Parsha Vayikra, March 30, 2006
The ultimate test of faith in the Torah is honest weights. You can’t study kabbalah in a place without honest weights. Why?
We’re all connected. Students are dependent on others doing the right thing or they’re affected.
Why was the Arizal the only one to die in the plague? The story is that there was a rabbi who was stealing from the charity fund. The Arizal took steps to make sure the community would be unified and therefore not affected by the plague.
EXILE – ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN. The story of Rav Idi. He had a son who studied every day, but he himself traveled extensively and was able to study only one day a year. The rabbis called him the One Day A Year Jew. R. Yochanan told him not to feel humiliated, or he would implicate the rabbis in a murder, his own murder, since humiliating someone is considered to be the same as killing him. He also went to the rabbis and told them that a day is the same as a year, the spies spent 40 days in the Promised Land and the Israelites were punished with 40 years in the desert; that if someone studies only one day and gives it his all, it’s as if he studied the entire year.
How can you build a structure that can redeem group psychology from a mob?
Jealousy is the inability to be on the outside.
Not isolating in rejection, but becoming intimate.
Why did G*d put us into slavery?
The more we want to join mainstream, non-Jewish culture, the more anti-Semitism there is.
REDEEMABLE AND UNREDEEMABLE. Moshe has very unredeemed parts of his life—he had trouble with intimate relationships—he separated from his wife and his children were lost to Judaism; Yonaton, Gershon’s son, was a priest in a pagan temple. There are unredeemable parts in the greatest heroes. No one ever goes happily into the sunset. Moshe is the quintessential Mistake Hero.
Our job is to look at no one as being unredeemable. The Rasha, the wicked son, showed up at the seder; he is redeemable. He is ryx. y means teeth, and it also means Shechina, G*d’s female manifestation. When you read that you should kick the Wicked Son in the teeth, it’s a very bad translation. It is telling us to elevate the Shechina, the redeemable spark in the Rasha. We start with the one who davens and doesn’t feel anything; we don’t start with the one who doesn’t show up.
Haman’s grandchildren studied Torah, and some say Hitler’s granddaughter converted to Judaism.
You strengthen yourself in the weakest place. Moses’s weak places were relationships – anger- disgust (disdain).
There are two aspects of a situation: before it happens and after it happens; trying to get it right and dealing with not getting it right.
In Pesach, we are trying to clean with a toothpick; we are recreating the dynamics of slavery. There is friction built into the system; everyone clean differently. The purpose of every mitzvah is to push us up against the area of potential weakness. (The perfectionists among us have trouble calling an end to the cleaning—surely there is more chumatz! The rest of us would rather use the carefree duck tape method of cleaning, that is, taping shut the cupboards and pretending the chumatz isn’t there. Already the mitzvah is pushing us against our inclinations. But what happens if some of the people in the household are a bit more on the perfectionist side and others are a bit more on the duck tape side? What results is lots of opportunity to find out which meados (character traits) need to be worked on.) G*d is our ezer conegdo – we have to make every mitzvah inconvenient because we’re addicted to convenience. For example, c-sections are on the rise because they’re convenient, right on schedule, no labor pains. Torah says that labor pains are like death pains, and we don’t want to feel pain when we are born or when we die.
Jews need to live in the desert as an inoculation to convenience. --?
DISCOURAGEMENT – AMALEK
The first story of discouragement of the Jewish people was Amran, Moses’ father, not wanting to have children. More recent discouragement: many people didn’t know they were Jewish until they were adults.
Story: Black men hid two Jews from General Patton’s DP camp. One of the Black men said he went from being a sharecropper to a CEO from the experience, because the Jewish men suffered but weren’t bitter. He looked them up years later; one had died, but he discovered that the children of the other man didn’t even know that he had been in a camp. He berated him: how could you not tell your children about this, when the experience changed my life?
Discouragement, mitzvote, Pesach: There’s always some chumatz left. Moses cleaned with a toothbrush; he did not like messes – collaboration was his challenge.
Some of our problems we just have to let go of because they’re unredeemable, unresolveable. This is what we do when we finally decide we are finished with cleaning and we burn the chumatz, letting go of it.
Gola precedes goula – in davening – redemption – is shmah – exile is shemona essray.
There has to be pain/inconvenience in every mitzvah.
The mishkan pushed Moses in one direction and the people in the other – they collided. The men’s problem in creating the mishkan was impatience, they got discouraged, first by the specter of Moses lying dead on the mountain. Moses’s problem was different, one of disdain of gold (fear).
We see the Torah that w project ???
Joseph created the Golden Calf, shor – ox – judgmental perfectionistic – Joseph shows a disdain when in the next gilgul he puts his eyes out because he thinks he can’t look at women except with lust. This was not tshuva, it was the other side of the same coin (the other side being sperm coming out his fingers when he desired Potiphar’s wife). G*d tells him, “I’ll be your collateral.”
Formulas are the essence of idol worship.
Men don’t have a broad repertoire. When getting up in the morning, I have to be able to pretend I’m a woman (actually, I don’t) and I’m marrying G*d. At the seder, I pretend I’m a slave (not hard, after all that cleaning and cooking).
