Nir Menussi 🐚 Updates
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Nir Menussi / The Daily Pearl / 26 Iyyar 5780 / 41st Day of the Omer
41. Yesod within Yesod: Self- Realization or Self-Aggrandizement?

We are dedicating the week of Yesod to the topic of self-realization, and now reach the day of yesod within yesod—the essence and inner core of yesod.

Yesod corresponds to the human reproductive organs, particularly that of the male. This organ is called the “organ of the covenant”, because on it is performed the covenant of circumcision. Circumcision involves removing the external foreskin from the point in the body where we can create the deepest connection with another. Its spiritual parallel involves removing the metaphorical foreskin from the part in our souls where we connect with another—our heart: “and you shall circumcise the foreskin of your hearts” (Deut. 10:16).

In our context, this means refining the concept of “self-realization,” transforming it from external to internal. Self-realization, as generally understood today, is often tainted with desire for fame, admiration, control, etc. Such self-realization (mimush atzmi) should really be called self-caressing (mishush atzmi), since its aim is not actualizing our spiritual potential, but approval-seeking and self-aggrandizement.

To achieve inner self-realization, we must replace the question “How will I succeed?” with “What is my shelichut?” This question is on the one hand subjective, directed at my own special self-realization, yet on the other hand places the objective other, rather than myself, at the center. It asks not what I need, but what is needed of me. It thus enables us to reach a much deeper and truer answer.

Does this mean there’s no room for my own needs? Certainly not: just as physical reproduction involves enjoyment, so too the fulfillment of our shelichut. Shelichut should be fun! The Baal Shem Tov expressed this idea in interpreting the verse, “Hungry and thirsty, their spirit is folded within them” (Psalms 107:5)as follows: Our spirit (shelichut) is “folded” (hides) within our thirst and hunger—the things we most enjoy doing. If you enjoy doing something, it’s part of your shelichut.

📝 Ask yourself: What is my shelichut? (It need not be lifelong; it can also be for a particular period.) Two things will help you discover the answer: signs from the world about what it needs of you, and an internal assessment of what you enjoy doing and are good at. Like two coordinates, the answers to these questions will point you towards your path.
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Nir Menussi / The Daily Pearl / 27 Iyyar 5780 / 42nd Day of the Omer
42. Malkhut within Yesod: Pride and Lowliness

In its rectified state, the sefirah of malkhut (kingship) is characterized by carrying opposites. Externally, it exudes confidence and pride—“God reigned, he wore pride”; but internally, it is lowly and humble—as King David, who embodies Malkhut, said: “I will be lowly in my own eyes.”

What does this mean for “malkhut within yesod,” the expression of malkhut in the context of self-realization and shelichut? It means that shelichut must be characterized by both pride and lowliness.

Externally, the shaliach (bearer of the mission) should be slightly above the other. He or she must be connected to something exalted, somewhat separate and distinct from his or her surroundings, and thus able to give others something new.

But this must be only an external garment (as in “he wore pride”). Inwardly, the _shaliach_ must feel below others, not worthy of teaching them anything, looking not to give but to receive, to learn and grow from encountering the amazing people to whom he or she was sent.

If we only wear a garment of pride, our shelichut will be condescending and ineffective. If we only feel full of lowliness, we will never attempt to be shelichim! Only the combination of the two, as Malkhut teaches us, can produce a balanced and rectified shelichut.

📝 Practice building two parallel aspects in your souls. On the outside: maturity, authority, and taking responsibility for your surroundings. On the inside: lowliness and humility, reminding you that you’re no better than anyone else. It is this combination which will give you a true and powerful sense of majesty.
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✒️ Introduction to week 7: Malkhut (Kingship) ✒️

The story is told about a man who decided to repair the world. He went out to learn about all the world’s problems—political, economic, military, and so on—but quickly understood he was in over his head: the world is simply too big for one man to save. He therefore decided to focus on just his own country. However he soon realized this too was way beyond him. Thus he continued to narrow his aspirations to his city, his neighborhood, his apartment building, and finally his own home. When he realized that fixing even his own family was a near impossible task, he decided to focus on fixing only himself.

This is a powerful story. Many people want to save the world, while not knowing how to solve even their own smallest problems.

