There are stones, where there once was space
Carried in a belly of a soft skin bag
These stones pain
I looked, but they’re not mine
I could throw them into the ocean or a river
Or use them to build a wall around me
But, I’m gonna pile them up
And make them into a stairway
So I can climb to the top and see the sky
And let Its colour paint the place that’s left
There are stones, where there once was space
holding this form
shaped, underlined by uncomfort
gravity so weightful
pinned down only by identity
years of unknowing suffering
accumulating stuckness in form
sitting with it, listening
untwining with accepting
loosening in dissolution
dissolving in expansion
pressing not crushing
hidden source of light
honesty isn’t some emotional narrative, it’s an ugly happiness, an uncomfortable heart wrenching movement, which shatters selves, narratives, egos. When you have nothing to loose, and your heart has been ripped out of its rib cage, when your soul no longer identifies with your body, then you can see clearly.
Spiritual Alchemy transforms lead into gold, darkness into light, evil into goodness, pain into joy, shit into flowers? Realize that your shit is equally holy, sacred & One, but not any more so, than anything else. The key is not to hold onto the shit, darkness, pain, etc within you, don’t obsess about your shit, but thank it & freaking let it go! Only when it’s out of your system can it make flowers!
There was a silence at the moment of the giving of the Torah, the streams and rivers stopped, the birds and crickets stopped, the wind stopped. Utter Silence! According to Yaakov Yoseph of Polonne: “All that was revealed was the first letter of the first word. Aleph! One!” Allow this Shavuos to be an opportunity, stop all your internal noise and allow the silence in. So you too can hear and experience the Aleph of the Torah (the Silent Oneness) being spoken and experience your soul leaving your body and become aware of your body being resurrected every moment.
Insane as it might sound,
I believe “our emotional focus actually creates reality”
Trying to destroy darkness is a loosing battle
We must be the change
Create utopian lives
Heal our inner anger, cruelty etc
By emotionally focusing exclusively on the positive
Until there’s so much light
That darkness has no place to hide.
In a recent essay the famed Rabbi and Talmud expert and head of the new Sanhedrin Adin Shteinzaltz who named himself “Rock of Israel” suggests that American Jewy have two choices, either to disappear or to invest themselves totally in Judaism and Jewish cultural identity.
And that is all he says, he says nothing else, no ideas or suggesting about how to bring this revolution about, no ideas about how to make Judaism interesting or engaging for a generation that despite involvement and high levels of Jewish education many are still disengaged, apathetic and actively leaving Jewish identity behind.
He does say that Israel and Jewish identity with Israel is not the solution to American Jewish continuity or a revival in Jewish identity, but for the very little that he does say there are mountains of real issues which he purposefully ignores and forgets to mention nor entertain.
For all of the real problems that American, and for that matter most Jewish communities in the Diaspora, have, assimilation, antisemitism and cultural dissolution there are other real factors and influences on our cultural identity which equally destable and undermine Jewish continuity.
Rabbi Shteinzaltz fails to recognise that this generation is the largest, wealthiest, most educated, engaged in our collective history. That Judaism has always survived in the Diaspora, and that in fact has always grown and flourished better than in the land of Israel. The Babalonian Talmud was created in Babalonia, that the greatest of rabbis existed in exile, that the spiritual revival of Hasidism took place not in Jerusalem but closer to Minsk.
Why does he have to create an either/or situation? Why does American Jewry have to disappear or reinvent itself?
He doesn’t mention the rightward drift towards haradi style orthodoxy, the homogeneity of the polarisation of the population,
Today’s Pharaoh demands that our children be “submerged” (drowned) in the river of the capitalist system, placed (buried) in the walls of its treasure cities, i.e wholly involved in intensive economic & occupational proficiency. This is a physical & spiritual death sentence!
(Adapted from Chassidic Perspectives p.223-4)
The main problem in the world of religion is that many people just don’t know how to read.
It was a big turning point for me in Yeshivah, when reading Hullin, and the ongoing and life long disagreement between two Talmudic rabbis finally came to a head, and the Talmud states “and a mountain came up between them”, one of my coreligionists asked “rabbi, How big was the mountain?”
I was like, you are kidding me?? It’s a literary term, to describe the insurmountable theological differences between the two rabbis worldviews and the fact that they never spoke to each other again after that.
I asked the class how many of them thought we were talking about a real mountain and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM put their hand up!! I realised i was in the wrong yeshivah.
I spoke to my then Talmudic teacher/rabbi and explained the problem, he said that the majority of traditional explanations of the “mountain” understood it as metaphorical and that I shouldn’t worry about being in a class of literalness.
For me Chametz isn’t just ego, or an inflated sense of self, or separation, but it primarily Anger. Chum meaning hot. As our sages say ‘anger is idol worshop’. For us to sell our Chametz we first have to find it, and really own it, then let it go. Because you can’t sell something that you don’t own. Once you own up to it, you can realise that it’s not who you are. Anger is telling God that He’s wrong.
Passover is teaching us to own our anger, and but to let it go and truly realise that we are merely witnesses to the difficult situations that God has put us in, the pain and suffering is not compulsory, that we are not our anger, we are truly bliss filled, love filled, bliss and pleasure seeking beings, finding our way back to Oneness.
That freedom only comes by burning our chametz in the flames of unbounded love. Love and gratitude,joy and celebration, we have no Chametz, we realise our Oneness with the All, the borders and bounderies of our imagined limitations fall away and we are open to the miraculous, to the infinite possibility that the Essence and Being of the Divine has in store for us.
May we all experience the fullfilment of the Exodus of Egypt, leaving all limitations and yet remaining at peace with them. Moshiach’s Now! x
You have come here to end pain & suffering in the World!! You do this by first ending the pain & suffering in yourself, by fully embracing it & not running from it. By facing it, feeling it and releasing it.
EVERYTHING is GOD! Or to put it another way, accept and embrace everything with completely LOVE and enthusiasm, every tiny detail of your life, and the whole universe, everything, including yourself is absolutely divine, the highest, the most sublime, infinite, light, All totally ONE. Don’t shy away from embracing everything!
when we think about another human being with deep loving empathy, we immediately unite ourselves with our innate humanity, with the spirit of sacredness which binds all things, with the bliss, love and oneness, which life offers us in its unmasking.
Today we face outwards embracing the night’s darkness hearts open with light hope & love. light up the flame in your soul, shine your love so that the darkness is a bright as day.
Chanuka the festival of lights. Is all about the different ways to either remove the darkness by adding light, or the transformation of the darkness itself into light.
Not through overcoming it or destroying it, but through meditation, reason acceptance and love, acknowledging the darkness as divine, so that eventuality by its own volunteers to help.
Harnessing the power of dark matter and black holes.
Or in the Kabbalistic parlance, fitting the destructive lights of Tohu into the vessels of balanced Tikkun.
There are two ways to generate love of God,
1. Through meditating on God’d greatness and awesomeness or
2. By revealing your natural desire to loose yourself in God’s infinite light.
- The Alter Rebbe. With the first meditative love, God is still the object of your love, there is still a self that loves, in the second there is a self dissolving, a love where there’s no distinction between the lover and the loved, there’s only the swirling of infinite light and love.
There’s a growing movement of cultural change fueled in part by the many millions of wacky YouTube video uploads about aliens, health, spirtuality, free electricity, global government conspiracies and ancient advanced civilizations. All of which has filtered down from hipsters, weirdos and anarchists alike down into popular culture as alternative mind expanding and sometimea heart warming videos that go viral every day.
But this culture of fast changing alternative worldviews leaves many people with desires for healthy products and alternatives which often don’t yet exist.
Rabbi Max Kohanzad was one such YouTube educated Jewish hipster who wanted to help feed his children organic raw milk on advice of the family’s alternative therapist and in his quest he almost by accident set up the UK’s first Kosher Organic milk company.
A year on, and due to major political resistance and pressure by the rabbinical establishement combined with a lack of community support he is sadly no longer a milkman. Despite this and inspired by his exposure to organic farming he has decided to moved to the country to start his own “Organic Yeshiva”.
This he says this: “combines two of my main passions in life, a rich and deep love for Torah and living an organic alternative lifestyle.” Whether he can encourage others to join him, is yet to be seen, but he definitely is inspired by the idea of fusing Orthodox Jewish spirituality with what has become known as “deep ecology”.
“I believe that Orthodox Judaism needs to be connected to the land as well as the heavens. I’d like to see students involved with real cows and bulls in the fields as well as the ones in the pages of the Talmud. ” says Kohanzad, with a grin and look of hopeful determinism.
The Yeshiva aims to cater for between ten and twenty students and mainly focus on Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah, as well as offering a more traditional Rabbinal ordination course.
The Yeshiva is situated on the edge of Hebden Bridge the Lesbian capital of Great Britain, filled with hippies and new agers, organic shops, bakeries and vegetarian resturants and rolling hilltop views.
It’s an unlikely place for an Orthodox Yeshiva, but Rabbi Kohanzad is an unlikely Organic Milk man and only time will tell if he’ll be able to make this Kosher Organic project work, where his others have failed.
“I’ve learnt so much from running a national organic business, and learnt more from my failures. There’s been a huge amount of interest in Yeshivah Ohr Gani, we’ve got a great team and the finance is in place to make it happen, so we’re now just looking for people to sign up.”
For more information visit: www.ohrgani.org
Book Review of Elliot R. Wolfson’s Open Secret: Postmessianic Messianism and the Mystical Revision of Menahem Mendel Schneerson
To do justice to this work – it would take me years to properly review this book.
But let me say this in brief:
Forgetting the arcane language barrier issues that stops the average reader from being able to actually grapple with the subtleties of the ideas presented.
This book fails not because it lacks the adequate level of academic intelligence, or poetic post-modernism and self contradiction to do justice to the Rebbe’s paradoxical thought, but because it is, primarily, more of a reflection of the author than it is a description of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s mystical philosophy.
It offers itself as a window into a world which we know little about, but the glass is so cloudy, and the subject so dimly illuminated, that we the readers, can only really see the reflection and inner glimpse at the author of this work, rather than his subject.
Because of it’s exploration into “veils within veils” and “paradoxes within paradoxes” and references to one or two post-modernists and early C20 Jewish philosophers, the reader might assume that the author shares a post-modern worldveiw, but that is unfortunately wildly inaccurate.
In Eliot Wolfson’s portrait of the Rebbe’s theology the Rebbe is contextualised as a mere extension of previous voices and traditions, the Rebbe’s unique contribution, innovations, radical reinterpretation of his own philosophical tradition is blankly ignored.
Eliot Wolfson misunderstands and purposefully remoulds the Rebbe into an amorphous hybrid of all his predecessors, denying his individuality, making continuous reference to him as “the Seventh Rebbe” robbing him of his First and Last name.
Because the author holds onto the baggage of previous philosophical exploration and the educational limitations of his past, the work seems unable to actually understand what the Rebbe is really saying.
Thus complex subtleties of the Rebbe’s though are unsympathetically blended with, and mistaken for, ideas borrowed from Eastern traditions and Rosenzweig’s cohorts.
All this having been said, I’m glad that finally the academic world is waking up to the importance of the Rebbe’s work, even though they haven’t as yet been able to get a handle on it, that isn’t blurred by their own prejudices.
“Come my beloved to meet/ see the bride, let us welcome the face of the shabbos.’
And the Rebbe MHM in his maamar ‘Lecha Dodi’, which itself is an explanation and commentary on the first paragraph of the Previous Rebbe Maamar of the same title – elucidates the deeper meaning of the above verse, and this very stage of the marriage ceremony, using Midrash Tanchuma and other Kabbalistic and Hassidic commentaries.
One of the main issues that both the Rebbes discuss is the curious significance of the Groom visiting his prospective Bride, just before the Chuppa and ceremony. Traditionally it is connected with checking that she is the real bride and not someone else that has taken her place. However, this explanation is not sufficient, in light of the above Kabbalist and mystical significance. The Groom visiting of his bride and covering her face with the vale, just before they go to the chuppa – represents, a deeper meeting of souls, and divine elements. It reflects a very subtle and complex dynamic in all relationships.
If we are to brake the motion of these into sequential slides, we would notice that each movement is significant. 1. The Groom see his bride 2. he covers her face with a vale 3. they meet under the chuppa to marry.
1 Their meeting before the marriage is reminiscent of the dwelling of the divine presences in the space of the world before creation. That both the inner beauty of the world and the Jewish people are known and have been seen, prier to creation and/or exile.
2 The covering of her face reflects a time of exile. Where her beauty is not known, her inner face is concealed.
3 And the marriage and the revelation of her face represents, both the giving of the Torah and ultimately its fulfilment in the coming of the Moshiach and the Messianic Utopia.
The Rebbe’s relate this three fold process to other types of relationships, that of a teacher and pupil and that of a father and child. They note that the covering of the brides face is a superficial and yet transcendent act and process within the process. It reflects a transitory, but vital element of all relationships.
It is on one hand, a superficial meeting, it is short and incomplete, he covers her face yet it at the same time it is hugely profound. The vale covers her face – it is that element of the Transcendent, which is beyond communication – beyond beauty, its covering and concealment – and it allows for an even deeper type of connection, one that is essential and intrinsic, (one where you touch a corner of it and you are hold the whole thing –where there is no division) – and needs no words or eye contact – it is that element of trust of faith.
So too in the examples, the relationship between a teacher and a pupil, – where the process of transmission of information has these elements, at first there seems to be an infinite gap between them, the pupil doesn’t understand and the teacher seems incomparably more intelligent, if at any time the teacher become silent and contemplative – in order to gather his thoughts to eventually explain the issue – the pupil may just hear the silence and the gap between them and it is within this and perhaps because of this gap, that the teacher attempts to encapsulate his idea in its most simple but profound format.
This raises the interest of the pupil and allows him the opportunity to interact on some lower level with the teacher, also this is a simple and superficial example of the real idea, but it captures the essential nugget of truth of the idea. Yet at the same time it covers and conceals the full depth and beauty of the idea – something that may take 40 years to fully understand.
The other example which is used is that of the Father and his child – there is already an essential connection between them, as the Alter Rebbe explains in the Holy Tanya, that the essence of the father becomes part and parcel of that of the child, but the child is on the floor and in order for them to have a hug, the father needs to pick the child up from the floor in order to bring the child to face-to-face communication.
And it is this act of picking up the child which is seen as that superficial – (seemingly) insignificant moment – actually represents the exact same process. The connection between the father and child at the moment he picks up the child is momentary and superficial – compared to the face-to-face communication – but it reveals that level of their relationship where there is total trust and faith – where they are at their closest –even though it is not in a completely open way.
And these examples also help to explain and elucidate the nature and the importance of the covering of the bride with the vale. There is a meeting – a prelude to the meeting under the chuppa, but there is also a gap, a covering and concealment that interrupts this meeting, this self imposed distance is not meant as a real or permanent separation, but rather an opportunity to connect on a much deeper and more essential level, it is an moment in time where the two souls meet in a higher realm of ultimate unity, faith and trust.
The Rebbe explains that this is still only a prelude to a higher and more consummate form of unity – where this connection is revealed and manifest, namely under the chuppa.
This process is said to reflect – the movement to the divine attributes of the kabbalistic ‘Tree of Life’ – where the male giving elements unites with the receptive – female element, Z’A and Mulchus- where there first is an external and supernal connection and interaction and then later the inner and ultimate union and unity.
This first encompassing, transcendent, external and supernal connection is called ‘glory’-
This process also takes place within the ‘mind’ both within lower man and higher man, between a flash of wisdom and its movement into fuller understanding and awareness – what is technically called the ‘supernal Father and Mother’ – it is this initial element of transcendence, that which is beyond – which is called glory.
There is the glory of the bride, the glory of the groom and the glory of the Chuppa
Lecha Dodi was composed by Rabbi Shlomo Halevy Alkabetz (1505-1584), one of the main Kabbalists of Safed, teacher and brother-in-law of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero.
Rabbi Issac Luria, the foremost authority among the Kabbalistic masters of that time, adopted this song.
Just before Shabbat the Ari and his disciples would go out into the fields of Sefad. And declare “Lecha dodi, likrat kallah; P’nei Shabbat, nekablah.”
Based on a custom detailed in the Talmud. Every Shabbat eve, Rabbi Hanina would don his finest garments and declare: “Come, let us go out to meet the Shabbat Queen.” (Shabbat 119a; Bava Kama 32b). And also Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs) 7:12 : “Come, my beloved, let us go into the field, let us stay in the villages; let us go early to the vineyards…”
The first two and the last verses of ‘Lecha Dodi’ song relate to Shabbat. The rest speak of a deep longing for redemption of the Divine Presence, the restoration of Jerusalem, the resurrection of the dead, the revelation of God, and the coming of the Moshiach – On how to bring Heaven down to Earth, on how to unify G-d and the World.
The expression “last in deed, but first in thought” relates the Shabbat and the Messianic Era, which come after the initial creation of the world though it had been designed by G-d long before he created the entire universe.
And which is the entire purpose of creation and ultimately at the very heart of Judaism. Each of these other six verses describes another stage in the process and unfolding of the redemption.
Thus we learn that Shabbat and the ultimate redemption are intertwined – one within each other. Not only is Shabbat is a taste of redemption, a taste of the day which is entirely Shabbat, but the acceptance of Shabbat is intrinsically related to bringing about the actual messianic era.
The chorus is repeated over and over, and points our focus back to the verse – “Come my beloved to meet/ see the bride, let us welcome the face of the Shabbat.”
This mantra is explaining a deep processes in the way we are meant to bring about the Messianic Era and is meant to induce a state, and taste of personal redemption.
But what does it mean to receive – accept the inner face /aspect of the Shabbat? What is the inner face of the Shabbat? What is its inner meaning – its true identity? The Ari z’l modelled himself and his group of disciples around the Rashbi which tradition has was the author of the Holy Zohar – in it, it is explained that the Rashbi disciples called the – ‘Shabbat’ and the Zohar continues that the Rashbi was the ‘…face of the Divine Presents’.
Therefore we can learn that Shabbat and the face of the Divine Presents are related. The Alter Rebbe explains that the letters of Shabbat also spell the word T e s h u v – to return – the Shabbat is day when we return to God – the source of all blessing!
A returning home – resting, Peace the source of all blessings. – Peace is the ultimate blessing ‘The Holy One Blessed Be He, did not find a better vessel for strengthening Blessing apart from that of Peace/Shalom, and Peace includes all other blessings- Peace- its voice, sound & proclamation is comparable to all of them The All?’ (Rashi on Bechukosi 26.6)
The Rebbe and the Previous Rebbe Explain that the Shabbat is called a Bride and, that both the Bride and Groom can be compared to a King and a Queen, but also that they represent and reflect those Male and Female aspects of the Divine, that of G-d as King and that of His Shechina – Divine Presents and the Jewish People as a whole or even the world.
As the song continues – ‘The Glory of God is Already Revealed to you’ The acceptance of Moshiach is the realisation that the Glory of God is Already revealed, there is nothing for you to do, everything is done.
As the Rebbe explains elsewhere, that when Abraham fed his guests, he did not ask payment but rather that they proclaim ‘Baruch E-l Olam’ (‘Bless G-d of the World’) – the Rebbe is specific about significance and meaning of the actual words used. Abraham the father of Judaism, does not say ‘Bless G-d of the World’ but rather “Bless G-dWorld” . He was attempting to reveal within each of his guests that aspect of truth and reality where there is Only G-d, and the word and G-d are One. That is the messianic spark latent within all existence – the aspect of Atzmus.
Returning to the verse,
The Shabbat, the seventh day of the week, is the manifestation of the seventh sefira – malchut. Since malchut also corresponds to the Jewish people and to the Shechina, the hymn may be interpreted as not only referring to the Shabbat, but also alluding to the Jewish people, to the sefira of malchut and to the Shechina. Furthermore, transformation of the workaday world into the holy Shabbat mirrors the redemption of the Shechina and the Jewish people from exile. The hymn thus looks forward to the time when even during the week we will experience the same holiness as we experience on the Shabbat.
Welcoming in the shabbos – the face of shabbos receiving the face of – the inner essence of the shabbos – inner peace!
My wife and I had been blessed with a baby boy, and almost from conception we chose to follow a particular baby expert’s advice.
We bought all the books, followed her advice meticulously. The promise was that by three months he would be sleeping from about 12-7am.
Her schedules dictated every minute of the day of every week and every month. It was true our baby has always been very contented as a result, but as parents we have been miserable and exhausted!
By four months our baby wasn’t sleeping through the night, and my wife was doing everything she could according to the many books that this baby expert had written.
She joined her community website and asked for advice, spoke to other mothers in similar situations, changed, adjusted and did everything she could to make the schedule work, but to no avail, he continued to wake up at least twice in the night.
One Sunday morning about 30 mins before our baby was due his 11 am feed, my wife got a phone call. To her surprise and delight, it was this world famous baby expert that we had been following, calling to help us in our almost direr situation.
My wife was so happy, and the conversation dragged on, and on and I could see my wife getting a little anxious that it was already 11am and she was meant to be feeding our baby. Yet it was ‘The Author’ of ‘The Book’ on the other end of the line, what was she to do, tell her to call back later, because she needed to feed our baby?
My wife, stayed on the line, talked in detail about the problems we were having with the routine, and by this time is was almost 12pm, the baby expert admitted that her routine only really worked with average size babies, and that we would probably have to wait until he was completely weaned before we could expect to get any sleep.
The same problem can happen with Judaism.
Sometimes in our earnest desire to do the right thing, and to be good law abiding Jews we loose ourselves in the rigmarole of the minutia of religious observance.
Now this, isn’t always a bad thing, but if left unchecked and pushed to the back of our consciousness because of internal arguments that claim any deviation from the Shulchan Aruch (the Code of Jewish Law) is giving in to the Sitra Archra (the Other Side) and that any yearning or desire for a more balanced and happy life must be coming from your yetzer ha rah (evil inclination) we leave ourselves open to the inevitable state of ‘frum’ misery and stagnation.
Lost are any whim of real and honest spirituality, healthy relationship with our body and the ‘non-Jewish’ world around us, as we reluctantly give into the convincing ‘frum’ argument, that if you are keeping Shulchan Aruch then you are doing exactly what God wants you to do at any given moment in the day or our life.
The Torah is God’s Divine Will and as such we lowly Jewish pond scum can only hope for a glimmer of salvation in the hereafter if we try our best to become ‘frum Jews’, to do exactly what God wants us to do.
We the Jewish people are destined to be slaves of the Torah, to leave the slavery in Egypt only to become slaves to God and His obligatory Torah.
It seems that we can only find value in God’s eyes if we do our humanly best to fulfil those commandments that we can fulfil – namely to live a life according to the Code of Jewish Law – the Shulchan Aruch! And robotic, unfelt, miserable, mechanical, empty, spiritually void, guilt filled, normative Judaism ensues.
I want you to remember my wife’s predicament, does she stop the conversation with the author of the baby book to do what was written in the book or does she continue the conversation with the author?
The Code of Jewish Law is something like this baby experts meticulous routine, but if it is not working for you then you need to have a chat with the Author, you’ll soon learn that it is more important to have a conversion with the Author than to follow it’s routine to the letter of the law.
The problem is that our observance of Shulchan Aruch is based on a common but false assumption about the nature of the Jewish people and the divinity of the Torah.
1. The assumption is that a Jew is a lowly creature, created by God to serve Him through the Torah/ Shulchan Aruch.
2. That the Torah is the divine will of God Himself that the Jewish people should feel lucky to have been the privilege to inherit and be able to serve God.
The problem is with this assumption is that even according to the Torah isn’t so.
There are two verses which use the word ‘Anochi’ – I am, the first is mentioned in the giving of the Torah and the Ten Commandments, where God says ‘I AM the Lord your God’, and the commentaries explain that the word Anochi – is anachronous for ‘I wrote myself into the Torah’, that God wrote His very self into the Torah.
The other verse says ‘I AM the God of Israel’ and talks about the special relationship that God has with the Jewish people.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains:
‘…It is possible to say, that concerning the issue of the ‘I Am’ of the Jewish people, that it is higher than the aspect of the ‘I Am’ that is within the Torah. As it is also known that the source of the Torah and of the Jewish people as they reside in Atzmus, that the source of the Jewish people is higher than the source of the Torah. That the Torah (also as it is after the Giving of the Torah, the idea that, ‘I my soul I have written in it’) it is for the Jewish people.’
The Rebbe explains in the footnote here that ‘…one can even explain this that the Giving of the Torah took place so-to-speak so that the Jewish people would accept it, that also the ‘I my soul… ’ that is found within the Torah is not from Atzmus itself, and that it is secondary to the Jewish people that their source is in the Essence of God (Atzmus) literally.’
Sefer Ha Maamorim Meluket 4, (Kuntras Hag Ha Shavuos 1990) p.268
So you see the Torah was created FOR the Jewish people and not the other way around!
The Jewish people, and therefore each and every Jew is intrinsically higher and above the Torah. The Torah was created to help the Jewish people discover their innate Oneness and divinity with the God, so when the Torah becomes the very thing that destroys that awareness, when it becomes more important than you, it has become a form of Idol Worship.
Shulchan Aruch is a certain Jewish lifestyle code through which we are meant to serve God but it usually destroys it’s observers, because we don’t serve God but the religious obsessive compulsive community us which has become a form of Idol Worship.
I often wonder, does Shulchan Aruch really help anyone fulfil their true potential, or has it just become a form of religious peer-pressure and one-upmanship?
Authentic Judaism is here to help you discover your true divine nature, it was created for you, to help you to nurture you and to help you to be happy and move beyond your limited view of reality, towards the realisation of your divine self, that is totally ONE with God.
All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace
I like to think
(and sooner the better!)
Of a cybernetic meadow
Where mammals and computers
Live together in mutually
Like pure water
Touching clear sky.
I like to think
(right now please!)
Of a cybernetic forest,
Filled with pines and electronics
Where deer stroll peacefully
As if they where flowers
With spinning blossoms.
I like to think
(it has to be!)
Of a cybernetic ecology
Where we are free of our labours
And joined back to nature,
Returned to our mammal
Brothers and sisters
And all watched over
By machines of loving grace.
Richard Brautigan, from ‘The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster.’ (1968)
Attitudes towards technology in Habad Lubavitch messianism
The particular emphasis of this paper will focus on attitudes towards technology, in both the society and the philosophy of late, Lubavitch messianism. There has been much publicity and controversy, but little actually said to explain both clearly and intelligently the messianic philosophy of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi M.M. Schneerson, let alone discuss its connection and relationship to technology. The latter is the ultimate aim of this essay. In the process, we will cover general issues raised by Lubavitch messianism.
The Lubavitch movement believes itself to be, not only the most powerful and influential Jewish force in the Diaspora but also (and for our purposes) more importantly in cyberspace. Their phenomenal growth in use of new technologies and particularly their use of the Internet did not happen over night. The use of technology is not new to this movement, but lies at the very heart of its relationship to modernity.
In addition to plotting a brief history of the movement’s use of technology, I would also like to delve into the complex philosophy and theologies behind its development. As well as discussing the current attitude, I would also like to speculate on the possible attitudes to future technological developments.
Richard P Leissner,  in his undergraduate thesis on Lubavitch messianism says that
‘Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. single-handedly transformed Habad from a small, relatively unknown group of Jews into an internationally recognized and respected religious group with tens of thousands of devotees and ties to over a million other people. At this time, Habad is the fastest growing Jewish religious group with adherents all over the world and representatives on every inhabited continent. The Rebbe is attributed with this growth both due to his amazing charisma and ability to utilize a modern and technological world.’
