Lech Lecha (Go Forth) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion
TORAH : GENESIS 12:1-17:27
PROPHETS : ISAIAH 40:27-41:16
GOSPEL : MATTHEW 1:1-17
From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage.
We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will highlight specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel.
The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world.
The readings for this week 22-28 October 2017 are called Lekh Lekha—“Go Forth, Yourself”:
This week’s portion begins with a hearkening-back to the call of Abram in Ur, and ends with the promise of Isaac, and with Abram (his name now changed to “Abraham”) entering into the Covenant of Circumcision with his household. In the course of these chapters he will travel from Ur and Haran (12:4) to Canaan, passing through the land to Shechem, Bethel, the Negev (dry southland), Egypt, back to the Negev, back to Bethel, walking the land “northward, southward, eastward, and westward (13:14), to Hebron, to war north of Damascus, back to Hebron. We cannot hope here to discuss all that takes place in the course of these travels; but ask the LORD to attend you as you travel through these pages with the Father of our Faith,
“‘Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain; When he was but one I called him, then I blessed him and multiplied him.’ Indeed, the LORD will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places…”
*Genesis 12:1- “Now the LORD said to Abram: ‘Go you forth out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great. Be a Blessing! I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
a. “Now the LORD said to Abram: ‘Go you forth out of your country…”
Some rabbinic traditions hold that this command was given in Haran (in modern-day S/E Turkey) where Abram’s father Terah had taken Abram, his wife Sarai and Terah’s grandson Lot (Genesis 11:31). But at least one passage in the New Covenant asserts that this is not true:
Acts 7:2-4: Stephen is preaching to Jewish leaders in Jerusalem: “Brothers and sisters, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia [the city of Ur was in this region], before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living.” There is nothing in the account to suggest that the religious Jewish leaders to whom Stephen was preaching, were in disagreement with this.
*From this passage we see that God appeared to Abraham, and again in Genesis 12:7 below. One of the difficulties for many Jews in believing in the deity of Yeshua/Jesus is the insistence of their teachers that God would never take on a human form and be seen. Yet these passages show us that God is capable of taking on just such a form—he “appeared to” Abraham. We will see this “appearing” occurring again at the beginning of next week’s Parashah, and indeed throughout the Torah.
*He appeared while Abraham was still in Ur and commanded him to leave his family and follow Him. This was a new experience for Abraham. There were many ‘gods’ worshiped in Ur. Now he, like all of us today, would have to learn to know and trust this new God. He would make mistakes, but he would nevertheless exercise faith in trusting through the light he had. We have no way of knowing for certain if he erred in telling his father what God had commanded, rather than just obeying and going, But evidently he did tell his father—who then decided to go along. Terah in fact took control—and led them as far as Haran. In doing so, Terah probably took along his own house-hold gods. As we shall see, these would reappear years later (Genesis 31:19), creating big problems for Abraham’s descendants. For now, God allowed Terah to go along, though not to the ultimate destination. And so they waited in Haran until Abraham’s father died—then God moved Abram, his wife and Lot on to Canaan.
*Genesis 12:2a. “I will make you a great nation…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Hebrew for “nation” is goy; “great nation” is goy gadol. In Modern Hebrew slang, goy and goyim (plural) are often used in reference to individuals or peoples who are non-Jews (Gentiles). Scripture most often uses goyim to refer to nations other than Israel. However, here God is speaking to an individual human being drawn from one of the nations, who in his descendants would become a great nation in which families throughout the earth would be blessed. It may be significant that “earth” here is adamah—soil. Adam was formed from adamah. Today, all his descendants are in Hebrew called bnei-adam—“children of Adam”. God saw and continues to see the physical seed of Abraham (Israel) as an individual nation before him …and his blessing through them is on behalf of all of Adam’s children.
*Genesis 12:2. “I will make a great nation of you and will give-you-blessing and will make your name great. Be a blessing!” (Everett Fox translation; emphases ours). In the Hebrew, the last three words are clearly a command/imperative form of the verb. God isn’t saying here that Abraham and his seed “will be” or “become” a blessing; rather, he is speaking a command into that seed, “BE!” A blessing to all the children of Adam through that seed would indeed be released in the person of the Saviour, Yeshua Messiah. But this holy command has never been annulled! The workings of God for all humankind continue to be mirrored in his workings in this People. For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, Israel continues to “Be a Blessing”. And as Israel, through recognizing and receiving her Messiah, returns to her fullness, her acceptance will be “life from the dead”! (Romans 11:15).
