Spiritual Tools

The Test of the Letter Bet

The portion Beresheet, in the Book of Beresheet, begins the new yearly cycle of each week’s Torah readings. Its name is taken from the first word of the portion, beresheet, which means “in the beginning.” One level of consciousness that is available to us through the portion Beresheet is the gift to differentiate between what is coming from the Light and has the long-term ability to grow in blessings, and what does not.

Everything was created in our world in perfect balance, which means that whatever we find on the positive side, we will find on the negative side, and we draw everything into our lives from one of those two places. How do we know what side it is coming from? How do we know if our love, desire, drive, or joy is coming from the Light? Most of us think that those feelings must be coming from the Light of the Creator. However, that’s not necessarily true, because everything that exists in our world exists in both realms; its energy can therefore be coming from a positive place or from a negative place. So, how do we tell?

Rav Ashlag says the Creator gave us one test. The positive side always bears fruit and has continuity, while the negative side ends. Maybe we are getting some level of fulfillment or joy from what we are doing right now, but those feelings are not a real assessment of whether or not it is coming from the Light. It is not about if we are feeling good or are driven to do something right now; none of those assessments accurately show us what place it is coming from. The test - the only way we can tell if it is coming from the positive side - is to look into the future to see if it will bear fruit and continuously grow over time.

The word beresheet starts with the letter Bet. We learn in Kabbalah that Hebrew letters aren’t simply tools of language, but that each letter also represents a different type of Light, a different type of energy; there are many levels of meaning to everything. And the Bet is actually the energy and distinction of this test to see if something is coming from the Light and will continue to bear fruit over time. Why? Because the word brachah, which means blessing, is the energy of the letter Bet. If what we are doing is disconnected from the Light of the Creator, then it does not have potential for brachah, blessing. So, we need to ask ourselves: is what I’m feeling, doing, or seeing coming from the Bet, from a place that will continue to expand in blessings? Do I see a continual growth in that specific area that can endlessly transform, elevate, and bring me more and more joy and fulfillment? If it doesn’t at least have that potential, then it’s not coming from the Light.

Often, we may decide that a certain area of our life is just as good as it’s going to get. We know it’s not great, and that it’s not going to continue growing endlessly, but we, unfortunately, accept that it just is what it is. We don’t have higher expectations. Or, we are afraid to give something up, even though we know it’s not going anywhere, because we don’t want to let it go until we see if something better is coming first. However, if it’s disconnected from the Light of the Creator, if it does not have the potential for brachah, then it actually limits the true blessing that is meant to come to us; as we are holding onto it, we are actually closing ourselves off from the Light. And this is true about everything in our lives.

As we begin this new year, it’s important to really assess certain areas of our lives, even if that area is giving us some level of fulfillment now. We need to ask ourselves: is it coming from the Bet, from a place where I can see that it will continue to grow in blessings? If not, then holding onto it will limit and close us off from the true blessing that is meant to come, no matter what fear we may have to give it up. When we come to the new year with this understanding that is available to us through the portion Beresheet, we will truly be able to manifest the great Light and blessings that we have drawn in through the connections we made and work we did in all the holidays leading up to now. 

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