A short history of a modern relationship
‘These engineered messages differ from the casual or do-it-yourself product in one crucial respect: instead of being loose or carelessly framed, the engineered product tends to be tighter, more condensed, less redundant. It is highly purposive, pre-processed, pre-processed to eliminate unnecessary repetition, consciously designed to maximise, information content. It is as communication theorists say, ‘information-rich.’
–Alvin Toffler, Future Shock.
Based on a famous statement of Rabbi Schneur Zalman, to “Live with the Times,” the movement has continued to adapt its message in response to the changing trends. It has been at the forefront in the use of technology in instantaneous international communication. In the late Sixties and through the Seventies, the Rebbe’s discourses were broadcast via a telephone link to several cities within the United States and many others throughout the world. This continued even until the late Eighties, where these telephone linkups were interspersed with an annual international Hanukkah satellite link up. In the early Nineties, the telephone linkups were almost completely replaced with live satellite and cable. In the Eighties and early Nineties many of the local Hassidim in Brooklyn were connected to an early warning bleeper system that would alert them when the Rebbe was about to deliver an impromptu discourse.
This use of technological developments was paralleled by carefully adapted changes to the emphasis of their propaganda campaign; which changed to mirror changes in general cultural fashions. In the late Sixties and early Seventies its rhetoric incorporated ‘meditation,’ ‘spirituality’ and ‘women’s rights,’ etc. In the Eighties at the height of the Reagan and Thatcherite years, in line with the consumerist mentality, the Rebbe started what would be his most famous campaign; “We Want Moshiach Now!” Sensing the need for instant gratification, the Rebbe directed this desire towards instant redemption and gratification on a cosmic proportion. In the Nineties the emphasis again changed speaking of the ‘dawn of a New Age,’ the Rebbe said ‘all we must do is to open our eyes and realise that it has arrived!’ Interestingly the movement is still home to many people originally from the hippie movement and in the Nineties, they were the ones to adapt the rhetoric to a more ‘New Age,’ style. There are even unofficial ‘Habad’ tents at Rainbow Gatherings. Selected teachings of the Rebbe have recently been translated in to a distinctly ‘New Age’ liberal language and published, by a self proclaimed techno guru who was originally part of the hippy movement, although now officially a Rabbi.
Attitudes towards technology
As an example of Habad’s unique approach to technology and to the world in general is the recent controversy regarding the recent worldwide ban on use of the Web, at home, by it seems every conceivable rabbinic authority, some of them even allegedly claiming that “it’s the worst thing to happen to Judaism since Creation!” The following brief excerpt of an article highlights the issue.
Ban the Web? Not Lubavitch Jews! by Mike Kamber
Despite a recent Internet ban by a group of prominent Israeli rabbis, Brooklyn ‘s Lubavitch Hasidim have no plans to scale back their extensive presence on the World Wide Web, a presence that now includes 700 Web sites in 52 countries. But the Lubavitch, the largest Jewish outreach group in the world, are concerned about a conflict with the ultra-orthodox rabbis and deny any contradiction between their decade-old Internet presence and the ban. “We’re very sympathetic to [the rabbis'] concerns,” says Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, a Lubavitch spokesperson. These concerns revolve around the Internet acting as a conduit for pornography, particularly to Jewish children. But, unlike the ultra-orthodox, the Lubavitch emphasizes the use of physical objects as tools to spread their word. “It’s not the medium itself that is kosher or not kosher,” Shmotkin explains. “It’s how it is utilized.”
The difficulty that the orthodox Jewish community has with technology is not about technology per say, but mainly about assimilation, and the Hellenisation of Judaism by the west, which began millennia ago. Traditionally the ultra Orthodox-Hasidic world has viewed science as the child of Greek philosophy, and therefore not kosher. This mistrust of science and technology reasserts
‘…Some long-standing differences and tensions between certain Hasidic courts have only been exacerbated during their years in America . The most famous feud is between the Hungarian Satmar and the Russian/Polish Lubavitch, who divide over issues of outreach, openness to modern and secular customs and technology, and Zionism…’
During the 18th century with the rise of enlightenment, the opening of the ghettos, Jews were exposed to secular education; the main stays of religion were under threat. Orthodox Judaism’s main protagonist ‘the Science of Judaism,’ used ‘scientific’ methodologies to disprove and undermine the very fabric of religious belief and life style.
With the advent and popular use of electricity in the early part of the twentieth century, many people, even Rabbis, mistakenly (only in hindsight) used electrical appliances on Shabbat, some even in Synagogue on Shabbat. However, in a short time, the rabbinic authorities ruled against it. This example, although it may seem rather trivial and insignificant, nonetheless, reveals the difficult relationship between religion and technology. Technological advances where not to be trusted, until they were proven to be ‘kosher,’ and divorced from their ‘scientific’ and, therefore, non-kosher dogma.
Professor Branover a Follower of the Rebbe and Russian Scientist, explains:
‘The Torah versus science dispute, as an either/or issue, is millennia old. Among the many chapter in this conflicts are, in a sense, the events which led to the Hanukka miracle more than two thousand years ago. The Mityavnim or Jewish Hellenists admired and worshipped the culture of Greece , including its philosophy and science. They were ready to sacrifice the Torah in favour of Greek philosophy and science (or to “adjust” the Torah by denying its Divine origin) in order to embrace Greek culture. The revolt and victory of the Maccabees led to the resolution of the conflict between the Hellenistic and the Torah-observant Jews. After the restoration of the Temple service in Jerusalem and the miracle of the single vessel of pure oil burning for eight days, the Hellenised Jews returned to the authentic wisdom of the Torah.’- 
The battle for the souls of the Jewish people was underway, the parallel drawn and comparison made between the Hellenisation of Jews by Greek culture and the plight of Jews in modernity. The Rebbe saw his Hassidic philosophy metaphorically as the ‘small jug of pure and uncontaminated oil,’ that was found in the temple courtyard and that helped to restore the kingdom of Israel , in the story of Hanukah. He claims his philosophy not only fights against assimilation, but also is the authentic wisdom of Torah, that is intrinsically miraculous/supernatural and will ultimately be the reason for the rededication of the Temple .
Talking of the Rebbe, Professor Branover says
‘…since Maimonides there probably has not been another Torah scholar with as encyclopaedic a knowledge of the sciences and the philosophy of science as the Rebbe. This is only partially related to the fact that in the 1930′s he received doctoral degrees in science, philosophy, and engineering from some of the best universities in Europe – the Sorbonne, the Polytechnic Institute of Paris, and the University of Berlin. This academic background, combined with mastery of the “open,” Talmudic meaning of the Torah and the “secret” esoteric meaning of the Torah and the special vision of a righteous man enables the Rebbe to resolve the Torah versus science argument and put it into proper perspective…’
It is interesting and almost ironic to note that the Lubavitch movement sees their religious and historical ‘Messiah’ amongst other things as a ‘scientist.’ (Professor Branover’s need to emphasise the Rebbes credentials as a scientist share a common theme with other attempts to claim that Lubavitch as a whole is generally more technologically advanced, than other Jewish groups. This is not only a desire for outreach, but a psychological reaction to being confronted with modernity, even at times to the detriment of actual education of their own.) This reaction is not just limited to its followers but shares an interesting and profound philosophical connection to the Rebbe himself, and ties in quite neatly with part of his general attitude toward conflict and also his beliefs on the messianic era. An interesting but undocumented theme runs through and explains some of the Rebbe’s thoughts and actions. His desire for Jewish religious/philosophical world supremacy saw an increasingly absorbent and all-encompassing worldview, even incorporating some seemingly heretical ideas but expressing them in the language and guise of Hasidic philosophy. This approach and policy of absorbing the opposition’s views and calling them your own, is now quite common in political arenas, and by doing so the opposition ceases to exist. This general trend even went as far as the clothes he wore, traditionally the garbs of the opponents of Hasidic philosophy, namely Lithuanian and German Jewish dress. 
Therefore, by studying philosophy, qualifying as a scientist and engineer, this Hasidic Rabbi was also able to absorb philosophy, science and technology into his Hasidic worldview. Toward the end of his life, the Rebbes attitudes towards the secular sciences and even philosophy, radically changed, this mind you was only due to the inevitable eschatological, ‘there is nothing to fear, the Torah is true, and in search of truth you must leave no stone unturned.’ This ability to fuse science, technology and an ancient mystical tradition distinguished and continues to distinguish him from his contemporaries. He uses of scientific phenomena to express deep, almost mystical insights about life. One such example of this fusing of science and religious ideals to inspire his followers is the example of a chemical catalyst and he uses this to describe the function of his followers in the world.
In one of the last satellite link ups the Rebbe talked of the almost messianic anticipation that this new technological development implied.
“Recent inventions in our world give the Jew a better understanding of how we can ‘connect heaven and earth,’ and how to connect various parts of the world to one another. One can see every corner of the world from his own home, and can even speak to somebody in another part of the world. This we see also in the satellite technology we are using right now, which enables Jews in Moscow, and Jews in New York, Jews in India, Calcutta, Jews in Japan and Jews in Israel to all unite to light the Menorah at once.”
In another example, he uses advances in laser science as a spiritual metaphor for enhanced spiritual achievement, personal development and interaction, he says: -
‘Until recently, directing a ray of light or heat over a distance was impossible, because the ray becomes diffused as it travels from its source. Its greatest intensity exists at its point of origin, and diminishes proportionately as the rays spread. Laser beams, however, do not diffuse; in a vacuum, they remain as intense over long distances as they are at their source. The photons in a laser beam all move in the same direction, so they can be precisely focused. This focus concentrates enormous energies on a tiny spot, allowing “mere” light to vaporize even steel. Maintaining direction without deviation, and the ability to focus one’s concentration, are factors which also determine spiritual penetration. The realms of Torah, mitzvahs and prayer provide a coherent direction for a Jew. When he channels himself in the direction that Torah establishes for him, then “even a wall of iron does not separate him from G-d.” He can even reach others and influence them to live a life of Torah.’
Sichat Kodesh, Chanukah 5730
What these quotes have in common is a messianic air and excitement about them, as another example shows: -
“…the actual diffusion of electromagnetic waves carrying words of Torah throughout the world very tangibly realizes the [messianic] vision of Isaiah (11:9) that “the Earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord…”
Materiality and the future
The key to understanding the Lubavitch way of viewing technology is found when examining its attitudes towards materiality and the future. Generally, the material world is seen in a neutral light neither good nor bad; everything, in theory, has the potential to be raised into the camp of the holy. As long as there is a positive potential in something then it must be used for good. In the more traditional understanding of Hasidic philosophy, this is called ‘the raising of the divine sparks.’ The eschatological redemption is brought closer through this raising of the sparks, by realising the positive potential in all things and ultimately the entire world, and therefore the world becomes redeemed. Everything in the material world, with few exceptions has the potential to be redeemed, either by its use or by abstention from use. Once again, even in the realm of Hasidic philosophy itself, the Rebbe is distinct from his contemporaries. He explains that this divine service of the ‘raising of the sparks’ was completed and that it was no longer necessary because the world was already in a state of redemption. This declaration in theory radically changes the fundamental status of materiality, from a almost panentheism doctrine where sparks of God are found within each physical thing, but the physicality itself is something separate and almost imprisons the God that is found within, to a pantheistic one where the world itself is absorbed in God and physicality itself becomes wholely God.
Materiality as a revelation of (if not) the Divine Essence
‘Materialism, n. The theory that there is nothing in the universe but matter, that mind is a phenomena of matter, and that there is no ground on assuming a spiritual First Cause; regard to secular to the neglect of spiritual interests…Materialise, v.t. To make material, to invest with matter or corporeity; to cause (a spirit) to become material or to appear;’
–New English Dictionary by Ernest A. Baker, Published 1932.
To understand this, we must first discuss the relationship between the divine essence and the Ego. This discussion must first take into account the primary distinction between two aspects of Lurianic kabbalah; the primordial womb and the infinite light of God, which lies beyond. This primordial womb is in theory void of God’s light, whereas that which is beyond this void, God’s light is revealed and diffuse. This could also be described as a primary something-ness and nothingness. Put in psychological, Gnostic or existential terms, a ‘fullness of being’ and ‘the inner void’; Yesh and Ayin, I am, and I am not.
Unlike traditional Habad Hassidic philosophy (here I referred to such works as the Tanya, written by the founder of the Habad dynasty), which regard the body and ego as negative, and anti godly existence, encouraging self-denial and self-nullification, in order to experience unity with God. The Rebbe has a fundamentally dialectic and contrary opinion about how unity with God can be achieved. He sees that this denial of the self as inherently dualistic and unproductive, and prefers the inclusion of every aspect of the self into the divine service, even the ego itself. Here he could be compared to the original founder of the Hassidic movement, who (with regard to prayer) encouraged the devotee not to ignore and banish the disturbing thoughts that stopped him from concentrating fully in his prayers, but rather to investigate and then fully understand their primarily spiritual cause. In so doing this unites those thoughts into his general service of the divine. But this approach was later to be strongly discouraged and disturbing thoughts were to be “pushed out with both hands!“ The ego as well as the body were to be crushed, in line with the Zoharic verse which says ‘the body is like a piece of wood, if it does not reveal the light of God it must be crushed! ” Moreover, the ego is seen as a primary source of all evil, the cause of arrogance, pride and idol worship.
In contrast, the Rebbe posits that the ego is primarily an expression of the ultimate ego, i.e. God. The Ego that shouts ‘I am!’ is a reflection of the true ‘I am’ and therefore something potentially holy, previously Hassidic philosophy had described physical Existence and the world as claiming an independence of being, from that of God, almost as if it said ‘I have no creator!’ The Rebbe on the other hand saw this not as something that was in opposition to God but as a primarily expression of the Godhead itself. The long-standing question within Hassidic philosophy, about the source of physical existence is answered by the Rebbe. He explains that physical reality cannot have been created via an evolution, of course and effect from the infinite Godhead to finite materiality. Rather there is a quantum leap from the essence of the divine, bringing into creation the physical. The result of this conclusion is that there is a unique and intrinsic relationship between physicality and the divine essence. The connection of this idea with the general messianic theme is only understood when one realises that, this ‘reality’ is only revealed in the messianic era, where the physical itself reveals this divine essence. The Rebbe instructed his followers to ‘open their eyes’ and realise that the messianic era had already begun and encouraged them to ‘live with Moshiach.’ Having taken this onboard one is left with the idea that physicality is itself ultimately a greater and more primary expression of God than any ‘spiritual’ revelation. This is confirmed by another teaching of the Rebbe, which explains that in the messianic era the soul will no longer nourish the body rather the body will nourish the soul. The self and world will be glorified; the world’s previous antagonism towards spirituality and godliness is now seen as a construct the falsehood of which can only be seen in hindsight. The self and the body are no longer to be castigated and denied, but rather celebrated and cared for. In a world that is redeemed and God revealed there is no need for division of physical and spiritual, the spiritual becomes physical and physical spiritual. The transcendent becomes immanent and immanent, transcendent. One is left with a magical world that has infinite potential. This is clearly a western form and expression of mysticism which contrasts strongly with his predecessors clearly more eastern forms, in which it believed that there was no ‘self.’ Obviously the subject is not as simple as I characterise it to be, but in short will suffice in aid in understanding the Rebbes unique view on materiality and therefore also technology. There is even an oral tradition that in the messianic era Hassidim will learn physics, instead of Hassidic philosophy, before prayer, this is because the physicality and therefore also the natural sciences become descriptions of and explorations into the divine. The secrets of the physical universe, of existence are the secrets of the Essence of God.
This connection and correlation between the divine and material world is not something new to Hassidic philosophy, but its significance and corresponding relationship to the main messianic theme which runs through the Rebbes works cannot be underestimated. And comes to a fore in the eschaton.
The future is going to be Good
With its emphasis upon messianic consciousness and the anticipation of the imminent arrival of the Messiah and the messianic age, this community has a uniquely positive outlook towards the future. They now hope for the resurrection of their Rebbe, the fulfilment of his prophecy, as well as the biblical prophets; the proof that they where right all along. However, this apart there is a genuine longing for a deep and complete peace and universal harmony that will be ushered in, in the not too distant future. The future is not something that should be feared, but trusted, something that must be celebrated even in the present. There is a sense, at least in the Rebbe work, that the future must be brought into the now. In effect attempting to actualise the futures potential, by realising all the dreams of the future can be experienced now, as in the adage ‘and if not now when’ and if the moment past, in the next moment or the one thereafter. This anticipation of the future is so important that, it is something that has even seeped into the unconscious mind people dream of anticipate the redemption, of it imminent arrival. The community, is in a time-warp between, living in the past, keeping memories of the of the Rebbe alive and dreaming of the future. They are very rarely present in the now, this is unfortunate and may have been what the Rebbe wanted them to do, and maybe what he meant by saying that: –
‘Now all we must do is to dance with joy at the appreciation of the imminent arrival of the Messiah and messianic era, so much so that the streets themselves dance.’
– Simchat Torah 5751.
‘The service of purifying the world, is over, the missionary activity is over, everything is done, now all we must do, is to accept and realise that it [the Messiah and the Messianic era] are actually here.’
– Safer Ha Sichot 5752
The Future is almost present; it holds the taste of all sweet things of peace, happiness, and fulfilment. The future holds unbounded joy, continuing exponentially ad infinitum, and both personal and global utopia. Hoping, praying that some supernatural power will save them from themselves, they call out to the Rebbe and he points back to them saying, ‘I’ve done all I can, now its up to you.’ It is easier to trust in the future and live with a dream that in the not too distant future everything will be good.
The Industrial Revolution and the Birth of Hasidism
‘Two thousand years ago, the holy Zohar (I, 117a) foretold this great explosion of knowledge: [commenting on the Biblical verse, than Noah was in his sixth hundredth year when the flood came?]
In the 600th year of the 6th millennium (approximately  1730) the gates of knowledge above, and the fountains of knowledge below, will be opened, and the world will be prepared to enter the seventh millennium.”
The “gates of knowledge above” refers to the wisdom of Torah; “the fountains of knowledge below” is secular knowledge.’
- Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson Likkutei Sichot, Vol. XV, p. 42. (1966)
If we are to agree with the assumptions and inferences made above (that the Zohar was prophesising of both the rise of Hassidism and the industrial revolution, as Rabbi Schneerson wishes us to believe,) we must say that not only Hassidism is intrinsically messianic, but also that science and the industrial revolution are also both potentially equal partners in the fulfilment of the eschatological plan. This exegesis of the Zoharic verse, seems to claim that there is a parallel between, and an interrelationship with science and technology at the very heart and formulating fabric of Hassidism, that both together (not independently) will lead ultimately toward the redemption. This view of history is by definition eschatological. Rather than equating the two fountains of knowledge, further explanations of Rabbi Schneerson interprets them theocentricly. He explains that the more the ‘gates of knowledge above…open’ then the more the ‘ fountains of knowledge below, will be opened.’ It is therefore, the advances and developments of (Torah through) Hassidic philosophy that bring about the possibility for scientific and technological development, and not visa-versa. Lubavitch Hassidism sees itself as being intrinsically interconnected with, possibly even the spiritual counterpart, of the explosion of scientific knowledge and discovery as well as the technological developments of the Industrial Revolution. It is consequently not at all surprising (from its perspective) and is no mere coincidence that its Renaissance pre-empted and corresponds to the ‘cybernetic’ revolution.
In this particular brand of Hassidic philosophy God is equated with Unity/Oneness/ and the All, whereas that which is negative is seen as divisive, multiple and dis-unified. So perceiving the Oneness of the Torah and also the world, one is seeing the Oneness of God. In the redemption, all are aware of the Oneness of God/Existence. As it says ‘on that day [referring to the messianic days] the Lord will be One and His name One.’
The Rebbe explains
‘By revealing the Oneness and Unity within Hassidic philosophy, one reveals the Oneness and Unity within the Torah, even the mundane aspects of it, and [because Torah is the Blue print of Creation] the Oneness and Unity of the world is also revealed, till finally the ultimate Oneness and Unity is revealed in the final and complete redemption.’
– Hag ha Shavuot 5750+1, and the pamphlet ‘Torah Hadasha.’
The formula is quite clear, there is an evolution of messianic knowledge from Hassidic philosophy to Torah and from Torah to the world. So science and technology reveal or help to reveal the Oneness and unity of the world, and contribute most practically to the redemption which is primarily physical. However, this evolution cannot be understood simply as a direct movement of ideas, as they evolve and are disseminated throughout the world, although this is ultimately the Rebbes desire. Nevertheless this relationship between Hassidic thought and science and technology is understood as being something more primary than mere osmosis, the divine influx and new insight that is discovered by the pupil and moreover, by the Rebbe, in tern elicits a corresponding response and discovery or insight by the scientific community.
Each scientific and technological development is seen as bringing the redemption one step closer. There is almost a latent excited anticipation, a sense of waiting, to see the future unfold before their eyes, seeing the era of redemption slowly but persistently being ushered in. It has even been described as ‘a memory of the future,’ as the prophesy of old are brought to life in the world of new technologies. So on one hand the Rebbe sees the general influx of new scientific information as part of a messianic plan, yet on the other he believes that individuals and humanity at large, still have choice about how they use this information and technology. But as we have seem there is a more intimate relationship between redemption and technology, in as much as science is the ‘lower fountains of knowledge,’ and is seen although initially as potentially either, it has by definition an innate and intrinsic relationship with the fulfilment of the messianic hopes and prophecies of this type of Hassidic Judaism.
The connection between technology and redemption
“We must force the Gentile governments to adopt measures which will promote our broadly conceived plan already approaching its triumphal goal by bringing to bear the pressure of stimulated public opinion which has in reality been organized by us with the help of the so called ‘great power’ of the press. With few exceptions, not worth considering, it has already fallen into our hands.”
The Seventh Protocol, Protocols of the Elders of Zion .
‘the simple lesson regarding the actions which a Jew must do to further hasten the Redemption is: – …to reveal that God is the Master (Alfo) of the world – in the world and in every part of the world, particularly through making use of all aspects of the world “for the sake of heaven” and in “knowing Him,” so that everything in the world reveals “the glory” of God…’
– Emor 20 Iyar 5751 Rabbi. MM Schneerson
The above teaching is based on the Hebrew word ‘Aleph’ which means has the numerical of One and has come to represent, the One God, this is taken very literally by an almost pantheist Hassidic belief in the omnipotence of God. The point of interest for us is that the messianic era, is at least according to Hassidic philosophy, and is primarily a revelation of One God. This translates into meaning that in the messianic era the ‘One’-‘the underlying unity of the universe’ is revealed throughout the entire world, fulfilling the verse ‘the glory of God fills the entire earth’ and there is no place void of Him.’
Maimonides writes in his laws of Kings-
‘it shouldn’t rise in your heart, that in the Messianic days that any of the ways and customs of the world will be abolished, or that there will be any [miraculous] innovation in the act of creation, rather the world will continue as it is, it customs will remain its customs, and this that Isaiah said about the Wolf lying in with the Lamb,… is only a metaphor…[because] the Sages say that the only difference between now and the Messianic days is subjugation to [foreran] kings…etc.
The Rebbe interprets ‘customs’ to mean the laws of nature. Therefore at least in the first stage of the messianic era, any ‘miracles’ that happen, happen naturally. The Rebbes interpretation of Maimonides is quite important as the Rebbe explains that in the first part of the messianic era, there will be no miracles, and yet the things described by Maimonides later on in his treaty sound miraculous. The Rebbe understands this to mean that through science and technology miracles are possible and yet are considered completely natural. In this way nature expresses and is a vehicle for the supernatural. This is ultimately the revelation of God in the world, that the world itself realises its innate divinity. And therefore fulfilling ‘God’s desire for a dwelling place below.’ The approach and interpretation of new technology and particularly the Internet is one of fulfilment of the eschatological; moreover, as a revelation of a deep and profound spiritual reality. His interpretation of the miracles of the future and therefore to some extent even the present are clothed within nature helps us to understand his approach toward technology. He sees Isaiah’s prophetic vision of the swords been beaten into ploughshares in not of just as the use of military technology in the aid of the world’s starving, but also in the general demilitarisation of technologies for civilian use. As the continuation of the verse ‘and no longer shall they learn war.’
‘The telephone and radio, for example, fired as with palpable models that enable us to visualise the concept of ‘an eye that sees and an ear that hears.’ Moreover, it foreshadows the promise of the above quoted verse, that ‘all flesh will see….’ From the physical sound simultaneously around the world.
When the radio, is used to disseminate Torah knowledge worldwide, it pre-echoes the universal diffusion of knowledge in the future time: ‘for the Earth will be filled with the knowledge of God, as the waters cover the ocean bed.’ ‘That time will also reveal the way in which God’s unity finds expression in the unity that is inherent in all creation.’
In these short exerts, there is an intrinsic relationship being expressed between science, technology and unity. This in itself doesn’t seem to be or imply anything messianic, but a closer observation of the relationship between unity or oneness and redemption make the relationship between redemption and technology slightly more apparent.
‘The advance of scientific understanding is increasingly revealing the inherent unity in the universe, as expressed in the forces of nature.’ Being aware of this can serve as a preparation and prologue to the Era of Moshiach, for at that time the Creator’s simple, uncompounded Unity will become evident.’
In the messianic era the divine presence is revealed with in the world and science and technology in this light can be seen as expressions of the divine.
Science, Technology, the Holocaust and the Rebbe
Calvin- ‘Well Hobbes, I guess we learned a valuable lesson from this duplicating mess.’
Hobbes-‘And that is?’
Calvin-‘And that is, um…it’s that, well… OK, so we didn’t learn any big lesson. Sue me!’
Hobbes-‘Live and don’t learn, that’s us.
-Scientific progress goes “Boink,” a Calvin and Hobbes collection by Bill Watterson.
I would suggest that one of the possible reasons for the Rebbes overly positive attitude towards technology is precisely because he was aware of its fundamentally negative use in the 20th century. He compared science and technology to gold, a curious comparison, but nonetheless insightful; he explains that the entire purpose for the creation of gold, was for it to decorate the vessels and ornaments of the Temple . But as he points out gold, precisely because of its inherent spiritual potential, has been used in the service of idols. Should we therefore abolish the use of gold? Of course not! Quite the contrary, one must redeem gold by using it in the service of God. In doing so ‘transforming darkness [itself] into light.’ So too, with science and technology, it has been used negatively, but its previous use cannot stop its ultimate destiny, for which it was created, and brought into being, to reveal God, and bring about the messianic era.
Society and Alienation
It is my belief that amongst other factors there is a fundamental schism between what the Rebbe said and what his followers actually believe. The Rebbe said that the Messiah had arrived, but in the eyes of the majority of his followers, this statement conflicted with their personal experience of reality and therefore, there was and still is much confusion and an unwillingness or inability to assimilate this idea with the reality they see around them. This, amongst, other factors, causes them to prefer the virtual outreach and an alienated form of communication of cyberspace to ‘real reality’ since in cyberspace they have the possibility of creating a virtual redemption with a synthetically digitised and re-mastered and eternal Rebbe. The Rebbe may actually be one of the first individuals who has every known detail of his life downloaded, both his biography, philosophy, personal writings, photographs and video footage and continued presence both in ‘real life’ and in cyberspace, will be the reason why he continues to inspire his followers, even after his physical passing. ‘The internet is fast becoming one of history’s most potent educational tools; and Habad-Lubavitch in Cyberspace is committed to enriching the internet with the vast and invaluable resources of the Jewish heritage and culture. In the “Age of Information,” knowledge is our most precious commodity – knowledge that will facilitate the fulfilment of mankind’s highest aspirations.’
Possible dreams of a techno utopia
‘In that time …the only occupation of the entire world will be to know God exclusively. Israel will thus become great sages and will know the hidden matters and will grasp the knowledge of their creator according to the capacity of each individual as it says “for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the ocean bed.”’
