Kabbalistic Concepts

How to Make Ourselves Spiritually Elevated

The portion Tzav begins with the verse, “The Creator spoke to Moses, telling him, ‘Command Aaron and his children, saying this is the law of the burnt offering…’” Seemingly, this entire section deals only with very technical laws concerning the process of bringing a sacrifice. However, we know that every section in the Torah has a lesson to teach us concerning our spiritual work. And often the more difficult the lesson is to find, the more profound it is. Personally, it is always very exciting for me after delving deeper into a verse and reading from the teachings of great kabbalists, to suddenly see an entirely new and beautiful understanding in a certain section. 

One such teaching is from Rav Avraham Yehoshua Heshel from Apta, who explains this verse in his book Ohev Yisrael. Rav Heshel tells us that while the Hebrew word used for “burnt-offering” here is olah, the literal meaning of the word olah is “going up.” Therefore, he explains that this verse and section are actually teaching us how we can be an olah, meaning how we can elevate and cause our soul to go up and connect with the Light of the Creator. 

How do we do this? Rav Heshel explains that the best way to achieve this level of elevation is to look at our own spiritual source and root. It says, “Your eyes should look ahead of you,” which means we should always remember our source.  The Hebrew word used here for the verse “in front of you” is nochach, which is the acronym in Hebrew for nishmat col chai, “the soul of all that lives,” referring to the source of a person’s soul. Further, the word nochach is numerically equivalent to the word mazla and the kabbalists explain that mazla is the spiritual source that each one of us has. To help explain mazla a little bit better, the sages write that often when we become frightened for no apparent reason it is because perhaps we sense that negative things are happening around us, and although our physical eyes do not see, it is our mazla that does.

Every person has a supernal source to which he or she is always connected. And it is through this source, or mazla, that we receive our spiritual Light. It is beautiful and important to know that our connection to our own personal mazla is constant; whether we are performing positive or negative actions, it never breaks. As such, understanding that we always retain our own mazla, or connection to our source, should assist us in elevating spiritually. Why? Because realizing, and reminding ourselves, that we are always connected to supernal worlds and to the Light of the Creator can hopefully assist us in not allowing ourselves to do negative actions. If a person keeps his mazla in mind, he elevates higher and higher until he is completely bound to the Creator. 

Further, the Ohev Yisrael tells us that in the first verse of the portion Tzav which says, “This is the law of the burnt offering…” the Hebrew word for “this” is zot, and it refers to mazla. Through this, we come to see that the beauty and wisdom this verse is sharing with us is that the law of how to make ourselves olah – spiritually elevated - is through the understanding that we have a constant connection to the supernal worlds and the Light of the Creator. It is an important lesson for us to keep in mind not only on Shabbat Tzav, but always.


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