Kabbalah By Heart

Allison Gilbert, LMFT, Certified Kabbalah Coach

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This blog comes from my heart. I want to share the Judaism that Jews are yearning for. To help them access the beautiful wisdom coming from their own back yard, ancestors and tribe. And this is for non-Jews as well, to come to know that what has evolved into Western Civilization has come from a depth that is ancient and rarely revealed and mostly distorted due to mistranslations and cultural appropriation and blind anti-semitism. 

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Happy Birthday!!

Posted on September 21, 2022 at 2:55 PM

Happy Birthday?

Yes! On Jewish calendar, today is the first day of Creation. And tomorrow is the 2nd day of creation and so on. We start the countdown of the first 6 days of creation today, leading up to the holiday of Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year. We celebrate the new year on the 6th day of creation - the day human beings were created.

 

Jewish Calendar:

Recipes!

Today I will share some fun things with you about the Jewish New Year. Recipes mostly! I have a 2lb brisket in my fridge that I will put into a crock pot on the Friday night after Rosh HaShanah. And I plan to bake an apple cake. These are traditional foods for Rosh HaShanah. But why make it on Friday when the holiday is over? Answer: See Shabbos Shuvah below!

 

But first, you should know that according to Judaism, creation started in the year 3761 BCE.

 

Gematria of the Date

This year will be 5783 on the Jewish calendar! Gematria is Jewish numerology where each Hebrew letter is also a number. So if you spell out the year in Hebrew, gematria can be done with the date in order to look deeper at what this year will be all about.

A Kabbalist I love to learn from looks at the letters for each year and finds passages in Torah (the Jewish literature, including "old" testament, psalms, etc.) and lets us know what the new year holds through it's letters! He said that if you spell out this year, each letter starts the Hebrew words that are translated as "May it be a year of great wonder" Learn more about Rabbi Ginsburgh here.​

 

Purpose

So yes, today is a birthday of sorts! But the new year is not counted until the creation of mankind on the 6th day. That's how important our purpose is to this world!

 

And what is our purpose? Why were we created? Isn't that just the most important question of our existence? What am I here for? Why was this world created? And what am I supposed to be doing with my life? I created a Kabbalah card for the concept of "Dira B'Tachtonim" which are the Hebrew words for the purpose of creation:

 

 

Shabbos Shuvah

Friday night between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur is Shabbos Shuvah - the Shabbos (Sabbath). For 25 hours, the world is replete with the strongest energy of the entire year that can help us renew and return to our Purpose in Life! Shabbos Shuvah is from sundown next Friday night through sundown Saturday.

 

If you have any amends to make, this is the time to do it.

 

Here's a great video/song for Rosh HaShanah:

 youtube.com/watch?v=VlF8SZFs44I


Challah

Do you know what Challah is? (the "CH" in Hebrew is pronounced like the gutteral H in German.) Challah is the traditional bread served on Shabbos and holidays in the Jewish religion. If you've never tried this delicious bread, you are in for a treat. Go check it out at Trader Joe's!! They sell it! It comes long and braided during the rest of the year but during this time of year, it comes in a round loaf - symbolizing the round cycle of the year. Traditionally it can be made with raisins for a sweet new year.

 

A Sweet Year

We also eat apples dipped in honey to symbolize the wish for a sweet new year. We greet each other with "Shana Tova oo'Metooka!" meaning "Have a good and sweet new year!" Why sweet? Because in traditional Jewish thought, everything is "good", as G-d said in Genesis when He created everything. Still, we may not be able to know why something is good because it makes us feel bad! So not everything feels good which is why we wish for a "sweet" year too. For even medicine, which can heal you, can be bitter, just like the good things in life that feel bad.

 

I Love to Cook

I used to bake my own challah every Friday and when my kids were little, they'd each get their own dough to braid. The house would smell awesome on Fridays! Unfortunately, my house is empty now (except for me) and since I still love cooking, I end up with too much food over here! It's just - who will eat all this food with me? That can be a problem...because, yeah, I don't want to eat an entire loaf of challah all by myself - which I could do since I love it so much!

 

This weekend I have a friend who just went through surgery and so I asked her if she will eat red meat.... Not everyone does these days! And she said she loves brisket. Yes!!! So, she'll be getting some of my food, instead of my freezer!

 

Recipe Links

Here are links to the recipes I plan to make:

 

Brisket like my mother-in-law used to make:

allrecipes.com/recipe/70096/cousin-davids-slow-cooker-brisket/​

 

Apple Cake instead of Honey Cake - but I'll add less sugar!! And replace it with a sugar substitute, like honey and stevia!

Instagram.com/reel/CiqWMfAATVx/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link​

 

Here's my recipe for Challah:

Mix one packet of yeast and 1/3 cup of sugar into 1 1/3 cups of lukewarm water. Let stand and dissolve for a few minutes.

Add 1/3 cup of oil, 2 eggs and 1 1/4 tsp of salt

Add 3-4 cups of flour and mix and knead, adding more flour to make it not too sticky - up to 1 or 2 more cups but the less flour you add, the better.

Once it's done kneading and is a smoother dough, turn into an oiled bowl and then turn dough over in the bowl to get all sides coated with the oil from the bowl.

Cover and let rise for an hour until doubled in size. I put in a warm oven that's been turned off.

Take out, divide and braid. Then brush beaten egg over the loaf.

Bake for 1/2 hr to 40 min. depending on the size of the loaf. This recipe can make 2 small loaves or 1 large one.

So Eat on Rosh HaShanah because 10 days later is the fast day of Yom Kippur!!

But in the meantime, Hear the Shofar. On Rosh HaShanah and all of the past month we've been hearing the haunting sounds of the Shofar. Take a listen and tell me if it doesn't do something inside of you to hear this!

youtube.com/watch?v=ljr17hqY-ig

Blessings for a sweet new year!

 

Allison

 

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Endings and New Beginnings - Rosh Ha Shanah, The Jewish New Year

Posted on August 31, 2022 at 2:35 PM

My Purpose?