But Chabad adds a final twist to the story. Shortly after the man decided to fix only himself, he discovered that his own soul was itself a bottomless pit of issues and complexes, and that even a lifetime wouldn’t suffice to fully rectify it. He thus understood that he must go back to repairing the entire world again. Except now he approached the task with modesty and forgiveness, realizing how hard it is to fix even one person.

The attribute of malkhut (kingdom) symbolizes this world, which we are to turn into “God’s kingdom.” After six weeks of working on our own personal character attributes, the time has come to shift our perspective outwards and ask: what can we contribute to tikkun olam, rectifying the world?

We’ll approach this question, our topic for the final week of the Counting of the Omer, by referring to the week of creation. In each of its days we will find a hint to a different aspect of reality that needs redemption.
Nir Menussi / The Daily Pearl / 28 Iyyar / 43rd Day of the Omer
43. Chesed within Malkhut: Be a Lamplighter

On the first day of creation, God created light and distinguished it from darkness. But only of light did He say “it was good;” of darkness, which was there beforehand, He said nothing, implying that it wasn’t good.

In seeking to repair the world, the first thing to work on is transforming darkness into light, so the darkness will also be good.

What does this mean? Spiritually, darkness (חשכה) symbolizes forgetfulness (שכחה)—forgetting God’s light that fills the world, and our soul’s light that seeks a noble, exalted life. Transforming darkness to light therefore means remembering, and reminding others, of the Divine light which surrounds and guides us.

There are two types of darkness, however. There is darkness everyone knows is darkness: bad situations and places from which people suffer and must be saved. This darkness is banished simply by adding light, for “a little light chases away much darkness.”

But there is also the less obvious darkness that presents itself as light: ideas and lifestyles that appear to shine bright, yet separate people from each other, their own souls, or their bodies. The prophet cried about this when he said, “Woe to those who say bad is good and good is bad, who put darkness as light and light as darkness” (Isaiah 5:20).

This darkness is called “double darkness,” and is harder to identify. It requires developing a subtle ‘sense’ of darkness. Transforming it into light is also harder: we must first recognize the spark of light that resides within it (without which it could not have disguised itself as light). When we give this spark its place, the darkness withers and falls, and its inner root is revealed.

📝 Look around you at people stuck in dark situations. Start with those whose existence is difficult in the simple sense—who are alone with no one to help them. Think about how you can make their lives easier. Now go deeper: Do you see people who externally seem okay but, deep inside, have forgotten their essence? Step toward them with care and attempt to touch their hearts.
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Nir Menussi / The Daily Pearl / 29 Iyyar / 44th Day of the Omer

44. Gevurah within Malkhut: Unifying Torah and Science

On the second day of creation, the primordial waters were split into upper and lower waters. According to the Zohar, water symbolizes wisdom, and thus splitting the waters symbolizes splitting Divine wisdom into two: wisdom that flows from above through revelation, and wisdom that flows from below through human investigation and contemplation.

Splitting these two types of wisdom enabled them to develop separately. But in seeking to rectify the world, we must restore the primordial Divine wisdom by reuniting science with mysticism, the Enlightenment with the Torah, and secular thought with religious thought.

The Midrash recounts that when the lower waters were split from the upper waters, they began to cry. Their tears (dema’ot) represent the roots of the sciences" (mada’im): all human investigation is essentially a longing for Divine truth from which we’ve become distanced.

What does this mean for us? Everything we learn—in university, from teachers, in books, in movies—we must attempt to connect with the “words of the living God” and His Torah. Every insight about nature, history, society, or human psychology contains within it a spark of Divine wisdom (even if it’s inapparent or seems to contradict the atheistic tenor of secular knowledge).

Connecting Divine and human wisdom is an immense project, but we can all contribute to it. If we’re constantly connected to and inspired by in-depth Torah study. we can then listen deeply to everything else we learn and search for the Divine truth within it. Connecting the lower and upper waters is central to rectifying the world.