*Genesis 12:7-8. “Then YHVH (The LORD) appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your seed I will give this land.’ And there he built [there in Shechem] an altar to YHVH, who had appeared to him. And he moved/shifted from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent…where he built an altar to YHVH and called on the name of YHVH.”
Wonderful things happened in Shechem (modern-day Nablus). The God of Glory, Who had appeared to him while still in Ur, now, after a long and arduous journey, appeared to Abram again! Look once more at the verse 7. Shechem certainly appeared to be:
A legitimate destination of God’s leading.
A place of God’s revealed Presence.
A place of the releasing of God’s prophetic Word.
A place of established worship to “the One who reveals Himself.”
The ideal place to settle down!
Yet one verse later Abraham moves to Bethel. The word translated “moved” also means to “take a shift” (Robert Alter translates it “pulled up his stakes”). As we saw during the recent Sukkot festival, God “makes everything beautiful in its time or season (Ecclesiastes 3:11). But, he is under no obligation to beautify if, after the season for our being in a certain place has passed, we insist on staying there. Abram took his “shift,” and a much greater blessing awaited him at Bethel, a place he would return to time and time again…and to which his grandson Jacob many years later would return to find an open heavens with the angels still ascending and descending.
*Genesis 14:5. “In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him came and attacked the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim, and the Horites in their mountain of seir, as far as El Paran, which is by the wilderness…And the king of Sodom went out to meet him [i.e. Abraham] after his striking down Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him…”.
Abraham pursued and struck down this king who himself had defeated the Rephaim, Zuzim, Emim, and the Horites. It is fascinating to discover how almost 500 years later, descendants of each of these peoples (Deuteronomy 2:10, 12, 20, 22; 3:11), whose height and cruel renown had paralyzed with fear their parents 40 years previously, are dispatched quickly by the young new generation of Israelis shortly before their advancement into Canaan.
Perhaps Joshua and Caleb had been taught from childhood how the God of their father Abraham had given him easy victory over a Chedorlaomer, who had himself subdued all of these feared peoples. In faith, after being sent in to spy out the land, they brought back a good report.
*Genesis 14:19. “Then Melchizedek king of Shalem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of El Elyon (God Most-High).” Just as English god comes from an old Anglo-Saxon expression for deity, the Canaanites word for god was el, and they had many elelim. Soon after Abram entered Canaan, the One who had appeared to him in Ur and Shechem began to reveal aspects of His nature which made clear how this “El” differed from all the other “el’s” crowding the land. His attributes are reflected in a number of descriptive names which began to be used by Abraham and his descendants…El Elyon is the El (or God) who is “most High”—El Roii (16:13) is El who “Sees”—El Shaddai (17:1) is El who is “Almighty and sustains all life”. By verse 22, Abram realizes that the God who had appeared to him as YHVH in Ur and Shechem (12:1; 12:7-8) and this El Elyon are One and the same, “I raise my hand to YHVH El Elyon, the possessor of Heaven and earth…”
*Genesis 15:6. “And he believed in YHVH, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.”
*Genesis 15:12. “Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram: and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. God said to Abram, ‘Know for ce4rtain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.’ It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold—a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. On that day YHVH made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates…’”
“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God—all these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed, if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:8—16).
*Genesis 16:4b-5a. “And when she [Hagar] saw that she had conceived, her mistress [Sarai] became despised in her eyes. Then Sarai said to Abram, ‘May the wrong done me be upon you!”
We must realize that the struggle reflected in Hagar’s actions and Sarai’s response is over an issue of far greater magnitude than either of these women could have been aware. Far from being merely a domestic squabble (although, so it may have seemed to them), a cosmic spiritual battle was raging over God’s covenant on behalf not only of Abraham’s descendants but of the whole Human Race! When Sarai speaks wildly to Abram of the “wrong” being done her, she uses the word hamas—a word used other places in the Hebrew Bible for “cruel violence” (Genesis 49:5; Psalm 25:19; 27:12). A great Enemy was seeking to divert the line of Covenant which God had determined to come through Sarai’s womb (Genesis 17:21); this covenant-hating Power of “cruel violence” was trying to tear her apart. This same battle is still raging! The Muslim religion teaches that a divine covenant went through Ishmael, not Isaac. The power behind this falsehood hates Life, and the God of Life, and rules those presently under its dominion through cruel violence, hamas (a word which coincidentally is spelled and pronounced the same as the acronym for the present-day terrorist Islamic Resistant Movement). PLEASE PRAY: That Muslims will be freed from a power of violence which has sought to keep them outside the covenant of God Most High. Pray for dreams and visions…for a powerful working of the Holy Spirit of God, to shed abroad in hearts the Love that the Father has for them. Pray that perfect love from the Most High God will be discovered to come through knowledge of Jesus…and that that perfect Love will cast out fear.