 

I have written most of my blogs here first as an email blast that I started in 2016. The first thing I will always remember a psychic telling me when my husband was diagnosed in 2017 was that my soul had plans and had been desiring to accomplish something important and that all of this trauma will help me to do that. Is my Kabbalah class the thing that my soul wanted to accomplish? And the cards I had created? I have been wondering. Maybe it's what I will learn through accomplishing that. I guess I started the cards in 2015. But the Kabbalah class was much earlier - maybe 2011? I don't know.

 

But I had abandoned all of that in order to go through the excruciating last years of my husband's life - it was a gradual 3 year decline. I believe I put everything on the back-burner. And I kept thinking, is this Kabbalah stuff I'm teaching going to end too or do I need to revive it? Since May, I have decided to revive it and realized that much of my wanting to let it go had to do with overwhelm and fear of not doing it all correctly. I have always had a belief of needing to do the right thing and also have had much insecurity about doing the wrong thing - as if there was one right thing for me, and as if I could prevent bad things from happening if I just did the right thing, and could avoid regrets over doing the wrong thing. I am letting go of that irrational belief because truly, there is no one right thing and whatever is done "wrong" can be corrected anyway and it isn't the end of the world to do the "wrong" thing! Regrets are irrational too because I believe that everything happens for a good reason and have learned from Kabbalah, that it was all in G-d's plan or it would not have happened. Anyway, I simply moved forward and did whatever made me happy because writing, and being creative makes me happy.

 

Retiring

 

I am retiring from my psychotherapy practice too. I decided that I deserved to be retired after all I have been through. And I deserve to take a nap every day. And I deserve to have a happy, relaxing, fun life now, full of creative pursuits, like writing this blog to you! It's scary and sad though, to let go of people who have been with me for over a year and some of them for over a decade! Endings are not easy! March 1st of next year is my deadline for retirement. And I have planned a trip to Israel mid-March to celebrate all I have accomplished and to "put forward into the Universe" all I wish for my new life.

 

This Month - New Beginnings

 

This last month of the year on the Jewish calendar is really feeling like new beginnings for me. The month is called Elul and is so mystical and magical!! I love it. It is said that the King is in the Field. And this year I am so in tune with that feeling! It's a huge blessing to see the Mystery here in our realm, in our "boots on the ground". It's a month of letting go of and correcting missteps that you have done over the past year, making your amends, and making your recommitments to the Purpose of your life for the coming year. It's all in preparation for the Jewish New Year starting next month: Rosh Hashanah - which is the day that man was created on the 6th day of creation! You can read Genesis and not know this if you don't learn from Jews! And you'd never know that this time of the year is when Moses went up Mt Sinai for the 2nd time to get forgiveness for the debacle of the Golden Calf. So the month is replete with the energies of forgiveness!

This is the Kabbalah card I created for Elul:

Kabbalah and Judaism 101 Class

 

So I re-did my class for Elul in my Kabbalah and Judaism 101 online class, and it is available for viewing online. And I broke it down into sections so that you can go and look and read a bit at a time. Those of you who have taken the classes I taught in Soquel, will recognize the handouts and lectures. But here it's all online so you can easily click on links to watch videos, listen to audios or read articles that I've recommended for each month of the year. In my class, I go through the entire year of the Jewish calendar - 12 classes for 12 months. I figure that the best way to learn about Judaism and Kabbalah - even if you know nothing about them - is to go through the calendar, applying the concepts to your life on a monthly basis, like Jews do. It's been called, "living with the times". This way, you get all of the holidays and learn all of the concepts that come through us on a yearly basis, new moon to new moon.

 

I also re-did my class for the next month - Tishrei - which is full of all of the High Holy Days on the Jewish calendar. You can see that here too. At some point - maybe (if it doesn't feel too overwhelming) - I will do a zoom class that I can record and add to the online classes. Here's the

Kabbalah card for Tishrei:

The Kabbalah Cards

 

The Kabbalah cards are used in the Kabbalah and Judaism 101 class but not required for the classes - the classes stand on their own. But I do incorporate the cards into the class by having a specific Layout each month tailored to exploring yourself and your purpose, coinciding with the themes and concepts of that month. It's similar to the self-exploration I was taught to do with Tarot cards' concepts. But the Kabbalah cards have nothing to do with Tarot cards! Instead, they contain cards for the 12 months of the Jewish calendar, 12 Sefirot cards (from the main Kabbalah Concept of the Tree of Life), and the rest of the cards are all Kabbalah concepts that are important to learn, adding up to 49 cards total. The Kabbalah Cards can be seen and purchased for yourself here on the PrinterStudio website where I created them. I don't make any money off of them but think they are useful for people who want to learn by simply shuffling and pulling one card per day to apply to your daily life. It's a quick, easy way to learn these things.

 

Here's a concept card for this time of the year:

Recommendations for Inspiration

 

**If you want to have a companion book to guide you through the High Holy Days - this book is highly recommended. It's a daily reader that goes for 60 days starting a few days ago. Today is the 4th day. It's like a workbook but goes through Jewish history, traditions of these days, and lessons from Torah (Old Testament). You can also subscribe to a shortened version for free by email here.​

 

**I also highly recommend reading Psalm 27 every day for the next month. This is a beautiful translation of it. Get the PDF here. It's a Psalm Jews read every day, twice a day during this time of the year. It's full of hope!

 

**In addition, I recommend a free class that one of my Kabbalah teachers is only up for a few more days and you can learn more about it here on Shifra Chana Hendrie's website - the workshop is called, "5 Days of Soul Activation".​

 

**Lastly, if you wish to get a Jewish calendar for yourself, google Chabad and the town you live in. You'll be able to find one from your local Chabad House. Ask for their Jewish Art Calendar, the new one usually comes out this time of the year. It will tell you the time to light candles on Friday nights along with all of the holidays and chapters of Torah that are read each week of the year, so you can "Live with the Times!"

 

I wish all of you a year of completions and new beginnings.

 

Blessings,

 

Allison



Purim & Jewish Ukraine

Posted on March 17, 2022 at 4:25 PM

I've been wanting to write something about Ukraine since the start of the war but it kept getting postponed. First of all, I bet you thought that the title of this email had a typo. Shouldn't it be Putin & Jewish Ukraine? Right. Here we are on the day of an Irish-American holiday where most people will not know that today is the Jewish holiday of Purim. So I suppose it's appropriate for me to have postponed writing this email until today.

