Thursday, February 27, 2014

Good Shabbos!

Parshas Pekudei:

Why does the Torah speaks at such length about the Mishkan?

"The cheit ha’eigel distanced Klal Yisrael from Hashem".  Therefore, much is needed to bridge the gap.

"When people are close, a word, a small gesture, suffices to convey what they mean; when people are distant, it is much harder to communicate". (Kotsker Rebbe quoted in Divrei Chaim= He goes on to discuss Megilas Esther along this same theme;

"It’s interesting that Megillas Esther will still be with us (in geulah time period).  Of all the seforim in Tanach, Megillah stands out for it’s not once mentioning G-d’s name.  There is also no overt miracle mentioned in the Megillah; there is nothing in the story that stands out and announces itself as G-d’s handiwork.  I think this also fits with the same yesod of the Kotzker.  When you are so close to someone, less needs to be said.  G-d doesn’t need to put his name in the Megillah; G-d doesn’t need to jump out of the story and announce himself to us.  We know he is there anyway. ")



This is exactly what we are doing.  

We are learning how to see Hashem in every 'small' encounter, in every breath we take, through uncovering who we really are (a pure neshama!).  

We are learning about our uniqueness, strengths and weaknesses, so that we can become balanced; inside and out, in order to have a constant real relationship with Hashem, one where "Hashem doesn't need to jump out and announce Himself.  We know He is here.")

IyH in this way we access our inner will, the space in our neshama that is aligned with Hashem's will.  
 May we be zoche to know HE is here every moment.

Self awareness is the first step.

love, aviva rus

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hi! Da Es Atzmecha update.

Hello Chaburah!  

Here is a quick review of what we have discussed so far in  Da Es Atzmecha:


If anyone has any questions regarding this material please contact me asap.  IyH We are continuing with chapter 4.  Plus the last five sections in Bilvavi ( see below)


Remember that each of us is unique and therefore, different sections of these seforim will speak to us in a myriad of ways.  There's beauty in this! We each can experience our relationship to Him through His Torah and He sends us this hint (the Torah that speaks to us)- another way to...GET TO KNOW YOURSELF

PART ONE
CHAPTER ONE
THE ESSENCE OF MAN- A SOUL COVERED WITH A BODY

The goal:  to reveal an existing entity- a clear, definite, absolute, non-negotiable inner world.

Question:  How can I identify with my neshama every moment?
Answer: A change of perspective (example of how a person feels before and after marriage-change in personal identification)
Changing our perspective to:

1. I am converting- new identity (smashed car example); I am no longer a body, I am a soul in a garment called a body.

2. I am changing through a gradual internal process based on a plan of daily action (one brick at a time).

Chapter 2: EVIL IS BUT A GARMENT
(Chapter 2 is about hachna'ah- subjugation of body to soul in consciousness.)

1.There are 3 forms of expression; thoughts, feelings, actions. These can come from the soul or the body.

2. Chazal: a person's real essence-soul- is only good. Positive thoughts, feelings, and actions come from here.The neshama is eternal, pure and clean.

3.Yetzer hara: external force that covers a person's essence and motivates him to act improperly. All negative thoughts, feelings and actions come from here.

4. You only have to uncover the good that is already within you-Hashem planted it in each person.  "There is no need to acquire good behaviors, good qualities, and good feelings".  You are all of those things- it is your true essence.

Basic Preparation: Self Awareness:

This avoda begins with the mind. First must know who is the real "I"."I am a pure, clean, and devoid of evil.  I am a soul."  

What is the proper attitude toward sin?

If we do something wrong, the yetzer hara grabs onto the deed and sends us thoughts that throw us into sadness and regret that could last for days.  BUT if we see ourselves as a soul- then we put it in perspective, and get rid of the "garments" that we don't want to wear. (4 steps of teshuva)

Chapter 3:
Nullifying the negative Feelings:
(chapter 3 is about Havdalah: separation: the power of "alone":  associating with the inner "I")

Question: How do we learn to associate positive feelings with the true "I", (as part of essence of soul), and dissociate from negative feelings- see them as coming from the external body= separate from the true "I"?

