YESOD IN NETZAH, INTIMACY IN PERSISTANCE
adapted from Meta Parshiyot by R David Wolfe-Blanke z”l, Sefer Bnai Yiasakhar, & The Living Torah by R Aryeh Kaplan z”l
Aharai Mot deals with two issues: the Yom Kippur ritual in the sanctuary and Laws related to sex.
This Torah portion begins with the ritual surrounding the once-a-year entry into the Holy of Holies. This event is associated with the tragically fatal deaths of two of Aharon’s sons on the occasion of their uninvited entry into the Holy of Holies. This is the principal reason why the name of this chapter is Aharai Mot, After the Deaths.
Name of the Torah Portion
Another association with Aharai Mot, “After the Deaths“ and Yom Kippur is the attention-time given to the dead in the Yom Kippur service and the commemoration of the slain in the Avodah service. These rituals helps healing come forward after experiencing death.
It can be said that Yom Kippur is a rehearsal for conscious dying. The practices and traditions of the day – people fast (the dead do not eat), confessions are repeated (confessions are done prior to death), and many dress in all white mirroring tahrihim, Jewish traditional burial clothing made of white natural fabric. On that day, Jews plead to The Holy One for their lives.
Time becoming God
Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi zt”l used to say, “on Yom Kippur, time becomes God,” quoting the mystical master Shnei Luhot haBreet. Yom Kippur can be a very high and spiritual time. It can be pleasant. When I try to imagine what it feels like to be dead, a sense that comes up repeatedly is the way I feel at the end of an excellent Yom Kippur experience. I can feel spaciousness in my flesh, in my tissue. What do you imagine?
Love, Sex, and Death
Disrespecting love commitments that others and we have made could conceivably result in jealousy and unnecessary deaths. Over generations, our people learned to avoid such unnecessary deaths by placing appropriate boundaries on sexual intercourse. These laws were established “After the Deaths “ occurred and carry the weight of experience.
On the lighter side, the sequence of the subsequent three Torah portions; Aharai Mot, Kedoshim, Emor, when read sequentially as a sentence, translates as, “After death, say holy” – suggesting that we tend to exaggerate a person’s good side when reminiscing about them after they are dead and gone. If only we could think of them this way when they are still with us.
COUNTING THE OMER
This time of year, we are invited to Count the Omer. It is an opportunity to cultivate internal space in which holiness can dwell. This can happen using the step-by-step process of Counting the Omer. The impetus for this practice is to become better containers of holiness and earn the privilege of holding onto the revelation at Sinai, Seven weeks of seven days. Each week has a specific intention, and each of the seven days cycles through the sequence of seven with the weekly attribute holding space as the dominant perspective. Seven weeks, each with seven days, offers a unique for contemplation. Forty-nine days and forty-nine unique lenses for inner work leads to revelation at the 50th level, with God’s help.
Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech Spira of Dinov composed his masterpiece, “B’nai Yissakhar” between 1820 – 1840. He is one of the most insightful and holistic Rebbes of the Hasidic world. His expertise includes extensive work in astrology and practical kabbalah. His work has had a major impact on modern re-considerations of Hasidism and neo-Hasidic spirituality and most of it remains untranslated.
The Torah says counting the Omer begins the day following The Shabbat in the section considered. Why does the count start the day following (the first) seder?
Sefer Bnay Yiasakhar Nissan 12:2 Comments on this Torah verse explaining the spiritual practice of Counting the Omer in the original Hebrew and English translation:
וּסְפַרְתֶּם לָכֶם מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת מִיוֹם הֲבִיאֲכֶם אֶת עוֹמֶר הַתְּנוּפָה. שֶׁבַע שַׁבָּתוֹת תְּמִימוֹת תִּהְיֶינָה. עַד מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת הַשְּׁבִיעִית תִּסְפְּרוּ חֲמִשִּׁים יוֹם. וְהִקְרַבְתֶּם מִנְחָה חֲדָשָׁה להויה
And you shall count for yourselves from the day following the Shabbat, the day after you bring the waved omer, seven complete weeks they shall be. Until the day following the seven weeks, you will count 50 days and invoke a closer new resting place for Havayah:”Leviticus 23:15
Bnay Yisaskhar’s Torah
You shall count from yourselves from the day after The Shabbat etc.
This awareness came in through the oral tradition that’s in (Targum) that says (counting of the omer begins) the day after the Festival Day as our sages proved in Talmud Masekhet Menuhot.