-Maimonides in the conclusion of Mishneh Torah
This has been interpreted by at least one prominent Hassid to mean that each person will have there own portable computer, each investigating the mysteries of the Torah and universe via the internet to all libraries in the world. And has been used to explain the verse that ‘no longer shall a man teach his fellow, because all shall know Me.’
‘…there will be thousands of thousands and myriad upon myriad of people… how [then] will it be possible for one person [the Messiah] to be able to teach and advise each and every individual personally [throughout the entire world simultaneously] about their own [particular] path of God?’
Rabbi Y.Y. Schneerson . Chelek Beis, Hag Ha Shevuoss Part 2, Shavuot. P.836
During the act of conception the couple are supposed to think pure and holy thoughts, thus the more enlightened the thoughts, the more refined the child and the higher the soul of the child. The interesting and ironic thing is that the word used for refined, ‘Adle’ also means of fair completion, light skinned, and I imagine that this trend will be continued, and if possible with the use of genetic modification. Altering the characteristics of offspring would eventually be embraced, just as their acceptance of GM foods now, that they interpret as being the beginnings of the fulfilment of the prophecy that ‘And all the trees shall bare fruit.’ This has been used in defence of genetically modified products, as they see it as a fulfilment of the eschatological. Hoping that it will in tern will fulfil Maimonides prophecy of a world in which there is no famine etc. In addition, and along these same lines other statements could be interpreted in light of new technologies. There is a Midrashic fable, which says the Forefathers (spiritually) made a kid and ate it, with out having to slaughter it because it was not born. Which hints to the possibility of artificial wombs and would seems to make another Midrash make sense that ‘In the future to come women will be able to give birth even nine hours instead of nine months.’
‘In the future to come houses will be made of precious stone, diamonds and rubies and the like, in line with the verse and ‘all the precious commodities will be like the dust of the earth.’
–Rabbi Roni Greenburg, in a class on the prophecies concerning the redemption.
Could this be prophesising of the use of the atomic structure of precious stones to build lightweight materials?
‘The Messiah will come lowly and riding on a donkey.’ Zechariah 9.9
The Rebbe interprets the Hebrew word for donkey ‘Chamor’ to mean course physicality, ‘Chomer.’ Although in this example, a direct connection between course physicality is not made nonetheless, in light of what was mentioned above concerning the revelation of the Divine Essence in physicality and it connection to technology, I feel it is a connection that is in some way justified. Surprisingly this metaphor of the Messiah riding on the back of the donkey has an interesting although speculative connection with the previous example in the Zohar. In the Zoharic image, there is a corresponding relationship between the Messiah and technology, Messiah and the messianic philosophy of Habad philosophy is understood and corresponds to the fountains of above which elicit the fountains of below… However, in the example Zechariah, the metaphor is even more poignant. The Messiah and therefore Hassidic philosophy metaphorically ‘ride on the back of the donkey,’ which is science and technology. There is a unique advantage that the donkey has even over the Messiah himself, because he is dependent on it to move him forward and travel to its eschatological destiny. Previously, Hassidic philosophy was the source of developments in science, now technology takes its tern to provide Hassidic philosophy with its ride to the virtual utopia.
Problems in defining Habad as a post-modern phenomena
This particular group or movement cannot be categorised as ‘fundamentalist’ in the traditional sense. There does not necessarily seem to be a return to a primary text of the bible as its foundation, or a return to tradition in a normative sense. Whereas there is a call for a ‘return’ to ‘tradition,’ the specific rituals and particular philosophy (outside of the general orthodox practice,) which it presents as being authentic and original, and to some extent more important than orthodox practice, have by and large been invented by its leader, from the 1950’s onwards. Although it could rightly be classified as primarily, a religious movement, this fact itself does not justify it being regarded as having an all out rejection of enlightenment values. Quite the contrary it prides itself on being an intellectual movement, based on the tenants of reason, with strong universalistic values that are base on messianic ideas and beliefs. During his lifetime, it seems that the Rebbe was a totalitarian figure. Although despising communist totalities and singing the praise of the American Liberal democracy, his organisation was, and still is to some extent, hierarchical. (The particular dynamic relationship with totalitarianism may need a separate chapter in itself.) While the Rebbe’s rhetoric was at times possibly highly individualistic, encouraging the individual to reach his/her particular potential, at least towards the very end of his life, (as I see it,) the structure of the organisation did not encourage this radical individualism rather preferred a more traditional and community oriented rhetoric. Until his passing, the rabbis that the Rebbe had appointed had almost supreme authority over the congregation, although this authority slowly began to ebb even during the Rebbe’s lifetime. As I was informed by a young drunken Talmudic scholar in the main synagogue of the worldwide headquarters on one of the high-holidays in 1990: – “The Rebbe is a Tzaddik, and everyone else (i.e. in the community) is a piece of shit!” This must to be understood in its context, but does express a fundamental feeling that was prevalent at the time. This trend continued and after his passing, there has been an almost complete and total disregard for authority figures. (This was mainly due to events that took place towards the end of the Rebbe’s life, when political backstabbing ruled, politics between differing factions and splinter groups erupted in all out political anarchy. The community, in turn, lost their trust and, in some instants, outright rejected the hierarchical structure that had now been shown to be a farce.) As a result, the totalitarian and hierarchical aspect of the movement may have originally fitted into a fundamentalist definition, it no longer does. Although there are still remnants of hierarchical structures within the organisation, it is mainly to do with politics, money and power, in contrast to its original religious ideals of hierarchy, where power and influence was based on religious or spiritual accomplishment. This rejection of the hierarchical structure was almost pre empted prior to the Rebbe’s death when he said “I’ve done everything I can to help bring Moshiach, now it is up to you! Do all you can!” Now everyone is equal partners and equally responsible for bringing the messianic era.
Although in theory the Habad Lubavitch movement claims to be a doctrine of ‘truth,’ it is almost post modern in its approach and is not a doctrine of absolutism. It does not completely disregard opposing opinions but rather prefers to incorporate them into its doctrine and even flirts with relativism. The Rebbe once said, ‘it is better to loose an argument and win a friend than win the argument.’ He did not encourage a fundamental transformation of the organisation of society, rather he encouraged consumerism and entrepreneurialism, but, arguably, he may have encouraged a fundamental change in people’s perception of the world. The Habad Lubavitch is primarily an intellectual/religious/mystical movement converting people to its views or just spreading the message of its leader. It is in this sense of ‘mission’ that it can be paralleled with Christian evangelical and other fundamentalist movements, but its distinctive characteristic is its obsession with the personality of its leader, in some instants and even after his passing could rightly be called a ‘personality cult.’
Unlike the Christian approach to the apocalypse Habad Lubavitch and their interpretation of Judaism’s ‘End of Days,’ generally have a very positive and utopian idea of the future (and is a subject I wish to address and discuss in more detail further on.) The Messiah is a bringer of peace; he settles family disputes, as well as rabbinical arguments. He neither judges, condemns or embarrasses people that believe they are Jewish, but who are actually not, and ushers in an era of peace.
The emphasis on a New Jerusalem
‘The Promised Land is a state of mind …I’m going to the Promised Land…’
- Robert Marley 1968
‘No wonder that Jewish writers, viewing this unprecedented prosperity, this unchecked growth in wealth and power, exclaim enthusiastically that the United States is the Promised Land foretold by the prophets, and New York the New Jerusalem. Some have gone even further and described the peaks of the Rockies as “the mountains of Zion ,” and with reason, too, if the mining and coastal wealth of the Jews is considered.
One thing that radically distinguishes members of the Lubavitch movement from world Jewry is their main point of spiritual and religious focus. Unlike the traditional Jewish view, someone living in the Diaspora feels that their heart and spiritual home and focus in their religious lives is Jerusalem, the Lubavitcher on the other hand, may be standing in the land of Israel, and even in Jerusalem the holy city, nevertheless their spiritual focus and home is always Crown Heights, Brooklyn New York. The clear distinction between the Holy and the mundane becomes blurred, with the case of Israel and the Diaspora, the focus is inverted, the Diaspora become Holy and Israel the mundane, in comparison. For the Lubavitcher (and here I am not making a generalisation but merely an observation,) there is almost an inability to understand and/or a rejection of the overly obsessed fixation with the ‘Land’ of Israel . It is quite understandable why this group has been banded with other Jewish fundamentalist pro-Zionist groups, this does have some basis in reality but this is a far too superficial and inadequate understanding of its views and role with regards to Zionism and the Arab-Israel-Palestine conflict. In contrast to the ‘Khannah’ or ‘Gush’ pro-Zionist groups it is to the far left, at least in theory, Some may accuse me of being overly apologetic and or ‘liberalising’ the Rebbes more pro Zionist message. I think (as I hope to prove) that the Rebbe is much more of a radical humanist and Universalist than previously thought, possibly even by his followers. It is true that a small but influential group of Lubavitchers are very much involved in the politics of the ‘land’ of Israel . It is my belief and understanding that this is an acute minority group that are by and large ostracised by most Lubavitchers in the Diaspora, who see them as Zionist extremists, who do not understand the Rebbes emphasis.)
As opposed to what they would consider more important issues like the (non demographic and more universalistic) ‘soul of Judaism,’ as opposed to the biblical literalism of religious Zionist that claim true Judaism can only take place in the land of Israel. As well as attempting to halt or slow down assimilation in the Diaspora and transforming the world, into a dwelling place for God.
A story told of a Hassid of the Ba’al Shem Tov who wanted to travel to the land of Israel , demonstrates the point well. The Ba’al Shem Tov was against the idea of this man travelling to Israel, but after many years of him requesting permission the Ba’al Shem Tov agreed to let him and his family go, but on condition that he took a ritual bath, immersion prior to his journey. The Hassid eagerly agreed and hurried to organise the logistics, and in his excitement and preparations almost forgot to take his ritual immersion. He got down from his cart and went to the bathhouse and he immersed himself. As he did so, he [probably hit his head or had a mystical experience and] passed out and saw himself travelling the long road to the Holy land . He felt the joy of reaching its boarders. He travelled to the holy city and was in awe of its beauty. He went into the temple, and marvelled at its glory. He continued into the holy sanctuary, and then to the holy of holies, were he opened the Ark of the Covenant and dared to peer inside. To his horror, it was empty, and he cried out ‘where are the Ten Commandments and the original Torah?’ A voice explained that the contents of the ark where to be found in Mezibush, his hometown with/in the Ba’al Shem Tov. He then awoke a little dazed and returned to see the Ba’al Shem Tov, where upon the Ba’al Shem Tov enquired, ‘did you find what you where looking for?’ This story told to me as a verification of the religious authenticity of a ‘Rebbe,’ and The Rebbe in particular, explaining that the Rebbe is not just the embodiment a living Torah but of the divine will itself.
This I hope will help explain why, even in 1994 when the Rebbe was sitting at the back of the synagogue, there was a genuine question whether one prayed East or West, i.e. towards Jerusalem or towards the Rebbe. The congregation was undecided, and approximately half east half west, there where others who were undecided and faced north or south. This emphasis on the Rebbe transformed New York into the New Jerusalem. This also fits in well with another the Rebbes famous sayings “make here the land of Israel .” This idea of transforming the Diaspora into the land of Israel has parallels with the general Hassidic principle of the sanctification and transformation of the mundane into the holy. More strikingly and possibly, more obviously with a Midrashic myth concerning the future land of Israel explains: –
‘In the future to come, the holiness of the holy of holies would spread to include the Temple ; the holiness of the Temple will spread to engulf the entire city of Jerusalem . Jerusalem the entire land of Israel and the borders of Israel will encompass the world.’- Midrash Rabba
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The following links were visited on the 16th of May 2000 to verify their contents.
 By this I am referring to both the late Lubavitcher Rebbe and also the latest stage of Lubavitch messianism particularly from the late 1980’s to the present day, as being distinct from the messianism of Rabbi Yosef Yitchak Schneerson, and MM Schneerson from 1950- to the late 1970’s. See, ‘Paradox of Redemption,’ by Naftali Loewenthal published in Perspectives on Jewish thought and mysticism 1994. ch16 p.383.
 From the very start of the Moshiach campaign, there has been much publicity from the Lubavitchers and much opposition by non-Lubavitchers, the latest controversy, revolves around the Rebbe being the messiah even after his passing.
 Born: Nikolayev, Russia, 18th of April (1lth of Nisan,) 1902.- died Brooklyn, New York, June 12th –1994 (3 of Tamuz,) , was the seventh lender of the Habad-Lubavitch Hassidim Universally known as “The Lubavitcher Rebbe”- and to his followers as ‘The Rebbe,’ and will be called so, through out this paper.
 A claim made by the Lubavitch movement, and is just as difficult to prove as it is to disprove. But as it is their belief it will help us to understand how they view themselves and their effect on the world.
 Something that may be provable, but as yet, I have no access to such information, and therefore also the validity of these statements.
 See www.pilgrimage.com
 This is again a quote from Richard P Leissner ‘This information was taken from a 1996 video about Habad that I watched during an interview with Rabbi Lew.’
 The Alter Rebbe, 1745-1812 the first Habad Rebbe and author of ‘Tanya.’
 In the late Sixties telephone linkups where made with several cities in the United States but in Yud Shevat 1970 the first international telephone linkup, with Israel, then to shortly be followed by links with London, Manchester and Paris.
 Although they clam it is vica versa, see the rise of Hassidism and the industrial revolution further on in this essay.
 Rabbi Tvi Freeman, the book, that I highly recommend is called, ‘Bringing Heaven Down to Earth,’- 365 meditations of the Rebbe. Also see www.askmoses.com
 This statement is pure hearsay from a member of the Lubavitch movement in London, mentioned in passing while discussing the issue.
 See the article ‘On the concept of a Science of Judaism,’ by Immanuel Wolf.
 It is interesting to point out that according to the official Lubavitch party line is that the Rebbe did not use electrical appliances on Shabbat, and I think that there is no reason to dispute this.
The Campaign For Moshiach Consciousness
THE REDEMPTION HAGGADAH
Guidelines, Rituals, Sources and Insights Inspired by Moshiach Consciousness.
Written by Rabbi Max Ariel Kohanzad
The Redemption from Egypt is a Blueprint for the Ultimate Redemption
The Passover Haggadah is like a Practical Messianic Manifesto, invented by Messianic Kabbalists for Messianic Kabbalists.
The narrative of the Israelites redemption fromEgyptis a blueprint for the ultimate redemption, both personal and universal.
This unique Haggadah hopes to reveal within the text and lessons of the traditional text, the secret doctrine of true physical and spiritual freedom. Freedom from internal slavery, mental slavery, freedom from external slavery and even freedom from freedom itself?
This Passover Haggadah is a practical messianic manifesto, carefully crafted by modern-day mystics and inspired mavericks, as a guide and road map for those who wish to break out of the chains of all forms of slavery and long to bathe themselves in the waters of for true freedom.
THE SEARCH AND REMOVAL OF PERSONAL CHAMETZ
What’s the connection between, the search and removal of bread, oats, pasta, whiskey, flour, cakes and other grain based products from your house or from you possession before Passover, and the story of Israelites escaping from Egypt over 3,300 years ago?
What has freedom or slavery got to do with wheat, yeast and anything made out of grains?
OK so maybe it’s just a ploy to get us to eat less carbs or wheat? That makes no sense because Matzah is made of grains! Maybe for some deeply mystical reason God has a yeast intolerance that week?
As we’ll undoubtedly learn the story goes that the Israelites leftEgyptso quickly that they didn’t have enough time to let their bread rise, so they baked it without it rising, thus having to eat flat bread or “Matzah” when they were escaping to their freedom.
The mystics claim that Matzah represents humility and effacement, and that “Chametz” that is, anything that has risen, is analogous with Ego or “Yesh” in Hebrew.
The Rebbe Rashab, R. Shalom Dov Bear (Hechulzu) explains that Ego is fundamentally caused by a problem in how we view ourselves and the world. He suggests that the problem with Ego is that people often see themselves as being separate from the Universe/God and the way to achieve Holiness or enlightenment and to let go of our Ego is to realise our fundamental Oneness and unity with the Universe and beyond.
From this view, Chametz and Matzah represent the Ego (Yesh) and separateness (Hischalkus) versus Selflessness (Bittul) and Oneness (Achdus), respectively.
The search for Chametz parallels the elimination of Ego (the sense of individual separateness) that is a necessary prerequisite for personal and universal redemption.
There is a Kabbalistic tradition which suggests that we search all 10 elements of our personality, that we find that Chametz and nullify them before Passover.
The sages suggest that there are two main ways to get rid of Chametz before Passover; Burning and throwing away, literally casting it to the wind or into the sea. (See Talmud Pesachim 2a?)
It seems a little extreme and perhaps even slightly masochistic to burn a symbol of your ego. The sages actually warn against burning anything that was once part of you (cite). So “burning” your ego would seem extreme, even dangerously self-destructive if we just take it a face value. But the type of burning that the sages had in mind, were not the sulphur furnaces of Hell, but rather the burning fires of love in your heart.
We can through love, let go of our egos and dissolve our sense of self-centredness. Burning of the Chametz is not destroying our egos but letting go of our self-interest and the complete consuming of ourselves in the experience of Love and Oneness in God.
To the wind
The sages suggest that we simple abandon our Chametz, crumble it and throw it to the wind or into the sea. In that process our self is not totally eliminated or consumed, changed into carbon, but rather made into crumbs, made ownerless and dispersed with some rather dramatic and symbolic gestures.
Selling your Chametz
Simply speaking the Rabbi’s suggest that we let go of the Chametz by selling it to someone not Jewish, therefore releasing ownership of it.
But, in order to sell our Chametz we have to own it, to take ownership and responsibility for it, to account for wherever it may be within us and our lives. Only once we truly own it, can we give it away to someone else, to respectfully abandon it, to disidentify with it, so even though it might be in your house, even under your table, it’s not yours anymore. This sale of our life long emotional Chametz allows you to taste deep emotional freedom and salvation.
Perhaps what it symbolises is a returning our misplaced form of ‘personality’ to the external culture to which we belong? And saying this ‘ego’ thing is in truth it’s not really me, I am not my Ego, it’s not something that belongs to me, it’s merely an unfortunate result of my cultural misidentify. Or us wrongly identifying with all the previous pain and suffering in our lives, instead of letting go of that illusion of who we think or feel we are and get in touch with our true and authentic self, which is completely One with the One.
Meditation for searching & removing Chametz
Meditation: May it be revealed within me, the consciousness of, that which brings into existence every moment, our divine corner of the universe, master of this concealment, you make us holy, in these acts of our connection, we are by virtue (of our Oneness) compelled to remove our chametz (misplaced sense of separate self).
Blessed are You, God, our God, Master of the universe who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the removal of Chametz.
Meditation: All things (of self) that are inflated and exaggerated, particularly those things that are (closest to me and) in my domain, and those things about myself that I am blind to, or have chosen not to do anything about, and those things that I’m absolutely unaware of. Let them all go and be dissolved in the Oneness, so that I may be freed from them and that my sense of self might be in its correct place, like the dust of the earth.
All leaven and anything leavened that is in my ownership, which I did not see or did not get rid of, or that I am unaware of, are hereby considered naught and ownerless like the dust of the earth.
Meditation: All things (of self) are inflated and exaggerated, particularly those things that are (closest to me and) in my domain, and those things about myself that I am blind to, or have chosen not to do anything about, and those things that I’m absolutely unaware of. Let them all go and be dissolved in the Oneness, so that I may be freed from them and that my sense of self might be in its correct place, like the dust of the earth.
All leaven and anything leavened that is in my possession, which I have neither seen nor removed, and about which I am unaware, shall be considered nullified and ownerless as the dust of the earth.
The Ten Pieces are burnt and the following is said during the burning:
Meditation: It is the Will of that which transcends even that which actively brings into existence every moment, our divine corner of the universe, and the spirits of our ancestors. That just as we remove our ego from within ourselves and any reminisce from within our domain, so too all the illusion of the world and the spiritual folly and sense of separateness will disappear from the earth. Any remaining tendency for imagining that there is anything negative, are from now removed from us. In its place there is a beating heart of flesh, which feels, celebrates and truly serves the Great Mystery. In the fire of our loving hearts everything is absorbed, there is no Other, nothing conceals or hides itself. We live in a world of goodness and peace and we dwell with the Divine Presence. This took place when we left our ownEgyptand it takes place now. Amen Selah!
May it be Your will, Hashem, our God and the God of our fathers, just as I am getting rid of my Chametz from my house and from my domain, likewise, so too shall You remove all the external forces. Remove the spirit of impurity from the Earth, destroy the inclination towards negativity from within us. Place within us a feeling heart of flesh to serve you in truth. Make all the Other Side and all the Shells and all the wickeness be consumed in smoke and remove the dominion of Evil from the Earth. Remove with a spirit of destruction and a spirit of Judgment all that distresses the Divine Presence, just as You destroyed Egypt and it’s gods in those day and in our. Amen Selah!
Order of the Passover Sacrifice
In the ancient days people brought sheep, cows and goats to be sacrificed on the Alter of the Jerusalem Temple, they did so, because the Torah told them to. But the entire notion of sacrificing animals and serving God in a Temple came about because of the Sin of the Golden Calf, if the Israelites would believed in Moses their teacher and waited for his return then history would have been different and we would have travelled straight in the Holy Land, and the Messianic Era would have started then, so in some sense, all sacrifices are a form of atonement for this Sin.
And when there was no Temple the sages say that reading the words of the order of the sacrifices is more than merely a reminder of rituals of days gone by, but rather, reading them is actually identical to bringing them yourself.
The reason is because, that was the entire point of a real sacrifice, merely to allow the individual to reflect on the Sin of the Golden calf and in some way rectify it, by slaughtering a calf on God’s Holy Alter.
The process of sacrificing an animal on the alter of God, is describing an internal process of dissolving fear, pain in the light of God’s absolute Oneness and perfection.
But the sacrifice has to be complete, this means doing “Teshuva” on your whole life, reflecting on everything that has every happened and resolving to accept and truly realize that it was all God, all good and perfect, especially those things that were horrible and painful. Doing Teshuva on your Teshuva. Also looking at your current life, examining your own thoughts, feelings and actions to see if they are in line with the Oneness of the Universe, are they expressing the light and love of your divine soul?
The Lubavitcher Rebbe King Moshiach, explains in line with this idea that Shechita the actual slaughter of the animal, means giving up any association or gain of physical pleasure for the gain our independent selves.
But this does not mean leading a life without pleasure, but rather a life without a sense of separation, without the usually lustings and desires caused by seeing and feeling yourself like an individual self pleasing, pleasure seeking animal. We take the elements of our animal spirit, who maybe like a sheep, cow or bull and let it go, allow it to dissolve in the oneness and bliss light of God.
So our very being set ablaze in divine light, there is no element of our being, which hasn’t surrendered to the total perfection and acceptance of this universe being completely God. Letting go of our identity with fear, pain or separateness, we become a vessel for the light of our soul to shine and we become consumed in love, in theTempleofGod, on the Alter of our lives.
If either of the first two nights of Passover fall on Shabbos you can say Shalom Alechem.
Peace unto you (welcome into your consciousness, heart, body and whole life these) powerful effervescent forces, from the highest light energy of the supreme transcendent source of all existence, the Blessed Holy ONE.
Bring Peace into us from the highest light energy from the highest light energy of the supreme transcendent source of all existence, the Blessed Holy ONE.
Bless us with Peace from highest light energy from the highest light energy of the supreme transcendent source of all existence, the Blessed Holy ONE.
Spread and Send out Peace (to the entire Universe) from highest light energy from the highest light energy of the supreme transcendent source of all existence, the Blessed Holy ONE.
- Peace upon you, ministering angels, messengers of the Most High, of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.
- Come in peace, messengers of peace, messengers of the Most High, of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.
- Bless me with peace, messengers of peace, messengers of the Most High, of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.
- May your departure be in peace, messengers of peace, messengers of the Most High, of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.
Who can find a woman of resolve? Her value is far beyond rubies. Her husband’s heart trusts in her and he does not lack. She does him good and not evil, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with her hands willingly. She is like the merchant ships, she brings her bread from afar. She arises while it is still night, and gives food to her household and a portion to her maidservants. She plans for a field, and buys it. With the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She girds her loins in strength, and makes her arms strong. She knows that her merchandise is good. Her candle does not go out at night. She sets her hands to the distaff, and holds the spindle in her hands. She extends her hands to the poor, and reaches out her hand to the needy. She fears not for her household because of snow, because her whole household is warmly dressed. She makes covers for herself, her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known at the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes a cloak and sells it, and she delivers aprons to the merchant. Strength and honour are her clothing, she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the lesson of kindness is on her tongue. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise and praise her, her husband lauds her. Many women have done worthily, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears God shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. A song of David: The Lord is my Shepard and I lack nothing. In lush green fields He rests with me. By peaceful waters He moves with me. My soul is at peace. He guides me into the gates of righteousness, for His name’s sake. Even as I walk in the shadow of the valley of death I fear no bad, since You are standing by me, your bat and your crook reassure me. I am a guest at your table, opposite my enemies. You anoint me with oil until my cup overflows. Only goodness and kindness pursue me, all the days of my life. And I dwell in the House of God for the length of my days. This is the meal of the holy Quince orchard
We’re preparing the meal of complete faith for the delight of the Holy King. We’re preparing for the royal meal. This meal is in the holy Quince orchard and divine countenance and the highest holiness join us in this meal.
To sanctify, means to make holy, but in reality everything is already holy, so what we are changing is not the reality of the time or day, but rather we are changing our own consciousness. We are moving our awareness from the mundane everyday into the holy, into the awareness of the divine, holy Oneness.
We’re preparing the meal of the highest King; this is the banquet of the Holy One and the Divine Presence. On the Sixth day, the heavens and the earth and the all the elements were finished. And on the Seventh day the Almighty completed all that was done. And He rested on the Seventh day from all the work which was done. And the Almighty blessed the Seventh day and sanctified it, because there was rest from all the works, which the Almighty had made to do. Blessed are You, Lord Our God, King of the world who creates fruit of the vine. Blessed are You, Lord Our God, Kind of the world, who singled us out from amongst all people, and elevated us with all languages, and made us holy with Your directives. And the Lord, Our God gave us (On Shabbat: Shabbat’s to rest and) seasons of rejoicing, festivals and opportunities to celebrate, the day of (On Shabbat: this Shabbat and the day of) this Matzah Festival, and this good and holy day, the time of our freedom, (On Shabbat: with Love) it is pronounced Holy and a remembrance of our going out of Egypt. Because He chose us, and He made us Holy amongst all the peoples, (and the Shabbat) and Holy Festivals (On Shabbat: With Love and desire) in joy and celebration it is inherited to us. Blessed are You, Lord who makes Holy (the Shabbat,) Yisrael and the seasons. Blessed are You, Lord Our God, King of the world, who has given us life, kept us existing and has brought us to this time. Blessed are You, Lord Our God, King of the World, who creates the lights of fire. Blessed are You, God, King of the Universe, who is beyond [the distinctions] between sacred and mundane, between light and darkness, betweenIsraeland the nations, between the seventh day and the six working days. Blessed are you, God, Who’s beyond the sacred and mundane. Blessed are You, Lord Our God, King of the world, who has given us life, kept us existing and has brought us to this time.
Washing you hands without making a blessing, before you dip the bitter herbs into the salt water.
This seems a strange thing to do just after you have made Kiddush, and what does any of it have to do with opening up to greater Moshiach Consciousness?
This idea of washing hands before eating wet foods, comes form a time when the ideas of spiritual purity and impurity where a halachic considerations. According to Tosfos, we only wash our hands in Temple times. Most opinions are that this does not apply to our current era. So although there is no need to wash our hands for the sake of purity, we wash them symbolically to say that we are now indeed living in literally in Temple times.
