Shavuot: Our Personal “Giving of the Torah”
May09

Shavuot: Our Personal “Giving of the Torah”

After many years of bitter bondage in Egypt, the poor Hebrew slaves emerge victorious and triumphant over their Egyptian slave masters. As they make their way through the desert, they approach Mount Sinai and the purpose of Creation, where the lowest of the low rise to become God’s chosen people. Moses delivers God’s question to the Hebrews: “Will you accept the Torah and thereby become a treasure among the nations?” They answer, “All...

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Chaim Kramer Video: Likutey Moharan on Shavuot Advanced
May07

Chaim Kramer Video: Likutey Moharan on Shavuot Advanced

Advanced Likutey Moharan Shiur given in Lakewood, NJ about Shavuot. Date: 5/5/2013...

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It’s All Good
May24

It’s All Good

“I am the Eternal-Lord, your God, Who took you out of Egypt, from the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:2). A non-Jew came to Hillel to convert, but wanted to do it in a curious way. “Teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot.” Hillel replied, “What you find disagreeable, don’t do to a friend. The rest explains [what is disagreeable]. Go study [and know]” (Shabbat 31a). Rebbe Nachman teaches that if you know that everything you...

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Dvar Torah for Shavuot
Jun01

Dvar Torah for Shavuot

Dvar Torah for Shavuot Based on Sichot HaRan (Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom) #51 On a Shavuot night over 200 years ago, Rebbe Nachman shared with his chassidim some thoughts about the purpose of life, how to not be distracted from that purpose and how to achieve it, or at least try to achieve it. He started out by saying: “This world has no purpose but to draw [oneself] towards the eternal goal.” That’s pretty straightforward. In fact, it...

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Dvar Torah for Parshat Behar/Shavuot
May12

Dvar Torah for Parshat Behar/Shavuot

Dvar Torah for Parshat Behar Based on Likutey Halakhot, Areiv 3:30 “God spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai, saying” (Leviticus 25:1). This week’s Torah-reading starts with a mention of Mount Sinai, and because we are preparing ourselves to receive anew the holy Torah given at Sinai, let’s talk about how we can get ready. Fill in the blank: The most necessary “thing” I need to be a better Jew is ____. If you said ratzon—interest, desire,...

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Dvar Torah for Parshat Emor
May05

Dvar Torah for Parshat Emor

Dvar Torah for Parshat Emor Based on Likutey Halakhot, Shavuot 1:1–3 “…you will bring an omer of the first of your harvest…and he will wave [it]…and you will count…from the day you bring the omer…” (Leviticus 23:10–11,15). The festival of Shavuot is also called Atzeret, which means assembly or gathering. An obvious meaning of the gathering referred to is the assembly of the Children of Israel at Mount...

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Dvar Torah for Shavuot

Based on Likutey Moharan I, Lesson #123 “A foolish people, unwise…” (Deuteronomy 32: 6). Onkelos translates: A nation that accepted the Torah, without exercising wisdom. A word of caution: What follows may sound extreme, especially to Judaism or Breslov newcomers. I’ve written some notes to myself, basically an entry into my spiritual diary, if I had one. I think they are instructive and hope they are like all of Rebbe Nachman’s...

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41st Day of the Omer (Monday, 10 May)

Week of Yesod, Sixth Day Major sefirah: Yesod/Foundation; minor sefirah: Yesod/Foundation What’s the foundation of the Foundation, eh? Good question. I’ve discovered that quiet itself is foundational (Zohar 3:115b). When I reach that inner-stillness I feel the strength to carry out my resolutions because that inner-quietness can overpower all the outer-noise. And that strength of my convictions gets carried by my words. I’m able to...

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38th Day of the Omer (Friday, 7 May)

Week of Yesod, Third Day Major sefirah: Yesod/Foundation; minor sefirah: Tiferet/Splendor You know what the most beautiful thing about Judaism is? Its people. First of all the tzaddikim. They are so refined and kind. They speak gently, never using an untoward word, even when they have to put us in our place. Their every move can teach us something. Even the ordinary folk, like me, are wonderful, despite our mistakes. We’re always...

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35th Day of the Omer (Tuesday, 4 May)

Major sefirah: Hod/Thanks-givng; minor sefirah: Malkhut/Royalty-Kingship Part of what tortured me when I was a slave to Pharaoh in Egypt was that I knew that there was something, some slavery, going on inside me as well. I don’t think my Egyptian taskmasters—former taskmasters, that is—had any such struggle. But I knew that a part of me, a part I couldn’t see, but that felt more real than my body, was being forced to do unsatisfying,...

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post-Shavuot thought

Shavuos night our “Rabbi Nachman’s Thursday Night Chaburah” met, but instead of continuing in Sichos HaRan (aka “Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom”), we talked about the Luchot, the two tablets on which were engraved the Ten Commandments. We compared the opinions of the Midrash (Shir HaShirim Rabah 5:14:1) and the holy Zohar (2:84a) concerning: the material from the Luchot were made (sanpironin/saphire,...

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Counting the Omer and Shavuot:

Through the joy we have on Purim, clapping our hands and dancing, we are able to fulfill the mitzvah of counting the Omer properly. Then we are ready to receive the Torah on Shavuot, both the revealed and the hidden Torah (10:8). Each day of the Omer period is associated with a different aspect of the Sefirot. And on that day everything which everyone in the whole world is talking about is purely an expression of the particular aspect...

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Dvar Torah for Shavuot

Dvar Torah for Shavuot Based on Likutey Halakhot, Kibud Av v’Eim 3:1 The One-Eyed Bride “You have won my heart, my sister, my bride; you have won my heart with one of your eyes.” (Song of Songs 4:9) Oola said, “How brazen is the bride that cuckolds her husband right after the ceremony.” (Shabbat 88b) Rashi comments that Oola is referring to the making of the Golden Calf, which the Jews did while still encamped at Sinai. The Maharsha...

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Two “Fitting” Parables

Two Parables on Receiving the Torah This is from the Ben Ish Chai of Baghdad (d. 5669/1909). Even though he lived after the Magid of Dubno, this is a more “general” parable so I am presenting it first. A rich man had two sons. One was handsome, strong and wise. The other was homely, weak and—let’s be generous—not as intelligent. Before he passed away, the rich man sold his properties and furnishings. With the money, he bought precious...

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Dvar Torah for Shavuot

Based on Likutey Moharan I, Lesson #13:2 “Receiving the Torah depends essentially on seikhel (mind), Moshe-Mashiach, as is written (Proverbs 21:22), ‘The sage scaled the city of warriors.’ One who manifests Moshe-Mashiach-ness is capable of receiving the Torah and of drawing her light to teach it to others.” What is this seikhel that Rebbe Nachman wants us to cultivate? Seikhel is that part of us which is higher, greater, than the...

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Heavenly Awakening VS. Earthly Awakening

On Passover the redemption was only through an upper awakening (meaning that G-d had to wake us up) for we hadn’t yet received the Torah. Even though we are taught that on Passover we receive tremendous new insight, nevertheless we still do not merit to receive the light of keter* which arranges and straightens out our intellect. The main way to effect and draw down the light of keter, is by doing many mitzvoth and good deeds with...

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