 

But mostly I haven't really had the energy to pursue anything creative or purpose-driven since my husband died. The energy it takes to "create a new life" (which seems to be the task of a widow) is sorely lacking in me right now. Still, I thought I'd try and see how it goes.

 

(And now that I'm done and re-reading this, -it's taken me a whole lot longer than it usually does!- it seems a bit rambling, so apologies but I'm sending it out anyway!)

 

Hasidism comes from Ukraine

 

As you've gathered from knowing me through these emails, I do see everything through a Jewish lens - even Ukraine. And maybe you haven't thought about the fact that the Jewish roots of Ukraine go very deep. In fact, my dad's parents came to America from Ukraine. But as a Jew, I don't see myself as a Ukrainian-American and neither did my grandparents. They were just Jews in American - wanting to be American - trying to assimilate and grateful to be in a new country where they wouldn't be murdered for being Jewish. Still, it's been fascinating to me to look at Ukraine from that lens.

 

When the war first started, I definitely went to my rabbi to hear his perspective. He's Hasidic. Ukraine is where that form of Judaism began. It's the form of Judaism I like to learn: I think of it as modern-day Kabbalah since Hasidism came to life in the mid-late 1700's and illuminated the more ancient philosophies of Kabbalah and brought them to the common Jew. The group my rabbi comes from is one of the dynasties of Hasidism called, Chabad. The Chabadniks are all over the world and their Rebbe was the one with the brilliant idea to send out these incredibly strong, young couples to the furthest corners of the world to be there for the Jews living there. My Rabbi told me that he studies weekly with a Rabbi Levitansky who lives in a Ukrainian town near the border with Russia. My own rabbi was trying to study with him that day I came over through zoom but his connection was shaky because he was sheltering from the bombs in his basement! It was so inspiring to hear his story. Luckily he and his family is now safe outside of Ukraine but he is still working to help other Jews stuck inside of Ukraine - with food, medical supplies and ways to get out of there. If you want to donate to his work, go here: www.jewsofukraine.com/sumy

 

The thing that really struck me was that he and his wife, who had been there since 2004, had nearly completed a mikvah and had just chosen the tiles! That absolutely broke my heart since I know how much effort goes into building a mikvah and then to just have to let it all go and get out of there! Rabbi Levitansky told us that there isn't anti-Semitism any more there - at least he hasn't seen it. Even the non-Jews there were telling him that they believe that Jewish people's prayers are what is keeping them safe!!! And did you know that Ukraine has the largest Jewish Community Center in the entire world?!!

 

A Complete Reversal

 

How does all of this relate to today's holiday? In the Book of Esther (which we call Megillas Esther) there is a theme called, nahafoch hu - which means, "just the opposite". It represents what happened on this day on the Jewish calendar - Adar 14, 356 BCE - today's date! This Ukrainian war really to me represents an entire reversal of the norm and has the potential to really change and reverse so many things. The first of which in my mind is the anti-Semitism that was so prevalent in that country. Even today as I listen to the necessity of mass graves there, I get such an awful deja-vu.

 

The reason my family and many Jews came to America from Ukraine was to escape anti-Semitism. In fact, Hasidism came to Ukraine to revive the Jews who had just been slaughtered by Bohdan Khmelnitsky - ever heard of him?! He invented pograms and slaughtered 1/2 the Jews of Ukraine mid 1600's - a 1/3 of European Jewry at the time. He's a hero in Ukraine & there's a statue of him there. Then in 1768, Ivan Gonta, another Cossack murdered Uman’s 33,000 Jews. And they have a statue of him too! Yes, Ukrainians are proud of their Cossack heritage. So how "nahafocho hu" is it that they voted in a Jewish president who is now the hero of all freedom-loving people in the entire world?!!!

 

Crazy times call for a look at the deeper teachings within Judaism. I love Chabad because that's where I learn so much of those deeper teachings.

 

Here's an article from Chabad about the concept of Nahafoch Hu: Complete Reversal

 

Please do peruse Chabad to learn about Purim and Esther - even if you think you know something about the story, you don't really know the entire story until you have learned it from a Jewish source because you won't know the depth and breadth of what is written between the lines. You cannot know about any book from the "Old Testament" unless you learn about it from a Jewish source. The Bible comes from Jews anyway, right? Why not learn about it from them?! Here's the Purim Megasite with anything you could possibly want to know about this holiday. It's loaded with articles, videos and audios for you to choose from: Purim Megasite

 

Some things to help you with your broken heart over what's happening in our world with regards to Ukraine:

 

!. Read Psalms 121 & 20. Reciting Psalms can help remind us that we are in G-d's hands. Psalms Online

 

2. Meditate on one of the directives of the Purim holiday: to drink until you don't know the difference between "Blessed is Mordechai & Cursed is Haman". (Mordechai is the hero of the story of Esther and Haman is the villian). It is really important for us to find a way to expect that those things that feel like curses are truly blessings. And vice-versa - what do we really, truly know the TRUTH when we are being triggered by what is going on outside of us? Go deeper inside and discover what your triggers are all about and find a Nurturing Inner Voice that can support and heal them. That can bring you a peace and the equanimity that comes with knowing all is in G-d's hands. Even the Hamantachen cookie is open at the top to remind us to have a higher perspective & to keep an open mind.

 

3. Look below the surface of things. Esther in Hebrew comes from the word, hidden. Like Esther, take the next steps that are in front of you (like my writing this email without the energy for it!), pray, and move forward - act on the surface of things while staying connected to and aware of the Higher hidden hand that guides and is entirely in control of outcomes, trusting in that hand.

 

I have copied my class handout for the month of Adar where you'll find even more about the story of Purim, the history, the deeper meanings of the traditions we have on this holiday today. Class for Adar  My entire year of classes can be found here: Kabbalah and Judaism 101

 

In conclusion: A quote from Kabbalist Rabbi Yitchak Ginzberg on Adar:

“...the Rebbe explains that oil that serves as a source of light is a reference to the atzmut (the essence) of Hashem. The crushing of the olives...reveals... the unknowable head, experienced as pure faith in the Jewish soul. The Rebbe explains that... in order for us to become luminaries of the essence of God, we have to be crushed. It is impossible to reveal this highest source of light in us without being broken, without having a broken heart.”

