Sunday, May 30, 2010

Parshat Shelach: Trusting God's Love

In Behaalotecha, the episode of lust experienced by some of the children of Israel was a clear signal that they were not ready to occupy the promised land at that time.

In Shelach that signal proved the fact. In those times (as well as in our current times) we knew that conquering our lower thoughts, emotions, passions and instincts is not an easy task unless we are completely aware that God's Love is not only what sustains every aspect of our life, but also our sole redeemer when we are trapped in the illusions of our lower consciousness.

However, most of our sages don't agree on this view and righteously say that the children of Israel were indeed ready to enter the land of Canaan, but not willing to do it. They correctly point out that the comfort of depending solely from God in the desert was preferred to facing and eventually conquering the negative aspects with which ego wants to direct our consciousness.

True, when we are all the time with God's love there is nothing to be conquered because we belong to His oneness. But God wants us with His love to conquer darkness as the negative aspect of consciousness. In order to achieve this task we have to trust love. It makes sense to doubt when we don't feel prepared for a task, hence our duty is to defeat doubt with the full certainty that love is constantly with us.

In the case of our forefathers, they had major proofs of the power of God's love: their Redemption from Egypt, the splitting of the sea, and the miracles they witnessed daily in the desert. Why then not trusting God after so many tangible proofs of His love? We now also experience His miracles every moment, and still we don't trust Him completely.

We trust money more than love, in spite of knowing quite well that without love we can't live. We rather believe that ego's fantasies and illusions are far better than living in the truthfulness of love. After all, we live in a material reality in which ego's illusions are the ones to pursue, to live by them and die by them. The point again is either to believe and trust love or not, and that's the whole point of this portion in the Torah.

We say that love is about trust, and trust is about love. This is the foundation of our relationship with God's love, the marriage between Israel and Him. In this case the story of the spies is again about trust.

"(...) 'send for yourself (shelach lecha) men who will scout the land of Canaan, which I give to the children of Israel'." (Numbers 11:2)

They may have trusted God but not what He could do for them when they had to face lust, greed, envy, arrogance and the negative aspects consciousness represented by the Canaanite nations. Under the circumstances, common sense tells us that they just didn't trust God at all. Otherwise they would have entered the promised land immediately as originally planned.

There is an important issue we have to raise, and it is free will. God does not impose His will on us. That is why He created us, so we use our intellect and common sense to choose goodness over evil, and love over ego's fantasies and illusions.

The text is clear. "Send for yourself men" (lit. send for you people), you (Moses) let them make their choice; and they did. They chose to stay in the desert and die there under the care and protection of God's love, instead of letting Him guide them and conquer the lower aspects of consciousness. And so it was. God's love let that generation die during the following 38 years, and He prepared the next generation to fulfill His plan for Israel.

The narrative is very explicit in its imagery of what the spies "saw" in the land. Again it is reiterated that distrusting our Creator and sole nurturer carries our death under the illusions of our lower consciousness.

After the episode of the spies, the portion continues with additional sacrifices to be offered in the Tabernacle when living in the Land of Israel.

"And for the drink-offering you shall present the third part of a hin of wine, of a sweet flavor to the Lord." (15:7)

Our sages explain that this additional wine offering was not burnt but poured, meaning that we not only elevate all aspects of consciousness to God, but also pour down to the material world our goodness and happiness (represented by the libations) in order to celebrate His glory, His love in this world.

"(…) when you eat of the bread of the Land, you shall set apart a portion for a gift to the Lord." (15:19)

This is the commandment of challah that also represents the permanent connection with our Creator. The bread of the land is the result of how we transform the raw food of the earth (wheat) into bread as darkness into light, a process in which every step we are united to God's love.

The portion ends with another reminder that being and doing God's ways and attributes are our connection with His Love.

"And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that you may look upon it, and remember all the Commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that you go not about after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you use to go astray; that you may remember and do all My Commandments, and be holy." (15:39-40)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Parshat Behaalotecha: Lighting up Consciousness

Behaalotecha is usually translated as "when you light the lamps" but the literal Hebrew translation is "when you ascend the lamps" (Numbers 8:2). This lighting represents an ascending process or action that takes place when we elevate all levels of consciousness to the awareness of God's Love in every aspect of our lives.

