|Remembering this year and Rebbetzin's special tour to North America|
Once again the New Year is upon us. Let’s stand up and ask ourselves: “Am I ready? Am I ready to face Hashem? What can I do in that short remaining time, to lift myself up and face my higher self to stand in judgment before the King of Kings?” Within our super busy lives we try to take time to recite some extra prayers, to extend ourselves in kindness towards others, and to open our heart and donate even more. We try to repent and ask forgiveness of Hashem and the people in our lives. Yet, are we ready to make Hashem the One and only King over every part of ourselves? This week’s meditation is designed to help prepare us for really facing the King, and crown Him King over every limb of our being. By using circular breathing technique and firmly positioning our body in standing meditation, while visualizing Hashem being the King of each part of our being, we have the opportunity to mamash dissolve the blocks that prevent us from fully returning to Hashem.
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שנה טובה תכתיבו ותחתימו! May you be inscribed in the Book of Life! May this year be the sweetest in your life! May you rejoice with the people you love and get only closer and closer! May you keep learning and growing and find fulfillment in your life! May you be able to harvest the fruits of your hard labor! May you be able to rejoice in the Land, with the Mashiach and all of Israel!
With Blessings of the Torah and the Land,
Chana Bracha Siegelbaum
Read Rebbetzin’s commentary to Haftorat Nitzavim - "Dancing on the Bridge of Redemption"
Standing Upright with Our Heads Raised
“You are standing upright today, before Hashem your G-d…” Upright, not bend over, upright and self-secure; trusting that we will be worthy to stand before G-d in judgment. Standing before Hashem, is to stand straight and not bent over. Kedusha (holiness) does not mean that we should constantly bow our heads. The Torah teaches us to hold our heads high. “Sin causes us to lower our head; evil is rooted in earthly concerns, and is lowly. Kedusha leads us to raise our eyes on high – to become elevated both in quality and in quantity. The farther anything is from kedusha, the lower its profile, the more bent its head. Therefore the Torah tells us that when we stand before G-d, we stand upright with our heads raised”
Reclaiming our Wholeness
“You are standing today….. the heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, all of the men of Israel. Your little ones, your wives, the convert in the midst of your camp, from your woodcutter, to your water-carrier.” We all stand before Hashem in our wholeness, from the lowliest part of ourselves – the woodcutter, water-carrier aspect, reclaiming the shards of self that have been broken off in trauma. As we stand up in our integrity, we reclaim all the lost pieces of self that we project on the other, all the parts of self that lie hidden behind walls of shame or pride. We stand before G-d and rise to the challenge that has been put before us. We grow into spiritual adults by standing up to face this challenge and not shying away from it. In standing fully before G-d, we can finally embrace our whole selves completely. We can take responsibility for our choices. In standing before G-d we become true partners in the work of Creation.
Standing in Unity
“You are standing upright today, all of you…” – “today” refers to the Day of Judgment. When we are insecure about how to stand before Hashem in Judgment, on this holy day of Rosh Hashana – the Torah’s advice is: “all of you” – stand together in unity and you will be ok! When we connect with the community, and allow ourselves to really integrate into the group, then judgments will have no power on us. We cannot underestimate the power of the community to nullify negative judgments. Only when we are united, are we called Hashem’s children. Only when we have love for everyone in the community will Hashem have mercy on us, “Like a father has mercy on his children, so does Hashem have mercy on those who fear Him.” This is the meaning of “You are standing today” – on the Day of Judgment, “all of you” – all of you as one, through the power of the community we can awaken mercy and sweeten the judgment.
Crowning G-d King over Each of our Limbs
The main work on Rosh Hashana is to crown Hashem King over each and every limb. This way we cleave to Hashem and sweeten all the judgments. However, there are limbs over which it’s easier to crown Hashem, whereas there are others over which the yetzer harah (negative inclination) has a stronger hold. How can we make Hashem King over the parts of ourselves which are filled with desire and lust? The way is by means of “all of you” – with the power of the community. Whereas the level of purity is possible achieve alone, holiness can only be achieved together. It is a gift which the King gives only to His children, and only when we are unified are we considered “ His children.”
Standing – Nitzavim – Meditation
Standing Meditation is one of the simplest and potentially most powerful meditations. By aligning ourselves through this meditation, we can crown Hashem King over each part of our body. Standing mostly still gives us the opportunity for mindfulness and allowing Hashem’s light to flow through our entire being, gently dissolving any blockages that may have been standing in the way. Find a quiet, pleasant place to practice. You may want to face an inspiring natural beautiful view.
