The Soul of Shabbat Parsha Tazria and Metzora (Iyar)
A few brief words from Melinda Ribner about the month of Iyar.
The Hebrew letters for the name of the month Iyar spell out the initials of the verse, "Ani Yud Yud Rofecha" - "I am God your healer." What a powerful mantra to meditate upon. Try it. Take a moment, even right now, be with your breath as you take a few slow and deep breaths. Repeat this mantra to yourself with each breath. Know this as the truth. God is your healer. God is healing you right now! All healing comes from the experience of our connection to God, the Creator of all life, the Source of all blessing and love.
In order to heal, to become more whole, we must go beyond our habitual ways of thinking, feeling, and living. We must change our thinking and create new and wonderful habits for ourselves. How can we expect to facilitate healing and growth in our lives if we keep doing the same things we always do over and over? Being sheltered in place has given us opportunities to nurture ourselves in new ways.
Healing begins with a careful discernment between ego states masquerading as the self and the soul, our true essence and identity. To the extent we are identified with the ego, we will lack objectivity and not see the spiritual opportunity present in the life challenge. Know that if and when you are in a blaming mode or victim mode, you are not in touch with the truth of who you are.
Healing requires a deep listening to oneself in the most honoring respectful way. Ask yourself, Can I open and listen to the deep knowing inside myself that is coming from inner stillness, the voice of the soul or do I listen to the chatter and hysteria of the ego mind, which is loud and clamoring for my attention? Be with your feelings without blaming anyone. The common tendency to judge and be overly critical of oneself or others weakens self-esteem and limits the flow of healing energy.
Blaming keeps you stuck as a victim. Let go of blame, breathe it out with the breath and take responsibility for your own healing. Be compassionate with yourself. Cultivate and heighten your appreciation and gratitude for all that you do have right now.
Reb Shlomo on Parshas Tazria and Metzora
Parshas Tazria - The Holiness of Our Mothers
When a woman gives birth to a child, in the craziest most unbelievable way, she's considered un-pure. She cannot enter the Holy Temple.
So, everyone says, when a woman gives birth to a baby it's the highest experience in the world. The most G-d like thing in the world is to bring a baby into the world. You come out from this, and you are impure? You have to wait to go to the Holy Temple? What's going on here?
Everybody knows, especially according to the Kabbalistic tradition, when you are with your wife, the next morning, you have to go to the mikveh. And also, you cannot enter into the Holy Temple until you purify yourself. So, everybody says it's a high thing to be with your wife. It's the highest thing in the world, the highest oneness in the world. So, let me share this with you: Obviously we are fixing everything going back to the fixing of the Tree of Knowledge. You know what needs fixing most? The fixing of the world is not that side where I am becoming holy because of you. You know what needs fixing? - the part where I am ready to become unholy because of you. That needs fixing. How did the downfall of the world begin? Adam said to Eve "I'm ready to die because of you." Obviously, he didn't know how to do it. That needs a lot of fixing.
You know what it means to be a good mother? Every mother is ready to say to a child 'because of you I'll be holy.' The question is, how much are you ready to become unholy for your baby? How much are you ready to go to the lowest depths for your baby? Every mother and father is ready to be called by the principle of the school to be told, "Listen, your son or your daughter is the greatest pupil we've ever had in our school." But imagine if everything goes wrong. How ready are they to go and help their child? On a simple level, I have seen children calling up their parents, telling them "I just got my PhD at Berkley and I was awarded the highest honours at Berkley. Would you please be my guests tomorrow?" Wow, Mr. Moishele Cohen comes all the way from Brooklyn. But you know, imagine his son calls him up and says, "You know dad, I blew my mind on drugs yesterday. I'm just dead. Can you please come and help me?" He has a business meeting. "Not right now. I'll come in a few weeks. Just tell me how much money you need - I'll send it to you." That's very beautiful and sweet, but ...it isn't. It isn't.
If you want to know how much you love each other, you won't know when you love each other. Two people can only know how much they love each other, when they hate each other. How close are you when you're far? How much are you praying when you can't even open your mouth!
Here I want to talk to you about something very deep, and I want you to open your hearts in the deepest way: According to the Torah, when a woman gives birth to a baby, she is not permitted to go to the Holy Temple for a certain amount of time. And everybody is asking, after a woman gives birth to a baby, isn't that the best time to go to the Holy Temple? I mean, can you imagine anybody being more purified and more holy and more ready to go to the Holy Temple?
Ok, now listen to this. This is the deepest depths. The truth is, in the creation of the baby there are three partners. In the birth itself, there are only two partners - the mother and G-d. Gevalt is that awesome!