"And this was the work of the menorah (candelabra), beaten work of gold; unto the base thereof, and unto the flowers thereof, it was beaten work." (8:4)

We have said that gold symbolizes the finest and most precious quality in the material world. It is written in the Torah (Exodus 35) that the menorah was made of a single piece of gold, which also represents the finest awareness of our Oneness with the Creator.

Although Aaron the High Priest was assigned to light the menorah, our Sages say that any lay person can do it outside of the Tabernacle or Temple (Talmud, Yoma 24b).

We learn that every aspect of consciousness is able to light itself up to reach out to God's Love and become His vessel to light up the world. In this context the function of the High Priest, the highest awareness of our connection with the Creator, is there to assist us when our lower aspects of consciousness can't become the vessels by themselves.

It is interesting to note that in the same chapter of this portion is emphasized once again the role of the Levites (the Tribe that includes the high priests) as the ones in permanent connection with God.

"Thus shall you separate the Levites from among the children of Israel, and the Levites shall be Mine." (Numbers 8:14)

The portion continues with an essential message of the Torah. In His infinite Love our Creator embraces us every time that we return to Him after we (for one reason or another) separate from Him.

"If any man of you or of your generations shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the Passover unto the Lord." (9:10)

This is the sweet Commandment called Pesach sheini, the second Pesach, which means that regardless the transgressions we may have committed when we separate ourselves from God's Love, and distance our material lives from His ways and attributes, He awaits our return to Him. Let's reflect on this Commandment.

The people who were "unclean" or "far off" were the ones who pleaded to Moses, asking for a second chance to bring the sacrifices that they were not able to bring during the time set for Passover. God gives them that second chance.

Again, it's up to us to return to Love as the means to also return to God. Consequently it is our duty to maintain our permanent awareness of Love as our true identity in everything we are and do, because He is constantly with us as our Creator and sustenance.

"So it was always: the Cloud covered it, and the appearance of Fire by night." (9:16)

The following verses (9:17-22) reiterate the permanent Divine Presence in the Tabernacle, the place that symbolizes our connection with God. When we are in constant awareness of this connection, anything that threatens Love's ways and attributes disappears. If God's Love is with us, what could be against?

"And it came to pass, when the Ark set forward, that Moses said: 'Rise up, O Lord, and let Your enemies be dispersed; and let those who hate You flee before You'." (10:35)

When our thoughts, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts are filled and guided by Love, God's Love transforms and elevates what we touch with our deeds and actions. This transformation works like fire as a catalyst for change. We have to understand the Biblical allegory of God's Fire as Divine Love. This Love is not a destroying force but a transforming one. Love is what redeems us from the darkness of materialistic illusions that we must burn in order to return to Love, our true reality, and not reality based on ego's fantasies.

The epithets with which God is related to in the Torah and the Hebrew Scriptures such as "jealous", "wrathful" and "vengeful" are contextual allegories meaning that He does not cohabit with anything different than His ways and attributes. God's Love as Divine Fire is applied in the same context.

We have said that God made His Creation for His Glory, which is Love. We are here to reveal His Love in order to proclaim His Glory. In order to fulfill that mission we have to transform all levels of our consciousness with the fire of Love as the material manifestation of God's Love.

"And the people were as complainers, speaking evil in the ears of the Lord; and when the Lord heard it, His anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and devoured in the uttermost part of the camp. And the people cried unto Moses; and Moses prayed unto the Lord, and the fire abated." (11:1-2)

This is the apparent destruction that we bring to ourselves when we separate from Love. It is indeed apparent as the "death" that is also mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures when one is "expelled" from the Oneness of God, because death ceases to be when we choose to return to Him.

"And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting; and the children of Israel also wept on their part, and said: 'Would that we were given flesh to eat'!" (11:4)

"While the flesh was yet between their teeth, it was not yet chewed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague. And the name of that place was called Kibrot-hattaavah (lit. graves of lust), because there they buried the people that lusted." (11:33-34)

We quote our Sages listing lust, along with greed, pride, envy, impatience, imprudence and indolence, as the negative qualities that corrupt our thoughts, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts. They are allegorically represented by the Canaanite nations that God commanded us to conquer and expel from the Promised Land.

The battles to conquer them are not easy when we separate from God. However, He knows that we are weak before the illusions of materialism because we experience physicality more with a materialist approach than a spiritual one.

God's Love allows us to exercise free will, and lets us learn from the choices we make. In this case lust ruthlessly punishes us by making us feel dead as in a plague.