However since in the Messianic Era, “the spirit of impurity is wiped from the face of the earth” the symbolic and spiritual act of washing our hands, is not meant to wash any real impurity off our hands but rather to allow the holy waters of the Temple itself to cleans our consciousness and connectedness with any residual notions of impurity.
Blessed are You, Lord Our God, King of the World, who creates produce of the soil.
Why do we eat bitter herbs that are dipped in salt water three times at this Seder? You may believe that there shouldn’t be any bitterness or suffering in the Messianic Era and you’d be correct.
However, the Seder is a specific ritual journey that helps you personally move into the Messianic Era and experience Personal Redemption, where the motifs of Exile are transformed into expressions of the Redemption itself.
What we are doing, with this symbolic gesture is nullifying the bitterness of our personal exile and immersing the whole being of (ourselves) the bitter vegetable in the Holy Temple waters. All of our personal bitterness, our resistance to life, is totally immersed in the holy and purifying waters of Torah.
The water is salt water, which symbolises Torah and Chassidus, since Chassidus is compared to salt. Salt brings out the flavour, the inner essence of any thing, but here it is bringing out the Torah itself. The salt water is symbolic of the revelation of the New Torah that flows from Jerusalem.
It reminds us of the tears of Joy that are shed at the Temple celebrations. The water is salt water, but tears of Joy don’t taste bad, they taste of tears, but the emotional content is purely joy!
In the weeks Torah reading of Tzav, we learn even more about the varied bizarre sacrifices in the Mishcan. One of them that caught my eye, was about braking unleavened bread and throwing it into a vat of boiling oil, this somehow creates a pleasing aroma to God?
As it turns out this Matza brei must also be boiled, and baked before it is fried. There are a number of different translations about this ritual which move the emphasis of what actually is meant to happen, but everyone agrees that it involves frying.
If we interpret this Biblical temple based ritual service as it was meant to be understood, we can clearly see that this is referring to an internal spiritual activity.
To discover what it is we must take a closer look at all the elements involved.
Water is symbolically referring to ones Torah study.
Oil is a direct symbol for the secrets of the Torah.
An oven represents ones heart.
Matza is symbolic of a state of being that simply is, not the inflated self aggrandizement of the ego. It is connected with leaving Egypt, freedom from the limitations of our limited self of self or ego.
Firstly, the ritual assumes that you have already reached the state of being, where you are “unleavened”.
That is no sugar or yeast has caused your sense of self to move beyond the simple nature of what it is. That you realize that there is no self, no sense of separateness, but only Existence.
The Matza has to be broken. Nonetheless, there’s no harm in making sure that your sense of self broken down even more. Whatever is left of your sense of self has to be taken apart. So you realize at your primary notions of self are themselves constructs that it can still be further deconstructed, till there is only the parts of your non being left.
In that state, of non identity, not only are you meant to have Torah, but it must be very hot, boiling!
In your piping hot, enthusiastic waters of Torah you throw whatever is left of yourself into wholeheartedly. Your Torah study can’t just be cold and intellectual but has to involve love, energy and passion.
The oven of your heart must be baking hot, with the love of God (prayer), and into that oven you put your whole being. So that the boiling hot Torah which has saturated your very being starts to vaporize through your pours.
Finally the oil has to be boiling. The secrets of the Torah must not be luke warm but boiling hot. Incredibley hot, warmed by the fire of your soul, and into that you must throw yourself into.
This is the main service, Torah & Prayer have to be there, but the main thing are the true essence of the Torah, the secrets and oil of the Torah, not just that you know about them, but in a way that they are super hot.
This everyone agrees, your Kabbalah & Hassidus has to be hot and take the broken pieces of whatever is still left of your self and place them in this oil.
What remains? Nothing but a pleasant smell, a pleasing aroma to God.
This is the level of Moshiach, who judges by smell alone and humbly reveals the secrets of the Torah.
We can all atain this level of Moshiach, by actively fullfiling our true potential, putting our whole selves bringing about redemption, as it says, “all the days of your life should be to bring to the Days of the Messiah”.
This is achieved by learning the secrets of the Torah in a way that opens your heart to love, joy and happiness, to a point where the fires of your heart & soul make these secrets boil, bringing about the internal revelation of the Messianic Era, a time when “a New Torah will go forth from Me.” The secrets of the Torah both from the Messiah & each and everyonw of us.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe (the Moshiach one) explains that the Messianic Era is already here all we must do is accept him and start living with that reality.
This weeks reading we start a new book of the Torah, VaYikra, and it talks a lot about the details of the animal sacrifices. There is a slightly puzzling phrase at the beginning of the chapter which says “korban yakriv mi’kem” literally a “sacrifice bring from you”. The Hassidic masters jump on this verse and explain that it’s not enough to serve God with your possessions, but you have to sacrifice your self.
The Rabbi’s I met in my own spiritual journey, would direct their interpretation of sacrifice towards me and strongly encourage me to give up my individuality and become “Normal” and the same as everyone else, or simply follow their all embracing interpretation of Judaism.
When first coming into contact with a monastic lifestyle, I was interested in why my Rabbi’s started laughing when I used the words, “I”, “me” or “my”. Of course they were not only being a little condescending but they were also trying to teach me something, something that they felt was central to my own spiritual development, namely self nullification (Bittul) or loosing the ego.
The problem is that this idea isn’t at all widely understood by the way that I hope it was originally meant.
‘Bittul’ or self nullification, as it was and might still be taught in the different monastic communities I have lived in, was in effect and actual practice, a spiritually motivated form of masochism. And it was used primarily as a tool to impose conformity within the monastery/ Yeshiavah.
I remember that even the notion that ‘There is nothing but Him’ I.e. God, was used to remind the initiates that we were nothing.
Now of course all of this information can be taken in any number of ways, but the way I took it was not a positive letting go of my limited self obsessed universe, in exchange for comfortable trust and awareness of the unity of all things.
But rather as a complete and utter destruction of my self and everything I was, or had been, was falling away into the great and infinite abyss of the unknown.
I of course tried to hold on to some sort of identity, some notion of self, all the while, everything that I didn’t hold on to was been stripped away, sucked falling into the great Nothing – the Kabbalistic Ayin.
These where tumultuous and scary times, conform or risk alienation, would I be giving up enough of myself so that the rabbi smile at me today? Or would I be invisible?
Was this also part of my letting go of self identity? Was this part of the program? To leave everything behind and become someone else? To wash away the memories of a life previous from entering the monastery?
“Do, do it, don’t ask questions!”, “First do and then ask!”, “Overcome your limitations every day”, “Overcome the limitations of your previous day”, “learn more”, “do more”, “forget the past”, “embrace the future”, “read more”, “internalise it more”, “become it more”, “stop resisting it”, “it is holy and good for your soul even if you or your lowly body doesn’t like it”, “the body must be smashed like a piece of wood on a fire for it to catch light”, “you must crush your body and your physical desires, your evil inclination, your animal soul, so you can set your holy soul free”. “You must be a sacrifice” – I was told.
Paradoxically, in amongst this orgy of self depreciation, whispers of a different voice can be heard in the rush of air between the pages of these masters. Ideas and realities discovered in the plane of non-being that disclose a glimmer of true Being.
The well meaning rabbis who inherited these teachings often merely translated them into their own private language of “sacrifice”, meaning to painfully give up, to sacrifice part or all of your self in the process of self destruction and annihilation of the body and ego in masochistic service to some abstract, uncaring and sadistic notion of the Almighty.
But this was never wholly the original intention or understanding. The Torah is describing the spiritual process of sacrifice.
Let’s just remind ourselves (and any masochistic rabbis reading this) that God is ONE, wholly and absolutely. To become a sacrifice to God means to surrender your whole life, your fear, pain, anxiety and sense of separation from the All, from the One.
The process of sacrificing an animal on the alter of God, is describing an internal process of dissolving fear, pain in the light of God’s absolute Oneness and perfection.
But the sacrifice has to be complete, this means doing Teshuva on your whole life, reflecting on everything that has every happened and resolving to accept and truly realize that it was all God, all good and perfect, especially those things that were horrible and painful. Doing Teshuva on your Teshuva.
Also looking at your current life, examining your own thoughts, feelings and actions to see if they are in line with the Oneness of the Universe, are they expressing the light and love of your divine soul?
The Lubavitcher Rebbe (the Moshiach one) explains in line with this idea that Shechita the actual slaughter of the animal, means giving up any association or gain of physical pleasure for the gain our independent selves.
But this does not mean leading a life without pleasure, but rather a life without a sense of separation, without the usually lustings and desires caused by seeing and feeling yourself like an individual self pleasing, pleasure seeking animal.
We take the elements of our animal spirit, who maybe like a sheep, cow or bull and let it go, allow it to dissolve in the oneness and bliss light of God.
So our very being set ablaze in divine light, there is no element of our being, which hasn’t surrendered to the total perfection and acceptance of this universe being completely God. Letting go of our identity with fear, pain or separateness, we become a vessel for the light of our soul to shine and we become consumed in love, in the Temple of God, on the Alter of our lives.
In the Torah readings of Va’Yakhel & Pekudi, Moses gathered the Israelites, the sages say that this took place the day after Yom Kippur. Later on it describes the detailed building of the Tabernacle by members of the community who’s hearts were inspired with wisdom.
The mystics suggest that gathering of all the different members of the community together as expressed by the word “Yakel”, was symbolic of the inclusion of all the multiple elements of the universe in the Oneness and unity of the All/God.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe (the Moshiach one) suggests that this ‘day after Yom Kippur’ was very significant.
He suggests that, since it was the day after the first Yom Kippur, when the sin of the Golden Calf had been atoned for. More significantly he says that they had atoned for the sin of the Tree of Knowledge. That at this moment was in fact a taste of the Messianic Era where everything was perfect.
In Volume 1 of Likkutie Sichos (Vayekel) pp.187-192, he says that after Yom Kippur, the Sin of the Golden Calf was rectified and the Spirit of Impurity WAS wiped from the face of the Earth… to quote the Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s translation:
“It was the day after Yom Kippur, when the sin of the Golden Calf, which had brought back into the world the spirit of impurity, was atoned for. The world was to be restored to its original state, as it was before the first sin. There was to be “one nation in the land,” and the world was once again to become a private domain (reshut hayachid, literally, the “domain of the One”) for the Unity of G-d. Therefore there had to be an “assembly” in which the people were gathered into a unity.” P.147 – Torah Studies
What’s the connection between, the Tabernacle, Yom Kippur and the Messianic Era?
According to the Midrash and many other latter-day commentaries, one of the main and unique achievements of the Mishcan was to create a real dwelling place for the divine presence. This dwelling continued in both the first and second Temples. And of course the divine presence will once again dwell on the third and final temple.
Earlier that year (1951) the Rebbe claimed stated “…the ge’ula (redemption) in its optimum degree is already inherent now, and only need to be revealed…”.
What’s going on?
We know from Miamonidies that the Redemption and traditional Jewish conceptions and visions of the messianic unfolding, see it happening in clearly distinct linear stages. And here is not the place to get into it, but the Redemption and particularly the stage where spiritual impurity is wiped from the face of the earth only takes place toward the latter and perhaps the very final stage of the messianic unfolding.
However the Rebbe seems to be suggesting that in some sense the Redemption already took place in Moses own life time, in the context of him building the Tabernacle and gathering together all the Jewish people.
The Rebbe does a similar retroactive bringing of Moshiach, within the Creation narrative, Noah & the Ark & also the kingdom of King Chezkiyahu!
It’s almost like the Rebbe is saying that Moshiach has always been here and its just us that have to open our eyes to that reality!?
He also says (Hap Tip to Kevin Hayyim Rothman) that Moshiach coming as well as transforming the present and the future, also goes backwards in time to redeem the past.
It is as if we can now begin to look backwards to the beginnings of Creation and all the way through to the present moment and see that Moshiach already happened. As the Rebbe’s somewhat strange response to that CNN? reporter who ask him ‘are we in the Era of Moshiach Rebbe?’ To which he answers “a long time ago”.
The sages say that “if the Temple is not built in your life time its as if if has been destroyed in your life time”. That means to say in light of what we’ve said above, that the Third Temple is already standing in Jerusalem, it exists within us as a Miniature Tabernacle, both in our lives and as our Synagogues and Yeshivot. But unless we reveal that reality, unless we see through the illusion of Exile, and actually see the Third Temple, we are in some way guilty of destroying it.
We normally understand Moshiach and the True and Complete Redemption as something that is somewhere in the Future, a hope that the world will become fixed and mended, returned to its innocence and purity. But the message of this weeks Torah reading seems to be pointing in the opposite direction. Moshiach, the Redemption the perfection of the whole world is something that as already happened, “we only need to open our eyes and we will see we are sitting by the set table”, eating the flesh of the Leviathan and the Behemoth, drinking the hidden wine and dancing in eternal life.
May we open our eyes to see and feel with deep happiness, joy and content that we are already in a state of total perfection. May this fill and inspire our lives, may our hearts with filled with wisdom so that we can truly manifest the Divine Presence in the here and now of this world. Not only within our own miniature Tabernacles but also in the Third Temple, may we see it now.
In this weeks Torah reading, Moses is told to collect half a Shekel from each man over the age of twenty.
The Midrash says that Moses didn’t know what God meant by ‘Half a Shekel’ so God showed Moses a burning Half a Shekel alight in fiery flames. Then Moses understood what it was.
To explain this weird Midrash, it’s important to point out that the collection of the Half a Shekel although being talked about at the beginning of the reading is actually taking place after the Sin of the Golden Calf, which we read about towards the end of the chapter.
The compulsory donation of Half a Shekel, was meant to be an atonement for the Sin of the Golden Calf.
Moses couldn’t understand how a small coin, how Half a Shekel could remedy such a colossal affront to the fragile and newly established relationship with God and the Nation of Israel.
The Half a Shekel was 10 grams of silver. Each person even with all of their 10 soul powers fully actualized are only ever Half of the picture.
God in relationship with the newly formed Nation of Israel is the other half of the picture. Together we are whole.
But how can that wholeness between an Infinite Almighty God and the Nation of Israel be revealed? How can the giving of a small silver coin really fix or remedy the gulf between God and a group of people in the wilderness?
Moses wasn’t able to comprehend how the spiritual and the physical could be ONE, how God and the Nation of Israel could be ONE, especially after they had made such a grave mistake worshiping a Golden Calf instead of God.
But what the Nation of Israel where attempting to do, was reveal God in the here and now of this ‘real’ world, to dance and celebrate a God not out there beyond the limitations of physical reality, but within them.
God showed Moses a burning Half a Shekel, to teach him that we the Nation of Israel are God’s other Half, God’s reflection on Earth, the thing that in some sense makes God Whole.
This Half a Shekel is burning with Love, but it is also teaching Moses and us that we should learn to see all things differently, that what we normally perceive as physical is not strictly physical but it is all intensely pulsating divine energy, everything is on fire, this Half a Shekel that the Jewish people are giving it is not just a physical piece of silver, but actually also spiritual.
It reflects out continued commitment to being in relationship with God, to realizing that we are all God’s other half, we are in fact all God incarnate, and that this physical universe is actually completely illuminated with God’s ever present divine loving light.
This weeks upcoming Torah reading, starts with God telling Moses; “And You shall command the Children of Israel and they shall take unto you pure pressed Olive Oil to be a source of light to illuminate [the] everlasting flame.” The next verses explains that Aaron and his sons will arrange the gathering of the oil and subsequent verses detail how they should be dressed and the chapter ends with the service of Aaron, the High Priest, burning incense which is Holy of Holies.
As I’ve mentioned before, the Torah is a revelation of Divine Wisdom, kabbalistic secrets about our own personal spiritual development.
Moses, Aaron, his sons, olive oil etc… all point towards elements of our own inner world and possible spiritual potential.
Moses is not referred to by name, but as “You”, which is a little strange. The Midrash explains that Moses had asked God to remove his name from the Torah, if God was going to wipe out the Israelites after of the Sin of the Golden Calf.
However, from a mystical perspective, this is a reference to Moses in some sense loosing his personal and individual identity, yet his fundamental being is still in tact.
The verse is alludes to one of the highest levels of divine Oneness an individual can achieve. “You”, that is beyond personal identification, it signifies a joining of Moses and God, the commanded and the commander, where the individual and the Divine unite.
The continuation of the verse can be seen, from a deeply mystical perspective as an explanation of how everyone can achieve the same state of unity with God.
Some (arguably slightly masochistic) Hasidic readings of the words “pressed olive oil, a source of light to illuminate” translate Kasit / pressed as “crushed”. They explain that for the light of God to be revealed, the individual’s ego and bodily desires have to be crushed like olives in the process of becoming olive oil, but this is not how most mystics and kabbalists interpret the verse.
Just to make it clear that “crushing” is the wrong translation of the word in the context of this verse.
If we simply look at the process involved in extracting the type of Pure Virgin Cold Pressed Organic Olive Oil needed for use in the Menorah it’s obvious that the olives are not crushed.
Olives in their normal and natural sate are already oily, simply putting them in an olive press and sweezing them would allow a relatively small amount of purely virgin olive oil to be collected. However crushing the olives would inevitably course sediment to fall into the olive oil, disqualifying it from use in the Menorah.
The commentaries stress that the oil had to be the first pressed olive oil, and not extracted via crushing. That’s why at least according to Rashi it is the oil itself that has to be “pure” meaning that “it does not have any sediment in it.”
Other commentaries that argue that ‘pure’ is referring to the olives themselves, the assumption is that the Israelites couldn’t of had access to fresh olives in the Sinai Dessert, but they are simply mistaken, olives can and do grow in desserts! So ‘pure’ is referring to the oil.
There is obviously a small but subtle difference between the process of pressing and crushing the olives, especially if we’re interpreting these ideas as metaphors for personal and spiritual development.
Crushing implies a form of self destruction where the body and actual flesh of the olive is crushed to a pulp.
Whereas in the process of pressing the olives stay pretty much intact, albeit a little squeezed and deformed. Pressing is describing a process where there is no self destruction, but rather a revealing of the essence (the oil) of the olive.
There’s a long tradition of interpreting olive oil as the secret of the Torah.
From this perspective: the essence (the oil) of the Torah are the secrets of the Torah, which, if we continue this train of thought are, as the verse implies, the source of spiritual illumination.
Samuel Rafael Hirsh perhaps aware of this tradition interprets the service of Aaron lighting the Menorah as a metaphor for a Torah teacher teaching their students.
He explains that a teacher must bring illumination to their students in such a way that the light of Torah is kindled within them, so that the wick, the student themselves, becomes a sources of spiritual illumination, so that the teacher ultimately becomes superfluous!
This resonates deeply with an idea found in Ezekiel “No longer will one person teach their neighbor for all will know Me.” A level of awareness in the Messianic Era where traditional teacher-pupil hierarchy falls away.
The Alter Rebbe, explains the service of Aaron represents the service Joy, and specifically an unbounded joy in the fulfilling of Mitzvoth .
He continues his exposition by stating that this unbounded joy of commandments comes from the fact that it is God’s very Being, which is also unbounded, is commanding. As it says ‘that which I AM commanding you today’.
Related to this idea of unbounded joy is what Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (the Holy Ari or Ari z’l) claims that his profound Torah innovations only came about through praying with joy and generally being joyous.
We might infer therefore that joy helps us to see and understand the inner light of the Torah, the essence and secrets of the Torah, it’s true spiritual meaning and message.
In light all of the above we can now understand “And You shall command the Children of Israel and they shall take unto you pure pressed Olive Oil to be a source of light to illuminate [the] everlasting flame.”
Moses unity with God is not limited solely to Moses but it is accessible and connected to all the Children of Israel, and that we can all reach this level, where we are One with God, but still exist.
We achieve this via the service of bringing out from within ourselves pure Torah innovations which enlighten and illuminate our soul.
Instant access to these hidden teaching this made via “Pressing” i.e. doing Mitzvoth with unbounded joy.
Unbounded joy, connected to a Mitzvah, we are pressing our egos into accepting limitless joy into our hearts and lives.
Through this process of unbounded joy and Torah innovation we become independent of our Torah teachers, we become a source of light and Torah illumination.
In as much we reach the level of Aaron who was a lover and persuer of peace, and ourselves continue the process of lighting the Menorah and revealing the source of light within our students and the world.
Moreover, it was only Aaron, the High Priest who entered the Holy of Holies.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe (the Moshiach one) is at pains to explain that each and every Jew and also anyone who dedicates their life to God (no matter their tribal affiliation), is not only on the level of Aaron, but more profoundly that they are themselves Holy of Holies!!!
So let us dance with unbounded joy together and in the light of the New Torah, “Torah Chadasha Meiti Tetzeh“, “a New Torah with go forth from Me,” which each and every “Me” reveals through their own new Torah innovation.
May each of us loose ourselves in unbounded joy and ignite the everlasting flame of love in Oneness, so that together we reveal, our true divine nature, that we are Holy of Holies, and we are already living in the era of peace on earth, in the spiritual utopia of the True & Complete Redemption.
How many hipster accountants and solicitors have you come across? Probably less than the Medical Doctors you know who prescribe homeopathic remedies? Or Barristers or top Civil Servants who are also artists or that can dance to Hip Hop, Rap or 70′s funk without looking like Mr Bean?
Years of a particular style of training, the meticulous, pedantic, formulaic types of study that are required for careers such as law, medicine or accountancy usually result in a certain style of thinking and a way of being that, I’m sorry to say, isn’t cool, open minded or even slightly experimental.
The traditional training that most Orthodox Rabbi’s undergo is not dissimilar. The subject matter does not pertain directly to any type of communal or pastoral care, or even any type spiritual training or course in metaphysics.
It is primarily concerned with the intricacies and the minutia of the laws of Kashrut and hundreds of theoretical situations where forbidden mixtures of meat or milk or the similarly thought provoking biologies of the insides of cows, salting meat, or other forbidden mixtures that might have come together or have been mixed.
Each one of these hundreds of situations has half a dozen different opinions about what the interpretation of that situation is, and what they rule accordingly.
The codifiers are often not even consistent in their views or rulings. At one point they may present the most elegant and profound argument and in the next moment, they will let go of all rational reasoning and rule according to an opinion which make absolutely no sense, according to their previous argument, just because “He was a great Rabbi”.
It is akin to learning a very pedantic and complicated rabbinical “100 Times Table”. And although learning information by rote, or with pure acceptance of the Halachic tradition and process, may be good training for lobotomized human automans, or accountant or solicitors types (no offense), it is not good for anyone that thinks deeply or even slightly outside of the box.
The current “traditional” rabbinical course produces Judaism’s version of Rabbinic Accountant & Solicitors.
So what about all those totally human Cool Student Rabbis on university campuses around the world? I don’t mean the ones who pretend to be cool or fully human, those you might conclude must be those rare exceptions to the rule? But in most cases, although not all, the answer is surprisingly, No!
Most of those “Cool Rabbi’s” have not done an extensive Smicha program. Many have simply sought permission to use the title “Rabbi” from a well respected Rabbinic authority so that they can get a non-shul based rabbinic position, usually within outreach organizations, that deal with students or returnees.
Others who have done a Smicha program did a short 1 year course and did not go into any of the issues in any detail. There are some Rabbi’s who have spent longer studying, but when out there, confronted with the emotionally taxing work, retrain to be electricians or computer programmers.
The system, keeps people in their place, but it does not produce inspiring leaders, able to think for themselves.
Those rabbis who do go through the system and are yet still able to be inspiring spiritual leaders, who are cool and real authentic human beings are exceptions to the rules and are as rare as pure diamonds !!!
Is there a solution to this problem? Are the Jewish people destined to always have boring but perfectly efficient Rabbis and “spiritual leaders”.
If Jewish communities are looking for people to tell them what to do, if they look towards rabbis to titillate them with some slightly inspiring but ultimately irrelevant few words on a Saturday morning, to solemnly officiate at life cycle events, to mumble unintelligent Aramaic then nothing will change.
Unfortunately communities like their rabbis to be predictable, they like them just a little warmer and sociable than their accountant but not any more so, they like them to keep their distance, so that they don’t feel guilty about what they are or are not doing.
If however if the people who make up our communities themselves, people just like you, where interested in a relevant life changing inspired Judaism, then they would demand more for their Rabbis.
If we demanded cool authentically human rabbis we’d get them within a few years.
Revolution and real long lasting change takes place from the bottom up. If you are a member of a community, demand more from your rabbi. Get them to dig deeper within themselves.
Help them find a more meaningful spiritual and relevant insights into Judaism, help to re-educate them and become more rounded human beings.
Instead of us moaning about the state of Judaism and the general Jewish world, let’s use the inbuilt democratic element of appointing rabbis to demand more. To change our relationship with Judaism, to make it cooler, more relevant, meaningful and truly more inspiring.
May we first of all discover that cool rabbi within each of ourselves, and discover it and demand it from the rabbis that currently serve our communities.
In this weeks Torah reading, God says “Make for Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell in (amongst) them.”
There are, or course, a number grammatical problems with the verse, all of which I’m not going to get into here, but what I will point out is the obvious problem, which is, God says make a singular sanctuary, and then problematically ends with “them” as opposed to “it”.
But let’s explore this verse a little deeper.
Why does God, arguably the Almighty Creator of Heaven & Earth, need or even want or desire human beings to make a Temple, synagogue or sanctuary? If God wanted a cool pad to “dwell in”, God could simply create it Herself.
What is more worrying for me, is why. “the ONE”, “the All”, “that which is coming in to Being every moment”, would want human beings to wrongly believe that God is in any one place more than an other? Which seems an obvious conclusion to come to, on entering a sanctuary or even contemplating the idea of having a temple of place of worship?
Why would God even want to have a tent or building, when the “the whole world is full of God’s glory”? To make one place holier than another seems to fly in the face whole point of the Torah which is to reveal that God is everywhere equally?
It simply makes no sense?
The obvious answer is that, my Monistic view of God is, simplistic and naive at best, and an out and out heretical (pantheistic) revisionist invention at worst.
But before you decide to lynch or excommunicate me, it’s worth pointing out that the Sophorno seems to support my hunch, that really the notion of a temple seems to be an antithetical to the general direction of the Torah up till that point.
He claims that the entire need and invention of a Temple or sanctuary was a direct result of the sin of the Golden Calf. That if it had not been for the sin, the Israelites would not have needed a temple to see and serve God, because at the Red Sea the Midrash states that they were all already at the level of prophets.
Maimonides too (in his Guide to the Perplexed) seems so suggest the same, that animal sacrifices where merely invented to quench the idolatrous desires of the Israelites who where coming from a culture steeped in idol worship and ritual sacrifices.
The Torah (indirectly) teaches us that, “everything happens for a reason” so even the building of a sanctuary or the temple must ultimately be part of the Divine Will and divine plan? And if the Torah states (for whatever reason) “Make for Me a sanctuary” then it might be worth examining my own worldview and try and make some kind of sense of it, before throwing it out of the window?
Perhaps my assumptions and understanding of the intended impact of a sanctuary or temple on the human psyche is overly cynical and pessimistic?
It’s no secret that the verse is purposefully incoherent, because although God may indeed desire us to build a sanctuary, that’s not where God wishes to actually dwell. God desires to dwell “in them”, in each one of us, in every Jew and every person.
So even when we go ahead and build a sanctuary or temple, that’s not where God’s presence dwells, it is in us!
But what is the nature of that dwelling? How are we going to experience this indwelling of God within us or within our lives? And what has that to do with a Mishcan or Temple?
The Hasidic Masters explain that God dwells within each of us. Each of us has “a spark of God within” one claims.
