Can you look at the world without expectations, without the demand that it fit into your familiar ideas and definitions? Can you just see it as it is?
From time to time my wife and I sit with the kids and take a look at their latest drawings. Generally the pictures are pretty consistent—Daddy has the orange curly hair, the flowers are bigger than the people, and the shining sun has a big happy grin. But one day my five-year-old daughter Ne’ema brought us a drawing that in addition to the usual stuff featured a bizarre purple-green figure floating in the sky.
In my seminars I often ask people to write their definitions of God. Typical answers are intellectual, philosophical, and abstract. Then I ask the participants to write a letter to God, starting with “Dear God, I always wanted to ask you…” I request that they write with their non-dominant hand to simulate the experience of writing as a child, because the object of the exercise is to get at the earliest point in their lives, when they acquired their image of God.
My passion is to introduce you to a whole new vision; to see in a whole new way. The wisdom I share is drawn from ancient Torah Secrets—the mystical interpretation of the teachings of Moses, the prophet. I didn’t invent these ideas. I only translated them into a language that anyone can understand and everyone can use.
Kabbalah, the mystical interpretation of the prophetic teachings of Moses, is written in a language that like sheet music is impossible to appreciate unless you are, so to speak, an “accomplished musician.”
A philosopher once said, “If a man finds himself, he has a mansion in which he can live for the rest of his life.” I would like to add: If a man does not find himself he can build mansion after mansion and try to compensate for the loss of self, but huge as his mansion may be, it won’t do the trick.
How can we understand the physical impact of our moral and spiritual actions? The Kabbalah teaches that the world you and I live in is a product of our perception of reality. Do we see reality or do we see our perception of reality? The Zohar explains that the colors and textures and shapes of this world exist in your eyes. Is the Zohar saying that this world is an illusion?
Judaism does not advocate complete suppression of our negative urges rather it gives us outlets to sublimate them while guiding us to gradually overcome them. Therefore, when we crave, we must satisfy the craving in some way while working towards kicking the habit.
Purim celebrates the salvation of the Jews from the wicked Haman’s scheme to exterminate all the Jewish men, women, and children living in the Persian Empire in the year 357 B.C.E., which essentially meant all the Jews in the world. Some of the commandments of Purim, such as hearing Megillat Esther, which recounts the Purim story, and enjoying a festive meal, are obvious ways to commemorate this deliverance.
Other commandments and customs have no apparent connection to what happened on Purim. Why are we required to give charity to the poor, send two food items to a friend, and get so drunk that we do not know the difference between Haman, the villain, and Mordechai, the righteous hero of the story? (This last commandment, I understand, is very rigorously kept in college dorms all year round.)
There are times when we are simply exploring the philosophical meaning of pain. And then there are times when we are personally in pain and struggling to understand why. When we are merely discussing pain then we can find a philosophical understanding of pain. But when we are in pain, we must accept that there really are no satisfactory answers.