Genesis 17:4-12. “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations…I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your seed after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God…This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations….”
It is significant that the first two locations where God promised to give “this land” to Abraham’s seed Shechem (modern day Nablus), Genesis 12:7; Bethel, Genesis 13:14-15 (and probably Hebron, Genesis 15:18, 17:1-14) are located in the area of the “Mountains of Israel”, currently known to much of the world as the “West Bank”. It is this same area which Israel is being constantly pressured to surrender for establishment of a permanent Muslim Palestinian state. We also find it significant that in recent years, circumcision has come under fire in a number of places in the west—including certain areas of the United States and Europe. It must be remembered that although these efforts to ban circumcision are being made under the guise of protecting the rights of children, the ritual was given by God to the Hebrews as sign of a covenant, eternally binding the physical seed of Abraham to the land once called “Canaan” (including, of course, the furiously contested modern-day areas of Judea, Samaria and all of Jerusalem).
Genesis 17:18-22. “And Abraham said to God, ‘Oh that Ishmael might live before You!’ Then God said, But Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.’ Then he finished talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.”
After Abraham asks God that Ishmael may “live before Him”, God does not answer “No” (as many English versions translate), nor “Yes” (as the NIV translates). The Hebrew simply says, “But, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son…” Ishmael will indeed live before Him, becoming a nation with “twelve princes” (a prophecy which is shown fulfilled in Genesis 25:16). But the important word here is “covenant” (vs. 19, 21). God’s covenants are covenants of life for all humankind—and this one must come through Isaac. Here we see a parting of ways between Judaism and Christianity and Islam. As mentioned above, Islam teaches that Ishmael was the chosen vessel, not Isaac—that it was he who yielded himself to sacrifice. Any covenant which is in opposition to God’s covenant cannot be a covenant of Life. Please Pray for revelation among Muslims, that God’s covenant through Isaac led to the birth of Yeshua (Arabic: Yasua) who is the Way, the Truth and the Life for all children of Adam!
*Isaiah 41:8-13. “But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, Descendant of Abraham My beloved…You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its remotest parts and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonoured; Those who contend with you will be as nothing and will perish. You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them, those who war with you will be as nothing and non-existent. For I am the YHVH your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’”
[The readings for next week (29 October—4 November 2017) are called VaYera—“And [The LORD] Appeared to Him”. TORAH: Genesis 18:1—22:24; HAFTARAH: II Kings 4:1-37.]
In A Nutshell
The portion, Go Forth, begins with Abraham being commanded to go to the land of Canaan. When Abraham reaches the land of Canaan, the hunger forces him to go down to Egypt, where Pharaoh’s servants take Sarai, his wife. In Pharaoh’s house, Abraham presents her as his sister, fearing for his life. The Creator punishes Pharaoh with infections and diseases, and he is forced to give Sarai back to Abraham.
When Abraham returns to the Canaan, a fight breaks out between the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle and the herdsmen of Abraham’s cattle, after which they part ways.
A war breaks out between four kings from among the rulers of Babylon, and five kings from the land of Canaan, Lot is taken captive, and Abraham sets out to save him.
The Creator makes a covenant with Abraham, “the covenant of the pieces” (or “covenant between the parts”), which is the promise of the continuation of his descendants and the promise of the land.
Sarai cannot have children, so she offers Abraham her maid, Hagar, and they have a child named Ishmael.
Abraham makes the covenant of the circumcision with the Creator and is commanded to circumcise himself and all the males in his household. His name changes from Abram to Abraham, and his wife’s name changes from Sarai to Sarah.
At the end of the portion, the Creator promises Sarah that she would have a son whose name will be Isaac.
All the stories of the portion before us happen within us. In the correct perception of reality, this world does not exist, and neither do history or geography, nor the story of the portion. All of them are occurrences that take place within us.
The wisdom of Kabbalah explains that perception of reality is a profound matter, relating to our innermost psychology, to our senses and to our physical structure.
The Torah speaks the truth about the way we developed, and all the people and events that it describes are our mental forces. Abraham, for instance, is the tendency to develop toward spirituality, the desire to approach and discover the Creator.