The Tzemach Tzedek in his magnificent Derech Mitvotzecha, explains that, the entire purpose of a sanctuary or temple is so there is the revelation of God’s (infinite) light in each and everyone of Israel.
But as I mentioned at the start, why do we need a temple, if God is in truth, everywhere equally?
Surely the awareness of God, that God is everywhere equally as the Torah states; “Know this day an take unto your heart that the Lord is God in the Heavens above and in the Earth below this is Nothing else”, is in some shape a fulfillment of God’s indwelling in our lives and consciousness?
But when we focus on that idea of God being everywhere equally a few things can inadvertently happen.
Our notion of God and of things changes. All things, in someway loose their distinction, or even cease to exist as individual or separate entities because we are experiencing them as the “One God”.
The result could be in some sense a psychological detachment from the world of differences, of the multiple, in as much as All is One (and the same), and cause a ‘Spiritualization’ of the physical world.
The role of the Sanctuary is to confuse this worldview, to draw our attention from the abstract notion of God which is beyond and indifferent to the minute details of the world, and point towards a God invested in the limits and constraints of human physical existence.
The specifications of materials, of construction, the measurements of the Sanctuary and later the Temple force us to recognize a God interested and invested within our world of mundane details and limitations.
For me the great thing about the Mishcan, was that it was portable sanctuary, the Israelites could take their huge elaborate tent and find God anywhere they traveled, it represents a God, both invested in the details of the physical world and also everywhere equally!
But the Jerusalem Temple, made of stone and fixed in one geographical place, still flies in the face of “the whole world is full of God’s glory”, why one place more holy than another?
However, if we take a close look at the Jerusalem Temple and at the Holy of Holies, we find that the Ark of the Covernant took up space and did not take up space.
That even if you’d point to the Ark in the Holy of Holies and say; “this space is Holier than any other!”, that space defies our understanding and notions of space, because it did and didn’t exist.
The Ark could be measured but within the space of the Holy of Holies it didn’t take up any space, pointing to a God both invested in the dimensions of this physical world but at the same time not limited to them.
Yackov Yoseph of Polonnye explains that each person is a miniature world and that there is a Mishcan and Temple that exists within each of us.
So the entire point of building a Sanctuary “out there” in the limitations of 3D world, is to enable us to recognize that within our own lives, within the everyday minutiae of our lives, whether in the rituals we do, in the acts of goodness and kindness, or in the small and limited details of each of our lives, we can see that all of this is God!
God is here in the details.
That even the bricks and stone of our being, the seemingly lifeless stuff of our world is revealing the source of All Being.
Building a sanctuary enables us to see in every subatomic particle, the continued coming in and out of existence, of every single thing in our lives, so that we can appreciate and actually experience in the limitations and apparent physicality of our lives, the underlying truth, that we are in the Holy of Holies now.
The Zohar states, “Yisrael, Orita Ve Kudsha-Brich-hu kulu Echad” Israel (the people), Torah & the Holy One are all One.
The Bible explicitly commands us to Love God, the Talmud states that the basis for all the Torah is love of our fellow Jew.
Elsewhere in the Talmud there is a serious argument of what is greater the Study of Torah or doing Mitzvoth, after a very long discussion they conclude that the Study of Torah is greater!
The Lubavitcher Rebbe (the Moshiach one) in his inaugural lecture (1951) stated that there are three primary and equal loves, love of God, love of the Jewish people & love of Torah.
I believe that these three equal loves are the true signature of authentic Judaism.
If any one of these are missing or become more important than the other, the holy tripod on which Judaism stands starts to falter and it is in my opinion it’s no longer an authentic expression of Judaism.
A Judaism that loves God & Torah but disregards its fellow Jews however “God fearing” is not in my opinion an authentic expression of Judaism.
A Judaism that loves Jews & God but disregards Torah however loving, happy & amazing is equally as misguided.
Likewise one that loves Torah & Jews, but ignores God although it might be totally “frum” or even humanistic they are missing the point in a major way. (Just to clarify if this is the first time reading one of my articles the “God” I’m referring to is the “All of Existence & beyond, coming into Being every moment” the All, the ONE etc).
Let’s recap, three EQUAL loves, none above the other, balancing these loves can be tricky, but as long as all three are important and we are attempting to balance them, I believe it’s a form of Judaism that is in balance.
In my life, I’ve had the opportunity to visit many different types of synagogues, in different communities with a variety of approaches.
Recently I had the luck of being invited to very cool Carlebach inspired Brestlov Friday Night Minyan, it was happy and inspired, open, lively but also deeply spiritual.
It attracted a wide variety of people, from Shtrimal wearing Hasidim to people just dipping their toes into shul going, and everything in-between.
It filled my Friday night with song and dance which I carried with me during the week and it spiritually carried me.
From Friday night till the middle of the week it inspired me with joy, love & unity. And from the middle of the week, I looked forward to dancing and welcoming in the holy Shabbat with such an immensely spiritual experience.
But after three months, it’s been stopped, not because of the joy police, wanting everyone to be miserable, but because the people who started it thought that there was too much talking going on in the back of the shul, and it was too informal. And hey! it’s their gig, and they are entitled to do what they like.
But as I’ve said, I’ve been to shuls, even now, I shul shop, shul hop, and the quiet whispers at the back of this Carlebach/Breslov Minyan was the quietest, most the most respectful, I’ve ever come across.
So what I’m saying is, “Hold on!! you had something really amazing going on here, something that brought Jews from all parts of the community together, which created and fostered love, joy and unity and you want to kill it because it was not quiet & spiritual enough for you? Because it wasn’t dead quiet, because the dancing was more fun than the serious purely blissful notions they had imagined?
In short you wanted it to be more spiritual?
So because of their own spiritual elitism, other more simple Jews now have to suffer. Suffer lifeless, repetitive and boring services, because the people organizing this cool Minyan are puritans.
And fine, its their vision, but seriously, what it really points to is a love of God and a personal spiritual quest and puritanism which put their own spiritual development ahead of the good of other people and the community.
For me this is typical of a self-centered form of spirituality, typical of Boomers and people who are spiritually immature. And it misses the greatest opportunity for spiritual growth and development which is giving up your ideal spiritual vision, to help, love and inspire others to be happy.
That’s where the idea of these three equal loves comes in, equal means that loving God is not more important than loving your fellow, or loving Torah is not more important than loving God. Each have the same and equal value and importance. And only with all three do we find spiritual equilibrium.
Abraham, was talking to God, communing with the Divine Presence, yet as soon as he believed he had guests, he turned away from God to great his guests.
Yes it takes prioritizing, even some juggling, and we may not always get it perfect, but loving your fellow Jew and human being is equaly as important as loving God, perhaps if they would love Torah as much as they love their own spiritual development the they might have figured this one out?
Can you get to heaven with just one of these loves? I’m quite sure you can. But can to create Heaven On Earth without all three? That, I seriously doubt.
The mystics explain that it is through the Torah that a Jew can realize they are One with God. And it is through the revelation of Oneness in the world that God dwells here on earth, and with that Peace On Earth & life everlasting.
So I pray; let our love of Torah teach us a love for each other that overwhelms the love for ourselves, so that we can all dance & celebrate our love of God in joy, dance & unity.
This weeks reading, is full of do’s and don’ts, in fact a vast amount of it is picked up by the Talmud, who spend hundreds of years arguing over the nuances of these passages. Judaisms’ current stultifyingly boring legalistic focus is in part due to the existence of this weeks chapter.
After the revelation of the absolute Oneness of All Existence as expressed by the first letter of the first word of Anochi, of the first word of the 10 Commandments at Mt.Sinai. The force of our collective Oneness compels us to take responsibility for our actions. Thus the bibles insistence on laws concerning how we behave with our fellow human being.
I feel it worth pointing out that just because the bible legislates for how we are meant to act and behave towards slaves, this should not be mistaken for advocating this a an ideal practice. We should remember that the Torah is in many ways “speaking in the language of men”, that it is being revealed in a world that desperately needs to be fixed, and many of the laws point towards a process of damage limitation rather than promoting such inhumane practices as slavery.
The bible is putting up boundaries and setting laws and limitations to the culture of it’s time, be that the Israelites having left Egypt or later on in ancient Jewish history. So that just as the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt had its own boundaries and ultimately its end, so too all current and future slaves of Israelites should be offered the same opportunity.
The fist of these laws specifies that if a man is sold into slavery, he shall work for six years but on the seventh year you have to set him free.
The Alter Rebbe the founder of the Chabad school of Hasidism in a brief almost flippant comment, (Torah Or on Mishpatim) interprets this law cosmically. He says that the seventh year and the slaves freedom is actually referring to the end of commandments.
As the Talmud famously says, “Commandments will become nullified in the Future to Come.”
One can surmise that the slave he is referring to are the Jewish People contracted to work for six (thousand) years, and in the seventh they shall be freed of their contractual obligations and be free of commandments, simply speaking.
So here in the chapter where we are inundated with commandments, this Hasidic Rebbe is learning that they are not forever. That when we have accomplished our job and served God, like slaves for six thousand years, we will eventually be free, free of the contractual obligation to carry out commandments.
The logic seems to suggest that commandments are merely, a means to an end. That they are designed to either “fix this broken world”, or make this world the primary “dwelling place of God”, but whatever their reason, once we have completed our contract commandments in terms of Mitzvoth are no longer necessary?
Even the notion that there might be an end of the actual practice of Mitzvoth scares the “Heebegeebies” out of most orthodox Jews, even the not-so-orthodox seem to be a little on edge when confronted with the idea.
It sounds just so… welll… Christian! and you know us Jews, so happy to define ourselves in contradistinction, hate the idea of the “Christians” having any kind of foot-to-stand-on, but they do. Oh well.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe (the Moshiach one) discussed the notion of the end of commandments in a few different lectures. In one of these talks he suggests that in the Future To Come (after the resurrection of the dead) the distinction between the Commander (God) and the Commanded (specifically the Jewish People & Humanity in general) will disappear.
That is, the revelation of the ONE will become manifest in the world and therefore, the Will of God will no longer have to be compelled on Humanity, but rather we will be ONE with God and automatically do God’s Will.
And although this may seem like some subtle semantics, the radical nature of this teaching should not be ignored.
On a simplistic level, one may surmise that the Torah is in fact the revelation of Oneness as mentioned last week, but that oneness was not yet pervasive, the bible had to force people to behave in a way that reflected the will of the ONE.
In the messianic era,the job of revealing God in the World having being completed, this Oneness is so palatable and so all pervasive that the need for Commandments becomes irrelevant.
This is in a way a slightly elongated version of the argument of, Prescriptive ‘V’ Descriptive, is the bible prescribing actions, modalities and behavior or merely describing the modalities and behaviors of people aware of their Oneness with the All?
So how are we supposed to reconsile, this lovely Oneness theology, that Rabbi Max and the other mystics he quotes with what seems to be the simple reading of the text?
The mystics claim that in the Messianic Era, the bible will not be read as a story book or lists of genealogy, or mundane laws, but rather as a the revelation of divine secrets.
So when we read of slaves, the bible isn’t really talking about human beings enslaving other human beings, but rather, our own spiritual slavery.
There are different types of self imposed slavery that we subject ourselves to, slavery to our jobs, our vanity, our boss, our country, our past, our pain and suffering, to guilt and many other things.
But what the Torah is teaching us is that we must set our selves free, we must abandon our slavery and embrace true freedom.
Now true freedom also mean freedom from the sick and twisted reasons why we keep any commandments. Any guilt, any social pressures, any family associations, any feel good factors, and simply let them go.
So the entire point of our slavery to God, or our service is in truth merely to lift our own vial of blindness, to remove our limited vision of World and to see it for what it really is, which is God and see and experience the Oneness of All Being.
I’m suggesting that you have to free yourselves of the enslavement of Commandments and realise your Oneness with God, with the Torah and with the whole world so that you become aware that the Torah is really describing the nature of God, the nature of your true self and the world.
Am I saying don’t keep Mitzvoth? Simply speaking no.
But do them not because you are compelled to by some form of mental or psychological slavery, but because you are experiencing, loosing yourself in the ONE, so that your very heart, your very soul, your very being, naturally does them without any compulsion, without any sense of duality, or distance between you and God, with with the realisation that everything is God, and move gently with love, joy and out of sacred desire.
It’s said that the main emphasis or focus/ service in Judaism is represented by Kiddush. Simply put, Judaism (at least from the perspective of Lurianic Kabbalah and Hasidism) is interested in bringing the world into the camp of the Holy.
Therefore, the service of Havdalah which focuses on, and emotionally invests in separating and making divisions and differences in the world is not Judaism’s main goal. Since God is One and everything is ultimately One in God, making separations isn’t really what life’s all about.
So why do we, nonetheless, say Havdalah at the end of Shabbat? Because of the above teaching, I have always been a little bit uncomfortable with the prayer.
What has also troubled me is that we have a Talmudic indium that states: “Mialim BeKodesh“, “Go up in Holiness”, so I have in recent years, come to see Havdalah paradoxically, rather than signifying the end of Shabbat, rather as a “Kiddush for the weekday”. Thus making the week holy in a way that is different to, and in some way even Holier than, the preceding Shabbat.
There is a glorious introductory paragraph before the main blessings which is meant to inspire and enlighten, and although it is amazing and powerful, it does not lessen the more problematic value judgements implied by the latter blessings, which all seem to focus on making distinctions between, holy and mundane, light and dark, between Jews and non-Jews etc…
“Behold the Almighty is my salvation in whom I trust & I do not fear, because my strength and my song is “Yah” and God has become my salvation. You shall draw water with joy from the wells of salvation. In God is the Salvation; Your blessings are upon Your people, Selah. The Lord of Hosts is within us, our refuge is the God of Jacob, Selah. Lord of Hosts! Happy is the person who trusts in You. God, saves us; the King answers us on the day we call. “The Jews had radiance and happiness, joy and honour.” So may it be for us. Raise the cup of salvations and in the name of God call out.”
Before we go any further with this idea, I feel it’s vital to explain, from a deeply kabbalistic perspective, one of the purposes of a traditional blessing.
My view at least is that, the intention is to raise the awareness of the Kabbalist to the divine nature of all reality. Therefore, a Blessing over a particular thing, or a biblical commandment for that matter, is an opportunity to tune into a deeper level of awareness of our deep Oneness with All of Existence/the Divine.
Baruch – The word Baruch/Blessing is connected to the idea and notion of drawing down (usually of divine blessing or shefa), or as I like to say, drawing out.
Ata – Thus applying this logic, saying Baurch Ata, the person uttering such a statement is drawing a level of reality known as Ata or You, into their awareness.
This is not only self knowledge (You) but knowing of oneself from another’s perceptive, on a deeper and slightly more Bubarian interpretation, it is reaching within, to an awareness of that aspect of God that is truly beyond and Other (You).
The meditation continues, we can then become aware, draw into our awareness the experiential realisation signified by:
Adonai – which is spelt “Ye (Yud) – Hoveh” this is the Name of God which is singular tense, which is beyond time (past, present & future as One) and represents, the Singular life force that is continuously bringing the entire universe into existence every moment as the word “Ye (Yud) – Hoveh” simply means.
Elohaynu – is referring to the multiple, and specificity to your personal corner of this divine universe, i.e. Your God.
Melech – King, i.e. ruler and sovereign and that which is above and in control of everything that happens.
HaOlam – the World, the Hebrew word Olam is related to the word Helem which means covering or concealment. So the Hassidic Masters teach, that the world is an illusion that covers and conceals God’s Infinite Light.
Thus, from a Kabbalistic view, what we are really doing when we say a Bracha is drawing the awareness of the divine Oneness into our own lives, so that we transcend and become ruler over this divine illusion of a world.
Hamavdil – The word Havdalah means separate and/or distinct. But the word Kodesh in it’s traditional (non-Hassidic) use also has a similar meaning. In as much as, things that were ‘Kodesh’ were things that such as Tithes were put aside for the Temple, they were separated from the mundane things. So the word Kodesh can also mean separate and distinct and really beyond. So the phrase Kadosh! Kadosh! Kadosh! means Holy! Holy Holy! but also; Separate! Beyond! Beyond!
To continue this thought: what if Havdalah was used in a similar way? What if, the word Havdel, could mean separate, distinct but also beyond!? It is the same letters but a slightly different pronunciation, instead of Hamavdil it might read Hamuvdal! What would the implications be for the Havdalah Prayer? What would it now mean?
Blessed Are You who’s Beyond, [the difference] between Sacred and Mundane!!!
The Havdalah prayer and meditation continues:
With the permission of our Teachers, Our Rabbis & Congregation:
Blessed are You, God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.
Blessed are You, God, King of the Universe, Creator of various kinds of spices.
Blessed are You, God, King of the Universe, Creator of the lights of fire.
My translation of the latter part of the Havdalah prayer should read:
Blessed are You, God, King of the Universe, who is beyond [the distinctions] between sacred and mundane, between light and darkness, between Israel and the nations, between the seventh day and the six working days. Blessed are you, God, Who’s beyond the sacred and mundane.
The new Kabbalistic meditation would therefore be:
Draw into awareness; You, the Singular life force that is continuously bringing the entire universe into existence, [draw that awareness] into our corner of this divine universe, [so that we transcend and become] ruler of this divine illusion of a world, [by drawing into awareness] of that which is removed and beyond the distinction between Holy and Mundane, between Lightness and Darkness, between Israel and the Nations, between the Seventh day and Six days of work. Bring into awareness, You, the Singular coming into Being, which is separate from/beyond, [the distinction] between Sacred and Mundane!
So not only do we carry Shabbat into the weekday, but we can see and realise that the weekday is an even higher form of Shabbat!
This weeks Torah reading of BeShalach, is just amazing, and is the biblical climax of the Exodus narrative.
There is so much I could focus on but, what I’d like to point out is a little know Midrash on the Hebrews at the Red Sea.
As you may or may not know the Israelites left Egypt in the dead of night. Pharaoh and the Egyptian Army having realised the error of letting a major part of their slave workforce go, decide to get them back or kill them if they refused, so they made chase.
The Israelites got to the Red Sea and could go no further and didn’t know what to do.
The Midrash says that they spilt up in to five different groups or opinions.
The first group wanted to just give up, the odds seemed steeped against them, with no hope of saviour they decided it would be best if they threw themselves in the water and drown.
2. Going back to be slaves
The Second thought that it would be a very sensible thing to surrender to the oncoming Egyptian army and simply go back to the lives they had just left, to return to be slaves. Since at least it was predictable, arduous and punishingly hard work, but “comfortable” compared to the panic driven uncertainty of this new freedom. At least in Egypt they knew their place, they were guaranteed regular food and water, a roof above their heads and a sense of normality.
3. Fight the Egyptians
The Third group, had had enough of slavery, of being beaten and victimised by the Egyptians, being treated as second class citizens, being slaves, being abused and their children killed. They decided to take revenge, to instead of raising a white flag, to raise their swords, to fight and kill the oncoming Egyptian army. They were after all, in a potential advantage, they might be able to climb the steep valley sides and gain the upper hand?
4. Pray and Asking for help
The Forth group, literally didn’t know what to do, so they did the only thing they could do, and that was pray. They prayed to God to help them get out of this seemingly impossible situation! This group included in it most of the Levites (Priests) including Moses himself, who pleaded with God for help advice and guidance.
5. Moving on, even though it seemed impossible
The Fifth group, wasn’t really a group at all, it was one individual called Nachshon Ben Aminadav who remembered that God had already promised to take them to Mt. Sinai, so he walked forwards into the sea. The people witnessing him, screamed and believed he was just another member of Group 1, but he had a different idea.
He believed that they had to move forwards, to ignore seeming impossible obstacles and move towards their collective destiny. The Midrash continues that Nachshon, waded up to his knees and nothing happened, he went up to his waist but still, nothing happened, he was up to his chest, but nothing. Not until the water hit his mouth did the Red Sea split. (Obviously a different account than the Bible)
From a personal and spiritual perspective we can learn a huge amount from this Midrash. We can see these different groups as different reactions to immensely difficult situations, or you can even choose to see them as different stages in a process of healing and moving on itself.
2. Going back to be slaves
3. Fight the Egyptians
4. Pray and Asking for help
5. Moving on, even though it seemed impossible
When a for whatever reason we feel we are in an impossible situation, well can all have similar reactions, we can although many people don’t admit it, feel that life isn’t worth living.
We can wish that nothing had happened, perhaps we can fix the problem, and that it would all magically go back the way it was before?
We can fight and be angry with the situation and with ourselves, we can wish to destroy the problem from our lives and our history.
But that doesn’t work either, because all that emotional energy is still directed at the past, either at the person you’ve been hurt by, but the things in your life that make you feel angry and upset.
You have to dig deeper within yourself and learn to let go of all that negative emotional stuff in a way that is safe and constructive.
Go speak to someone, a counsellor, God, a friend, psychotherapist, life coach, mentor or anyone or anything you trust and believe in.
They may not have any answers for you, and they may not have any advice, but they are there for you in your hour of need, they listen, they empathise and help you to resolve the crisis within yourself, so that you can begin to let go of the pain, and let go of the past and let go of the person you’ve been.
But ultimately we all need to stop getting advice or praying and meditating and move forward toward a happier and brighter future.
The secret of moving forwards is having a positive vision of your future (Mt.Sinai), and having the courage to embrace the happier person you are destined to become, even if it seems impossible!
Q. What do you think about change? Can people really deep down change their bad way of life?
Peace & Blessings!
Dear Do I Have To Change?
We’re changing all the time, change they say is the one constant.
But positive and healthy change is difficult, not because we don’t know or even believe it’s best for us, but because we are creatures of habit.
The mystics teach us that at the centre of our being is an unknowable mystery from which radiates bliss/pleasure then a desire or will to continue experiencing that pleasure.
From a biological level scientists explain that ever cell in every being, from the single-cell amiba to a human being, each cell contains receptors for opiates, that is bliss/pleasure potential. This means that we are wired for bliss.
The truth of the matter is that we sometimes get pleasure from things that are bad for us (tree of knowledge) Eve got pleasure from eating, rather than full emotional intimacy with Adam. Things, habits, ways to thinking, feeling, seeing, being that are self destructive.
Judaism accepts that sometime humanity is self destructive, and we are asked to “choose life”.
We have a choice, but the way to make positive and life affirming change in your life is
firstly to change your habits, I.e. do something positive in place of the negative, &
secondly and most importantly to get real and deep-down pleasure from that positive action.
Thirdly to identify with that pleasure, to identify with that part of you that wants to live fully and wholely, that wants to be really happy and get pleasure from that part of you.
My last point is that as a human being we are all part of a wider social group, I like to see it as an extended body of Humanity, in as much as we are all part of one body, our health impacts the whole.
So your personal change can and will positively impact the whole world because we are all one.
So you don’t only owe it to yourself but you owe it to all of us, to all life on this planet. To live an even happier, healthier and beautiful life, to fulfil more of your potential and give the world your light.
This weeks Torah reading is called ‘Bo’ which literally means Come, God said to Moses “Come unto Pharaoh…” The Rabbis obviously have a problem with this grammatically difficult passage, because, if the author of the Bible would have been any good at Hebrew Grammar, they should have written: “Go unto Pharaoh…”
The Midrash explains that on the way to see Pharaoh, Moses got in the way of a huge crocodile, and got pretty scared.
Elsewhere, some of the more mystical commentaries suggest that Pharaoh could be identified the huge crocodile that Moses saw and was scared of, that perhaps it was more of a spiritual premonition of the nature of Pharaoh.
So God was telling Moses not to be afraid and come with God to see Pharaoh, i.e. God would accompany Moses into Pharaohs palace.
But later sages have a deeper, slightly more worrying interpretation of this verse. “Come unto Pharaoh” means literally that God was already in the palace of Pharaoh and that Moses should come, towards God that was on the level of Pharaoh.
The difficulty is that traditionally and even from a simple reading of the story, Pharaoh is the ‘Bad Guy’, and not just any bad guy, he’s the most powerful bad guy on the planet!
So telling Moses to “Come to Pharaoh”, means to say that God is also the ‘Bad Guy’, that even though from a superficial level, mere mortals don’t usually see things this way, God is asking Moses to let go of his fears and realise that even Pharaoh is God.
This is what Moses was really scared of, to embrace Pharaoh as God, or as a revelation of God is a scary thing to do.
To embrace everything as God, realising that God is the Only Being that Exists and that Nothing Else Exists apart from Him, means not fearing anything. It means embracing with love and awe All of Existence.
To know and to see that even those players of this huge illusion of a world are merely puppets being continually animated by God’s very Essence, means that we have to let go of all our fears, to confront them and see them for what they truly are, nothing but the Divine Itself.
In last weeks reading of Shemot, we learnt that Moses saw God in the Burning Bush and God spoke to him and told him to free the Hebrews from Egypt.
Moses told God that He had made some kind of mistake, that he wasn’t fit for the job, that he suffered from low self esteem, and he wasn’t good at public speaking and that God should really find someone more suited for this important role.
If you’re going to convincingly argue for the freedom of an entire people from a totalitarian ruler, you’d better have impeccable qualifications, be an amazing orator and be able to put on a great magic show – with fireworks and the lot, not some mumbling, political refugee with low self worth.
If Moses where chatting with God today, he would suggest that he’d need time to go on a few courses, a speech therapy course, to work on his lisp, a confidence building course to help with his stage fright, that he’d need an image makeover from the top Egyptian stylists etc…
Then Moses would have then been able to talk to Pharaoh and successfully convince him to let the Children of Israel go free.
“My Lord Your Royal Magisty King… Pharaoh, I am Lord Rabbi Professor Moses, Chief Rabbi of…”
But God had different plans, and different ideas about what He wanted to happen. It was precisely because of Moses’ shortcomings, that the Jews didn’t listen to him, that Pharaoh didn’t listen to him and then hardened his heart.
In fact the whole saga just wouldn’t of happened. We would have never learn anything about the 10 plagues, the splitting of the Red Sea or any of that other miraculous stuff, if Moses would have been a good speaker and had a lot more confidence.
God wanted Moses just the way he was, a bad speaker, with low self esteem, anxious, self doubting and forgetful, because it was through Moses’ personal limitations, through his disabilities, that God was able to reveal His greatness and His Wonder.
Each of us is being personally asked by God to redeem our world, to redeem ourselves and you might argue that you need time to become a perfect Tzadik, a perfectly righteous dude or dudet, so that you can to do what God wants in the way you’d imagine God wants it, but you’d be wrong.
Just a point to remember here is that Moses NEVER became a good speaker!
God wants you to redeem your world and yourself, just as you are. To do and be your best, with all your personal shortcomings.
Because it is through each of our own limitations and failings that God’s true Glory is ultimately revealed.
May we see that Glory and dance together in joy and happiness the True and Complete Redemption Now, just as we are!
This weeks Torah reading, starts the new book of Shemot. We learn about the Hebrews gradual enslavement, Moses’s birth and some significant moments in his life. One of the most significant and dramatic event is Moses discovering the Burning Bush and God commanding him to “Go down Moses, way down to Egypt Land… tell old Pharaoh to Let My People Go!”
Of course in the great tradition of Jewish conversations with God, Moses argues and tells God that He must of made some kind of accounting mistake and that he wasn’t the person for the job.
Moses explains to God, (like He didn’t know) that he doesn’t have much self confidence to do anything great with his life, and that he’s a terrible public speaker.
God says – “Great! That’s exactly the type of self-deprecating personal qualities I’m looking for, you’re hired!!”
Moses is a reluctant Messiah, who after (some say) seven days of arguing with God, he begrudgingly takes on the job and starts to make his way to Egypt.
