Shabbat – Drawing Down the Divine Radiance
by Ariella Bracha Waldinger
My husband, Avraham and I, Ariella Bracha Waldinger, arrived in Israel, July 14th, 2003 on Aliyah from Denver, Colorado to live in the holiest place in the world…..THE JEWISH QUARTER IN THE OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM…….very close to The Temple Mount (where the Holy Temple stood). We were excited beyond belief and deeply aware, on some level, that this was a privilege beyond our wildest imaginations. On the day of our arrival, we were greeted by friends who said “welcome to the Holiest place in the world.”
Now, personally I did not understand the deeper meaning of what it meant to live in the holiest place in the world and many acquaintances would comment on the intensity of living here. This aroused both a curiosity and a desire in my husband and me to seek out Torah knowledge related to this topic. We studied seforim (Torah teachings) on the topic of the Holy Land and came to realize that we were extremely uninformed regarding our understanding of the depth of the Kedushah present in the Land itself. Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohein Kook ztzl, in his safer (book) “Lights on Orot”, states that the Land Of Israel has a Divine inner attachment to G-d unique to the Jewish people. This inner attachment contains a unique spiritual Holiness that we can tap into. So, as we began to understand more fully the power and beauty of the Divine life force present in the land and the people, we felt compelled to refine our relationship to HaShem, His Torah and mitzvot and His beloved Land. Prior to leaving Denver, we identified within ourselves the need for a spiritual tune-up and we were open to receiving the wisdom and guidance to make the necessary changes.
We came to understand very quickly, that living in the Courtyard of The KING, demands a deeper awareness of our behavior. We began to understand on a much deeper level that we were not to live just a religious, Jewish life, but that we had to strive to lead a G-dly life– a holy life that demands awareness, accountability and responsibility, especially in the realms of words, thoughts and deeds. Refining these elements is the pathway to holiness, because holiness demands that you take on the task of elevating yourself and the material world.
As the deeper understanding began to sink in, we began to assess our interactions in our home and look at ways to refine and upgrade our devotional offerings. Shabbat was one of the first things that claimed our attention. Shabbat is a profound time to refine our speech and elevate it from the mundane weekday conversations.
Soon after we arrived in the Old City, got our lift and got settled, we began to have Shabbat guests…anywhere from 1 or 2 to 15 or 16. We were blessed with a good sized apartment and a huge dining room table so it was very exciting, rewarding and challenging at the same time.
After a few weeks of rather chaotic Shabbat table experiences, my dearest husband said to me, “From now on, we are going to keep our Shabbat table conversations ONLY to words of Torah or stories of inspiration”. He said we are going to have rules at our Shabbat table. No more mundane conversations or listening to others’ problems and we will have only one person speaking at a time.
Now, don’t get the wrong idea, my husband is a warm, funny kind of guy. He is not controlling or rigid but when he taps into his inner truth and gets a Torah flash of wisdom, he doesn’t mince words. He is one of these men who know what they want and communicate it well especially if it is important. SO after he delivered his Shabbat decree, I said to him darling ( yes, I really call him Darling), “giving over those rules might really feel weird to people especially young people who are not fully Torah observant.” Wow, that did it…. He said to me, “Ariella Bracha if you think we need to worry about what others think about our rules at our Shabbat table in the Courtyard of the King, you are crazy” and you know what? He was right. The people pleaser in me was afraid of what people would think, can you imagine?
Our sages teach us that in chutz l’aretz, the worship of HaShem only reaches the level of the celestial angels but in Eretz Yisroel, Divine service is direct to G-d Himself, with no interference whatsoever. Additionally, we learned that when one makes Aliyah, the first night he/she sleeps in Eretz HaKodesh, they receive a new soul. I have questioned Rabbi’s as to the real meaning of this statement and they explained that the old soul is finally able to tap into the beginnings of its deeper and higher self and this new
dimension makes it feel as if it is new because it is empowered in a way it never has been before. Isn’t this awesome? This in and of itself should cause everyone to make ALiyah!
Well, anyway I saw and felt evidence of this very real reality in the newborn strength and value defining aspect of my husband Avraham and I loved it. SO, the very first Shabbat with our new rules, which my husband gave over so elegantly, was the beautiful, deeply meaningful Shabbat we were looking for. All the guests said they wished every house had these rules. SO from that newborn perspective of the true way to adorn our speech (which is what makes us human and defines us) on Shabbat and to really dive into the intimacy of Shabbat, Hashem gifted me with a BIG SURPRISE……the inspiration for my own personal Dvar Torah straight from my heart to each of you about our Beloved Shabbat. Please enjoy it and share it and be inspired to adorn Shabbat like you would adorn yourself with a dazzling piece of jewelry.
