Thursday, May 31, 2007

Chochma vs. Bina - Practical Manifestations - Part 2

Click here for the introduction (highly recommended)
Click here for Part 1.
Kabbalah and Chassidus:

Let us speak about the difference between Kabbalah and Chassidus, which differ in the same way as Chochma and Bina. Chochma is compared to water, which descends from above to below [top-down, principal to application] and Bina is compared to fire which rises from below to above [bottom-up, detail to principal].

This means that the revealations of the Ar”i are a revelation of Kabbalah in a way of “above to below,” i.e. from the Infinite Light [descending down] till the lowest world [Olam Ha’asiya], according to the order of the Eitz Chayim. And in this way, [Kabbalah] has an advantage because it is much better equiped to specify and explain all of the Aspects and all of the Levels. However, the drawback is that it begins from a place that is distant from the one who is lower, and the lower one has no comprehension of it. Therefore, the majority of people have no grasp of the words of the Ar”i… The holy Ar"i was the aspect of Moshiach ben Yosef, as Rav Chaim Vital said, and Yosef is the aspect of Chochma which descends from above to below. And in truth, Rav Chaim Vital should have been Moshiach ben Dovid, because he was the aspect of Bina. Therefore, he had the ability to write, and the Ar"i did not have the ability to write because Chochma is the aspect of “Light” and Bina is the aspect of “Vessels,” which are the letters of writing which contain the light of Chochma.

This is why the holy Ar"i said to Rav Chaim Vital that the verse states about him [Rav Chaim Vital], “And to you is the desire of Israel.” He did not explain what he meant. But the Komarner Rav zy”a explained that that Rav Chaim Vital had the Neshoma of the holy Baal Shem Tov (Moshiach ben Dovid). However, we were not meritorious, and the Baal Shem Tov was required to complete the revelation of Kabbalah in the way of Bina, meaning, in a way of “below to above.” [This means that he] began from the perspective of Avodas Hashem and the emotions of people to elevate people up from there to [to allow them to] cleave to that which is above. [He did this by] revealing that everything below is rooted above, and every trait within a person is a chariot of that which is above. [Merkava, chariot is the concept that we can be a mere vehicle of the One Above. Just like a car's movement is not of its own volition, but instead is merely an expression of its driver’s will, so too our goal is to be the merkava/chariot/car of the Holy One, where every thought, word, and action are merely an expression of the will of the One Above.]

[Chassidus] has the advantage that it is able to bring the whole world to this type of revelation, as reflected by the statement of Moshiach to the Baal Shem Tov, that the whole world will be able to make unifications and elevations through you. This means that a person can understand that all of his emotions that he feels in himself are the chariot of the emotions above. [This is the meaning of]the unifications and elevations which it will be possible to easily teach the whole world.

Click here for Part 3, Chassidus and the GR"A

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Chochma vs. Bina - Practical Manifestations - Part 1

(Video is from Parshas Zachor with Rav Itchie Meyer Morgenstern in Mezibutz, Ukraine)

Click here for the Introductory Post.

Bnei Sefarad and the Bnei Ashkenaz (Rav Yosef Karo and Rav Moshe Isserles):

We find from Rav Moshe Dovid Walli zy"a (a student of the Ramchal) in the Likutim, that Sefardim are from the aspect of Chochma. And therefore, they love Bekiyus (bredth of study) and obtaining vast knowledge in all of Torah, like the Rambam. Whereas Ashkenazim love depth and Pilpul, like the Ba'alei Hatosafos, because they (Ashkenazim) are from the aspect of Bina.

[As I brought down in the introduction, Chochma is the aspect of general principals and Bina is the aspect of focusing on the details. Therefore, Ashkenazim, for the most part, love to focus on the details (only learning 20 blatt of 6 masechtos really really well) because they are the aspect of Bina. Whereas Sefardim focus on yedias Hatorah b'chalus because they are primarily the aspect of Chochma, which focuses on the principals, the forrest, and not the trees.]

