Monday, March 7, 2011


The Sefirot:
Tomer Devorah is teaching us the way HaShem conducts His world. It allows us to see how HaKadosh Baruch Hu pours forth abundant goodness to benefit all His creatures. He desires to reveal His exaltedness to lowly creatures. But since they cannot grasp it, He has emanated this through the ten sefirot (the levels that are brought forth in a counting system to explain the blueprint of Creation. It is an inventory of the deeds of HaShem that are revealed to illuminate the divisions and limitations of the story of G-d's acts of Creation, man's deeds and the unfolding of past, present and future. Each sefirah (level) performs a specific function and is often symbolized in Kabbalah to a corresponding human limb. (based on the introduction of Tomer Devorah).

Rabbi Moshe Cordevero has handed us a special gift in the teachings of Tomer Devorah. It is revealing the previously hidden and unknown attributes of Hashem's compassion. This text is unique as it also reveals what was previously hidden and unknown about ourselves...we too, can act towards others with the same compassion that HaShem bestows upon us. Not only does it say we can, but is says specifically that we should and how to do so.

Through Rabbi Miller's exquisite and crystal clear interpretation of the text it becomes obvious to us, this is truly a magnificent revelation and emulating this behavior is actually possible.

So much becomes known through the language of the body. Our moods, attitude, emotions and deepest feelings of self-worth are all obvious in our physical form. The face is the source of expressing emotion. The face contains powerful clues to others; what we feel and allows us to express without a spoken word. Messages are encoded in our facial expressions. We are unaware of what our face is saying but others are not. The face is the most powerful channel for non-verbal communication.

Flight attendants are trained to smile when delivering a message with negative verbal content. Even though the content may be unpleasant, the passenger is more apt to accept the information, as long as the flight attendant smiles. Dancers express emotions through their movements. You can feel the emotions of the story unfold as you watch a ballet. Words are not necessary to relate the messages of the heart.

Clowns and Mime performers use facial expressions and their entire body to convey emotions, attitudes and reactions. A mime practices for hours in front of a mirror to perfect his movements to convey his message without words. However, we do not. Usually we just react; without even thinking for a brief moment about the message we want to convey or how it will be received. Maybe we should learn something from the mime and look in the mirror before we speak.

The body is the source of physical functioning. Unless you are a physician or have been (G-d forbid) deprived of any of it's incredible functions, you probably go through the day unaware of the masterful workings of your physical form. Even if you say a blessing related to a physical act, much attention is not paid to the meaning of the words being said. The blessing gives you opportunity to see the spiritual gift through the physical deed.

Our physical form allows us to perform mitzvot. Through this, we can give back to HaShem, become close to Him and live a life filled with the richness and joy of Yiddishkeit (living Jewish). Yet how often do we realize that our physical form is not only the vessel to receive the gifts from HaShem, but also for the purpose of sharing these gifts with others? Now, through learning the body language of the soul, we can realize it and experience it throughout the day.

Tomer Devorah is the how-to manual to recognize HaShem; His kindness, compassion and love for us. It teaches how to emulate His ways; our kindness, compassion and love for others and the spiritual cycle continues. From this, we reawaken the rachamim in Shemayim. Most of all, it tells us that we are: 1) privileged to have the opportunity to behave this way; 2) we should act this way; and 3) we have the potential to continuously live with this spiritual flow. It's our job to bring HaShem into our lives, through our good middos (character traits).

How is this possible? Through learning the aspects of rachamim associated with Keter. We already knew that our body is for the performance of mitzvot; now we are learning how to use our body to express the spiritual use for which it was also created; elevating our selves in our interpersonal relationships.

The Eight Aspects: Keter/Crown/Use Your Head
"For a person to emulate his Creator, he must possess several qualities, which characterize the way G-d conducts the world:" (Tomer Devorah ch.2) The secrets are revealed in the attributes of keter (the crown). These are the attributes of the head. Through using our "spiritual body language", literally "using our head" to improve our behavior so that we are able to emulate our Creator. Take a moment to think about it. Each one of us has this ability and also the opportunity. It's incredible to realize that we even have the potential to behave on such a high level. It takes work and training to improve your old ways, but it is possible!

If you contemplate on this daily- realize you can emulate the holy behavior of HaShem- it will definitely provide the boost when you feel the goal is out of reach. This is mussar-character trait improvement at it's finest.