The portion ends with the temporary expulsion or (spiritual) death for seven days of Moses' sister, Miriam, as a consequence of her negative talk against him. Once again evil talk is condemned as one of the main transgressions against our fellow man.

It's ego's easiest way to proclaim its rule in our consciousness and making us feel "separated" from the Unity of our People, the Oneness of Creation, and the Oneness of God. This episode is so important that we are commanded by Him to remember it every day.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Shavuot: Oneness with Divine Love

The most important moment in Jewish history is when the Creator speaks to the People of Israel. We say it in the present tense because, as we mention in "God as Love", this transcendental moment is indeed eternal. We just need to be fully aware of it, but how do we achieve this sublime awareness? By being One with Him as we "were" in the desert of Sinai 3323 years ago. It seems paradoxical. How an event that happened so many years ago could be eternal? Because the Love of G-d is also eternal and there is no time, space or anything that may impose conditions or limitations to the Creator. Our mind can't understand it because it is bound to time and space, and we simply can't grasp anything that is beyond those boundaries.

In "God as Love" we present our Creator according to Judaism's fundamental principles, and understanding the Hebrew Bible's repeated message (direct and implied) that G-d conceived the Creation out of His Love, and the fact that it is also sustained by Him is the reiteration of His Love. Throughout the pages of "God as Love" this self-evident Truth is further explained and supported by statements and passages quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures. Besides, what other motives or reasons may exist to deny this Truth? As we already know, G-d is His own cause and effect as well as all His attributes
revealed by Him to Moses (Exodus 34:6-7). The more we learn these attributes, the closer we are to "know" G-d; and this knowledge takes us to the awareness of our Oneness with Him. When we read that we were created "in His image and likeness", we are compelled to find out what that means simply because this is about our identity. That is which has been said in the Torah, and its details are further explained throughout the Hebrew Scriptures telling us how we as humans can conceive G-d and how we relate to Him.

In "God as Love" this search for our true identity occurs in a process of clearing what we call "the illusions of darkness" (the materialistic approach to life). This process takes a lot of discerning and mindfulness in the way we exercise our free will, by understanding the ethics that are inherent to Divine Love. This is the foremost contribution of Judaism to the world, and this is the mission for which we were chosen when the Creator reveals Himself to us in the desert of Sinai. This Revelation is the identity that He wants us to be and manifest: His image and likeness. However, this Revelation takes place only after we clear our consciousness
from the illusions dictated by ego's materialistic fantasies. In order to achieve this we cry out to His Love, the One that liberates us from ego's bondage: Pharaoh and his Egyptian domains. The Exodus from the land where we were slaves happened after we learned and grasped in our consciousness that the Love of G-d is our One and only Redeemer from the darkness of ego's illusions.

The Exodus is the first phase followed by our dwelling in the desert, where we were immersed in knowing our true identity. The Torah tells us that this process took seven weeks (shavuot) in which we must re-direct our intellect, mind, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts in order to be able to recognize Love as our true Essence and identity. Mystic Sages teach that this re-redirecting is the correction or rectification (tikkun) of the seven emanations (sfirot) with which Divine Love created us and also everything that exists, because we corrupted these emanations by choosing to live in the darkness of materialistic illusions instead of living in Love's ways and attributes. Once we go through a process of a mindful self-evaluation and cleaning our consciousness from ego's illusions, we will be able to become the empty vessels to be filled only with G-d's Love attributes. This is the eternal moment when G-d, the Torah, the Shabbat and Israel are One.

The paradox remains and we still want to understand how this moment is eternal. As we already said, it happens when we raise our consciousness
to Divine Love; when we become the vessels to be filled with that sublime identity, Love. As Love we become the cause and the effect, and we can reveal Him where and when He is concealed in what we perceive as darkness in the material world. Thus we fulfill the promise of Redemption by being and manifesting Love's Light in the world, which is also His Commandment for us to create a space in the world for Him to dwell. Let's be and manifest Love's ways and attributes at all times, and regain the eternal awareness of our Oneness with Divine Love.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Parshat Naso: Unity in Diversity

Naso continues with the head count of the Tribe of Levi and their duties in the Tabernacle, and the census concluded "as directed by the Lord" (Numbers 4:49).

This portion refers to three situations related to "leprosy" (tzaraath), unfaithfulness (sotah) and total dedication (nazir) to divine service. In the first case is a reminder that the metzorah (see our commentary on parshat Metzorah) must be expelled from the community.

