Entering Kabbalah

A new approach to Jewish spirituality designed to connect Jews to each other and to Judaism through spiritual practices rooted in Jewish tradition.

To be in the image of a human

From the Zohar, 1:13b [Daniel Matt's Translation, page 94]

If one cares for the poor wholeheartedly, their image never mutates from that of Adam...

Daniel Matt explains this:
By following the commandment of caring for the poor, one imitates God and regains the pristine divine image in which Adam was created.

My comments:
To imitate the divine, to aim for the highest values we can imagine, is at the heart of all good spiritual teaching. We know that we are supposed to care for the poor, fight for the oppressed, protect the weak.

How can we move motivate our minds to move our hearts and bodies to become the righteous person we aim to be?

I try to start with small acts of compassion. Today, while running, I passed some women who, by their garb, were clearly Muslim. I respectfully greeted them with my best "Asalam Aleikum" - "peace to you". As I continued past them I heard the pleasant surprise as they enthusiastically returned my greeting.

Everyone around us deserves to be recognized as a bearer of the divine. In that we can imitate our image of the creator in everything we do.


Love and Appreciation

What do we do when we get a great gift? 

If I am on the ball, I do my best to write a personal and warm thank you note and get it out ASAP.

When we recognize that our lives, our very existence, can be viewed as the ultimate generous and loving gift from the universe to us, then we can also see that Judaism can be the ultimate thank you note.

How do we show our appreciation for life, the universe, and everything?

Throughout the history of Judaism we have offered any number of to-do lists for showing our gratitude – the biggest list being 613 commandments, and a smaller one of the many one-liner summaries of Judaism could be the opening of V’ahavtah: “Love God”.

When we view everything as a gift from creation, then one of the most basic responses can be expressed as love – love and compassion for all of creation as a way of offering gratitude and awe for all things. 

The Zohar, one of the central texts of Jewish mysticism imagines God explaining:

“…’Don’t the inhabitants of the world realize that I based the world solely on love? As is written, I said, “The world shall be built on love” (Psalms 89:3). By this the world endures.'” (1:10b)

Daniel Matt, the leading scholar of the Zohar, commented on this quote:

Without deeds of love, the world will collapse.

Let us aim to enter this season of ease with love, compassion, and gratitude for all. Each act of kindness is a thank you note to the universe.

We can change what we want

Preferences seem to be innate.

"I like sardines" - that's an odd preference.

When we re-evaluate that though, it turns out that we can change our own likes and dislikes - in fact, that is what makes life interesting.

Our tastes can change, and we can direct the change.

Let us rethink the things we like and see if they serve us well. Let us aim for things that might work better for us.

Our souls are ours to develop.