1. Focus: (even an angel cannot accomplish more than one task at a time) "When a person is busy with something, that should be the only thing he is doing, and nothing else should interest him)pg 62.

2. "Allow your mind to relax and take a break from the rush of life". (pg 64)- you will discover an entirely new sense of self" (pg 65) (technique ideas:use of quiet music, find a tool that helps you)

When we experience inner quiet, then comes the revelation of the presence of Hashem within us (pg 66).

Havdala is the da'as that defines the proper place for each thing. (pg 71)
  

Chapter 4:

Gaining a Positive Self-image from the Soul

"When a person has a low self-esteem, the solution cannot come from the bodily forces.  The solution is to let the soul's light shine, and then, one will truly enjoy a positive self-concept (pg 76)".  (Elokai neshama shenasata bi...)

In other words, when you identify with your soul, you will attain positive self esteem. 

This is a gift from Hashem and is not something to be arrogant about.  Recognize the truth: "I am good, because that is how Hashem created me (pg 77).

{Nefesh Hachaim: after the sin of Adam, the external aspect of evil became internalized.  We now thought evil was a part of our "I".  The moment we sin, we think the evil is a part of us, when in actuality, we are a pure soul and the evil is a garment.  Therefore, if you have negative self image, the solution is to teach ourselves that our essence is good.}

"If a person has a simple basis of emunah in Hashem, and believes that the Torah is true, he must believe that he (and all of mankind) is very good (pg 82)". 

"A person should train himself to think this way at all times....No fault in the world can uproot the truth of "Hashem, the soul You placed in me is pure."(82) 

Wake up your soul! How?

1. Torah and Mitzvos
2. Believe in the soul's existence
3. Contemplate "I am a neshama".
4. Contemplate the "I" is very good
This method of contemplation will expose  your soul, and since it comes from a higher realm than the body, the soul will win over the body- and you will then come to a more positive outlook. (If you see self as a body, then the body rules over the soul)- If you identify with the soul, you reveal goodness and expand its lights, and win over the power of evil within (87).

Where does sadness come from? Not from a situation, rather from not identifying with who you really are, a soul.  "Sadness applies when there is no soul." (86)  Therefore, the most intense period of sadness is when there is a body without a soul. (87)


avodah: continue reading chapter 4 and practicing the alone time 2+minutes.


Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh book 1
Section 2 Belief in the Creator
parts 50-55
(we will do this in two weeks- we did not have time on this past weeks call...)
  1. 50.
     first desire to live every moment with the awareness of Hashem in your heart then in steps (later in sefer) come to your heart constantly aware of Hashem =different world, reality shifts

  1. 51.Inner sincerity and deep sense of purpose when live with thoughts of Hashem constantly and brings an inner strength that permeates his entire spiritual composition- become a different person

  1. 52. a great treasure to think about Hashem constantly-but first must toil to realize this=Hashem's will that it works this way

  1. 53.Vilna Gaon- great pain for soul to see what it didn't accomplish-if live with closeness to Hashem all the time-higher place in Gan Eden bec that's it's inner essence.

  1. 54.Chazon Ish: “the main thing is to remember before Whom you toil” many work hard but miss the main point.

  1. 55.(food parable:outside body versus inside body)_our avodah is to make sure the knowledge that all that I do is for connection to Hashem- becomes seeped into our heart- not intellectual knowledge, but heart knowledge, to give vitality and energy- emunah sustains you.

avodah: remind yourself regularly "there is a Creator Who created me!"

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Update:

Hi!

Here are a few reminders:


1. No chaburahs will be meeting this coming week


2. Da Es Atzmecha:  We will have a  review when we next meet iyH, this past class was packed with a lot of information.  The main point is to remember that when you feel negatively toward yourself or others, go to the two minute space of alone that we practiced.