"Both male and female you shall banish; you shall send them outside the camp, and they not defile their camps, in which I dwell among [in] them." (5:3)

It is reiterated the Creator does not dwell with anything different from His ways and attributes, hence our attachment to these must be permanent.

If we chose to live in illusions such as evil talk, pride, greed, avarice, and negative patterns, we are the ones who expel ourselves from the oneness that represents God and His people. Let's remark again that there is no revenge or retaliation for the negative things we do because these are direct consequences of our actions.

Love does not expel us for our negative choices, we expel ourselves from love by choosing ego's fantasies and illusions. Love dwells among us when we follow God's ways. We say that love is about trust, and trust comes with loyalty and faithfulness.

We also mention that God and Israel are united in marriage, and such as it is sustained in trust, loyalty and faithfulness.

"When a man or woman commits any of the sins against man to act treacherously against God (…)" (5:6)

Here is clearly stated that transgressing against our fellow man or woman is a direct transgression against the Creator. Again it is indicted that the high priest atones for our transgressions. He is the one in charge to elevate our actions in order to become the vessels of God's ways and attributes, after we confess and restore or compensate our victims for the damage caused by our negligence or negative behavior.

Regarding transgressions our sages say that "a person does not sin unless a spirit of folly enters into him/her." (Talmud, Sotah 3a). This teaches that we have to be constantly vigilant against what lures us into ego's illusions and a negative approach to life.

The portion continues referring to the laws of the nazrite, the person who dedicates himself entirely to the service of God, temporarily or permanently (6:2-21). Then it states one of the most important passages of the Torah.

"Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying: 'This is how you shall bless the children of Israel, saying to them: May the Lord bless you and watch over you. May the Lord cause His countenance to shine to you and favor you. May the Lord raise His countenance toward you and grant you peace.' They shall bestow My Name upon the children of Israel, so that I will bless them." (6:23-27)

Again the high priest and his descendants, who represent our permanent connection with the Creator, are in charge to fulfill the commandment to bless Israel. Let's be aware that Israel is the vessel that encompasses our individual and collective traits and qualities, and also our potentials to fulfill the mission to create a place for the Creator to dwell in this world.

Let's put these blessings in the context of God's love.

"May God's love bless you (make you be and do goodness) and watch over you (may this goodness protect you). May God's love (His countenance) to shine onto you (manifest in you and radiate in you) and be graceful to you (what you do, His manifestation, be also graceful to you). May God's love raise His countenance toward you (elevate you to Him as He elevates His manifestation in you) and grant you peace (makes you whole, one with Him)."

And the blessings are also received by those who put the holy Name upon the children of Israel.

"(...) so that I will bless them (the Priests)" which means that the awareness of our permanent connection to God is also blessed with every blessing bestowed in every aspect of our consciousness, as well as in every quality and trait we have to serve Him.

Interestingly this passage ends with the following verse.

"And it was that on the day that Moses finished erecting the tabernacle he anointed it, sanctified it, and all its vessels, and the altar and all its vessels." (7:1)

As we see, the priestly blessings are the culmination of the dedication of the highest level of consciousness, the tabernacle, as our permanent connection and unity with God's love.

The portion continues with the offerings presented by the leaders of Israel on behalf of their tribes. The detailed offerings (all exactly the same) of each are mentioned twelve times.

Why the offerings are repeated if they were all the same? Our sages explain this saying that, although they were the same offerings, each one was presented in every tribe's own way. This emphasizes the fact that each tribe is different and diverse as our individual traits are.

No matter how distinct they are, all have their own abilities and qualities that combined are the perfect vessels to fulfill God's ways and attributes, in order to reveal His presence in the world.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jerusalem Day 5-12-2010

Today we celebrate the liberation of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War. This historic magnificent event is meaningful in many ways, because Jerusalem is not only a place in time and space but also the highest level of consciousness in which we are completely aware of the permanent connection between Israel and G-d's Love.

We lost our precious city when we allowed our enemies to invade her, and they expelled us from her. Who are our enemies? Those which pursue
our destruction by harming our connection with Divine Love, by "occupying" our special and beloved Holy City that is the capital, the indivisible head of Israel. And Israel means the people chosen by Divine Love to spread His Light into the world. Our enemies are those who want to impose the illusions of darkness in order to conceal G-d, Love's Light in Jerusalem, our head's highest Divine awareness.