Ostensibly, this requires explanation because reality shows that Ashkenazim are physically whiter, which relates to Chochma. [in Kabbalah, white is the simplist color without any complexity, like the general principals which characterize Chochma - this question also stems from an assumption that everything in the physical world is a mere reflection of a deeper spiritual reality, even something as mundane as the color of one's skin] While Sefardim are generally browner, which relates to the aspect of Bina. [With all of the focus on detail, there is more complexity in applying principals to the details of life - This is symbolized by brown, which has many shades mixed together, as a reflection of Bina's complex application of general principals to daily life.] But the explanation is that the Ashkenazim have the aspect of Chochma externally, but internally they are the aspect of Bina, while the Sefardim are the aspect of Bina only externally, while internally they are the aspect of Chochma... [A Penimius HaTorah section is omitted]

Therefore, Ashkenazim, during the chupa [which is used to represent our values as it is the beginning of each new home that is created] hint to the idea of "Ashes Chayim Ateres Ba'ala, The woman of valour is the crown of her husband." They reveal the loftiness of the female side, which surrounds the groom. [When the Kallah circles the Chosan 7 times, this reflects the fact that at the root of the Neshoma of Ashkenazim, the female side, the side of Bina, is emphasized and elevated.] However, [at the chupa] Sefardim reveal the elevated status of the male side, which surrounds the bride. [At a Sefardi wedding, the couple is covered by the Choson's talis, showing that the male side (Chochma) is makif (surrounds, is predominant over) the female side, because the Sefardim in their inner essence are Chochma. Therefore, they reveal the elevation of the male side. But the Ashkenazim who, in their inner essence, are the aspect of Bina, reveal the elevation of the female side. [These root natures are reflected in the Chupa because] the chupa reveals the inner essence.

Continue to Part 2, Kabbalah and Chassidus.

-Dixie Yid

Chochma vs. Bina - Practical Manifestations - Introduction

(I found this video of Rav Itchie Mayer Morgenstern on Google Video)

I am planning to do an introduction followed by a 6 part translation of an unbelievable, eye opening, unpublished Kuntres by Rav Itchie Mayer Morgenstern. I obtained this from my rebbe. The original Hebrew version can be found here. It consists of an amazing explanation of the difference between Chochma (Wisdom) and Bina (Insight), and how those two aspects of the ChaBa”D portion of the Sefiros create many of the major dichotomies in Yiddishkeit. In each of these 6 parts, I will translate the sections of the Kuntres regarding how the distinction between Chochma and Bina are the root of the differences between:

1) Sefardim vs. Ashkenazim,
2) Kabbalah vs. Chassidus,
3) Chassidus vs. the GR”A,
4) Chabad vs. Breslov,
5) Rebbe Nachman vs. the Shpoler Zaide and
6) Rav Chaim Brisker vs. the Chazon Ish.

My rebbe omitted several parts of the Kuntres which delved into Penimius HaTorah more deeply. I will also abstain from translating certain paragraphs when I am unable to truly capture their meaning. I do not feel comfortable doing a literal translation of something if I don’t really understand what it means. In the introduction I will very briefly summarize some background information from my rebbe, and throughout the Kuntres, I will interject some commentary here and there, paraphrasing a few of my rebbe’s comments. As with any translation, the usual disclaimers apply; Any errors in explanation or translation are solely due to my mistakes, and are not to be attributed to the original Kuntres or my rebbe’s explanation.


According to Rav Moshe Avigdor Amiel, the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, Chochma means the concept of “Hachlalah”. Hachlalah is the idea of generalizing, synthesizing many details into one coherent whole, and creating principals which animate the specific parts. It is the top-down approach, as opposed to the bottom-up approach. Chochma is the overarching principal, not the detail. Chochma is the male side. In the creation of a human being, the father supplies the ingredient necessary to make a whole person. He completes the code that contains the entire principal, the overarching DNA blueprint for the whole person.

He explains that Bina is “Hafrata.” Hafrata means bringing down the klal, the principal, into its specific application. Bina means taking the principal and applying it to each and every detail. It is the bottom-up approach, focusing on each detail and bringing down the klal, the principal, to apply it in all of the various details. In the creation of a human being, Bina is the female side. The male completes the code/blueprint for the whole person. But it is the mother, the female side that applies that code throughout the nine months of gestation to create and form each and every cell, organ and limb.

(This is also explained in my post entitled, How to Listen to Your Mother's Torah)

Quote from Perek 1 of Tanya:

"Behold the intellect of the intellectual soul is that which intellectually understands each thing. It is called Chochma [which stands for] "Koach [the ability to understand] What [something is]." And this ability is brought from the potential to the actual when one contemplates with his intellect to understand a thing to his satisfaction and to deepen it using some idea of Chochma which is understood with his intellect. This is called Bina. And these [Chochma and Bina] are the father and mother which give birth to love of Hashem, [as well as] awe and fear of Him."