Continue to remind yourself:

You are a pure neshama in a garment called a body.
Your purpose here is to have deveikus to Hashem.

3. Da Es Nafshecha:

Take notice of the elements in you and which one seems strongest.  IyH we will review the fifth element again next time we meet and begin the chapter on water.

Good News:


Yesterday was the yahrzeit of the Avnei Nezer, the Sochotchover.  He states that any Jew who has a “teshukah,”a thirst and desire for Hashem, will not end up in gehenom. 


Teshuka will carry us out.
(Divrei Chaim)
Each one of us has that desire! If you don't feel it sometimes, it's only because of garments that are trying to cover you up:)

Have a great day!




Monday, February 10, 2014

Today at 12 iyH: Da es Atzmecha and Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh book 1


Da Es Atzmecha:
Getting to Know Yourself:
Chapter 4:

Gaining a Positive Self-image from the Soul

"When a person has a low self-esteem, the solution cannot come from the bodily forces.  The solution is to let the soul's light shine, and then, one will truly enjoy a positive self-concept (pg 76)".  (Elokai neshama shenasata bi...)

In other words, when you identify with your soul, you will attain positive self esteem. 

This is a gift from Hashem and is not something to be arrogant about.  Recognize the truth: "I am good, because that is how Hashem created me (pg 77).

{Nefesh Hachaim: after the sin of Adam, the external aspect of evil became internalized.  We now thought evil was a part of our "I".  The moment we sin, we think the evil is a part of us, when in actuality, we are a pure soul and the evil is a garment.  Therefore, if you have negative self image, the solution is to teach ourselves that our essence is good.}

"If a person has a simple basis of emunah in Hashem, and believes that the Torah is true, he must believe that he (and all of mankind) is very good (pg 82)". 

"A person should train himself to think this way at all times....No fault in the world can uproot the truth of "Hashem, the soul You placed in me is pure."(82)

avodah: continue reading chapter 4 and practicing the alone time 2+minutes.


Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh book 1
Section 2 Belief in the Creator
parts 50-55
(we will do this in two weeks- we did not have time on this past weeks call...)



  1. 50.
     first desire to live every moment with the awareness of Hashem in your heart then in steps (later in sefer) come to your heart constantly aware of Hashem =different world, reality shifts





  1. 51.Inner sincerity and deep sense of purpose when live with thoughts of Hashem constantly and brings an inner strength that permeates his entire spiritual composition- become a different person





  1. 52. a great treasure to think about Hashem constantly-but first must toil to realize this=Hashem's will that it works this way





  1. 53.Vilna Gaon- great pain for soul to see what it didn't accomplish-if live with closeness to Hashem all the time-higher place in Gan Eden bec that's it's inner essence.





  1. 54.Chazon Ish: “the main thing is to remember before Whom you toil” many work hard but miss the main point.





  1. 55.(food parable:outside body versus inside body)_our avodah is to make sure the knowledge that all that I do is for connection to Hashem- becomes seeped into our heart- not intellectual knowledge, but heart knowledge, to give vitality and energy- emunah sustains you.




avodah: remind yourself regularly "there is a Creator Who created me!"


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Da Es Nafshecha: Getting to Know Your Soul: IYH Tonight, 9:30 pm ny time

Chapter 2:
Working with the Element of Wind:

None of the elements exist alone.  Within each one you will find the other three.

Wind is the deepest of the elements; the "energy that makes everything else work".

The three elements of fire, water, and earth give form to wind. Hence, wind, the most fundamental element, acts according to the element that channels it.

In order to motivate yourself or others; 
1. identify the dominant element
2. then see how to use wind; will and excitement to move them

Wind with Fire: 
Fire becomes magnified with movement so use when you feel inspired to grow.  On the other hand, if a person with fire loses his will to act, must awaken his wind- his will.  Motivate him by pointing out opportunities for him to use his fire- he needs challenges and struggles that excite him.