Today we celebrate the liberation of our Holy City from their strange occupiers, and this liberation is not enough. We have to rebuild Jerusalem and her Temple where we have complete awareness of our Oneness with the Creator. This reconstruction is achieved by permanently living in His will, ways and attributes by which the His Presence, the Shechinah, is restored in our consciousness. The Shechinah abandoned our Holy City when our enemies destroyed the Temple and expelled us from our Land. We pray three times daily for the reconstruction of Jerusalem, and we implore our G-d to dwell forever again in her "as an eternal edifice", "and establish the throne of David within her" (Jewish prayer book). After two thousand years our prayers were answered: in a miraculous war with the help of G-d our Army liberated Jerusalem. Now we have to do our part to fulfill the Divine promise stated by our Prophets: to rebuild the Holy City, our higher consciousness of G-d's Love. We fulfill that promise in the same way we did when He commanded us to liberate the Promised Land after our Exodus from Egypt and our dwelling forty years in the desert of Sinai, by defeating those who want to destroy us and impose darkness in the world. These are the same enemies who are against Love's ways and attributes.

If we want the Divine promise fulfilled we have to start with our individual
consciousness defeating the negative traits and qualities that hold us down into the darkness of illusions, either be ideas, beliefs, thoughts, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts that threaten to expel us from our true home, our Land, our City, our Temple: our permanent awareness of Divine Love in our lives and in all Creation. Happy Jerusalem Day!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Parshat Korach: Overcoming Ego's Fantasies and Illusions

Korach and his followers represent ego’s interference when we, the children of Israel, pursue the higher consciousness (represented by both Aaron and Moses) which is in constant connection with God's love.

Our sages say that Korach stole one of the three Pharaoh’s treasures hidden by Joseph. As we said, quoting mystic Chassidic mysticism, Pharaoh represents ego’s goal to convince our consciousness that “the river is mine, I made it” (Ezekiel 29:3, 9). Ego usually wins when it makes us believe that we are separated from the oneness God is. Separation is ego’s fundamental reason to exist, and it argues against rules different form its own agenda.

"The entire community is holy and God is among them, why do you raise yourselves above the congregation of God?" (Numbers 16:3)

This is like hands and feet complaining against the head because it has control of the body, saying, “If the whole body is holy, why the head has to be in control? Each part of the body can also be in control.”

In the clarity of our intellect’s aim to higher consciousness, and not in the darkness of selfishness, ego’s agenda must be confronted.

“Come in the morning, and God will show who is His, and who is holy... and whom He has chosen will He cause to come near to Him.” (16:5)

We have said many times that love does not cohabit with anything different than its ways and attributes, and this means that all levels of consciousness (the lowest and the highest) must follow God's ways and attributes in order for us to be always close to Him. In this process, our material nature is properly elevated to love’s sublime heights, and the negative dimensions return to material illusions where they belong.

The illusions and fantasies of ego’s desires end up devouring our consciousness and everything truthful in which we believe.

“The earth beneath them opened its mouth and swallowed them and their houses, and all the men who were with Korach and all the property. They, and all they possessed, descended alive into the grave; the earth covered them up, and they were lost to the assembly.” (16:32-33)

The text does not mention that they died, and it clearly implies that they descended alive into the grave. The density of matter represented by the earth swallowed them, and this density as the symbol of the inability to free ourselves from negative traits and trends. The consequence was their separation from the unity of the people of Israel with God.

The portion continues reminding us that our higher consciousness has to be in charge of our permanent connection with God.

“(…) as a reminder for the children of Israel, so that no outsider, who is not of the seed of Aaron, shall approach to burn incense before the Lord, so as not to be like Korach and his company.” (17:5)

These outsiders are ego’s illusions that pretend to break our oneness with love as the material manifestation of God's love. Later the text tells us about a miracle to illustrate the preeminence of the high priest in our consciousness, and the transforming, reviving power of God's love.

“(…) and behold, Aaron's staff for the house of Levi had blossomed! It gave forth blossoms, sprouted buds, and produced ripe almonds. It brought forth blossoms, produced budding fruit, and bore ripe almonds.” (17:23)

In Hebrew, ness (miracle) also means “elevation” which is the purpose of miracles because they elevate our consciousness. In our Jewish daily prayers we thank our Creator in regards to this.