📝 Think about something interesting you learned this week. Deep down, it teaches you something about our ultimate purpose: to strengthen our relationship with God and make the entire world His sanctuary. Attempt to learn with your soul, not just your intellect, and see how, in every field, your learning becomes deeper and more meaningful.
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Nir Menussi / The Daily Pearl / 1 Sivan 5780 / 45th Day of the Omer

45. Tiferet within Malkhut : Transforming Nature from a Passageway to a Palace

On the third day of creation, the land appeared and plants began growing. But the land didn’t obey God’s will: He commanded it to bring forth “fruit trees bearing fruit,” but it brought forth only “trees bearing fruit.” What’s the difference? According to the commentators, God intended that besides bearing fruit, the trees be “fruit trees,” i.e. would taste like their fruit. But the land sinned and produced trees in which only the fruit is edible.

What is this story telling us? Trees symbolize means and their fruit ends. “Fruit trees bearing fruit” represents a state in which the means are as important as the ends; we’re interested not only in the goal, but in the process of reaching it. “Trees bearing fruit,” on the other hand, implies that all kinds of juicy endpoints await us sometime in the future, but meanwhile we must endure tedious work or other annoyances to get there.

So creation strayed from God’s plan. The “land,” or materiality, disobeyed Him and hid its Divine essence. Had it not, we might have mistaken nature for God and worshipped creation rather than the Creator. But as we approach rectifying the world, we must return to that original vision and see all the “means”—our bodies, food, work, money, etc.—also as “ends.” We must find the inner “taste” hidden within them.

This means changing our attitude toward nature (especially trees...). After generations of viewing this world as a mere “vestibule” leading to the “banquet hall” of the World to Come (Ethics of the Fathers 4:16), we must see it as a banquet hall itself. “God desired a dwelling place in the lower worlds,” the Torah teaches us, so that He can feel at home—here and now.

📝 God is present not only in the beit midrash (study hall), the World to Come, or any other distant “there.” He exists also in things which may not seem as “spiritual”: nature, physicality, and whatever you are currently engaged in. God is inviting us to be in touch with Him through everything He has given us, at this moment. Spread this mindset, and in so doing you will contribute greatly to rectifying the world.
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Nir Menussi / The Daily Pearl / 2 Sivan / 46th Day of the Omer
46. Netzach within Malkhut: Caring for the Weak

On the fourth day of creation, God created the two “great luminaries,” the sun and moon. But one was sidelined: The Midrash relates that God diminished the moon, weakening its light. This was such a dramatic event that He made the rare request, “Bring atonement for me that I diminished the moon” (Talmud Bavli Hullin 60b).

What does the diminishment of the moon symbolize? The answer is Inequality—the division into strong and weak, masters and slaves, rich and poor. The Hebrew term for “diminishment,” miut, hints at “minorities,” miutim—small populations that may not be properly represented in society. One of the clearest examples is the Jewish People, who for most of history was a persecuted minority. Indeed, the Jewish People is compared to the moon and described as “the smallest (me’at) among all the nations” (Deut. 7:7).

Yet, in the future, the moon will regain its light: “And the light of the moon shall be like the light of the sun” (Isaiah 30:26). Rectifying the world includes improving the fate of the disempowered, the “stranger, orphan, and widow,” supporting and raising them up until they shine in their full brightness.

An important rule in caring for others is that you needn’t go far. “My people and foreigners—my people take priority… the poor of your city and the poor of another city—the poor of your city take priority” (Talmud Bavli Bava Metzia 71a). There is nothing morally wrong in giving first to those nearer to us; our responsibility for others is meant to start at home and then expand outward. When we run to help distant strangers, we may be ignoring people to whom our obligation is greater.

Caring for the weak must stem not from condescension but from identification. One interpretation of the phrase “smallest among all the nations” is that we must diminish ourselves before God. The humbler we are, the more we will feel others’ distress and want to help them.

📝 Look around you and see who needs assistance, then put yourself in their shoes and feel how grateful you would be to receive help. Start with those closest to you: relatives, neighbors, members of your community. Sometimes a small action can create a major change.
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Nir Menussi / The Daily Pearl / 3 Sivan 5780 / 47th Day of the Omer

47. Hod within Malkhut: The Inner Dimension of the Torah

Among the beings created on the fifth day of creation was a strange species called “the large taninim.” According to the Midrash, it consisted of two wondrous leviathans (whales), a male and a female, who threatened to destroy the world. To prevent them from reproducing, God killed the female. But He reserved an important role for her: at the end of days, He will prepare from her skin a tabernacle for the righteous, and from her flesh, a banquet for them.