The story of Abraham in Babylon is really the revelation that only one force exists and manages the world, and the desire to discover that force. Anyone who feels the desire to discover who is managing one’s fate and why, or is asking, “What is the meaning of my life?” is at the same starting point of Abraham, and the force of Abraham is working within that person.
By thinking what he must do, Abraham felt that he had to advance to the next state. He actually felt Nature prodding him forward, telling him, “Go forth from your land and from your kindred, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.” Where? To where I will show you, where you will find the balance, where you can realize yourself.
Maimonides and other Kabbalists wrote that this is how Abraham moved to the land of Canaan with his entire household, and thousands of the people who left Babylon along with him, and which he established as the “house of Abraham.” When Abraham reached the land of Canaan, he reached a new desire, called “Canaan.”
The word Eretz (land) comes from the word Ratzon (desire). Abraham discovers that that desire does not sufficiently promote him; he felt hunger and did not know what would sustain him and keep him at this point of the land of Canaan. Because the land of Canaan is a land of bestowal, while he was still not in a state where he could achieve bestowal, a new situation formed, which compelled him to be attached to the will to receive. This is what made him go down to Egypt.
A big, new desire appeared here, where one feels that more steps with the intensifying ego are required because the ego is shifting from a state of “Babylon is not enough.” As the ego grows, it demands satisfaction. But this arouses fear that if one should work with the ego with the intentions to bestow called “Abraham,” it will not be enough to keep oneself and thus one might ruin the intention.
This is why a person is unwilling to work with the ego, the obstruction that is growing within. The little desire within tells that person, “This is my sister, not my wife.” A person becomes ready to completely abstain from the whole of the desire, called Sarah, and remain solely in the intention to bestow called Abraham.
Because of the growing ego within us, we lack the sensation of fulfillment. On the contrary, we feel increasingly deficient and empty. Pharaoh is the state imprinted within us that asks, “What do I get out of it?” It seems that the current state is worse than the one that I had before, which is why Pharaoh tells Abraham to take back the desire called Sarah because he could not handle it. Pharaoh wanted to remain in corporeality, as he was, while that desire, Sarah, extended from spirituality.
These two parts within us are in a constant struggle. They alternate—Abraham grows and falls, and then Pharaoh grows and falls. It resembles walking, stepping with the right foot, then the left foot, and it makes little difference what we call them because they acquire different names on different degrees.
When Abraham and his entourage return to the land of Canaan, a problem arises between the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle and the herdsmen of Abraham’s cattle. The word Lot means curse. A question arises—“Which way should one go, in the direction of the aim to receive, or in the direction of the aim to bestow?” Once again, one becomes perplexed and does not know what to do. This is the quarrel over the place and the wells. In spite of everything, one chooses to distinguish between the two forces—reception and bestowal.
This teaches us that during our development there are many events where we must look into our egos and see how it is cresting in us. And yet, we must disagree with the direction of the evil, but we must also refrain from ruining it. Rather, we should abstain from it, as Abraham abstained from Lot, who later saved him from Sodom.
These are the bilateral changes that happen within us. We use our bad Kelim (vessels), as well as our good ones, our good qualities and our bad qualities, and all the thoughts we need, because we learn from that.
When Abraham concludes the quarrel with the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle, he wages war on the four kings that live in the country. Once again we see that as one develops, one is in a constant struggle. Although the kings, the great forces, the persons’ big desires, do not allow one to enter the land of Canaan and encircle Canaan, a person wishes to achieve a certain spiritual degree in which one begins to feel the Creator, the common force of Nature, the eternity and perfection in Nature. However, it is impossible because those Malchuts, those kings, are standing in the way, blocking it.
Following this war the Creator appears to Abraham and says to him that he is making a covenant with him, and this land will truly belong to the quality of Abraham that is growing and developing atop the quality of Pharaoh, atop the wars and on top of Lot. Now that quality is big and strong enough; it is sufficiently established to enter with it into the land of Canaan. This is the quality that allows one to achieve the purpose of creation, the revelation of the Creator, and to achieve Dvekut (adhesion) with the Creator.
In order to actually attain the next degree, the contact with the Creator, we need a force that will “beget” the next degree. It is we who beget the new states, but the will to receive, which is Sarah, still cannot be the force that is giving birth under the quality of Abraham. The quality of Abraham is still weak in its intention to bestow, and cannot deliver from the will to receive called Sarah. However, it can do it with the right line, the force of the right, but only with that part of it called Hagar. The offshoot of that is Ishmael—a force that belongs to the right of Bina, which is called the Klipa (shell/peel) of the right.