“(…) for Your miracles that are daily with us, and for Your wonders and Your loving kindness that are with us at all times, evening, morning and noon. (…)”

The preeminence of the high priest is reaffirmed again.

“And God spoke to Aaron, ‘Behold, I have granted to you the gifts raised to Me, all the hallowed things of the children of Israel.”, “Out of all that is given to you, you shall set aside all that is due as a gift to God; of the choicest thereof, the hallowed part of it.” (18:8, 29)

It is clear that in our relationship with the Creator we have to be and do with the best of our talents and abilities. If God's love created us in His image and likeness, the only way to conceive Him and to truly know Him is being and doing His ways and attributes which are also our “hallowed things”, “the choicest thereof”, the most sacred expressions of all levels of our consciousness and nothing less.

Maimonides reminds us this.

“Everything that is for the sake of God should be of the best and most beautiful. When one builds a house of prayer, it should be more beautiful than his own dwelling. When one feeds the hungry, he should feed him of the best and sweetest of his table. When one clothes the naked, he should clothe him with the finest of his clothes. Whenever one designates something for a holy purpose, he should sanctify the finest of his possessions; as it is written, ‘All the fat is to God’ (Leviticus 3:16).” (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Forbidden Things to Bring on the Altar 7:11)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Parshat Bamidbar: In the Desert

In the desert (bamidbar) is the name of the fourth book of the Torah and also the name of its first portion. There are circumstances in this book that make our sages reflect on, and one of them is the meaning of the phrase in the desert.

"And God spoke to Moses in the desert of Sinai." (Numbers 1:1)

Some reflect on the apparent redundancy in the words "desert" and "Sinai", considering that Sinai is located in the desert, and they understand this in several ways.

In the desert we were constantly before our Creator whose presence dwelt in Sinai where He communicated directly with Moses, our teacher. Both places mentioned imply the unity of the people of Israel with God, that later continues with the tabernacle as the intermediary.

In the desert we are separated from our mundane life, a place where there is nothing to depend on or to be attached in order to live according to what we choose to do in life. Indeed the desert is where we briefly dwell because there is nothing there except what we carry to sustain us while we are there.

In the desert there are no materialistic illusions that we may desire to have or to be, and no chance for idol worshiping because there are no images to bow to (unless we make them): The perfect circumstances to conceive God and be aware of His love that created us and sustains us, the "place" to receive His Torah.

If we don't clear our consciousness from materialistic desires and attachments, we will never be the empty vessels to be filled with the permanent awareness of God's love. This awareness is the marriage of God and Israel, the eternal bond of love evoked in the Song of Songs and in the haftarah we read along with this portion.

"I will marry you to Me forever. I will marry you to Me with righteousness and with justice, and with loving kindness and compassion. I will marry you to Me with faithfulness, and you will know the Lord." (Hosea 2:21-22)

These verses are preceded by the times when the idols as ego’s desires and materialistic illusions do not fulfill the true meaning of life.

"And she shall run after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them, and she shall seek them, but shall not find them. Then shall she say: 'I will go and return to my first husband, for then was it better with me than now'." (Ibid. 2:9)

As soon as we are finally willing to return to God, He will embrace us.

"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her in the desert, and I will speak to her heart. (…) as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt." (2: 16-17)

"I remember the loving kindness of your youth, your bridal Love, your following after Me in the desert, in an unsowed land." (Jeremiah 2:2)

Once again the Torah reminds us that it is our choice to return to love as God's legacy, and also as our permanent connection with His ways and attributes.

"Take a head count (lit. "raise the heads") of all the congregation of the children of Israel (…)" (Numbers 1:2)

This "head count", according to our sages represents how precious every soul is for our Creator. "Raising the heads" to Him is how we make ourselves aware of this. Why could it be otherwise? How can we conceive God's love without loving all His creation? When we look around and see the perfection of that He has created we realize that what we make imperfect is the way we conceive it, and the way we relate to it and to our fellow man.

After this head count, the Torah mentions the way the tribes of Israel settled every time they encamped in their journeys by the desert.

