Energy of the Week: Mishpatim
Every portion every Shabbat holds a unique energy. The specific Light of this portion, Mishpatim, involves one of the deepest topics in the teachings of Kabbalah: Reincarnation.
If we only read the stories of the Torah literally, we may find them irrelevant to the period of time that we’re living in today. Mishpatim means laws and judgment, and this portion talks about different rules of slavery and farming – stories we will find have very little to do with our lives – but, as soon as we turn to Kabbalah and the Zohar, we get clarity about the secrets of the portion.
We are all here because we have spiritual work to do and corrections that need to be made .The biggest gift from Mishpatim, as Rav Berg explains, is that just listening to this Torah portion helps us make those corrections. The simple act of listening to the Torah portion along with the desire to change what needs to be changed, and the understanding of what energy is being revealed can actually create the correction.
It’s like a free trip. Usually, we go through our tikkun (correction) process in life, and through hard work and pain, we reach the deep realization that we must change something. However, Shabbat is a special timeframe during which we can receive energy without boundaries. Just by attending the Shabbat connection – where the Torah reader knows the energy he is sharing and we, as the receivers, know what we are being given – we can save ourselves so much hardship, trouble, effort and pain while we are going through the correction process of life. As the Rav explains, we are really paying off karmic debts just by listening to this week’s portion.
I’d like to share with you the first verse of Mispatim in the Zohar says:
Rabbi Shimon opened with the words, “And these are the judgments which you shall set
before them” (Shemot 21:1). ALSO IN THE ARAMAIC TRANSLATION, IT SPEAKS OF JUDGMENTS. These are the rules concerning reincarnation, NAMELY the judgment of souls that INCARNATE AGAIN IN THIS WORLD to be sentenced each according to its punishable acts.
In this week’s portion in the Zohar is the story of an old soul called Sabba di Mishpatim that reveals the secrets of reincarnation. Reincarnation is a topic with which we do not all connect. Many people don’t think about their past lives or doubt that they exist. The fact that we don’t remember past lives doesn’t mean that they didn’t exist. Most people don’t remember the first few years of their current lives, the most important developmental years that determine the rest of our lives, but it doesn’t mean that they didn’t happen.
If we want to connect to the energy of reincarnation this week, we can open ourselves up to the idea that there is a reason for our existence. We did not come to this world just to be spiritual or good people. Each of us came for a very specific task connected with a certain correction we need to make.
It’s easy to get diverted, to be good and do all kinds of spiritual things because it’s relatively easy. However, there is a precise purpose and a distinct correction for each and every one of us. If we die without doing completing them, it’s as if we had never lived and we miss the opportunity of our lifetime.
How do we wake up to realize what each of us is here for? First, know that the answer can be found this week. The answer can be revealed to you when you’re using the spiritual tools of the Ana Beko’ach and studying from the Zohar. Ask yourself is: What are the things which are really hard for me to do? What are the things which are really painful for me to do?
These difficult and painful areas are where your correction lies, as well as in the transformation you can make in those places. The portion’s literal story is about slaves because, as the Rav explains, most of us are slaves to our past-life baggage. We don’t even know how much of our lives is actually guided by our fears or actions we did in past lives!
Rav Isaac Lura explains that if we don’t remember at least one lifetime, there is no way we can achieve our purpose in a current lifetime. We must wake up and remember – not our names, places of residency or occupations. Rather, there needs to be a connection, somewhere deep inside of us, to the things that are hard for us to do, we’re afraid to do and are buried. Go to those places and work on those areas because this week we can really reach reveal the reason we exist in the world.
I’ll end with a short story. A student came to the Bal Shem Tov and said, “I don’t see any sense in this world.” So, the Bal Shem Tov sent the student to a certain location to observe what was happening there. The student went, and saw a person sit down on a bench for lunch and when he left, he forgot his suitcase. A second person came to the bench, picked up the suitcase and left. A third person sat down on the bench just as the first person came back looking for his suitcase. The first person started to scream at and beat up the third person, blaming him for taking his suitcase.
The student went back to the Bal Shem Tov and said, “Now, you only proved to me that there is actually no sense in life. I saw an innocent person lose his suitcase, another innocent person get beaten up and yelled at, and a third person steal something and nothing happened to him. There’s no justice.” The Bal Shem Tov explained to him that this is what it means when it’s said that someone has eyes but can’t really see. Our world is much deeper and more complicated than the present we see with our 1% eyes. When we learn about reincarnation and the journey of our soul, we realize that life is never-ending. It’s a huge chain of cause-and-effect carried from one lifetime to another. The first person was a thief in his past lifetime who stole money from the second person, and the second person was only taking what actually belonged to him when he took the suitcase. The third person was the judge who lied in the way that he had judged both of them in the past lifetime and therefore, his correction was to get beaten up and yelled at by the first person.
The power of reincarnation is to show us that nothing happens randomly. Everything is connected to a prior cause, and we are the cause. The choices we’ve made, the actions we’ve taken and the energy we’ve put in will come back to us as opportunities for a correction.
This week especially, we can broaden our perspective of our lives. We can look at situations that seem unfair, where we ask, “Why did this happen to me? Why did this person do it to me?” There is always a chapter before, and with this week’s portion, we can get insights into what that chapter is.
I wish all of us a huge extension of our understanding of who we are, why we exist, why we go through what we do, as well as a new appreciation for people who come into our lives. More than that, I wish each of us real clarity of what our own correction is and, through the Torah reading and the Zohar, that we receive the ability to create that correction.