Topic: Kabbalistic Concepts | Posted:November 19, 2014
There is a quote that is mentioned many times in the Talmud, many times in the Zohar, that is the key for the entire Shabbat of Toldot. It says that the three most important things we need, the true needs that a human being has, are children and family, life, and sustenance. Having all of these things and receiving them perfectly is what life is about. Unfortunately, not all people either have or receive the blessing of all three.
It says in the Talmud and Zohar that you do not receive these three blessings by merit, which therefore seems to indicate that it doesn't actually make a difference what spiritual work you do. It is dependent, rather, on Mazalah. The word Mazalah is often translated as “luck,” but it doesn't actually mean luck. It is something else; the Zohar explains that Mazalah is simply a code word for a higher realm of Light.
Some merit comes from a lower level of every spiritual action that we do, which means we can draw small blessings as they have to do with family, life, and sustenance. But to draw the ultimate blessing of children, the ultimate blessing of life, the ultimate blessing of sustenance, will be dependent not on the merit of the spiritual work that we are doing, but rather with how we can awaken this higher realm called Mazalah. And that's what this Shabbat is about.
In the portion of Toldot Isaac and Rebecca pray for children. Interestingly, it was Isaac who the Creator answered in order to awaken and connect to the realm called Mazalah. Why not Rebecca? It has to do with certainty, as we’ll see.
It says in the Midrash about the portion Toldot that Isaac and Rebecca are literally on the floor begging and praying. Just as an aside, chances are that this did not actually happen in one day, but for years upon years; even though we read it in one day, this was a process that Isaac and Rebecca went through year after year, day after day… because that is what certainty is. For example, you don’t ascend a mountain in one day. When you're in the middle of it you're still considered to have climbed part of a mountain, but not the whole mountain. And Isaac and Rebecca knew this, that the work of certainty cannot happen in one day. Not in one year, not in five years. And every single day, Isaac and Rebecca would lie down on the floor and beg and pray.
We have to realize that Isaac is not praying 100 prayers; he is only saying one thing: “Creator, all the children that You're going to give me, I want them to be from Rebecca, this righteous woman who is lying on the other side of the room.” And Rebecca also had only one sentence, or prayer: “All the children that You might give me in the future, let them be from this righteous man, from Isaac.”
But when you pay attention, it's interesting because while they were both praying for the same thing, they were praying for it in a different way. And it is just this different way which separates real certainty from lack of certainty. What does Isaac say? Essentially, “I knowYou're going to give me children, I have no doubt about it at all. So, all I'm saying is to please make sure that these children only come from this righteous woman, Rebecca.” What does Rebecca ask for? She says, essentially, “If in the future You give me children, I want them to be from Isaac.” There is a level of lack of certainty in Rebecca’s prayer; while these weren’t simply the words she was actually saying, this was where her consciousness was.
It says that Isaac was answered, and Rebecca was not. Even Rebecca, with the level of certainty that she had, was not able to awaken a connection to this level of Mazalah which we need, the level which awakens life, children and sustenance. Only Isaac was able to awaken it because his consciousness was different.
So, on this Shabbat, when we understand the gift that is available for us to be able to connect to level of Mazalah, we have to first realize how far we actually are from certainty. Ask yourself this question – in all the most difficult and painful times are your connections still filled with joy and thankfulness because you have complete certainty that the assistance you need is coming? Most of the times, probably not.
In this portion we have Isaac and Rebecca both fighting to awaken certainty. Isaac is able to get to the level of complete certainty where he is already thanking the Creator for the children that the Creator has given him, while Rebecca is still fighting for certainty… and the certainty that Rebecca had is far beyond anything that we can ever achieve! We have to fight for certainty, which means that when something upsets us, we get happy about it, and ask for assistance with joy and thankfulness as if we already have it. If your life is not focused on fighting for and achieving these deeper and stronger levels of certainty in the Light of the Creator, then forget about it! Remember that children, life, and sustenance - the three most important blessings that we can draw for ourselves, for those around us, and for the world - are not dependent on the work or the actions that we do, but rather on the connection to Mazalah, which we are only able to reach through the consciousness of complete certainty.
To get to this deeper level of understanding, first we have to realize how far we are from any real certainty. No matter what difficulties we are going through, we must always pray with joy and thankfulness. In Psalms 18:3, Kind David prays, “Before I see any assistance, before I see any hope, before I see any opening, I give thanks and I'm joyful.” And because he achieved that level of certainty, the Creator assisted him. And because Isaac had that level of certainty he received his children.
The first thing we have to take from this Shabbat is to see how far we really are from King David's certainty, from Isaac’s certainty, and then we need to work on finding the joy in the certainty in the difficult times. Most of us, of course, are not where King David was or Isaac was, but we need to at least be growing towards a real certainty that awakens joy and thankfulness in the darkness. Then, we are able to complete a connection to the realm of Mazalah, where we can awaken and draw down the blessings of children, life and sustenance.