Click here to continue on to Part 1 of the translation, which explains how Chochma and Bina are the root of the differences in nature between Sefardim and Ashkenazim.

-Dixie Yid

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

If You Give Ma'aser, Why Aren't You Rich?

I saw a great posting by Aneinu from DafNotes on on this topic that I've wondered about for a long time. "If you give ma'aser, why aren't you rich?" Enjoy.

Update: Thanks Avrumi for the link to version of this posting actually found at DafNotes.

-Dixie Yid

Friday, May 25, 2007

Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh Author will appear again Thursday

This coming Thursday, May 31, at 1:15 Eastern time, the author of the seforim Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh will begin a group that will be working on spiritual avoda. You will be able to view the meeting on's Live Video page.

-Dixie Yid

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Who is Responsible for My Happiness - Powerpoint

Below is a powerpoint slideshow I put together a while back based on the famous class by the same name by Rabbi Jonathan Rietti. You can listen to his shiur here.

-Dixie Yid

Monday, May 21, 2007

Why do Chazal call Shavuos, "Atzeres?"

Rav Levi Yitzchak from Berditchev taught the following Torah in Kedushas Levi on Shavuos:

He said that when he was in Lithuania, he was asked why Shavuos is called "Atzeres," by Chazal in the mishna in Bikurim 1:10, when it is not called that in the Torah. He gives three explanations. I will quote two of them.

One: He says that most Yomim Tovim have two aspects; the unique mitzvos of that day (Sukkah, Matza, Teshuva, Shofar) and the fact of the Atzira MiMelacha (the stopping from doing melacha). Since Shavuos lacks a special mitzvas aseh, it lacks one of those two aspects. All that's left is the "atzira mimelacha," the abstention from doing melacha. Therefore, chazal call Shavuos "Atzeres," as a reference to this aspect that Shavuos only has one of the two aspects that the other Yomim Tovim have, the "atzira" or stopping from doing melacha.

Two: There is an idea that the Kedushas Levi brings down from the Ramban that when there is an awakening from Above, a spiritual energy or hashpo'oh, it must be given a kli, a vessel, of this world to dwell in, otherwise, it's impact will be lost. This can be understood on a simple level. For instance (my own example), when a person hears a great shiur, learns a great insight in a sefer, or perhaps experiences a stirring niggun at a Melaveh Malka, he is awakened from above, inspired. If that inspiration and awakening is not channeled into some physical vessel of this world, that energy will dissipate and, for the most part, be lost. The person must do a mitzva, daven for that thing, make a kabalah to take on some small new thing, as a way of giving that hashpo'oh/inspiration, some vessel/body to dwell in, in this world. The Berditchever says that this is what the Jewish people did on Har Sinai, when they were receiving the Torah through Moshe Rebbeinu. They needed a physical mitzvah in which to enclothe the tremendous spiritual experience they were having. Therefore, they used the mitva of "hagbalah," of stopping themselves from ascending Har Sinai, as the mitzva to fulfill that purpose. That mitzva of "atzira," stopping themselves from ascending the mountain when they so wanted to approach Hashem, was the vessel to hold the holiness they were receiving during Kabalas Hatorah. It is because of that aspect of Kabalas Hatorah that Shavuos is called "Atzeres," to refer to the "atzira," or withholding themselves from ascending Har Sinai that the Jewish people used to enclothe their inspiration during Kabalas Hatorah.

May we all merit to be mekabel the Torah tonight with simcha, and may we merit that our inspiration from this Shavuos should remain with us and have staying power well beyond these two days of Yom Tov.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of The Temple Institute)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh Live Video Shiur Now Available

Thanks again to Ran at for giving us the head up. You can now view the shiur by the author of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh anytime at this link.