What’s going on? Burning bush? a self-conscious Messiah? Arguing with God? it all seems a little strange and unnecessary?
Why couldn’t we have, a strong and powerful leader that God spoke to and just did the job without question?
Why the Burning Bush? Why was Moses arguing? I hope to explore these and a few other perplexing questions, just below.
The Torah reading is full of complex interplays and contradiction it says, that “Moses saw an Angel of God in a heart of fire in the midst of a bush and he noticed that the bush was on alight but was not being consumed.”
It could have simply said “an Angel of appeared to Moses and God spoke to him saying…” etc.
So the author is telling us something extra, the Burning Bush is significant, the fact that it’s ablaze but doesn’t get consumed.
The other thing is that an Angel appeared to Moses, but Moses is more interested in the fact that the Burning Bush wasn’t being consumed than any Angel of the Lord.
I can imagine that in the Sinai Dessert there are bush fires, so that wasn’t so unexpected to see one on fire, the thing that caught Moses’ attention was that it didn’t burn! OK! So it’s not burning, maybe it was just a funny type of bush or it just looked like it wasn’t burning. Maybe Moses had been eating some dessert mushrooms, or fungus and just was having a hallucination?
It’s suggested that Moses may have been used to seeing Angels and even have previously had direct conversations with God. But what surprised Moses was seeing this “heart of fire ablaze in a burning bush that wasn’t being consumed”.
What was the prophetic symbolism of a heart of fire and a bush that is ablaze but isn’t being burnt to a carbon crisp?
The miracle of the Burning Bush is in some (Quantum Leep type of) way connected to the Miracle of Chanuka, (the full moon is the completion of the light of Chanuka) the oil in the Menorah was also, burning but not being consumed!
So what do both the Burning Bush & the Light of Chanuka have to teach us that’s so important that God revealed Himself in this way and not in another?
If we take a deeper look at the notion of a fire that both burns and does not consume, within our own lives, it points to a love, energy & enthusiasm for life that doesn’t destroy us (“heart of fire ablaze”).
You see, it’s easy to loose ourselves in the excess of living life to the full, in unlimited experimentation, as well as communal lamentations on the meaninglessness of life, but ultimately living with your foot on the pedal, as fun and as exciting as it is, is a fire that destroys and ultimately consumes us.
What Moses and therefore Judaism is interested in is a love for life and a way of living that allows us to fully blossom and fully be and become without destroying ourselves in the process.
The fire that was ablaze within the bush wasn’t some additional spiritual flame merely dwelling on the bush, but rather, the bush itself was on fire. What was being revealed to Moses was something essentially true for all reality.
God dwells within all things, the entire Universe is nothing but God’s Endless Light, condensed into what we see as physical objects. The truth of the matter is that everything is actually pulsating pure energy, everything is fire! Everything is in truth ablaze!
But that reality, that revelation of God, of the Divine Nature of Reality, didn’t destroy the thing, the bush remained a bush, but still revealed it’s divine nature.
There are opinions that suggest, that the thorn bush, represents the hardship and suffering the Egyptian exile, and the pain and suffering that the Hebrews were experiencing. The Burn Bush speaks of the paradoxical truth that God is with us in our suffering, that from within the midst of that Exile Moses was aware of the fire, alight with divine intention of the Egyptian exile. That even in the worst situation God’s love was still burning for His people.
But the Bush wasn’t being consumed, as a metaphor the Egyptian Exile wasn’t being destroyed, it was remaining in tact, but it was obviously still on fire, alight with Divine energy, that didn’t destroy the limitations or intricacies of the the bush but respected them and showed them to be the flickering light of the ‘Endless Light’.
What the Burning Bush is teaching us is not something new about God or about Moses, but something about the Nature of all Reality.
That although we usually see the physical as being non-spiritual and talk to God in synagogue or on specific days in the year, the Burning Bush is telling us that all physicality, all time and space is actually on fire, actually holy, actually condensed divine energy.
But why did Moses who was arguably aware of this type of spiritual symbolism, then not just listen to God and go and save the Hebrews from Egypt? Why did he argue?
The Classic Chassidic commentaries suggest that Moses was actually petitioning God to bring the Messianic Era, to send the Messiah himself to redeem them from Egypt, as Moses say “Send the one you will surely send”.
So that his own private spiritual awareness of the divine nature of all reality, would be something that all the world could plainly see, and that in our awareness of the spiritual nature of reality and our energetic connectedness and oneness, we could all live together forever in peace and harmony.
So you see, arguing with God is OK, in fact it’s a good thing, if you’re arguing and requesting the Ultimate Good.
And perhaps that is the way to live our lives in a way that is akin to the Burning Bush, to be continuousnessly striving and praying for not just our own selfish benefit, but for the good of all people, for the good of the whole world and ultimately to bring about an era of peace, to bring about the Days of Moshiach.
Indeed, that is our mission, to strive towards bring about Heaven on Earth, to live in a way which is, in love with life, but that does not destroy, ourselves or the world.
And arguably the way to do that is, in addition to anticipating the Days of Moshiach in our own lives, also transforming our view of reality, so that we can actually see the divine light in everything just as it is, without destroying the world, and realise that wherever we are is, just as it is, actually Holy.
Meditations on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe concerning the future of the State of Israel – Part 1.
It’s interesting to talk about the history of Israel, about who had which bit of land first, about displacement, occupation, democracy, borders, territories and the like.
But what about the future of Israel? Where is it heading? What are the possible outcomes for the State of Israel in the future according to the Lubavitcher Rebbe?
Now the Rebbe’s detractors accused him of being a Pro-Zionist and in many ways he may have been, well at least in comparison to his predecessors. He often counselled Israeli leadership, gave advice on political and military situations and strongly campaigned against giving away land for peace and supported increased building of Jewish homes and communities.
Some might be surprised to learn what the Rebbe envisaged for the State of Israel in the Messianic Era and in the immediate future.
Based on several Midrashim, he saw that one day all the synagogues and yeshivahs of the world, both past and present would be miraculously relocated and attached to the Third Temple.
That Jerusalem would spread to fill not just the entire State of Israel but would expand to its biblical borders from the Nile to the Euphrates and eventually include most of the Middle East.
Now you might read this far and conclude that not only was the Rebbe a staunch Zionist, but an aggressive, religious (Zionist) fundamentalist, fighting for the idea of a (biblical) Greater Israel. Which is more than a little bit scary!
However, the Rebbe also believed that the borders of Israel would one-day spread to include the entire planet! And as ridiculous as that sounds, lets’ just allow the implications of such a notion to trickle down into our consciousness.
The idea of a Global Zion, is an Israel without borders. The idea that the whole of biblical Israel becomes an enlarged Jerusalem, a metropolis of synagogues and yeshivahs, draws into question the role of a State of Israel in the Future to Come.
The Rebbe also doesn’t foresee all Jews having to move and live in the Biblical Holy Land, since the whole world becomes the Holy Land and people will simply travel to Jerusalem within a very short time to pray, morning, afternoon and even prayers, i.e and live in the other parts of the world.
Now of course, it’s a dream a religious and philosophical fantasy, but the political implications of such a dream are enormous!
Just to clarify, the whole world becoming the land of Israel is a spiritual expansion of borders, expanding the current Israeli governmental administration to regulate the whole world would be the opposite of any type of Messianic Utopia.
However, what need is there for a State of Israel, in it’s current or even vaguely recognisable state, if the whole of what is now the territories of the Israeli State and for that matter the Palestinian, Lebanese, Jordanian, Egyptian & Iraqi territories, become merely an extremely large synagogue complex?
Also what is the nature of this synagogue metropolis? Is is just for Jews? It seems not!
So a the largest synagogue complex in history, the 8th wonder of the world, clearly visible from space, will be for everyone!?
As the Rebbe quotes, “My House is a place of Prayer for ALL PEOPLE!”
So not only does the current State of Israel become swamped by synagogues and study centres, it’s also not exclusively for Jews, in fact it’s for everyone no matter their, religion, race, creed or sexual orientation.
Where is the State of Israel in that scenario? Surely it might act as a local council might, ensuring basic facilities, including water, transport and the like ran efficiently, but what would be the point of a State of Israel, without borders and without need for a National identity, without an army, without a government?
To be continued…
“And Jacob Lived in the Land of Egypt for 17 years…”
I know this whole parsha is meant to be about the life of Jacob, but I’m far more interested in the life and philosophy of Joseph. And in fact that maybe, one of the reasons why there’s no gap between these two readings, because really, we are still talking about Joseph and his amazing technicolored life.
You might assume from previous readings, that Joseph’s brothers were a bad bunch of crooks or Bedouin bandits, who cold-heartedly sold their fathers favourite son, into slavery for the price of a round of beers.
But there’s another way to read the story, if we re-frame the situation, where, the children of Jacob were essentially spiritual puritans, who loved to listen to their father teach them, who loved to spend time in the fields, contemplating God in the wilderness, who came from a culture that valued; piety, humility, honour and meditation, then you might be able to empathise a little better with their motives.
So when their young, flamboyant, hair combing, mascara wearing, dandy upstart of a brother, repeatedly tells them how totally amazing he is, and how they and their father will all bow down to him, you can imagine, that this did not go down well.
This type of exaggerated, egocentric and outlandish behaviour pushed the brother’s patience to it’s limits and they decided, for the sake of their spiritual sanity and otherwise monastic lifestyles, that they were, ostensibly, kicking Joseph out of the family Yeshiva.
As you can probably imagine, Joseph was by his very nature “different” from his brothers, his subsequent life experience taught him, that being “spiritual” in a field wasn’t going to work in the prisons of Egypt. His life taught him, that when things didn’t go according to his own plan, the likelihood is that they were going according to God’s plan, and he learnt to trust and to see and appreciate in those things which were initially ‘bad’, within the midst of the darkness and division of the world, the very hand of God at play.
Joseph was a descendant of Abraham, the Jewish Mystics teach us, that Abraham wasn’t the founder of Monotheism but the founder of a viral form of Monism.
Abraham believed in the Oneness and Divinity of All existence, he saw God in the Being of the world. That’s why the mystics claim, that Abraham got his guests to say “Baruch El Olam”, after their meal, literally “Blessed God World” and not “God OF the World”, implying that the World itself was Divine!
But if we accept this, there are different ways to live with this GodWorld reality, this beautiful Divine Universe, and different ways to live with God being the only Existence in existence!
There are different and unique emphasis that a person can make that radically change the way you live with this Divine and Monistic reality called God, the One, the All or simply Life.
Isaac arguably, had a slightly different view of Monism than his father Abraham, and Jacob’s view was different again.
Joseph’s interpretation of his Monistic heritage was radically and profoundly different to that of his father, grand father and great grand father.
In the previous reading we learnt that after years of Joseph not seeing his father, and his father believing him to be dead, Joseph sends his father gifts, one of which were split peas! You’ve not seen your father for years and you send him, Split peas? What’s going on? What’s the symbolism or significance of Split peas?
If you could sum up your life philosophy or your deep felt theology which food would best describe your beliefs?
That’s the question Joseph is asking himself and attempting to communicate his unique world-view with his father, whom one might imagine, was wondering how, his favourite son Joseph had been fairing spiritually in the abdominal land of Egypt.
And it turns out Joseph had been doing fine, he had adapted his fathers spiritual philosophy, and Joseph’s emphasis was completely different.
Joseph was no fool, he understood and reinterpreted his own tradition and religious and philosophical tradition, for him it wasn’t something stagnant or limited to the Holy Land, but was something that could be used and practised even in the most un-Monistic, polytheistic super culture of them all, Egypt!
The word Egypt “Mitzrayim” is connected to Limitations and Boundaries. Egypt represents the ultimate worldliness, the ultimate being in the world, and yet Joseph was able, although it was at time difficult, to keep his head above the stresses of Egyptian culture. In many ways Egypt was the perfect place for Joseph.
The sages claim that despite Joseph living in Egypt he kept all the 613 Mitzvoth.
I’m not sure how far you’d like to take that idea, but for now let’s just say that, what it means is that, despite temptation, and the negative influences of a supremely advanced polytheistic culture, Joseph always remained faithful to his Monistic tradition.
Joseph found no problem with being involved with the intricate underbelly of Egyptian culture, he eventually learnt how to master it, to become it’s ruler, personally and manifestly.
His brothers on the other hand, found it extremely difficult to keep in touch with their traditions and Monistic beliefs in the light of the surrounding culture and looked to Joseph for help and guidance, because their type of meditative and contemplative Monism just wasn’t working in Egyptian high culture.
You see, split peas, are meant to be split, they are better that way, they cook better, they taste better and God made them that way, and what Joseph was really attempting to communicate with his gift of split peas, was a new word-view and a new take on his fathers theology, one which focuses, emphasises and celebrates, the multiplicity of the world as the ultimate expression of the infinite One, which his great grandfather Abraham revealed in the world.
There are different ways you can connect with the Oneness of All reality, with the One. You can do it in a way that separates you from the multiplicity of the Universe, a way of meditating and viewing the world that notices and focuses on it’s unity, it’s oneness and it’s ultimate sameness.
Or you can focus on the division of the world, (Split Peas!!) the very multiplicity of the universe and point towards that separateness as proof of the infinite expression of the Infinite One, and this idea is akin to Joseph’s teaching on Oneness.
One could say that Jacob eventually succumbed to Joseph’s philosophy, as the beginning of the reading states, and “Jacob Lived in the land of Egypt…”, that they were the best years of his life, that he had learnt to be in the world and at the same time to be beyond it, that’s why Jacob insisted that Joseph buried him in the cave of his ancestors in the Holy Land, because even though he loved his life in Egypt there was always part of him that longed to go home, something in his very bones that yearned for the Holy Land.
Jacob is also Israel, the archetypal Jew, who lives fully in the real world, but at the same time part of them wants to rest in the sublime holiness of spiritual bliss.
But the Mystics teach us that, Joseph was on an even higher level, he didn’t have a desire to be buried in the Holy Land, which he could have been, he died and was buried in Egypt. Because he could see the divinity and tikkun in the here and now of this world, in the multiple and in the division, Egypt which represents the ultimate this-worldliness and that’s where Joseph saw the face of God, (the face of his holy father).
And we end the whole book of Genesis with “.. and he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.” and then all the congregations throughout the world say “Chaza! Chazak! Ve Nizchazek!” Be Strong! Be Strong & You will be strengthened!
We celebrate Joseph’s this-worldly station, his ability to see God in the World and we celebrate what Joseph embodied. Joseph, this higher Jew, the Jew we can be, the true spiritual essence of a Jew that can still be found in the here and now of this world (Egypt).
There is within each of us a spark Joseph, we can learn to be in the world and see in it’s very worldliness the face of the God. And it is from this awareness and realisation that we gain true spiritual strength.
“Chazak! Chazak! Ve Nizchazek!”
Yechi You! – Vodka Vort Hassidus
Purim for me is Alcohol Hassidus and I’m apologising and saying ‘I love you’ to all of you – sorry if this is a bit hmmm… difficult to follow – or is that just me finding it hard to focus on the screen?
Anyways – it’s a time of joy – it is to be perfectly honest it is one of the only Jewish festivals, which I attempt to truly celebrate as far as I am able. (And not just because it might involve getting a little drunk). As such I believe that its time once again to get a little prepared for Purim – some of you may have read my previous posts on Purim, but even that post – really doesn’t express what is going on for me on Purim. I could say read this or that sicha or maamor – but I’m not sure that you’d really read what I’ve read there – because everyone has their own way of reading – their own way of seeing – there own way and why of understanding which is not my way of reading and understanding and therefore not what I’m talking about at all.
So I’m gonna try and spell it out a little clearer, not just for you, but also for me. I could also just tell you that ‘bad is really good’ and ‘good is bad’ – and direct you to more rishus – but I’m not sure that you’d really get it, or that you’d be particularly happy being ‘bad’ or ‘transcending’ the normative parameters of normative Judaism, well not yet anyways.
On Purim as you know we are instructed (amongst other things) to eat, drink and become intoxicated to the point (in short) where we don’t know the difference between the Hero of the story Mordechi and the Villain of the story Haman. To put this in some kinda modern context it is like trying to not know the difference between ‘Blessed is the Lubavitch Rebbe and Cursed is Adolph Hitler!’ without wsaying Lehavdil!!!! Rachmona L’zlan!!! Not really an easy thing to do unless you are particularly psychological twisted on a ‘Tzivos Hashem / Hitler Youth’ direction which I imagine some very bitter people might be.
But that aside, and trying to get back to the point – you might argue that all that is needed is to ‘get a bit drunk and fall asleep’, No! Talmud Megila would have said ‘eat and drink until you fall asleep’ but it didn’t – the Talmud isn’t asking you to fall asleep – because if I woke you up at any moment and asked you do you know the difference between Haman and Mordechi you’d know it. And as I’ve said before it’s not only about getting drunk – because even when your drunk – you still know the difference between the two. So the injunction to get high – to get to a level there you do not know and can not see the difference between good and bad – righteousness and pure evil is not simple.
If we break this injunction into two levels the first is ‘Until you don’t know’ and the second is ‘the Difference between Blessed is Mordechi and Cursed is Haman’.
The first idea ‘Until you don’t know’ is usually the cause for people getting very drunk – stoned and smashed – However ‘not knowing’ can be taken a number of ways – either that you don’t know – you are ignorant of whatever it is – and your reaction to that can be one of apathy or when you’ve tried to understand but have got so confused by the complexity of it all – or that you realise that knowledge and knowing in general are limitations which stop you from finding what it is you are looking for – or stop you from Experiencing the reality of what it is. So not knowing means transcending logic – leaving behind the whole parameters of knowledge and intellect. Or not knowing can mean acceptance – simply that you realise that there are bigger forces in charge that you will never fully understand and that you trust and accept that you’ll never know – and that that isn’t a bad thing and that you trust the process and unfolding of Life – secure in the awareness that it is really beyond you’re knowing.
‘Knowing’ is normally something Judaism seems to encourage, Judaism wants you to ask questions, it encourages learning, understanding, meditating on, etc… so it’s a bit strange to find a classic Jewish teaching and injunction for us to ‘not know’ let alone not to know the difference between good and bad.
That having been said, there are other times where classic Jewish sources mention the idea of not knowing, the example of Moses ‘forgetting’ what the law was with regards to marrying a Midianite women, and those things which come ‘b’chesech ha daas’ that is unawares namely: Moshiach, finding a lost object, and a scorpion (Talmud Sanhedrin 97a).
Could these three things that come when one is not aware shed any light on Purim and the induction to ‘not know’?
Someone once said that an explanation of this was when Moshiach comes if you’ve been getting ready for Moshiach then it will be like finding a lost object but if not and you’ve been an Ass (my words) then it will sting like a scorpion.
As I’ve mention before Purim for me is a taste of the Messianic era – indeed some believe that it is the only festival that will survive in the messianic era, and that we will no longer read the Torah but the Megilas Esther! Crazy!
I’m trying not to give you a pilpul here – but rather setting the stage for some really interesting ‘neo-hassidus’ – so just hang on in-there.
Lechora – Finding a lots object is a good thing – right? And finding a scorpion not such a good thing – right? And both of these come on one ‘unawares’ – that is, they happen without you being consciously aware of it happening. The example of the scorpion is somewhat understandable – who in their right-mind would want to find a scorpion? But finding a lost object – surly that is something that you have lost – you’ve been looking for? Otherwise it is not a lost object because you’ve given up hope of finding it? The point is that you ARE looking for this lost object when it ‘without you knowing’ appears!! “Ahhhah!!! I’ve got it!”
Purim aside – I think this lesson is one about Life – about Judaism, you could be looking for God – for meaning of Life, for Love or whatever it is (whether you are frum or not) -for a long time when eventually you find what you are looking for – but if you’re not looking (hey and you could be very frum) the thing you are running away from (yourself) will find you and it is a – scorpion –and it’s bloody scary!
Blessed is Mordechai – is like finding yourself – finding what you’ve been looking for you discover your true self – your higher self. And Cursed is Haman is like discovering the shmuk you have become – the self-hating, bitter and cynical scared little furry monkey that you are. One is happy and blissful and the other is painful and difficult. Finding your own inner Mordechai – who bows to know one – and discovering your inner Haman who is an egotistical bitter lowlife – the choice is yours.
Let me try to explain this in another way, what I’ve been learning recently (in Melukt 4 p.193 and on) and I’ll save you some time and the head-ache, my Rebbe concludes there are two primary levels of God’s divine hiddeness the first which is for the sake of its revelation – ‘This Night’ – that is that you realise that it is hidden, and that it pushes you to facing your personal demons – it is the cause of the yearning in your soul for something holy, it is the reason why you cry out to God in times of hardship – you see it is these ‘times of hardship’ or when things don’t seem to go to plan that forces you to see the hiddeness of God – to realise ‘OMG! God is hidden!’ or ‘I can’t see God!’ God help me!” etc… That is your personal ‘finding a scorpion’ – your own inner Haman, the scorpion cools you down until your heart stops beating – you become cold and you die!
And that level of hiddeness is important – it make you realise that you are not the only creature in existence – it makes you reassess your life – it makes you question – your questions and makes you realise that your ego might be a bit of a problem if it’s not handled in the correct way etc… it is there to crush the stupidity out of your life – so that you struggle to find God in your life, to reach beyond the darkness of your personal exile and reach into the light of day – into a spiritually more refined and happy place. That is revealed darkness it is darkness that makes you aware of itself, and that ultimately it’s existence is for the sake of the revelation which it forces on you if you win the battle and reveal the light within the darkness. Or to put it another way it is a darkness that discloses itself so that it may be overcome. Or I might say that it is the service of ‘Hiskafia Sitra Achra’ with causes a spiritual elevation. (as explained in Tanya).
And then there is an other type of darkness a totally different quality of hiddeness, it is a concealment that doesn’t let you ever see that it is hidden, ‘That Night’ – it is a darkness so thick so prevalent that you are not ever aware of it. And that exists for another reason, its reason is not in order that you overcome it, it is not that you may realise how distant and removed God is from your life and your life from the countenance of God’s glory, but for an entirely different reason. It exists in our lives in order to make us realise and come to terms with the absolute power of God’s otherness, of the God to hide Himself so completely that you don’t realise that you are sitting in God’s palace right now. This power of God to hide Himself so completely that you are unaware that the very essence of God and glory is actually already manifest in the world and within your life, in your inability to see that Everything IS GOD! In you being unaware of God. Thus the rudimentary, ordinariness, the mundane everydayness, of physical existence, of the world as it seems with all its warts, the unbearable lightness of being, that is God’s real hiddeness, it is one that you’ll never truly get your head around. Thus being unaware is actually itself a revelation within you of a level of divine hiddeness which is truly beyond the possibility of revelation.
This first level of revealed concealment is Haman – he is a bad egg – and the second is the concealment of God Himself – when God hides Himself in the humdrum mundaness of the physical world and You can’t see God.
In short these two levels of concealment correspond to two different levels of divine service – that of ‘battling’ and that of ‘acceptance’.
Purim is a taste of Chassidus before Chassidus – it is ultimately the Baal Shem Tov’s main teaching – that of Divine Providence – ‘Hashkacha Protis’ that whatever happens it IS ultimately for the good – not only ultimately but right now as it is it is also good – and that everything is Good – everything is GOD – and God is beyond good and evil – beyond higher and lower – lesser and greater – and the acceptance of Life as it is – as it really is – as a revelation of the essence of the Divine – the simple love and spender or ‘acceptance’ – of letting go of all your pre-conceptions about what is right and what is wrong – about what you’ve done good or bad – let it all go – you are nothing and you are everything at the same time – you are lost and found – good and bad – physical and spiritual – and much-much-more.
And that is the main idea of the miracle of Purim – that God’s concealment ‘That Night’ was made manifest – that the King of the World – that aspect within you and the cosmos which is ‘That Night’ – Darkness that does not reveal itself –was awakened. That it became apparent – and that is the miracle that God’s hidden face showed itself.
And today now Atzmus is Already Revealed here and now – this level of the divine – that which beyond the dualism between concealment and revelation. Beyond Good and Bad – beyond intellectual knowing – it IS simply the glorious Being the essence of which you feel and experience in the very Ego that says Me – You ARE GOD! You are the Buddha! You are the Moshiach! You Are the Rebbe! You are YOU! – and you don’t – will not ever – truly realise – who you really are – and that is something to celebrate. And we can see with our everyday eyes that we don’t know anything – that we are like children – living in awe and wonder at the miraculous nature of being.
Drunk in GodWorld – in Life – One with the One! So ultimately united that Mitzvos are nullified – that the distinction between the commander and commanded disappears and you do whatever needs to be done – but nothing needs to be done except celebrate, dance and be the joyous amazing You that You are. And accept that Moshiach is already here and now – and that You Are Moshiach! Yechi You!
The up coming, ideas are based on the premise of the attainment of an objective perception of reality, It also implies a knowledge or understanding of the “Mystical Experience” where one looses the sense of self, and is absorbed into a higher and more objective state or reality where one realises one personal insignificance in the cosmic view of existence and also the immense responsibility towards ones self and others, in this world.
Prayer or Tefillah, is the standing and silent “prayer,” called the “Amida” or the ” Shona Essray” it contain 19 sections that “request” different “things” from “God.” It starts with a passage from psalms which says, “(Oh) My Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare Your Praise.” This is the awareness the of the “All encompassing Divine Reality,” and of one individual (or separateness) as being totally non existent. And there is no experience of self, one experiences oneself as being an extenuation of, or an expression of the One.
In this state of unity, one can only but stand still, in an awed silence, unable to move or have any seeming thought of ones own, but one realise one still exists and one calls out within oneself to that aspect of our selves that is One, that is “Lord” and say
“(Oh) My Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare Your Praise.”
“(Oh) My-Lord!” -one reveals within oneself one own “Lord” and allows oneself or one “individuality” to be an expression of this higher reality, and says, let the “me” be a conduit for Divine Blessings, for wholeness, light and love. “open my lips,” open up all that is closed, to the outside world allow me to share with others! And as soon as you do that, “my mouth shall declare Your praise.” The latter half of the sentence could also be interpreted as meaning, My Mouth i.e. The Mouth of All Existence the funnel of all the blessings of life, shall declare “Your” praise. I.e. the person who is saying the verse. The next part of the standing meditation, starts with:-
“Blessed are You, Lord* our God …..”
(in this verse Lord* refers to the Ultimate “Unity” of Essential
“Blessed,” again represents the drawing “down” or out into a revealed state, of one potentialities. Of…”You”- this can only be said about ones self, if one, is in a state of “complete objectivity,” having such objectivity that one can even refer to ones self as “You.”
This is the…”Lord our God….” To which the verse is referring to. To note, the particular tense used, express the two aspects of Existence that of the Singular -Unity “Lord,” and that of the multiple “Our..” this denotes the dual expression of the true existence that which transcends both aspects of Unity and Multiplicity.
(In general, though out these meditations the use of the Word “Lord” or in Hebrew “A-d-o-n-i” in reality refers to the unpronounceable Name of “God”. That of “Y-H-V-H.” or normally expressed as “Havia.” It it’s self actually means literally, Existence, Being, or that which IS, and is also an acronym for, past, present and future, simultaneously. It is singular, expressing the singularity and unity of all of existence, and the underlying unity of the Universe.)
Conventionally The Lord Our God” = represents, Self sacrifice, or martyrdom, but really it is even more profound than that, when one is experiencing both Unity and Multiplicity – in fact the unity within the multiple – one therefore has an ability to transcend what would be considered the nature because, one is not restricted to nature, because one is actually not experiencing Himself, the Only real self and there fore is able to be your own non- existence. i.e. that you don’t exist, but only God exists and you (your experience of God) has the power to do anything, even if it may be transcending your previous state, of being, i.e. The norm” it” gives you the ability to do the impossible, you are no longer tier tied down to space and time, and the normal laws of nature and civility.