What does this mysterious female leviathan—so dangerous, yet so central to redemption—symbolize?

According to one interpretation, she represents the esoteric dimension of the Torah, Kabbalah and Chassidut.

In previous generations, people were wary of Kabbalah, fearing it would drive people towards either insanity or heresy. But it’s gradually coming into the world: the Zohar prophesied that it will bring us out of exile with mercy; the towering 16th century Kabbalist the Arizal (Rabbi Isaac Luria) said it is “permitted and a mitzvah” to reveal its wisdom; and it has fueled the great spiritual renewal of Chassidut.

Tikkun olam doesn’t only involve rectifying society, the state, or nature. It also includes raising awareness of the hidden dimension of reality—the Divine secrets concealed in the Torah, the world, and the human soul.

Part of the vision of redemption is “I shall spill my spirit on all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, elders shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions” (Joel 3:1). To realize this vision, we must bring the inner dimension of the Torah to the foreground, making it a primary source of inspiration for study, creativity, and culture.

📝 Search for your own personal gateway into Chassidut. There are many books which can serve as an introduction. Chassidut is like pure oil: it seeps into our cells, oils our rusty hinges, enriches our life, and can be used to produce great light.
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Nir Menussi / The Daily Pearl / 4 Sivan 5780 / 48th Day of the Omer
48. Yesod within Malkhut: Gender Equality

On the sixth day of creation, humans were created, and shortly thereafter sinned by eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. For her part in the sin, Eve was cursed with “your desire shall be towards your man, and he shall rule over you.” Man and woman had been commanded to rule over the land and animals; now, man was to rule over woman—why?

According to Kabbalah, the male and female aspects of reality are equal, but not identical: masculine light shines more “from above” (the level of theories and ideas), whereas feminine light shines more “from below” (the level of reality and experience). The status of the feminine was lowered during creation so that woman could identify with the weak and disempowered, and experience for herself their own growth journey.

Yet an integral part of tikkun olam is nullifying the punishments for the first sin, including gender inequality. As we approach the redemption, we are seeing the return of the original equality between men and women, which will ultimately entail full respect for their essential differences.

What about the curse “he shall rule over you”? Chassidut teaches that it will take on a new meaning. The root of the verb “to rule” (mashal) also means parable. “He shall rule over you” can therefore be read as “he shall make parables through you.” When man ceases ruling over woman, the feminine light will provide new spiritual parables and metaphors for grasping the Divine secrets of the upper worlds. Instead of ruling over women, men will learn from them.

📝 The media is full of toxic debates on feminism. Look beyond it and marvel at the essential wonder taking place: the feminine voice, mute for thousands of years, is now being heard. Our challenge is to achieve equality between men and women while honoring their differences (and without creating an inverse hierarchy and discrimination, a “matriarchy”). If we succeed in walking this tightrope, we will merit seeing the rectification of the world on the level of gender: “Male and female He created them...and He named them Adam.”
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Nir Menussi / The Daily Pearl / 5 Sivan 5780 / 49th Day of the Omer
49. Malkhut within Malkhut: The Perfection of Imperfection

We have dedicated the week of malkhut to the topic of tikkun olam. Moving away from focusing on ourselves, we went out to see what aspects of the world need fixing. What now is the meaning of last step in rectifying the world (and also our last step in counting the Omer), malkhut within malkhut?

The answer lies, as it has throughout the past week, in the seven days of Creation. What happened on the first Sabbath? After six days of intensive work, God stepped back and let the world continue on its own.

On the sixth day, the world had been defined as “very good.” Why then was the Sabbath necessary? Because, as every student knows, there’s something beyond “very good”: “excellent.” And what is an excellent world? One that God has left to its own devices, an imperfect world that has been given the space to slip and fall, err and wander off, get lost and seek its way back.

Similarly, the concluding act in fixing the world is knowing that it’s time to stop fixing it. Every six days of work is therefore followed by a Sabbath, when we step back and enjoy a still imperfect world.

On the Sabbath, we experience the perfection of imperfection, the sense that the world is rectified even when it’s not, because we’re allowing the world to rectify itself.
This state—a broken world that is allowed to remain so for now—provides a glimpse of the redemption, which will be “all Sabbath”: a world that simply is and invites us to be within it.

