Being Like the Desert

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Being Like the Desert

Esther Naor
May 21, 2015
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The name of this week´s Zohar portion, Bamidbar, means “In the Desert”, and indeed the whole fourth book of Moses that begins with this portion depicts all sorts of dramatic stories that happened to the Israelites in the desert.

The fact that the “desert” is specifically mentioned means there is a special lesson we can attain for our modern life today.

The kabbalists teach about the concept of “being like the desert” to attain true spiritual growth. Many of the greatest kabbalists throughout history exiled themselves to the “desert” to reach a higher state of elevation. What does this mean?

Basically, the “desert” is a vast nothingness. So too should we learn to be as empty as the desert, empty of attachments.

Once we achieve freeing ourselves from our egotistical attachments to physical things – to honor, to other people’s love and approval, to what is comfortable for us and our calculations and plans of what our life should look like – then we have created a space for the Light to reveal itself, just as it did on Mt. Sinai, which was also the “desert”.

It is then that we can say we are free.

This is easier said than done. The concept sounds beautiful, to empty ourselves and be like the desert. However, how does one practically release oneself from those illusionary attachments that seem very much real in the moment?

The consciousness of this week helps us manifest this, whether it’s learning more about it, or using the kabbalistic tools of scanning it in the Zohar, or attending the Shabbat services.

Secondly, by being aware of these pesky attachments and how they are blocking us from achieving the spiritual level we need to be at to receive all the blessings the Creator wants to give us, we begin to free ourselves from those attachments.

The more we are aware, the easier it will be to break their chains.

Additionally, having the consciousness of knowing that what our ego tells us it wants or needs is not what we really need – because all we really need is Light – brings us freedom. It is precisely when we let go of the ego’s selfish desires that the Light can come in and give us true blessings, just as the enormous revelation of Light that occurred at Mt. Sinai happened in the “desert”.

This week’s portion can help us to truly and deeply let go so that we may be that “desert”, preparing ourselves in this way for the upcoming cosmic opening of Shavuot that connects us to the revelation on Mt. Sinai.

On a practical level, you can make a list of that which is hard for you to let go of, what you are stubbornly holding on to that is blocking you from being the best version of yourself.

Have a great week!