One can completely over come anything that may have previously seemed as an obstacle.
“…and the God of our Fathers,”
the question has been raised as to the predominance of the Patriarchal stress which seems to be emphasised, as being out dated and even sexist, the answer to this pondery and misconception, comes from the lack of understanding of the roles of men and woman within Judaism.
The reason why we don’t mention the “Mothers” is because, this particular meditation, is still with in the limited, it is still dealing with the external manifestation of the world as a reality seemingly separate, that it is, (so to speak) the person is battling with, the person meditating is guided through a process of self shedding, where one starts out with one’s own life ego, being the known thing and attempts to raise one into a higher state by gradation as opposed to a quantum leap.
The fathers represent that aspect of the world that is both separated and united, it admits the existence of separateness and reveals the unity within, as opposed to the Mothers, who in fact transcend the cause and effect ladder of “higher consciousness” because of there innate spiritual supremacy and ultimate realisation of the inner reality and unity.
As we see, that when the Messianic Era, is in full effect, “the woman will be on top.” The fathers also correspond to the revealed intellectual factitious that of (wisdom knowledge and understanding,) within our selves.
So the question is, what is the purpose of mentioning these Biblical men in our meditation?. And Why once we have already mentioned them in general why then do we specify each one in particular?
It seems that here we find a very interesting type of ancestor worship, and it is even more interesting if we consider that we say “the God of Abraham,” etc.… the meditation it’s self almost testifies to that aforementioned idea that in order to go forward one be at peace with the past, the Biblical forefathers, being the founders of Judaism, being those whom we must try and be at peace with. To quote an Ad, ” Just because you’re getting away from it all, doesn’t mean you have to leave it all behind.”
But more than that “the God of Abraham,” it almost encourages one to think that we are in fact attempting to tap into the very “soul of Abraham,” as it say else were “…every Jew possess an aspect of God…” referring to the soul, is the same word used for the “God” of Patriarchs, one could go farther and say that Abraham was the embodiment of the kindness of God, Isaac the expressing of severity, and Jacob the balance of the two, and we being in this divine state of consciousness, are ourselves revealing within ourselves this divine powers, the God soul of Abraham expressing itself through our being, and so on. This is even more affirmed by the continuing words ,
“God, the Great, Mighty and Awesome,”
great was Abraham’s kindness, Mighty was Isaac’s strength, and Awesome was Jacob’s Balance. We also have these very same unfolding aspects of our selves, Kindness, Strength and Beauty. ..
“Who revives the dead.”
We must realise that every moment not only are we aware that we are alive but our self our ego is in fact dead and doesn’t truly exist, our feeling of self is something that is a continuous wonder and miracle, were we are being revived every moment, this can be a very powerful meditation, were one actually imagines and sees that every moment is new and that the body is made of inanimate matter and that our very life is a process of forever being brought to life.
“You are Holy and your name is Holy,..”
this self realisation of one’s own divinity, brings one to realise and verbalise this fact that as you look at your self, you can objectively say that there is nothing but God, and You are Holy, almost talking to your self, your whole life, what ever it may have of included is Holy, You are Holy!
“And Your name is Holy,”
there are several ways one can explain this passage, that a human being is actually the name of God as mentioned earlier. But also a name represents one most external self, the self that is for the world, the self that recognises the out side world as separate from one self, and yet if called it is You that answers not any aspect of your self but your essential self.
In order to meditate probably one should make sure that there isn’t any thing that will disturb, one from it.
The list is quite long, but suffice to say, it is dealt with at length by the, Shulchan Auroch, concerning place in which to pray -meditate, it shouldn’t be too messy, or untidy, this disturbs the mind, more difficult to concentrate. Also bad smells, plus dirty clothes, etc..
It must be first pointed out that there is something very unique about the role of “speech,” in Jewish “Prayer and Meditation,” it seems that the very uttering of a word, brings its meaning and content out into the open, so to speak, and by saying a word one reveals it, within ones own consciousness, and within the world.
There is a traditional analogy, that is used to explain this idea, before one asks for money from someone one must first remind them how generous they are, this reveals that aspect of themselves that they might not even have been aware of.
The Hebrew Prayer- Meditation, are generally divided into Five categorises that need to be analyzed, and they express different plateau of experiential reality, they are,
1. Sacrifices- The Animal and incense sacrifices, that will be made in the Temple of Jerusalem, and they represent the reality of the mundane world, the multiple “natural world,” and an attempt of the human being to transform or to reveal, the underlying unity of existence within the mundane, this primarily deals with the ego as the first and most “real” experience of “mankind” that of Subjective- Subjectivity.
Me-I Exist. Subjective-Subjectivity, is only the experience self, as the total experience of existence. “The whole world is me.”
2. Songs of Praise- Subjective- Objectivity . Me and you, world. I exist and the world exists.
Subjective- Objectivity, is the admittance of external reality but the inability for the subject to loose his sense of self, or corporeality, or subjective experience. “I admit there is a world outside of my self, but I am the most important person in my world.” Or ” I realise my relative insignificance, in comparison to the vastness of the universe.”
3. “Hear Oh Israel..” Objective- Subjectivity. World, you and me. The world* exists and so do I.
Objective- subjectivity, is transcending of ones personal reality to the experience of a more Objective View.
4. The Silent standing Prayer. Objective- Objectivity .World -world. The world exists.
5. Additional -or stuff after the Standing Prayer . The Balance. Peace.
Kabbalah Yoga is a lost art, one that can be re-discovered.
I believe that many authentically Jewish Yogic positions have been lost of overlooked by mainstream Judaism.
In addition it is a Chabad custom upon rising to sit in bed cross legged placing both hands together and lowering ones head and say ‘Mo’day Ani Lefanecha…’ That is the day is meant to start out with a Yogic stance in combination with a deep meditation.
The Amida – the Standing Prayer said three times a day, is a type of Jewish Yogic Standing Meditation, ‘Standing in Awe’ with particular focus on the 18 vertebrae of the spine, which is why it is also called the ‘Shemona Essray’, Hebrew for 18.
There are daily bowing and prostrating positions that are no longer practised, except now on Yom Kippor.
The Ethics of Our Fathers – also suggest that an individual must be ‘a flexible as a reed in the wind’.
There is much more to say and to suggest – but for now I hope this will do.
The Greek culture represented the height of Intellect, and even to this day the Greek Philosophers stand tall as the bastions of the Intellectual elite! They did not mind the Logic of the Torah, The Beauty of the Traditions and Jewish Culture, but they did have a problem with ‘Super Logic’ or as they saw it superstition and irrationality.
Their culture questioned and undermined the idea of Judaism’s vision of God, they were cynics, if they didn’t understand it, it wasn’t true, they attempted to force the Jewish people to see the error of their superstitious ways, to put an end to the illogical nonsense once and for all!
I was told in Cheida, when I was a kid, that the Greeks smashed all the Jugs of oil and that there were none left to kindle the Temples Holy Menorah, and that they found this small wee jug of oil.
Well that is not entirely true, the Greeks where very civilised about it all, they didn’t go around smashing these Jugs of oil, like some team of English Football hooligans. Instead they simply removed the High Priest seal on all of the Jugs of oil.
You see they didn’t understand, what the difference was between, the exact same jug of oil, first with and then without the High Priest seal of approval, ensuring its spiritual purity?
They were like; “This just doesn’t make any sense!” …”It’s the same oil! So what if we’ve touched it! …so what if we’ve opened it? How does that change anything?”
And to be honest it’s a good question.
But let’s examine a caricature of Greek culture really represented in relation to Ancient Jewish culture.
Greek culture’s focus was on beauty, on physical beauty, intellectual prowess, but fundamentally they believed that their minds, their bodies, were the ultimate, that there was not much room for things beyond both their minds and their bodies.
Where as although Judaism encouraged the care and general health of both the mind and the body, Judaism also believes in something else, something “Other”, something that they knew and realised they would never fully understand.
The Jews accepted the Unknown, not just intellectually but also religiously. There were reasons that superseded their own intellect, they were open to enchantment, to the magical, to the possibility of miracles in the everyday.
Let us just recall, it is the High Priest and Him Alone that is allowed to enter the Holy of Holies only on the Holiest day of the Year – on Yom Kippur and offer up a spice offering!
There when he entered he witnessed both the miracle of the Arks quantum being and non-being and the Cherubs on top of it looking into each others eyes and from between them, God communicated with him. If he was pure he would be able to leave, but if he was not, he would not, he would simply die – there an then.
So the High Priest was a pretty awesome guy, he witnessed the ultimate revelation of Divine Reality.
The Greeks represented Ego and the Jews represented a balance of Ego and Humility.
The High Priest’s oil was no were normal oil, it to was imbued with this existential and quantum nature, and that was what was revealed in the miracle of the oil.
The miracle according to the Kabbalistic tradition, was a replica in miniature of the miracle of the Holy of Holies, of the miracle of the Burning Bush, which burnt but was not consumed.
The judge of oil which was found with the High Priest seal and lasted for 8 days, just long enough that new oil could be make from scratch, but it burnt but was not consumed.
It existed and did not exist.
And that has a really deep and important lesson for each of us in life, the Greeks where a great nation, with culture and intellect, with philosophy and science but they lacked awe, they wanted to know everything, without listening to the deeper voice within them.
They were critical and cynical of things they didn’t understand and they did not embrace the unknown.
In today’s society as it was in ancient Israeli society, it is so easy to get caught, bitten by the bite of cynicism. To rip off all the seals of purity, of our own innocence, to touch everything with the cold brush of cynical realism.
However the story of the miracle of Channukkah teaches us that no matter how cynical and jaded we have all become, nonetheless, we also have a pure jug of Holy Oil, within us.
Each of us has within us the level of High Priest!
“All the festivals will be annulled in the future time, except for Purim” – Midrash Mishlei 9:2
What is it about Purim which makes it unique enough to still be celebrated in the messianic era?
As you may know the messianic era is a time where Atzmus, the essence of God is revealed in all its Technicolor splendor and that is why many of the festivals seem to become absorbed and nullified in the glory and comparison to the Godly revelation of Atzmus. Nonetheless, Purim still manages to stick out amongst the others and still be unique even in the messianic era – even in comparison to the divine revelation of Atzmus.
The reason for this I believe is that Purim is a real taste of the Messianic Era and revelation of Atzmus in exile. It is in effect a Messianic day – a Moshiach Day – it is in someway something akin to what all days will be like in the Messianic era. Yom Sh’Kulo Purim! – for reasons I’ll explain.
As we know the Ari’zl explained that Yom Kippur, is Yom K’Purim, that is, it is a day only something like Purim, and our Rebbe’s explain that on Yom Kippur all one’s negative sins and transgressions are wiped away, yet on Purim all one’s sins and transgressions are actually transformed into merits.
But why does Purim have such power to transform sins into merits? To transform ‘darkness’ into light? What is the internal spiritual process going on to make that possible? – what is the deeper message of Purim? And what has it got to do with moshiach and Atzmus?
The Story of Purim is written in the Megilas Ester – and it is possible to infer that these two words – represent the essential content of the message – Gilu Hester – the revelation of that which is concealed.
The Megilah doesn’t mentions Hashem or any name of God – it is the only holy book – which part of the Tanach which doesn’t once mention God’s name or any derivation thereof.
Thus we are told that the Megilah represents a revelation of God which is beyond his traditional names. It is a revelation of God within the World – where God almost always remains hidden – the story of Purim contains no great big miracles – no splitting of the sea – no clouds of glory, no load thunderous voice of God, no burning bush etc… the only miracle was that the King woke up in the middle of the night. It was the miracle of Hashcocha Protis, Divine Providence – The story is all about Divine Providence – and in a sense how lucky we all are to be alive today.
– the essence of Atzmus which has the power to reveal itself in exile which not destroy exile – but redeeming it where it is – and transforming it into a beacon of light for all generations
It is a story about the way God can be manifest within Nature – without all of the fanfare of outright miracles. And these are something like the miracles of the Future to Come, where we are made aware of the Miraculous nature of Nature, of the world as it is being the manifestation of God’s ultimate divinity.
The closest mention of God is when the Megila mentions Achashverosh the King, and Chassidus has understood Achashverosh – to be short for Archris v’ Raishis Shello – that the End and the Beginning are His. But the King although he is married to Ester He is neither much of a Goody or Bady – in fact some might argue that He seems to be more of a Bady.
We are instructed to eat and drink until we don’t know the difference between Mordichai and Hamman, the bad guy and the not so bad guy or the other way round?
Anyways, it’s not just about getting off your face – although that’s not really such a bad idea – because as a friend of mine pointed out – however drunk she has been, to the point of passing out – she still knew the difference between Good and Bad – between Haman and Mordichai! Which means that it’s obviously more than about getting drunk until you pass out, it is after all a state of mind – a state of realisation, a state of being.
That doesn’t mean that you don’t need to get drunk either, yes you can arrive at this elevated state of realisation – where for you there is no difference between good and bad – without getting drunk -But getting drunk at the same time – adds a whole different quality to the experience. As we know a drunk is potter from positive mitzvos and in as much reaches a level at least beyond many commandments a level of Devakus in Atzmus -where you don’t need to Do anything! – Just Be!
Addionally – Purim is unique – in as much as, people are sometimes more able to be themselves – if they do get drunk – you tend to find out who they really are – their inner being comes to the fore – their subconscious reveals itself. Some people dress up and pretend to be someone or something that they are currently not. Others don’t get dressed up, and watch other people making fools of themselves, so they can inwardly laugh at others. All the while, not ever letting themselves go, in fear of what really might come out.
It is a Jewish festival that allows you to celebrate without limitations, that is, there is no problem with doing work, or fasting or anything like that. It is mainly about giving, eating and reaching a level of inner happiness that is beyond good and bad.
But what is the big deal with getting to this new level of not knowing? Or So What? And this is where Atzmus comes in – lets start with a fact for many people – that life seems to have its share of Good and Bad times – that we have tried to be good but sometimes have not been – etc… the state Purim is trying to get us to – is to let go of our narrow view of ourselves and the world – this distinction between good and bad – it is saying – look whatever has happened even if you don’t think it was good or that you think it was good etc… its all immaterial! You’ve got to let go – and trust the process of Life – you got to realise that the Universe – God etc… is far wiser than you and me, far beyond our definitions of Good and Bad – and that whatever has happened is ultimately because it was the way it was meant to be. And that we should simply celebrate being alive! And be happy and aware that whatever happens – it is all Divine Providence!
So what has this got to do with Atzmus and Moshiach? – it is said that God hid some special wine in the first few days of creation – for the Ztaddikim in the Future to Come – at the Banquet of the Leviason and the ShorHaBoar. And the Rebbe explains that this hidden wine are the teachings of Chassidus and the Teachings of Moshiach – they are Torah Chadasha !
What effect are these teaching meant to have on us – each and every one of us – no matter where we are – and not matter what ‘level’ we are or are not on. That each and everyone of us can consider ourselves Ztaddikim –since – “V’amech Kulam Ztaddikim” and the Rebbe said that we are already sitting at the banquet and eating of the Leviason and ShorHaBoar. But what are the Leviason and ShorHaBoar? According the Tzemach Tzedek they are Spirituality and Physicality – (Good and Bad) and in a sense we are eating both right now.
Moshiach will teach and we will eat and drink – Moshiach will teach us that Atzmus is everywhere – that no matter where you are you are touching Atzmus – that there is nothing else and that Atzmus is beyond good and bad – beyond Mordichai and Hamman – beyond the distinction between Physicality and Spirituality. To become drunk in Godliness, to become overwhelmed by Atzmus – to realise that Purim is a lesson for everyday of our lives – that God – is everywhere – and no matter what we think is good and bad – Atzmus is beyond those two – and that we can find Atzmus no matter who we are – no matter where we are – and in the end – the main thing is that we celebrate being alive – that we learn to be happy – that we have the ability and capacity to give to others – and to let go completely and be ourselves, without fear of Judgment.
And that’s why all the festivals will be annulled except for Purim – because we will be drunk in our love and awe of Life ItSelf – and all the positive mitzvoth will be annulled – (therefore all the festivals) because everyday of our lives we will celebrate like Purim. L’Chaim!
Reflections on Yom Kippur -
Out of all the holidays Judaism has to offer it has always puzzled me why people seem to choose to observe Yom Kippur, which is in all honesty the most solemn and serious day of the year.
We ask God to forgive us for things we may have done, we fast, don’t wash, don’t wear leather shoes, don’t have sex, and don’t wear perfumes as a form of repentance a way of asking for forgiveness.
Don’t people know about Simchat Torah or Purim? Why is there this almost Catholic like desire to ask for forgiveness we even beat our hearts, and prostrate ourselves before God. Have we all really been that bad?
I’ve been told by some that I shouldn’t make people think or question tradition, but then I am reminded of the famous questions of Passover, ‘Ma Nishtana…’
Why is this night different to all other nights?’ that it’s part of ‘Traditional Judaism’ to question to think about what it is your doing, and perhaps even ask why?
The real question is to what extent you allow these questions to alter your actual practice, and that might arguably depend on if you’re a pnimi or a chitzon, a real human being or a fake?
And if people are happy with not asking questions, if people are happy swallowing the same stuff every year, then that’s great for them, and I’d encourage them to continue, and I hope that if you are one of those, then whatever I say or share with you will not have any effect, and that you remain steadfast to whatever it is you believe.
However, how can I continue to offer new insights into Traditional Judaism, if it risks, alienating not only myself but the people who may be influenced by what I write?
The answer is simple, we all have to take mature responsibility for our own lives, I don’t believe that I or anyone can really influence another person, but rather people want to be, or allow themselves to be influenced.
This means that whatever it is that I or anyone says, is only as important as you want it to be, if you feel that it challenges or reaffirms your tradition then that’s exactly what it does, not because of the nature of the material itself, but rather, because it is what, you want it to be.
So seen maturely there is no one to blame for whatever issues you might feel this raises, but only deep self reflection, why does this stuff have any effect at all (if it does?) the question seems so much more poignant as we have just come to the end of Yom Kippur, a time set for self reflection, a time to take responsibilities for your OWN actions, a time to maturely analyse who you are and where you want to be going, etc.
So I found myself asking a Passover question on Sunday night the eve of Yom Kippur, why is tonight any different from any other day of the week, it’s a question I ask myself almost every Friday night ever Saturday afternoon, and almost every religious holiday, fast or festival.
What’s the difference? A fast today or have a fancy meal? Does the ground I walk on know there’s a difference? Does the air I breathe know that today is different? Does the earth itself recognise that today is any holier than a Tuesday?
What is holy? And why do I even care? Do I care? Is there a connection between Passover and Yom Kippur? And I’m back to my original question, what’s the big deal with Yom Kippur?!
‘Our God in Heaven!’- it seems was mentioned every other verse!
But what difference do my or your actions make to a God that is in Heaven?
Surely what would be more important would be thinking about how we were to both ourselves and with other people? Surely the Torah is not in heaven? Surely whatever Judaism wants from us, is meant for this earth, for you and me, for an attempt and making Heaven on Earth?
So the ‘Day of Judgement’, came and went, are we any different? Do we really have to wait for that once a year to become better human beings? Perhaps if we look a bit deeper into it, we might get a glimpse at an answer, perhaps not THE answer, but one that I will hope make you think a little, perhaps even question how you celebrate this day next year.
Yom Kippur is also called the Sabbath of Sabbaths, it is, believe it or not, is actually a Holiday!!! if you were to eat, you would have to say ‘Yal’ey v Yavo’ and in the Messianic Era, it will actually be a Feast Day! and Not a Fast Day! (which gives a whole new meaning to dropping an ‘E’).
Yet is traditionally understood as being a day of repentance, some commentaries say that the day is so holy that the day itself wipes out all your previous sins and gives you a new slate, that you don’t actually have to DO anything!!
It is called the ‘Holiest day of the year’, when in ancient times the High Priest/Cohen Gadol would enter the Holy of Holies see and commune with the Divine Presence, and if he would make it out alive, pronounce the unutterable name of God in front of the Jewish people.
It is a day when there would be a chance choice between two identical goats a lottery of sorts, to decide which would live and be looked after, and which would be pushed off a cliff and dies a horrific death. This all seems far off and quite a strange Yom Kippur, than the one we ‘celebrate’ now days.
But with all this talk of repentance and sacrifices have we all forgotten what it’s all about?
We can talk of rituals and ethics all day; we can beat our hearts and starve ourselves, we can go to synagogue and bore ourselves silly, but does that really make you a better person, in your own estimation or in the eyes of your fellow Man or even those of God?
Surely making yourself feel guilty about who you are, your actions, thoughts and what you might have said, is all great and well, if you’re ever going to really change.
But what if you can’t? then your change will ultimately only be a superficial thing, the next time someone steps on your toe, or your ego, the difference may only be in the time it takes you to react, (because you’ve made a resolution to count to ten before reacting) but not in who you really are.
You can’t change yourself, if you only have the same stuff to work with as you did have before, you can rearrange the pile of stuff, but that doesn’t mean that anything has really changed, you’ve only changed the outer garments of your self, and who you are remains intact.
But who really wants to change anyways? Most people secretly love themselves as they are and wouldn’t want to change anything for the world! (The problem is that it’s a secret, its probably a secret to the person themselves, and they are hiding from this secret, unaware that, if they would only embrace it then, and only then would any real personal growth take place).
But still people beat themselves up; punish themselves via either going to synagogue or not going. ‘Oh I should really change’. Blarr…blarr…blarr…(Yadda… yadda… yadda…)
I would suggest that there might be something else going on here something much deeper, much more profound something that might actually help you enjoy this day however you choose to ‘celebrate’ it.
Some of us spend hours in synagogue, ‘praying’, ‘repenting’ etc, to a God that on the whole we know nothing of, and have no experience of. And that in itself is the problem!
Yom Kippur just seems to magnify the issue rather than resolving it.
The way I see it, the main problem with Judaism today is that it has forgotten all about God! I mean it’s almost a Four Letter word! (YHVH?!?)
Even in communities that call themselves ‘religious,’ it seems more about seeming to keep up with the Jones/the Goldbergs. It has more to do with the type of clothes you wear than the kind of person you are. Let alone even dare talk about God! If you don’t have the right kind of stuff on, if you beard isn’t according to the latest religious trend, then,
‘I’m sorry whatever you say about God is simply wrong! You are just a shnip! What do you know about God? God is in Heaven! We can’t know anything about God! Etc…etc…etc…’
Yet it is this Empty inheritance that we are supposed to be proud of and to pass on to our children? A hollow bunch of rituals all tied up with, when you are supposed to stand up and sit down, and mumbling a whole lot of words? That most have forgotten the meaning of if they ever knew them to begin with! Doing lots of stuff, that we can’t really make sense of…
‘you’ve just got to do it! Just do it!’
…and you wonder why religious people don’t talk about God, it’s because people don’t care about God, because they don’t care about themselves and they don’t care about anybody else.
God is something abstract, an idea, an ideal, but ultimately is something we don’t talk about. It seems the whole practical Judaism is base the verse ‘Shema Yisrael…the Lord our God the Lord is One’, and yet no one seems to pay much attention to what that all really means!!!
They would rather spend huge amounts of money of the stuff it says to do afterwards…because it’s probably much easier to buy stuff and do stuff than to seriously think about what it is your doing with your life and the nature of God and reality.
‘Our God in Heaven’- that phrase that seems quite prevalent on Yom Kippur. It seems to sum up most of our attitude to God, God is in Heaven, and Thank God!
God is not part of our lives, definitely not part of our normal life, and for some not even part of their religious lives, Heaven therefore seems a great place for God. And the feelings attached seem to be ‘and Let Him stay there!’
But perhaps there could be another reason why we petition ‘Our God in Heaven’ on Yom Kippur? Maybe the phrase itself could shed some light, on this? ‘God in Heaven’, is probably about the closest phrase traditional Judaism is going to get to the idea of an ‘Ultimate Transcendence’ and we petition the Ultimate to forgive us?
What is that about?
Why would a God in Heaven care?
OK, so that’s the question! Lets investigate this a little more.
The Hebrew word for repentance is ‘Teshuva’ which could be seen as ‘return to God’ literally ‘Teshuv-Jah’.
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman does a great job in summarizing this whole thing by saying:
‘Do not repent. Repentance means to stop being bad and to become good. Instead, return. Return to [your or the?] Essential Self… This we call Teshuva.’ (Bringing Heaven down to Earth: 365 meditations from the wisdom of the Rebbe… – acts of beauty number 244).
The question really is what does it mean to return to God? To get in touch with God? Firstly we have to ask what is God? And then we might be able to answer a few of the above mentioned questions.
Maimonides proposes that the first mitzvah is, to know that there is a God,
‘To know there is an original/first Being etc, and all beings/existences etc, do not exist/take up any space, but only from the True Existence’.
This could mean to say that every fibre of existence is merely an extension or expression of God, but what is the nature of this existence?
As far as I am aware, as the great formulators of Hassidic philosophy have thus far been able to surmise, the world does actually exist, but its existence is not separate from God, moreover, physical existence shares the quality of ‘Being’ with that of God. ‘God’ therefore would be an awareness of the Unity of All Existence which also includes something beyond, something transcendent.
That experience would not exclude the world and for our discussion, it would primarily include You! So now I hope things are starting to make some sense?
Firstly ‘Our God in Heaven’, is not only about the closest phrase traditional Judaism is going to get to the idea of an ‘Ultimate Transcendence’ but it is a personal experience, ‘Our God’ and we petition that deepest and unknown part of ourselves to grant us forgiveness. Do you think God has to be asked to forgive us?
The reason why people spend so long torturing themselves over Yom Kippur, is because they are trying to convince themselves that they are forgiven, because forgiveness starts within you. Touching that deepest part of you, that inner peace that awe, will make you whole, it will ignite our lives with a different perspective, to remind us not to be cynical, bitter and jaded, but rather to wonder in its unknown splendor.
And it is only if you get in touch with this, will you be able to effect any real change in yourself. Thus if you do the world is a magical place, where almost anything is possible, the famous prayer ‘Hear Oh Israel the Lord our God the Lord is One’ pretty much spells it out, ‘God is One’.
So to ‘return to God’ is really to attempt to get in touch with The Holy ‘One’, a sense of Oneness, perhaps a realisation of the ‘Underlying Unity of the Universe’.
In this light the English word, ‘atonement’, can also be seen as ‘At-One-ment’, because it is not by petitioning God that we are forgiven but by becoming One with God, that we are selves realize that we are forgiven. When one lets go of fear, and just relaxes then they can experience a type of inner peace and tranquility that is known as Shabbat, and that is why ‘Teshuva’ which is primarily what Yom Kippur is about, has the same letters for ‘teshuv’ also make the Hebrew word Shabbat, and Yom Kippur as mentioned is called the Sabbath of Sabbaths.
‘Our God in Heaven’ really expresses the quintessential point of the sublime within ourselves, when we release our worldly worries and realise we are not separate from the All of Existence. So getting in touch with God is really getting in touch with ourselves.
Each of us enters our own personal Holy of Holies, we not only can become High Priests, as Maimonides explains ‘not only the tribe of Levi, but each and every individual that gives his spirit etc, this is as holy as the Holy of Holies’ the place that the High priest stands’ but the temple is within our selves, we reach out and down into ourselves, to that part of ‘Our God’ that is really beyond our mundane sins and transgressions, something so beyond that is has nothing to do with and is not at all connected with these issues of sin or bad, and does not consider them bad or as sins.