The Holy Shabbat…Drawing Down the Divine Radiance
By Ariella Bracha Waldinger
Shabbat is the everlasting sign of the covenent between HaShem Yisborach and HIS beloved Jewish children. It is our sacred bond of commitment signed with G-ds personal seal. It is the greatest antidote to the mundane demands of daily life and has the potential to uplift us to dizzying heights of connectivity and spiritual pleasure.
I have acquired the understanding that lighting Shabbat candles is THE most auspicious and powerful opportunity for Jewish women to draw down blessings into their homes. Knowing this, I strive to utilize the creative powers of my imagination to transform my candle lighting into a dynamic soul encounter. Imagination is an extraordinary, sublime spiritual gift that HaKadosh Baruch Hu has freely given us to use in positive ways. I take full advantage of this awareness by striving to create a masterpiece in time and space like an artist using a brush to paint vibrant colors on her canvas.
The preparation for candle lighting is the beginning of this powerful spiritual encounter and I enter it with awe and reverence. I give tzedaka and then softly recite special prayers. I allow myself at least 10 minutes to fully engage my mind to concentrate and go deeper into my awareness of the moment. Then, I lovingly approach my Shabbat table which is beautifully set and richly adorned for The King. Dressed in elegant garments, testifying to my royal status, I approach my candles and right before lighting, I say the following: “With pure faith and deep ahava, in the merit of Kedushat Shabbat, I accept upon myself to carry out the Divine will of Shabbat candle lighting. May my lighting which I do with a full heart, deep joy and a soul full of gratitude bring forth great spiritual energy in abundance in my heart and home. May this exquisite spiritual energy lead Avraham (my husband) and I and all of Klal Yisroel to wholeness and harmony that only the seventh day can create. May the power of my candle lighting light our way in the world to find our true path in all situations. May my lighting bring perfect peace…inner and outer to our soul and our home. May my lighting candles brighten our inner vision and enable us to dive into the intimacy of Shabbat connecting us to the highest level of our souls.”
Then with the deepest delight in this precious mitzvah, I engage all the powers of my imagination. I light my candles filled with golden oil and joyously recite the Blessing. While my eyes are closed, I raise my hands upwards to draw down the dynamic energy of Shabbat. I allow it to envelop me. I picture in my mind the sparks of my neshama blending with the life force of Jews throughout our history. I send the Divine emanations of the holy energy throughout the house clearing away any residue of negativity present in our home. I visualize the exquisite Shabbat energy radiating its warmth throughout our home touching everything in its path illuminating it with rays of golden sunlight. As I draw down the spiritual energy and bask in its purity and richness, I visualize the flame of my candles which is compared to the soul, rising upwards through the channels of Divine emanations spreading throughout the cosmos. I visualize the crown of Shabbat descending and I gently, lovingly place it on my head which is where the soul resides. I adorn it in gold with the Hebrew letters of my name which is my essence and then I know I have greeted the Shabbat Queen with all my heart, mind and soul. I have ignited my soul to intermingle with the sparks of Shabbat imbedded in creation. I have fully engaged the extraordinary powers of my imagination to craft the fine art of mindfully greeting Shabbat and have helped her make her grand entrance. I have slain the dragon of habit that causes us to merely go through the motions of performing the physical act. I have awakened my soul to the limitless beauty and artistry of greeting Shabbat with my own personal signature as she arrives at our home.
Please be clear that I understand that a busy mom with lots of children may not have the luxury of time or quiet like I have or that my particular avoda may not speak to you personally. The Piaseczno Rebbe OBM, Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira Zt’zl, has a stunning gem of wisdom on this issue. He says, paraphrased from the book, “To Heal the Soul” by Yehoshua Starrett, a person must be the individual they truly are inside and bring out their own unique essence by approaching everything they do with their own personal signature attached like an artist signing his canvas. He says each of us has the obligation to express his unique and individual self and through the personal efforts of creating and sharing our truest selves, we will reach HaShem.
SO have fun, get creative and create your own
masterpiece in time. Your soul will thank you and G-d will too.