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Shabbat of the Tree of Life: In the Middle of the Garden of Eden

Topic: Kabbalistic Concepts | Posted:October 15, 2014

This portion talks about the process of Creation, and about the Garden of Eden, which we know does not connote a physical place, but rather represents a place of spiritual connection. Within the middle of the Garden of Eden is the Etz Chaim, or the Tree of Life, which holds within it everything we need in order to bring about the Gemar HaTikun, the End of the Correction. And Shabbat Beresheet is the Shabbat of the Etz Chaim; this is the Shabbat when that Light of the Tree of Life is revealed in its totality.

Rashi, the great kabbalist and commentator, says the Tree of Life was in the middle of the Garden. Why was the location of the Tree of Life important? It is not in the corner, it is not on the side… it is exactly in the middle of the Garden of Eden. So, what understanding, what secret does that location tell us?

We have completed our connections – Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Simchat Torah –and so we begin this Shabbat in the middle of the Garden, meaning that all the assistance and blessings that we will need throughout the year, from the point that we are at now onwards, are coming. And it is from here, in the central point of the Garden of Eden, that all of our choices begin. Every single time we act in ways, from this moment on, of selfishness, of Desire to Receive for the Self Alone, we take a step away from that central point of the Tree of Life. It is very simple. Every single negative action we do takes us one step away from the Tree of Life that is in the central point of that Garden, and every single positive action brings us one step closer to that central point.

The only question, then, that begins after this Shabbat is how many steps will you take away, and how many steps will you take closer? Because, it is very simple; the further you walk away from that central point, the less Light you will have. If it is enough for you to have a little bit of the assistance, a little bit of the blessings that are shining down for you, then take a few steps. Take as many steps as you want. But if you want to maintain that central point, remind yourself every single time, on this Shabbat, “I am at the central point, I am at the point of the Tree of Life that has within it all the blessings, all the assistance that I am ever going to need. It is all shining directly on me.”

Remind yourself - today, tonight, tomorrow, next week – “I have choices.” And what those choices do is very simple: every time we act in ways of selfishness, in anger, in jealousy, we take one step away from that central point, from that central beam of Light called the Etz Chaim, while every time you act in a way of desire to share, every time you act in a way that is against your nature, every time you act in a way that reveals the Light of the Creator, you take one step closer.

That is how we want to awaken the view of our lives. Today, after all the work that we have done, we are connected to that central point of the Tree of Life. And it is our choice now. Do we take steps away and have only a little bit of the shining of that Light, of those blessings, of that healing, of that assistance? Or do we make sure to stay centered, in the middle of the Garden, in the middle of the place where the Tree of Life, shines?

We are not meant to be perfect, but if we are able to do what we can to remain in that central point of the Etz Chaim, then we will, throughout this year, not simply receive some of the shining of that Light, of those blessings that we have awakened or that we will need, but the totality of them.

Everything we asked for and connected to on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is going to shine down into the Etz Chaim. But if we are not there, we are not going to receive it. Our goal and desire, therefore, on this Shabbat, and for this entire year, should be to stay in the Etz Chaim, to stay in that central point. And we know what that means: daily choices. Now we have a different consciousness about them. Before we are about to get angry, before we are about to act in a way of selfishness, we have to stop and remember what is going to happen if we do behave in those ways.

We have the connection to the Tree of Life on this Shabbat. From this day on, the consciousness we want to awaken and strengthen is, “I do not want to leave it. I do not want to make those decisions to do those actions that are going to grab me and move me step after step away from where the blessings are going to come down.” This awakening of consciousness is a gift that is available to us on Shabbat Beresheet, and hopefully, we will use it, because, truly, the entire purpose of our lives is to create a true and constant connection to the Tree of Life.

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