Wind with Water:
If feeling lifeless, a person with a strong element of water needs an opportunity to sustain others to re-awaken herself- then her wind/excitement/ will awaken-she needs a way to give to others.

Wind with Earth:
A person with a strong element of earth needs to work on projects that feel stable, then his wind or excitement, will awaken-he needs stable work and a secure company.

Wind that is too strong causes one to be too active and never can be calm- first find the persons dominant element; which of the above three speak to you?  Then use earth to create stability and structure and order.

The fifth element: (the deepest way to balance too much wind)

Ayin: nothingness="the unmoving element that gives life".

Finding vitality from peace and calm (as opposed to needing a vacation from the vacation).

"There is a place of inner peace inside of you that is a source of vitality."

 Hashem is found in a "subtle quiet voice". "Silence is the real source of existence.

Begin to adjust your activity based on the quiet place within you.  Then you will know how active you should be.  Inner peace also reawakens a sense of vitality.  It is the ability to view yourself from the outside- with this element "we transcend ourselves and can look deep down from above" and thereby, find your primary element, that force that is most active in you.

This is hard to do if you are immersed in the movement of your wind.

Getting to the source:

"For real insight into yourself, you must see not the branches of your midos, but their roots."

That way you can end a negative midah at the outset rather than wait until there are many branches that have been created from it.

avodah: begin reading chapter 3, ask yourself which element speaks to you, and find a place of quiet within yourself.

Please call or email me with any insights or questions. 





Saturday, February 1, 2014

Da Es Atzmecha And Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh book 1: Monday at 12:00 NY time iyH

Da Es Atzmecha/ Getting to Know Yourself

Chapter 3
pages: 66-72


When we experience inner quiet, then comes the revelation of the presence of Hashem within us (pg 66).

To do: When feeling negative toward others go to the quiet inner self (disengage from evil in the world and connect to Hashem, 67).

(Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, Dovid- our forefathers were sheperds- seeking world of quiet- we follow in their footsteps. Matan Torah- no sounds heard not even a bird chirped (shmos raba 29:9) (pg 67).

***soul needs solitude as body needs food- it's the primary instrument for developing the soul.

"To attain this world of quiet, we must learn to quiet our thoughts" (pg 70).

To do:

Begin with 2 minutes a day- no reading or talking to anyone.  First notice where your thoughts are, and whether they are calm or noisy thoughts.  "Is the thought in the category of 'alone' or far from it?" (pg 71) If it's a thought that's very far from the "I" then just tell it that now is not the time for it, notice where your thoughts want to go. (see pages 70-71 for examples).

Havdala is the da'as that defines the proper place for each thing. (pg 71)  The self awareness of  which thoughts are related to the soul and which is a garment, comes from da'as. First separate the thoughts with da'as, then you can separate from the feelings when feeling negative toward another.

Avodah: Begin reading chapter 4, continue reminding yourself that you area  pure neshama, focus on one task a day, and spend two minutes a day with alone time like we just practiced.

Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh: 

Section 2: Part 44-50

44. sole aspiration in life=to be close to and attached to Hashem. This is done by awakening the element of truth in the soul through simplicity

45. staring point in avodas Hashem= awareness there is a Creator=requires work and effort

46. this belief, there is a Creator, must be “alive in one's mind and heart at all times...the driving force of a person's life every moment, every hour”

47. Can only feel close to Him if you believe He exists.

48. 3 kinds of awareness: 
a. chochmah-know the facts on a basic level 
b. binah-understands the facts well 
c. da'as- connected to the matter and totally attached to it

49. to recognize something with your soul- need da'as- this knowledge grips your mind and heart

50. first desire to live every moment with the awareness of Hashem in your heart then in steps (later in sefer) come to your heart constantly aware of Hashem =different world, reality shifts.

avodah: continue to remind yourself that your purpose in this world is deveikus to Hashem, print up the card that states there is a Creator and read the next few pages in the sefer.