Kabbalah Kronicles 29 – Four Kinds of People
Thursday, October 20, 2011 By stuv
Kabbalah Kronicles 29 – 4 Kinds of People
Uncle Zally / Zalman Velvel
If you want to hear a grown man scream, tell me there are only _____ kinds of people in this world. Then fill in the blank with a number from 2 to 10.
My mother was obsessed with Astrology, which divided the world into 12 distinct personalities, which at least is on the high end of the spectrum. Her friends would listen for hours and walk away believing in her horoscopes.
I just shook my head and sighed. When I sighed loud enough for her to hear, she would ask:
“Why are you making grunting noises?”
“I’m not grunting, Mom, I’m sighing.”
“Okay, then why are you making those annoying sighing noises?”
“Mom,” I answered, “there are more than six billion people in the world. Every month has 500 million birthdays. Do you really believe that each of those 500 million people born in the same month has the same personality, and will have exactly the same life experience in the future?”
When she said, “Yes,” that is when I learned to scream.
What does that have to do with Kabbalah? Be patient, Grasshopper.
If you remember, in my last blog, I said the rest of the time I am in Israel, I’m going to join my people in our most powerful place, our house of worship. I wanted to learn how to share my God and believe in the power of prayer.
Well, I got up late, twice. As I was walking up the hill to the house of worship, everyone else was walking down. They smiled at me, and then sighed, just like I used to sound with my mother. Well, at least I got to meet my neighbors and fellow worshipers.
But yesterday morning, I made sure I got up on time. I walked to the house of worship, praying on the way, thinking about my friend Joseph. Joseph, like Yossi, prays three times each day with at least ten other men.
Joseph said he’d been reading this blog, and decided he wanted to spend more time with God by himself, like me. And here I was, trying to spend more time praying with others, like him.
I was supposed to meet Yossi, the Holy Man, at synagogue, but he didn’t make it. The first familiar face when I entered was Pincus. Pincus is a very special man. Ten years ago, he was shot 6 times on his way home from work, and lived to tell about it. I wrote a story about him, called “Baruch Hashem.” If any of you would like to read it, please email me.
I said a prayer for Pincus like Yossi advised me to.
I took up a comfortable place in the back of the shul, and looked around. I saw Moshe. Moshe had some serious financial setbacks about 5 years ago, and his family with 10 children were hungry and hurting. I donated money to him, anonymously, through the Rabbi.
Moshe now looked like he was doing better. I said a prayer for him, too.
Shlomo, the security officer for the village, was sitting next to me. He had three cellphones on his belt, along with his gun. Believe it or not, I like praying with men who carry guns. I also like having soldiers around me, carrying M-16’s and Uzi’s. In Israel, it gives me a sense of security knowing there are trained people protecting me.
I’ll bet the people in Syria, Egypt, and Libya don’t feel the same way about their soldiers and their army, but that is another story.
At the end of the prayer service, we all went outside, the forty of us. Thirty-nine took short willow branches and smashed them against the ground. I asked a young man why they were all doing that. He whispered something quickly in Hebrew. The only word I understood was “Kabbalah.”
After the prayer service, Yossi came over to my house. While we were working on his website, I asked him to explain the willow bashing. This is what he said:
During Succot, the Festival of the Booths, it is a commandment to bring four species of vegetation inside the succah, waive them, and say a prayer. The commandment is rooted in the Bible which states, “On the first day you shall take the product of hadar trees (an esrog), branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before your God for seven days." The picture on the left is the Four Species. Three are grouped together, a date palm branch, three myrtle twigs, two willow branches, and are called a lulov. The esrog looks like a large lemon.
Kabbalah says those four species correspond to four types of people in the world.
(Yes, my mouth is opening and I feel a scream building below.)
The date palm is something you can eat, but has no smell. That corresponds to a person who does good deeds, but has little knowledge of the Bible. The myrtle has a nice smell, but you cannot eat it. That corresponds to a person that has knowledge of the Bible, but does no good deeds. The citron has both a nice smell, and can be eaten. That corresponds to one who knows the Bible, and does good deeds.
What about the willow? A willow has no smell and cannot be eaten. It corresponds to a person who has no knowledge of the Bible, and does no good deeds. The reason the others were beating their willow branches on the ground was to wake up the people who acted like willows.
Now, I have a healthy young willow tree at the entrance to my home on the hilltop, pictured on the left. Every year my neighbors come by and ask to cut branches from it. Every year, including this one, I was thrilled to be able to offer them. I felt of some use in the community I visit maybe a month each year.
Until I learned Kabbalah. (Kabbalah states there are no accidents.)
For the last five years, I have had this tree sitting at the entrance to my house, and I thought it was a credit to me. Now I realize I’m like that lousy willow – I don’t know the Bible and don’t do any good deeds.
I gave my gardener, who is the son of Yossi the Holy Man, instructions to plant an Esrog tree everywhere one would fit on my property. Why? I want to grow enough esrogs to give one to every family in the community.
Then, when people ask, who was Zalman Velvel, I want my neighbors to say, “He started out like that willow at the entrance to his property, but then he became like the Esrog trees that now surround it.”
What do you think?
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