Illusion Versus Reality
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Illusion Versus Reality

Miriam Ashkenazi
November 12, 2014

“From the kabbalistic perspective, that which is infinite and eternal is real and that which is finite, including this world and all that is a part of it, is illusion.”
- Rav Berg , Kabbalah for the Layman

If we really want to move to our next level, spiritually and practically, in our life, let's try to internalize and understand this one basic idea from the Rav. Let's try to see how it applies to our lives on a daily basis.

What is true reality?

“The real world, it seems, is a place of rocks and hard places. Gone is the mystery, the paradox, the irony. Reality is the ‘thing’ today. Nearly everyone these days will hasten to tell us all we want to know about reality and a lot more that we might rather not know. Politicians, businessmen, prostitutes, grocery clerks, and dictators all swear up and down that they live in the real world. Yet when asked for a definition of reality each gives a different answer.” (Rav Berg, Kabbalah for the Layman)

In this week’s portion, Chayei Sarah (“the life of Sarah”), Sarah, who was the first great matriarch, is passing on. In this portion, the real secret behind life and death is being revealed. Even though a physical death took place in this week, the kabbalists are teaching us that this physical reality is just an illusion. Especially when great souls of the righteous are leaving the physical world; on that day, their complete essence and contribution to the world is being revealed. On this specific day is where their Light, support and guidance is available to all of us that still live in this physical world. (You will find many students of Kabbalah all over the world choosing those days to celebrate, study and connect to the righteous soul’s energy.)

When you read the original text of this portion there is something a bit different: After Sarah died, it says that Abraham came to eulogize Sarah and he wept for her. The word ‘wept’ in the original text is written a bit different and one of the letters appears smaller (the Hebrew letter ‘kaf’). Why is this?

There is a meaning in every little change, dot, and vowel that appears in the Torah, a lesson that we can carry into our life and use to experience growth and transformation. In this case, the lesson is about the world of illusion vs. the world of reality.

It says that when Sarah died Abraham wept only a little. How come? Sarah and Abraham were soul mates – the level of love and connection between them was the kind of love that any couple and any human being can dream about. Does it make any sense to only cry and be sad a little when a loved one leaves this world?

According to Kabbalah death is not something final, but rather the closing of one door and the opening of another. Kabbalah’s teachings about reincarnation are a vital source for a higher understanding about the nature of death. Abraham understood these teachings on a very deep level and was able to overcome his human grief.

Going deeper, the Zohar says, “Furthermore, they said, ‘every time that the righteous depart this world, there is likewise annulled from this world all the harsh decrees, and the death of the righteous brings forgiveness for the sins of the generation.’” The Zohar, Acharei Mot 1:9

As Rav Berg kept reminding us, nothing physical really makes a difference in this world, because truth comes only from the spiritual realm.

The small letter kaf is reminding us that we should not cry about unimportant matters in the physical world. The strength that we get this week is the ability to separate between what is really important and what is not...

This week, let’s strive to deepen our understanding and ability to clearly see the difference between what is illusion and what is real.

Whenever something upsets us, whenever things seems to be unfair, not right, unjust – first know that to everything that we experience in this physical, finite world, there is also an aspect of illusion attached. We can't judge the situations and people around us only by the way we naturally perceive things, because then we fall completely into the world of illusion. But if we are keeping ourselves open to the idea that maybe there is something that I don't see, and strive to look and see what is beyond – asking ourselves where the Light exists in this situation or that person, or how can we connect to the true reality in a given situation, the reality that pushes us to connect to the spiritual aspect, the infinite – then, and only then, are we on the right path for real spiritual growth and climbing up on the ladder of spiritual transformation.