Friday, July 11, 2008

BALAK: ASCENDING THE SEVEN LEVELS

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman


Bilaam the Sorcerer, sent by the Moabite king Balak to curse Israel, ascends three hilltops in all, building seven altars on each, seven spiritual vantage points from which to better observe the Camp of Israel. After all, a curse must be attached to a kernel of reality so as to be effective, much as a lie always has an element of truth in it so as to be believable.

The seven altars by which Bilaam judged Israel as a nation represent the seven ascending heavens before which each of us as individuals must be judged before earning entrance. Each level of heaven corresponds to a color vibration band of the rainbow.

The three hilltops represent prophetically the three worlds which have permeated new world Jewish consciousness: Dis velt (this world), yenner velt (the other world) and Roose velt (the world of roses, the universal symbol of love and marriage).

Red, the symbolic color of sin, corresponds to the slowest vibration of the spectrum, while violet/purple, the color of the High Priest's garments, corresponds to the highest vibration of the color spectrum. (Roses are reddish, violets are blueish...)

This material world in which we live, in contrast to our destiny to inhabit the spiritual world, has the unique quality of allowing all people of whatever vibrational level to interact with one another. One can lower or raise one's level by raising or lowering one's thought patterns, which in turn determine one's behaviors and character.

People who live by love, faith, forgiveness and trust vibrate at a much higher frequency than those ruled by fear, hatred, grudges and distrust. Like at a cocktail party, in this world we have the ability to mix and mingle in the same room with others who inhabit a completely different vibrational level of the soul.

By contrast, in the other, spiritual world (yenner velt) one's assigned world is inhabited by those at one's own vibration level exclusively. To merit elevation to the higher ascendant realms, one requires the good deeds and meritorious intentions of those remaining behind in the material world over whom one had prior influence, such as children and/or students.

Failing that, reincarnation, scientifically referred to as metempsychosis, and kabbalistically known as gilgul neshamot, a reimmersion back to the materialistic (gashmiut) war zone, is required to have another opportunity to achieve a precious soul ascent. Good and evil fight over each and every soul, alluring it with endearing blandishments. One chooses each and every day whether to follow the Evil Inclination (yetzer hara) or the Good Inclination (yetzer hatov). Each day and within each day we are creating and recreating our vibration level.

Bilaam saw the holy purity and sanctity of the Camp of Israel. Indeed, guarding this purity was the key to Israel's holiness, sanctity and survival. The Midianite women seduced the princes of Israel with their sexually drenched pagan rituals. This was Israel's Achille's Heel, so to speak. It was to undermine Israel's sanctity and raison d'etre, which is to elevate the nations of the world to ever higher spiritual vibration levels.

Bilaam from on high witnesses the modesty and purity within the camp of Israel. The privacy of each tent was guarded carefully, as no entrances faced into the entrances of another.

Bilaam blesses Israel, "Ma tovu ohalecha yaakov, mishkenotecha yisrael,

How goodly are thy tents O Jacob, thy dwelling places O Israel."

Indeed, the roshei teyvot, the first letters of each word add up to 110, the years of Joseph's life. This is an allusion to the holiness and purity of Yosef HaTzaddik, who merited special appellation as the Righteous One by dint of his resistance to the salacious adulterous propositions of Zuleika, wife of Potiphera.

We begin each day of prayer with these famous words of Bilaam to remind ourselves that like Bilaam, Israel's first observer, we too must observe and judge ourselves. LeHitPalel, the word for prayer, literally means to judge oneself, hence assuming the hitpael grammatical form.

Bilaam was our first judge in the material realm. We ourselves, as members of the Jewish people who inhabit both the material and spiritual realms simultaneously by dint of our holy connection with the Sabbath Bride, must judge ourselves by both worldly standards as well as by heavenly standards, much as Israel among the unholy nations of the world finds herself unfairly judged by a perpetual seemingly unfair double standard. Finally we are all to be judged by the Supreme Judge of all the worlds.

Black is the color which absorbs all colors, all vibrations along the color spectrum. This world is the world which challenges us to rise above the blandishments of negative thinking, of selfish thinking, of ego driven thinking. When we project to the universe our ego driven thoughts we invite a world of ego and selfishness in return. It is a Black/Balak world indeed!

As we are self-centered we expect self-centeredness in others. We are wary of others at every turn. But when we project and affirm to the universe a devotion to G*d and a commitment to
helping others, we invite in return an ocean of love and a sea abundant in riches.

The rainbow in the sky is a reminder of the seven levels of heaven. The choices we make how we live here on earth determine which color we will inherit in the end. We may not have a choice in the color of our hair, skin, or eyes, but we indeed choose the color of our fate.

Shabbat Shalom!
Good Shabbos!

copyright 1999-2008 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin HaKohen Melman

These words of Torah are written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen ben Meir Yisrael Hakohen Melman, z"l

I was raised in the musar tradition of silence and meditative thoughtfulness, as were my father and grandfather before me.

http://seferchabibi.blogspot.com/2007/07/yahrzeit-of-my-father-27-tammuz.html
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9506EEDC1630F93BA35754C0A9649C8B63

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua

(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)
Dedications are available.

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About Me

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I played violin with Reb Shlomo and studied under him for over nine years at hundreds of concerts and learnings. Shlomo wanted to give me smicha before he passed. Deepest influences: My father,obm, who was a great scientist and human being, and my grandfather, obm, who was a great Torah scholar who was a musmach of the Mir Yeshiva and taught in Slobodka in Russia before WW1, and was also personal friends with the Chafetz Chaim and came to America in 1914. He knew the Talmud by heart! You could stick a pin in a word and he could tell you what word was on the other side! And my mother, Esther bat Baruch, z"l, who was a scholar of classical Hebrew and Tanach and who gave me a love for the language. And her mother, Anna (Sucher) Deutsch, who was born in Horodenka, spoke six languages, and shared her aged wisdom and eternal sweetness with me. I studied at Brandeis, Hebrew College, Pardes as well as seven years at The Metivta/ITJ earning my Advanced Semicha (yoreh yoreh)under Rav Halivni. What's truly amazing is that Shlomo and Rav Halivni each received semicha from Rav Hutner! But my deepest influences of them all are my sweetest sweetest girls who have taught me the most!