 

And Lastly, Rabbi Levitansky reminded us to light our Shabbos candles - that the Hebrew words: Narot Shabbos Kodesh (Holy Shabbos Candles) makes the acronym: Neshek (NSHK) which is the word for ammunition.

 

May we all find the Higher Hand in all that we experience in our lives and in the world - especially in the difficult things that bring a broken heart. And may Moshiach come to immediately, swiftly, peacefully and easily usher in a new world in our days.

 

Take good care,

 

Allison

 

Here's one of my Hasidic Kabbalah Cards for the month of Adar:


What Does This Year Hold For You?

Posted on January 7, 2022 at 2:15 PM

It's that time of year when many of us reflect on what the future will bring and what we can do to make our lives better. But maybe for you it's about starting over or finding yourself again because that's what it's been for me.

 

I held myself off for a year. After my husband died, I immediately wanted to move out of the house I'd built for us to help us go through his demise. Once he was gone, I wanted to start something new. But I held myself back, saying "wait at least one year - right now isn't the best time to make a big decision like moving". But all year I was on Zillow and felt antsy.

 

Finally in November, nearly one and a half years after his death, I found a place. It seemed "right". It reminded me of who I was before I met him. But it was enough like the house I'd built for us so that I wouldn't feel so bad about letting it go. I was trading an expensive mobile home rental for a cheaper one, trading an ocean view for the redwoods. Letting go of a dream house based on what my husband would love and moving into a place he'd never agree to live at.

 

In a way, I'm starting over. And I'm finding myself again.

 

I put crystal balls in the windows to reflect the light and make rainbows all over the place when it's sunny. That makes me feel like myself again.

 



It's only been a week here but I find that I'm thinking more about things that are meaningful to me - which is why I wanted to write this - to share something meaningful with you. There are a few things I want to share: 1. How the Jewish calendar mirrors my life, 2. What I learned to apply to my life from numerology when I learned the Tarot archetypes many years ago, & 3. How to pray for yourself and others using the Psalms

 

The Jewish Calendar

 

My life always mirrors the Jewish calendar. It was the first thing I learned when I was starting to apply Judaism & Kabbalah to my life. For example, I found my new house during the month of miracles. Then I moved into this house with a view of redwoods on the cusp of the month of celebrating trees.

 

I highly encourage anyone interested in learning more about the Jewish calendar to contact your local Chabad and ask them for a calendar.

 

 

 

You'll see that it contains some important information about some of the days during each month.

 

 

 

There's a book I recommend getting if you want to read more about the meaning of each month but it's out of print and very expensive:

 

Kabbalah Month by Month - A Year of Spiritual Practice and Personal Transformation by Melinda Ribner

 

There's a less expensive way to learn about the calendar - it's by going to my online class:

 

Judaism and Kabbalah 101

 

there you'll find 12 classes that go through the Jewish calendar. Or get yourself a deck of my Kabbalah Cards - it contains all of the months of the Jewish year and you can learn about the months that way: Kabbalah Cards can be purchased on this website.

 

Numerology and Tarot Archetypes

 

I still think about the numerology I learned in the early '80's from my Tarot teacher. She linked numerology with the symbols of the Major Arcana Archetypes and showed us how to look at our Lifetime and Growth Cycle symbols based on our birthdates. Her book explaining all of this is The Tarot Handbook by Angeles Arrien. Since then I am always remembering to think about the symbol I am working with every year starting on my birthday. It helps me to clarify the main focus of my life from year to year.

 

This year, on my birthday, I will be focusing on #9, the Hermit, which is also the symbol of the year I was born. So this year it's both my Lifetime symbol as well as my Growth Cycle. And I find this so interesting because in a year where those two are the same thing, you feel more like yourself. And I feel like I am on a journey of finding myself. It was also my Growth Cycle on the year before I met my husband...

 

Lately, I discovered a man who is writing a book showing how the Tarot Major Arcana were originally painted by what he believes was a Crypto Jew. He surmises that based on the fact the Tarot De Marseille was created in France circa 1650 when Jews weren't allowed to practice their religion on pain of death, and points out that its creator hid various Jewish symbols into the artwork to secretly teach Judaism when it was forbidden to. Learn more about his work on his website: TorahTarot.com or in his Facebook Group.

 

My Lifetime Symbol, the Hermit, is really Moses in the Tarot de Marseille! So, taking time alone to reflect on what I have completed and then teaching from what I've learned is both the meaning of this Tarot symbol, according to Angeles, and is also my Growth symbol for this year!! We call Moses, "Moshe Rabbeinu" (Moses, Our Teacher). He definitely took time alone in the desert to introspect, meditate and then teach. The Symbol on the card represents that action. My teacher Angeles, called this symbol of the Hermit, "the Way Shower". He shines a lamp in the darkness. When I first learned this was my Lifetime symbol, way back in the early 80's, I connected to a higher part of me and it directed me toward a higher intention and purpose for my life.

 

 

 

Praying Using the Psalms

 

Another way to learn about your year is to look at the Psalms. Just this morning, I read this on a Kabbalist's website :

 

"Q: Is there is a special chapter of Psalms that I can say for myself?

 

A: According to the Ba’al Shem Tov, a person should daily recite the chapter in Psalms that corresponds to his age plus 1. This chapter reveals all that will happen to the person in that year and the way to become closer to God in that year. You can also pray for others using the same method: Their age plus one."

 

I use a beautiful book of Psalms, which in Hebrew are called, "Tehilim": Tehillim by Rabbi Chaim Miller It's a gorgeous presentation with Hebrew and commentary. 63 is my Psalm for this year.

 

 

 

Blessings on a year of starting anew or finding yourself again!

It's Not the Jewish Xmas

Posted on November 28, 2021 at 1:15 PM

Happy Holidays!