1. Stand with your feet parallel, hip distance apart, (your toes pointing straight forward). Soften the backs of your knees just enough to feel your pelvis relax downward, and the weight come into your feet. Start to feel the support of a golden string from Above, holding you up from the top of your head. Allow your body to relax and hang off that cord. Imagine Hashem’s life-giving light streaming into you, filling your head. The light is filled with the words הַשֵם הוּא הַמֶלֶך/ “Hashem He is the King.” Recite in your heart: “Hashem is the King over my head, and face – Hashem Hu Hamelech!”
2. Gaze straight forward, with your head aligned happily right on top of your spine. Relax the muscles of your face, head, neck and throat. Recite with your silent voice: “Hashem is the King on my exterior and interior vision. I give over my vision and my hearing into the hands of Hashem, that I should only hear and see goodness.” Smile gently, and float the tip of your tongue up toward the roof of your mouth, just behind your upper front teeth. (It can be touching or just hovering really close.) As you position your tongue mentally recite: “Hashem rules over my tongue. I fill my words with the light of Hashem.”
3. Take a full, deep breath in, and then let it go anyway it goes, take another deep breath in, and just let it go naturally, let the breath happen at its own speed. Breathe continuously with no gap at all between the inhalations and exhalations. As you breathe recite inwardly: “I make Hashem King over my lungs, over my breathing.”
4. As you continue to breathe, allow any tension in your body, to start draining out, starting from your head, through your face, your neck, your shoulders, your arms, your wrists, your hands, your torso, your belly, your pelvis, your thighs, your knees, your ankles, your feet, all the way down to your roots in the ground.
5. Allow even your feet to relax, with your weight going down into the ground just forward of the heels, so the front parts of your feet don’t have to exert any force on the ground. Allow your feet to sit easy and relaxed on the ground, like the webbed feet of a duck. Recite within you: “Hashem is King over my steps. I walk only in His light.”
6. Now imagine strings attached to your wrists, feel your wrists being lifted up by these strings. Slowly lift your wrists using those strings, till your wrists come to about the height of your heart. As you wrists lift, recite in your heart: “Hashem is King over my heart and over my emotions. Hashem is King over all my love. May all the blockages disappear.”
7. Allow your shoulders to relax and open as much as they can. One good way to do this is to imagine all the joints of your shoulders expanding, just a little more space in all the joints of the shoulders, as if every bone in your shoulders is getting just a little further apart from all its neighbors.
8. Have your palms facing your body at around the height of your heart, so that there’s a round space between your arms and your body. Allow the finger-tips of your two hands to point towards (but not touching) each other – as though you were hugging somebody. Let your fingers be extended, with space between them, and your elbows be slightly lifted, so your armpits feel hollow. Recite in your heart: “Hashem is King over my neck, shoulders arms, wrists, hands and heart. All the klipot – all the negativity fly away, easily in the wind. The light of Hashem continues to spread out until my fingertips. I’m making Hashem King on all my actions, on all my giving, on all my embraces, my love, that it should all be intended for Hashem perfectly.
9. Take a couple of deep inhales and complete exhalations. As you do this, make whatever small adjustments you need in your stance, so that it feels comfortable. As you stand tall and upright, imagine standing together with all of the Jewish people. Visualize all the people standing in front of you and those behind you, imagining melting into the sea of your people; everyone breathing softly together with their heart beating to the same rhythm.
10. Now, imagine the light of Hashem’s love entering even deeper into you. The light fills your torso, your belly, your pelvis, your thighs, your knees, your ankles, your feet, all the way down. “Hashem reigns over my eating, speaking and prayer. Hashem Hu Hamelech!” The light of Hashem spreads out into your liver. “Hashem is King over all the heavy things in my life. All the poisons get neutralized in His great light. Also the gall bladder and everything bitter gets filled with the sweetness of Hashem’s light. Hashem is King over my kidneys, over my bad consciousness. I don’t have to feel guilty, even the mistakes are from Hashem. Hashem Hu Hamelech! Hashem is King over my pancreas, over my urinary bladder. The light spreads down the legs until the toenails. Hashem is King over the places I go, over my hargelim (habits) I want to do only Hashem’s will completely.”
Parashat Nitzavim is always read on the last Shabbat before Rosh HaShanah. From this parasha and onwards Moses spoke to the children of Israel on the very last day of his life. These powerfully poetic Torah readings that sum up of the whole Torah are appropriate prior to and during the coming Days of Awe. At this time, we must make a very honest reckoning about the past, and strengthen our stand for the future New Year. We stand poised to face its challenges, just as Israel stood in the Plains of Moav, poised to enter the Land.
 Devarim 29:9.
 Ohr Hachayim, Shemot 30:12.
 Devarim 29:9-10.
 Targum Yonatan and Rashi, Iyov 1:6.
 Tehillim 103:13.
 Netivot Shalom, Parashat Nitzavim, p. 187.
 Rashi, Devarim 29:9.
 Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum, Azamra