"The children of Israel shall encamp, each man by his division with the flag staffs of their fathers' house; at some distance from the Tent of Meeting they shall encamp." (2:2)

The tribes represent traits and qualities that combined into their service of the Creator achieve the mission for which Israel was chosen to be and to do. These traits are the blessings they received from their father Jacob and from Moses (Genesis 49:3-27, Deuteronomy 33:6-29)

"All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is it what their father spoke unto them and blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them." (Genesis 49:28)

These blessings are the qualities that we elevate to God in order to make a place for Him to dwell in this world. Judah, the one that has encompassed all the Tribes for more than two thousand years, as the one chosen to bring redemption to the world, is represented by a lion and a precious stone that shines in darkness: Light in the darkness of the world.

While describing the way the tribes encamped around the Tabernacle, Levi is not mentioned because their space, their land, is with God.

"Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel, and the Levites shall be Mine." (Numbers 3:12)

As we mentioned throughout our commentaries on the book of Leviticus, the high priest as part of the tribe of Levi are our higher consciousness always close to God.

The idea of the way the tribes encamped is that all must be united around a center, the tabernacle, and close to those who serve in it: the Levites who encamped in its grounds.

The mission of the Levites is emphasized by being counted separately as part of God, the ones that lead our consciousness to His domains. Our sages say that Levi and his descendants were blessed by his father to be the teachers for his brothers.

"I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel." (Genesis 49:7)

This to keep them always close to love's ways and attributes as the higher consciousness the Levites represent, including safekeeping peace among their people.

"And the Levites shall pitch round about the tabernacle of the testimony, that there be no wrath upon the congregation of the children of Israel, and the Levites shall keep the charge of the tabernacle of the testimony." (Numbers 1:53)

The portion ends with instructions for the high priest and his sons to care for the duties inside the tabernacle, and instructing those who will carry it when moving in the desert.

"Aaron and his sons shall first come and appoint each man individually to his task and his load." (4:19)

With this we learn again that every aspect of consciousness serve accordingly as a vessel of God's ways and attributes. They are taken into account based on their particular qualities, either it be thought, emotion, speech, action, feeling, passion or instinct as it is mentioned later in parshat Naso.

"According to the commandment of the Lord they were appointed by the hand of Moses, everyone to his service, and to his load; they were also counted as the Lord commanded Moses." (4:49)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Parshat Bechukotai: Choosing Love as our Identity

"If you walk in My statutes (...)" (Leviticus 26:3)

Our sages say in the Talmud (Avodah Zarah 5a) that we have to understand that the word if is not meant to be taken as conditional but as a plea from God.

In the context of "in My statutes" (bechukotai) they represent what makes us God's image and likeness, also part of Him. Here we understand this as God's love. This is what unites us to Him as our common bond with Him, and it is our choice to exercise this sacred identity.

These statutes are God’s ways and attributes we can be fully aware of when we elevate our consciousness to that primordial principle. The effects for being and doing His ways and attributes are His blessings.

"And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit." (26:3)

Rashi understands this verse as a divine promise for the future in Messianic times, saying that then "every species of trees will bear edible fruit". The question is when this promise is fulfilled.

Everything seems to be conditional in this material world except for the divine essence that created it and sustains it. We can see it clearly in nature: the air, the rain, the sun and the earth don't impose conditions for us in order to benefit from them. This is how God's love works, hence we have to follow His ways. The rest is conditional in this world, and it is us who impose the conditions, usually pursuing personal interest or individual convenience rather than the collective well being, including us.

In a deeper sense this verse means that when we are and manifest love as our true essence and identity in every aspect of consciousness, our thoughts, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts will bear its fruits as goodness in everything they manifest.

We already said that love is the cause and the effect, and this is the inner meaning of the verse. Therefore the only condition, the phrase "if you do it" implies that it's up to us to return to our true essence and identity, and not up to God. When we make the choice we allow the divine promise to be fulfilled here and now, then God's redeeming love will manifest with all might and power with His blessings (26:4-13).

"And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be My people." (26:11)

The portion immediately states the conditional effects of choosing ego's agenda and rejecting love as our true identity (26:14-41, 43). Though these consequences are detailed as negative actions apparently "imposed" to us by our Creator for not following His commandments, they are the obvious results of separating ourselves from His ways. The Torah makes this clear.

"(…) and they shall be paid the punishment of their iniquity (…)" (26:43)

Transgressions are our choice, not God's. Interestingly in verse 42, although among the "curses", the following is not one of them.

"Then will I remember My covenant with Jacob, and also My Covenant with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham will I remember, and I will remember the land."

And continues…

"And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies I will not reject them, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God."