-Dixie Yid

How to Listen to Your Mother's Torah

My rebbe shared an amazing Gemara. The Gemara in Eruvin 53b quotes the following ma'seh that occured involving R' Yossi Haglili and Bruria, the well known wife of Rebbe Meir:

רבי יוסי הגלילי הוה קא אזיל באורחא אשכחה לברוריה אמר לה באיזו דרך נלך ללוד אמרה ליה גלילי שוטה לא כך אמרו חכמים אל תרבה שיחה עם האשה היה לך לומר באיזה ללוד

Rabi Yossi Haglili was walking on the path. He found Bruria. He said to her, "Which path do we take to Lod?" She said to him, "Gallelian Fool! Did the Chachamim not say [in Pirkei Avos 1:5], "Do not have excessive conversation with a woman." You should have said "Which to Lod?"

My rebbe explained this in light of the pasuk in Mishlei 1:8, "שְׁמַע בְּנִי, מוּסַר אָבִיך וְאַל-תִּטֹּשׁ, תּוֹרַת אִמֶּךָ." "Listen, my son, to the teaching of your father, and do not abandon the Torah of your mother." He says this refers to the fact that the father, the male side, is the aspect of giving over of the intellectual concepts of Torah and Chochma, the "musar Avicha." And the "Toras Imecha" refers to the female side, bina, and the application and development of those intellectual concepts into real life.

The problem the Gemara is teaching us, regarding Rabi Yossi Haglili, was not that he didn't know the Mishna in Avos. It was that he wasn't living with its teaching, regarding not conversing too much with a woman in this instance, at every moment. He knew the information, but in that particular instance, perhaps due to being lost in a strange place, he failed to apply the teaching properly. He added in two extra words into his query to Bruria, that were unnecessary, and thus violated the precept of the Chachamim not to speak excessively with a woman.

There is a reason why the Gemara/hashgacha made it that it was a woman, the Tzadekes Bruria, who was the one to teach the holy Tana, R' Yossi Haglili that lesson at that time. This was to teach us that it is the Nukva, the female side, the side of Bina, which is the aspect that knows how to apply what is known into practical life. This is what is being taught in the pasuk of, "Shma Bni." Learn the Torah and all of its knowledge from your father, from whatever your source of chochma is. But imbibe the sense of how to apply the Torah into everyday real life from your source for bina, or the practical application, which is equivalent to the female side, the side of bina.

Gut voch!

-Dixie Yid

Friday, May 18, 2007

My Siddur's Pages vs. The Earth's Rotation

During Shacharis this morning, I noticed that the pages of my sidur did not fall to the floor. Looking back, the only reason why this is surprising is that 3 pages from my sidur, in the Psukei D'Zimra section, are detached from the sidur. Add to that the fact that my sidur was perched at a 45 degree angle on a shtender-like support in front of me, and one could understand why they might have fallen. I reasoned that the explanation why the pages weren't falling is because of the surface tension between the pages that were attached and the pages that were not attached. Although any slight movement would have caused them to fall, everything was very still, and so nothing shook them from their place.

This got me to thinking afterward; Why were things so still? My spot on the surface of the earth is traveling at 25,000 miles per hour, due to the earth's rotation. Not only that, my spot on the earth is traveling at 67,000 miles per hour around the sun, in a totally different direction than the earth's rotation. This made me sit back in amazement. How is it that I can be traveling at 25,000 miles per hour in one direction and 67,000 miles in another direction, and that travel is so incredibly smooth, that one cannot feel even the slightest tremor, and even the loose pages of a sidur, resting at an angle, do not fall due to that movement.

מָה-רַבּוּ מַעֲשֶׂיךָ, יְהוָה-- כֻּלָּם, בְּחָכְמָה עָשִׂיתָ;
מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ, קִנְיָנֶךָ! - How wonderous are Your works Hashem, You have made them all with wisdom. The whole world is filled with your creations! (Tehilim 104:24)

-Dixie Yid

Top of the Earth's Atmosphere

(Pictures courtesy of Nasa Earth Observatory)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bilvavi Author in live streaming video shiur TODAY!

At 8:30 PM Israel time (1:30 Eastern time) today (Thursday), the author of the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh will be giving a streaming video shiur through

Tune into the webcast through this link to view the shiur at the Shorashim website.

Thank you to the folks at for alerting us to this opportunity!

-Dixie Yid

Monday, May 14, 2007

Remember the Day of Death - יזכור לו יום המיתה

A couple of things have happened recently that have reminded me about the fact that life is uncertain and that death is a part of life. Two events reminded me that since life is finite, you have to prioritize what you do all the time, in order to live life in the right way, while you have the chance.