That part of us that Loves unconditionally, that accepts us for who we are and where we are. Here we commune with God’s Essence, with the Essence of all Existence, that is in effect beyond the definitions of right and wrong of good an evil, so to answer the question, the reason why we ask ‘God in Heaven’ is particularly because at that level God really doesn’t care, about our sins!
To call out to God, is really an attempt to call out to that which is within us, that is the True God that can grant us forgiveness, for our sins and will count them as null and void, before Him, and before ourselves. At the end of our lives, and thus every moment of our lives, we are destined to come face to face with the reality of who we really are, the ultimate mirror, that is the ‘King of Kings, the Holy One…’ within ourselves, ‘Our God’.
In the ‘future to come’ the spirit of impurity is wiped from the face of the earth, and there is no more sin, Yom Kippur is a feast, because everyone will realize they have within them a Holy of Holies, that they are High Priests, where every day is Shabbat, and that they are indeed beyond any issues of sin or transgression, we will be able to commune with God particularly by being in and enjoying the physical world, with a physical meal, perhaps even eating the leviathan and the behemoth.
If we are honest with ourselves, and trust that we are indeed fine as we are, that we as we are, are not only loved and accepted by God and therefore by All Existence, but our very experience of Being is actually an experience of God, then we can release our fears, and when we trust the process of Life then God/Life/Love and all its hidden mysteries will open to us, and we will become High Priests of our own lives, we will forever walk in the Holy of Holies, and our lives will be called a Shabbat, and every meal will be that of the Leviathan and Behemoth.
On Rosh Ha Shanah, we (are asked to) make God King, because ‘there is no King without a people’..
God is waiting for us to recognise Him, God is, so to speak, dependant on our service for His own existence.
We are not actually celebrating the actual Biblical Creation of Heaven & Earth, which is said to have taken place a week before Rosh Ha Shanana.
Rather we celebrate the Sixth day of creation, the crowning glory of creation, the creation/birth of Mankind, the first Adam/(Adama d’Elyona).
There is a reciprocal relationship between Man and God, the lower man and the supernal Man, both of whom really came into existence on the Sixth day.
Not that is to say that both, Man and God did not exist beforehand, but rather, Man’s ability to look beyond himself, to look towards the stars, gave ‘God’ the possibility to exist, that is, within the mind and therefore world of Man.
It is therefore Man who made existence/reality/God real. As the famous Hassidic dictum retorts ‘..kol l’mila, m’cha!’ ‘Know that everything above, is from you’. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe explains ‘Everything we imagine of God, is merely our projections onto the Infinite Simplicity that has no form’ (Shavuot Melukat 5).
So what are we celebrating? the Infinite (God’s creation= Man?) the Finite (Man’s creation =God?) or perhaps both?
If we were to measure the years from ‘creation’ till now in days of a thousand years (so to speak God’s perspective), then now would be approximately 12.19pm Friday afternoon, which according to the Medresh is about the time Adam was actually brought into being.
So we stand now, not just on the eve of Rosh Ha Shanah for this particular year, but on the eve of the cosmic Rosh Ha Shanah. the Cosmic birth of Mankind, and God is asking us to see ‘Him’ to recognise not only the ultimate Transcendent God, but also and perhaps more importantly, the God within ourselves, and within the world. ‘Adoni Ha Aretz’.
It is through our recognition of the Infinite Simplicity, the unitary Oneness of all existence, within ourselves and the world, that we crown not only God, but also ourselves and all of existence.
This is the magical ‘crown’ that is both Man, (Man is the crowning glory of creation) and God (Man makes God king).
Peace in the outside world is only possible when find peace within ourselves, and it is this Peace that crowns creation, that is the ‘glory of God’.
Peace is the ultimate blessing ‘The Holy One Blessed Be He, did not find a better vessel for strengthening Blessing…apart from that of Peace/Shalom’, and Peace includes all other blessings- ‘Peace- its voice/sound/proclamation is comparable to all of them (Ha Kol) [The All?]’ (Rashi on Bechukosi 26.6)
Listen to the sound of peace within yourself, the silent sound of the letter Aleph (of Anochi), which is the Unitary and Singular point of Being within All Existence, and with that we will see God everywhere we look, and every day will be like the beginning of a new year, in fact every moment of every day.
And you will bring blessing not only into our lives, for this year, but every day and every moment of the day. You very existence as it is will be a blessing for the lives of all Humanity.
One last question: If it is indeed approximately 12.19pm Friday afternoon on the Sixth day of (the Cosmic) Creation and we are ‘Adam’ where are we now? (in a Cosmic sense?)
Many years ago as part of a research project, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan obtained a photocopy of ‘The Treasure House of Life’, by Rabbi Issac of Akko (1250-1350) a student of the Ramban (Nachmonadies)
In it he discovered a radically new concept of Sabbatical cycles, according to the ‘Book of Form’ a classical Kabbalist book, the world was 42,000 years old when Adam was born.
Rabbi Isaac of Akko says that the Sabbatical cycles that existed before Adam must not have been measured in human years but in divine years. Thus the ‘Book of Form’ is speaking of Forty Two Thousand Divine years. Which According to the Psalmist the ‘divine day’ is 1,000 earth years and a divine year consisting of 365/4 days would be equal to 365,250 earth years.
Therefore, the Universe would be 42,000 x 365,250 (human) years old, before Man’s appearance on earth. This is 15,340,500,000 years, and he points out it is very close to calculations based on modern science.
But here a similar figure presented an authentic Kabbalistic source written over seven hundred years ago by Rabbi Isaac of Akko.
Adapted from ‘Immortality, Resurrection and the Age of the Universe: a Kabbalistic View’ by Aryeh Kaplan. ISBN0-88125-645-6
Sometimes life doesn’t give you time to think, to theorise, to philosophise, to ponder and wonder, what the deeper meanings are.
As a self-proclaimed “Urban Guru” i find this non-thinking type of service, slightly challenging, but that’s because i think too much, and God/ the Universe and everything is telling me to just stop!
Not that there is anything wrong with thinking, but there is a time and place and right now is neither of them.
But some people spend their entire lives just doing, running around and not thinking at all! – This isn’t where it’s at either -
The point is to be fluid and flexible, to relax and trust, to think and to feel to live and to act.
Avoidance is the sin of a lifetime, if you are avoiding what you are meant to be doing with your life at any given time, you’ll struggle, struggle with your self and the universe will struggle with you.
If you struggle then by definition you’re not – being fluid, flexible, relaxed or trusting.
So as a not so famous biblical story goes when, God told Abraham to leave his homeland and everything he knew, God said: “Lech Lecha!” – Leave yourself (behind).
Let go of your preconceived notions of who you think or believe you are, relax, trust your instincts and just let go!
The Jedi warriors know that they must listen to the Force, they must tap into the underlying unity of the universe, opening their consciousness and hearts to the life force within everything, the bubbling and pulsating force of the universe which brings it into being and nurtures all life.
In ancient Hebrew the expression “Life force of the worlds” (Chai Ha Olamim), the word for ‘Life Force’ is singular, this means that no matter how many worlds, whether animal, vegetable or mineral, whether, spiritual, quantum, Newtonian or human, the ‘Life Force’ which permeates and sustains them all is One and absolutely singular in nature.
The great Enlightened Masters open their eyes to the Chai seeing millions of little angles hammering down blades of grass as they apparently “blow in the wind”.
Attuning themselves to the force of life as it is found within their own being, seeing and listening to the magical presence of Chai within their own bodies. They learn to listen deeply, discovering the languages of the birds and the songs of the rivers.
Every moment is the most intelligent and supreme dance of the life force. Skipping as it runs back and forth, in and out of existence, moving to a beat so compelling that it you have no choice but to join in, and as you do it lifts you up and out of the confines of your self – beyond the edges of your dreams and spins you around, landing you happily in the spot you began, but now instead of standing you are dancing.
As you become aware of the Chai within your own body you will soon become aware of the Life Force of the Universe itself and as you learn to dance the Chai dances with you, and if you’re any good and come up with a few new moves the Chai will follow your lead, bringing additional life force through your veins and to the world immediately around you.
Look, whatever the meaning of life really is, or whatever suffering there is in the world or thus far in your life, it’s not gonna hurt you if you learn to smile, smell the flowers and force yourself to discover a big dollop of joy, happiness in your life, is it?
So the wise Rabbis teach us a great lesson, that, no matter what your situation, if you want it, and will to, it is going to get better, and the best and almost guaranteed way to create the future outcome you desire is to start to celebrate the positive outcome in this very moment, even before it has happened.
So in the case of your personal redemption, don’t just feel content to imagine what it might be like if you lived the life of your dreams, but celebrate them as though they had ALREADY happened!
Crazy as that may sound, and at times even crazier to carry out, make a party to celebrate your future success, to celebrate your future happiness, dance celebrate and be thankful.
There are even some special and magic dances that can help you draw out and get in touch with the universal divine energy but the main thing are not the moves but the rhythm! Life is one big dance, sometimes its classy sometimes, its just down and dirty, up you get to dance, you got you move, to the rhythm of life.
Dance can set you free, and can, actually help to trigger a state of personal redemption. This in turn can trigger the redemption of all humankind.
The super awesome Kabbalistic Rabbi’s would say “if we only knew how close the universal redemption was we would be dancing in the streets!”
The idea is to dance, to celebrate the manifestation of a positive and brighter future, creating that future in our minds and hearts, but allowing the infinite joy within our souls to pour out through our feet in dance.
The miracle that is said to have taken place in the Jerusalem Temple:
In the Holy Land, in Jerusalem the Holy City, stands the Holy Temple, walking up to it is a Holy experience, as you enter the outer courtyard you notice another doorway to the inner Holy courtyard where stands the Holy Alter.
Directly behind the Alter is the doorway of the Holy Temple, as you enter you notice two Menorah at the end of the Holy Hall, you continue straight passing between the two menorahs, you enter the Holies, and just beyond the Holies lies the Holy of Holies, you enter and you see the Holy Ark, with Two Holy Childlike Cherubim looking at each other, you go towards the Ark…
Standing in the Holy of Holies, the Rabbis claim that a magnificent and wonderful miracle took place. If you’d take your handy ruler out of your pocket and measure the Actual diameters of the Ark it would be 1 and a half X 2 and a half Amas. In a square room 20 X 20 Amas.
However if you measured from one side of the Ark to the wall it was 10 Amas and if you measured the distance from the other side of the Ark to the wall it was also 10 Amas! Whatever side of the Ark you measured from it still only measured 10 Amas!
This means that the Ark could be measured but at the same time could not be measured, it took up space but did not take up any space! “To Be & Not To Be!”
This is the Miracle that took place within the Holy of Holies! The Holiest place on earth, the centre of all Jewish religious life, the centre of all communication between God and Humanity for over 8 hundred years, while the Temples stood, the focus of much of Judaism’s religious devotion is focused on Jerusalem the Temple and ultimately the Holy of Holies.
But what does this miracle teach us about Judaism? About ourselves? About the Nature of the Universe? About the Nature of God?
The ultimate revelation of God on earth, took up space and did not take up any space. It ripped a hole in the space time continuum, a temporary porthole to the Infinite, to the spiritual. It was a revelation of the true nature of Reality the Quantum nature of Reality, and perhaps even the miraculous nature of all Reality.
The bible states “Make for Me a Temple and I will dwell within them” – Exodus 25:8 (The Author of the Bible was not very good at grammar or spelling)
The peculiar nature of this seemingly grammatically incongruent sentence in truth reflects a deep spiritual truth that if we create the space then God presence will reside within each of us.
Kabbalah teaches that each and every one of us should see ourselves as a minute Temple, and that within each of us we have a Holy of Holies, and that our very being is tied up with the essence of pure divinity, we not only have a spark of God within us, but this Holy of Holies is by its very nature miraculous in nature.
Let’s investigate this slightly further, What does it mean to both exist and not exist at the same time? To take up space and not to take up space?
To be an Ego and at the same time to let go of that Ego, to always be fluctuating between your own self centeredness and absolute selflessness ?
On a Cosmic scale, the miracle in the Holy of Holies teaches us that although we may be able to measure our lives, and we may hold on dearly to them, but in the bigger picture of things, we are merely a minute point, and virtually non existent.
It is a humbling realisation to look out in to a clear night sky and realise how small we all really are, or to think about the vastness of the Universe compared to our limited being, to think about the journey of time compared to our the span of our lives – and that in the bigger picture we may not be all that important, and definitely not as important as we quite often feel.
(In our temple it is up to us what sacrifices we bring, we offer up – )
On a personal scale: It means that you accept yourself (Since the Ark is Holy and it can be measured), but you also have room for others (it doesn’t take up any room in relation to others).
It means that you love yourself but you trust Life, God and the Unfolding of the Universe. It means that you trust yourself but that you are willing to concede that you may be wrong and that you have room and internal space for others in your life.
Deep within the depths of each of our hearts, deep within the depths of every human being, is a door to the Infinite, to the Transcendent, to the Essence of God, the Universe & Reality.
If we can realise this in our lives, then they become a vehicle for Holiness. Our lives and our very beings become the dwelling place of peace a dwelling place and manifestation of God in this world.
So that we too become the Holy Temple, and our being becomes a Holy as the Holy of Holies.
Sometimes you may feel that you need to pray, and that’s cool, in fact asking God/the Universe for the things you need to be yourself completely, is really important, praying for thing things you want, sometimes we don’t ask and that’s a problem, asking, and articulating what you need and want help you on a number of levels.
It says to your holy and Godly self that you are in deed worthy, that you are worth it, that you are important and that you needs are important, that your happiness is important, that your hopes and aspirations are important YOU ARE IMPORTANT ! ! !
Telling yourself that is often all that is needed for the universe to stick a stamp and post that big lump of mulla with your name on it. You see if you’ve never asked for why would you think that you’d get it?
No one can teach you the ancient wisdom contained in your being they can only be your mirror. I hate teachers, gurus, rabbis, politicians, priests, swamis and other self-declared authoritarian quacks that think that they know best, that they are somehow superior and better than regular common people.
The bible I think, could be something else, unequivocally declares that in the eyes of the Divine there’s no difference between the so-called “wise” and the animals in the field. Moreover, when someone sets himself or herself up as being better than others or more “divine”, or promise they can make you happy or bring you enlightenment or that they can actually teach you something, they have become idols.
Serving them becomes idolatry and will give you no real or long-term benefit. They’ll suck your soul clear out of your body, leaving you empty and desolate.
One of the greatest Kabbalist that ever lived was also a fantastic prophet, his name was Ezekiel and he taught one of the most profound teachings ever, he says that in the utopia “One man will no longer teach his neighbour, because all will know Me (God)”
This means that in reality the deepest depth of your being is the same Being which is the Divine Cosmic Intelligence, and even your experience of ego, of Me-ness is actually a divine manifestation of the true Me, which is at the same time, The Divine itself.
One word spoken with intention is more powerful than a million mumbled prays, magical incantations and babblings from Holy Scriptures.
Words without intentions are like the bodies of Angels without souls, and words without intentions are like souls without bodies. But words said with intention have the power to storm heaven and permanently transform the entire cosmos forever!
Guard you thoughts! Since your intentions become the souls of angels, in turn they desperately look for bodies to become incarnate within, they wish and yearn for life, to become real, to be about to carry out their life mission. They will if desperate enough inhabit the lifeless bodies of the dead Angels created by words said without intentions.
So Guard your tongue! Because whatever words you utter without intention, creates soulless bodies of angels, and the souls of other Angels are eagerly waiting to jump into them and make them come true. However because you are not the creator of the soul of this angel you have very little control over them and they can often be the cause of cosmic stuff that you never intended to happen.
Make you words count and say what you mean. But be careful what you wish for, it might just come true.
There is a peculiar Kabbalistic custom which encourages tasting the food prepared for the Sabbath before the day actually begins.
On a practical level, this hopefully ensures that the food tastes ok, and if it need a bit more salt or curry power then youâ€™ve got the opportunity to remedy it before the Sabbath.
However there is also a personal and spiritual element to this practice, and this is to anticipate the peace, holiness and redemption of the universal Sabbath before it has actually taken place.
That means that you are able and in fact strongly encouraged to taste and anticipate redemption, utopia in the present moment, before the coming of the Universal Utopia. What this means is that you are actually able to starting living in a utopian state, even before any evidence for a greater scene is taking place on the global stage. Which is really the main idea of this manual.
The way to do this is to use your imagination, and imagine what the world might be like if there was peace on earth. Moreover, imagine in detail what you own personal life would be like if there was peace on earth and anything was possible. How would you feel? How would you be? What kind of life would you live?
Imagining a possible future in the present not only makes it more likely to happen but it also fills you body with feel good chemicals, ones that help you to change the way you feel, and the way you have programmed yourself. By re-programming your internal chemical landscape your encourage new neural pathways to be born, and you help to actually create your future reality, not because you are a prophet but because you have begun to live in your future now. The change in you is more than just chemical it is electromagnetic and also quantum.
The Kabbalistic tradition does believe in reincarnation, but the real question how are you going to use the information you find out about yourself and your previous lives and incarnations?
How are you going to live your life as a result of the idea of reincarnation? If you are going to say to yourself; why worry about my spiritual development, I’ve got a myriad of incarnations to come back and perfect myself, then you’ve got the wrong end of the stick.
If you’ve going to use the idea of reincarnation as a way to undermine the immense importance and sacredness of your life then reincarnation is a load of rubbish!
The great Urban Gurus stress that you have to live your life, as though this was in you’re your last-ever incarnation.
See your life as the totality of all your previous lives, as the highest rung of enlightened self-realisation, that in this life you can achieve “Moshiach consciousness”, the kabbalistic equivalent of Buddhahood. Now in this life, this lifetime, this incarnation, in this very moment, not only you are able to achieve true enlightenment, but you are already truly enlightened!
So this is your last incarnation, this is it! You could be easily temped into believing that because this life seems to be so very short, you’ve got to cram, and pack as much stuff in it as humanly possible. You might think that living life to the max implies living dangerously, on a perpetual adrenaline rush of experiences, but this is not the case.
There is another idea, which is meant to work in partnership with the idea “this is your last incarnation”, and that is the idea/belief (yet to be fully realised in less than a handful of people throughout human history) that you are going to and will in fact live for one thousand years! That’s right, at least 1000 years.
Now however wild that may sound, the Urban Gurus believe that every human being, if they achieved personal redemption and lived in a perpetual utopia could and would naturally live for a thousand years.
It’s like the natural “best-before” date on a human being is 1000 years, but it’s just because of other, social, educational and spiritual factors which rapidly increase the ageing process therefore reducing the life expectancy to less than 10% of its natural (utopian) shelf life.
The bazaar and twisted irony is that if we stared to live our lives as though we had a thousand years to live, we might just begin to live a lot longer. But the trick to starting to live and experience your own personal utopia is to combine the two ideas together:
1. To realise that this is your last incarnation and
2. To live as though you have a thousand years to live it.
The world, universe and everything and beyond, the myriads of angels, energetic spheres of influence, every fibre of existence, is pulsating in and out of being .
The entire lot, all of it is being created from the essence of all being, and “pulsating” in and out of existence, from absolute nothingness into brand spanking new, every fraction of a moment. According to some in the sciences the entire Universe and everything in pulsates in and out of existence every 10×26 times per second.
That’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times per second!
Life is actually much like a film strip, but it’s moving so fast that we can’t seem to notice it. The wave particles flux naturally from wave to particle continuously.
What this means is that you are not bound to the person and situation you believed you were a fraction of a second before. Your own conception of yourself and the world is merely a lucky bunch of ideas and memories that have managed to stick around even though they blipped in and out of existence billions of times a second, and only because you want them to be there for you, because you think they make your life easier, but they are not reality, they are just little movements of electricity in your brain.
Life can sometimes present us with lots of different challenges, they are of course, all there to help us grow and become deeper and better people because of them.
But I believe that it is our resistance to, what is, to the unfolding of life, the universe and everything, to the day-to-day stuff that happens in our life, it is that friction which ultimately wears us down.
I don’t mean always being an easy pushover on every occasion, because indeed, sometimes Life wants us to rise to the challenge, speak up, act and react, out of pure righteous indignation.
But often it is the less important elements of life that we get caught up with, the daily stresses that gently grinds us down until we fall to pieces.
It is these daily recurrent events, stresses, feelings and thoughts that I’m suggesting we stop and let go of.
I believe, not based on too much fuzzy new-age science, but from watching myself, that it is our resistance to life, the everyday resistance, our feelings of dislike, being upset about whatever it may be that actually ages us, both emotionally and physically.
So if and when you notice yourself becoming tense, or feeling even the slightest bit cross, let it go! Stop resisting, just relax, and allow whatever is, to be.
What does that mean?
It means that when you notice yourself resisting life, before you even make yourself ill, stressed or upset, just let it go.
Learn to recognise that your default mode is one of tranquillity and warm quiet inner stillness and peace.
Everything that moves your attention away from that sense of calm is a distraction; it is a form of mild idolatry.
Your task then is to focus your attention on that river of peace that runs through your veins.
“I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME!”
Tradition has it that the Ten Commandments may have not been exactly like the Hollywood version by Cecil B. De Mille staring Charlton Heston as Moses and Yil Brynner (who seems to play all the baddies) as Pharaoh.
Let’s just set the scene for those of you who haven’t been to Sunday school recently, the Hebrews are camped out at the foot of Mt. Sinai, Moses goes up to receive the Two Tablets of stone with the Ten Commandments, there is thunder and lightening, and just before God Utters the Ten Commandments, the entire known world becomes silent, the wind rests from blowing, the crickets stop rubbing their little legs together, the rivers stop rippling, and the birds stop singing and there is absolute silence because God is about the speak not just to one man in on his way to Jericho but to an entire nation, to the whole world.
The commentaries explain that what followed was very scary. As God spoke the first two commandments, it was like an explosive spiritual tidal wave ripping the souls straight out of the bodies of the Hebrews and leaving them for dead, it is told that God had to continuously bring them back to life in order to finish the sentence. So quite sensibly they asked, no, begged Moses to ask God to shut His Big Mouth and let Moses explain the rest of the commandments.
So out of the Ten Commandments as we know them (I’m not gonna test you on them, so don’t worry) only the first two was actually said by God and the last eight were said by Moses.
However, the same tradition also explains that the first two commandments were actually said at the same time, or that there were in fact One commandment, but the Hebrews heard the two elements of the One Commandment as two distinct Commandments. The Kabbalists explain that although only one statement was made because the Hebrews, who had just been emancipated from Egypt as slaves where not able to actually hear the singular nature of the One Statement and because of their dualistic mindset they actually heard two.
The first two commandments are:
1. “I am the Lord Your God who took you out of Egypt”
2. “You Shall Have No Other gods”
From the First Commandment the Hebrews learnt all of the positive commandments some 248? And from the second commandment all the negative prohibitions which there are some 365.
However, it is quite obvious on closer examination that the first two commandments are actually one sentence with a comma between them, i.e. “I am the Lord Your God who took you out of Egypt, you should have no other gods except me.”
So whether God said these two parts of the sentence at the same time or in a linear fashion is rather irrelevant. Itâ€™s clear that God only really said One statement.
There are those that explain that in fact God only said the First Word of the First Statement, this word is “I am” (Anochi) it is actually an Egyptian and not a Hebrew word. They explain that from this one word which expresses the existence of God, the Hebrews learn the entire 613 commandments.
There are some more modern Kabbalists that take reduction thematic even further, they claim God only Said the First Letter of the First word of the First Statement.
Now those of you not familiar with ancient biblical Hebrew let me explain, the first word of the first statement is the letter Aleph that is also coincidentally the first letter of the Alphabet and has the numerical value of 1.
However, and here is where I add my two cents to this reductionist fashion, and this is just a grammatical observation, the letter Aleph, is the closest thing in Ancient Hebrew to a vowel, and on its own it actually doesn’t have a sound at all.
So we may conclude that what was actually reveal on Mt. Sinai was the silent letter Aleph which represents the One, the Absolutely Silent and Unitary Singularity of the entire Cosmos and Beyond. And from this awareness and realisation the Hebrews learnt all the positive and negative Spiritual Laws that they may live their lives in peace and enlightenment.
In the strange and sometimes manic but perfectly peaceful personal utopia that I inhabit and co-create, there are occasions when I dialogue with local sages, mystics, high priests and priestesses and even groups of young trainee rabbis.
On one such occasion debating the benefits of rigorous study over the comforts of staying in bed. I was willed, and this is not the first time such a statement has ushered forth from my lips, in a almost Krishnamurti-like utterance; All I’m suggesting is that you take your life seriously! What you do from then on in is your business. I continued.
Of course as with any discussion with students of the Talmud, it couldn’t have been left alone, the entire statement had to be dissected, analysed and proved to be utter stupidity, before they were to even hear what it is I was trying to convey.
“What does serious mean?” one asked. They concluded that language itself was problematic because “serious doesn’t mean anything”! they insisted.
Anyways, I bravely tried to explain what the opposite of “serious” was, and how living a life of frivolity and merry foolishness was not particularly good. (Although ironically, I usually advocate increased merriness and frivolity for most of my life-coaching clients.)
Eventually, when they did agree that it was a good idea to take their life more seriously, they started speaking of ideals such as “Truth” and the inevitability of the search and discovery of “Truth”, if one was to take their life seriously.
I reiterated, what I’d said before, (in these circles you’ve got to repeat yourself over and over for them to actually listen);
I’m not interested in what happens after you start to take your life seriously, just take it seriously, it is a state of being, a state of mind, a mindset that I’m suggesting you adopt in order that you make the most of your life and make the most of your time stuck in rabbinical school!
Even if you conclude that life is meant to be about fun and excitement, at least be serious about it! Stop being wishy-washy, and get serious! If fun is what it’s about then have SERIOUS FUN!
This line of thought wasn’t going down too well, so I started talking about everything being “ONE”. And believe it or not, that got more resistance, than me telling them to take their life seriously!!!
I tried to explain that if they were to take the idea of everything being ONE, “seriously” then their life would be completely different.
I ended up having to explain that this idea was is actually one of the fundamentals of Judaism and the Kabbalistic tradition, but they found the entire concept very difficult to assimilate.
Anyway by this time, I thought I’d cut my losses and hit the road, I chuckled to myself about the irony of me lecturing to a bunch of very well behaved student rabbis about the virtues of being serious and the experience of ONE.
But if you’re going be serious about anything it’s best if it’s about the Oneness of All Existence and about having some serious fun!!
There’s a telling Italian saying: “When the wine goes in, the secrets come out!” and another one that goes something like: “You can’t have a full bottle of wine AND a drunk wife!” But I’m not sure which one is more accurate?
A relatively modern school of mysticism (Me?) believe that being slightly inebriated is actually a vehicle for self-discovery and enlightenment. Of course, when you see the entire world, as an ongoing form of Group Therapy, everything, even being paralytic once in a while, is part of the “healing” process.
The amazing thing is about being off-your-face is that it’s not an intellectual exercise, it is an experiential experience!
You’ve got an excuse to let go and be yourself completely, without guilt or any form of societal repression, judgement or shame. Getting drunk reveals who you really are underneath the cosy façade of “normality”.
But because we often aren’t really in touch with our inner selves or with our true feelings, stuff comes out that we choose to blank out and would rather forget.
But if we go beyond that juvenile form of emotional therapy and embraces the deeper lesson that this ancient liquid intelligence is teaching us, we will soon learn that;
1. Being drunk is ultimately a state of mind.
2. Us being ourselves fully and completely is actually a good thing.
3. Many of societies inhibitions and cultural norms are inventions of deeply unhappy people.
4. You do actually love everyone.
5. You’ve just not realised how sexy and beautiful almost everyone is!
I’m praying for rain in California, So the grapes can grow and they can make more wine!
Get in touch with your inner-drunk and tell everyone you love them!