This again clearly shows that God's love never has and will never be separated from us because He created us and sustains us, in spite of our choice to separate from Him. Love is our bond with God as our covenant, just because He is our Creator.

The rest of the portion, which is the final chapter of the book of Leviticus, ends with details that represent our full and complete commitment to God, His ways and attributes in how we relate to Him and our fellow man.

This chapter mentions in a symbolic way that we can't change our intention and willingness to do what is sacred, what is right and proper when we offer our sacrifices, our offerings to become the means to fulfill God's ways and attributes.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Parshat Behar: Shabbat

This portion is about the Shabbat and we may think that it should be named Shabbat instead of Behar, which means "in the mountain" where God asks Moses to tell the children of Israel commandments related to the Shabbats of the promised land.

"When you come into the Land which I give you, then shall the Land keep a Shabbat unto the Lord. (…) a Shabbat of solemn rest for the Land, a Shabbat unto the Lord." (Leviticus 25:2, 4)

Unto the Lord is remarked to emphasize that our awareness of oneness with God's love is complete in the Shabbat.

Our sages say that God, the Torah, Israel and the Shabbat are one, hence the Shabbat is the realization of that oneness both in time and space. At this point we understand that it is in the mountain, behar, where we are one with God when He gives us the Torah. This is a remembrance of the oneness that occurs in the Shabbat.

There are specific commandments regarding the times we count, either days or years, to prepare for the holy day, the holy year, and the holy cycle (jubilee) made out of those years.

"Because it is a jubilee it shall be holy unto you, you shall eat the increase thereof out of the field." (25:12)

In the same way that it is commanded to us that six days we labor and cease our work on the seventh day, we are commanded to do so all the years of our lives.

We have said that our labor during the six days is to reveal the divine presence in ourselves and our surroundings, in preparation to be reunited with God in the Shabbat. This process is also repeated every six years in which our labor is to be and do His ways and attributes.

"Where you shall do My statutes, and keep My ordinances and do them; and you shall dwell in the land in safety. And the land shall yield her fruit, and you shall eat until you have enough, and dwell therein in safety." (25:18-19)

In safety is mentioned twice, meaning that if we are united with God, what could we fear?

The Land also rests in order for us to enjoy the fruits of our labor, which are also the fruits of the land which represents our higher awareness of God's love.

"And you shall not wrong one another; but you shall revere your God; because I am the Lord your God." (25:17)

This means that everything we do in our six-day labor must not imply in any way harming, damaging or undermining our fellow man but doing exactly the opposite. The following verses command us to honor, respect and embrace our fellow man in particular during the times of these year-long Shabbats.

Between these verses the Torah states that the promised land belongs to God as part of Him, and we can't sale it, trade it or change it for anything that is not itself.

"And the land shall not be sold in perpetuity because the land is Mine, because you are strangers and settlers with Me." (25:23)

In His land we are just His guests, and as such we have to follow His ways and attributes, as He commands us to.

"I am the Lord your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, to be your God." (25:38)

This clearly specifies that for God to be our Lord we have to live in His land in constant awareness of His love in our consciousness.

"Because to Me the children of Israel are servants, they are My servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God." (25:55)

This is reminded again in the last verse of this parshah.

"You shall keep My Shabbats, and revere My sanctuary, I am the Lord." (26:2)

Before this we are warned again against ego's fantasies and illusions as the idols we are commanded to reject.

"You shall make you no idols, neither shall you rear you up a graven image, or a pillar, neither shall you place any figured stone in your land, to bow down unto it; because I am the Lord your God." (26:1)

Let's remind ourselves again that in this land we are His guests and also His servants to dwell in it in complete awareness His ways and attributes in what we are and what we do.

From the Book's Foreword

Let's reexamine our ancestral memory, intellect, feelings, emotions and passions. Let's wake them up to our true Essence. Let us engage in the delightful awareness of Love as the Essence of G-d. The way this book is written is to reaffirm and reiterate its purpose, so it presents its message and content in a recurrent way. This is exactly its purpose, to restate the same Truth originally proclaimed by our Holy Scriptures, Prophets and Sages. Our purpose is to firmly enthrone G-d's Love in all dimensions of our consciousness, and by doing it we will fulfill His Promise that He may dwell with us on Earth forever. Let's discover together the hidden message of our ancient Scriptures and Sages. In that journey, let's realize Love as our Divine Essence, what we call in this book the revealed Light of Redemption in the Messianic era.