In the end, following the covenant and the numerous corrections, Abraham comes to a state where he can also work with the general will to receive, called Sarah. This is when Sarah gives birth, hence the great joy in the portion.
Abraham is told to go from Babylon to Canaan. What does it mean to move from one desire to the next, and what does it feel like in the land of Canaan?
We are in a process of constant changes, except we are not aware of it. The Torah speaks of the changes we go through consciously, having decided that we really want to change our desires. The will to receive is our entire substance. We shift from one desire to the next, from land to land. There is a maxim that says, “change of place, change of luck.” A “place” is the desire from which we observe the world. The desire is everything; it is the foundation from which we embark on every action.
Each name or word that is mentioned actually denotes a desire. In the wisdom of Kabbalah we speak of Aviut (thickness), Masach (screen), and Reshimot (recollections) that determine the state of the Neshama (soul). Here, too, we are speaking of the same changes we go through, except the terminology is different.
“Go forth” means that a person should always feel that the beginning of the path is Yesod (foundation), and one advances precisely when shifting from state to state. One must carry out those instructions and move from state to state until one arrives at the end of one’s correction. Therefore, “go forth” is the act that the Creator expects us to perform.
This means that we can move only if we understand that change can happen only through unity. The whole difference between spiritual degrees is that one becomes increasingly connected, and connects all the elements within one to the attainment of the goal. Nothing is created without a reason. We need all of our mental powers: Pharaoh, Lot, the Abraham’s cattle, Lot’s cattle, the kings that are in the land, Balaam, Balak, Haman, the wicked, as well as the righteous. In the end, the Torah teaches us how to connect all our mental powers and become a complete individual.
What is the meaning of the land of Canaan with regard to the desires?
Canaan is a land that precedes the land of Israel. It is one of the degrees, the one before the land of Israel.
Is a person already on the way to spirituality if the point in his or her heart has awakened?
Yes. Once the point awakens in a person’s heart, he or she cannot stay in “Babylon.” Such a person must leave Babylon and ascend to the degree of the land of Canaan. One progresses along with those who join in—those desires that one can work with—and rises to another degree, where one thinks in the direction of bestowal and Hesed (mercy), in the direction that Abraham symbolizes.
Go Forth, to Correct Yourself
Since the Creator saw his awakening and his desire, He immediately revealed Himself to him and told him, “Go forth,” to know yourself and to correct yourself. Meaning, he should stop weighing the upper forces but raise MAN and extend a high Zivug on the Masach that appeared to him, by which he will be rewarded with extending Daat for himself and correct himself.
Zohar for All, Lech Lecha (Go Forth), item 28
Attaining a higher degree is done by the Aviut (thickness) of the new desire, and through the intention over that desire. If a person performs a Zivug de Hakaa (coupling of striking), he or she achieves the revelation of the upper light at the degree in which the Zivug was made.
What does it mean that the Creator saw his awakening?
A person receives the awakening from the overall plan of creation. Each of us has a time in which we begin to awaken. The general “engine” of all the souls turns like a counter and issues orders to each one. All of a sudden, you wake up, you want, you are being led. You are given an awakening to spirituality once, or twice, or thrice in life, and you must respond; you must take initiative and begin to advance on your own.
What happens when a person discovers that he or she cannot advance any longer?
When you suddenly begin to discover that you cannot advance in spirituality, it means you are once again falling into the egotistical desire, into Pharaoh. You are descending to Egypt once again.
It is fine, and it is what should happen. You need to intensify your ego in order to advance, as this is all your matter. It is all the substance of creation—the great will to receive. Without Pharaoh, you will not be able to reach Mount Sinai.
You have to have a “mountain” of evil, hatred, which you took from Pharaoh. The whole of the desire that appeared in you became a mountain, around which you feel your hatred of others. At that point you tell yourself, “I have to have the Torah; I have no choice; I have to have the force that will correct me, which is called ‘the light that reforms.’” The progress is always done from two directions: on one side is the growing egotistical desire; on the other side, one must see that one has the intention to bestow.
What is the Klipa of the right, and how come Abraham, the quality of Hesed, begot a Klipa?
The quality of Abraham is only just beginning; it is not entirely corrected. That is, it is the initial desire of a person, which is clear, lacking Aviut. When one connects to oneself Aviut, in order to advance, the right and left connect through the scrutinies of the desire. A person must cut and scrutinize with which desires one can work, and with which desires one still cannot, although later one will correct them in more advanced degrees.