The first thing was last week. For the first time since I moved to the East Coast, I had an opportunity to do a shmira for a couple of hours late at night. Shortly after I got to the funeral home, I was talking to the guy after whom I was taking over shmira duty. We noticed some small wooden boxes. Somewhat in denial, I commented that they seemed too small for any size person, and that they must be for some other purpose. A few minutes later when an employee of the funeral parlor passed by, I asked him what they were for. And he confirmed that which I didn't want to admit to myself; that the boxes were coffins for infants who are niftar, r"l. This shook me up and reminded me of what I hate to think about; That death is actually possible and it does happen to people regularly.

The second thing that happened was that a friend told me that his brother was at a Vort in New York yesterday (I think) and a Kollel yungerman, who was just married and had a baby last year, collapsed and was niftar during the dancing. It seems so unbelievable and horrible but it happened. This yungerleit's levaya was today in Far Rockaway.

I tried to think about what Hashem wants me to think about with these recent exposures. Rav Klonymous Kalman Shapira, the Aish Kodesh, quotes the Gemara in Brachos 5a in the sefer Bnei Machshava Tova; (paraphrasing) When you've tried everything else and you are not able to be victorious over the Yetzer Hara, "יזכור לו יום המיתה." "Remind him (the Yetzer Hara) of the day of death." The rebbe says that this does not merely mean that one should say to himself, "Remember! You're going to die one day!" He says that is implies putting one's self through a long, detailed mental story, where he imagines himself observing the pains of death, the reactions of his wife, children, parents, and friends around him as he is dying, the process of the tahara, the funeral, what his children and wife are doing and feeling at the funeral... etc. It's only that kind of hisbonenus that can really put the yetzer hara in its place.

Hopefully, these events, at least as they relate to me, will not be in vain. May Hashem give me the presence of mind to take the lessons from the things that I see and hear about, and incorporate them into my life.

My Q & A Session with A Simple Jew

Please click over to A Simple Jew to read the answer he posted that I had written to a question he posed to me, entitled, Kedusha and Man-Made Objects.

I'll just quote his question here:

A Simple Jew asks:

According to halacha, if one has a choice between toiveling a utensil in a river or toiveling it in a keilim mikvah, it is preferable to use the keilim mikvah. In essence, we are saying that it is better to use something created by man over something created by Hashem in order to imbue an object with kedusha. How can one explain this?

-Dixie Yid

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Life is Like a Final Exam

I was thinking this morning about the fact that there are so many things I want to do in life. I want to learn more Gemara, I want to learn Nefesh Hachaim. I want to have a full hour a day to devote to hisbonenus/hisbodedus. I want to have time to exercise each day. I also need to work full time and have enough money to afford all our expenses, tuition, tzedakah, etc. I want to spend dinner time and homework time with my wife and kids... There's no time for everything. So I have to prioritize and choose what I will do, and how well. This got me to thinking about my final exams.

Whenever I'm not working right now, I'm in the heat of preparations for my third and last final exam for my first year of law school. One experience I've had in law school exams is that I only have 3 hours to answer 2-3 questions, depending on the exam. There is never enough time to write everything I want to write and get credit for writing. The professor designs the exam this way so that we will not only be tested on our analysis and knowledge of the subject, but also on our ability to prioritize what to cover in our answer and in what depth.

It made me realize that my life is the same way. Hashem only gives me a limited time. There are only 24 hours in a day and only 7 days in a week. Yet I have far more options and requirements about how I spend that time than I can actually accomplish. So in the "final exam of life," Hashem knows that He has given me a limited time and doesn't expect me to do it all, and is waiting to "grade" me on how I chose and prioritized the activities in my life. I will have to not do certain things, that I really would like to/should do. Hashem understands that. But he expects me to make the right decisions by getting my priorities right.

May Hashem help me always have the presence of mind to have the right priorities and make the right choices.

-Dixie Yid

Monday, May 7, 2007

Bilvavi, "A Sanctuary in My Heart" available at Nehora

Thanks to a commenter at my post here, I have been made aware that you can get "A Sanctuary in My Heart," at Nehora at this link.


-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of Nehora, obviously) is out with the beginning of Vol. 2's translation!

The folks at have let us know that the first few chapters of Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh are now available on their website.

Vol. 2's translation is available here.

You can also see my previous posts on this site here and here.

-Dixie Yid