How to use your head to emulate HaShem:

1) Practice humility, keep your head down- in order to move away from arrogance (nose in the air), conceit and ego-driven behavior we must practice looking downward. To experience rachamim and Awe of HaShem, we must practice and live with humility. To bestow rachamim and kindness upon others, we must also be humble. This is not to be confused with self-confidence. One can be confident and still be humble. However, one cannot remain arrogant and also be merciful.

2) Thoughts/Chochmah (wisdom)- Keep good thoughts flowing continuously and ban all negative thoughts from entering your mind.
Use this 3-step formula to keep your thoughts on a good path: 1) keep your mind focused on Torah thoughts- learning, prayer and behavior; 2) contemplate on HaShem's great mercy, kindness and presence in your life; 3) reflect on how you can help others and then take action to do so. This is guaranteed to keep your thoughts on the path of kindness, humility and rachamim. This is the prescription and the medicine that cures the disease of the yetzer hara.

3) Forehead/Metzach- the forehead should display no harshness. The forehead shows expression. Usually, our expression is obvious to others and not to us. Release the tense muscles of your forehead. Practice acceptance, appeasement and peace. Even though, someone might cause you to feel anger, practice moving in the direction of peace which will bring healing into your relationships. Move away from resistance.

4) Ears/Ozen- Filter out all accusations, criticism and negative words. Do not let them enter your ears. Use your filter against slander, negative words and harsh comments. Use your "antennae" to pick up good words. Use words of prayer. Practice holy behavior. If negative words enter, they get stuck in your mind and they grow. The result is harm to you, your relationships, and your relationship with HaShem.

5) Eyes/Ayin- Spiritual Vision- simply look for the good but do not close your eyes to the suffering of the unfortunate ones. Let your eyes be the connecting link to your heart, to awaken compassion for those in need. Practice "always" looking for the good.

6) Nostril/Chotem- HaShem is constantly breathing into us a living soul. Practice inhaling the holy breath from HaShem. Then breathe it out into others. Practice spiritual CPR. Don't forget to exhale with forgiveness. Detach from all anger. Anger causes a blockage that doesn't allow HaShem's breath to flow freely into you.

7) Face/Countenance- One's face should always shine with a cheerful countenance, a simple smile can light up the darkest room or the saddest soul. "In the light of the King's countenance is life." Feel the light of HaShem smiling on you and smile that shining light upon others.

8) Mouth/Peh- Learn to speak the holy language of love, this is lashon kodesh, the language of HaShem. Only speak words of ahava (love). Even if there is a need to correct someone who may have angered you or is harming his/her self, speak b'lo kaas (without anger). Express words of Torah, goodness and goodwill. When you don't know what to say, think in the language of love, the words will appear.

These are the eight attributes that are rooted in humility, all of them found in the keter.
If a person wants to draw closer to HaShem, to emulate His ways and to awaken rachamim in Shemayim, one must be well-versed in and practice daily, mastering these eight attributes, one step at a time.

Certainly, there are challenges that throw us off course. Our task is to continue to practice using our physical body language for spiritual purposes, to open the Gates of Shemayim to allow the blessings from Above to be showered down upon us. HaShem has a storehouse of compassion just waiting to be showered down on us. The amount He releases, depends on how we behave. Through the challenges, the difficulties and the tests- always remember... what goes up, must come down. If we learn to live with humility; we can shower kindness, compassion and love upon others. This goes directly up to Shemayim; HaShem smiles. He in turn, sends His light down upon us... the holy flow continues. If you want to be close to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, practice the body language of the soul.

As the Kohanim blessing says:
May HaShem bless you and safeguard you.
May HaShem illuminate His countenance for you and be gracious to you.
May HaShem turn His countenance to you and establish peace for you.

May we continue to bring HaShem into this world, through our holy body language.

Anonymous poem written by a clown:

As I stumble through this life,
help me to create more laughter than tears,
dispense more cheer than gloom,
spread more cheer than despair.
Never let me become so indifferent,
that I will fail to see the wonders in the eyes of a child,
or the twinkle in the eyes of the aged.
Never let me forget that my total effort is to cheer people,
make them happy, and forget momentarily,
all the unpleasantness in their lives.
And when I look to You
may I hear You whisper:
“When you made My people smile,
you made Me smile.”

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