 

Do you hate when people say "Happy Holidays"? I kinda do - I've seen memes around with people wearing T-Shirts that say  


TIS THE SEASON To REMIND EVERYONE THAT I'M JEWISH'

 

That sounds like me. "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Xmas" doesn't help me feel more included because it isn't MY holiday season! Mine was a couple months ago during the Fall when I take off so many days to attend services for an entire month full of holidays. When people ask me if I'm taking off for Chanukah I want to tell them that Chanukah is only one of two holidays that we DON'T stop working for. And we have holidays nearly every month of the year. And every week, starting on Friday, we have a meal like Thanksgiving!

 

But people don't know about Jewish holidays. They really don't know. And that's sad to me and that's why I continue to write these emails.

 

My life has changed in so many ways since my husband got sick and died. But I think I keep finding myself going back to this same purpose for living: to educate Jews and non-Jews about Judaism and to share my love for it. And my experience of being a Jew in a Christian society.

 

Because people just don't know.

 

Chanukah commemorates a time around 150 BCE when the Jewish people and their beloved country, Israel, and their Temple were being overrun and taken away from them by the Syrian-Greeks. It's about a small group of Jews fighting against assimilation and against having their religious rights to practice taken away from them. And the miracle is that they won against the huge Greek army...it's another David and Goliath story. And it just seems appropriate that this holiday comes at this time of year in the USA, giving us Jews a message: don't assimilate no matter how enticing all of those lights and trees are.

 

When I grew up, my father told us that seeing all the xmas merriment was beautiful yes, but it's like seeing someone's Cadillac. You can admire and enjoy the neighbor's car but remember that it's theirs, not yours. That didn't necessarily make me feel any better though.

 

When I got older, I decided I would gift myself a tree and put lights on it. So one season, I walked through a xmas tree yard and realized that it was really a tree graveyard and so I couldn't buy one... Instead, I got some colored lights and put them up in my office. That was 30 years ago now and I have never done it since that one time. There's something inside of me that I know not every Jew has - but it's about staying true to my ancestors and especially the ones who died rather than convert or were murdered just because they were Jewish. And especially staying true to those who were murdered every year in Europe on xmas just because of this holiday and the anti-Semitism inherent in that religion.

 

If you want to learn more about Chanukah, here's a good article: The Triumph of Hanukkah

 

And here's a cute Hanukkah Hip Hop

 

So, for now I will say, have a happy winter. It's such nice weather here - we're finally getting summer here in SCruz!! But I'm glad that during this time of year, Jews include a prayer for rain in the daily prayer book. Yes, that started a couple of months ago and will continue for another few months when the prayer changes to one for dew instead. We really need rain!

 

Best to you and yours,

 

Allison

Jews for Judaism

Posted on July 4, 2021 at 2:30 PM

There is a website that I like to learn from and it's also an organization that I like to donate to.  JewsForJudaism.org helps to combat the anti-Semitism that tries to convert Jews to other religions.  Their specialty is to help Jews who have been coerced into christianity by missionaries.  I especially like to learn from them about distortions and mistranslations xtians use from our Torah to prove things that are just completely wrong. So many Jews are influenced because they just don't know the actual translations and meanings of said texts.


This week I watched a video on the erroneous chapter of Isaiah 53.  "Erroneous" because the imposition of chapters in Isaiah are not placed there by our Jewish sages but rather by xtians.  I learned that the book of Isaiah is really full of promises that the hated ones (Jews) will eventually become the honored ones.  And this will shock the rest of the world.  We read Isaiah as a ritual after the day of mourning for the destroyed Temples.  Those passages are a comfort to us.


I love this video.  It made me feel better knowing it was a temporary situation that this misinformation that has spread throughout the entire world, based on a theology of hating Jews (xtianity) and making into a god a man who was supposedly an iconoclast.  It helped me see G-d's hand in the spread of these destructive interpretations of our holy book through the spread of an anti-Semitic theology.  It's like it is G-d's plan to spread the disinformation over the entire world so that when the truth comes out, many, many will be shocked into a mind-blowing, mind-opening spiritual awakening!


Ha!  I love it.  I spend too much time frustrated with all the adoration of a guy who isn't even seen as having been Jewish!  It makes me so angry that credit is not given where credit is due.  Instead, xtian theology makes Jews into the devil incarnate with horns and huge noses while making that guy J.C. into a complete "Adonis" - with no huge nose anywhere!  I even had a friend of mine tell me, "well, he wasn't an Orthodox Jew"....what do you think they were back then?  Reform Jews?  So hilarious, if it wasn't maddening!!


Yes, I've got an enormous chip on my shoulder and can rant and rave about this for a very long time.  I have experienced first-hand this kind of anti-Semitism coming out of that theology.  Even my first college roommate, when I told her I'm Jewish said, "but I thought Jews were a mythical character and had horns!"  She'd been educated pre-college, her whole life in a catholic school, plus her mom was Syrian - does that mean you won't know what Jews are?  Real Jews?


Here's a lovely, short video that Chabad put out explaining what is Judaism where you can also get a quick overview of what is a Jew?  youtube.com/watch?v=yx-_IhUcAmk


We are now starting the 3 Weeks of Mourning that is prior to the day when the original Temples in Jerusalem were both destroyed on the same day hundreds of years apart.  It is a very meaningful time and is the anniversary of my husband's death on Tammuz 29.  My life has always seemed to mirror the Jewish calendar and so my connection to the cycles of the year and the seasons and holidays seems almost comical.  You can read my story of why I created the Kabbalah classes I once taught in my office (which are now online) here.  There I have made the month of Tammuz which starts the countdown of the 3 weeks, available to view for free.  You can find it here.  It also contains an article about why a calendar class and how I came to teach this series.


Even though we now have a country of our own, we still consider ourselves to be in the Roman exile that started 2021 years ago with the destruction of the 2nd Temple.  Until the New Age comes - The World To Come - we won't believe we've been taken out of exile.  It is with the coming of Moschiach that all gets restored and Jerusalem becomes the center of the spiritual world for all mankind and peace comes to the world that we can feel our exile is over.  It will bring a shock to the world that the messiah isn't "he", as we read in Isaiah, that the Jewish people, the hated ones, will be recognized and no longer hated but valued and honored.  May we see this in our day, AMEIN!!!