Moreover, by begetting his son with his partial desire called Hagar, the conditions change. Sarai becomes Sarah, and Abram becomes Abraham. These are not just different names. Through these corrections we arrive at a state where we work with a new, different desire known as Sarah, and a new, different intention known as Abraham, who begets the beginning of the nation.
Is Isaac the beginning of the nation?
Not only Isaac. There are three lines altogether: the left, right, and middle line, which is Israel. Additionally, there are two Klipot (shells/peels): Ishmael on the right, and Esau on the left. It does not mean that they are completely flawed, but only that in time they, too, will be corrected.
The Klipa of the right, Ishmael, is still fighting against everyone, even today.
It will remain so until the end of correction, until we all mingle together and unite.
Does circumcision mean the “cutting” into the desire?
Yes, but the circumcision is more than just the cutting; it is also the Klipot, which are desires that you cannot work with. For now, they are Klipot, until they become Kedusha (holiness). The problem is in you; you cannot work with such intense desires with the aim to bestow, since if you receive pleasures you will take them to yourself instead of bestowing them to others.
What does it mean to make a covenant with the Creator?
Making a covenant with the Creator means that a person makes whatever pledge is required. The covenant is a special, inner reorganization that allows one—along with one’s forces—to position oneself in a situation where one will never make mistakes, through all the future degrees, provided one maintains a certain principle.
Is the Creator going to help me because of the covenant?
The covenant means that the Creator is helping you. It is Nature, the Creator = Nature. “I the Lord do not change” means that from now on you recognize a certain principle. If you stick to it, you are guaranteed to avoid any mistakes, any deviations, and any sins. The spiritual advancement is always toward a degree that you still do not know. Therefore, you must be certain that when you advance, you will not fail. The covenant is the force that takes you over safely from one degree to the next.
There are two covenants: the covenant of the pieces and the circumcision. The circumcision has become a Jewish conduct in the corporeal world, and it is a commandment to this day. Some even say it is a cruel tradition. What is the spiritual root of the circumcision?
The root lies in the need to be rid of the will to receive that one cannot correct. It is what we do all the time, including with Sarah, Hagar, and so forth. Each time, we scrutinize the will to receive, which, on the one hand, is growing, and on the other hand, we need to “cut out” some of it, similar to the end of the Partzuf (face). We need to decide, “I cannot deal with this part for the time being.” This is also what the positive and negative (“do” and “do not do”) Mitzvot (commandments) speak of. Why “do not do”? Because there is a will to receive that I cannot use.
Therefore, in every situation we must distinguish between the desire we use and the desire we do not use. The place of the scrutiny is called the “Rosh (head) of the Partzuf,” and this is the primary scrutiny that we must always make preceding every decision.
Is the foreskin the desire that we cannot use?
Yes, the foreskin, the exposing, and the drop of blood. These are all the corrections that engage in the intensity of the desire and its nature, with which we cannot currently work in favor of others, nor also in our own favor, since we are in spirituality and we do not use them. The decision to refrain from using them is called “circumcision.”
It is mentioned that Lot is taken captive. Who captured him and what is captivity?
He was taken captive by the egotistical desire of Sodom. Sodom, compared to the state we are in, is a state of great righteousness, and we even dare to say “Sodomite rule.”
Do you mean that we are worse than Sodomite rule?
Yes. Sodomite rule is “let mine be mine and let yours be yours,” I do not touch you, and you do not touch me. Even if I can steal something from you, I won’t. Or even if I can use you, I will avoid it. I do not sell you something bad or manipulate you through advertisement. In short, I do not exploit you.
Sodomite rule does not sound so bad then.
Of course. If we were in Sodomite rule today it would be a step forward for us. It is with good reason that Lot was included in it. After all he is close to Abraham; these qualities are not so far. Abraham came to save him because the quality of Sodom is required in order to elicit anything for correction. This is why when Abraham came to Sodom, he scrutinized the desires that could be salvaged out of them, while the rest, which could not be scrutinized, had to go through the upheaval of Sodom.
The Message of the Portion:
The key message of the portion is truly, “go forth.” We move from state to state only through the changes in our desires. Each moment we examine and scrutinize our desires in order to decide which desires we can use, and which ones we still cannot, which desires we should “kill,” and which ones we should “cut off” from ourselves.
I always scrutinize with what I can advance through love of others, and toward the love of the Creator. “Go forth” is the way that guides me, and it is the only one that I walk.