Naso 5760

Tora - Torah

Parshat Naso Sivan 14, 5760 June 17, 2000

Tora Dojo Teachers and Parents: If you share and discuss the Tora-Torah with younger students, tell it in your own words at their comprehension level rather than try to read it to them or have them read it.

In this week’s Parsha we read the priestly prayer that Kohanim make to bless the Jewish people. We also use this blessing to bless our children on Erev Shabbat and on the eve of holy days. The words themselves have great power

May Hashem bless you and keep you.

May Hashem bathe you in his divine light of his ‘face’ and in his grace.

May Hashem turn his face to you and grant you peace.

I’d like to focus not on what is said in that blessing, but rather what is done when the Kohanim give the blessing. The Kohen lifts his hands in the ‘Vulcan’ separation of fingers (you know, Spock’s live long and prosper) and imagines that hand position somehow more effectively channeling that blessing to the recipient. What does the position of the hands have to do with the directing of a blessing?

To understand it more deeply, we must remember back to the creation of the world. Hashem, known as Ain Sof (no end, infinite), was one and that’s all there was. That light of oneness was so bright that nothing else could exist. Anything other than Hashem (so to speak) would simply be absorbed into the light of the oneness.

Then Hashem created a “bubble” inside Himself and withdrew His full intense self from inside the bubble, leaving only a paler light there. It was still the Or Ain Sof (the Infinite One’s light) but was less “bright” in order to allow our universe and US to exist inside the bubble and not be re-absorbed into the one light. The bubble’s wall allows us to believe that we are separate from His light.

This Or Ain Sof that fills the bubble exists in ten dimensions called Sefirot. Each of those Sefirot functions as an intelligent energy building block to form our universe and us too.

Usually these Sefirot are depicted as the Etz Chaim in three columns: a center line of four Sefirot and two columns of three Sefirot, one to the right and one to the left. They are like the life source of a spiritual DNA helix, the fundamental array of lights that power the universe.

In Aryeh Kaplan’s commentary on the Sefer Yetzira he writes:

When the Sefirot are in their normal state, arrayed in three columns, they are in a state of equilibrium. But when the Sefirot of the center column are moved to the right and left, so as to divide the Sefirot into two arrays, a powerful tension is produced. When they are in such a mode, powerful spiritual forces can be directed and channeled. Therefore in many places where God interferes directly with the physical world, the scripture speaks of God’s fingers and hands….

Very closely related to this are the various actions that use the hands to channel spiritual forces. These include the laying on of hands, the lifting of the hands in the priestly blessing, and the spreading of the hands in prayer. In all these cases, the intent is to channel the power of the Ten Sefirot through the ten fingers. In making them correspond to the two hands, the Sefirot are polarized, creating spiritual tension. Once such tension exists, through meditation and concentration, the powers of the Sefirot can be focused and channeled.

Pretty powerful stuff. Can one learn to do this? We can and do in Tora Dojo. With the right Kavana, when we place our hands in a bow, we can focus on this equilibrium of the Sefirot forces. When we separate the hands to begin the form, we can polarize the energies into yin and yang and direct them as our Kavana intends.

In addition, the qi gong (energy practice) we do is an exercise to discipline our mind and our control of these energies, hopefully for healing purposes but for defense if necessary. Of course, our specific Kavana is critical to the success of this practice.

During Tikun Lail Shavuot, the all night study session on the first eve of Shavuot, I taught the following idea. When we bless lulav on Sukkot, we say al netilat lulav, on the raising of the lulav. When we wash our hands to make a motzi over bread we say al netilat yadai’im, on the raising of hands. Why don’t we say al rechitzat yadai’im, on the washing of hands? Because this is not a simple washing! The fact is that our hands must be cleaned before we even do that special ritual washing. The purpose of the washing is for us to raise our physical, material hands to a higher level, to prepare our consciousness to bless the bread and elevate our meals to a holier place: to make our table a mikdash me’at, a mini-alter for Hashem.

The purpose of the special washing is not physical hygiene but spiritual elevation of consciousness!

If there were a Bracha before doing qi gong or healing work, surely it would be al netilat yadai’im, to elevate the hands (by elevating the consciousness) so that our Kavana would polarize Hashem’s divine forces and prepare us to channel blessing and sweetness into the world.

Remember this when you prepare your next meal with bread. Remember this when you join your hands in a bow and then separate them in a Kata, and make it into a dance of light! Al netilat yadai’im. Thank Hashem for granting you the power to elevate your hands to a higher spiritual place where you can help to repair and sweeten the world.

And if you are a Kohen… keep up the good work!

"Tora-Torah" is a weekly column on Parshat Hashavua with insights into the inner aspects of the Jewish martial arts as founded and taught by Grand Master H. I. Sober in the International Tora Dojo Martial Arts Association. The copyrighted 'Tora tiger' logo is used with permission of Prof. H. I. Sober.

"Tora-Torah" is written or edited by Michael Andron, PhD. Lao Shih, a Seventh Degree Black Belt in the Tora Dojo Association. He has been teaching Grand Master Sober's system for over 30 years.

Note that the Tora Dojo comments are highlighted in a different color. This should help teachers in their sharing Tora-Torah with younger students at their level of comprehension. If any of you would like to contribute some "Torah" from time to time, send your suggestions (keep 'em short and ... in by Sunday, please) to I'll try to keep it simple and with a good Tora Dojo lesson as well.

"Tora-Torah" is published by Kodesh, Inc. Kodesh is a non-profit organization devoted to personal growth, mind-body effectiveness training, spiritual awareness. It offers programs to help the student "alter the state of his/her consciousness" through education, experience and joyful celebration.

© 2000 Michael Andron - All rights reserved.