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From the Chassidic Masters

Withdrawal and Return
Our Parshah begins by mentioning the death of Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aaron. Their death is something of a mystery, for while they seemed to have been punished for their faults (no less than 14 different "sins" and shortcomings are enumerated by the Sages) a mystical explanation is that they experienced a spiritual ecstasy so intense that their souls literally left their bodies. Can we reconcile these two analyses of their character? And what is the connection between their deaths and the High Priest's service in the Holy Temple on Yom Kippur?
The most sacred—and mysterious—ritual in the Holy Temple was the burning of the ketoret, a specially prepared incense whose ingredients and manner of preparation were commanded to Moses at Sinai. The offering of the ketoret in the “Holy of Holies” by the high priest was the climax of the Yom Kippur service. What is the significance of the ketoret? Maimonides describes its function, Rabbeinu Bechayei vehemently disagrees, and the chassidic masters explain.
The Torah describes Yom Kippur as achat bashanah, "once a year" -- a phrase which also translates as "the one of the year". The Chassidic masters explain: this is the annual point in time in which true oneness breaks the surface multiplicity and separateness that define our lives on the year's other 364 days.
Alienation and Faith
We detect two tendencies of thought on the place of alienation and loneliness in the Jewish analysis of the emotions. To state this contrast is not to formulate an opposition; simply to open another gate...
A History of Love
A famous talk by the Lubavitcher Rebbe analyzes the lives of Noah, Abraham and Moses as milestones in humanity’s journey from an instinctive selfhood to a true concept of “love” for one’s fellow. We also encounter the basis of the Rebbe’s groundbreaking approach to “outreach,” and how to relate to those who are supposedly spiritually “inferior” to oneself.
24,000 Plus One
Rabbi Akiva taught that “Love your fellow as yourself” is a “cardinal principle in the Torah.” How was it that that Rabbi Akiva’s disciples, of all people, were deficient in this area?
Beyond Holiness
A mystical interpretation of the laws of orlah (forbidden fruit of the first three years after a fruit tree's planting), netah revai (the sanctified fruit of the 4th year), and the "mundane" fruit of the fruit tree's 5th year.
How to Criticize and Other Thoughts On Love
Criticizing another person is not out of the question. It's just that there are a few conditions to attend to before you start...
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