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“The principal function of the sefirot is to guide all the worlds”

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014
The greatest of our sages have offered many explanations of the word "sefirah."

Some explain that the word comes from sapir, a diamond.

Without a color of its own, it reflects and refracts light or shines with an internal glow.

Others relate it to the word sipur, a narrative. 

The sefirot reveal God to His creatures-"the heavens tell the glory of God" (Psalms 19:2). 

Alternatively, it is because we have permission to speak about the sefirot and the levels below them, but not about the levels that transcend them. 

Some relate the word sefirah to s'far, or boundary, for they lie on the border between the infinite and the finite. 

Others explain the word as being related to mispar, number, for the sefirot are defined by their number–that is, ten sefirot comprise one basic unit, and the sefirot bear a mathematical relationship to each other. 

Other explanations are offered as well. 

All of them enrich the others, although they are not all based on one shared meaning. 

The principal function of the sefirot is to guide all the worlds. 

The sefirot are not the revelation of God's inner reality, like words or symbols that reveal the soul or its ideas, but a means of shaping and guiding existence. 

They are the equivalent of a tool like an axe, which reveals nothing of the character of the person who wields 

This tool serves his will and acts only by the power of its owner. 

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
 
From The Thirteen Petalled Rose by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

March 28 and April 4, 2011

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Young Israel of Great Neck
236 Middle Neck Road
Great Neck, NY 11021

Two Sessions: Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz’s Teachings on Pesach    

8:00pm

“We are unintentionally, but continuously, brainwashed into thinking that the spiritual is not very real”

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

 

"Our assumption that existence is primarily physical, and that reality is that which is tangible, is not self-evi dent, natural, or inborn.

 

This sort of thinking (a spiritual phenomenon in itself) is based on cultural maxims that are taught to us.

 

From a very young age, we are taught that dreams, ideas, and thoughts are not real, and that what we say, think, and dream do not count.

 

In turn, we transmit to our children—not always in words—the notion that 'reality' is that which can be seen and touched.

 

Our children get the message continuously, in both subtle and not so subtle ways: 'If it does not exist in matter, it does not matter.'

 

In our culture, if a small child breaks a cup, we scold him.

 

If he cuts his finger, we are worried.

 

But if a child speaks of his dreams and imaginations, we dismiss them as unimportant, and even more—as unreal.

 

In this way, we are unintentionally, but continuously, brainwashed into thinking that the spiritual is not very real, and therefore we discount it in many ways.

 

This edu cation has many evolutionary advantages, mostly to cats, cattle, or apes, who have to rely on their senses and not on their thoughts (if they have any).

 

Whether it is helpful in the long run for human beings is quite doubtful.

 

When we ignore or discount the intangible, we are misleading our selves.

 

If spirituality were only pondering about angels, we could ignore it, claiming that angels are of no interest to us.

 

As things are, we cannot ignore or rid ourselves of the spiritual aspect of our life, so long as we are conscious."

 

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz


From 
Simple Words by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

 

The ongoing existence of the world is an abnormal state

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

The creation of the universe was not a onetime event. From the moment that it came into being, the world is continually created anew at every moment. The ongoing existence of the world is an abnormal state, one that demands a consistent, creative force to keep it in existence. Existence requires the constant power of creation to give it being and to construct it at every moment.