taken from the writings of Rabbi Ashlag. Often from the Persuh HaSulam, , the commentary that Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag wrote on the Zohar but also from his introductions or from the Sefer hama’amarim, the book of articles that his son, Rabbi Baruch Ashlag wrote on how to apply the principles of the Kabbalah in our inner work.
The talks are divided into three broad categories; 1) The Jewish Year: the festivals and other time-based events
2) the application of the learning in our daily lives
3) Concepts found in the study of the Kabbalah
PLEASE feel free to comment and give feedback. And most of all …enjoy! Yedidah Cohen

Returning Light Meditation  Avraham Lowenthal Tsfat

Not taking Torah literally!

by yedidah on January 26, 2018

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Zohar:

Rabbi Shimon said: Woe to the man who says that the Torah comes to tell literal stories and stories of people like Esau and Laban and such like. For if this were so, even in these times we could make a Torah out of the words of ordinary people — even nicer stories than these.

If the purpose of the Torah were to show the matters of the world, even the rulers of the world have more excellent matters than those in the Torah. Then we could go after them and make from them a Torah, in the same way.

But all the words of the Torah are high matters and are of the highest inner meanings!

Rabbi Ashlag, when he came to the Land of Israel, originally thought to join with the Kabbalists of the Holy Land. But he was bitterly disappointed to find that they were occupying themselves only with the external forms of the writings of the Zohar and of the Ari, without trying to understand them at al. Indeed, they were laboring under the apprehension that it wasn’t necessary to try to understand these writings at all. They even thought that such understanding wasn’t meant for humans.

Rabbi Ashlag felt the injustice being done to the Torah. His disappointment renewed his desire to bring wisdom and understanding into this crucial, but so neglected part of the Torah.

In this podcast we hear his impassioned outburst, his determination and his yearning. It is a fire we can kindle within ourselves too.

This shiur, is dedicated in loving memory of Feiga bat Shmuel and Rvikah and for the elevation of her soul.

The material for this shiur is taken  from  the forthcoming book, “ The Master of the Ladder, the Life and teachings of the Baal haSulam, Rabbi Yehudah Leib Ashlag, by Rabbi Avraham Mordecai Gottlieb, translated and edited by Yedidah Cohen, Nehora Press. 

The picture is the Returning Light Meditation by Avraham Loewenthal of Tsfat, with grateful acknowledgement.

 

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Rabbi Yehudah Leib Ashlag
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One evening in 1892 in a suburb of Warsaw, a seven-year-old boy was lying in bed when, suddenly, a book fell off the bookshelf, hitting him on the head. The boy picked it up and started to examine it. His father, hearing the sound, came in, and seeing the book in his son’s hand, took it from him and replaced it on the shelf. “This is a book for angels, not for you,” said the father. But the boy argued, “If it has been printed, it must be meant for everyone.” “No,” insisted his father, “it is not for you.” But the boy’s curiosity had been aroused, and he started to study it. It was a book of the Kabbalah and its light illumined his heart.

The child was Yehudah Leib Ashlag who, one day, was going to change the way we see spiritual consciousness.

Rabbi Ashlag had , even for those days, an unusual dedication to his studies. He had a tremendous quality of truth. Truth for him meant inner truth, being totally true to himself, and thus when he studied a book of musar, he never left it until he felt he had completely put into practice all tha the book demanded of him.

With this intense labor on himself, in his regular Torah study, his study of the Kabbalah and the work on his own virtues, he came to the incredible spiritual level of dvekut with God, unity , and enlightenment at an extremely early age.

In the normal way we would not have access or any record of such a great Rabbi’s personal life or spiritual achievements.  Our great tzaddikim hid their spiritual achievements preferring modesty. . True to this tradition of modesty, in the last year of his life Rabbi Ashlag requested his devoted assistant, Rabbi Moshe Baruch Lemburger, to make a pile of his personal papers and burn them. However, others, who were present, contrived to save the papers from the fire.

Among these papers is a piece of writing in which Rabbi Ashlag describes his thoughts and his feelings when he had the merit to receive the great light of God, the Or d’Chochmah. This is the great light that God wants to give us according to His purpose in creation. A person receives this great light only when he has finished his personal tikkun (rectification of his soul).  At the time of the redemption, all humanity will receive this great light.

In this document we have a record, unique in Jewish spiritual literature, of the development of the tzaddik on his receiving an experience of enlightenment while in affinity of form with the Creator. It was an experience that was to change the direction of Rabbi Ashlag’s life.

Rabbi Ashlag starts by asking a question: He is in this experience in which his whole being is totally illuminated in the light of God. So he wants to know what does his service to God  consist of, now that he no longer has to give faith or belief in God, because he is in a state of knowing God?  So he sets out to visit his teacher, the Rabbi of Belz. But when he arrives at the Beit haMidrash, he finds that the Sage’s response to him in his state of enlightenment is not encouraging, to put it mildly, but treats him with sarcasm and shows his displeasure. Rabbi Ashlag finds himself in a quandary: on the one hand he believes in his experience, on the other hand, he has faith in his Rabbi. Perplexed, Rabbi Ashlag has to resolve this seeming contradiction for himself.

For Rabbi Ashlag’s description of how he resolved this dilemma,  listen to the rest of the podcast!

This shiur, is dedicated in loving memory of Feiga bat Shmuel and Rvikah and for the elevation of her soul.

The material for this shiur is taken  from  the forthcoming book, “ The Master of the Ladder, the Life and teachings of the Baal haSulam, Rabbi Yehudah Leib Ashlag, by Rabbi Avraham Mordecai Gottlieb, translated and edited by Yedidah Cohen, Nehora Press. 

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Root and Branch: The Language of Kabbalah

by yedidah November 23, 2017
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When we read books of kabbalah, as for example English  translations of the Zohar , or look at diagrams of the Sephirot, we often end up more puzzled than enlightened. This is because Kabbalah actually uses a specific language.

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The words, letters, and sentences that make up our lives.

by yedidah June 19, 2017
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The words of the Torah are the vessels for its wisdom. They are written as black letters on the white parchment . The white is the light of the wisdom of the Torah, but if it were not for the letters we would not know what it says. Similarly our lacks and desires make up the words of our lives. By learning the meanings of the words of the Torah and of the Kabbalah we can understand our own desires more accurately . We look at “zivug”, the union of opposites and see how it applies to relationships.

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A letter for Rosh Hashanah by Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag: Looking forward

by yedidah October 2, 2016
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In this happy and optimistic letter for the New Year that Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag wrote to his friends and students in the Beit Hamidrash for Rosh Hashanah, he teaches that the themes of Rosh Hashanah are actually advice the Sages are giving us in how to come closer to our Creator.

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Sounding our own Shofar

by yedidah September 21, 2016
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The great light of God that comes into the world on Rosh Hashanah is identical to that which came into the world at the time of its Creation. But if we were to receive it “straight”, as it were, it would be dangerous for us. The shofar sounds the voice of loving-kindness and compassion, which clothes this great light so all the world may benefit from the light of God in its bounty and blessing.

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