Moses was pushing against this. He disdained gold, so he had to create a mishkan made of gold and collect shekels. If he resolves all his issues, he is not a good model.
The men are grabbing onto gold to allay their fears. Moses is disgusted by gold.
They collide at the women’s mirrors. Rav Tanhum’s Torah, page 271 Aish Kodesh. The teacher of a narrow way can teach only his way.
Haggadah: drawing water from a well – Miriam’s well – getting women to explore their initiative and men to explore their diminishment. Women should act like a sun, men should act like a moon. Convenience is a straightjacket. The person exploring the line of least resistance will not come up against his weakness.
The only thing that makes a seder not kosher is lack of questions.
The last seder in the Warsaw Ghetto. The rav was taken to Gestapo headquarters, along with his chussid. A gentile thief started shoving him around. The rav said, “Why are you doing this? I didn’t arrest you. The Germans put you here.” The chussid wouldn’t do the seder because of grief; he said he had lost his entire family that day, he had no questions, the test was too much, I’ve lost my faith. The thief said to the rav, “Tell me the story.” The rav translated every word of the haggadah, and the thief asked him questions. In the middle of the night, a guard saw the connection that had grown between the rav and the thief, dragged them outside and execd them. The chussid lived through the war and told this story to Reb Shlomo.
We have to draw people out at the seder table.
Reb Chia could teach what he knew, but Rabbi Tanhum could draw everyone out.
What is the difference between dvn and vng, chumatz and matzo? It’s a little difference, the difference between the d and the g. Matzo is clear perception.
When we look for the chumatz with a candle, we are using soul light, a dramatic role and to increase our repertoire. We use the candle because our souls are G*d’s candles.
YERTZITE: We light yertzite candles on Yom Kippur, the last day of Shavuos, Shukkos, Pesach and the anniversary of the death; any time we do Yiskor.
Was Moses a sexual anorexic?
Yesode comes from the west. Sexuality – confusion – it comes from the west and it hits you in the back. Saying the Shmah before going to bed helps sort this confusion out. Some people make their bed face north and south, chesed and gevorah, cold and hot.
Moses learns he has to pull back to make room for others – he builds the mishkan and leaves it to others, he brings them to the Promised Land and doesn’t enter.
Why was Moses angry about the mirrors? The women wanted to bring their mirrors to make the laver, and Moses became angry and said they should take sticks and break the women’s thighs. The women had used the mirrors to beautify themselves during slavery, they had brought food out to their men in the field and had enticed them to have relations in order to keep the Jewish people alive with babies – Moses was one of these babies – it was a form of self-hatred on Moses’s part. G*d said to Moses, “Shut up, take every mirror.” Moses didn’t understand relationships.
r eyen is a mean (mean means small) eye and is also the picture of an eye.
The men in Egypt and in the Nazi death camps went from being doctors to slaves. The antidote to the kind of despair that this causes is to ask, “What question is G*d asking of me right now?”
The Germans had no mechanism to look at their own weakness, so they had to project their weakness outward. The women broke through seven fences to reach the men (the men and women were separated in both Nazi areas and Egypt). The women held up the mirrors and said, “Look at how much more beautiful I am than you are.” Then the men would want to have relations. The women were holding the mirrors so their faces were both reflected in them to show their connection.
Reb Shlomo told a story about a couple that was arrested the day after their wedding. They miraculously found each other six years later, after liberation, and made arrangements to meet at a deserted farmhouse. They each saw their reflection in the mirror and wondered how anyone could love someone so ugly, no hair, no teeth. Then they turned to each other and said, “You’re so beautiful!” They were still connected after six years in camps.
Discipline can lead to a self-loathing.
Moses didn’t want to know his other wasn’t a virgin – joke about J.C.: how do you know he was Jewish? He worked for his father, lived with his parents, thought his mother was a virgin, and his mother thought that he was G*d.
The water from the laver made from the mirrors was used for the Sotah, the wife of the jealous husband.
Mirror is one perception.
Water is a different perception. It’s all about Amalek, competition. People washed in the laver entering the mishkan, washing to take off subjective reality, attain flexibility of roles. Enter sacred intimacy, the Korban – forgiving of self. We can’t do avoda if we’re holding ourselves or others in a hard place.
We’re washing ourselves in Moshe’s formula. In a perfectionist framework he sees mirrors as from the Satan. It is the tendency of mystics. He’s showing us how to explode his idol.
In the mirror they saw the connection between the two.
Copper = snake.
How can we observe mitzvote without becoming perfectionistic? It’s a system designed to remind us we can’t get it perfect.
We have to switch roles when we make a mistake – korban – mistakes become holy bitul – throw it in the ocean, not being consumed by our mistake.
Trusting each other to follow the rules and admit when you made a mistake. Apply this to keeping kosher, to cleaning for Pesach.
Abstinence is the result of self-loathing.
Temple activities: Sex (washing) – killing – eating.
G*d wants a dwelling place in the lowest places so it won’t be elitist.
Honoring parents is when the children change the diaper of the parents.
Korban – turning the mistake into intimacy.