Have you ever wanted to find a special,
non threatening place to recharge your spirituality? A place of learning about
one's self, being Jewish, Kabala and Chaddish? To me, the only place in the world
I would ever go is ASCENT located in Tsfat.
are as many ways to pronounce the name of this mystical city in the North of Israel
as there are types of people who live here.
Tsfat is a 2 ½ hour
bus trip from my home town, Netanya. Israel is such a small Country and in that
2 ½ hour time span, the terrain changes from the Sea of Netanya, to desert,
flat farm land, JNF forest with tall pine trees and mountains. The road is like
any small 2 land highway in America, except along the way I saw an archeological
dig, small Arab Villages, small Jewish Villages, McDonalds, Ace Hardware and Office
Depot. Herds of cows, sheep and goats. If I used my imagination, I could see Abraham
herding his flock of sheep. Thinking of the past 2500 years, I could have seen
Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob walking on the dirt road that paralleled the highway.
When one thinks of the past, the present and future is not far behind.
Why was I going to ASCENT? To attend their VALLEY OF LOVE weekend seminar. To
me, Love is a 4 letter word and can mean many things to many people. It could
be negative or positive. It is what you as an individual make of it. To me, love
is important in any relationship, whether it is with G-D, yourself, parent, child,
spouse, lover, family, friend, acquaintance or stranger.
I can't help but
think of those I have loved in the past and maybe, what and how I should have
loved differently. Unfortunately, I can't change the past, only the future. As
the weekend approached, I looked forward to learning ideas or tools that I could
share with those who are most important to me today.
The weekend began late
Thursday afternoon and ended Sunday afternoon. If was jammed packed with lectures,
classes in Kabbala and Mysticism, Spiritual nature hikes, Mystical tour of Tsfat,
live music, singing, dancing, meals, Challah baking, and a full Shabbat experience.
I learned many new tools on love and relationships. Many I heard before,
but didn't know how to take the thought and put it into practice. I would like
to share what I learned.
1. In order to truly love someone else, we must
know our own strength and weaknesses. We should always strive to improve ourselves
for ourselves only - not for someone else. If we know who we are then we know
our challenges. By being ourselves we open a true line of communication with others.
Love is the most primary essence of life. We all need to receive and give.
In a relationship, two half souls come together as one complete, rectified soul,
thereby helping to create a better world. They are still different people who
need to maintain their individuality in order to keep their joint soul whole.
*If one person is not going in the right way, it brings forward the other
person to go in the right direction. Not with anger or negativity, but with love,
sharing and respect.
*How to deal with the negative? Choose to love because
we are together for OUR ONE SOUL. Have the understanding that we are there for
*Being able to share our hopes, fears and dreams with each other
without fear of rejection.
4. Marriage is a life time investment. Eternal
building - starting with a good foundation that you build together. If you took
a piece of land and want to build a home, you would need permits, architect, builders,
and others experienced in building a home, It is lots of work; however, the end
result is you have THE HOME that you designed. Marriage is no different, it is
work. You can make it fun and you can create a life you want.
is putting your best foot forward and being on your best behavior. Your main goal
is making a good impression; however, there is no true building.
- Words are different for different people. We all have prior experiences that
have an impact on our words. We need to step outside our comfort zones and ask
ourselves the following questions:
*How can I make it so he/she is more
*What can I do to help him/her?
*Why do people lie? They are afraid
to tell the truth. What am I doing to make them lie? What can I do to make it
*When something bothers you, take a chance - discuss it. Don't hold
it in because it will eat you up inside.
7. There are two types of love.
Selfless love and Selfish love - diametrically opposed. Selfish love is conditional
love. You do this for me and I will do that for you. You love on the condition
that your needs are met and if they aren't you search elsewhere. Selfless love
mean you are going outside yourself, truly connecting with another person's soul
and, therefore, with G-d. When love is transcendent, you are reaching for a higher
place, together; you are reaching for G-d. Relationship between man and woman
mirrors the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people. G-d is always with
us and is ready to forgive us for our mistakes. Even in our lowest point G-d forgives
us. We need to forgive. Saying, "I am sorry" to another person, allows
forgiveness to go on.
Welcoming the Shabbat is very spiritual is Tsfat.
As the bright sun slowly set on the mountains below, you could see the contrast
between light and darkness. One special quality of Tsfat is its air and you can
feel the giving of our 2nd soul.
The roof top where my room was located
was turned into the shul. We greeted the Sabbath Bride - Tsfat style. With prayer,
singing and dancing. Kabbalat Shabbos and Lecha Dodi were first initiated
into the Friday night prayer service in Tsfat by a young great Kabbalist, Rabbi
Moshe Cordovero, who wanted to add to the beauty of the Shabbat. All over
the world it is customary when you sing Lecha
Dodi to turn towards the West and greet the Divine Presence, the Sabbath
Bride. In Tsfat this means facing to the right, which is lso towards the fields
where the Sabbath Bride was first greeted and in the direction of the burial place
of its author, the Kabbalist and sage, Rabbi
is known as the home of many famous Kabbalah Rabbis. I went and prayed at the
graveside of two such great Rabbis:
ARI, the Lion of Safed. Rabbi
Isaac Luria (1534-1572), renowned as the greatest kabbalist of modern times.
ARI, an acronym standing for Elohi Rabbi Yitzhak - the G-dly Rabbi Isaac. At age
seventeen, he discovered the Zohar, obtaining his own manuscript copy. There are
a select number of individuals who live on a plane so high above the rest of humanity
that it seems as if they are a completely different, higher species of being.
They teach, but we grasp but little, and from the few crumbs that we glean, we
can build mountains.
ben Uziel, who was the greatest of all the students of Rabbi Hillel, 2000
years ago. The Talmud [Sukkah 28a] reports that birds passing above his head would
burn from the presence of the angels who came to hear his Torah study! It is said
of Rabbi Yonathan ben Uziel that since he never married, he has a special merit
to intercede on behalf of the earnest prayers of single men and women. His burial
place in Amuka, is perhaps the main Jewish pilgrimage site in Israel for those
in search of their destined soul-mate.
I was told when praying at these
graves, our prayers are passed directly on to G-d in the merit of the special
close relationship the souls of these holy Rabbis have with G-d. After praying
it is customary to leave a 'calling card", a personal note which includes
your Hebrew name (son or daughter of your mom's Hebrew name) and what you are
asking for. Plus, the giving of charity. It does work because when I returned
home, I found myself being blessed with the answers to my prayers.
ASCENT is like leaving home and family. Many thanks and love goes to Rabbi and
Chaya-Bracha Leiter, Rabbi and Shulamit Tilles, Rabbi "Big Mo" Siev,
Rabbi and Olivia Schwartz, Simcha Chersky and the rest of the staff of Ascent.
Until my next visit
wish you all the best and may G-d watch over you and your families.
love from Israel,
making aliyah and moving to Netanya, Andee Goldman lived in Henderson, Nevada.
She grew up in Burbank, CA. She states exuberantly that she much prefers life
in Israel! She would also enjoy hearing from the friends she made at ASCENT, at
K9andee@hotmail.com or 077 767-6141. (For another seminar review by Andee,
to Seminar Reviews menu