Everybody is asking why is it that Yiddishkeit depends on the mother? Because as much as the father is a partner in creating the baby, in giving birth, it is only the mother and G-d. So, this is why the Jewishness of the baby depends on the mother.
Is there anything more close between two souls than a mother and her baby for nine months? You can be very close to a human being, but you can never be that close. You see what it is? You and I can be very close, but I am doing my breathing and you are doing your own breathing. I eat my food, you eat your food. Can you imagine for nine months this mother is so close to a little soul? They are mamesh the same breath, the same food, the same everything.
After nine months when the baby is born, if I can be so bold and say so, the mother is like, a little bit sinking ship after her baby. Suddenly this closeness has stopped. It's like mourning over the closeness, the deepest closeness in the world. What's the whole thing about sitting shiva? I am mourning the physical closeness which doesn't exist anymore. But here, gratefully , the person is still alive, so it's a different closeness.
Here I want to say a gevalt Torah, and again this is way out. This might be a too way out thing to say. Remember when Yitzchak was lying on the altar? At that moment, our mother Sarah was mamesh ready to die.
That means basically a Jewish mother means two things. She mamesh gives life to the baby, and everybody knows why did Sara die at that moment? Because she said, "if someone has to die, let it be me." Mamesh she had such mesirus nefesh (self-sacrifice) for Yitzchak.
So, you know, at that very instant when the baby is born the mother says to G-d, "listen, if someone, chas v'shalom..., let it be me." So, it's a little bit tasting of death. Everybody knows the whole thing of Yiddishkeit is to be ready to die for G-d 1000 times. What's the holiness of the first Jewish baby Yitzchak? He was ready to die.
So, in the craziest deepest way, whenever a Jewish baby is born, at that very instant, since the mother is ready to die for the baby, the baby is learning from the mother to have mesirus nefesh for G-d. It's unbelievable, the deepest depths of the Torah of Mashiach.
And you know friends, it's crazy. A father can give over to a baby what to do, what to eat - it's all cute and sweet. It doesn't compare to the teaching the mother gives over to the baby at the moment when the baby is born.
And also, I want you to know something very deep. The downfall of the world was when Chava said to Adam "I'm dying, I want you to die with me." Remember the Medrash? - she was afraid to die alone. That means chas v'shalom, Chava was dying and she dragged Adam down with her. The fixing of Chava is that a mother says "I will die for you. Not only I won't drag you down with me when I'm dying - I'm ready to die for you." So, the deepest fixing of the Cheit Eitz Hada'as is at that moment of birth.
Parshas Metzora - Lashon Hara (Evil Speech) - Can You Keep a Secret?
What are you supposed to do if, G-d forbid, you already spoke Lashon Harah?
The first thing is, you have to cleanse your tongue, have a little deodorizing of the tongue. The best cleansing is to use it for good things, so you should study Torah day and night, uttering holy words. You have to learn to control your tongue, and another way to do it is to refrain from saying something you want to say, even if it is not evil. The Vorker Chassidim would often decide that for half an hour a day, or even five minutes, they wouldn't speak. Keep your tongue quiet, but don't start with a whole day, because we are not on that level. Get to know where you are. For ten minutes, twenty minutes, half an hour, really say only the most important things. Become the master of your tongue.
Why does a person talk evil about somebody else? What is his sickness? In what part of his kishkes is he sick? According to the Maharal, what is sick is that he can't keep a secret. He sees someone do something wrong, and he can't keep it to himself. A person who has no vessels to keep a secret is not a whole human being. What is the holiness of a human being? The holiness is that a human has a body which shows and a soul which is secret. Life depends on the secret of the soul being in the body. That is the essence of human life. What is the essence of the world? G-d, who is not showing. Someone who can't keep a secret cuts himself off from his soul, cuts himself off from G-d.
The more real something is, the less you can prove it and the less you can see it. The more real something is, the more important it is to you. The most important things in your life are things you cannot put your finger on, things which are completely secret. If you talk evil, that means you are not from that secret world. You are an outsider to life, a complete outsider to the world, and a complete outsider to your own soul. You and your soul don't even live in the same neighborhood. I'm permitted to live in the same neighborhood with a murderer. Even if I know, G-d forbid, that someone is a murderer, I'm still permitted to live near him. Killing is not completely anti-G-d. G-d gives life, you destroy it. Okay, you are a little bit anti-G-d. The most anti-G-d is the person who cannot keep secrets. What is the holiness of G-d? Why do you feel close to G-d? G-d keeps secrets. Everybody loves G-d because He really keeps secrets. G-d has a million ways of telling everybody what I do and what I don't do, but He keeps it all secret.