In the Torah of the priests, (EMOR chapter 12), and in their midrash, check out what they said. We know that the Sadducees gave up on this point after (initially) saying that the day referenced was the day after Shabbat. And so, it is appropriate for all with consciousness to contemplate what the Holy one of Blessing was doing for us by writing “The Shabbat” specifically in Torah. This (phrasing) necessitates a variety of teachings and oral Torah to really know that the day following the Yom Tov, festival day, is what is meant. Why was ‘the day following the first day’ not written.
Potential for Error
As a result, mistakes are made by the minim who do not believe in the Oral Torah. (Be clear) It is proper as written in the explanation – the day after the first day of Pesah, and no more need be said.
The discrepancy between Shabbat and Yom Tov is explained in the writing of our teacher, The Ariz”l (Pre Etz Haiim 320:1)
HOLIDAYS and SHABBAT – WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
Shabbat lights arrive on their own (it was implanted upon creation). (It is different) on a holy day (Haag), the illumination comes by means of our actions.
They say of her,
כִּ֛י קֹ֥דֶשׁ הִ֖וא לָכֶ֑ם
Because she is holy for youEx 31:14
On Shabbat, the higher awareness of Hokhmah (Wisdom) arrives on its own and not due to our actions. (It is a weekly gift from The Holy One of Blessing.)
What is omitted is “Yom Tov Mikreh Kodesh,” a festival day, a holy happening.
מִקְרָא־קֹ֖דֶשׁ יִהְיֶ֣ה לָכֶ֑ם
Holy happening it will be for youLev 23:4
This is the language of a holy invitation.
SANCTITY OF THE FIRST NIGHT OF PESAH (EVERY YEAR)
Rather understand this matter using what I have written for you in several places – that all the lights came into being during the first night and the highest heights of heavens were opened. It is an (an annual) miracle. And has nothing to do with our activity.
Because it happens and is NOT a result of our action, these lights and heightened consciousness do not sustain. For that reason, Hashem of Blessing offers the mitzvah (a portal) of Counting the Omer. To re-count anew day after day. And (then) consciousness enters bit by bit due to our actions.
Since (The first day of Pesah) is not the result of anything we did, it is on the same level as Shabbat.
It is understood that we complete building our consciousness by our actions, day after day. Then comes the (gift and) receiving of Torah on Shavuot.
This is what is meant by, “And you will count….” for your goodness and pleasure – to be ready to receive the Consciousness of Torah. It is “and you will count for yourselves” for your enjoyment and benefit.
FESTIVALS ARE CULTIVATED BY TRIBAL MEMORY
Torah’s “Yom Tov Mikreh Kodesh” is translated as “Festival Day, a Holy Happening.” This offers an invitation of sorts to (recall and) bring holiness to a point in time (in the tribal collective memory).
כְּבֹאֲכֶם הָעִיר כֵּן תִּמְצְאוּן אֹתוֹ בְּטֶרֶם יַעֲלֶה הַבָּמָתָה לֶאֱכֹל, כִּי לֹא-יֹאכַל הָעָם עַד-בֹּאוֹ–כִּי-הוּא יְבָרֵךְ הַזֶּבַח, אַחֲרֵי-כֵן יֹאכְלוּ הַקְּרֻאִים; וְעַתָּה עֲלוּ, כִּי-אֹתוֹ כְהַיּוֹם תִּמְצְאוּן אֹתוֹ.
As soon as you come into the city, you shall immediately find him, before he goes up to the high place to eat; for the people will not eat until he comes, because he does bless the sacrifice; and afterward they eat that are bidden. Now, get you up; for today you shall find him.’,Samuel 1 9:13
The holy is invited (cultivated) by our actions.
Now understand according to all this that the first day of Pesah is not a result of our actions. This being true, it holds aspects of The Shabbat day.
And so, Torah wants to hint to us the reason the mitzvah is given over in Lashon Hakodesh (Torah Hebrew), “and you will count for yourselves” (meaning) for your pleasure and benefit.
The day following The Shabbat. This means to say the first day (of Pesah) is like Shabbat, as heavenly lights flood in and not by our actions. They do not last until (the spiritual work) of counting (the Omer) day after day.
We (can) make this matter happen (increasing capacity for The Holy Blessed One) using our actions. Now it can sustain. This is why it is called Shabbat in Torah, for us to learn the reason for this Mitzvah. Understand, contemplate this, and I will explain further.
AHARAI MOT – YESOD IN NETZAH
The Yesod part of the body is associated with the pelvis and genital region and calls for appropriate intimacy, a requirement of healthy sexuality. This is a more protected part of the body, guarded more carefully than other parts.
Netzah is the beginning of the action realm; Yesod is concerned with procedures, actions, and regulations that guarantee safety and dignity to the regions of Yesod. When appropriate boundaries are kept around Yesod of Netzah, visions and dreams can come through, directing our actions and guiding our efforts.
May it be so.