It's All Found in Judaism

Posted on April 18, 2021 at 5:20 PM

Here's a thought, What if everything that is coming out now in the world of psychology and spirituality in modern times, was already discussed by our sages hundreds and thousands of years ago?  Well, it's completely True!  I have been taught by learning from Rav Doniel Katz that everything's been there all along but we just did not notice it.  Or I wonder, maybe it was too deep and we now have the secular world helping us to decode it. But when I look at certain quotes from our teachers of the past, I see "mindfulness", EMDR, IFS, and the "Law of Attraction".


So what are these quotes?

Here's one that sounds like "Mindfulness". It was originally published in 1808:

THE WORLD IS FAR FROM GOD BECAUSE WE DON'T SETTLE OUR MINDS

 The reason that people are distant and disconnected from God/Hashem and fail to grow closer to Him is simply because they lack yishuv ha’daas and are unable to settle and still their consciousness. Therefore, the main focus of a person’s quest - should be to attempt to settle and still ones daas fully. One should constantly consider: What is the purpose of all these desires I pursue, and all the distractions of this world, and where are they leading me? Both the bodily desires and sensory pleasures, as well those external to the body like the need to receive k'vod (honor) from others. If a person would meditate on this, they for sure they would soon be able to settle their daas and return and reconnect to the Divine. (Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, Likutey Moharan II, 10)

 © Elevation OSB 2021.


Here's another one that seems similar to Mindfulness from a Rabbi who went through the Holocaust with his community, while watching all of his family murdered and finally being murdered himself with his entire community.  His writings were buried and found many years later in Warsaw, Poland where they were ghettoed. His writings are from the early 1930's:

HASHKATAH: MEDITATION FOR SILENCING THE MENTAL NOISE

PIASECZNA REBBE DERECH HAMELECH

A persons yesh (ego-consciousness) directly opposes hashraah mi’marom (the "coming down" and revealing of the Divine Consciousness within him.) When our own ego-based machshavos (thoughts) are busy and awakened within, it is hard for the Divine consciousness to penetrate through and be revealed. Therefore it is essential to learn how to silence the machshavos (thoughts) and ratzonov (desires and middos) that constantly flood a person’s consciousness, seemingly without end. Because the nature of machshavah is that each thought gets bound and entangled with the next—until it becomes extremely hard for a person to disconnect and free himself from them. The Piasetzna Rebbe gave very practical instructions on how to quiet one’s machshavos and silence the flow of thoughts. He said that the person should begin by observing his thoughts for a short period of time and consider in his mind “What am I thinking?” As a person continues to do so, they will slowly notice that their mind begins to empty, and their machshavos cease from their constant habitual flow.

 (Rabbi Kalonymous Kalman Shapira, Piasetzna Rebbe, Derech HaMelech, Inyan Hashkatah)

I directly copied the above from the Source book that can only be accessed through Rav Katz's Teacher's Training Program.


Here's one that seems like EMDR from the founder of the Hasidic Movement, the Baal Shem Tov, from the 1700's:

Tzava'at Harivash 80

By Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov; translated and annotated by J. Immanuel Schochet

Published and copyrighted by Kehot Publication Society

Sometimes you need to gaze in different directions in order to attach your thought to the Creator, blessed be He. This is necessitated by the materiality of the body which is an obstructing barrier to the soul. Read the text here.

I directly copied the above from the Source book that can only be accessed through Rav Katz's Teacher's Training Program.

 

 


Here's one that's similar to the "Unblending" idea from IFS (Internal Family Systems therapy technique).  It's written by a medieval commentator on the "Old testament who lived in the 11th Century - named, Shlomo Yitzhaki, known as Rashi.  It's a great explanation of the times when we are so blended with our pain there is no Daas (Self) to hold it and instead we ARE it instead of holding it. Similarly to IFS - we have to be able to hold the exiled part, and be separate from it:

 KOTZER NEFESH DEFINED: NOT ENOUGH DAAS TO HOLD THE PAIN

 RASHI - RAV SHLOMO YITZCHAKI

 COMMENTARY ON TANACH (Bible, Torah, Old Testament)

 The Israelites journeyed on from Hor Mountain, going by way of the Red Sea so as to skirt the territory of Edom. Vatiktzar nefesh ha’am ba’derech - the soul/consciousness of the people became stressed, constricted, and pained, because of the duress of the journey. The people spoke out against Hashem and Moshe, “Why did you take us out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread and no water, and our soul is disgusted with this flimsy, wafer-thin manna.” (Numbers 21:4-5)

“Vatiktzar nefesh ha’am ba’derech”: The soul of the people became katzar (constricted, pained) because of the torach ha’derech (duress, hardship, challenges of the journey). They said, “We were so close to entering the Land, and now we are traveling in the opposite direction. This is exactly what happened to our parents, as a result of which they ended up wandering in the desert these thirty-eight years.” Their souls, therefore, felt constricted due to the duress/affliction of the way. In Old French, ankro-delor (yiush, despair). The expression kitzur nefesh is used whenever a person experiences a difficulty—when they feel overburdened. The reason for this is that their daas (mind) is not "large and expanded" enough to accept and handle it. There isn’t enough space and place in their heart for this pain to dwell.  In sum, every instance of kitzur nefesh indicates that a person cannot endure the pain, for his daas is not there to help him endure, handle and contain it. (Rashi, Numbers 21:4)

Directly copied from Rav Katz through the Teacher's Program: https://elevationproject.com/teacher-training/


Here's another one that seems to point to the "Self" talked about in IFS.  It uses the word, "consciousness" instead of the word, "Self", while "Rachash" and "animal soul" seem to me to be "Parts" in IFS language. It also seems to be talking about something similar to "Unblending" technique of IFS.  This quote is referring to a book from the 1700's but was written in the 1930's:

ATTENTION ITSELF CAN DISSIPATE THOUGHT, FEELINGS & RACHASHIM

BAAL SHEM TOV

BAAL SHEM TOV AL HATORAH

Look within yourself—you who are willing to listen and hear deeply—and you will see that this is a fundamental principle in human consciousness: If you give over your attention to any rachash (internal movement, stirring, feeling, sense) that arises from your animal soul—whether it is a rachash of dimyon (fantasy, imagination), a ratzon (desire), a hargashah (feeling) of love, fear, or any other middah… If you begin delving into this rachash, by thinking about it and focusing on it, then through this attention you will actually strengthen it and cause it to become more emotionally charged, which will cause it to draw you in even more. However, if you don't invest your attention within the rachash itself, but rather around the rachash, meaning that you attend to the general felt-sense and awareness that the rachash is there, that the dimyon is just there, that the desire is just there, that the emotional arousal of love or fear, etc. are just there, then on the contrary, rather than increasing in intensity, through attending to it with your consciousness in a more general way - the rachash will weaken, dissipate, and even cease completely. It doesn't even take any complex "attending" to it to make this effect occur. Just by simply observing it, and giving your general attention to that machshavah or a rachash within—by making it an object of one’s awareness as opposed to allowing it to take over one’s awareness—this soon weakens the rachash and the machshavah until soon, it will be there no more. (Rabbi Kalonymous Kalman Shapira, Piasetzna Rebbe, Hachsharas Avreichim)


Here's the explanation of what we in modern terms call, "Law of Attraction":

First, we all know the 10 Commandments.  These were, according to Jewish thought, brought down to us by Moses from Mt Sinai, 3000 years ago.  There is one commandment that is specifically referring to what we now call the Law of Attraction (or in Jewish terms, our Koach HaMoshech - our Power of Drawing).  Since it is understood and accepted that we can draw things to ourselves - just by our thoughts or desires - it goes to say that one of the moral things to do about this power is to "Not Covet", which is one of the 10 commandments.  It's wrong to draw things to us that aren't supposed to be ours!!  Now who'd have thought this was a commandment based on the belief in the Law of Attraction?!!!


And last, from the ancient, main text of the Kabbalah is called, The Zohar, believed to be written in the first century.  In it we find this quote sounding similar to the "Law of Attraction": 

Everything that exists and happens in our world is not dependant on anything other than our will and intent. (Zohar, Terumah, P. 162, Amud 2)


And the last on the "Law of Attraction", this quote from 1748:

THAT WHICH WE TRUST IN WE CAUSE TO HAPPEN

 BAAL SHEM TOV

 BAAL SHEM TOV AL HATORAH

 On the verse, “The doer of evil suffers many afflictions; but one who trusts (boteach) in Hashem is surrounded by love.” (Psalms 32:10), the Maggid of Mezritch wrote: our master the Baal Shem Tov, may his merit protect us, explained, “wherever a person directs his mind and thoughts, that is where he is bound.” If he thinks judgmentally, he is bound to judgment (din). If he trusts (boteach) in Hashem’s loving-kindness, his soul is bound there, which causes him to be “surrounded by love.” One should therefore constantly seek to take refuge in their Divine Source. This is the opposite of what Job said, “Because I feared fear, it has overtaken me; the exact thing I dreaded has come upon me” (Job 3:25), and “I (Hashem) will bring upon them the very thing they dread” (Isaiah 66:4). (Mekor Mayim Chayim, Amud HaTefillah §31, from Shoshanim LeDavid, quoting the Maggid of Mezritch)

© Elevation OSB 2021.


All of the above quotes were directly copied off the Online Sourcebook that can be accessed through joining Rav Doniel's Teacher Training


So why do I care that these things were already articulated by Jews for Jews many, many years ago?  And why is there a pain deep in my heart over the incredible depth and clarity that we find already spelled out by Jews that no one even knows about?  Because I care about the sacred souls of my community who have been searching elsewhere but haven't found their sense of belonging or home.  It feels really good as a Jew to know that these quotes are my people, this is my community, these are my ancestors.  And to ask why it has been so concealed, allows me to awaken to the fact of my own desire to hide.  Amidst the flames of anti-Semitism that have plagued our people, it's no wonder that even WE don't know that this all exists and has existed for millennia and just have been untranslated and not taught.  



It's Passover!! Myth or Truth?

Posted on March 29, 2021 at 3:20 PM

This Passover was for me a game-changer.  I have led many seders in my life and this was the first one I did all by myself.  And it was FANTASTIC!  


Previously I had led groups of people, including my family.  And I've always felt rushed and that I need to make it interesting and along with all of that, I was the one to make the meal and set the table, etc., etc.  It all fell on my shoulders.  Stressful.  But since my husband died 8 months ago, I've not been able to push myself into anything with the slightest bit of stress.  (More on this coming in another aritcle.)  But Covid or none, doing a seder all by myself was so nice.  I loved it.


I went through a Passover Haggadah that I've always wanted to use but only had one copy of.  It's got these wonderfully realistic pictures.  Gadi Pollack, an Israeli Illustrator who's published 45 books, is the artist.  All of the illlustrations are "based entirely on the teachings of our Sages."  It's "unusually graphic" because it comes from the premise that the story of the Exodus REALLY happened.  As an example of something just awful that is said to have happened is that the Pharoah had a skin disease (tzaraas) and bathed in Jewish children's blood!  This is actually depicted in this book!  Ugh!


Aside from its graphic nature, this is an absolutely gorgeous Haggadah.  It is called "The Katz Passover Haggadah - The Art of Faith and Redemption." amazon.com/Katz-Passover-Haggadah-Redemption-Bilingual/dp/1583306005


In the back of the book there's an article on proofs that the Exodus was a TRUE historical event.  First of all, did you know that many things have been discovered archeologically that prove the event really happened?  Yes!  But of course, and for many Jewish people, these events have always been seen as part of our history, told from parent to child to grandchild for thousands of years.  The author of the article in the back of the book is Rabbi Mordechai Neugroschel.  It's titled "The Exodus From Egypt: Fact or Myth?" There he sites an interesting papyrus that was written by an Egyptian Poet, Ipuwer, thousands of years ago.  There Ipuwer writes about things happening in Egypt that sound very much like the Plagues that are written in the Torah.


 Here's an article you can read about this poet: ohr.edu/838  And here are links to the trailer of a movie I saw once called "Patterns of Evidence".  It's about archeological finds that seem to prove the existence of an event like the Exodus.  patternsofevidence.com  The movie was made by non-Jews but my rabbi's father, Manis Friedman, was featured in it. 