📝 Homework: None.

Coming tomorrow: a 50th final Sefirat Haomer message...
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Nir Menussi / The Daily Pearl / 6 Sivan 5780 / Shavuot
50. The Fiftieth Gate: Touching and Not Touching

The Torah commands us to count “seven full sabbaths [weeks],” forty-nine days, yet tells us to count “fifty days.” The Talmudic Sages consequently understand that we are to count to fifty, not including fifty. We count only to forty-nine.

What is the meaning of this? The fifty days of the Counting of the Omer correspond to fifty “gates of understanding” on the path to attaining Godliness. But the fiftieth, “the Nun (the letter that signifies fifty) gate,” is different from the previous ones..

You may be familiar with the idea that the number seven symbolizes nature and eight symbolizes that which is beyond nature. The world was created in seven days, but we perform circumcision, our covenant with the Creator, on the eighth day. The same idea applies regarding seven squared, forty-nine, and the number following it, fifty.

Seven squared is like nature squared, at the peak of its development. This is why, on the forty-ninth and final day of counting, we say the world is perfect even when it’s not. But although we speak of a fiftieth gate, fifty, beyond nature, is where our understanding ends and we stand before the incomprehensible.

The letter Nun, spelled out in Hebrew, is the initials of “touching and not touching,” referring to that which can and cannot be understood. If we counted the fiftieth day, we’d imagine that we grasped everything—so, on this day, we stop counting. We connect with the understanding that we don’t understand. We hand the counting over to God and ask Him to please count in our place.

On this day, therefore, God gives us a “book.” The book (sefer) of the Torah is how God continues the count (sefira) for us. We must learn Torah knowing that, at the end of the day, its depths are infinite and cannot be fully grasped: “God is great and very praised, and His Greatness cannot be fully described.”

Happy Shavuot! May we merit to receive the Torah in joy and with connection to our inner depths!

The Sefira is over, but the group lives on. Remain on board for more updates, classes and videos!
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Apply R’ Ginsburhg’s teachings about Sarah Imeinu, as portrayed by R’ Nir Menussi in “Mi Zot Olah”, with Rebbetzin Tamar Taback at the Nexus School of Transformational Torah for women.

Reconnect with your femininity to bring your relationships into balance, learn the art of feminine influence, find your authentic voice, and awaken to the gentle, feminine power rising within you.

The "spritual science" behind the holy power of women. You will learn about:

• The seven stages of feminine development of the Arizal as it pertains to marriage and relationships
• The 3 stages of the pathway of all spiritual growth of the baal shem tov
• The secrets of the “messianic marriage” of the Ba’al HaTanya
• The essential Kabbalistic concept of tzimtzum and what that has to do with sarah’s womb (this was key)
• The secret glimpse we got into Sarah and Avraham’s resting place in Ma’aras Hamachpelah
• The emergence of “circle consciousness” – the defining characteristic of the future era which also happens to be the essence of the feminine – and how we can enter it, right now. (ooo...)

But the teachings won’t stay there.
What makes the Rise! series so unique is the blend of Torah and life.
The art that accompanies the science.

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Hi everyone! 👋

🔊 The new class, for parshat Beha'alotcha, is up in audio version:
Or look up "Soul of the Parsha" on all major podcast apps (iTunes, Audible, Spotify etc.)

Video version will be up soon...

Nir Menussi
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Hi everyone!

Please join us for today's Soul of the Parsha class, for parshat Shelach

🕐 The class will take place 9:15pm Israel time / 2:15pm EDT / 11:15am PDT

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Password: 10181018

Hope to see you all there!

Nir Menussi
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‏תמונה מ-שרה טורנהיים
Shavua tov!

Everyone's invited to today's Soul of the Parsha class, for parshat Korach

🕐 The class will take place 9:15pm Israel time / 2:15pm EDT / 11:15am PDT

Join us on Zoom:
Password: 10181018

Hope to see you all there!

Nir Menussi
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And we're live... Everyone's welcome to join us!
Hi everyone,
Tonight there won't be a class. B"h I'll record one later this week.
So long and see you soon!