I think it's very exciting to learn about the evidence of this great event because I love feeling connected to my ancestors.  It gives me a sense of pride when I remember that the actual Torah itself (Old Testament) goes back so many thousands of years.  Did you know that every time a new parchment of the Torah is written, if there is even a broken letter - let alone, a misspelled word or any mistake at all - the entire book is found unusable?  This is amazing to me - that a book like the Torah was preserved like that for thousands of years!


And remember, the experiences of the freedom from slavery in Egypt, along with the revelation at Mt Sinai, were events that the Torah claims thousands of people went through.  So unlike any other religion where miracles and revelations were only witnessed by a few.  Our Jewish traditions, like observing the Seder on Passover and telling the story of the Exodus are behaviors that have been passed down for thousands of years.  It's a complete miracle that Jews who have lived in the furthest corners of the globe all have the same practices even without any interaction with each other and read from the exact same Torah and observe the same traditions with very little differences.  That, my friends is truly incredible.


It makes me excited to be Jewish.


If you want to learn more about classes on the Jewish Holidays, Kabbalah,  Jewish History and Judaism itself, go to my teachable website: kabbalahwisdom.teachable.com/courses/kabbalah-and-judaism-101  There you will be able to see some F.REE classes, including my Kabbalah Cards Class.



Purpose of Self-Transformation from a Kabbalah Perspective

Posted on February 2, 2020 at 4:00 PM

I am taking a class from Rav Doniel Katz in his Elevation Project and decided to post here my homework answering a specific question:

What is the purpose of meditation and emotional transformation from the Torah’s perspective?

Torah and especially Kabbalah explained by Hasidut gives a beautiful understanding of the purpose of emotional transformation and the reasons for meditation. And it all surrounds its answers regarding the meaning of life and why we exist as human beings. It answers the very questions that are the most important in living a life well.

 

Firstly, if we don’t answer these questions, the healing of a human being psychologically, spiritually and socially isn’t going to be complete. The very answers Torah gives to the meaning of life, allows for the greatest possible healing that any person can have. It goes beyond the simple surface levels that the secular mindfulness and power of attraction ideas put forth because the meaning of life has nothing to do with acquiring a better car or relationship or more money.

 

In fact, allowing a person to answer the most important questions of his life surrounding meaning and purpose from a Torah’s perspective has nothing to do with acquiring anything other than re-building the personality from the inside. It holds that we are responsible for our Inner World. And it affirms that any of the challenges that we find within our Outer World is exactly what we need to recreate ourselves and thereby recreate our external world.

 

Torah posits that the inner world can be filled with fallen beliefs that are not true. It is these beliefs that get addressed and transformed through a connection to a Higher Truth. As the fallen beliefs and emotions contact Torah, they are uplifted and we create a Higher world down in the lowest of all levels of worlds. This is the plan and purpose of our existence. We are creating a heaven on earth.

 

The ultimate purpose of our existence is that we are the bridge between the Divine and the earth through the transformation of our consciousness. And the only way to bridge the two is through our own choice to access the Good, Healthy and True. This way, we enable Hashem to gain the pleasure of accomplishing His Original Plan, to give the Ultimate Good which is the experience of His Divinity. But we can only experience that if we choose it for ourselves.

 

Consciously choosing what we most need to learn from our challenges is the beginning of a connection with the Higher realms. Meditation and prayer help us to access those Higher realms and bring them down into the lower ones thereby transforming ourselves so that we connect more and more to our own Divine Souls and selves. The ultimate outcome in Torah and Hasidic thought is to become supernatural beings in the image of the Divine, living on an earth where the spiritual is seen and experienced everywhere.

 

As we become more and more like Him, the actions we do in the world are aligned more and more with goodness and truth. Our challenges externally and internally become the very places we open up a channel for Divine Light. They enable us to see the depth of the blocks we have to that Light and enable us to choose differently. Victimhood becomes a way of the past as we access our true potential.

 


Reach for the Light

Posted on October 28, 2018 at 5:05 PM

I just had to write today in response to the recent tragedy in Pittsburgh. I especially wanted to share with you the Jewish response to any tragedy or darkness and that is to reach for the Light.


My rabbi, Yochanon Friedman, of ChabadbytheSea.com said something that inspired me to send out this email: we need to respond to this tragedy by bringing more kindness and holiness into the world. I have a card that represents this:



You can find my rabbi's beautiful teaching here in his latest video: https://www.facebook.com/ChabadbytheSea

 

I have had many sorrowful things happen in my life. And with the biggest ones, my battle with breast cancer, my husband's illness, I have had the pull towards responding with more darkness within my own soul and hear my inner child kicking and whining, "I don't want to go down this path!!!" And yet slowly and surely, I find the strength to hold to the Light and focus myself on where I am headed and what good will come out of this. If I didn't believe in G-d and G-d's hand in everything and believing in the promise of Geulah, I would never get through this dark exile called, life.


 

My plan is to have a new Kabbalah Cards class prepared to teach in S. Cruz by the last night of Chanukah when all the candles are lit - Sunday, December 9th - a day-long class. (hold me to it!) That's one thing I hope to do in response to this tragedy. I feel like my purpose is to help people know the beauty that lies within the holy Jewish Kabbalah traditions and teachings - for all people but especially for Jews, to help them feel pride in their awesome heritage! Here's a fun song about that:


Jewish Pride - song on YouTube


There are around 150 of you on my email list. How did you get here? Several ways:

 

You signed up for my free online Kabbalah Cards Class at kabbalahwisdom.teachable.com/

You are a relative, friend, classmate, client or previous client

You are a student of mine in S. Cruz or have come to a free class


However you came to my email list, I welcome you and hope that I have helped you in your reach for the Light. And I hope you will spread more kindness and holiness in response to the tragedy. Let's build Geulah and bring it NOW!


If you wish to receive a Jewish calendar, just email me with your address. I will send you one! They have an explanation for all of the holidays inside and beautiful art, along with candle-lighting times for S. Cruz. They also let you know what Torah portion we read that week!

Much Love and Light,


Allison


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